Immanu El are a Swedish Post-Rock band, who have just released their third full length In Passage.  Though not yet a well known name in the US, they have developed quite a successful career throughout Europe.  In the midst of a tour, singer Claes Strängberg was able to provide us with a bit of his time.

-Who is Immanu El?  Where are you from, and where are you going?
Immanu El is a Swedish post/indierock band currently situated in Gothenburg. We started off more or less as an experiment among old friends from the countryside but after a couple of years making music together we couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Since 2008 we’ve been releasing our music through our own label and made about 170 concerts in 25 countries. As long as we share the passion and love about working with music together we will continue no matter where we are going.

-Northern Europe has had a decent amount of notable post rock bands, such as Sigur Ros, do these contemporary acts influence you at all?
Of course, Sigur Rós and many other bands initially inspired us and opened up the doors to the kind of music that we do but for us it’s been really important to find our own way and not get stuck in a sound or a way of making music. That’s what postrock is all about for me.

-What other types of music inspires you?
There are so many different kinds of music so it’s hard to generalize. Though, different types of music have inspired us for different songs and albums. A common inspiration throughout most of our work is old Swedish folk music.

-Immanuel is a Hebrew term for “God is With us”, is there a connection between that and the band name?
We wanted to have a real and personal name for this project, and I thought Immanu El was beautiful in its original form. The mysticism and for some sacred meaning of the name with its prophecy of salvation is to me beautiful in a way that it wants to give people hope. Though, we have really different opinions and beliefs within the band. If God is with us, against us or if he is at all is anything is a personal question and I don’t want to speak for everyone about it.

-Gothenburg, is known for it heavier influence on music, have you found it hard to stand out?
Not really. There are so many great artists from Gothenburg in all kinds of music and it doesn’t really feel like metal and other kinds of heavy rock is dominant in the Gothenburg music scene. I would rather say it’s the opposite.

-How much of your lives, past and present, is reflected in your music?
I would say that most parts of our lives is when it comes to the songwriting and production of our music but I guess for me and the other ones it’s also reflecting something that is more or less constant as well. We’re not afraid to be “serious” about music and lyrics. I think there are too few artists today that really try to express something that is important and not just a shallow surface.

-What is the writing process like for you? Is it collaborative, or is there a main songwriter?
Everyone in the band writes songs more or less independently, but together we arrange these compositions and form them to something that everyone finally is a part of. For the latest album I think 4 of us wrote more or less 2 songs each. It’s really exciting to work like this.

-The singing is in English, why not in your native language?
As long as the language can express something within the music it doesn’t really matters for us. We made one song in Swedish once, the bonus track from the Japanese edition of our debut album. Maybe it will happen again sometime.

-In Passage comes off as more of a return to form, similar to They’ll Come, They Come, as opposed to Moen.  Was the change prompted by anything significant?
Nothing more than that we at the point of writing and arranging the songs felt like we wanted it to sound like they do. We always want to try developing our sound and I think even though the soundscapes of In Passage reminds more about the first album, a lot of other things, like structure and vocal expressions for example, are a consequence after making Moen and playing those songs.

-There is a theme of journeying on In Passage, what inspired that?
The ocean and the maritime surroundings with all its stories around Gothenburg inspired us a lot. The journey and the yearning of going out to sea is not a new thing, maybe it’s just our way to express this romantic scenario. Since a few years we’ve also been a part of a project where people rebuilt an old 18th century ship and sailed to China and back, as well as to many other places. This project is dear to us and the voyages have been a great inspiration as well.

-The artwork for each of your CDs is rather epic and profound.  Is there a conscious effort to have it reflect the music?
Yes, we think it’s very important with a visual experience that connects to the inspiration behind the songs. Each and every album has got its “room” that belongs to the music. As a whole live experience it’s really powerful to make this connection.

-You guys are known for having a very demanding tour schedule, in December alone, you will have visited France, Spain, Italy, and Germany.  How has the response been to the new material?
You forgot Belgium, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden. The response has actually been really good so far, we never had this much attention before and we are very happy for this of course. It seems that we with this new album can reach more people than before… and we already have our first Asian tour scheduled for February 2012.

-What is a typical Immanu El Show like?
Since I’m always on stage I’m probably not the right person to ask, haha. I would say that a typical Immanu El show is something like a very dynamic journey through our music with parts that can be almost completely silent as well as parts with an exploding intensity. We also bring stage lights and a backdrop with projected visuals to make the visual experience more special.

-What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Career-wise I would say that the just released new album have opened up a lot of new doors with new partners and possibilities for the following years. We already started to co-operate with some new agencies that I think will have a great effect. Emotionally it’s another kind of a question though, maybe when we played a couple of shows in Iceland and ran into Sigur Rós.

-What is Immanu El’s goal for 2012?
Making our first Asian tour successful as well as a number of festivals around Europe in the summer. We also hope we can make some support-shows for bigger bands. Not to forget continue writing music that we love.

-Any touring, recording, or US plans for 2012?
Yes, we have an initial plan and a great partner what would make it possible for the first US tour next fall, but we still need to find a good label that would like to release our album on a license. Maybe you have a couple of suggestions?

-For someone who never heard of your band, what could they expect to hear from you?  What song would you recommend they listen to, to understand Immanu El?
If he or she had the time to sit down and just listen with a focus for 10 minutes I would play “Skagerak” from our new album.


Be sure to check these guys out, you will not be disappointed.  Thanks again Claes.

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Immanu El Soundcloud 


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