Interview with Jonathan Hulthen

"My goal with lyrics is always to express myself as honestly as I can."

Hello Jonathan and thank you for doing this ! You’ve recentely been to Romania for a gig with Tribulation & Insomnium. What is your opinion about it? It was the first time you played in my country, would you return it ?
Absolutely! We did not have time to see much though as we arrived pretty late to Bucharest and
had to leave right after the show, but I would like to get to know the city better. I’d also like to
spend more time on the countryside, the landscapes we passed by on our way to the venue
were really beautiful.

Tribulation just released a new album called Down Below via Century Media Records.
What can you tell me about it? It’s different from the old ones? What about the artwork cuz I know you’ve made it
It’s our forth album. It’s also the shortest one we have done since our debut, ”The Horror”. The
songs are pretty straight to the point and concise compared to the second and the third album.
It’s boiled down to more traditional song-structures with emphasis on melodies and balanced
compositions. Also, in a way we have gone full circle at this point, looking back at our past
endeavors and influences as whole and then integrated them in our newest album while also
pushing ourselves a little bit further into the unknown like we always do. “Down Below” has one
foot in the past and the other in the future. As for the artwork; it reflects the feelings we have
toward the album and the songs – everything from the choice of color to the posture of the
underworldly figure sitting and looking down on the city below.

When I look at your artworks makes me think that Tribulation has some strong influences from the occult and supernatural mythology. How would you comment upon this? Am I wrong?
You are absolutely right. It has pretty much been one of the cornerstones of all of our lyrics for
quite some time now, although not always in an obvious way. We fill the lyrics with our interests,
thoughts and fascinations, experiences and feelings. The framework through which we express
ourselves often takes on a mythological form, not seldom grounded in religion and folklore.

As I mentioned in my short review about the gig, you also have a side-project apart from
Tribulation, which got my attention so far. Could you tell me more about it ? Who was
your greatest inspiration with respects to this project?
It’s something I have been doing on the side since my mid-teens but did not start giving proper
attention until about 2016. I have always wanted to realize this ambition and at that point I felt
like I had to do as soon as possible or else I would feel very unfulfilled and unhappy. It is
basically an ovation to harmonies, folk acapella and chorals as well as the minimalistic singer
songwriter-genre with additions of all of my favorite music from all over the place. I could credit
countless artists for their inspiration, but if I had to choose only one I would mention my teacher
in music theory in school, Åke Hansson. His enthusiastic approach and love for the groundstructures
of music was contagious and really stuck with me.

What can you tell me about the lyrics? They’ve indeed create a dark atmosphere; You also do the lyrics for Tribulation?
My goal with lyrics is always to express myself as honestly as I can. If the lyrics don’t mean
anything to me then the point is lost – everything must have a connection to something profound, be it internally or externally. Meaning is the keyword and is the most important thing.
What comes next is context. I also want to express myself as eloquently as I can, using the
proper form and aesthetics to produce the emotions and visions that resonate with what I want
to convey. That why it is always rather dark, it’s what I am drawn to and find inspiration in. But
absolutely not always in the depressive sense. Most often I address a different kind of darkness
which one could see as a mystic element rather than one of bottomless negativity and nihilism.
It is the veil of horror that conceals undiscovered boons and holds promise of spiritual venture
when seriously engaged. It is also the romantic darkness which dwells on the borders between
night and day, filled with melancholy and longing for something indefinable. It’s the mystery that
beckons us away from safety and innocence out into the night of adventure and experience.
As for in Tribulation, Adam and I are sharing the writing of the lyrics as well as the song-writing
and that’s about 50-50 on the albums. I write for my songs and he writes for his, but we all work together on the details when finalizing the songs. 

I am very curious about your inspiration when picking up the clothes; also the make-up,
it’s marvelous! Do you do it by yourself?

Thank you! Yes, everything is DIY. In Tribulation we are keeping our looks somewhat in line
with the aesthetic direction of the band, but when I do solo stuff I experiment more wildly with
different ideas and expressions. I am pretty sure it will keep on changing as I find it extremely
fun and interesting exploring different styles. It is as much as an art project as it is a music act.

What is your passion besides music?
I am really interested in philosophy, mythology, religion, history, art etc. I’m always reading a
book on some of these subjects. I’m also a big fan of a lot of Japanese culture and love animes
like “Mushishi” and “Mononoke”. At some points I started studying Japanese but do not have
enough time at the moment to continue. I  have gotten a bit further with Spanish but is still definitely not a fluent speaker. In other words I find it very fun learning and understanding newlanguages. Then of course there are other things I’m interested in but in the end it is music that I am the most passionate about, no doubt.

Dear Jonathan – thanks a lot for your time, good luck for you and Tribulation and I hope to see you soon again in Romania !
Thank you for the interview Miruna, see you next time!

Pictures by: -Gheorghe Paraschiv

Sylvia Desol.

 

 

 

 

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