Interview with Johannes Persson of Cult of Luna

Cult of Luna Interview

with Johannes Persson [Guitarist/Frontman]

Interview by Ashlinn Nash

Beyond the Redshift – an all day one day festival taking place in three London venues ; The dome, The Boston Music Rooms and The Kentish town forum. It’s something as ambitious as it is beautiful, it’s also a return for Cult of Luna who have gone from strength to strength since last years double releases of Vertikal – parts one and two.

Cult of Luna
Cult of Luna

The Headline band are also the events curators, we caught up for a quick chat with guitarist and front man Johannes Persson for a very personal and revealing interview about the festival, plans for the future and what was the motive behind going Beyond the Redshift.

First off Thank you for speaking to us today how are you?

Johannes: [with a mouthful of spinach] I’m good, I’m really good

What have you got there?
Johannes: Organic spinach I think. [smiles]

How do you think the event has been going so far?
Event! [Smiles] I’ve watched P.G. Lost [first band on the bill for the dome], I was so surprised so many people showed up.

It was packed wasn’t it?

Johannes: Yeah that was great, I really need to talk to Kristian as he fucked up on the last song I don’t know what happened and we’re going to have a talk as that’s my favourite song. You had it all in front of you and you fucked it up [smiles]. He a loop feed through the whole song I think with the guitar he has a pedal that sends, [pauses] the octaves through different and he pressed the wrong part so it was all out of tune, well not out of tune he was playing a different scale. We are going to have to have a talk about that backstage. It was great and was really happy to see them and I hope this will be beginning of them making it big.

Cult of Luna
Cult of Luna

It’s been ten years for them hasn’t it, have they supported you before In the home land?

Johannes: Yeah, they’ve played with us and stuff, great guys!

I was trying to figure out how they made it on to the bill, but the home connection makes sense.

Johannes: Magnus Lindberg our drummer has mixed some of their albums and also their bassist does keyboards live for us – that’s the connection.

How did you go about choosing the bands for the bill? Was it all your decision or how did that come about?

Johannes: I worked with our agent and he’s keeping the record of the numbers I’m looking at it from the artistic perspective and he’s the numbers and going “we cannot pay for flights for these guys” because they won’t sell many tickets so it was a compromise some were able to fly in but others like The old wind for example and some of the bands we couldn’t.

Our first focus is the music I don’t care who’s on stage as long as the music is good quality. I also had a wish to have a bigger female presence on stage than any other festival I’m a bit disappointed that we couldn’t make that happen obviously that would have been a better balance. We have 15% which is better than most festivals, that was a big concern for me. We have basically created a class reunion [within the bands] and we’ve toured with them before and there are old friends and new friends and some I’ve not heard before but were sent to me – Every single band that are playing here I’ve put my stamp of approval on there are a lot of artists here I love and enjoy, better luck next time.

So this may the first of many?

Johannes: Hopefully! We’ll see.

There has been a lot of advertisement of this festival involving the theme of a large audio visual experience – where did this come from?

Johannes: That is for certain bands, that was nothing to do with us directly, but I think bands in the kind of music like this want to use different mediums to tell their stories it favours this kind of music. They are using it as kind of a narration and some kind of story telling it’s not really my thing sometimes I think when you have too much on stage people forget about it.

Cult of Luna
Cult of Luna

Some gigs are now becoming like a film rather than a gig.

Johannes: Yeah! Exactly, well it wasn’t my idea to have the Audio visuals [smiles]

For the name of the festival did it stem from your album “The Beyond”?

Johannes: [pauses] no, no there is a connection of course but the idea behind it is; you know that the Redshift is the furthest point where you can observe the universe because not enough time has passed for us to able to see beyond the Redshift and I think this is more of a metaphor for music and art to be. I mean we could have said ‘thinking outside the box’ but this sounds more majestic [smiles] that’s the idea behind the whole thing. It’s also something we use a lot in our lyrics so it kind of belongs to Cult of Luna

Let’s have a quick talk about the album and EP , you’ve been with it for a while now [Vertikal and Vertikal II EP] how has that been to play live and do you still enjoy playing it?

Johannes: The new stuff we’ve been playing for about eighteen months now and we’re more adjusted to play those songs rather than old songs now over all the shows we’ve done now ; it’s been a lot for us. We’re not a touring band not like other bands who are there.

I think the last albums songs have made it easier to have more of a dynamic as the new songs are very different from the earlier stuff – when you get better songs under your belt it’s easier to do a better job on stage and I think we have found another stage presence and we are much more secure in our own way. We have an individual way of working and create some kind of collective effort which in the best case kinda radiates into the audience and some kind of connection.

Like yesterday in Paris was amazing was one of the best shows I’ve done, maybe not the best but the most rewarding it’s the reason I do this in the first place what happened yesterday was something that happens once every five years if you’re lucky I can’t think what to compare it to except when we first started out.

We did these squat tours were we played in squats on peoples floors and all that we did a couple of shows like that in Spain they were punk and crust kids and we played in this abandoned train yard. They had this strange tradition to carry the musicians out of the venue and that was amazing and that was something new and I had that experience again yesterday and its fifteen years later. That’s when every show was a privilege and it still is now.

Cult of Luna
Cult of Luna

Do you think having the long breaks between albums was a good thing?

Johannes: Yeah! I mean it wasn’t planned or anything it just happened and I think two things to happen after that hiatus – I think people forget about you or people are willing to see you more we didn’t know what to expect I think it turned out good as a result.

We’re not going to go back to being a band that releases an album once every eighteen months, I don’t even know if there is going to be another album after this if there is going to be one it’s going to take more than a few years. I mean music is not my life I do a lot of other things that I do. Its something I need to do but it’s not my entire life I have much more important things to do, such as being a father for example. I mean I write riffs all the time.

How would you say your year been going so far?

Johannes: [pauses to eat some more] Great! Last year was great when it come to band and touring but it’s kind of a middley this year I don’t what happened – brand new kid in January which was great but hard you know come to think of it [laughs] no sleep.

Cult of Luna
Cult of Luna

You should be trained for that from the gigs you’ve done.

Johannes: [Laughs] yeah I know! It’s something very different, I’ve started my own business it’s been going really well, I’ve been a freelancer for so many years me and friend just decided to start it.

Thank you very much for your time today.

Johannes: thank you!


For updates on Cult of Luna follow them on Facebook or via the band’s website.

For more news on the Beyond the Redshift Festival check out the Facebook page for the event.

Vertikal and Vertikal II are available now to buy [click on album link]



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