“Sophia” is the Greek word for wisdom. Sophia is also the unique project of Cecilia & Peter Bjärgö. Emerging in 1998 as a side project to Arcana, with their unique militant, industrial dark ambient sound, they have managed to keep our interest alive, despite the fact that they had vanished for almost 13 years. This year they have returned with ‘Unclean’, a solid recording released through Cyclic Law, and, yes, along with their appearance at ETOR Fest, this is another great opportujnity to have a brief chat with them.
You recently released your 5th album ‘Unclean’ through Cyclic Law. What are the main differences from your other four releases?
– Cecilia Bjärgö (Ia): First of all, the sound is different. The production is light years better than the earlier ones. Gone are the classical samples from the first albums. In my opinion, this album is the best we’ve made. There’s so much diversity among the songs in the album; as if they belonged to different genres.
– Peter Bjärgö (P): As Ia said, the main difference is that I don’t sample long chunks of orchestral music anymore and I’d say the rhythms are more complex than on the earlier albums. Another difference is that all four of us have worked on the same album this time.
Could you please reveal what kind of equipment you used for the recording of your latest album?
– P: For the last year and a half I’ve turned into an Ableton fanatic, I just love that program. And it has helped and inspired me to do this album. Other than the Grendel Drone-Commander, there are the usual steel plates, drums and weird recordings of stuff.
– Ia: Ableton is the latest Peter uses. It is perfect for the sound of Sophia and he is also using the Ableton table live on stage! Also, the Grendel is fantastic for the disturbing sounds of Sophia!
‘Unclean’ is actually a manifest against the cruel & unfair world we live in. Would you be kind enough to share your views about this?
– Ia: I think we are all tired of how humanity is sliding downwards. Instead of taking care of what we have, greed and power are taking over. Of course that has always been around us, but we see now how the regular people are getting greedy, not wanting to share the safety of our land with those who have nothing. We see how war is spreading, terror is underlying every news spread, and what do we do? We start to attack each other for having thoughts of a better world. What WE believe could save us all.
After almost 13 years of absence you returned with ‘Unclean’. What happened in the meantime?
– Ia: A lot has happened, live shows have been performed and other music projects have been continued, formed and developed. Even if Sophia haven’t released anything, we have been around Europe for some years now playing live shows. But it was about time for this album, that’s true!
– P: I was busy in Arcana, and when I was not, I recorded for other people. Another factor was that I wrote, mixed and mastered the Karjalan Sissit albums, which always left me dried out musically when it comes to this industrial sound.
Have you ever thought about writing music for films? The claustrophobic atmosphere would fit best for horror flicks. Talk to us a little bit about that.
– Ia: Peter just recently made music for our municipal and that music is played twice a day for hours at the train station. That was something he really enjoyed and I hope he continues making music for others. Making music for films, sure, it has crossed our minds but we’ll just have to wait and see!
– P: This is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. My music has been used in films before, but I’d like to write the music score for a film, especially a documentary.
Apart from music creation are you involved in any other form of art?
– Ia: I work with photoshop making digital art. And I write poetry that sometimes ends up in my music. Peter sketches and paints sometimes. He loves doing crafts and he is pretty good at it!
– P: Yes I paint sometimes; it’s been a while now though.
Which are your favourite albums & reads for 2016 so far?
– Ia: I have no clue, since we haven’t followed the music scene that much.
– P: Same here [Laughs]. I need to start listening to more new bands, not only the old classics.
Were you involved in any other music projects during this period?
– Ia: I am part of Der Blaue Reiter and Sergi since 2014 and I have been playing some concerts. In a few weeks, the new album will be released on Neuropa and we are looking forward to it. I am also creating my own music, but no plans on what will happen there. Peter is working with Nico of Empusae and their project Onus that released an album on Cyclic Law earlier this year. He is also working on the next Arcana album with Ida Bengtsson as well as writing songs for the next solo album and another project of his called Bjargo.
– P: I did a couple of solo albums, the Onus album. I was in a punk band called Meanwhile, we did the Tyrant album. I did all these KS albums which I mentioned.
You are going to appear in the ETOR Dark Ambient Fest at Death Disco, taking place from 6 to 8 May. What should the audience expect?
– Ia: We are coming with a mix of old and new bombastic songs, and for Peter and I it is always “all in”, otherwise it is no use! We hope the audience will like it.
– P: I’m looking forward to this gig, and to do some newer material instead of always doing old songs.
The last words belong to you…
– Ia: I am looking forward to seeing Athens since I have never been there. Peter has been there before and he is looking forward to return. It will also be a great meeting of old and new friends at the festival. It has been a long time since the all the old pals last met. It will be awesome.
ETOR Fest jingle by Sophia: