Niklas Karlsson Of Orbit Culture Talks Their Rise, Touring With In Flames and More! - Knotfest
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Niklas Karlsson Of Orbit Culture Talks Their Rise, Touring With In Flames and More!

Posted by Corinne Westbrook in Culture on November 23, 2022

Regarded as one of modern metal’s most promising prospects, the vocalist/guitarist reflects on a 2022 that saw important strides, international reach, and set the stage for the band’s next, most impressive act yet.

Orbit Culture is one of the fastest rising bands right now, and for good reason. Their albums Nija and Shaman, blew back open the doors of metal’s mecca, Sweden, by combining the traditional Swedish melodic death metal sound and good old 80’s and 90’s thrash. Vocalist/guitarist Niklas Karlsson’s indomitable vocal range, going from soaring roars to gravely thrash stylings, along with their instrumentation have set the band to be one of 2022’s favorite acts. 

I sat down with Niklas to discuss their rise to prominence, their tour with In Flames and what the future holds. 

As for their ascent, Niklas almost didn’t believe that they are one of the favorite acts of this year. 

“Are we!? Haha! Obviously, we have seen the rise and the statistics and since all of this happened during the pandemic, we didn’t really know what to expect when we got back out there. Especially touring the US. It was insane! Tons of people coming up to us asking us to sign things; we aren’t used to that! We enjoy every second of it, being on tour and talking to people. 

Every night on the tour we did with In Flames, from the minute we washed off after our set, until it closed, we were at the merch table like “Hi!” People seem to dig it and I’m all for it.”

Mounting a charge of momentum on the strength of their Shaman EP, propelled Orbit Culture to tour the US with fellow Swedish metallers, and legends in the melodeath scene, In Flames. A moment that didn’t feel real until it actually arrived.

Rolling back the tape, when we got the offer we were like “Yeah, that sounds cool,” because it felt so unreal until we were actually standing there at the airport like “Holy shit! What is happening!?” Then we freaked out! 

But then after that first day we played with In Flames, we hung out basically every other day BBQing and shit. And they are one of the biggest melodic death metal bands out there! But now they feel like uncles or our older brothers. We had to pinch our arms a bit thinking, “Holy shit, I’m sitting here talking with Anders from In Flames.” I don’t think any of us have taken in what really happened. Obviously, we are going on the European run with them so we can continue living the dream!

But for the US, I had only been there once, just to the New York area for touristy stuff. And this time we got to see the whole thing….except Oregon! Sorry!

Thankfully, I did get to catch them at Aftershock. But the tour itself seemed like a blast for everyone involved. 

“Every day was memorable! Everything. Eating the best greasy food, haha!

But my best memory is: when we were in New York, me and my girlfriend in 2019, I promised myself ‘One day I will be able to play here.’ And it happened! We played Webster Hall and it feels super weird now. But that was a huge moment. And of course, being at these festivals, like Aftershock and Louder Than Life, it’s surreal.” 

When you’re a band coming out of Sweden, there are certain expectations of what people might think you will sound like. Thankfully, Orbit Culture never felt any pressure to sound like anything other than who they are, and were able to bring new elements to the genre. 

“If we had grown up in Gothenburg or Stockholm, but we are from a very small town, from the middle of the country in the forest. So we weren’t really part of a scene or anything. So we just continued on our own making our music. We felt more inspiration coming from the US side, from thrash and Metallica. Obviously, we know Meshuggah and we know In Flames, but we were always more interested in the 80’s and 90’s music from the US. 

But there is still something in the water here, so you will still hear melodic death metal in there, but we’ve merged it together. We play and record what we feel is cool ourselves. 

When you sit down and try to write, and you come up with things, you try to evolve things. And that comes from, part one, you’ve listened to it too much and have become bored, so we add extra elements, and sometimes too many extra elements. But also finding that balance so it doesn’t get too overwhelming.” 

With Orbit Culture making massive waves in the US, there are a lot of eyes and ears waiting for their next album and, thankfully, we only have to wait a bit longer for more details. Niklas is promising something that is immense, but also engaging. 

“It all ties back to our albums Nija and Shaman. Nija was a very mechanical beast. It was aimed to be this huge thing with the soundscapes. Where Shaman was meant to  be more live friendly. The most natural thing was trying to merge that. But it was also natural to create some darker elements in there, some newer stuff too. But there are things from our 2016 album Rasen too. We are trying to take what was interesting about certain parts and bring it together. It will sound huge sounding. Mixing wise, I’m trying to make it as big as possible, that’s why I’m taking my time with it. It needs to be bigger than the previous albums. So it will be live friendly, but with these huge sounds. 

The best way to describe it is that movie Dune. Everything in that movie is so vast from the sounds to the visuals and I wanted to really capture that feel. 

There might be some “bitching” because there are some things that won’t feel the same. But if we keep making the same record over and over it’s not fun anymore. 

I read too much what people think online sometimes. And when you start a new album, you get those keyboard warriors in the back of your mind. But the more you sit with it, the more those voices go away because you start writing yourself again.” 

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Now, it would be an interview of mine without the “most important question ever” and Niklas did not disappoint when asked his favorite dinosaur.

“Oh my god! That’s a tricky question! I’m a huge Jurrasic Park guy, not the newer ones, fuck that shit, sorry, but the first one and the second one. Can I say Tyrannosaurus Rex? Is that too boring? No! I like the Spinosaurus from the third one! That’s the one I will go with.”

Orbit Culture is still on tour with In Flames and At The Gates across the pond in Europe. You can catch them through December 7th, when they wrap up in the most fitting place ever, Gothenburg. Get your tickets HERE.

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