THE MIDGARD PROJECT: "While I was composing for the album, I noticed a similar theme: The dichotomy between wisdom and purposeful ignorance"
We're heading to Canada for the first time to meet with the mastermind behind symphonic progmetal act THE MIDGARD PROJECT. They released their 2nd album "The Great Divide" on March 11th, 2022, which woke my interest because of its stunning cover artwork, and drew me in at once with their great music.
Glad about the opportunity to welcome them on our journey, learn more about their work here:
Hey Marty, thanks for making time to answer my questions. How are you today?
Hi there! I’m doing very well, thank you. It’s been an incredibly busy and eventful few months, but it’s been great.
Could you please introduce yourself and THE MIDGARD PROJECT to our readers?
My name is Marty Midgard, I’m a Canadian musician and composer hailing from a small town in the remote north. Myself along with Stu Block (Into Eternity/ex-Iced Earth) and Dennis Dumphy round out the members of THE MIDGARD PROJECT.
The project started in earnest sometimes in 2014, when I began composing the music that would eventually become our debut album “Music of the Spheres”. Since then, we’ve also released our sophomore record “The Great Divide” recently, which employed the vocal talents of Stu for the first time, and we feel like we’ve found our sound with him on board! So there will definitely be more to come!
That's awesome :-) How do you feel about the new release, and how was the reception so far?
Ahh, the reception has been overwhelming! We loved the songs, and everything just came together so naturally (albeit over a longer stretch of time than we’d hoped). We’re super proud of how it turned out - performance, production, visually... just all of it really. It’s a dream to finally have it out in the world and to see so many people enjoying the music.
Talking about the visual: What can you tell us about the origins of your marvellous cover artwork, and how does it reflect the album thematically?
When I had decided what the album was going to look and sound like, I knew the artwork would have to match how epic the music was. I found Giannis of Remedy Art Design through an online portfolio and just thought his art would match the music perfectly. So I sent him some of our music from the first album along with the lyrics and thematic ideas for the new stuff. He came up with that artwork on the first draft! I was blown away that he was able to touch on so many motifs from the lyrics in such a stunning way.
He did absolutely - Huge fan of his art here as well :-) Could you dive a bit into the album’s topics with us, please?
While I was composing for the album, I noticed a similar theme: The dichotomy between wisdom and purposeful ignorance, man and nature, love and loss... All of these things kept coming up in the lyrics and musically, so that’s where it started.
For example, the title track touches on the perceived divide between humans and nature, even though in reality there is no line. We are all part of this planet and are as much connected to nature as anything else. The divide is merely a perception and a clear indicator of how distanced we’ve become from the natural world.
Another example is “Mimir’s Well”: The thought that Odin would sacrifice an eye to gain all the wisdom of the world, while most people today are happy to remain ignorant and coast through their lives with as little conviction as possible (obviously not everybody, but you get the idea!). This song is a kind of call to arms to be the best version of yourself, to take the long road and seek out the things that are most meaningful in your life, no matter how difficult that road may be.
“The Great Divide” is a wonderful record in its entirety, and quickly convinced me because of the amazing compositions and great musicianship. What is your musical background, and where do you draw your inspirations from?
First off, thank you so much for the kind words. We worked really hard on this record and couldn’t be more proud of how it all came together.
I’ve been a music fan for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I’d be sitting at my dad’s record player and listening to Rush, Deep Purple, Van Halen, stuff like that endlessly. When I really got into the guitar just before high school, I knew I had to pursue music to the highest level that I could. So I completed a music degree at university followed by an education degree. I would say I did the vast majority of my practicing in high school, but university was the place where I really cut my teeth on composition and music theory, which honed my skills as a writer and player.
Living in a northern remote area, it’s no secret that I draw the majority of my inspiration from my surroundings. Hence the heavy winter theme that persists throughout this record. I wanted to draw on personal experiences as much as possible, and stay true to who I am as an artist and person. I like to spend as much time outdoors as I possibly can!
Could you briefly describe your writing / recording process, please?
Generally I’ll either sit down to compose an orchestral piece, or have my guitar in hand and just start jamming out on ideas. I rarely write both parts simultaneously although that has happened in the past ("Yuki-Onna"). So, if I come up with a cool orchestra section, I’ll add guitars to it after and vice versa.
When that part is complete and I have a general structure in place, I’ll see how the song speaks to me and how it feels. Once I get that in mind, I’ll start working on lyrics and building those vocal melodies (melody is at the forefront of what I do). Sometimes a melody will randomly pop into my head and I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and record it in voice memos or something. My family is pretty used to it when that happens now haha.
I can imagine :-) How did you come up with your project’s name?
To be honest, I wanted to use “Midgard” initially, since it’s my last name and has some cool roots in Norse mythology, but it turned out there are already a million metal bands with that name haha! I was like “come on, guys! It’s my actual name, I should be able to use it!” So, we did the next logical thing, which was adding in “project”. In the end, I think it sounds pretty cool :-)
Indeed, and very fitting as well. Do you have any plans to bring your music on stage, or is it a pure studio project?
As of right now, this is purely a studio project. I have two young boys and a fiancé at home that take up the majority of my time, and I’d hate to leave them for any extended periods. That being said, I wouldn’t be opposed to any festival-type one-off performances if we could get the whole gang together!
I see. How would you describe your local rock/metal scene, and is there something special about it? Did you notice changes over the past years?
For live music there’s not a whole lot going on. For that, we travel a couple hours west to Winnipeg, which is the largest city centre nearest to us. That being said, for our tiny population we have some absolute monster players! Per capita it has to be up there with anywhere else!
What can you tell us about your future plans?
With Stu being on board as our vocalist, our plans are to continue making awesome music together. I just know the next album will be even better because we’ll have more time to collaborate and really refine our sound. We may even have a special surprise in the coming months that I think many people will be stoked to hear! I’ll leave it at that for now ;-)
Call me intrigued :-) Do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to check us out and listen to our music. It’s cliché to say, but it’s an absolute honour to have so many people from around the world who enjoy what we’re doing, and I know that it’s only going to get even better from here!
Awesome! Ao all the best for you and your musical plans. Thanks again for your time and these amazing insights into your work \m/