Bands, as amazing as they are, take obscene amounts of time and planning to ensure some form of success. Co-ordination of members who have their own commitments to try and get a number of people in a small room at the same time to try and share and combine ideas gets harder when you throw a global pandemic in the mix. Even pandemic aside, you can see why some members of successful bands decide to try and have some solo output, without the constraints of waiting for others. Just take a quick look at the members of Radiohead, with all members having some form of solo output.
Kristian Karlsson has found success with not just one, but two outfits with the epic post-rock stalwarts pg.lost and the heavier Cult Of Luna. For most, this would be enough creativity to occupy their diary, but not for Karlsson. He has somehow found time and space to write, record and release music as a solo artist. Having taken some time to talk to Everything Is Noise about the project, its foundations and future plans, we are delighted to have him join us as our Weekly Featured Artist.
Soars is the moniker Karlsson has decided upon for his solo project, with the name perfectly encapsulating how debut release Enfold makes you feel. Spread across six tracks, Enfold is an impressive and captivating debut from an artist, taking inspiration from both established acts that Karlsson is already involved with, being closer in nature to pg.lost with its heavy focus on subtle synths and building electronics. As an artist already kept busy with ongoing projects, Karlsson took some time to explain the inspiration and reasoning behind Soars:
‘Soars takes its starting point in what many people think is very close to pg.lost, which I think feels very natural. It’s where I feel safe, and that’s what comes out of me naturally when I write music. But the idea with Soars is to dare to explore new paths, so I see “Enfold” as a safe start to a long exciting journey. Soars is also on a simpler and more personal level. The theme of a song can be about something as simple as going out and running. I think that’s the whole point of the project, to keep it simple. Everything from how the music is written, to how it is released.’
It is this simplicity in approach that makes Soars so alluring. Have a look at any of the socials and you will see limited information, carefully selected images and succinct posts introducing new music. The video for lead single “Run” sums up the Soars ethos perfectly. Nothing intricate, quite simply just a video of Karlsson going for a run in the woods. On paper, the idea doesn’t excite, but it is well crafted and complements the track expertly. This way of thinking extends to track titles. Whilst some artists will spend countless hours trying to think of a track name that provides some insight into the inspiration behind the music. Soars, for the most part, takes the opposite approach:
‘Titles and lyrics has never been my strength. Of course, some titles are more or less important, but I usually prefer to keep it to myself. I think it’s more fun if the listener forms his own opinion about what he thinks music is about for him.’
Listening to Soars‘ debut release Enfold is an experience. The slow building title track opens the album with its lush ambience and interlacing textures, lulling the listener into a false sense of security before brash second track “The Heist” provides a sudden burst of noise and energy. Harsh synths sit in perfect tandem with the underlying electronics and uplifting guitar. Karlsson expertly changes the pace throughout the album, at times within tracks, allowing his creativity to shine through.
It is a brave release, with Soars happy to challenge with these shifting sounds and moods. It is something that he notes comes from the freedom of working alone on this project. Whilst he misses his pg.lost and Cult Of Luna writing mates at times, working solo on Soars has enabled him to challenge and develop his own abilities:
‘There’s really no major difference between recording bands, but one big thing is that I only have myself to follow when it comes to decisions. It’s the best and worst thing about having a solo project. If I get stuck, I have no one else to fall back on. But at the same time, I do not have to hold back when it comes to trying new things, or that someone should think an idea I made is not good enough. I only have myself and my own self-criticism to listen to. hehehe. Soars forces myself to believe more in my own decisions.’
Whilst Soars seems perfectly ripe for live performances, Karlsson notes that gigs are not in his immediate future plans. As a project reserved for studio releases, Soars outlines that is the writing and recording that piques his interest, particularly in this solo setting. However, he does not close the door completely on bringing the project to life on stage at some point in the future:
‘Soars is currently a studio project. I have no plans to take the project out on the road. To be honest, my big love is to write and record music, to perform it live has always been something that came with it, something that has to be done. It’s not that I hate it, but it feels like it’s enough to have two bands already touring with. But of course, one should never say never. :-D’
Whilst live shows would certainly be welcomed, there is at least the touring of two stellar bands of Karlsson that we can still enjoy. With new Cult Of Luna music coming in February and the accompanying tour planned, it is hard to see where Karlsson might find time for the follow up to Enfold. However, he assures us that this is the start of the Soars journey, with much more to come. As Karlsson states: ‘Enfold is just the beginning. I will definitely write and release more music with Soars.’