Ok, this time it’s kinda personal. I’ve been working close with the band for almost 9 years now and we’ve been through all sorts of adventures together. They are just like family to me!
When Mist first released their Demo in 2013 as an all-female band, they never dreamed it would become recognized around the globe for its unique dark harmonies contrasted by powerful feminine vocals. Their music is natural, raw and the riffs reflect their lyrics, which are often deeply inspired by the occult. Mist’s traditional doom sound is being built on the legacy of legendary bands, such as Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Candlemass, Coven, Saint Vitus and others.
Nina Spruk – Lead Vocals
Ema Babošek – Rhythm Guitar & Backing Vocals
Blaž Tanšek – Lead Guitar
Neža Pečan – Bass
Mihaela Žitko – Drums
For all those who don’t know you yet, tell me about forming Mist and what was your goal at the start.
Mihaela: Me and Nina met on an early Teleport gig and had an unbreakable bond right away. We hung out a few times on different concerts and always talked about loving the same bands and forming a band from the beginning. Then, one night we drunkenly went on a cruise on Metelkova to find a guitarist and she recognised Ema from somewhere. Later we found Neža and Mist was formed. We started creating and discovering our musical expression with no pressure or goal. I think we all just felt something special was brewing.
Ema: Nina actually ‘found’ me at Metelkova – a hangout spot that frequents metal concerts and such. We didn’t know each other but she just came out of nowhere and asked “Hey I know you play bass, do you want to be in a band?” and I didn’t think much about it since I just ended things with my previous band, so the next thing you know I was at the first Mist rehearsal where I then started playing guitar. For me there were no big dreams or goals, just a bunch of cool people making music together.
Neža: I joined the band on their second rehearsal in July 2012. Initially it was just Mihaela (drums), Nina (vocals), Ema (guitar) and then me. We started out playing covers like »Living After Midnight«, »Highway To Hell«, »Paranoid«… Just to get the taste of playing as a group, Ema was the only one to had been in an actual band before. In December 2012 we wrote our first song »Phobia«. I personally just wanted to play doom, and luckily others went along with it, haha. Our goal at that time was to find our own sound and release a demo.
Were you surprised when you got tons of positive responses on your first demo from all over the world?
Neža: We never anticipated it, as we only promoted it in person by giving out copies of the demo at the festivals we visited. The man behind the Doomed Nation is to thank for believing in us and sending out promo emails worldwide before we ever even met. He saw potential in us when we were young and clueless. Thank you, Bojan!
Ema: Yes! We were completely overwhelmed with the response to our Demo, especially having no expectations or goals in this direction. We had such amazing promotion and help from you, and we’re actually good friends now, although I’m not sure we even knew each other at that time! You believed in us right from the start and we will never forget it.
What do you think was the turning point for Mist?
Neža: Definitely you deciding to help us out of the blue. You just called me one day and said “Do you want to play with Uncle Acid in Vienna in 2 weeks?”. My heart almost stopped, we had only played 3 gigs up until that point. Not to forget the awesome support from my friends all over Europe, as soon as we released the demo, many of them booked us for shows or recommended us to a booker!
Ema: There have been a few since our start – the first and most important was our debut Demo in 2013 and the response it received because it allowed for all the rest, then I think it was playing abroad – from Vienna with Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats to our UK tour, Malta Doom and Hammer Of Doom…, playing live is still what we love the most. Being on the mainstage of Metaldays – a festival we all visit in Slovenia – was also a huge highlight! Of course it was huge to release our first full-lenght album in 2018 which was also a big step forward for us.
For me, you’re some of the nicest people I ever met. It seems that there is something special that other people like so much about your band, beside heavy riffs and everything. How do you feel about that?
Nina: We are honoured for each piece of support we receive from people and we are delighted to meet new people and possibly inspire new generations in doom metal which will take this love of the genre even further. You really helped us a lot from the start of the band and for this we are eternally grateful and have most respect for your work.
Neža: I think we react to kindness with kindness and find it easy to connect with the people we meet. For us it’s one of the best aspects of traveling and performing.
Ema: Thank you! This band is like family to me, we have a special connection as bandmates and friends. Even thinking about how we have grown together and as individuals during these eight years is amazing to me. I think we never put any pressure on the band to ‘make it’, which sort of eliminated the stress of different goals for the band and lets us just do things at our own pace.
How would you describe the other band members?
Nina: When Mihaela and I met we immediately naturally bonded and became best friends. She is always chill but also ready to work on music ideas, her drumming skills fit perfectly with our playing style. Ema, with the experience from the previous band, gave us as a solid rhythm guitar on which we could lay the bass and lead guitar. She is very good at writing lyrics and structuring the songs. Neža contributes to the band with great lyrics and ideas for the atmosphere in the songs. Blaž is the wizard of riffs and solos.
Neža: Nina is the funny one, Ema is the band princess, Mihaela is tough as nails and Blaž is the smooth operator.
Ema: I’ll start with Nina – she is the sunshine of the band, always has a joke ready and always smiling, I am amazed how she has progressed as a vocalist as well! Mihaela is the artist behind all our band artwork and the drummer who always has the best melodic ideas. Even though she looks so badass she has the gentlest soul and is one of the nicest people I know. When we started the band Neža was actually one of the last to join but was always the one who pushed us and gave us all direction and purpose, she is such a powerful person and the best songwriter. Last but definitely not least is Blaž, who has been the most amazing addition to the Mist family – not only due to his heavy riffing but also his bubbly personality.
Mihaela: They are all amazing talented people. Nina is the most positive person I know and never fails to make me feel good. I love creating music with her and just listening to her spontaneous singing. Every time I read a new lyric from Neža I get goose bumps. I love her ability to translate emotion in text and music. Ema also writes amazing lyrics and has awesome ideas when it comes to rhythm. She’s a kind soul. The best thing before we start rehearsing is jamming with Blaž, we just have a special connection when it comes to that. His ideas and creative spirit often push us forward.
Blaž: Coming into the band as replacement for the then pregnant lead guitarist Nina I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a warm welcome into a close circle of friends. We hit it off and being in Mist is like being in a family. We spend a lot of time together outside of band business. What I love about the girls is that there is no emphasis on being a girl band. We are just a bunch of musicians that love making music together. Each member adds their own magic into the song making process. Ema and Neža take the lead on the lyrics and Nina puts the soul in them. Mihaela is always challenging the rhythm section, no idea being too strange to try out. And put together (me always nagging for everything to be heavy and epic) we are the band that loves music and loves bringing it alive and on the stage.
Can you tell me something more about recording your debut »Free Me Of The Sun« from 2018? And how the whole process was happening?
Mist: It was hard to decide on a studio, especially when it is your very first album. We really wanted to find the perfect fit for our band but felt somewhat pressured because we had never recorded in a studio before. We decided to go to studio Ork the moment we went to check it out the first time – not only because of the vintage gear and the bust statue of Josip Broz Tito lurking in the guitar room – we felt the relaxed atmosphere and good vibes that are all around the studio. There was always good food and strong coffee to keep us motivated – the owner Sašo Kisovec made sure of that and took great care of us. The experience really was above all our expectations, a special thanks goes out to our producer Benjamin Kic, the keeper of the sound and mixing table who did his magic afterwards but left the last step of mastering to Patrick W. Engel (Candlemass, Pentagram, Exodus) from Temple of Disharmony. This time we took a lot more time to write the music than in the previous two editions. Accordingly, we also placed more emphasis on the preparations for recording and finding the desired sound for each instrument separately and for the whole. We could say that we are proud that this time we really got that real sound in the style of ‘Mist’, which we lost on the »Inan’« EP.
Neža: I personally am also proud of the dedication we showed during the preparations for the recording and the endurance in the studio. We really did our best and didn’t give up if we knew we were able to play better at some point.
Mihaela: The whole process was quite exhausting, but we loved every minute of it. It brought us closer together.
What about the songwriting for this album? Is there any concept behind the songs?
Mist: The songs from »Free Me Of The Sun« were created individually, which allowed us to work on each of them without constraints. They are united by themes that define us – death, witchcraft, afterlife, nature… Each lyric is a product of momentary inspiration, impression.
Ema: We didn’t stick to a concept since we had many of the songs already written and also me and Neža have different themes and styles which I think works better for the band so we aren’t limited in any way.
Mihaela: Cover art mirrors the concept and my interpretation of the title song – »Free Me Of The Sun«. Waves of blood and emotions pouring from her hands represent the sea, where a woman drowns in the rest of her life and says farewell to the sun. In the darkness she accepts the moon, which offers her new hope in the afterlife.
How do you know when a song is finished? Is there ever a point where you can say “That’s it!”?
Ema: I have to admit a lot of our songs take ages to finish so I don’t really think that moment exists most of the time, it’s more about the process and in the end it’s like “Ok sounds pretty good”.
Where did you find Patrick W. Engel, who did the mastering?
Mist: Since we didn’t know many mastering engineers we actually searched for one on the internet and it really worked out great for us. What we wanted was someone with good references of bands we like and Mr. Engel seemed perfect.
How are you satisfied with the final result? Would you change anything?
Nina: We are very happy with the result, it took us a lot of time and effort to make the songs and pour our feelings into them. When it was finished and we received the first package of records and CDs, I was personally so happy. I would not change anything and I love that we had this experience and learned from it, so that we can use the knowledge for our next album.
Ema: I love the album, for me it is the music that I put on when I need to feel myself again and it always does that, it puts me back in my zone and I can’t imagine it any different.
Blaž: It is a great record with beautiful cover art. There are always afterthoughts of what could have been, but the blood and sweat we put into the record shows and nothing could change it for the better.
One of my favourite songs from the album is groove-laden rocker »The Offering«. Do you have some more songs like that for us? Are you already working on some new material?
Nina: Thank you! For me, »The Offering« is one of the favourites, I actually prefer faster tempo songs with power vocals to the slow ones, haha. Yes, we are working on some new material, definitely there are parts of songs with awesome grooves. I can’t wait for the world to hear it.
Ema: We have been working on new material and there will definitely be some upbeat songs among our otherwise more melancholic repertoire – we love those too!
Blaž: I’m currently on a riff writing high and all I can say about future songs is that there will be less boundaries, more heaviness and a generous infusion of emotion.
You said that you kind of lost your own sound on the previous EP…
Ema: I think the reason is that we loved the sound on the Demo, so when the EP sound came out completely different we felt it wasn’t ‘us’ anymore. But our sound has to evolve with us and I think it all came together perfectly on the album.
Neža: Indeed, for my taste it was a bit too polished and clear. It lost the dark, dirty old school energy I imagined it with. But it was still a wonderful learning experience for us and the listeners seem to like the sound of it.
Blaž: As for me I joined in a few months before the recording started on the EP (Not even sure it was that long). At the time I had no feel for the band and nothing to go on, so I believe I had nothing to add at that point which shows in the sound and solo writing. Thankfully we made it to »Free Me Of The Sun« where all of us got to show our colours.
What would be your next musical step?
Nina: We are exploring new paths in doom metal and moving away a bit from traditional doom, finding our own way paved with personal music taste and trying to incorporate haunting female vocals with sharp old school riffs. We are working on the second album. Another one of our further steps will also be a music video.
Neža: Experimenting with atmospheres and new sounds, while staying rooted in doom. As Nina said, more of the haunting vocals and songs that flow naturally.
Ema: Right now it may be hard to imagine but we do dream to play some bigger festivals in the future, and even though I always say we are primarily a live band there is definitely another album on the horizon.
Blaž: We are taking very long with new material but we believe that the groove we had on »Free Me Of The Sun« has been exhausted and we are trying to bring something fresh into our song writing. Hasn’t taken off yet but we will not force anything until we believe our final product is worthy.
You are signed to cult Dutch label Soulseller Records. What’s the story behind that?
Mist: It was a time for us to find a suiting label. They contacted us at the right time and their conditions and attitude was what we were looking for, so we decided to work with them.
How is like to have labelmates such as Demon Eye, Wombbath, Deathcult, Devil and Gorgoroth?
Mist: We’re honoured to share the label with such amazing acts.
You’ve toured Europe a lot and also did your first UK tour in 2015. How would you describe your life on the road?
Neža: Planning that mini tour in 2015, we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into. We didn’t plan a single day off in the entire week and were dead tired after a few days. It was a taste of what many professional musicians go through when touring. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful experience and the crowds were incredible. Otherwise our road life (when it happens) is pretty hard-core, we mostly drive ourselves in one car. One time we drove for 32 hours straight. Five people in a family car, gear in the back. We use each other as cushions in the back seat, haha.
Ema: We have this rule that works most of the time: “Good food, good gig.” So we need snacks on the road too and we always share, hehe. The most memorable was the drive back from I think the UK tour or maybe Bloodstock when we spent 32 hours on the road continuously – we only stopped once to sleep for 3hrs. We are pretty tough, and maybe just a bit crazy.
Nina: We always travel by car or van, with the exception of Malta where we went by plane. We like to be comfortable on the road, usually it takes many hours to arrive at the venue, but it always goes by fast because we like to talk a lot and joke around. We love that you can see so much of a country by driving from one place to another. If the gig is really far away we have a driver, so we can be well rested and prepared for the gig when we arrive.
Mihaela: I love travelling with all of them. It’s a special experience that bonds a band in a different way. We listen to the best music, sleep and joke around all the time.
You just mentioned food and snacks. What is your favorite food on tour?
Nina: I would say anything warm cooked because on the road we eat a lot of sandwiches, chips more of a dry food so warm meal is perfect. My favorite would be pasta or pizza.
Ema: For Blaž I remember he is always happy if there’s a KFC on the road haha but other than that hummus and all kinds of chips and junk!
Are there any funny anecdotes?
Nina: Sometimes we joke and call the whole group “The witches and the dog”.
Neža: On our way from the UK in 2015 I was the only one who got Chinese street food in London (others went to KFC) and got a brutal food poisoning. We had to stay at the ferry terminal in Dover where I was vomiting for over 6 hours. Good times. There was another funny incident at Bloodstock Festival. Ghost were playing on the main stage, and someone asked Nina if she liked them, she misunderstood him in all the noise, and having a farm at home, she answered “Yes, I have goats”.
Ema: I remember when we played Malta doom we went sightseeing and as we were in a church Nina approached me and whispered “Did you read the pamphlet? It says sneezing is forbidden so don’t sneeze in here!” – she told this to all of us and we all believed her – then at one point she burst out laughing, haha. I really don’t know what to believe, Nina always has these jokes!
Blaž: At our gig in Sheffield my amp burned out and I couldn’t do anything about it so I stepped off the stage and watched the band complete the song. I remember after a while Neža noticed me in the crowd her face going “The F***?”.
Do you ever argue about playlist in the van?
Ema: Not unless Mihaela is in the front and doesn’t stop changing the radio station – she really can’t help it.
Nina: I think it has never happened, most of the time we listen metal and have very similar taste, but there are times when we don’t have a playlist or CDs with us and we have to listen to some pop radio and it is never on for a long time haha.
I think Malta Doom Metal Festival was your first big festival just at the start of your career… How would you describe that experience?
Nina: Amazing, it was one of the top three festivals we played. In the months before, Ema was studying in Belgium so we hadn’t seen her and practiced together in a few months. The Maltese band Forsaken was so kind to help us and let us practice in their rehearsal room. The festival was incredible, there were so many people and we got such a good feedback from the crowd. We also got to meet Mark Shelton, Bryan Patrick and the rest of Manilla Road.
Neža: The Maltese people are such sweethearts, they accepted us with open arms. We stayed there for a couple of days and got to visit a few wonderful places and towns. Clive Pearson, bass player for Desolation Angels phoned our hotel room one morning and said “Don’t miss the breakfast dear”. So British and kind of him, haha. I’ll never forget it.
Ema: Incredible! Such friendly people, amazing venue, other artists were so nice and the entire island is like under a chill spell so it was the ultimate Mist vacation – we felt so relaxed and welcome from start to finish there. Some of my favorite Mist memories!
Mihaela: It was the best from start to finish. We met amazing people and bands that really embraced us amongst them. I think we had one of our best gigs there.
Blaž: Not only was it an amazing band experience but it was one of the best trips I have had in my life.
And the biggest was definitely Bloodstock Open Air 2018 in the UK…
Neža: Dirty Skunks are to thank for that one. They sent us there because they exchange bands with Metaldays every year. It’s awesome playing large festivals, everything runs smoothly and there’s always a stage team to make sure all sounds and looks as it should. There was a moderate amount of anxiety of course, when everything is perfect venue-wise, it puts more pressure on you. That’s how I experience it. And you want to do your best, being a small band at a huge festival with thousands of people.
Ema: For a while I thought we were crazy to even go to the UK by car for one gig but it would be crazy not to go! Such a cool festival, we saw some big acts and discovered some new bands too, but especially we had a great gig and I think got many new fans from it and some new random friends, haha.
I’ve noticed that you met a famous alternative model Dani Divine there as well.
Ema: Yes me, Nina and Neža recognized her in the backstage! As far as I can remember she approached us standing in the shade to ask if her makeup was holding up in the heat (btw: it was on point) so we took the chance to take a picture – we also saw her in the fire show later and it was awesome.
What was your best festival performance so far? And why?
Neža: Malta Doom. It just worked, we played with power and the entire crowd was bewitched. We didn’t expect it.
Ema: If you are asking at which festival we played best it would be Malta just because we were in such a good vibe there and so relaxed. But if I think of my favorite festival that we played at it was Metaldays because it is the festival I’ve been visiting every year for 10 years and it was just special to once stand on the stage!
Mihaela: For me it’s also Malta Doom Fest. I think we just vibed with the whole crowd and really enjoyed playing.
And what would be the most strange place you have ever played?
Nina: I would not say there was any strange place for me, more interesting places like playing on a boat in Liège in Belgium that was interesting and a bit confusing sometimes when the boat was rocking.
Ema: Most surprising – a boat on a river in Liege and weirdest – a basement of some guy in Italy where it was way too hot and way too many people.
How have you dealt with sexism on your path? Does it hurt you? I’ve noticed that jealousy comes mostly from the guys in bands, with records out and tones of their own gigs!? Do you have any clue why?
Neža: Normally we try to not let it get to us. But it’s still very present. One time at a show we were called sexist names a couple of times, people were forcing peck kisses on us and insulted us when we refused. The people who witnessed it did nothing about it and tried to brush it off instead of speaking up. Our way of dealing with sexism is our music, making people see we aren’t there just for the appearances. I believe the jealousy from other, male bands, comes from their insecurities, not having the guts to play out of their own hometown or country. Staying in their little world and hating anyone who dares reach beyond it. Let alone if it’s a bunch of women! Someone told us we got to play at Metaldays because of ‘boobs’. Funny, ’cause that same guy had a female lead singer in his band and they got nowhere. Another incident happened when a reporter asked us with a straight face “Who cooks for our men when we’re playing gigs, and what happens to the band when we have children?”. The sexism in metal community is going strong and we should all do our best to tear it apart piece by piece.
Ema: When we were just starting out we received harsh criticism for being then all female. I think men have this idea that it gives us an advantage and the jealousy comes from that too, when in fact we had to prove ourselves far more than male bands – it was much harder for us to just be recognized as a band and not an all-female band. Not sure if everyone will understand the importance of this but nonetheless it is worth mentioning.
Do you feel frustrated when some people use term ‘female-fronted’ as a metal genre?
Nina: I would say the term can be used when describing a band or an event like female-fronted doom night, so people have the information about what to expect. I would not agree that is a metal genre at all.
Mihaela is in charge for your artwork. I’ve noticed that she’s also a talented tattoo artist…
Neža: She is a wonderful artist and is just about to get a cosmetics license, which is necessary by law for tattoo artists in Slovenia. We all completely support her and are frequently blown away by her drawings and paintings. IG: @mihaelazitko
Ema: We are so lucky to have her as our artwork designer and she is really a true artist when it comes to tattoos as well!
Mihaela: Thank you so much! I am really grateful that the other band members let me go wild and do my thing (haha). Our music and lyrics really inspire me to see images that I can turn into art
You recently had a ‘live on the air’ interview on Conexión Rock Radio from Honduras. How was that experience for you?
Ema: Before the interview we had been quite silent for a while focusing on other things and also the Corona crisis coming, cancelling gigs… We kind of distanced from the band and the interview was such an amazing way to reconnect and hearing questions from people all over the world – just warmed my heart and made me feel that connection and motivation for Mist again!
Are there any other artists that you like and should deserve more of our attention?
Neža: Cauchemar from Canada are an inspiration. Some of my other favourites are King Woman, Messa, (Dolch), Darkher, Jex Thoth, Hällas, Graveyard (Swe). From Slovenia our favourite bands are Siderean (ex-Teleport), Hellsword and Challenger.
Ema: Our producer Benjamin Kic’s band Metalsteel is actually working on their new album and nearing their 20th anniversary – it is in my opinion one of the best heavy metal bands from Slovenia!
Just at the beginning of the first phase of lockdown in Europe you got some shows cancelled. How do you feel about that?
Neža: We were really looking forward to playing with our pals Stallion for the first time, they invited us to open for them in Vienna. Another show we had lined up was in Belgium, which is one of our favourite countries to play, we always love to return. Hopefully we can postpone the both of them. But at that time it was necessary to cancel.
Ema: I remember how hard it was to make the decision to cancel because I wanted so hard to play in Mechelen, Begium where I lived for a few months during my studies and it was heartbreaking but we had all made the decision before we met to discuss it and all agreed it would be safest not to go. Hopefully we can reschedule and still play there soon!
How did Covid-19 lockdown affect you as a band, beside shows being cancelled?
Ema: Respecting quarantine we didn’t get to see each other for a while and I think we were all unsure and not very productive during that time. Then when it was lifted we slowly began to start rehearsals (first few were just beers and talk) and now we are starting to finalize some songs so the mojo is coming back!
Mihaela: Our creative process was slowed down a bit, but now I think we all have an even stronger desire to finish the new album with some haunting and heavy riffs.
You supposed to play on this year’s Grand Ritval in Klub Gromka – benefit for saved animals, but it was cancelled as well. Do you as a band support veganism and animal rights campaigns in general?
Nina: Absolutely all in the bend love animals, some of us have pets and farm animals at home which we adore. We do have deer skulls and bones as props on stage and we are not all vegan, but we have high respect for all animals. At my family’s farm, we actually have horses of the Bosnian mountain horse breed to preserve the breed in the world, as there are only just under 180 left and the breed is old for more than 2000 years with a lot of history.
Neža: As a band we try not to involve politics or other personal beliefs. We were asked to play at the Ritval for the animals because two of us in the band are vegan, and we have a good relationship with the Kvlt Ov Seitan bookers, who have booked us in the past. Hopefully the Ritval can be moved to some other date, it’s always a pleasue to play in Gromka, especially if it involves a good cause!
What are you most proud of?
Nina: Coming from a small country not many bands get the opportunity to play far from home. So we are extremely grateful to have played across Europe in countries like Belgium, The Netherlands, Malta, Germany, Italy, Austria, England and Scotland. The experiences we got playing at Hammer of Doom, Bloodstock, Malta Doom Metal Festival, Metaldays and others are special to us.
Neža: I’m proud of how far we’ve come as a group of five people who’d met for the purpose of playing music, not being friends first. We brought our five completely different personalities to the rehearsals and stuck together through thick and thin for the last 8 years.
Ema: I am so proud of all of us and everything we have achieved so far as Mist as well as personally. Eight years is quite a long time and I am incredibly happy we have managed to stay together and become even better friends and musicians together.
Blaž: I’m proud of releasing a full-length album and it being put on vinyl. It was always my dream. A lot of bands don’t make it to that milestone. However I am most proud of my band mates, whose various characters and unyielding joy for what we do make Mist what it is.
Any plans for the future?
Neža: Writing new songs, finishing the unfinished ones, taking the next step with a music video and making the next album sound just as we imagine it!
Ema: The plan is to record new material but not in the near future. We will take it slow and take our time so you can check back next year perhaps? Haha.
Thanks for the interview! Do you have any last words for your fans?
Ema: I am so grateful for all the people the band has connected me to – firstly the members who have become dear friends, other bands and promoters, and most importantly the fans who come to gigs or buy our merch and support us and love our music and what we do! Thank you!
Blaž: Thanks to everyone for the support and a shout out to Aberdeen, you guys are nuts!
Neža: Doom over the world!