“Covered in blood from head to toe” – The Journey with Lucifer

“Covered in blood from head to toe” – The Journey with Lucifer

Lucifer's Johanna Sadonis talks about Marianne Faithfull and Mick Jagger's separation, a giant wood cross and blood from head to toe – the journey that led to the new album Lucifer IV.


– It's winter and I'm sitting at my desk, looking out at the grey sea. I'm working on a demo for a new song. It's a ballad and I'm a sucker for sad songs. Headphones on and microphone in front of me I am starting to sing, carefully trying out different vocal melodies. You want to be gentle. And then from nowhere, it's there. It just rolled off my tongue. God knows from where. The vocal melody in combination with the music Nicke wrote touches me so much, I make myself sob. I know this is ridiculous but hey, I am merely a witness. My thoughts drift to Marianne Faithfull's autobiography and how she described the time after her separation from Mick Jagger. Him, the shooting star and her, all down and out. I had my theme for the lyrics and named the song after the constellation Orion.


– It is a cold spring day and I'm looking out at the sea again this time from our kitchen window. The kettle whistles. I brew myself a giant cup of sage ginger tea with honey. Sage tea is the best for the voice I learned from Rammstein's road manager Paulo, who I've known since I was a toddler in east Berlin. Today I record vocals for another album song. Four more to go. I have a last listen to the demo recording and compare my lyrics, checking for last minute changes before I put on my rubber boots and walk over to the studio. The now familiar room of musical bliss where the magic truly happens. It's my second album we record here. I adjust the microphone stand, put on headphones, set the volume levels and put everything into comfortable positions. It's a ritual. To engineer your own vocals gives you the luxury of time and the space to withdraw completely into the right headspace. It can also be slightly disruptive for the performance as you have to deal with the technical aspects in between takes. My advise for control freaks like me: work now, edit later! Or even better: let your husband edit your many takes ha! I hit the record button and dive into the song, disappearing into another realm for the next two hours. It can be the best place in the world. But don't forget to "save"!


– It's finally summer. Linus, Nicke and me are sitting on the sofa at Redmount Studios, looking at Magnus Lindberg's back. He is steadily working away at his desk like a clockwork, mastering our new album. It feels victorious. All the puzzle pieces have fallen into place. Hours of writing music and lyrics, recording demos, rehearsals, recording at our two studios, the pain of finding the right production sound, mixing, all this lies behind us. Now it's in Magnus' hands to turn the mix into a master, so we can finally send in the album to our record label to meet the dreaded deadline. The room is filled with our anticipation. Many coffee cups and debates later, we leave hungry, laughing and accomplished. It's done! Well almost. Another few listens through a variety of different familiar systems at home and in the car and this rocket can be finally shot into space.


– Linus, Martin and Harald have left the big hall where we just took a variety of different PR photos in different settings. Only Nicke and me are left now with our photographer Ester Segarra and her boyfriend, who's kindly lending a helping hand. I'm hanging off a giant wooden cross, my wrists tied to the ends, balancing my feet on a wooden ledge at the bottom of the cross. I have a clear vision of how exactly I want the album cover to look. The witch burning at the stake, drenched in red light. I had made a sketch for a befriended carpenter who had then built the cross, exceeding our expectations. Now I was hanging here like Jesus, but grinning, and thinking to myself how satisfying it is when your ridiculous ideas become an actual reality.


– Covered in blood from head to toe I'm standing underneath the overpass of a highway in Stockholm. The hot afternoon sun is glaring at me as my blood soaked 1970s prairie dress sticks to my skin. I am holding my breath for a long time, as I gaze into the black lense of a vintage tube camera in front of me for the close up of my left eye. We are shooting the video to Crucifix (I Burn For You) and we are emulating the intro to Hitchcock's Vertigo. In my mind I am lining up the words to the lyrics and go through expression and movement. This is a one-shot video and where there is no cuts, there is no room for mistakes. I am dying for a smoke. This is the second video shoot in one very long hot summer day and I want to rip this damn dress of me and jump into the cool sea. The camera zooms out and I start walking. In front of me is a cluster of people holding cameras and equipment, walking and stumbling backwards until all of us arrive at the end of the song and the way. This was the last of several takes. After bidding our relieved farewells I climb exhausted into our car, seat myself like a corpse on a bed of plastic sheets and light a cigarette.

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