INFOS : email@example.com
Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
[@solisia] Let’s know better the new singer of Italian Symphonic Progressive Metal bandSOLISIA Elie Syrelia. In this interview, Matteo talks with Elie about their second album “UniverSeason” - it that was out on 2012 via Scarlet Records - and about this release she states : ““Univereasons” is like a son”. Elie has met Andrea [Arcangeli - Solisia and DGM bassist] “in 2010 I met Andrea in Belgium during the PPM Fest […] we became good friends and in 2011(and) he told me about Solisia”. Also Elie is a vocal coach and her mission with her students is : “is “teach from the heart””.
Interview collected by Roberta Ilaria Rossi
Questions by M. Cadoni & R.I.Rossi
“Withering” is the new single that places Pursuing the End on the top of the new Italian symphonic metal scenes. On the occasion of the nearest release of the video clip of the homonymous single, I had the pleasure to exchange some chats with the two lead-singers and the guitar player of the band, Giacomo, Maria Caterina and Davide, who kindly revealed us lots of new things.Here it is our nice chat. Have fun!
Hi guys, first of all congrats for both your own EP and your new single. Let’s start this interview talking about your biography… would you like to share something with us?
Maria Caterina: Hi everybody! First of all, thank you for your high praises! We really appreciate, because for an emerging band like us give us strength and courage, the energy to go on and it supports us in our dream. Pursuing the End was born in 2010 in Parma, thanks to an idea I had with Giacomo, rocked by a passion for this kind of music and right then, after some changes in the band, we reached a stable line up, with Davide Rinaldi at the guitars.
Giacomo: This allowed us to conclude the “trial period” and to dedicate ourselves in a more serious work, that has been ratified with the release of the “Withering” video clip, waiting for the debut album, that will be recorded as soon as possible.
Soon, the video for the single “Withering” will be out. Could you please reveal us something about it? Moreover, how was born your own cooperation with Mike Lunacy?
Giacomo: “Withering” will be the single that will introduce our first album. The idea of the video was born randomly with Mike, because he is a friend of ours, we live in the same city and Mike wanted to get himself involved with this new experience both as a director and as an actor. This is something we can reveal you and we didn’t announce it before. He will have a small part in the video clip and you will see him soon. Everything started as a joke but it all turned out to be an experience that made us all grow at a musical level but chiefly on a professional level, because we had the honor of working with a great studio production in Milan, which was involved in the video recording, with a great director of photography that was contacted by the studio and which also produced our video.
The video sees the attendance of Ottavia Fusco: could you please introduce her to our metal fans and to the people who still don’t know her?
Giacomo : Sure! We like doing this kind of cooperation with artists that aren’t involved in the metal scene, because we think you should live the music at 360 degrees, you have to live it in its totality, hence mixing new things with people that don’t even know what the word “metal” means, is something good! Ottavia Fusco is surely a great artist, that we could define versatile, because she is a great talented opera actress, she worked in the biggest Italian and European theaters, but she is also a singer: indeed, she took part in Sanremo Festival for two years, she sang a song written for her by Vittorio Sgarbi and her own album, “The Noughties”, is a sort of poetry collection that some literary man has written for her and she interprets these songs in a very particular and personal way. We have contacted her in a quite random way, I mean: we were attracted by this artistic character which ranged over so many different areas and we have thought: “Why not?”. Why shouldn’t we ask her to cooperate for something related to metal, which was something she didn’t work in, and she appeared very kind, very happy to take part in this project, so our cooperation started with “Withering”.
Before asking you the details of the various collaborations you had with musicians of classical singing, I would like to ask: how was born this kind of synergy with classical music? Was it born from your own passion or unexpected chance?
Giacomo: All the band members have different backgrounds. For my part, I always attended the world of the opera when I was young, thanks to my parents that pushed me into this, and even classical music so the people who listen to the symphonic metal are inherent in listening to it, they should however, know something of the classical singing. We are Italian, we really like the Opera and the artistic heritage, which, in our opinion, among the young people is undervalued, so we try to create a new way to show it to those who haven’t yet approached to it. For example, our keyboard player Stefano led quite an influence from the world of classical music.
Maria Caterina: Yeah, each of us has proved something. For example, I’ve always been a symphonic metal music fan and therefore, growing up, I’ve learned a lot, thanks to the bands I’ve been inspired by and that I really liked.
Giacomo: Indeed, we don’t only talk about classical music, we also have different music influences, we listen to the more extreme metal, we listen to the electro music, thrash… and so on…
For the EP “Dawn of Expiation” and also for “Withering” you’ve cooperate with Corale Verdi from Parma. What could you tell us about this collaboration and why have you decided to implicate a classical chorus?
Giacomo: Yes, we didn’t have all the Choral Corale Verdi in our very first EP, we only had some member of a choir, who joined in some other singing parts with professional opera choristers. For “Withering”, we asked for the cooperation with this chorus, which is actually one of the first choirs which were founded in Italy by Giuseppe Verdi, because, precisely, being a native person of Parma he founded this Choir and, accidentally, talking to the President of this Choir, we have explained him what we were doing and he agreed, he seized the opportunity and we also had in mind to record this single, in order to film the video clip as well, afterwards we had the great honor to get these 50 people who have sung our songs and it was quite a big feeling. Listening to these people singing your own tracks, after a long and hard day of working and recording, and seeing the final result, which was even better than what we expected, was really a big honor!
Taking a look to your last photo shoot, I’ve seen that you wear some particular outfits. Why have you chosen to have this look and who was the stylist about it?
Giacomo: We have entrusted an Italian theatrical stylist, Artemio Cabassi that we met in Parma. He has worked throughout Italy and abroad, setting up different works and plays and he helped us in everything that has been caring with our image for all the shoots we have done, starting from the last one we did at the Rock of Soragna, near Parma, where we also shot the video for “Withering”, getting to the first photo shoot, which was done in a deconsecrated church in Parma, perhaps one of the most majestic monuments of our City.
Maria Caterina: The choice of wearing those clothes is surely due to the fact that however our genre of music, symphonic metal, is a theatrical and majestic genre, with all its orchestra and orchestrations, we have chosen to represent this grandeur in our personal way, also in the approach we have with our fans making pictures and everything.
What could you tell us about the sessions of your debut EP called “Dawn of Expiation” and about the single “Withering”?
Giacomo: Our first EP “Dawn of Expiation” has been recorded in a studio of our city, for us it was a new experience, but it wasn’t the first one for everyone, but indeed it has been one of the first serious and professional experiences in a music studio, so we tried to get a more professional sound, as more elaborate as we could for what concerned the caring of the details. Indeed, as far as I am concerned, I can say that with “Withering” we have put into practice what we had already learned from the session of “Dawn of Expiation” and we further cared of the details but I believe that Davide will tell you something more about the latest sessions of single “Withering”.
Davide: Yeah, the recording with PTE has been quite a surprise, since we took part in the recording process in the best professional way ever and the final product was more than great…
Davide, I know that you write the biggest part of the music of the band and you also did it in this latest EP, giving a hand to your band member Stefano. How do you manage to create the music in a typical PTE style?
Davide: Primarily, the ideas come with guitar riffs, which are quite speedy and right after, it follows all the arrangements done by Stefano and by all the band.
Where does your inspiration for the music come from?
Davide: Certainly, it comes from my favorite bands, which I prefer not to list because it would be quite long but it comes also from the improvisation, which I dedicate a lot of time every day.
As a band, do you use the “so called” team work, trying to express your own ideas and opinions?
Giacomo: Surely since the beginning of our music experience as a band until now we feel we have grown up and we have developed a way of working and composing that is very effective as for the production of the new songs that we are composing this period. As I said before, every team member has his/her own background and he/she tries to bring it in every song and composition, so yes, we absolutely do the team work and our ideas develop first between a person or multiple people, but then we discuss about them all together and everyone tries to give his/her opinion and to bring some of himself/herself, because then everyone in his/her instrument tries to put her/his signature.
Moreover, we see the soprano Federica Gatta as “a session member”. What could you tell about her background and how did you know her?
Giacomo: Besides being a great friend, Federica was one of the first people who believed in the project because being a soprano herself she has been the vocal coach of Caterina for a while and she has also helped me at the beginning of this experience and immediately we asked if she wanted to record the vocals for “Dawn of Expiation”, then in some solo parts that have taken more prominence in what was the work of “Withering”, we say that Federica gives a refined note to what is the closest work of the symphonic music, and she represents the symphony that has been trodden by Tarja or however the great opera singers, that we don’t use for our own choice, but we have these little goodies that sometimes are represented by Federica!
This is a curious question: I’ve seen under your own logo on your website a sort of writing: “Orietur in Tenebris Lux Tua”. It’s Latin, for what I see: what does it mean? And, do you think that this sentence represents you somehow? Could you please explain us how does it “apply” to your music vision for PTE?
Maria Caterina : Well, this statement means “Your light will rise in the darkness” and it appears also in the lyric for “Withering”, since it deals with a girl that is enslaved by her man and she is oppressed as if she were living in a bell jar but in the end, thanks to her own strength of will, she manages to break free from this kind of constriction and indeed she raises from the darkness she was in.
Giacomo: It’s a sentence that the choir says, as it worths for all the sentences sang in Latin, so it’s a sort of “side dish” that are put all together in our songs and I personally think that it represents our music. Because of this we have chosen this phrase for our website, for the merchandise, we have put it on our t-shirts and so on, also because we alternate some very dark atmosphere to some bright moments, very melodic ones, so in the end it’s a nice antithesis.
Caterina, first of all congrats for your voice. What could you tell about your personal background from a musical point of view? Where does your passion for music come from?
Maria Caterina: First of all, thanks so much for your compliments! I’ve started singing two or three years ago, helped by Federica Gatta, the soprano lady who collaborated with us in our projects and still now I sing modern singing and I’ve started to apply it in Pursuing the End, because I’ve always loved to sing, I’ve also studied/attended 8 years of theater that helped me to express myself on stage and to make my emotions alive and everything that I feel while singing.
I know that you also took part in the song writing process for this EP. Where do you get the inspiration to write a lyric?
Maria Caterina: I rely on experiences I lived personally, on feelings and passions that can be felt every day, even in the past, all that has been tried and a lyric comes from a general idea of what I just base the content and from there I try to create the whole song.
Next question is for Giacomo: you’re the main male singer of the band and you also take part in the song writing process for PTE, like Maria Caterina. Where do you get your own inspiration for writing the lyrics?
Giacomo: I take part in what I can do and I could give a melodic idea or to give an opinion or again I can add something to a work that is already done. Surely when e melodic idea comes from my mind, an idea I have to give in order to compose a song, it starts randomly, maybe whistling something or even playing the piano since I played it for a couple of years at the Conservatory or possibly looking for different inspirations, maybe hearing something on the radio that can give me a sort of inspiration in “sound terms”, just listening to a band I could like, possibly suggesting the setting for a track, beside a melody: for example, a speedy song or a “darker” song. In addition, I give my own help in writing the lyrics, even if the biggest part is always done by Caterina. We could say that I am the “columnist” of the band…
Where does your passion for singing come from?
Giacomo: It comes from the passion I have for music, I have it since I was a child and it happened thanks to my parents that are related to the music itself, and, right after having done some piano and cello study at the Conservatory, I’ve sang in a opera choir for almost 12 years and with the knowledge I had about the metal and symphonic metal I’ve seen that I liked to discover some new music areas beside the opera singing, so I discovered the modern singing, the growl, the scream and everything I do with PTE.
Over the years, the line up has changed a bit. Do you think that you’ve found a stable line up now?
Giacomo: Surely it’s something in the process of every emerging band to look for a balance and yes, we can say we finally found a balance of stability and cohesion among all the band members, as we endure and we understand each other. In fact, “Withering” is a bit laid down by the entry of Davide in the line up, a breakthrough in what was both the process of the setting of the songs but above all the sound. We finally found and we also understood where we wanted to wander, in which way we wanted to do this and we are super ready to work on the preparations for what it will be our debut album, which is its forthcoming shortly.
Which are the bands you have been influenced by?
Giacomo: As I mentioned before, everyone has his own different background, so each of us has his/her own inspiration for what he/she does inside the band inspiring from the most disparate bands: for example, the symphonic metal founders as Nightwish and Epica are and so on… We have them, we have to consider them, so what we would like to do is not to create a clone band, something that everyone has already listen to or something that a listener could connect to a precise band!
Maria Caterina: We would like to create a PTE style : )
Giacomo: But above all, we would like to create a personal style and something that nobody could associate to anything as well.
A long time ago, someone talked about a debut album. Is there something planned? What could you tell us about it?
Giacomo: It has been mentioned, it is mentioned and it is absolutely the major priority. We are working, we are ready to enter the studio in June with the first group of pre-production parts. Now we’re going to record 7 tracks, 7 brand new songs in pre-production and we are in touch with some labels for entering the studio, so we hope to have everything done by the end of the year. It is clear that with the entry of Davide in the band and with the single “Withering”, as we said before, the sound has taken a new path.
Do you have already something new, some hidden dreams for the future?
Giacomo: Surely the release of our video clip, that it will happen soon…
Maria Caterina: Our album! :D
Giacomo: Entering the studio is quite near. We also scheduled some live show for the Summer season, baptized by us as “2012 summer, the most ruthless for what concerns composing”, so we have to work a lot and we will reveal some nice surprises and some prevision!
Thank for your time. Is there something you would like to share with our readers and fans?
Giacomo: First of all, we would like to thank you for this opportunity and we would like to offer our congratulations to you for the great work you do every time and we would like to say “Thank you” to every single person who follow us and we really hope that, after this interview, someone will follow us more than before.
Maria Caterina: Thanks so much for your support on our social networks.
Giacomo: We really did not expect this and we are really happy about it. Thanks so much!
Interview by Eetu “Ene” Niskanen
We have reached by email Dawn of Destiny’s singer, Tanja Maul, for talking about the new album “Human Fragility” out now and more… Enjoy it!
Hello Tanja and thanks for accepting our interview.
You are very welcome.
So, you released your third album “Human Fragility” on September 21st, how much work did it take to get it out to the stores?
Most of the work is done by our songwriter Jens, who has the talent to write extraordinary songs within a very short time. The whole band decides which songs will be on the album and after the decision we practise and enter the studio. This time it took about three weeks recording and about one week mix and master. We all like the work in studio because it is an intense examination with our music that we all enjoy.
How much have you grown as musicians since your debut?
I think that “Human Fragility” contains my best performance so far. We all learn from studio and live experiences and try to improve ourselves.
On May you found a new drummer, Patrick Klose replacing your old dummer Ansgar Ludwig, how has he settled to the band?
We all are sad that Ansgar left the band but we found a very talented young drummer to join our DOD family. He fits perfectly and brings some creative ideas to the band. Although we had not much time to practice before the first shows with him he managed it very well.
Could you tell us something about your other bandmates?
Oh, where should I start? I make music with Jens for about eight years now and it is quite amazing considering our first attempts what we reached untill today. We started with a little PC, no real bandmembers, bad sound, only few ideas and a different taste of music. A few years ago Dirk joined the band and Veith completed Dawn of Destiny. Together we lived through some hard and some good times. When I speak of DOD as my second family it is more than serious. They even know me better than my parents.
Have you had any vocal training?
Yes, for about half a year I had a vocal coach. Afterwards I joined an acapella band for nearly two years that improved my auditory and my technique.
What kind of music do you listen yourself and how often?
I love melodic metal. Of course I sometimes listen to the big idols maybe to copy some little things. I do not listen to other kinds of music and I need to listen to it every day. It seems like the air to breathe for me.
Who are your biggest influences? I try to perform my own style but influences for me are Stratovarius, Helloween, Blind Guardian, Nightwish, Evergrey, Kamelot or Within Temptation, just to mention some. No, I can only concentrate on one band and that is Dawn Of Destiny. From your new album, what is your personal favourite song? “Unchained Someday” and “Silent Suffering”. Do you think “Human Fragility” is your best release so far? Yes, defintively! Songs on “Human Fragility” are compact, complex but always possible to follow. Although the tunes are very catchy the songs do not become boring. Apart from this “Human Fragility” has the best sound so far. Every band likes to improve themselves on every album and I think we managed it. *smile* I guess I couldn’t do that to Veith :) No, there is nothing that we miss on stage. Maybe a second guitar would make it even worse than better. There is nothing planned concerning this. We have no classic vocals, not so much keyboards, it is more Metal! So, to whom can we be really compared? We offer power, catchy tunes, songs to think about and songs to party. We like to present diversified songs which offer always something new to the listener. I believe that everyone who likes melodic metal in any way might find him/herself in Dawn of Destiny. Links
I try to perform my own style but influences for me are Stratovarius, Helloween, Blind Guardian, Nightwish, Evergrey, Kamelot or Within Temptation, just to mention some.Do you have any musical projects out of DOD?
No, I can only concentrate on one band and that is Dawn Of Destiny.
From your new album, what is your personal favourite song?
“Unchained Someday” and “Silent Suffering”.
Do you think “Human Fragility” is your best release so far?
Yes, defintively! Songs on “Human Fragility” are compact, complex but always possible to follow. Although the tunes are very catchy the songs do not become boring. Apart from this “Human Fragility” has the best sound so far. Every band likes to improve themselves on every album and I think we managed it.As a band, have you ever thought of getting second guitarist?
*smile* I guess I couldn’t do that to Veith :) No, there is nothing that we miss on stage. Maybe a second guitar would make it even worse than better. There is nothing planned concerning this.The last question, there are tons of female fronted bands out there, how does DOD keep unique?
We have no classic vocals, not so much keyboards, it is more Metal! So, to whom can we be really compared? We offer power, catchy tunes, songs to think about and songs to party. We like to present diversified songs which offer always something new to the listener. I believe that everyone who likes melodic metal in any way might find him/herself in Dawn of Destiny.
Interview by Connie Bach
Virus IV is pure, solid, razor-sharp metal. No axes, just swords for this band; and it is an excellent sound. “Frightening Lanes” from the album “Dark Sun” is featured on the upcoming compilation, “Beauty and Brutality”.
Hi, Magali. We appreciate the contribution Virus IV had made to the compilation.It’s our pleasure, thanks to Femme Metal for asking us to be part it !
How did you become a vocal coach? What kind of instruction do you ofer and what kind of students come to you?I started to give voice lessons about 8 years ago, actually because people asked me to… I enjoyed to help them improve and quickly felt the need to study vocal theory myself to keep on becoming a good teacher.With time and experience I’ve specialized in strengthening the voice, working on power and vocal timbre. Most of my students are into rock or metal music and very often have their own band which makes it even more interesting. I mostly give private individual lessons in Belgium and for those who live too far, we meet on Skype, works great !Would you consider your current path as a vocalist a career, a hobby, a calling, etc? It’s a career and a hobby all at once to me. Not sure about the calling.. who am I to say it… But I believe there’s something magical about reaching people with a music or voice. It’s a quiet intimate relationship that we share with the listeners…. priceless feeling actually !
How did Virus IV come into existence and what has the band’s path to success been like? How did“Dark Sun” and the public’s response, feed into the band’s future goals?Turning to “Dark Sun” itself, how was the album “born” and did it grow into what you intended?
The corus of “Frightening Lanes” runs “…let me be your eyes at night. Let us just be one for a moment, for a while”; impressive lyrics. Where did the idea behind “Frightening Lanes” come from? Why did the band choose to offer that song in particular?
Well… imagine that fear could talk to you… it would let you know how powerful it can be when you make it our ally through life. We’ve chosen “Frightening Lanes” to be on Femme Metal Compilation, as this song represents most what Virus IV’s music is all about.
Interview by Roberta Ilaria Rossi
Many are her collaborations in the metal scene, such is her reputation in Europe. After having released an album for her new project, Trillium, the peppery Amanda Somerville is back to town. We had the pleasure to chat with the blonde American singer, who told us many things about her latest work. Here is what she has revealed to us!
Hi Amanda and welcome to Femme Metal.net. Recently, you’ve released the album “Alloy” for your last metal project, Trillium. In my honest opinion, it is a very good album. Would you like to share with us something more about this project, for those who haven’t listened to the album and/or to be updated about your last work(s)?
Thank you very much; I’m happy and honored that you like it! I tend to call the music on Trillium singer/songwriter metal” because most of my songs started out as piano/vocal demos from me and have a lot of emotion and heart in them, in addition to the hard edge and heavy guitar riffing that’s so typical of metal. Also, since I’ve traditionally been a singer/songwriter and have worked in the metal scene for so long, it was bound to happen. I think there are several subgenres of metal represented here, as well as rock. Elements of melodic, gothic, doom… I like diversity! Still and all, this is the single most straight-forward album I’ve ever released, stylistically speaking. Being that I’m as much a writer as I am a musician, the lyrics are of utmost importance to me as well as the music that goes along with them. My songs are always very emotional because I don’t believe in writing or performing anything you don’t totally believe in or can’t make people feel along with you. On the most basic level, they’re all about human struggles and relationships; something we can all relate to, but many of the songs have a very violent streak in them. All of my songs are personal-based, whether it was something I went through or a dream that I had or someone/something that inspired me. My songs are little windows into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville. :-)
Which is the concept behind the creation of this band?
It’s debatable whether to call this a project or a band. For me, it’s simply a new facet in my work as a musician. I wanted to keep it separate from what I release under my name for the simple fact that I’d like to keep it as “pure” as I can, genre-wise. For years now, I’ve been asked by fans who know me from my work in the metal scene when I would either form my own metal band or release a metal album. The idea had to grow on me because I simply wasn’t ready for it until just the past couple of years and I don’t do anything I don’t believe in 100% and can give 110%!
Was the Trillium project born randomly or was something already created in your mind since a long time ago?
I think I kind of summed up that answer in #2, however the true turning point in the desire to make my own metal album came when I was working on HDK with Sander Gommans in 2007. I loved writing and performing metal music (which only continued to grow after I went on tour with Epica in 2008 to fill in for Simone Simons when she was ill and then with Avantasia) and had planned to make my next solo album more uniformly in that direction. But after some careful consideration, I decided to make it a project to keep it totally separate from my solo music so that I can still put a jazz ballad or Jamaican drinking song on my next solo album and not have to explain or apologize to anyone. ;-) It’s still 100% me and those who know me as a solo artist are used to me being rather musically schizophrenic, but since I’m relatively new in the metal scene, I wanted to keep it more clear-cut. The ideas kept coming together and about a year and a half ago, I had everything lined up the way I wanted it to be and Trillium as it exists today was born.
Listening to the album, I’ve been surprised about the second “half” of this record and I’ve noticed that there’s a great cooperation with an artist I really admire: Jorn Lande! I know that there’s a good friendship and a professional relationship with him, moreover he also took part in the Avantasia project. How was the cooperation with him born? What did make you choose him for the track “Scream It”?
Since working with him on Avantasia and touring with him, he’s become a very good friend and won my utmost respect as a musician and vocalist. The man is an incredible talent and I adore his voice! He’s also a wonderful person and can play a role perfectly. I had him in mind when I wrote the antagonistic role in “Scream It” because his voice and character fit so well and I was fortunate enough to have him gladly take part. He did an incredible job and it was exactly what I had in mind!
How did you choose your music partners? I know that there’s a strong feeling between you and Sasha Paeth (since early days with “Virgo”) since so many years now…
I’ve been working with Sascha so long now and we know each other so well, both professionally and personally, that our work flow is always very smooth. Sascha’s the “Big Boss” and so we all (everyone involved with the Gate Studio) owe everything to him. He’s absolutely brilliant and one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever known and I love, appreciate and respect him dearly. Miro and I have a similar taste musically and being that we’re both keyboardists, he catches on very easily to whatever I deliver to him demo-wise. I can give him a very rudimentary piano-vocal demo and it seems like he reads my mind in terms of what I’m imagining arrangement-wise. Robert Hunecke and Olaf Reitmeier I met in 2001 and we’ve done lots of things together, both in the studio and playing live. Those guys can play anything!! Simon Oberender came into our team around 2004, I believe, and he was an amazing asset to our team. Mat Sinner and I got in touch through Kiske-Somerville and we’ve also toured together with an outfit called “Rock Meets Classic”. He’s a powerhouse, a good guy and a big talent and has come to be another close friend of mine in the scene. Sander Gommans and I have worked together for nearly 9 years and we complement each other quite well as songwriters, even though we’re so completely different in the way we approach songwriting. I guess opposites attract and this particular constellation works out beautifully in our cooperation with one another! Sascha and Sander add a totally new aspect to my songs very much of the time for the simple fact that they’re guitar players and take a different approach to song structure and instrumentation than I typically do. It’s a great balance!
I’ve noticed that, inside your crew, there’s also Sander Gommans, ex After Forever former guitar player. How are the working relationship with him that, however, has been a good member for a band that made history in the Dutch metal music?
Yep, he’s pretty great. I call him my Riff King and anyone who knows After Forever, HDK or Kiske-Somerville can hear what an incredibly talented songwriter/musician he is. But I rambled on about that in the previous answer!
Is there a song taken from “Alloy” to which you feel more connected to? If so, why?
I’m really bad with “favorite” questions because my songs are like my children and it just doesn’t seem fair to call one out over the others. That being said, it’s also difficult for me because each is special in its unique way and I’m constantly changing my moods. So one day, I’ll be like, “Man, “Coward” is seriously such a great song!! I think that might be my favorite yet,” because it’s so decadent and the line, “Justice comes to dance upon the graves of cowards” so aptly sums up my belief in karma. Then the next day, it’ll be “Justifiable Casualty” because it’s so emotional and makes me cry every time I hear it, especially the line, “She said there’s no one who can declare a war on warfare.” I don’t know why - it gets me every time!!! Then another day it’ll be “Scream It” because Jorn really nailed the metal “Romeo & Juliet” tragic love story vibe I was going for and it turned out so perfectly. Then the next day, it’ll be “Machine Gun” for its powerful imagery and empowering anger it encompasses Then the next day… do you see a pattern here? ;-) Anyway, I love and treasure each song in a different way for a different reason because each one also has its own unique story and personal connection for me.
How the recordings have been so far? How long did they last? How long it took to write the lyrics and music?
Some songs I wrote already a couple of years ago, some I started working on just before we started on the production. All in all we were demo-ing, recording, mixing & mastering from March until August 2011.
On a technical level, “Alloy” is an album based on a deliberately obscure and chilly production, ingredient that combined with the songwriting process could already predict a masterpiece itself, sounding pop/rock, which also shows a great elegance. If you were to describe the album just with three words, what adjectives would you use?
Emotional. Loaded. Dark.
You will start a tour with Trillium in the next months and you will visit so many cities in Europe next to another Dutch band, which was born in these last years: Delain. How did the choice to support this band for the very first Trillium tour happen?
Sander and I have been in touch with them for a while regarding various aspects. I think they’re a good fit to Trillium and it’s something new, so I’m really looking forward to the collaboration.
What are the expectations for this tour?
I’m not a person who believes in having expectations. I like having a blank slate and filling in the spaces as I go along. In my opinion, expectations can only get you into trouble. If you let yourself simply enjoy the experience as it comes along, it’s much more fulfilling and you’ll never be disappointed. :-) I’m just looking forward to the tour and am grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I love to do and share the experience with some great people. I hope for the best and that’s all.
What do you expect from this band?
Ah, yes. See my previous answer on the subject of expectations. :-)
Besides being an excellent mezzo-soprano and composer, you’re also a vocal coach. You’ve been the teacher of many singers (like, for example, Simone Simons from Epica), what have you learned from your pupils? What is it left of each of them inside you?
First of all, thank you very much for your kind words. I must correct the statement, however, that I’m a mezzo-soprano. Though my range is actually all the way from tenor to soprano, I feel most at home as an alto. :-) I’m not quite sure where this whole”mezzosoprano” description came from that someone placed on my Wikipedia page but I can assure you that’s not the case. And that being said, I’m a student of life. Each person I’ve worked with, each project I’ve been involved with has presented me with new challenges to change and grow, both as a person and as a musician. I think it’s important to always find new stimuli to keep you on your toes and strive to always be better. In the same turn, I also learn about how I would not like to be and things I definitely don’t want to do. It works both ways!
You’ve started singing from the early age. How your passion for music was born? How did it happen?
I grew up in a very musical family where music was a very basic and essential part of life. According to my mother, I was singing before I was talking. It was always a “learning-bydoing” process and I was fortunate to also have very good music mentors in both my family and at my elementary school, so I learned to read music and play piano at a rather young age. There was no sudden moment or conscious decision in my wanting to become a musician; that’s all I ever wanted to be and do. All throughout my life, I was giving concerts, performing in talent shows and competitions, even DJ-ing, hosting karaoke & singing in cover bands and jazz combos to earn money when I was in university. It’s just always been a part of my life!
Which are the artists or bands who have most influenced your artistic growth, your music and your Arts education?
I never did study music formally, nor was I classically-trained in singing. My grandmother taught me how to read music and gave me the basic foundation that I still use for composing today. As far as turning points go, the big milestones were: starting to work with Sascha and the Gate Studio team and releasing my first solo album in 2000; then writing “Aina” in 2002-2003; doing more and more work for and with metal bands; writing thrash metal in HDK with Sander Gommans; getting involved in Avantasia; releasing “Windows” and now working on Trillium. I’d say those are the big ones!
We could say that you have a great long path behind. You’ve worked with artists like Kamelot, Michael Kiske, Epica, Avantasia and so on. What these people have given to you on an artistic level and/or a personal level?
Every new album, each new project or band or artist I work with or write and record is a further step in my growth process as a musician and as a person. So each one has changed my life because it left a lasting influence on me that’s led me to who I am today.
How do you feel, at this point, in your career? Are you satisfied about the work done until now? Do you have some other expectations or some other project you would like to do in your artistic career?
I’m very satisfied. I get to do what I love to do, travel all over the world, meet and work with some wonderful and amazingly talented people and I can pay my bills from that. I don’t think anyone could ask for anything more fulfilling on a professional nor on a personal level. I would love nothing more than to just keep the ball rolling!
As I’ve said before, you are best known for having worked with so many bands, in particular one of these bands reflects your fame: Epica. How do you feel like working with this famous Dutch band?
I’ve been working with them since before they were even called Epica (back then, they were Sahara Dust and had Helena Michaelsen as their singer!). They’ve joked that I’m the not-so-secret 7th member of the band and it’s been great being involved.
In 2008, you’ve had to replace Simone Simons, who was facing a serious illness which has forced her to retire herself from the music scene for a while. How did you feel like replacing one of your most famous pupil? I remember that, in the same year, you both performed together in Italy (for the festival called Rock In Field) in a beautiful duet. What could you tell us about it?
It was certainly a logical choice for them to ask me to fill in for her since I’d co-written all of their songs, coached Simone, produced the vocals and sung on every song. For me to agree to it was because I didn’t want my friends to have to miss out on a huge opportunity because the tour was going to be a very important one for them. It wasn’t easy, however, because I had no idea what to expect from the fans, whether I’d get tomatoes thrown at me or what because it’s always a tricky thing to replace a lead singer and not everyone is interested in the details or background story. However, it all worked out great and the fans were very gracious. Our duet in Italy was simply natural since we were both playing at the same festival; Epica and Avantasia. We had a good time!
Having mentioned one of the most famous female fronted metal bands of Europe, what is your thought about bands with female singers? Are you in favour or against the bands that use a girl for their own music? Which is your thought in general? Haha!! Is this supposed to be a “new” concept, having a woman fronting a musical event? Being a “girl” myself, why on earth would I be opposed to it? :-) I think the term “femalefronted” is a rather laughable one, to be honest. You never hear the term “female-fronted pop” or “female-fronted jazz”, or “female-fronted R&B”, right? So what’s the big deal about it in metal? I think some guys need to get over themselves a little because chicks rock just as much as - and sometimes, quite frankly, even more than - dudes do. I loved the song and thought the musical portrayal was beautiful. I’m a bit of an actress and a lot of a romantic, so it was fun and fulfilling. I think Serenity is a very talented band and wish them tons of success. It was scary but extremely exciting. That was my first real, big project I did in the metal scene and I had no idea how I was going to do it, I just thought, “I’m going to accomplish this, come what may!”. And I did. I didn’t do everything by myself, just the concept, story and lyrics and I co-wrote a minimal amount of the music. That was my initiation into the Gate Studio team and I proved myself and was soon a steady member. I’ve never really been able to force a song. I don’t believe in doing anything contrived, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think it’s a blasphemy to one’s art. Music is my emotional outlet and I let it take me wherever it leads. If I have an idea that’s just not moving further, I set it aside and wait for it to “speak” with me again. Some songs have taken months or even years to finish for that reason; they just need their time. And sometimes, a deadline can be a miraculous motivator. ;-) As far as songwriting goes, I don’t really have a “normal process”. Sometimes a song will begin as a chorus or a verse, or just a melody, or some chords. Sometimes it’s just lyrics and the body of the musical composition comes later. And sometimes a song will come to me from start to finish in its entirety; chords, vocal lines, lyrics and all! So every time, it’s different. Being that I’m as much a writer as I am a musician, the lyrics are of utmost importance to me as well as the music that goes along with them. My songs are always very emotional because I don’t believe in writing or performing anything you don’t totally believe in or can’t make people feel along with you. On the most basic level, they’re all about human struggles and relationships; something we can all relate to, but many of the songs have a very violent streak in them. All of my songs are personal-based, whether it was something I went through or a dream that I had or someone/something that inspired me. My songs are little windows into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville. :-) My albums, my songs are like children to me. It’s a huge labor of love, filled with soaring highs and sometimes horrible depths. Music is my highest form of emotional and personal expression. It’s very fulfilling to see everything come together and wind up being a work of art and rather a snapshot of myself at a particular stage in my life. Nope, I’m going to keep on truckin’ and keep the ball rolling! Not to sound greedy, but I want more, more, more! Thanks so much for your time and interest! I really hope I can see some of you while I’m out on the road - it would make me super happy!! xx Amanda Links
Haha!! Is this supposed to be a “new” concept, having a woman fronting a musical event? Being a “girl” myself, why on earth would I be opposed to it? :-) I think the term “femalefronted” is a rather laughable one, to be honest. You never hear the term “female-fronted pop” or “female-fronted jazz”, or “female-fronted R&B”, right? So what’s the big deal about it in metal? I think some guys need to get over themselves a little because chicks rock just as much as - and sometimes, quite frankly, even more than - dudes do.Talking about collaborations and cooperations, in 2010 you’ve released an album with another famous partner: Michael Kiske and last year, you’ve also took part in the new Serenity album, called ”Death & Legacy”, where you’ve played the role of the Queen in the amazing song “Changing Fate”. How was for you interpreting musically speaking a so important historical role? Which were your impressions when this Austrian band asked you to cooperate?
I loved the song and thought the musical portrayal was beautiful. I’m a bit of an actress and a lot of a romantic, so it was fun and fulfilling. I think Serenity is a very talented band and wish them tons of success.As I’ve quoted before, you are also a great composer. In 2003, you’ve been the backbone of the band Aina, for the album “Days of Rising Doom”, in which you’ve done most of the work: you wrote the lyrics and the music and you’ve also taken part as a singer. What do you remember about this experience? Was it hard to do everything by yourself?
It was scary but extremely exciting. That was my first real, big project I did in the metal scene and I had no idea how I was going to do it, I just thought, “I’m going to accomplish this, come what may!”. And I did. I didn’t do everything by myself, just the concept, story and lyrics and I co-wrote a minimal amount of the music. That was my initiation into the Gate Studio team and I proved myself and was soon a steady member.How does a work, created by Amanda Somerville? Where does the inspiration for the music and lyrics come from?
I’ve never really been able to force a song. I don’t believe in doing anything contrived, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think it’s a blasphemy to one’s art. Music is my emotional outlet and I let it take me wherever it leads. If I have an idea that’s just not moving further, I set it aside and wait for it to “speak” with me again. Some songs have taken months or even years to finish for that reason; they just need their time. And sometimes, a deadline can be a miraculous motivator. ;-) As far as songwriting goes, I don’t really have a “normal process”. Sometimes a song will begin as a chorus or a verse, or just a melody, or some chords. Sometimes it’s just lyrics and the body of the musical composition comes later. And sometimes a song will come to me from start to finish in its entirety; chords, vocal lines, lyrics and all! So every time, it’s different. Being that I’m as much a writer as I am a musician, the lyrics are of utmost importance to me as well as the music that goes along with them. My songs are always very emotional because I don’t believe in writing or performing anything you don’t totally believe in or can’t make people feel along with you. On the most basic level, they’re all about human struggles and relationships; something we can all relate to, but many of the songs have a very violent streak in them. All of my songs are personal-based, whether it was something I went through or a dream that I had or someone/something that inspired me. My songs are little windows into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville. :-)Which is the most beautiful part in creating an album, entirely written by you?
My albums, my songs are like children to me. It’s a huge labor of love, filled with soaring highs and sometimes horrible depths. Music is my highest form of emotional and personal expression. It’s very fulfilling to see everything come together and wind up being a work of art and rather a snapshot of myself at a particular stage in my life.Do you have already something new in your mind after the tour that will see you around Europe with Trillium or are you going to take a little rest and work, later on, on new projects?
Nope, I’m going to keep on truckin’ and keep the ball rolling! Not to sound greedy, but I want more, more, more!Thanks so much for the great chat, Amanda. I really hope to see you on tour with Trillium very soon. Is there something you would like to tell to your fans and to Femme Metal users?
Thanks so much for your time and interest! I really hope I can see some of you while I’m out on the road - it would make me super happy!! xx Amanda
Interview by Eetu “Ene” Niskanen
We have reached singer and vocal coach Amanda Somerville for discover the latest news about Epica, her new solo album “Windows” and more project too. Enjoy!
Hello Amanda thank you for accepting our interview!
Well, thank you so much for having me!
So for the beginning, as we’ve been told, you are working on a new project with Michael Kiske and Mat Sinner, how is it going and what can we expect of it?
The songs for the album are now complete (I’m contributing 3 songs myself to the album that I wrote together with Sander Gommans) and Matt and his partner Magnus Karlsson are now finishing up the recordings. I was in Stuttgart and recorded my vocals about a week ago and am very excited about the end result. Everything went very well and I was looking forward to it because this was my first time working with Mat & Co. I very much like the songs that are on the album and I’m also honored to be working with Michael Kiske again, since I’ve already been on albums with him before with Aina and Avantasia. You can expect songs that are more rock with a metal edge and I think it’s going to be great!
This year you released your new solo album, the brilliant “Windows”, how much work did it take to get it finally officially released?
Thank you for the compliment. :-) I can’t begin to tell you the emotional, physical, mental and financial efforts that went into getting “Windows” finally released. The album was several years in the making (5+!) and then it was a self-release, so a lot of work went into everything from the cover & booklet design to pressing the CDs to doing promo. And I’m not done!
“Windows” had huge musical variety, how about your next solo album, will it follow the same kind of mixture or maybe something else?
Since my own taste is rather eclectic, my songwriting seems to follow that pattern, as well. I’m sure variety will always be a factor in my albums, but I’m constantly growing, gaining influences, changing. So far I have several songs already written for a new album and they’re a bit darker yet than “Windows” .
Also this year you worked on a project called HDK with Sander Gommans (ex-After Forever), how was the experience working as a vocalist on a lot heavier material than work on your solo material?
It was great! I love a good challenge and this was without a doubt the heaviest thing I’ve done in my career up until now. I was also able to try things out and sing in ways I normally don’t because the material was so incredibly… thrashy! ;-) But I totally got into it and feel like it’s my baby, too. I’m quite proud of the work Sander and I did together and since then we’ve been working together pretty regularly. So it was all around a win-win situation!
Another thing you did in 2009 was Epica’s new album “Design Your Universe”, you worked as a vocal coach for Simone, sang the backing vocals and in the choir, how was it working with Epica again?
I also made a guest appearance and sang a duet originally on “Unleashed”, for which I wrote most of the lyrics, as well. That version is apparently a bonus track for “Design Your Universe”. It’s always been fun working with the Epicans and we came up with more good stuff this time, too, in my opinion!
You are working on new songs with Sander Gommans, how is it that turning out?
Oh, it’s always a lot of fun working with Sander. We’re a pretty good creative match, so the work flow is always great and the end results are solid. We’ve got more work in progress for a few different projects, so we’ll see!
Years ago you were part of project “Aina”, you wrote lyrics and the concept and worked as vocalist, can we expect any more music as follow up for the brilliant “Days of Rising Doom”?
Goodness, that’s a wholly different can of worms and, even though I’ve written a sequel for it, it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening any time soon. Who knows for the future, though…?
You have worked with so many bands and projects, have you ever thought of fronting a band of your own? With this I don’t mean solo work, as an equal band member.
I have my respect for bands but I really don’t think it’s my thing. I’m not one to say “never,” however it’s not something that I can see myself doing right now. I’m much more of a solo musician when it comes to my own music and always have been!
Last year you were touring with both Epica and Avantasia, how was the experience?
Fantastic! I’m a gypsy at heart and performing is my favorite thing to do, so I was completely in my element. I think you could tell from my video blogs, couldn’t you? ;-)
What kind of music do you listen yourself and how often?
Quite varied, actually, and I listen to music almost all the time. Usually it’s something that relaxes me, helps me be sad when I need to be sad or gets me in a good mood
Who are your biggest influences?
My family and the musicians I’ve worked with the past several years (the Gate Studio team).
With all these projects and collaborations what can we expect from you next year?
More live shows, more guest appearances with various bands/projects on albums, new songs, new crazy videos - the works!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Doing the same thing, but more of it, on a higher level and probably with 2 or 3 kids to take care of on top of all that. Not sure which continent or country I’ll be in, however!
Thank you for the interview and take care!
Best wishes to you!