Interview: Jake E and Jesper Strömblad of CYHRA

Antihero Magazine’s James Geiser recently had the opportunity to chat with Jake E. and Jesper Strömblad of CyHra about how fate brought the band together and what the future has in store.

ANTIHERO: What were the major influences in your decision to leave Amaranthe and create CyHra?

Jake: It is a long story, but it was not a decision that came easy. When I started the band together with Olof Mörck, I had another vision for the band than what it ended up being. There were internal things that put the band in different camps, where my vision slowly faded away. 

Instead of pointing with the whole hand and try to get people to go with what I had in mind, I decided that it was better and wiser if I let them follow the path that they wanted to go. I mean nothing bad with this, it´s just different opinions and musically the last album was so far away from what I wanted to do as a musician.

ANTIHERO: Would you like to consider it a chance of fate that brought you both to the coffee house that day to discuss the possibilities of solo projects?  

Jesper: Now in retrospect I would say yes, it really was. We would start to write eventually, but it would never have been that “Cyhra” that the world needs 😉 So, talk about butterfly effect, I couldn’t be happier I gave Jake a call that day.

Jake: I am a fan of fate, 🙂 So yes, I might think so. 20 years ago, I wouldn’t believe that Jesper Strömblad, (one of my childhood heroes) would scream in my face that WE SHOULD MAKE THIS ALBUM TOGETHER! Hahaha!

ANTIHERO: When the decision was made to create CyHra together, what emotions and thoughts were going through your heads?

Jake:  We really had no thoughts at that time. From the start we just wrote songs for “something.” I mean, we had no idea or plan on what it was going to be, more than that, we were writing an album together. But the emotions during the whole album process was just pure happiness, self-fulfillment and joy! We spit out a song per session, and the teamwork that me and Jesper had is something I have never felt before. We had one argument during the whole process, and that was regarding a drum beat. 🙂 Later, when Alex and Peter jumped on the ship the excitement level started to rise and now I can’t wait to play the songs LIVE!

ANTIHERO: Many publications and critics see the formation of the band as the creation of the next supergroup, how do you feel about these statements?

Jake: It was never our intention to form a “Super Group,” but with the members’ past experience, it’s obvious that people will raise their eyebrows. In one way this puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on us because we are who we are, and speaking from my perspective, I feel that I have to deliver even more than I ever did in any other band before. I know that when we play our first couple of shows there will be “Musician Police” in the crowd with their arms crossed to judge your every move. But we put ourselves in this situation and it’s just to bear with the fact that this is how it’s going to be! I hope that fans and people in general can listen to the album and leave out who´s playing and hopefully like what they hear.

ANTIHERO: The lyrical content of the album touches deeply on addiction and the battle between light and dark, was this your opportunity to put those battles to rest? 

Jesper: It really was. Not only is Jake a great musician, he is a unique friend and genuinely concerned. Also, [he] got the best out of me. That even led me to start writing lyrics, well, not lyrics, but for the first time I was able to express myself in words. And a lot of how I describe how it is to be stuck in the “dark place” Jake took with him to adapt the lyrics for the songs. So, it’s a little bonus for me too in a way, because this is lyrically also the most personal thing I’ve done, and without Jake’s ability to absorb my feelings, the lyrics would never come out that strong.

Jake: Jesper and I had sessions where we just talked about our lives in general and we brought up both happiness and pain. Jesper gave me so much material both through our discussions, but also through pieces of paper where he wrote down feelings that he kept within him.

Me myself, I had a hell growing up and there was so many things that I could relate to, even though my problems had nothing to do with addiction. This forced me to dig down deep in my own emotions and it was pretty painful to be honest. For me, this did not bury anything but it helped me understand some things in a better way and I believe Jesper felt the same way to some content.  

CyhraANTIHERO: The sound of the album is a mix of the different backgrounds of the musicians in the band, how difficult or easy was it for the band to create the unique sound of “Letters To Myself”?

Jake:  As I said before. We just started to play. The songs came out as they were and after a couple of months in my studio, we just realized that the “CyHra” sound had found itself 🙂

Alex and Peter then, of course, brought their trademarks to the songs in the recording phase, but we never ended up in any discussions on what to sound like. We just wrote what came to mind and let our minds show the way more or less. Then we, of course, streamlined some ideas to work better in the whole, but that is something you always do when you write songs that are going to end up on an album.

So, to answer your question, I must say it was pretty easy to find the sound 🙂


ANTIHERO: When creating the band and filling the empty places, did you both go back and forth on who you wanted to fill those rolls or were the places easy to fill?

Jake:  As soon as we decided to make it a band, I told Jesper about Alex Landenburg. Me and Alex go back to the time when I was a backup singer in Kamelot. First time we met was on one of their shows in Germany years ago. I told Jesper to trust me on this and that he was going to love him from the minute he would meet him. Jesper was, of course, skeptical at first. I would have felt the same in a reversed situation, but he let me invite him over. And as I predicted, they found each other 5 minutes into the first conversation 🙂 #loveatfirstsight

I, of course, new that Alex is one of the best drummers in the world, but it was his humanity, kindness, and carefulness that was the reason why I wanted him to be in the band.

When we started to discuss bass players, I gave this to Jesper, as I had picked the drummer. And his first pick was Peter. Peter was still in In Flames and liked the material, but was not sure if he was going to have time. But we convinced him that we will make it work, so he decided to join as well. Peter is a fantastic bass player and an awesome person, and it’s an amazing set up that we get to play with here.

ANTIHERO: Second chances at your dreams don’t come often, especially in the music world. How do you both feel about the possible longevity of CyHra? 

Jesper: I see a long career ahead. We are all experienced and professional, and will not fall in those traps bands do during their career. I know the music has a lot of potential, and a lot more that hasn’t been written yet. “Hell yes!”, I answer. 🙂

Jake: My goal is to bring CyHra to the top, and if we fail, we will stand up and do it again until we succeed!

ANTIHERO: I listened to the record and I was blown away by the balance of the order of the songs and how well each fit in their place on the album. How did you go about creating the order of the songs on the release?

Jake: Oh, thank you! I have always thought that this part of the process is the hardest one actually! All members put their track list together and then I listened to each one of them in a row. In the end, Euge, our A&R at Universal Finland, was the one that came closest, and then I switched 2 or 3 songs from the other guys’ order to complete it. So, it was a team effort to make it what it is!

ANTIHERO: The closing track on the release, “Dead to Me”, has a pretty powerful introduction and outro. What lead you to want to include this powerful statement on this track? Did this influence the writing process of the song as a whole? 

Jesper: That song was not really written the traditional way…it’s more like an outro or intro, and the spoken words speak for everything and everyone that tried to bring me down. And I point at certain persons, yes, but also pointing about as then my biggest love, alcohol/drugs. But I love the song also because it’s like a mantra for me, and hopefully for other people in the same position. FUCK the people who feed off your failures – unfortunately, there are a lot of those out there. Just erase the past and look forward, and look at yourself and see the good guy/gal you are.

Jake: This song is the only song on the album that has a clear statement on what the lyrics are about, but at the same time it summarizes the whole album in a really good way. 

When we recorded the vocals in New York, Jesper asked a friend of his, “Charles Corletta” – he has his own band, The Silencer – to do the narration part in the intro. I did it as well but it was really hard to get the right feeling to it! “Dead To Me” was the 4th song we made and I got inspired by Sixx AM to do this talking part in the beginning. The statement is clearly a message to all problems/drugs/alcohol to go Fuck themselves like if they would have been a living person.

ANTIHERO: Lastly, with the new release, it opens the door for the band to tour and show the world what you have created on the live stage. Are there any plans of touring in the near future?

Jake: Hell yea! It’s hard to conquer if you’re not on the battlefield. We have our first show Oct 27th in NOSTURI, HELSINKIAnd we are booking shows every week now so there will be tons of news regarding this very soon!

Thank you for a great Inteview and I hope to see you soon again!

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James Geiser

James Geiser is a former award winning Television News Photojournalist and internationally published photographer, after spending five years in the local television news media being bound by the creative restraints of content based production, he decided to leave his job in television to find his love for photography and video production again. He is a former student at Winston-Salem State University, where he majored in Mass Communications and Digital broadcast operations. He is not only just a journalist but he is also an experienced videographer, delivering a multimedia journalistic addition to Antihero Magazine

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