KHARVA: Intense and In-Your-Face Songs


Karlstad, Sweden-based metal four-piece Kharva debuted in January with a four-track demo release available digitally via Bandcamp. Guitarist Micke Larsson shares for Prog Sphere what it took to record and put out this demo, the band’s hopes for it to be properly released, and more.

Define the mission of Kharva.

I don’t really know if we have a mission as such. We like to make and play music as much and as often as possible.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut demo release and the themes it captures.

We’ve all been very much part of creating the songs. Each and every band-member has contributed with something to every song on the demo. For example the first song on the demo – “Present Tense.” It comes from some riffs that bass-player Devan came up with and played for me once at a rehearsal, and that sounded fairly black metal. Drummer Charlie and I worked with the riffs and recorded a demo with software drums and a preliminary arrangement for the song. Singer Jacob wrote the lyrics while we rehearsed it. I think he actually re-wrote and adapted some lyrics that I had written for another song for this one. The song also got re-arranged when we rehearsed it so that the lyric part would sort of fit. And that is pretty much how we do shit. Everyone of us contributes with bits and pieces here and there in any given song.

Kharva (demo cover art)

What is the message you are trying to give with it? 

I don’t know if there is a message. The lyrical themes differ and I would say that the lyrics are more of reflections on certain things or life in general than messages to be sort of preached. The first song “Present Tense” has really positive lyrics about seizing life while you are alive. “Unstable Genius” is about Donald Trump and “Cheers Jeff” is about Jefferey Dahmer, so there is no uniform lyrical theme for the demo. The music in itself express anger and frustration but also energy so there is dualism and maybe that in itself is a message.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

We have recored at least one, often more, pre-production demo versions of every song. Often we record ideas that we play at rehearsal on an iPhone and after that we record and arrange the idea into a song in a DAW with software drums. All that is part of the creative process.

Why have you decided to label this release as a demo, considering that it’s produced fairly well for today’s standards?

The main reason is that we don’t have a label or record company to put it out for us and we can’t be bothered to put money into pressing CD’s or vinyl or whatever to make it a physical release ourselves, because we don’t have any distribution. We have put a lot of effort into it. That is true. And it would probably make a great debut release. Hopefully someone will be interested in putting it out for us. We are open to suggestions on that subject. However we have burnt our own CD-r’s to give away at gigs and the demo will also be out on Spotify and iTunes and you-name-it pretty soon, so one may say it is a semi-release, if there is such a thing.

Is the dynamic flow of the songs carefully architected?

We talk quite a lot about the arrangement of the songs and what it does to the dynamics. And we also work a lot with the arrangements. So yes, I would say the dynamics are pretty much worked over.

Describe the approach to recording this demo. 

We want our songs to come across as intense and in-your-face. To sort of hit you and leave you with some sort of feeling. Whether it is disgust or liking doesn’t really matter that much as long as the listener feels something. And this approach has of course permeated the performance, the recording process and last but not at the least the mixing and producing. Another approach has been to actually learn something from recording and to develop ourselves as musicians in the process of recording our music. We have therefore done everything ourselves. Everything from writing the songs to work as our own recording-engineers and mixing and mastering the recordings.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

I think that it is almost impossible to answer that question. We all listen to all kinds of different music and bands and artist. Everything from crust-punk and grindcore to Pink Floyd and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young really. The death metal influences are pretty obvious and so are the hardcore influences. But I believe there is a fair part of grunge and nu-metal in there as well.

What is your view on technology in music?

For me personally, the digital revolution with the possibilities of recording and putting out high-quality recordings as easily as one can today, is simply fantastic. When I started playing in bands and making music in the eighties good recording studios were expensive and and unavailable for most young bands and we had to rely on cassette tapes to distribute our music. Today you can have a good recording studio in your computer with any DAW really. The internet makes it easy to put out music and reach people all over the world.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

For ourselves within the band I believe it serves a lot of purposes. With the risk of coming across as sententious I believe creating art is possibly the most fulfilling and meaningful activity that a person can do. That our music would be as meaningful to others as some bands music has been to me is something I could only wish for. But it would make me very pleased and touched if that would be the case.

What are your plans for the future?

We like to play live as much as possible and we have a few dates coming up in the nearest. But we want more gigs and possibly do a tour. We also have a bunch of songs that we are working with and that we would like to record soon.

Follow Kharva on FacebookYouTube and SoundCloud.

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