Interview: Kari Rueslåtten

Twenty-one years ago she and her band The 3rd and the Mortal made an album, Tears Laid in Earth, that shook the doom/goth metal world. When I discovered the band three years later, Kari had already left and the band made experimental music with influences of worldmusic and jazz. Kari went her own way and made solo-albums that leaned heavily on folk and singer-songwriter, yet with a dark edge to it.

With a new album coming up and recent collaborations with Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering), Liv Kristine (ex-Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’ Eyes) and Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish) it was time for DutchMetalManiac to speak with Kari about her musical past, present and future.

Hi Kari, thank you for taking time to talk to DutchMetalManiac! I recently reviewed your new album, To the North, and I have my opinion, but I wonder how you would describe the album.

I would describe the album as being folky, melodic but with a dark mood and a tranquil sound.

The album follows fairly quick on your last release, Time to Tell. Did you have lots of inspiration?

I was away from making music for a long time. Melodies just gathered up in my mind, I never had this flow before, so the songs just came.

You were away from music for a long time, indeed. There was an eight year gap between Time to Tell and the album before. Is your new album a follow-up to Time to Tell? In a way the albums seem similar, what would you say is the difference between both?

I think my aim for To the North was to push it all further. To push the singing and the melodies to the limits and see where it gets.

To me the album felt like consisting of two parts: a folky first half, and a darker second half.

Well, the album really developed in the studio and you can hear this developing back in the music. Yes the album starts folky and the mood does get darker.

You covered the song Turn, Turn, Turn, a song The Birds made famous. You made me, for the first time, realise what the song is actually about.

The words to the song are very sincere, it was a great musical inspiration to me, but The Birds made a very happy version of this Peter Seeger song. That was not my cup of tea. I rewrote the song from major to minor, and only left the lyrics to the song.

Looking back at Kari’s musical past, and seeing she went on tour with The Sirens (Liv Kristine, Anneke van Giersbergen), singing old songs of The 3rd and the Mortal, it seems like she is going back to her metal-roots. I could imagine it is odd to be called the ex-singer of a band she left over 20 years ago. How does it feel for her?

It is strange that The 3rd and the Mortal is still with me. When I left the band and started with a solo-career, I thought I had to make clear that I am different now. Now I am very happy that I was part of it, that I am still part of it.

You reworked a song from your old band and performed it with Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish). How did you come to this?

I met Tuomas at a Nightwishgig they played in my hometown. He could not believe that I did not do any music. And that while he was the one who got inspired to start his band after listening to The 3rd and the Mortal. After that I asked him to rework the song with me. It was strange, I knew it had to be different, to fit the music I play now, and Tuomas caught the right atmosphere to is. That inspired me to do more music.

After working with Tuomas and The Sirens, I had expected your new album to be heavier. Did you decide that Kari is not going to do any heavy music?

Well, you never know where it is going. The music I make now is quite dark in theme, but not metal.

There can be darkness without loudness?


After being away from the metal-scene, and returning to it with The Sirens, how do you relate to it?

That is a big question. The Sirens opened a door to the metal scene. It was a nice door, it felt like coming home, and then again, it felt like I never left.

Looking at the future, what can we expect from you?

You can’t tell the future, luckily, but surely another album will come. And more shows too. I used to be really shy to go on stage, but now I really enjoy it.

You will hit the stage in about a month. Will you bring a band, or perform solo?

A bit of both, really. I like the intimate setting and contact with the audience. I will therefore probably bring only one or two musicians with me on stage.

What about The Sirens? Was that a once-off project, or will the group do more?

We hope to do more shows, but at the moment everyone is very busy. Liv is on tour for their new album, Anneke is very busy. The Sirens was planned long ago, but when we all have time…

Thank you very much for you time Kari!

Thank you! And maybe I will see DMM readers at my show in Zoetermeer. I really appreciate the Dutch way of things!

Check our review about To The North here.

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