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Carmen Elise Espenæs
Background information
Birth name Carmen Elise Espenæs
Born 30 September 1983
Stavanger, Norway
Origin Stavanger, Norway
Genres Symphonic metal, Gothic metal, Folk metal, Pop
Years active 2003–present
Labels Napalm Records
Associated acts Midnattsol
Leaves' Eyes

Carmen Elise Espenæs (born September 30, 1983 in Stavanger, Norway) is a Norwegian vocalist and songwriter. She is better known as the founding member of the Germangothic/folk metal band Midnattsol.

Musical career

Early life

Espenaes had some musical training in her hometown, Stavanger, and began singing in some local non-professional bands, with which she started writing her first songs at the same time.

Her predilection for heavy metal music was influenced by her father, who was a fan of Ozzy Osbourne, and by bandmates of her older sister Liv Kristine, in Theater of Tragedy.


Carmen Elise moved to Ludwigsburg, Germany in 2002 to stay with her sister, the city where she met guitarist Christian Hector, with whom she founded that same year her own symphonic metal and folk metal band Midnattsol (Midnight Sun). Hector recruited his former bandmates in Penetralia, drummer Chris Merzinsky and keyboardist Daniel Fischer, and later Daniel Droste as guitarist and Birgit Öllbrunner as bassist. With this formation, the band recorded a demo and got a record contract with Napalm Records. Midnattsol subsequently produced three studio albums between 2005 and 2011, where Carmen Elise wrote most of the band's lyrics, and contributed to the musical composition.

In September 2004, Espenaes was offered an opportunity to participate with the British extreme metal band Cradle of Filth as a touring member with the album Nymphetamine, in which her sister had already sung and recorded a song in the studio. However, due to commitments to her band and her studies, Espenaes declined. Carmen Elise's voice and career are often compared and are associated with the musical achievements of her older sister as a soloist and singer in Theater of tragedy and Leaves' Eyes. At first this fact helped Carmen Elise and Midnattsol to be recognized by the public, but now she insists on being judged on her own merits and not on her sister's laurels.


After a two year break, she returned to her native Norway. In 2013 Carmen Elise joined the two ex-members of The Sins of Thy Beloved Anders Thue and Stig Johansen to form a band called Savn. The group signed a contract with a small, new independent record company, CDR Records (originally from Stavanger), in which Espenæs is a part-owner. With CDR they released their debut album Savn in April 2014. Espenæs believes that her two bands, Midnattsol and Savn, can continue at the same time.

From this album their single and video "Hang On" was extracted. The video was filmed in the Trollskogen park on the island of Hundvåg, near Stavanger, and was directed by producer Leo Moracchioli of Frog Leap Studios.

In 2015, Anders Thue decided to abandon the project for personal reasons; meanwhile, in 2016 Stig Johansen did the same thing shortly before the band recorded a demo, because of other musical plans. Due to these drawbacks, the process of composing a new album suffered serious delays. Thereafter, the rights of the use of Savn's name will be the exclusive property of Carmen Elise Espenæs.

After a long break, the multi-instrumentalist Øyvind Lende and drummer Jan Cato Traa were officially incorporated into the band that same year. In addition, the guitarist and singer Christoffer Nygaard and the violinist Sareeta (Ingvild Strønen) have been regular guests at the band's concerts, without being official members.

On August 17, 2017, the music video for "Fri" was released, filmed and directed by Tom Roger Thu. Two other singles were released in the course of 2018, "Save Me" and "The End". Savn's second album will be released in 2019, produced by Jørgen Manke.


With Midnattsol

  • Midnattsol (2003)
Studio albums
  • Where Twilight Dwells (2005)
  • Nordlys (2008)
  • The Metamorphosis Melody (2011)
  • The Aftermath (2018)

With Savn

Studio albums
  • Savn (2014)
  • "Hang On" (2024)
  • "Fri" (2018)

As guest musician

With Leaves' Eyes
  • "Into Your Light" (Single) Vocals (backing) (tracks 1, 2, 2004)
  • Lovelorn - Vocals (backing) (track 9, 2004)
  • At Heaven's End (EP) - Vocals (track 3, 2010)
  • Meredead - Vocals (track 7, 2011)
  • Symphonies of the Night - Vocals (track 12, 2013)