No list of Swedish metal bands would be complete without the addition of newly formed metal band Infinite & Divine. Consisting of musician/songwriter/producer Jan Akesson and vocalist Tezzi (aka Terese Persson), the duo recently debuted their album Silver Lining. The band’s music is an amalgam of hard rock, melodic metal and synth undertones with veteran metal rocker Akesson (StoneLake) at the helm of their blistering guitar driven sound. But what makes this band sizzle is without a doubt Tezzi’s signature raspy vocal performance. Thanks to the power of her vocals, songs like I Feel Alive, Keep On Moving and We Are One are playlist favourites on my stereo. That said, I recently connected with the singer-songwriter about her new collaboration with Jan. Here’s some of what we talked about.
Tezzi, first of all, thank you so much for taking the time to talk about the new record. How have you been?
It is my pleasure. I’ve been good thank you. It has been a hectic period of time with new experiences and things to get the hang of, at the same time as the pandemic, but all in all I’m doing well.
How does it make you feel that you know you have fans as far as Australia? The level of attention you have gained must certainly feel like a game changer for you and Jan?
It is so weird to think and to try to understand that we have fans. That people truly appreciate what we have created to the point they would call themself a fan. It is hard to grasp but it is fantastic. The level of appreciation we have received has been almost overwhelming when you come from not having experienced that before, but we are so happy for the love and support we have been greeted with. It is just amazing.
I’ve read your music describes as “hard rock and melodic metal”. Is that a fair assessment?
I would say that is a fair description yes. There is quite a difference in style between the songs on the album and we did question ourselves if it was too much of a spread between them to make it feel consistent, but we answered ourselves, no. We made the choice of not limiting ourselves when it comes to our music and we will stick to that, but we do land somewhere within the melodic hard rock/metal genre.
How did you and Jan first meet?
We met through mutual friends in 2019 after I had moved from my hometown to Malmo in the south of Sweden about a year earlier. We met a couple of times watching gigs or just hanging out for some beers with friends and we got to talk more and more. He told me he had tracks that was supposed to be for another project that weren’t going to happen and that he would like to finish them so he asked if I would be interested in recording vocals on one or two of them just to try it out and well, that’s how it all began.
Did your collaborative effort come about easily and what was the underlining common denominator that created the bond you now share?
From day one the collaboration has felt relaxed, respectful, and comfortable. The whole creative process of the album has at the same time been a process of getting to know each other which could have gone either way. No one of us knew what to expect since we didn’t really know each other but we found out pretty quickly that we work very well on a personal level as well as musically. What has grown out of this is not only an album but a friendship. We have a lot of fun together and hang out not only when working with things regarding Infinite & Divine. We share a lot of opinions and values about what a collaboration should be and how to make that work. We are straight forward and honest with each other about the work we do and when bouncing ideas or solving problems. When not having to constantly wonder what the other person thinks or really mean, things get a lot easier. We laugh a lot, we can talk about basically anything, and he cooks delicious food which is a bonus! It is purely a pleasure and an honor to work with Jan.
Who are some of your earliest influences?
That can seem like a question with obvious answers, but it is actually a tricky question since there can be so many. But to mention some, I know for Jan it has been Sweet, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen, Judas Priest, Queensrÿche and well, the list goes on. For me I can mention Queensrÿche, Drain, Aerosmith, Slipknot, David Bowie, Anouk, Blondie as some of my earliest influences and with as well as after that, many more.
I’m not at all familiar with Swedish metal. What is something surprising about it?
We do not all wear Viking helmets! No honestly, I don’t know what to say about it that would be surprising. For being a relatively small country, we have a lot of really great bands and a well acknowledged music export. Swedish metal and hard rock do have a very good reputation around the world, and I am proud to get to be a part of that.
Silver Lining is your debut album. Were you nervous at all about releasing it during a pandemic?
We didn’t give that detail much thought to be honest. Since it being our debut album, we would probably have been equally nervous if not being in the middle of a pandemic. It is a special feeling and a lot of mixed emotions when you’ve put so much work and effort as well as a big portion of yourself into something that is then supposed to be released to the world to be judged and reviewed, analyzed and criticized. Speaking for myself, I was super nervous. I tried to stick to the mind set of no matter what people might think about it, we like it, and we are proud of it, but it didn’t make me less nervous at all. It went well though, much better than we could have hoped for.
Tell us about the themes that come to the forefront of the new album?
There is both light and dark in this album but with a positive undertone, hence the title “Silver Lining”. Just as with the music there is a variety of theme between the lyrics and it sounds cliché, but I guess you can sum it up with the main theme being life. Four of the lyricwhere already written before I joined the project, and the rest are written by me. Together I would say it is about going through rough patches and growing from that, being strong in your weakest moments, about love, learning and accepting, and to finish it off, a little sarcastic remark about society and especially social media where its built-up unrealistic perfection is the unreachable ideal to strive for and where being human just isn’t good enough anymore.
Your vocal styling is incredible. How do you manage your performance without killing your voice?
Thank you so much! I don’t know really. I have a naturally raspy and quite dark speaking voice and so that style of vocals feels natural to me. It is harder for me to sing something “pretty and girly” than it is to belt something out over screaming guitars and loud drums. From the age of 11 to 15 I went to a music school which focused on choir singing and we did a lot of concerts and musicals and stuff. I auditioned for a lot of solos, but I didn’t get them. I got to hear “Can you sound a bit more girly”, “Your voice is leaking too much air”, “Your voice isn’t suitable for this”, “Can you try to sound like this and that…”. It was discouraging because that was just the natural tone of my voice but I’m glad I didn’t spend hours trying to make my voice sound like the girls who got the solos. Growing up I continued trying to figure out and get to know my own voice instead and what I could do with it. It is not a bad thing to stand out in a crowd and to have a distinguished voice. Being young, that can be hard to understand though and I think many young people give up thinking that the problem is that they are not good enough when the truth is, it is just not the right forum.
Tezzi, which song on the new album is dearest to you and why?
That is such a difficult question to answer. They are all dear to me in different ways and for different reasons. But if at gunpoint I would have to choose one I think I would say “Not Too Late” with the motivation being the message of the song. It is easy to judge a book by its cover. It is easy to unknowingly minimize a person, situation, or problem by thinking you know best and telling a person who is struggling what they should do as if it would be easy. Sometimes the best advice is no advice at all, you just need to listen. We are quick to judge and to place someone in a box, close the lid and label it “fragile and weak”. That person could very well be one of the strongest you’ve ever met for enduring, coping, pushing forward and fighting to get back up again despite considered and/or self-considered broken.
Finally, where do we find you at the moment?
In the comfort of my apartment where I live together with my boyfriend and my stepdaughter in Malmo, Sweden. Conveniently located about two minutes by foot away from Jan’s apartment. How about that coincidence?