Covenant is one of the best known electronic bands from Sweden. Since the early 1990s they have sold a huge amount albums. I recently caught up with the lead singer Eskil in Berlin and asked him a few questions about songwriting, studio techniques, fashion and gear.
When you write a song do you work on the lyrics or music first?
Neither! We usually start with a sound, noise or the idea of a song. Then the melodies pop up as I start working on it while Joakim is starting up his lyrics engine.
Do you have any preferences when it come to a microphone and mic-pre for your voice?
Yes. When we did “Northern light” with long-time Rammstein producer Jacob Hellner we tried a bunch of different microphones and pre-amps, Neumann and stuff, but what we finally picked was a copy by Soundelux Inc of an all time classic: Telefunken Ela-M 251. The Universal Audio 6175 is a good companion and pre-amp.
I used to love to put a subtle chorus from an old Roland unit but these days I try more to get the sound directly from my vocals and the mic rather than tweaking it.
How about sequencing? Ableton Live? Pro-tools? Or something else?
Yeah, we’re Steinberg users since Atari 1040ST. Before that we had a sequencer and before that we played everything manually, even live! So we have earned our sequencer so to speak. We were 5 guys and having fun.
I know you own a Moog Voyager. What other key hardware pieces do you use and enjoy?
Hm, I like my microphone, but the Waldorfs (Q, XT & Pulse) still sound like friends I like to know. And Joakim likes to surround himself with red synthesizers from that Swedish company. I love the computer.
What is the secret to writing a great song?
There is no secret, just listen to yourself. Some basic knowledge of structure helps but actually I sometimes feel the music is just passing through me and its up to me to use my craftsmanship to make the best of it. Maybe as a musician you are more of a talented receiver picking up signals than the creator of them. But I also devour popular culture output, maybe that helps.
You are always dressed quite well! Do you have a favorite fashion designer?
I like shoes, with decent shoes you could even wear jeans (I dont have any) but no shorts please. And I like hats. Church’s and Borsalino, way to go.
What is some music your are currently listening to?
Field recordings and drones without rhythm or melodies. This is a gem caught in the web: www.touchradio.org.uk
What are 3 great websites you check often?
Is there anything else you would like to add?