Interview with The Commander-In-Chief

Photo by Jeff Xander

Norwegian female solo artist The Commander-In-Chief is an up-and-coming artist who’s gonna prove to the world that women can Rock just as hard as men. The Viking woman is one tough lady and she apparently killed her first polar bear at the age of 6.

In her own words: “From the hazardous storms and below-zero temperatures of the remote and dangerous place on earth, where even the deepest fjords freeze to ice, and there is no summer, The Commander-In-Chief was born.”
Now she slays with her 7-string axe and her angel-like voice.

Metal Express Radio: First of all, for people who don’t really know you, who is The Commander-In-Chief?

The Commander-In-Chief: The Commander-In-Chief is a female solo artist from Norway. I’m 21 years old and I’m a songwriter/singer/7-string guitarist. In 2008 I recorded 2 songs with Grammy nominated Jazz producer Paul Richmond in Chicago. I used the original version of “Battle for the Mind” from that session to start my Myspace page. In December 2008 I recorded a demo outside London and even though I wasn’t happy with the recording/how it was produced, it got a lot of great reviews. After that I did some live shows in London and the last 8 months I’ve been working on artist development and new material with my drummer and manager full time in Los Angeles.

MER: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard The Commander-In-Chief yet?

The CIC: I used to call it Hybrid Rock; the power of Rock with the message of Punk, and the catchiness of Pop inspired by Metal techniques. NOW my music has taken a more heavy direction than last year, so it’s less Punk and more Metal.

MER: What’s the story behind the name, The Commander-In-Chief?

The CIC: I wanted a powerful artist name, since I’ve always been doing my own thing and still am. I do all the songwriting, guitar playing, singing and I write all the lyrics. For the first demo I made in Chicago I also made my own animated music video which generated quite a buzz on Myspace and gave me all my first fans. I also created illustrations for all my songs, mixing the music with visual arts. I don’t do that anymore though, as I just don’t have the time.

MER: You’re currently about to release an EP entitled Battle For The Mind, can you tell us a bit about the recording process?

The CIC: Well the EP is actually out NOW, and can be downloaded at CD Baby! I finally got the t-shirts today, so I’m very excited! Recording the EP was an amazing experience and I’m very happy with the result. Producer Eric Greedy’s (Fates Warning, Vince Neil, The Smashing Pumpkins, Scott Weiland) talent scout found me when I was in London and really pushed for us to work together. I loved the sound of what he did with the band Hurt so I was very excited about working with him. We did 2 weeks of pre-production which was something I had never done before; the previous producers I had worked with only recorded my ideas and did not have anything to say about arrangements or structure. All the rhythm guitars were recorded and kept during pre-production, and also some of the backing vocals. The first thing to be recorded in the studio was the drums, so we went over to Lance Morrison’s (Don Henley, Volto) house where he recorded bass. Next thing up were the vocals and backing vocals and when all of that was done, we recorded the lead guitars and guitar solos over at Eric’s house. Eric mixed the tracks and when we all agreed everything sounded fine, the songs were sent over to Brian Big Bass Gardner (Lamb Of God, Avenged Sevenfold, 50 cent) for mastering. Right before we received the masters for the last two songs, we decided to add two more songs to the EP, making it 6 tracks so we went back to studio and recorded them in just a couple of days.

MER: How do you write your songs?

The CIC: I always starts with the rhythm guitar and the riff, I always try to write a riff that is strong enough to stand on its own, and at the same time as I write all the rhythm parts I always hum a vocal line. When the rough draft of the song has been created, I start working on the structure and arrangements adding different guitar parts making the composition more complex. I can spend ages working on a song, adding a riff from one song with a chorus from another song, maybe even putting a vocal line created for one song in another.

MER: What do you feel is the most unique thing about your music?

The CIC: Even though I have my own style when it comes to guitars, the first thing that people notice about a song, is the vocals. I am lucky that I have a recognizable timber in my voice, with a unique vocal range D3-B6, which definitely makes the songs stand out. My music is also very technical, and if you analyze the guitar work, I have my own way of handling the guitar and that combined with my songwriting style, definitely sets my music apart.

MER: What kind of musical inspirations and influences do you have?

The CIC: I listen to everything from Michael Jackson to Slayer.

MER: How long have you played the guitar?

The CIC: I’ve been playing the guitar for about 5 years.

MER: There are a lot of gear-heads/guitar freaks out there that are interested in musicians’ equipment. What kind of gear do you use?

The CIC: Ever since I came to LA, I’ve been trying and using several 7-string guitars, the one I used on my recording is an Ibanez RG7620, made in Japan, and I will change the pickups to Seymour Duncans. I’m looking to get a custom made 7-string, inspired by the S-series with a super slim neck and body. At a certain point when you have been playing for a while and you are serious about your music, the best thing is to get a custom made guitar. Even if you buy a high end guitar, you will always find something you want to change. As far as amps are concerned I recorded with DigiDesign Eleven Rack, using a Marshall combined with a Diezel, the only effect I use is some delay on the lead parts.

MER: Illegal file sharing has been huge problem for the music industry and the big record labels the last 10-15 years. How does illegal file sharing affect up-and-coming artists such as yourself? Is there a way to turn it into something positive, or is it only a negative thing?

The CIC: The thing about file sharing is that people in general are ignorant when it comes to how much work it takes to be a musician. You have to work your ass off to create a professional recording, especially when it comes to finding the money. If you are a solo artist nobody is gonna do anything for free, you even have to pay musicians for rehearsals and gigs.

MER: As mentioned you’ve just completed recording the EP Battle For The Mind, but what’s next for The Commander-In-Chief, are you aiming at getting a record deal?

The CIC: You don’t need a label if you have a booking agent, a publicist and sponsors. And of course, I have a manager working around the clock for me 7 days a week. Now we are looking to expand the team.


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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