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Awakening the fire!
Our second conversation with
Maja Schønning of Forever Still

Shortly after Ken and I launched HMS I came across the profile of a rock band from Copenhagen on Twitter. At the time they had a couple of very professional looking music videos and several lyric videos of their original material. All it took was one click on the lyric video for their song "Towards The Edge" from their Breaking Free EP and I was hooked. Their songwriting, their sound and the emaculate production quality of their music completely blew me away. I knew immediately that this band was destined for greatness.

That band was Forever Still and their popularity has spread like wildfire since I first heard their music two years ago. I was fortunate enough to once again be able to interview the lovely and talented Maja Schønning, vocalist and songwriter for Forever Still (Mikkel Haastrup is the other half of the band as the bassist, songwriter and brilliant recording engineer and producer). This time around I talked to Maja about their debut album "Tied Down" (available for purchase from their website – just click on the photo), the trials and tribulations of being completely independent (i.e. doing everything themselves), their use of social media and their close connection to each of their fans. Please read on as Maja tells us about the journey thus far.

HMS: Hi again Maja! It’s been two years since I first interviewed you for HMS, and in that time Forever Still has accomplished so much including an album release, a European tour and a global following that continues to grow every day. Tell us about your new album “Tied Down”. It’s a concept album isn’t it? Give us a little insight into the story that it tells and why you and Mikkel chose to release it in three separate EP installments.

Maja Schønning: Tied Down was made as a concept album about anxiety, depression and the likes which we decided to release in parts, each with their individual theme: the dark beginning “Scars”, the rollercoaster ride “Save Me” and the final detachment “Break the Glass” completing the album and the story. We wanted to separate it into three different stages of recovery and release it in parts to show that recovery is never one fluid motion but more like steps and plateaus. We found this made a lot more sense because it gave our fans new music frequently and it made sense for the concept.

HMS: What were some of the more memorable experiences on The Open Wound tour so far? Was there a show, or any shows in particular that really stood out for you in terms of audience reaction?

Maja Schønning: We’ve especially had a growing fan base in the UK for quite a while, and we were finally able to make both touring in the UK and Italy happen last year! It was great being able to meet a lot of people we’ve been talking with on Twitter for up to several years, and everyone was incredibly kind. We also played the Swedish Rock At Sea, which was something else! 2500 people on an 8-deck cruise ship, that’s not something you get to experience every day. There was a really nice vibe, and everyone was there for the same reason – to have fun and listen to great music!

HMS: While on tour did you meet any other bands that fit Forever Still's style of music and that you might consider touring with again?

Maja Schønning: We only played with incredibly kind and talented bands on our tour, and we’d be happy to play with any of them again!

HMS: Forever Still are known for doing everything themselves, from recording and producing your music to filming and editing your own videos. Is the visual element of Forever Still (i.e. video direction and editing, album art and merch design) something that you take control of Maja?

Maja Schønning: A lot of the time yes, but we both oversee the visual as well as the auditive process since it’s extremely important that it represent the band and the music in the best way possible. Often with cover art I’ll work off of my own ideas and run the early ideas by Mikkel to see if he likes it. With music videos we’ll usually work out a concept and most of the shots together, since it’s very important we both have a clear understanding of the visuals – as Mikkel is filming whenever I’m on camera and I’ll have to make it work with the other shots in editing. Our latest merch design was made from our most recent band photo, which we took ourselves on a tripod and I edited.

“ has always seemed more natural to us to make friends rather than fans.”

HMS: Of all the many steps that go into self-releasing an album, and then having to promote and distribute that album, which is most frustrating? And which is the most rewarding?

Maja Schønning: It’s not as frustrating as it is time consuming. We could definitely use some help with a lot of things that we just don’t have the time for, but in the end it’s very rewarding to see it all leading back to you. We make the best of the time we have and I’m really looking forward to going out on the road to play the new album songs and hear the fans’ response to it!

HMS: Let's talk about the power of social media and global networking. There are countless bands that promote, showcase and of course sell their music online – but Forever Still takes it a step further. You actually interact and communicate with fans directly, follow them back on Twitter and openly ask them for their opinions and ideas about what they would like to see in a Forever Still music video, or where they would like you to tour. Personally I think this is a great strategy, and it breaks down the wall between the fans and the artists.

But is this kind of interaction something that you will be able to continue as Forever Still's following increases?

Maja Schønning: We have done it since we just started out because it has always seemed more natural to us to make friends rather than fans. It means we have even more to look forward to when we go out and play shows and meet everyone afterwards, and it means we have the opinions of people we trust. I don’t see us ever stopping with the personal interaction even if we can’t get back to each and every person. The true connection with our fans is particularly important to us, as we want them to be a part of this adventure with us. We’re currently working on some fun Q&A-videos with fan-questions that we’ve been asked to do for a while!

HMS: Which is the best online/social media platform for reaching your target audience?

Maja Schønning: Personally I’m really fond of Twitter. It’s just an easy platform to update and you can quickly respond to people and check out what’s on their mind. I feel like it’s a good place to make new fans as well since it’s so easy for everyone to share the stuff they like.

HMS: Whether it’s an upcoming show, or another incredible video, what does Forever Still have in store for their fans in the very near future?

Maja Schønning: We’ll be announcing the first round of album tour dates in February, and we can already say we’ll be visiting some new cities this year. We’re also working on two new music videos for the Tied Down album the first of which will be released this month!

HMS would like to thank Maja Schønning for taking the time out of her hectic schedule to talk to us again. If you haven't heard Forever Still's debut album "Tied Down", then I urge you to check it out here!

Richard Leggatt, HMS

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