Kari Rueslatten

Kari Rueslåtten is truly one of the most beautiful, magnificent female voices that I have ever heard in my life and after a rather lengthy hiatus from the music scene in order to further her studies and to raise a family she returns with yet another album and even a bunch of tour dates (actually more than a handful). Let’s check what one of the three “Sirens” has to say from somewhere in the woods near Trondheim...
Kari Rueslåtten pic

Hello Kari and thanks for doing this interview.
K: Thank you, nice to speak with you!
Please give a brief account of your career so far, for any possible first timers into your “magical” world.
K: I have been around, doing music for a long time... My first proper studio recording was back in 1994 with The 3rd and the Mortal, but people who might look me up on the internet, might find that I have done something previous to that in 1993 (in YouTube and Spotify) with another band called “Israelvis”, but in 3rd and the Mortal I was making the songs, so it was more personal, like my heart and soul. Since then I have been doing a lot of solo albums... mainly influenced by the Norwegian nature and folk music, mainly in the first album, (other than the demo recordings) “Spindelsinn”, but it has always been there as an influence… I don’t know what else to say… (laughs!)
You were away for some long eight years? Why did that happen and what prompted you to return after all this time? How does it feel to be back in the music scene/business?
K: It feels great to be back, to take your last question first! Great to be making music again! I am almost angry at myself for taking so long, actually! In 2005, I had just finished, “Other People’s Stories” and the tour for it and I just felt I needed to do something different and I wanted to take some time off and to have a family and to raise children and be more organized in order to do that, I started studying psychology, so for a while, I thought, that it wasn’t going to happen. I really needed to change my priorities for a while, do something different. Then we moved to this place, over here (Kari did this interview, apparently from her, house, somewhere in the “woods” of rural Norway). And, it was more spacious, so my piano that had been in storage for ages came out again and I started playing again... and I was curious, would my voice still be there after all that time? I didn’t know! And I also need to mention, that one summer, some years ago while in Trondheim, I got this phone call from Nightwish’s promoter and he told me that Tuomas Holopainen wanted me to go and meet him that night when they played which I did and he asked me, “So aren’t you doing music anymore?” and I said “No!” (laughs sheepishly) And he said “Why?”! I mean, most of us have families as well and still manage to handle things… and that got me thinking that I might as well manage to carefully plan and manage both things as well. Why not, as long as I would take things “slow”.
Please give us more details about the recording of the album and the songs themselves? (I am making a slight question about a song and if it has a connection to Bjork lyrically)
K: Well “Bjork” has always been an inspiration to me, I never thought of it that way… Well on the 1st of February of last year when I decided to do this album, and I wanted it to be mainly acoustic, I first called Jostein Ansnes the producer of the album, so he’s based in Trondheim where he has a great studio and I wanted to be close to my children, it was really important to me, apart from obviously wanting to get some great material together, I had to switch my mindset from doing something “programmed” where you get hang up on a beat or a chord, I just wanted to build the song around the melody, a nice chorus, I guess. During the composition of the songs I was mostly sitting alone at my piano and playing but I read a lot of poems and that was a huge source of inspiration in the writing this time and there are some elements that drive these songs in the same direction, an element that is quite beyond time in a way, about the relations between people, finding home, leaving home after you have found it, longing for something sadness and sorrow, but also love, those things that are so human! And I wanted to write about that...
While the entire album has is not entirely dissimilar stylistically to “Other People’s Stories”, you still taking some chances. I mean you had, this song “Paint The Rainbow Grey”! Seriously? It must be most miserable than sitting down and listening to the entire Candlemass catalog in one take! What made you come up with that?!
K: (laughs) With “Paint the Rainbow Grey” I got Pablo Neruda’s “Canto Heneral” after being recommended to get it. I actually had put out a question on my Facebook page for people to recommend poets and writers and a lot of people from Chile, obviously did say, you have to, read Pablo Neruda’s poems. I understand It might be really sound bleak, because of all the sadness and despair, but there is also beauty in the melancholy that there is in that work, so that's when I basically wrote the song and it has grown to become one of my favorite songs on the album, those emotion are still human, we should allow ourselves to feel those emotions, but not dwell there too long...
I am not complaining you know you got a wide variety of emotions covered on the album – there are happy songs, love songs, sorrowful love songs, downright sad songs (the rainbow song) crazier songs, there’s a great variety!
K: I’m happy to hear that… (i.n.: sounds sort of happy/triumphant in tone!)
The only thing that I wasn’t really prepared for was that semi-yodelling in “Only You Know” Nothing could have prepared me for that…
K: (laughs) What can I do!?
How did the idea, to resurrect “Why So Lonely” come about and how come Tuomas Holopainen, did get involved with it. Which version do you like best? Do you still speak with the mortal guys? Any Idea what they are doing?
K: Well again to go backwards, I still occasionally, meet them in Trondheim, many of them still live there, when we meet we still stop and chat and we’re still friends, we never fought or anything. But we’re not meeting as we did back in the day. The drummer and his wife did come down at my release concert, the other day, which was nice, so we met and I am not sure if they are together anymore (they have disbanded).
Why did I do “Why So Lonely”? Well when I decided to do another album, I decided to go out and create a Facebook profile. And I was never on Facebook before (there were only fan-pages) so it was way out of my comfort zone to be on social media, but it was OK. And I got responses from people from all over the world, who were incredible telling me that they have been listening to my music since The 3rd and the Mortal and when I found that my songs have meant so much to so many people for so long, it felt really heartwarming and inspirational and I wanted to show them that it really meant a lot to me and to celebrate it – and it had been like 20 long years… so that’s when I decided to do something about it. And one of my favorite songs has always been “Why So Lonely”; it’s a personal song to me, I’ve always loved singing it, it means a lot to me... I decided to contact Tuomas and ask him to do the piano on this song and he accepted immediately. And I think he did a great job, he lifts the song, he has his own brand, his own sound that just, shows through... even if it’s not metal or not Nightwish.

So you prefer this version? Or do you like ‘em both the same?
K: I suppose I like them both the same, the new one is closer to me and is “better”, but the old one has been with me all this time, so I like them both for different reasons... definitely.
Are you happy with Despotz? They seem to be gathering a lot of Scandinavian – talent under one “roof”. How were you introduced to them?
K: When I was actually doing my demo recording in 1995, that we discussed at the beginning, briefly, I received some help by some people from people like Lena Graaf, who had her own label later through which I did release, “Other People’s Stories”. So when I decided to come back into music, that’s who I first, called and asked, to see if she would be interested and she said, I am not doing the label any more, but I could manage, you so we agreed on that, but she was also quick to point out, these two guys from Stockholm that run this label that she knew and recommended them, they’re really friendly and professional and I’m happy with them.
After “Time To Tell” and the performances to support it, do you plan to stay active musically, or will it be sometime, before your next musical endeavor?
K: Yeah! No more 8-year long breaks... that’s for sure! I have already, slowly started writing songs for my next album and while I am not sure, of when I will be able to complete that, I intend to remain musically active!
Kari Rueslåtten pic

There have been a couple of performances so far, I think and even a couple more announced down the line, could we hope that we might get to see you one of these days in Greece?
K: There are no concrete plans, unfortunately. I know that there will be more touring activities in the autumn, this year but as I have been out of this business for quite some time I think that the best think I can do is to take things one step at a time and see what happens. Of course I would love to come and play in Greece.
Weird questions!!! If you were a goddess for a week (not that you 're not the goddess of song, Oh Kari Almighty) what would you do?
K: Spread Peace, all over the world!
If you were not Kari, but could be any other person (historical or fictional, male or female) who would you chose to be and why? (I said these questions were going to be weird! - after Kari takes a bit...)
K: (laughs) That’s a difficult question!
Obviously you’re happy being you…
K: Can’t think of any one I’d like to be… (i.n.: Kari draws a blank!)
What is the definition of success/happiness to you?
K: It’s a good question, because when I started to doing music, there was this hotshot producer that someone wanted to have me work with, that was like, there’s nothing better than selling a lot of records. And I was like no, there are better things. Obviously it’s good to sell records, because you need to make a living, but you also need to make music, that’s true to yourself and that you feel proud to have made that you can live with having made and that has always been my guiding line. It’s also the process of working with other people to achieve to bring the sound that’s inside my head into life… and that’s important when you choose who you collaborate with. You need to be able to collaborate well with them. And it also has to happen in ways, that my family is happy with, otherwise I’m not happy either.
What resides in Kari’s walkman/ipod/turntable? (Whatever means you use to listen to music anyway!)
K: I’m fond of female voices that can sing really… but I really like a lot of different things…
  • Florence and the machine – “Ceremonials”
  • Anneke Van Giesbergen – “Drive”
  • Tuomas Huolopainen – “The Life and Times of Scrooge”... Johanna Kurkela sings great!
  • Ingrid Olava (Brænd Eriksen) – “Summer House”
  • High As A Kite – “Silent Treatment”
Which is your favorite comedy of all time?
K: That’s easy – because, I was asked this one recently and I actually happened to sit down and watch it! Spinal Tap! It’s quite funny and endearing and it applies to the musicians’ bunch. How they go all around and they can’t find the stage and all that… it’s quite funny, not the best, but it’s quite “there”. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously!
If your husband sold all your records/most valued possession to buy a motorbike for himself (we usually ask this with gf/gold diamond ring but...) how would you react?
K: If that would happen to me – and remember – you’re talking to a certified psychologist now – I would really have to sit him down and ask him, what’s with the bike and all that...
So he’d get the chair, doc!?
K: (laughs) Sure!
Just not the “electrical” variety!
K: Yeah! (laughs)…
Thanks again, please give a salutation to all the readers of Grande Rock and everyone in Greece.
K: I hope you all are well and that you all have time to listen to my new album, “Time To Tell”... and that you find something that appeals to you, and if you are stressed out, you could have a quiet, relaxing evening, with your partner, or even if you’re on your own maybe, by listening to this album and also I hope to see you one day in your beautiful country Greece! Thank you very much for the interview! Bye!