Interview mit Niklas Kvarforth von Shining

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After redefining darkness already more than ten years ago, the new, eleventh studio album of the Swedes is simply titled “Shining”. So is the album the quintessence of 27 years of SHINING? Mastermind Niklas Kvarforth clears up – about the title, the bloody cover and not least, how it is about the health of the band members.

Normally “I hope you are well” is a phrase, but after your last Instagram posts it is very serious: How are you?
Thank you for showing interest, and yes, the first month was not a picnic, especially considering that I am doing interviews and things related to that as well during the weekdays, but you know, it is what is.

Niklas Kvarforth (SHINING); © Claudio Marino

You had posted on Instagram at the end of July: “Tomorrow, i begin a two month treatment which will be even more harsh than anything i have ever had to undergo before. However, its more or less the final solution for me and it will also determine wether i can stand on stage or not for whatever future things we might have plans for.” Does this mean that at this point in time it is not clear if SHINING will return to the stage?
We have decided to not make any plans at all before Barker and myself are both fully functional again. Reality is, that neither he or I will probably ever again be able to spend weeks upon weeks on tourbusses again, but thats actually a good thing, as personally, at least I find longer tours to be excruciating and at the end of the day pointless. No, what we will do instead is to focus on more exclusive shows and festivals once we start playing live again, but that’s something we will not start working on BEFORE all of us are back on our feet.

Nicholas Barker Shining 2023
Nicholas Barker – Selfie from the hospital

How is he doing at the moment, and what’s the next step for him now?
Hes slowly getting better, but a complete liver-failure is not to be fucked around with you know. He’s a fighter though, and I believe that he eventually will be in good enough shape for us to bring this nightmare to a few carefully selected stages here and there.

So we are already talking about the current line-up. How did it come about that Nicholas Barker can now be heard on a SHINING album?
Once I decided that there would be a new album, I knew that I wanted a line-up where everyone has at least two decades of experience touring and so forth as it has been proved countless of times in the past, that younger musicians, even if they are brilliant, are usually also pretty naive. What I mean by that is that when things go according to plan, former members of the band have usually been good, but as soon as there is an obstacle to overcome, younger people tend to become a part of the problem instead of trying to work as a part of a unit, overcome said obstacle and move forward. Essentially, alot of drama and bullshit, which none of us have neither patience nor interest in allowing back in our lives. Moving on, me and Barker have known each other for a long time and once the decision was made to record a new album, I asked him, and he said yes.

Alex Friberg live with NAGLFAR; © Afra Gethöffer-Grütz /

The rest of the new line-up is also quite famous: Charles Edward Hedger and Alex Friberg are well known from their other bands, Mayhem and Naglfar. Isn’t it rather a disadvantage for SHINING if the musicians involved have other bands in which they are so active?
Not really considering the current situation. After so many years of nothing but problems I have come to value quality over quantity. Charles have been with us for almost five years, while Alex is a person I have admired and was lucky enough to get onboard as well.

In addition, SHINING now have a permanent keyboard player for the first time. How will this translate live to the realization of older songs – and why was it important to you to add someone to the band for this and also to put him on stage? Very many bands work here with samples from the tape …
It was a decision made after lengthy discussions between me and Alex on how to make our shows something a bit more unhealthy than in the past. I personally am not too fond of samples and there is actually alot of room in many of the older songs for Tahvanainen to improve on with his talents and general love for cacophony.

With the new album you switched from Season Of Mist to Napalm Records. What were the reasons for this decision – and what effects have you noticed so far?
Actually, we are releasing the album as a collaboration between Napalm Records and The Sinister Initiative, our own label. Napalm Records have been extremely helpful and are amazing to have behind us. When we were looking around for a new label, there was something which for us was of great importance, namely that the label shared the philosophy of TSI, putting a little extra into the actual physical release, which is something that they have definitely done. To be honest with you, Napalm Records have made both the Vinyl Edition as well as the Digipak Edition, 100% according to our wishes, and that’s truly remarkable.

Niklas Kvarforth live with SHINING; © Afra Gethöffer-Grütz /

The new album is titled “Shining”. There is always a certain gravitas in a self-titled album: equating band and album name raises expectations of a “reference work”. Why was this eleventh album the perfect album for you to name after the band?
Because after nearly three decades and ten albums, I knew that something had to change radically if I was to make another one, and I feel that a self-titled album somewhat is sort of a statement when being released so far into our career. Originally, there was another title but when me and Charles were discussing the idea of simply calling it “Shining” during his stay in the studio, we knew that by doing so we would set the bar incredibly high, considering what some of our past albums means to so many people out there. And something which throughout the years have become sort of “our” thing in the studio, is that when something feels a bit over-the-top or “a little too strange”, that’s when we know that we are are on the right path, going full in instead of fearing the consequences of the choices we make.

The cover artwork is also self-referential, showing a portrait of you in blood. How did it come about, why did you want to see yourself represented here?
I got in contact with Maxime Taccardi at first, asking to use an older painting he had made, which actually was a self-portrait that he had already used for his own band K.P.R. so he offered to make a similiar one of me instead, and well, its truly horrific and embodies the aura of what SHINING is today, here and now. He also made portraits of all of us that turned out so fucking amazing we decided to print posters of them all, which are included in the “Long Live The Enemy” VINYL BOXSET we are putting out on TSI later this month. Taccardi is an extremely talented artist, and he is actually currently working with Tahvanainen on the cover artwork of an upcoming EP with material that we recorded as well during the same session. Its similiar to the artwork of “Shining”, but taking it one step further. Anyway, Alex also contributed to the artwork with the incredibly beautiful hand-written titles as well. To sum up, I am immensely proud of what we have achieved by working together, all of us, both musically and visually.

Niklas Kvarforth (SHINING); © Claudio Marino

The artwork and the video for “Allt För Döden” are quite gory and “crass” – interestingly enough, I find the album rather gentle … lots of clean guitars, almost clear vocals … it reminds me more of IX than X. Is this assessment understandable for you?
Perhaps. I do understand what you mean, but do not necessarily agree. IX was written by me and Christian Larsson and I do hold that album and era dear to me. However, “Shining”, for me at least, feel like it originates from a completely other dimension than IX. Nevertheless, it might just be me and the fact I still haven’t really let it sink in yet.

Does the album have a “centerpiece” for you, a song that best represents this album as a whole?
Yes! The song which I feel represents “Shining” as a whole is without a doubt the final track, “Den Permanenta Sömnen Kallar”, which I probably would dare to call one of the best songs I have ever written. Im glad I didnt play it safe there, referring to the opening-riff and its delightful yet extremely ruthless monotony, which everyone, including Andy, felt was a daring decision and as far from “commercially appealing” as one could get. It might end up annoying quite alot of listeners out there, but that’s not important. However, I have to admit that I am very curious to feedback on that.

This album also contains a piano piece, this time a composition by the French composer Erik Satie. Why is it important to you to combine classical music and black metal on your albums – and according to which criteria do you choose the pieces?
I don’t find combining classical music with Black Metal important at all, but when it works, it works. I have always loved this particular piece, ever since my early childhood years when I first heard it in a Swedish film, but I for some reason never cared to dig deeper into its origin before now. Erik Satie was a truly remarkable man and I suggest everyone to check out the short documentary on his life, which can be found on YouTube. There are quite some similarities between Satie and SHINING, and perhaps my choice will make a little more sense after viewing it.

Thank you very much for your time and answers, all the best for the treatment – finally our traditional brainstorming:
Vinyl or streaming?
Climate Change: Colder it shall be
Major labels: major problems
The Swedish healthcare system: utter crap
SHINING in 10 years: either walking the line or buried and gone.

Thank you for this interview!
Thank you for your support!


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