(DJ Jet returns to NCS with the following interview of Johanna Platow Andersson, vocalist of the Swedish/German band Lucifer, whose new album Lucifer IV will be released on October 29th by Century Media. Credit for all photos accompanying the interview goes to Ester Segarra.)
Johanna we must start at the beginning back when you were an adolescent. Tell us about your family.
Both my father and step-father were photographers and my mother was very musical. I grew up with a brother, eleven years older than me and was always surrounded by art, books and music. We traveled a lot every year, I guess to compensate for having been locked up behind the iron curtain before we moved from east to west Berlin in 1985 when I was six.
What was it like for you as a kid to move to West Berlin when “The Wall” was still in place?
It was a culture shock but a good one. It made me an outsider at school. It shaped me and made me very adaptable to anything life throws at me.
What was the first kind of metal music that stirred some emotion in you, and when did you start getting into black and more doomy metal?
At 13 I got into Metallica, Guns N Roses, Danzig, lotsa classic rock, that kind of stuff, but then got heavily into death, black and doom metal around the age of 15.
What made you lean towards the more spiritual aspects of life and how would you describe your spiritual beliefs that keep you balanced?
Not sure how it begun but I always had a thing for cemeteries and churches since I was a child. Maybe because my mom used to take me on cemetery walks and to check out kind of every church we passed. I also started to question things and to think about death at a very early age. The essential questions in life that makes one turn to spirituality. My beliefs are very loose and flowing. I think it is important to keep evolving. It’s a journey and one must grow until death. I find exciting angles and philosophies in almost any religion and it’s interesting how much in common different religions have. I am very much in touch with nature and try to keep my mind very open. Most importantly I think it’s important to live in this world without doing harm to others, nature, animals and oneself. Obviously I also have an attraction to the dark side but I am also aware that all that comes with a price tag. That’s a balance everyone has to find for themselves.
What is it about the occult that interests you?
There is more to life than just the mundane. It’s very obvious if you open yourself to it. Sometimes I forget about it, being caught up in the chores of life and then the universe baffles me with little signs, right on the nose and then it makes me smile and think “Uh yes! Here it is again…”. I do believe in magical thinking and that it is possible to manifest certain outcomes. It has worked for me many times.
How long after splitting with The Oath did you decide to start Lucifer and what did you wish to achieve with this band?
I pretty much immediately made plans for a new band. Life is short and I have too much in me I need to put into music to waste any time.
How did you feel emotionally after forming Lucifer?
Empowered and excited!
What is the current line up?
The fab four Nicke, Linus, Martin, Harald, and little old me.
Let’s inject a little love here. Tell us about meeting Nicke Andersson, him joining the band, and how this all turned into marriage.
We’ve known each other for years but fell in love in 2016 when we ran into each other again in Berlin. It didn’t take long after that that he also joined Lucifer and that I moved to Sweden. We bought a house south of Stockholm and got married. We feel very lucky to have this life together and to be able to share the same passion for music.
So we are really enjoying the new album Lucifer IV, and for myself Johanna, your music is very reminiscent of the era I grew up in. What drew you to this style of music and atmosphere of those times to make you want to go ahead and form a band in that vein?
The older I got the older the music got that I listened to. By now most albums I listen to are 40 or 50 years old. So when I work on music it just comes out that way too I guess.
The main spotlight on this album for the listener is on vocals and lyrics. As a singer what do you draw on for inspiration and how do you pen the lyrics to fit the music to bring that song to life musically and emotionally — what part of you do you inject into them?
Often when I work just on a vocal melody, words come out automatically from a strange subconscious place within and most of the time that is the starting point of the lyrics for me. I always make notes or voice recordings too of lyrical or vocal ideas that I have while driving my car or in bed at night and often look through them when I work on a theme and draw from that too. The inspiration comes mostly from within. Almost all the songs are stories of things that happened to me or people very close to me. But of course there is also all the imagery that has influenced me, places I travelled to, movies, books, art and of course music that I love.
So let’s talk about the new album Lucifer IV. First of all, will all your albums be going in chronological order or will you stop at a symbolic number?
Let’s see! I like to keep things interesting and unpredictable.
So Johanna tell us about the vibe of this album and what are some of the themes within and if any of the songs strike a particular personal tone with you?
All songs are very personal to me and it’s hard to pick favourites, as in our eyes we put no fillers on the album. They just all touch me in different ways. But in general there is a bit of a witch-burning theme going on throughout the album, with “The Funeral Pyre” being the soundtrack to the cover, as well as the ironic “Crucifix (I Burn For You)”. I was working through the feeling of what it means to be a woman in the world and in particular in the music business. “Bring Me His Head” is about this as well. I must add though that we are not a concept band. These things just shape up magically by themselves.
Tell us a bit about the cover art and what you wanted to depict on it for this album?
You could say the album and cover artwork is my personal ‘Fuck You’ to the patriarchy and the people who tried to hinder me from making music and expressing myself. This is an album of defiance and victory.
I was put up like a witch on a stake and yet here I am blasting one album out after the next and I intend to stay. Because there is just so much more to give.
Live shows are slowly coming back. What importance do live stage presence and imagery play for you live?
For me a band has to be interesting from all angles and should be explored with all senses. Of course the music always comes first, so songwriting and production is the base and most important. But the artwork, photos, videos, live experience, the get up, all that has to feed into the creature that is Lucifer.
You recently formed Riding Reaper Records along with your husband. Can you tell us the goals for this label?
Our record deal with Century Media allows us to release 7” singles on other labels, so we founded Riding Reaper to do exactly that. For the moment the label serves only to release limited amounts of 45s.
And in closing Johanna what is it that you love most about being a singer and songwriter in your own band Lucifer?
Singing, songwriting and playing live, those are the things I live for. Unfortunately I have to do all the boring administrative stuff and interviews as well but it beats having a regular job ha!
Thank you so much Johanna for doing this interview with us all the best on the new album Lucifer IV.
Thank you, the pleasure is mine.