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Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
After an extended hiatus, Erben der Schöpfung has returned with the excellent “Narben der Ziet”. The new music seamlessly combines metal and electronica in an industrial cloak of dark melancholy. Femme Metal gets personal with vocalist Dina Falk about the making of “Narben der Ziet” and her approach to music.
“Narben der Zeit” is finally out and it’s definitely worth the wait. How has the response been to the CD so far?
Since we’ve still been fighting for the rights to finally release it – even if we got the rights to do so – we did not reach as many people as we could have. The response of those who we’ve reached is actually very good and we are happy about it.
It’s been eight years since “Twilight” but many could say this is a new band. How did you and the rest of the new members get involved? Is Oliver still the creative center?
On “Narben der Zeit”, he still composed all of the songs but with a little help on the ballad “Homeless” which I personally wanted to get done and on the album. On everything else, he did the structuring and composing and we just put our stuff on top. So it’s still his project but with a band around him that is helping out on some stuff.
The current band has been together now since 2005. When starting “Narben der Zeit” was there a conscious attempt to start in a new direction or to continue Oliver’s original concept of the band? How did “Narben der Zeit” evolve during that time until now?
We just started without any plan but knowing that we would be a little metal, a little electro and dark. That was it. We can’t force the project towards a particular direction. We just start working and watch the results. One of the things we also knew was that we are getting away of this symphonic-female-metal image that a lot of people still put us in.
“Narben der Zeit” (or “Scars of Time”) is an interesting title considering the tumultuous history of the band. Time heals all wounds but you still can bear the scars of the past - looking forward to the future while remembering past lessons. Is there an autobiographical reference within “Narben der Zeit”?
The album title has nothing to do with the band’s history but with any lifetime. I guess that everybody has his wounds and scars of time and I guess this will keep on going like this for a lifetime. We chose this title because everybody has got his own and personal scars.
“Narben der Zeit” has evolved the Erben der Schöpfung sound considerably since “Twilight”. The metal sections are heavier, the EBM sections are more danceable and the overall feel of the CD is much darker. How did the music for “Narben der Zeit” develop?
This is just a natural development of Erben der Schöpfung through changing members, through Oliver’s personal development and through time. We didn’t force anything because we think that forcing development does not work. Development is something working independently and in need of time and different phases. You need to develop yourself too otherwise your project is standing still as well.
I’m having a tough time figuring out how to categorize your music for my iPod (which is a good thing in this case). Metal has progressed to a point where it incorporates many different genres to keep the music fresh and moving forward. I see Erben der Schöpfung as a metal band at the core but then again others might argue that you’re a very heavy EBM band. How do you view the band’s sound? This is difficult to answer. I’m not a friend of categorization and categorizing our own music is giving me a hard time! Well, I know that people need categories in their whole life to get a certain order to it but I like things that drop out of the usual schedule. Maybe Erben der Schöpfung is just something not fitting in anywhere or even better: fitting any mood. If you feel metal you’ll hear metal and if you feel EBM you’ll hear EBM. Having that inherent uniqueness in your music lets you stand out from other bands and helps you carve out your own niche. Musically, the rewards are many but are there any drawbacks to following a distinct musical vision? We don’t fit in anywhere! Of course, you’ll have a hard time doing something unique or new that people are not used to. There are some that just don’t understand our music and act very different because of that. The worst case is if they fit you in a certain category that we don’t fit in and then tell us that we’d done an awful job. Also, we are always kind of unsure – even if we are not up to fulfilling expectations – but doing something unusual is making us scan a lot of reactions. We have to find our place and maybe settle down or maybe not. While writing the lyrics to “Narben der Zeit”, I mostly wrote down the first thoughts that came upon my mind. I didn’t play a lot with words and I didn’t think about them for a long time so it’s just my first thoughts and feelings. That was a good way for me to write the first lyrics but they were also very open to attack and very personal. If I now look at the lyrics it is a lot about looking back and discharging childhood or a certain piece of my inner child. I would say that I’ve lost a lot of innocence in my childhood and early teens to twenties but I’m gaining it back now in a whole other quality. There was a lot of reformation and inner cleaning going on during the last two or three years and I guess that the lyrics to “Narben der Zeit” were doing their part.
This is difficult to answer. I’m not a friend of categorization and categorizing our own music is giving me a hard time! Well, I know that people need categories in their whole life to get a certain order to it but I like things that drop out of the usual schedule. Maybe Erben der Schöpfung is just something not fitting in anywhere or even better: fitting any mood. If you feel metal you’ll hear metal and if you feel EBM you’ll hear EBM.
Having that inherent uniqueness in your music lets you stand out from other bands and helps you carve out your own niche. Musically, the rewards are many but are there any drawbacks to following a distinct musical vision?
We don’t fit in anywhere! Of course, you’ll have a hard time doing something unique or new that people are not used to. There are some that just don’t understand our music and act very different because of that. The worst case is if they fit you in a certain category that we don’t fit in and then tell us that we’d done an awful job. Also, we are always kind of unsure – even if we are not up to fulfilling expectations – but doing something unusual is making us scan a lot of reactions. We have to find our place and maybe settle down or maybe not.There is a recurring theme running through “Narben der Zeit” dealing with children and child-like qualities. Tracks like “Jane Churm”, “Homeless”, “Leaving” and “Your Lullabies” are told with a child-like innocence but at the same time from a perspective of innocence lost. How did the lyrics develop for this CD and what experiences did you draw from while writing them?
While writing the lyrics to “Narben der Zeit”, I mostly wrote down the first thoughts that came upon my mind. I didn’t play a lot with words and I didn’t think about them for a long time so it’s just my first thoughts and feelings. That was a good way for me to write the first lyrics but they were also very open to attack and very personal. If I now look at the lyrics it is a lot about looking back and discharging childhood or a certain piece of my inner child. I would say that I’ve lost a lot of innocence in my childhood and early teens to twenties but I’m gaining it back now in a whole other quality. There was a lot of reformation and inner cleaning going on during the last two or three years and I guess that the lyrics to “Narben der Zeit” were doing their part.
Your ethereal and melancholy vocals are a perfect fit to the dark gothic mood of the music - it makes for a diverse listening experience with headphones in the dark. How did you develop your vocals when recording this CD?
Developing vocals was a similar process to writing lyrics for this album. I just sang whatever came upon my mind and it was fitting the mood; I came in listening to the plain composition, writing the lyrics and even now listening to the songs. It’s a strange mood but it was the only way for me to do the vocals on this album. Anything else just didn’t feel right.
What are your tour plans for supporting “Narben der Zeit”? Are there any international dates planned or touring overseas?
We definitely want to present “Narben der Zeit” live and play gigs but we don’t have any dates planned yet. Right now it’s very difficult to tour if you are starting or restarting a project and next to it three of our band members have to attend school so we do have to plan very tight. But we are working on it and hope to play live soon. Dates overseas are depending on how many people would like to see us playing and on getting in touch with a good fitting booking agency.
Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another eight years for new music from the band. Is there any new music in the works or a remix album?
I hope so too! We are working on new songs right now and for now it’s looking very good to record a new album soon. We are very productive and industrious since Christmas but a lot of work is still waiting to be done.
2009 is gone and we’re into 2010. Does the band have any musical New Year’s resolutions for the new decade?
“Narben der Zeit” is rapidly becoming one of my favorite CDs of 2009. What were your top CDs this year and what made them standouts for you?
Ouph… Actually, I didn’t listen to a lot of music this year besides our songs…maybe Devil Driver’s “Pray for Villains” and Rabia Sorda’s “Noise Diary” but I’ve missed all the other good releases in 2009. I’ve rather been listening to old ones that year.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
In the last few years, female-fronted metal has turned into a revolving door for vocalists. To satisfy the bands and their fans, vocalists have to be able to do justice to the older material plus have the potential to take the band in new directions. We’ve seen bands conduct highly publicized searches across countries and continents trying to find that next great singer. In the case of Chile’s Six Magics, they had to look no farther than their band manager. The smoldering contralto of Elizabeth Vásquez officially debuts on “Behind the Sorrow”, the excellent new album from Six Magics. Femme Metal got a chance to speak to Elizabeth about “Behind the Sorrow”, how saying “No” can get you the job anyway and what we can help the victims of the recent earthquake in Chile.
“Behind the Sorrow” is a re-release of your 2008 album “Animal” with a new track and new packaging. Why did you choose to re-release the material?
Well, “Animal” was just a promotional CD that we made for Chilean friends and fans. It was something very small and we did it because people were crazy asking and asking about our new material. We were looking for a good label at that time so we decided to edit a limited amount of copies here. So our real third album release is “Behind the Sorrow”.
You spent years as Six Magics’ manager before you became the vocalist. How did you get the gig? Was this your plan from the beginning – do the manager thing for awhile and then strike when the opportunity appeared? Were you the first choice or did you have to convince the band to give you an audition? Perhaps you didn’t even give them an option. ;)
Ha-ha! Yeah, that could be a good strategy but I was too young when I started with the band as the manager so that never was on my mind. I started with the band seven months after they decided to have a band. I did all the stuff managers do. I was very proud of them because they were very talented and the band had started to be well known here too. When they recorded the second album, “The Secrets of An Island”, which contains a lot of voices on it because of the choir, Erick Avila, the composer, was crazy looking for a contralto voice. As it was so hard because most of the girls were soprano, he asked me to sing in the choir and record the lines with them. After that I was also asked to sing some female parts live because it was also needed for two songs. When Sergio Dominguez decided to leave, we were looking for singers even in Argentina and the States but it was hard to find a foreign singer who fulfilled all the requirements the band asked. So, when I was also looking for a singer, Erick had the idea to ask me if I could do it. My answer was no: I was very impressed and I thought it was an insane idea!!! So as I wanted to free myself from this, I told him I would record a song – the most difficult song. I recorded “Behind the Sorrow” and when they listened to my version it was just silence. I thought, “Cool. I did it!” but then Erick said, “It’s amazing!! I love it!. Send it to (producer) David Prater to know what he thinks!”. The band liked it and David Prater said he was impressed and that I was what Six Magics needed to be complete! Everything was unexpected!
Considering the band was established for many years, why did the band choose to change directions and move from a male singer to a female one? Was it considered a risky move?
Fortunately, the band was always taking risks with everything: the performances, lyrics, etc., so when Sergio quit they thought it was a good opportunity to get another singer better than him so it wasn’t a traumatic situation for them. They just wanted to solve the problem soon because Sergio quit when he had already recorded four songs. They never thought about having a woman singing because they thought that having a girl among them could be a problem because of her requirements, or because she would be a soprano singer or something like that. As the band was very recognized and valued here, they thought it could be hard – not for them – but for fans to understand it. The guys did what they had done before: not to be afraid about the risk and they were very convinced that this was the best for the band.
How was it for you to step into a male singer’s shoes especially in a recognized band with a large repertoire of songs?
As I am a contralto, the band’s songs weren’t a problem for me – the thing was to be respectful with each song and show this to the fans. I didn’t change the songs for me; I still sing the old songs in the same way Sergio did it. I think fans understood that and they felt good about it too. At the beginning, we thought that when the news about my arrival to the band was published, fans would be annoyed or something but on the contrary, they were surprised but happy. It was really crazy! We thought that as they (the fans) have always trusted in the band’s decisions, fans (would think) that if the band decided to have a female singer now, it was because it was the best for the band and they would respect that. People were very, very, kind with us since the very beginning. I think it was also because they knew me from when I was the manager! Personally, I have a lot of respect for all the guys in the band. It was amazing to share the stage with these monsters. All of them are well recognized here as virtuosos and all of them are music teachers. So it has been an honor for me to be with them.
Was there an adjustment period for you, the band, and the fans while you learned to make the music your own?
Just musically speaking, because we had known each other for 10 years! We had a lot of rehearsals because I knew all the songs perfectly but we needed to understand each other with my new role. I was ready after a month of rehearsal. I must say all of them were very generous and they always showed me they were happy to have me with them. The problem was then to find another manager. Ha-Ha! Erick is the main composer and our musical director. He was very, very, demanding, but it wasn’t in a dramatic situation. Erick started taking advantage of having a female voice and we started to make some new melodies for the new material, etc.
Six Magics’ music is very atmospheric and dark with many heavy and progressive elements. Being from Chile, is there a sound associated with South American metal that makes it distinct from the rest of the world? Have you made it a part of your music?
In the second album of Six Magics, you can find a lot Latin-American elements: the lyrics are about a Chilean island and their mythological stories, musical rhythm, and also in the instruments the guys played. At that moment, we wanted to save our roots and record an album with all these elements. It was a very well recognized album here and the band was considered as a contributor to the music and Chilean culture too. After that, we decided to record a third album with a different point of view, musically speaking. I think as Erick loves classical music, and in the band we all have different musical likes, it’s easy to find different influences in our music too. I think Pablo Stagnaro, the drummer, is responsible for the Latin-American patterns we play live sometimes.
You tagged David Prater of Dream Theater fame to produce “Behind the Sorrow”. How did you get him on board and what did he bring to your music?
A couple of years ago we decided to record a new album. Our main idea was getting this new album considering other sounds, rhythms, melodies and lyrics. He had recorded another band here in Chile some years before and as we knew these guys we could contact him rapidly. We wanted this third album to be different from the previous ones. We also thought it would be a good idea to reach this goal if we worked with a producer. With all of this in mind, we contacted some people to take this job and after some months we decided to produce the new material with David Prater. He wanted to work with us because he thought the band had enough potential to get good results and the idea of working with him was quite attractive to us because, talking about music, he wanted the same we wanted. I mean, we were lucky because we found a producer that didn’t want to change our music as his wish and we wanted to do the same he wanted! It was a long time in which many things happened: since his arrival with the band, we had almost everything recorded and the singer quit the band. So then I took his place and David had to come to Chile again to record the vocals with me having a very serious illness etc… At the end of the process, we realized that everybody was very happy with the result and that all the sacrifices were absolutely paid with this new album. I think what he brought to our music was the idea of simplicity, the previous albums had thousands of notes sounding at the same time and the musical spirit went more for having a lot of complex arrangements working together at the same time. Fortunately we wanted to do something more simple too.
South America is crazy about metal music. What is it about metal, especially European bands that South Americans respond to?
Yes. Latin-American people love metal bands from Europe and they used to go to their concerts too. In Chile, we have the chance to see almost every band so I think people are losing their capability of being surprised: one day we have Metallica, next month Iron Maiden, then Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica, Slayer, Dream Theater etc…so sometimes we need to save a lot of money to go to the concerts – especially because they cost a lot. Chile is one of the most expensive countries to have a concert; even small band’s gigs are expensive. About language: Chile is a bit different from other Latin-American countries: people love bands that sing in English but in other places I know they prefer bands that do it in Spanish. As Chile is more influenced by the USA and Europe, that’s not hard to understand. Here we have a lot of good bands but as we don’t have a “metal industry”, it’s always difficult to make music and live from it.
Your vocals on “Behind the Sorrow” are very sultry, very low and ominous. The vocal heat really adds a level of seduction to songs like “It’s Not the Way”. Your voice also allows you to easily stand out from the upper-register operatic singers in so many other female-fronted metal bands. Were you always a singer or did you come to it later in life?
Thank you so much for your kind words and I’m happy to see you have listened to our music carefully. I have been listening to music since before I was born! Music was also my favorite subject at school and I was asked to sing every time I could do it. As I like jazz and rhythm & blues, I had some cover bands where I learned a lot. As I told you before, I like R&B and jazz and metal of course! My favorite singers are Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Peabo Bryson, Freddy Mercury, Dio and many other metal singers, so I used to sing this music too. When someone asks me to sing something from the 80s pop or rock I don’t have any problem. Sometimes I sing bossanova or jazz depending on the moment and feelings. All music gives you something special but what metal is for me is part of my entire life!
“Run” implies there was more to the World Trade Center bombing than another terrorist attack. This track is a bit of a misfit lyrically among the rest of the tracks on “Behind the Sorrow”. What was the inspiration to write the song? Does the band have a political edge that fans don’t know about yet?
Not really. Chile was under a dictatorship for almost 20 years but we were children then. We belong to the generation that lived that but we don’t have a political view of certain things. Politicians are really worried because of the lack of interest of Chilean youth. I think we are tired of politics because for many years after democracy was set in 1990 we have listened to a lot of (political) discussions in our families and also seen it on TV. And as our album is very realistic and we talk about things we really believe in, that’s a song we wanted to write but we didn’t know how, then the idea of making something related to this topic was very strong. What really motivated us to do this was that all of us think we shouldn’t believe everything we are told. Sometimes we can lie and make other people believe we are the victims but we are not. We wanted to talk about different topics we strongly believe and we had the opportunity to record two previous albums where we didn’t want to do it, but we talked about a fantastic world or mythological being from our country instead. This time, as a natural process in life, we wanted to do something different. It was also motivating because we had David Prater with us and we could share a lot of experiences about this topic, his feelings and thoughts, so it was really nice to share the ideas of an American guy with our own beliefs.
We’re starting to hear of more and more bands from South America making an impact internationally. Should we prepare ourselves for the next wave of metal bands? Who are the top female-fronted metal bands we should watch out for?
I think music is a nice way to join people, countries and cultures. We have lived that! You can see how people who don’t know you can have an effective approach to you just because your music could reach their heart. So I think if music is sincere it doesn’t matter where it comes from. Unfortunately, I don’t know too many bands from Latin-America. It can be curious, I know, but I still listen to the old ones like Angra and their derivations (ha-ha) Sepultura and Criminal from Chile.
Releasing “Behind the Sorrow” must give the band some time to work on new material. Are you working on a new album? What can we expect to hear?
The album was released just last month and, of course, we are interested in recording another album soon but now we are just concentrating on the next promotional tour and supporting our label with everything we have to get “Behind the Sorrow” the best results. We wanna enjoy this album completely first! We will see about a new record during the second semester of this year and I will let you know for sure! ;-)
A new album means a tour. Where is Six Magics performing in 2010? Are you staying close to South America this year or can we expect to see you in Europe and the U.S.?
Yes, a new album means a tour. We understand that and we love it, too! We have been working with some people to have our promotional tour in Europe next semester. We are still booking the gigs so you will hear about them soon. We want to go to the USA too and we have got some invitations so maybe we will have good news very soon.
The recent earthquake in Chile was a tragedy and we at Femme Metal send our condolences and support to the Chilean people. There are many metal bands that have a close relationship with their Chilean fans and are raising money by performing in Chile or in their own countries. Does Six Magics have any performance plans to help raise funds or to participate in relief efforts?
Thanks for that and we know many bands like Chile and its people. We really thank all the bands that are trying to help or are simply sending their support. We have got many emails from different parts of the world. Fans and other bands have sent us their valuable support. It’s a so sensible situation for all of us. We had returned from our promotional trip in Germany and after nine hours the disaster began. It was really scary and we are still having news about the real consequences of this tragedy. It has been something that has affected us in different ways – mainly psychologically speaking. Feeling our houses or apartments so vulnerable and feeling hundreds of aftershocks has been very hard. Emotionally, we are still affected and I think it will take a lot of time to be totally recovered. Life has changed for all of us since that day, no matter if our house was or was not destroyed or if we have relatives missing or not. As many of us are teachers so the professional situation hasn’t changed too much, but our students are also affected. It’s a circle, but we are trying to stand up. We have seen a lot of tragedy in our country and you suffer when your country is suffering too. We have been collaborating with different foundations as a band and also individually. We are always available to do benefits too. It’s also a way to cure our souls when you can help others and you realize you must be grateful to be alive and have all your family with you. If readers want to donate to the relief effort what is the best way they can contribute? As you can imagine, there are many ways people can support Chile. If they really want to do it they will find the best way. Fortunately, Chilean foundations are very confident. One is Hogar de Cristo (Christ Home) at and here you also have another interesting link. Thank you very much for your patience and support. God bless you all guys. With love, Elizabeth and Six Magics.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
Every once in a while you run across a promising band new band and you’re instantly captivated by their sound, their creativity and their maturity. But most of all you can sense that intangible quality – something difficult to describe – that makes them unique and sets them apart. Ellyose is one of those bands. They ooze potential and bring a defiantly fresh take on gothic metal music. Femme Metal had the pleasure to speak to Ellyose vocalist Justine Daaé on recording their debut album “Théogyne”, the struggles of an up-and-coming band and staying true to your musical vision.Ellyose has the look and the sound to make a real musical impact on the French metal scene and beyond. What can you give some background of you and the band?
I myself have a classical background; I have studied classical music and singing at the conservatory in Paris and still am. At the age of 18, I started singing in some metal bands; it made me realize and understand several things: that I could never work with people handling music as leisurely entertainment and that, as I’m also a musician, I could never be only an interpreter, I needed to be very much involved in the writing process of the songs. It took me a few years to find partners who matched my musical personality and involvement and who didn’t want to do music in an amateurish way. When I met Ghislain (bass player) in early 2009, I felt I found the right person to work with and that’s when Ellyose began. Our guitarist Arnaud joined us 8 months later, after we released our 6-track-demo.
Ellyose has been together and performing for just over a year. What can people expect when they listen to Ellyose for the first time?
They can expect music loaded with arrangements mixing different types of musical influences among them classical (especially with the vocals) electronic and dance. It is very much a challenge to find the right way to make everything go well together to bring different emotions.
Ellyose is currently hard at work on its debut album “Théogyne”. What’s the recording process been like so far?
The hardest part is keeping the necessary distance to judge fairly our own songs – to be able to stand back and remain objective. In other words, keeping fresh ears after listening to parts of the songs a thousand times to find the perfect arrangement. It’s very long hours spent in front of a computer with our instruments trying to catch emotions in a very rigorous way. It’s exhausting but thrilling.
We can get a musical taste of Ellyose on your MySpace site and the posted tracks are excellent. What can we expect on “Théogyne”? Will the remaining songs be in the same vein or do you have some surprises in store?
It will be in the same vein as our eponymous track “Théogyne”, meaning less of a metal tradition, moving away from symphonic or gothic metal towards electronic, techno, dance and trance. This approach takes the strength and power metal brings and contrasts it with classical arrangements and vocals. And this is what it’s all about, violence and delicacy in one combined in music we want to sound aggressive and sensual.
Did you enter the studio with a specific idea of what you wanted the tracks to sound like or did everything get tossed out the window after you entered the studio and started to experiment?
We don’t experiment in the studio – everything is fixed before in the finest detail. The time to experiment is during working sessions. In the studio, we focus on not forgetting what we perfected, on being good at our instruments, and making ourselves clear and understandable with the sound engineer about what we want.
There are many operatically trained vocalists in goth metal but your classical vocal style works very well with the industrial and electronic elements in Ellyose. And by combining that operatic approach with breathy whispers and spoken word segments, it creates a unique vocal perspective that stands out. How did this vocal style develop?
I like to mix different kinds of singing and make use of everything I can do with my voice in order not to sound monotone and bring different emotions to each song: something more intimate with the whispers, something more lyrical with the vocals. Unfortunately, I’m unable to do grunts! I wish I could! I’m amazed by classical singers like Floor Jansen (very recently) who can do it without damaging their voice. At least that’s what she claims!
Your vocal background is in classical music. What is it about this vocal style that works so well with metal music?
To me, classical singing doesn’t just work well with metal, it could work well with many other kinds of music. I’ve never understood why it is so unpopular or why it sticks only with classical or metal.
Do you ever perform in a traditional classical environment? Is that a musical goal of yours?I still perform in a completely classical environment as part of my training at the conservatory. I also do chorus in operas. I have a deep passion for classical music and singing but obviously, I could never make a career in that environment plus classical music is just one facet of who I am. I’d rather be the crazy metal kind of girl.
Ellyose, while having a strong goth metal focus, also leans heavily towards industrial and electronic music. Is the future of metal going to be one where it assimilates different styles of music to stay fresh.
Metal has only been here for around 40 years so how will it sound in 100 years? I think it’s fair to expect it will continue to evolve like it already has by assimilating different styles of music.
You’ve also been heavily involved with Grey November, an excellent ambient doom metal band, that released its debut album “D’Automne” back in 2008. What prompted you to change musical directions from the dark ambience of Grey November to forming a gothic industrial electronic metal band like Ellyose? It’s a big change.
I don’t actually write Grey November’s music, I only write the vocal parts, so the project wasn’t mine in the first place, I agreed to work with Cédric whose music and lyrics deeply moved me. As a result, I’m very proud of what we’ve done even though ambient doom is definitely not the kind of music I want to go along with. Ellyose is my own project with my bass player partner Ghislain Henry, I am the songwriter myself in close collaboration with him. Today it is my top priority. I wanted a band that was totally who I was and which sounded totally the way I liked. It’s more personal.
Is Grey November still a viable outlet for your darker and more doomy creative tendencies? Will there be another Grey November project in the future?
I’m too busy with Ellyose for the moment to think of some other work sessions, but yes, I’d like to keep singing for Grey November in the future, I’m still a gothic music lover.
What are the musical and compositional differences in working with a band like Ellyose versus a band like Grey November?
The work is extremely different as far as Grey November is only a studio band, we’ve never planned to perform on stage so we’ve never recruited any session musicians and never had to go to rehearsals unlike Ellyose where we had to find other musicians and work for live shows.Many bands – regardless of what country they’re from – choose to sing in English to supposedly maximize their potential audience. Your lyrics are sung in your native French. French works so well with your music and your vocal style (especially the spoken parts) that English would take away from the overall impact of Ellyose. Other successful French bands like Kells sing in French while Markize performs in English, French AND Russian. But is there a negative to that? Does the language you sing in have an impact on the success of a band and the audience they can reach?
First, thank you for saying French matches with our music, especially that you are not a francophone. The funny thing is that I feel that the ones who are more likely to be bothered by French are French people. I personally like to hear songs in a foreign language (especially German) but most people keep thinking English is either the prettiest language to fit music or that it widens the audience. My choice with Ellyose is to record a bilingual album with French and English, just like the way I practice both of them in my daily life. French brings something unusual and I like to go off the beaten track.
As someone who’s been working the scene and developing your musical vision with increasing success, I’m sure you’ve run into a few roadblocks. What advice do you have for young bands trying to get their music out there?
Ellyose is a young band trying to get its music out there. If Ellyose succeeds, it will be thanks to our association with people aiming for the same goals. Music is teamwork as it also includes people providing the mixing, the production, the promotion, etc. The key thing would be surrounding yourself with bandmates who think the way you do. As well, choose the right people to collaborate with even though it could take some time to find them. Never lose patience.
How important is the Internet in developing and marketing new bands in the 21st century?
Internet is freedom; it allows you to choose one’s own music. Other media imposes on us. Most bands couldn’t live without the Internet. Its role is essential in developing and marketing a new band.(Famous) Last words?“Ne fais pas attention à ce que dit la critique : on n’a jamais élevé une statue à un critique.” (Jean Sibelius)
This is a French quotation meaning that no matter how harshly people may be bad-mouthing and criticizing others thinking they have an important role stating their opinion, they’d never be the ones statues are erected for. It’s poetic way to say, “To hell with detractors!” Follow your own instincts and inspirations and never try to have unanimous backing.?
Interview by Ed MacLaren
In the ancient mythologies of the Middle and Far East, the phoenix was a symbol of rebirth and renewal. In the world of metal, rebirth can mean rebuilding and retooling to recreate the past but sometimes rebirth can result in the creation of something completely different and unique. Rising from the ashes of promising Norwegian metal bands, Animal Alpha and Stonegard, vocalist Agnete Kjølsrud and drummer Erlend Gjerde have taken the best qualities of their former bands and created a refreshing and potent mix of hard rock and black metal. Augmented by the power riffing of Trelldom guitarist Stian Kårstad and punctuated by Agnete’s dynamic vocal gymnastics, Djerv’s self-titled debut is a unique release that rides high on melody and stays heavy on the crunch . Djerv vocalist, Agnete Kjølsrud, had a few things to say to Femme Metal about the formation of the band and her recipe for vocal greatness.Great work on the new album! A solid and most excellent debut. Were you satisfied with the results?Thank you very much! Yes, we are really satisfied.How did you get involved with Stian Kårstad and Erlend Gjerde. How were the seeds for Djerv planted?Both my previous band Animal Alpha and Erlend’s band Stonegard disbanded at the same time. We figured we wanted to start a band together, but wanted to have one more person in the band. We had met Stian a couple of times before, knew of our diverse backgrounds, and thought it would be interesting to see what the three of us could do together. I called Stian up and he was positive from the very beginning.
Each member of Djerv comes from an established band. With the myriad of experiences working with your other bands were there any surprises over the dynamic of working with a new group?
No, it went very well. We know how to pick a fight and it works very good.
The three of you are the core members of the band but are augmented by other musicians during live performances. Why not take the plunge and bring another guitarist and bassist into the fold?
We might do it, but right now it`s fine being just the three of us.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this interview! Hope you will check out Djerv, love the music and support us. Search us on Facebook and we will do our best to meet you in your town!
Photo credit by Jørn Veberg
Interview by Ed MacLaren
Exploding from Russia’s burgeoning metal scene comes Arcane Grail’s latest concept CD “Arya Marga: Ninefold Path to the Innocence”. Equal parts philosophy and spirituality, “Arya Marga” provokes the mind while assaulting the ears. In this interview, vocalists Demether and Natalie take us down the paths to innocence, divulge the secrets to a cohesive band and give us key insights into up-and-coming Russian metal.
Your new CD, “Arya Marga: Ninefold Path to the Innocence”, is lyrically and conceptually dense but it’s ultimately an extremely rewarding listen. Can you offer some insight into the concept behind the CD?
Demether : Yes, our second album is conceptually like the previous one, “Mysteries of the Ancient Charnel”. But if the first CD has the tale-like fairy story about ghosts, kings, inquisition and love in a King-Diamond-like style, the new CD is more serious and non-fairy. The lyrics of Arcane Grail are latently or directly connected nowadays with mythologems of Russian and Indo-Aryan heathenism. There are various themes on the second album but all of them are united in the uniform concept of finding the true Ninefold Noble Path of Life by the Man (“Arya Marga” in Sanskrit– an esoteric term in Vedism and Buddhism) – the revolt against the present and desire to be cleared from all nasty defects of modern human society. And first of all, returning to the sources of mankind, to cleanliness of soul, thoughts, to natural laws, to ancient beliefs, to wisdom of ancestors and to divine condition of human spirit. Musically, we name our style now – Symphonic Extreme Metal Art, which consists of sympho-black, melodic death, and gothic doom as well.
There are nine tracks on “Arya Marga: Nine Paths to Innocence”. Can you delve into the meaning of each path and what tracks are representative of each path? How does each track contribute to the evolution on the path to innocence?
Demether: Yes, nine songs and nine paths. The Ancient Ones said that men needed – in eight paths to the attainment of enlightenment and perfection – wisdom, morals, pure reason, labour, blood-vengeance, honour, kindness and love. The modern man, wallowed in weakness, idiocy, frights, countless diseases, betrayals and lies, is needed in another path, the ninth and the main path – fight! These nine paths can make the man – light and strong, great and wise! This is the path of warriors, the path of Thulean Legatee – Arya Marga, our trip to perfection, our ninefold path to the innocence. And our way to the gods!
About the songs: “Arcane Grail” – WISDOM. The song is absolutely not connected with the Christian concept of the Holy Grail or with the Arthurian legend-cycle about the search for the Grail. The Grail is a much more ancient religious pagan symbol of many Indo-Aryan nations. It is a sacred boiler, a cup, a receptacle of stars, honey of poetry, an elixir of an eternal life. It is created from the Father of All Stones (Alatyr in Slavonic heathenism). It is also a spiritual image necessary for the achievement of an eternal life (unessential, terrestrial), great wisdom, force and cleanliness. This song is devoted to the search of, by disclosing one’s own consciousness, finding a divine condition of the spirit.
“Of Snake and Raven” – MORALS. It is a song, a conversation of wise animals – a raven and the snake – as though occurring at the top of the Mother-Mountain of the World – Meru. They discuss people as they are weak and insignificant, actually. We from ourselves sing how it would be good to become strong, wise, fair, great and strict in the behaviour and principles of these ancient animals. I don’t think that man is the Tsar of Nature.
“Autumn Wed Us, Sinned and Lone” – LOVE. This song is about the love of a man and woman that even death could not separate. The present love is immortal! And that love is the main thing in the world – only with this feeling is there a world!
“Renaissant the Reverie” – LABOUR. A song about my dream of the revival of pagan consciousness in people. It’s about a great work of a body and soul that should be done in this way - revival! It’s about belief in saving love, in virtue of spirit. A song about the dirt of the modern world, perversions of people, about false monotheistic religions imposed on us by people, thirsted authorities and money. That each person can become the god himself, and the bearded dead man on a rotten cross actually is not necessary to anybody!
“Sorrow of Forgotten Pride” – HONOUR. A song about honour: to continue to be a beautiful, clever, perfect person in the modern world, to remember precepts of the ancestors, to love the native land and culture, and that you can die for beloved ones!
“Imprisoned in the Greatest War” – FIGHT. It is a revolution-song! A hymn to the revolt and revival of the old world on the ruins of the modern rotted bastard-society. Though, first of all, each person should win themselves!
“Die Sonnenhymne” – BLOOD-VENGEANCE. One more hymn - this time to Wotan, to the Sun, the Earth. It is an appeal to the old gods to return and take revenge for their desecration!
“Iniquitous Yoke” – KINDNESS. A song about the lot of the magician. About white magic, about the achievement of cleanliness of spirit. About full self-destruction up to a condition of ashes – then to revive like the sun in the universe. That we twirl the stars, instead they us. At least, it should achieve!
“Святой Грааль” – PURE REASON. On the one hand, it is simply a Russian version of the first song. But on the other, the lyrics differ practically on 70%. It is more about the full cleanliness of the mind from the matrix-perverted chains, about unlimited opportunities of sub consciousness of the person and that, eventually, inside of each person there can be a Sacred Grail!
The first track is titled “Arcane Grail”. How do the nine paths to innocence fit into the Arcane Grail world-view?
Demether : Personally, in my life I try to follow only the best roadsides of these paths. Self-perfection is the most important thing in the life of any person. And I do not sing without adducing any proof that does not interest me - by no means. All these ideas - not simply my ideas, but firm belief!
Is your attention to the lyrics primarily to entertain or educate? Perhaps a bit of both?
Demether : Now, only to educate, maybe, to give people some ways for reflection. I do not apply at all for any absolute truths, but all the same I think that I’m personally on a true way to knowledge – the sense of life, heh! Though, under the greater account, all of it is done for self-perfection - all these compositions of verses. But I shall be madly glad, if many of my ideas will be divided by people. It would be desirable that the music of Arcane Grail did people more purely a little bit, not only to release the thoughts from daily cares, but also to direct these thoughts to a channel of struggle with greyness, weakness and despondency.
Demether rips his throat raw alternating between vicious death- and black- metal vocals. Natalie provides soaring vocal lines and gets an excellent solo turn in “Die Sonnenhymne” in contrast with the brutal chaos of the music. How do you create your arrangements musically and vocally to achieve such a balance?
Natalie: I can’t say that we were especially trying very hard to reach such a balance. It happened somehow automatically. In the beginning (it was 2004), I was invited for only one song. The guys liked my voice and we decided to use it in more songs. On the first album, proposals of how better to include my voice were coming from both sides; I mean me and Demether with the band. On the second CD, it happened somehow easier. When we were making new material, we had to check through lots of pieces, samples and melodies which our musicians performed as the best ones for creating songs out of them. We were improvising a lot, trying to glue them all into a kind of composition. Somehow in this improvisation the right vocal lines came– and mostly they don’t need discussion. Mainly, in each song from the second CD, you hear the vocal parts of ours as they came from somewhere above! I can’t remember that we were seriously debating over “you sing here and I sing here”.
Demether: Hmm, in most cases, certainly, we try to transfer the necessary atmosphere of lyrics to various parts of songs. Certainly, all our creativity is deeply conceptual and we think over every second, each cry, and each note thoroughly!
How do you describe the evolution of Arcane Grail since its inception? Where do you see the group progressing musically as well as spiritually?
Demether: The band certainly has grown very much for eight years of existence both by way of music and by way of lyrics. I love our debut album – he’s very interesting and fine – but certainly “Arya Marga” is more skilful. The concept of lyrics now is pleasant to me much more now than with the entertaining Gothic fairy tale on the first. I wrote those lyrics at 19-years-old. For “Arya Marga”, I wrote the verses at the age of 23-25 years and it is a greater difference! Over the last years, Arcane Grail became a much greater and serious spiritual project – a part of my blood and spirit! And musically, let our listeners judge us. I think for myself we are needed to develop and develop, sure!
Several band members have recently left the band after many years of contributions to the Arcane Grail collective. How does this type of upheaval impact the collective and how does the group recover?
Demether : Yes, the truth is that during the release of an album some musicians left us because of our serious splits by the way of music. They did not wish to play neither metal nor death or black or sympho any more. Therefore, their dismissal, in any case, goes on to be an advantage to our band which is going to precisely continue to play the chosen stylistic direction. Unfortunately, because of their leaving there was some stupor in the concert activity of Arcane Grail while we searched for new musicians and we learned with them the songs and so forth. While we are just in this process, we will recover, and I promise, we shall soon return to kick all!
Natalie: Well, of course it made a kind of damage, we knew that the gone members had other projects, but never expected that they could leave us so suddenly. Demether started to search for new band mates on his own – I was quite far from this – and he never asked for any help. As a result there are new guys from Demether’s second band. I have to admit that the new line-up hasn’t performed the live performance yet.
Moving forward as a collective what are the key ingredients to successful group chemistry?
Demether: Certainly, I think there should be a friendship in a group, the general interests, and a necessary love of each musician for such music. In general, a mutual understanding.
Natalie: I think that it’s also the freedom for the demonstration of one’s own point of view for the music we make. Each member has to tell about any ideas, if he has them. And from the other side it’s pure diplomacy.
Arcane Grail is making an increasing impact outside Russian borders. How do you see your path to world domination?
Natalie: Since I’m married and mostly live in Germany, I guess Demether waits then I will find out how we get to Wacken Open Air or Summerbreeze and make everybody deaf with Demether’s loud and evil screams!
Demether: Seriously, we try as much as possible to promote ourselves in Europe and America so that we can go on a small tour in Europe in the near future. It would be desirable very much to win round some concert promoters. And we do not leave hope to be released on a European label. I think all will be ok!
What can you tell us about the current Russian scene and what other bands should we be looking out for?
Demether : In Russia, in the last five years, the dawn of metal has begun at last. There were enough very decent studios owing to which now it is easy to record at the European level. But the deal is not only in sound. Really, there were many of the most worthy bands playing high-quality, interesting, and original metal music. It would be desirable to name the following bands: Ambehr – Majestic ethnic melodic death with screaming and soprano; Blackthorn – All-female symphonic dramatic black metal, beautiful and haunting, with a unique soprano; Atoll Nerat – Unique epic sympho-black with an atmosphere of Indian Toltecs; Hieronymus Bosch – Smart progressive-death; Thelema – Jazz-death; Non Immemor Mei – Amazing original post-doom; Kartikeya – Brutal death on the basis of the Indian music; Dorgmooth – Superb melodic death; Astel Oscora – Beautiful and magic sympho-black with the atmosphere of Alice in Wonderland; Welicoruss – Magnificent epic sympho-folk-black; Tantal – They can easy out do Arch Enemy and The Agonist; Little Dead Bertha – Fine sympho-black/melodic-death with screaming and a stunning soprano; Wine from Tears – Excellent doom-death; Fferyllt – Celtic metal with the most powerful female folk-vocal; Id:Vision – Absolutely mad industrial-techno-black; Atra Mustum – Perhaps, one of the best representatives of gothic-sympho-blacks in the world; Skylord – My second band (If you don’t blow your own horn, no one will do it for you!), playing super-blasting and supermelodious sympho-black; Diathra – Excellent gothic metal band; Scrambled Defuncts – Improbable sympho-brutal-death; Crystal Abyss – Mystical sympho-black; Solerrain – Children of Bodoms, playing better than Laiho and company a hundred times; Zymotic Symphony – Original sympho-melodic death with an opera bass vocal and growling; Ruthless Order – An improbable mix of hard-rock and melodic death with one of the best vocalists in metal, five octaves with all possible variants in extreme and classical metal vocal-genres; Arcana Imperia – Very interesting avant-garde sympho-death; Ordalion – Original Russian sympho-black. And, certainly, it is possible to list much of our most interesting pagan metal bands, which similarities in the world are not present: Arkona, Butterfly Tempe, Nevid, Severnye Vrata, Smuta, Natural Spirit, Temnozor, Nebokray, Tverd, Svarga, Kroda and many others. As you see, many good bands. Besides it is not the full list. I’m really a patriot of our metal scene – over the last five years it deserves it.
Where does Arcane Grail fit into the current Russian metal scene? Do you consider yourselves veterans? What advice do you have for up-and-coming Russian bands?
Natalie : Well, from one side we’ve existed already for quite a while – after I joined in 2004 more than five years passed. The band started in 2001 itself. And we can really say that we are veterans, but from the other side there are bands which have existed much longer and play music which in some part touch our style. So, I even don’t know if we should or can say that we are veterans. About the new-comers, honestly, I have no positive thoughts. There are many bands (except the bands in “Demether’s List”) where each new one thinks it’s more cool than all the others, making fan clubs of the band and each member separately and without a shade of shame naming these people of 18- or 19-years-old “Keyplayer-Virtuoso”. Plus, they indeed pay for the possibility to warm up for such bands as Norther, Dark Moor and others. So, I would say to them – less words and more work on your own… But I’m sure they would not listen and will buy another possibility to warm up for next foreign band which will come to Moscow.
Demether : Heh, Natalie is right –but I think that it’s the same in other European countries too. But the real gold will be sifted in the sea of sand all the same – this is metal. So, to good young metal bands (and for some people we are valid veterans – though I do not consider us so) I advise more concentration, professionalism, a thirst to create something new. And still – when hiring designers of booklets, and in general record and cover-artwork, only hire known professionals!
Interview by Ed MacLaren
Denver’s Glass Delirium is a seamless amalgamation of musical influences. Jazz, swing, metal and straight-ahead prog rock all find a place to jam on their fantastic debut album, “Thanks to a Monster’s Many Heads”. Add male/female lead vocals to the mix and Glass Delirium creates a unique musical style and musical approach that doesn’t fail to impress. Vocalist Cassi Mergo took some time from the Glass Delirium summer tour of the southwestern United States to talk to Femme Metal about how to get retro, the benefits of a good education and why it’s good to thank a monster.
OK. Let’s get straight to the point of this entire interview! Who’s the Monster and why are you thanking his many heads?
There are two meanings behind the monster’s many heads. The title of the album actually came from a lyric in our song “Transfixation”. In Revelation 12, a beast with seven heads is talked about (Satan). The lyrics leading up to “thanks to a monster’s many heads” are about (for me anyway) what life is like without Jesus. By “thanking” the “monster”, I am being sarcastic. Kind of like when you say “thanks for nothing”… does that make sense? The second meaning, and the reason we named the album after it, is because all six (sometimes seven, sometimes even eight!) of us are a wee-bit crazy. We have mood swings and disagreements, so we are all kind of the “monsters”, if you will. So, we are thanking ourselves for putting up with one another and making beautiful music together. I hope all of this makes sense!
Seriously though, “Thanks to a Monster’s Many Heads” is a great debut album. It’s full of fantastic proggy arrangements that twist and turn all over. It makes for a very “active” listen; you want to pay close attention to what’s happening musically. Were you satisfied with the final product?
The final product? Overall, yes. Unfortunately, we can’t all be there for the entire process of making an album so I did miss out on some recording and mixing sessions. There are certainly things I would have done differently, but it is more on a performance level than on a technical level. We had one of the best engineers in the state, JP Manza, track and mix our record for us, and he did an amazing job. The reason it sounds so good is because of his hard work and the hard work of Colorado Sound’s mastering engineer, Tom Capek.
How did Glass Delirium develop their sound? Did it evolve gradually or did it just suddenly rear its “many heads” when the band started playing together?
Funny that you should ask! It definitely evolved gradually. Before Glass Delirium, we were Forgotten Serenade and things have certainly changed since those days. As we all became more comfortable with each other, as well as more confident in our capabilities as individual musicians and as a band, I think we began to develop our unique sound.
The album is also a lot of fun! There aren’t too many “fun” prog rock bands out there but with the unique approach the band takes and the little twists – musical (“Transfixation”) and vocal (“Seeing Double”) – you can really feel the band’s enjoyment of creating music. Is that a fair assumption?
No, to be honest, we all hate music. We are just doing it to hopefully be billionaires one day… Just kidding! ;) Yes, we enjoy making music and we enjoy each other. I think we could progress even more and enjoy our time together even more if we got to know each other better on a personal level. But yes, we certainly love the music and all that comes with it!
When the band is writing, is there a lot of jamming involved or does everyone come to the table with their own ideas and then you retool and combine the different elements to fit and work together? What’s the Glass Delirium compositional process?
Hmm… it seems to change. Usually David or Scott will come forward with a riff or melody, and then Matt will add his drums and Robi his bass parts, and vocals are last. It can take months or more to complete a song because we switch things up so much. Vocals are definitely the trickiest part, being that there are two of us.
Every song on TTAMMH has a totally unique vibe playing with different vocal and musical styles. The end product still feels like a very unified album. Did you write the music to tie together or does the album celebrate – track by track – the musical diversity of the band?
Interesting question, I’ve never really thought about that to be completely truthful. We knew we wanted to record an album, so we picked the songs we felt were strongest, and trashed the rest. I suppose it inevitably unites itself; the songs, however, were not written to “connect” per se.
Your “theme” song, “Glass Delirium” is a crazy swing-metal mashup complete with horn section. “An Enigma” also has some jump bluesy influences elements. How does a 21st century progressive rock band get that retro?
Easy answer: study jazz! I am a vocal major at CU Denver, Scott just graduated with a music business degree, Robi is a music education major at Metro and David has taken tons of piano classes and currently studies music at Community College of Denver. All four of us have been exposed to jazz and the way it works. So, we thought it’d be fun to take those elements and apply them to a metal song. I think we pulled it off!
With that said, TTAMMH is definitely progressive but stylistically hard to pin down. What music do you and the other band members use to inspire your own creativity?
Sooo many different kinds! David listens to a lot of electronic pop kind of stuff (think Madonna), Matt likes metal (August Burns Red, Killswitch Engage, etc.), Vince likes progressive and experimental stuff (Mike Patton, for instance) and Scott and I like progressive rock/metal (Tool, Fair to Midland). To be honest, I’m not sure what Robi draws his inspiration from, but I think he likes jazz and classical. We all use bits and pieces of our favorite artists’/bands’ music to help make our own.
The vocals on TTAMMH are fantastic but “The Clearing” is a true vocal showcase for you. You have a wonderful Anneke Van Giersbergen-esque vocal style – clear, strong and powerful, with sweet emotional undertones. How did you develop your vocal style to match Glass Delirium’s musical gymnastics?
Well thank you! I think I just got lucky. I’ve always been a strong belter and that just happened to be what the band was looking for. I was somewhat “grandfathered” in as well, if you will, because Scott and I had been playing music together a couple months prior to the band’s formation. But, like I said before, I study music in college and my instructor knows Glass Delirium and how we sound, so she has helped me develop a stronger foundation for the kind of singing I want to do.
How do you and Vincent Nunez do the vocal arrangements? There are a lot of layering and intersecting melodies between the two of you – it’s not just “OK – You sing, then I’ll sing” kind of stuff. It must have been a blast figuring your parts out!
Well, when Glass Delirium was new, Vince and I didn’t really sit down and talk through the vocals together. It was kind of just like, “I sing what I want to sing, you sing what you want to sing and hopefully it sounds good”. It works sometimes, depending on the melodies and styles we are both singing. A place where it really works is in “Glass Delirium”, over the chorus. We have made it a goal of ours to harmonize in every song and sing the same words (just not in unison), rather than do our own thing. We need to be a team and we can’t make good music if we are only thinking about our own parts.
Denver seems like a bit of a strange place for a band like Glass Delirium to originate. How did you all find each other? Is your sound unique to the area or are there other bands like yours hovering under the radar?
Scott and I started the band. I met him when he was playing in his old band. We found a bass player on campus (our former bass player) who was looking for a band and she started jamming with us. Then we found Matt on Craigslist, I believe, and he stuck. We used to have a different male vocalist, who we found on MySpace, but he was only with us for a short time. David actually came to one of our shows and we announced that we were looking for a keyboardist and he emailed us the next day! As far as being unique to the area, I think we are in a lot of ways, yes. Female vocalists are more and more common these days, but it’s not often that you see a female and a male, both as lead singers, so that helps us out. Also, the fact that 2/3rds of the band has a musical background and can read and understand music helps a LOT! There are lots of great bands in Denver though; we just happen to add some other elements into our music (i.e. jazz), which helps add to our individualistic type sound.
How would you describe the Glass Delirium concert experience? It must be organized chaos on stage… or maybe not so organized? It is organized in the sense that we play from memory! :) But other than that, it is kind of crazy. We all move around a lot and walk all over the stage. I always find myself thinking, “Wow I must look like such an idiot”, but I goof off anyways. We have a lot of fun and we just try to keep the vibes positive and enjoy the music and the audience. We would LOVE to do an East Coast tour, but the time and money it would take to get out there are just not feasible right now. Three of us are in school full time and two of us have jobs that we have obligations to. I think if we ever get signed, we’ll definitely tour the rest of the continental US and hopefully Europe, too! Check us out! If you don’t like us, that’s OK, but if you do, tell your friends! Links Latest Multimedia
It is organized in the sense that we play from memory! :) But other than that, it is kind of crazy. We all move around a lot and walk all over the stage. I always find myself thinking, “Wow I must look like such an idiot”, but I goof off anyways. We have a lot of fun and we just try to keep the vibes positive and enjoy the music and the audience.You’re touring mostly in the south western United States at the moment. Do you have any plans to expand your touring area? Your music would find an audience anywhere in the US or in Europe and South America for that matter.
We would LOVE to do an East Coast tour, but the time and money it would take to get out there are just not feasible right now. Three of us are in school full time and two of us have jobs that we have obligations to. I think if we ever get signed, we’ll definitely tour the rest of the continental US and hopefully Europe, too!(Famous) last words?
Check us out! If you don’t like us, that’s OK, but if you do, tell your friends!
Interview by Ed MacLaren
After more than ten years and four albums Germany’s Mandrake continue to impress with their doom inflected brand of dark gothic metal. On their latest release, “Innocence Weakness”, Mandrake continue to expand and refine their trademark sound and deliver a stunning album that enraptures the listener from start to finish. Femme Metal got the opportunity to chat with vocalist Birgit Lau about the evolution of “Innocence Weakness”.
Congratulations on the release of “Innocence Weakness”! It’s a wonderful infusion of gothic metal and otherworldly images – lyrical and musical. You must be very satisfied with the final product. What about the creation of “Innocence Weakness” gave you your greatest satisfaction?
Thank you very much for your appreciation. Indeed, I’m satisfied with our new album. It’s hard to say what gave me my greatest satisfaction. It always is a wonderful experience being in the studio and doing all the recordings and finally being able to listen to the final product.
“Innocence Weakness” features Mandrake’s doom metal influence but it’s also filled with moments of ethereal beauty. There’s almost a 90s British shoegaze feel with the layered guitars and keyboards on many tracks. Did the band decide to take a different approach to this album after the success of “Mary Celeste”?
Fortunately, we don’t stare at our shoes when performing, I mean, maybe just if the shoes are brand new! The comparison of Mandrake to British shoegaze is completely new to me but I do understand what you mean. I wouldn´t say that we took a different approach. I mean, a couple of years have passed since we released “Mary Celeste”. Of course, we matured and so did our music. What I want to say is that we didn’t change anything on purpose, so I wouldn’t call it a different approach.
Musically, “Innocence Weakness” has more layering of instrumentation, blending the instruments into a wall of sound – singularly lush and distinctive. You’ve developed a musical style that sets you apart from other metal bands – especially of the femme metal variety. Was this a conscious goal for Mandrake?
No, I wouldn’t call this a conscious goal. We neither wanted to imitate a musical style nor did we consciously set ourselves apart from one. We’re just performing the style of music we like and we can identify with.
“Prelude”, “Innocence” and “Weakness” are beautiful instrumental pieces that thematically frame the vocal tracks on “Innocence Weakness”. They ease the listener into the album, provide a cleansing reprieve at the midpoint and softly conclude the listening experience. Did you structure “Innocence Weakness” to provide an emotional journey of contrast and relief for the listener?
Your vocals provide an excellent ethereal contrast to the down-tuned guitars, driving rhythm section and keyboard washes of Mandrake’s music. Plus you’ve developed a unique vocal style that avoids the typical femme metal clichés. Your voice can float over the waves of music behind it but can also cut loose on tracks like “Serenade to the Sea” and “Indignation”. How do you approach developing your vocal melodies for the album? Has this approach evolved over time?Oh, wow I’m starting to blush. Thank you very much.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
Rife with dark atmospherics and dramatic flourishes, Greece’s Dimlight push the crumbling limits of goth metal with their debut album “Obtenebration”. Feeding on the endless conflicts within all of us, “Obtenebration” impresses with its maturity and symphonic grandeur without sacrificing the black beauty at its heart. Femme Metal stepped into the dimlight to talk to vocalist Sanna Salou about developing the band’s unique musical vision and its contribution to the Femme Metal Records “Beauty and Brutality” compilation.
“Obtenebration” is an album that certainly lives up to its name. From the opening heartbeat of “Preludium” you can feel yourself descending into a chilling and all encompassing world of darkness that continues unabated until the conclusion of “Postludium 8”. Did you just decide you were going to write an album that would scare the crap out of everyone? How did you conceptualize the album?
First of all, I would like to thank you for your kind words. We’re so glad you enjoyed the album – since the first day we began writing it we had so much time in our hands that it was written without haste. Therefore, I would say this album reflects our emotional state during that period, as well as being influenced by the perpetual conflict of light and darkness or of evil and good, (anyone can choose which suits them best) so the concept of the album was already there. What also contributed to this dark atmospheric mood were the conditions with which the album was written, in dim light.
The album weaves dark textures and macabre harmonies together in such a seamless fashion it feels effortless. And from a debut album no less. It pushes the limits of the goth metal genre without being cliché. What kind of a statement did you want to make on this, your debut album?
The album was not written easily because it was very difficult to imprint our feelings properly into our music , but someone could say it deals with the general concept of dualism.
Orchestral arrangements, haunting keyboards and synths and even Spanish guitar interplay brilliantly with the heavy riffing and bludgeoning rhythms. How does Dimlight make these diverse elements work together so well?
The band have five different personalities and everyone has disparate sounds and that is why there are so many different elements in the album, surely combining these features was not an easy job but we had the chemistry between us so our good cooperation and our spontaneity helped us find the path.
There is an inherent beauty in the gloom of Dimlight’s music. This is in no small part due to your vocal performance on the album. You use every part of your voice on “Obtenebration”; your harmonies and your upper register are chilling. How much time did you spend arranging and recording your vocals?
Once again thank you for your words. I would not say that I use all my voice in “Obtenebration” because I was beginning to sing and I did not have enough experience to use my whole voice, however I gave my heart and soul. For the arrangements, I had the help of the band so that took 2 to 3 months and I finished my recordings within 3 weeks.
In addition to providing an excellent contrast to Invoker’s grunts and screams, perhaps you provide a hint of light at the heart of the blackness?
Indeed. During my recordings it took me some time to achieve the appropriate theatricality in order to create this contrast with Peter’s (Invoker) vocals, besides there is always some evil inside the good and vice versa.
The album’s theatrical and dramatic arrangements are almost like a dark gothic play set to music. Many tracks use sound effects, screams, and spoken words to give an added filmic effect. Did you have a specific visual perspective you wanted to project when writing and recording “Obtenebration”?
As I said earlier the album’s concept was something spontaneous but during the recordings and mainly during the mixing process we wanted to give an extra emphasis to the atmosphere.
Antonis Papantoniou’s video for “R.I.D” is a perfect visual foil to Dimlight’s dark musical vision. They mesh so well it’s hard to tell if the visuals were created for the music or the music for the video. Did you already have a vision of how you wanted “R.I.D.” to look? How did the concept for the video develop?
Antonis Papantoniou is an amazing and talented director and one can see how much he enjoys what he is doing by simply looking at his works.This collaboration was meant to be because our aesthetics coincide tremendously. There was no script for the video so Antonis was entirely free to input his ideas into the videoclip and guide us into the right direction, therefore I think the result speaks for itself.
The video features very modern editing techniques but still feels visually rooted in classic vampire movies like F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. Did you have a lot of input into the final product?
As I said before Antonis is very talented and we believed in what he creates and trusted him entirely with his ideas during the editing of the video because he had so much material to work with from the shootings and we thought that it would be wrong to interfere and to limit him in any way.
Invoker not only provides incredible black/death metal vocals to your music, he’s pretty convincing as an actor. He’s not that scary in real life, is he? ;)
Hehe… Peter’s throat is amazing and he matches with Dimlight perfectly. He is a talented and expressive artist that appears in both the album and the video. But in real life Peter is not scary at all, as matter of fact he is a very cool and amusing guy!
Lyrically, “Obtenebration” is incredibly gothic in the deepest sense of the word. The words create a mysterious atmosphere of grotesque gloom. In tracks like “R.I.D.” and “Dark Emotions” the sense of decay is almost audible. Where inside of you do you draw from to paint such bleak lyrical pictures?
We all have contributed lyrically in the album and I personally try to express my most extreme thoughts and feelings from the most remote parts of my soul.
Greece is hotbed for high-quality femme metal bands. Is it a competitive scene or is it a tight-knit group providing mutual support to each other?
Indeed. Greece has many good bands with amazing leading female lead voices and the good thing is that we support each other and that is something that helps each band. Things can become competitive sometimes but since we work so good together only good can come of it.
Who are the other Greek female-fronted metal bands Femme Metal fans should watch out for?
Well there are so many and I’m sure I’m not familiar with all of them but I can name a few favorites of mine. There are Meden Agan, Bare Infinity, Elysion and Luna Obscura.
Dimlight is a featured artist on the upcoming Femme Metal Records “Beauty And Brutality” compilation CD due out in October. How did you get involved?
We do not know exactly the details but one day our record label asked us if we were interested in being part of Femme Metal Records “Beauty And Brutality” compilation CD and we accepted without a second thought!
You’re contributing the track “Absence of Light”. How does this track represent Dimlight and its music?
“Absence of Light” is a special song for us that it represents Dimlight lyrically and musically the most and we were very happy it was chosen and we were given this opportunity to contribute to a noble cause.
With the complexity of your arrangements, how does “Obtenebration” translate to the live stage?
True, there are many parts you can’t easily perform on stage but we have managed to interpret the album as best as possible by rehearsing as much as possible and by working on our music constantly.
Where can fans expect to see you tour this year?
With the onset of winter we intend to do a mini tour in several cities of Greece. We are still in discussions concerning Europe and the USA and we really hope we can book a tour or two, but all will be decided with the coming of the second album.
(Famous) Last words?
Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to speak our minds and for your huge support and an enormous thank you to all our fans out there. Those who truly shine can be seen only in Dimlight!
Interview by Ed MacLaren
Every once in a while an artist comes along that defies description, challenges convention and polarizes the listening public – like all great musicians should. Ayin Aleph’s singular combination of metal, goth, and the classical culminates in a unique musical viewpoint that is at the same time attractive and repulsive. Her first album, “Ayin Aleph I”, goes for the emotional jugular in full metal splendor while her recent “Ayin Aleph II” re-interprets much of the album in a more classically-based but equally chaotic manner. Recently, Femme Metal got a peek inside the fertile mind and imagination of Ayin Aleph.
It’s been two years since “Ayin Aleph I” and you’ve recently followed it up with “Ayin Aleph II” – an acoustic album of sorts – with piano and harpsichord versions of the tracks on your first album. What was the genesis of this idea?
I had a few ideas. Firstly, I wanted to show that metal music can sound in a grandiose and immense way on a classical instrument without the electric effect (saturation and distortion) but of course in another sounding aspect and in another expressivity type. Secondly, I wanted to enlighten all the tracks played by the instruments of the metal band. (You know clearly that with distortion and saturation it’s hard to hear clearly all the precise shapes of the melody.) My piano parts are playing the guitar and bass parts and sometimes even the pictures of some drums parts (percussive piano). Thirdly, I gathered all the choirs and songs into a monolith in order that it sounds like an drawing of a mini metal opera with an evolution of emotions that is the only topic: that means that this allegoric sense starts with the big choir and first song (the smallest in terms of sound effect) then the second song becomes bigger and more developed in terms of arrangement. All that evolves into a culmination and ends with a “soft death” of divino-diabolical emotions and with regrets about the future.
“Ayin Aleph I” is an elaborate album with layers and layers of densely structured harmonies and melodies. While “Ayin Aleph II” is not as intense, there is still a chaotic element that threads though much of the music on both albums. At the same time it feels natural and integrated. How does your music evolve from concept to completion?
It evolves like each suffering: at the beginning it is a shock because of something new that goes through your existence spontaneously like a bullet; the “swimming” period in some spheres with the hopes to find the source of that; and the tragedy of despair and love into eternity. All that is like inside life: of course it is highly intensive. Even if the musical period is less intensive, this strength is hidden simply in the depth in order to have its blast just after.
You see an affinity between metal, opera and baroque chamber music. What gave you the idea to integrate these musical forms and how did you know that it could be done so successfully?
I do everything myself on the level of inspiration. All the elements and musical norms are gathered between each other alone, like my music is asking for it. I do like it asks without digging into an analysis of the musical form or style. I am sure that all music cannot be “from” someone, even from its creator. I think that each creator is only a workman of inspiration that is coming down on behalf of Heaven.
With that said, “Ayin Aleph II” focuses more on the acoustic side of your music – “Ayin Aleph unplugged” so to speak. Your vocals are brought to the front and the music is softer while retaining its distinctive edge. If “Ayin Aleph I” was made for the avant-garde metal heads out there, who is the audience for “Ayin Aleph II”?
A much larger public. Because the sonority of metal belongs only to metal and the hard rock public. For the rest of the people this kind of sonority is not possible. I did this record like a transcription of my metal music. For me, in music, the first and last thing is melody. If someone doesn’t accept the saturation or distortion, I can easily do without it which means denude my music and show it to the public that hates metal or rock with all the ingredients that are composing my metal cake. My metal public like this album no less than the first one. I also enlarged my public with the gothic-classical public and some jazz fans.
The trill in your voice gives you one of the most recognizable voices in metal. It can morph from a sultry whisper to a shrill cry instantly. There is such conviction and versatility in your vocals and you maximize the emotional impact on every track. How did you develop such a unique vocal delivery? Does it augment your music in a way that traditional operatic vocals wouldn’t?
Of course, I don’t sing in an operatic way except the very sharp notes where it is not possible to sing with my natural voice. In sharp sonority, if you don’t sing with the head voice it is impossible. The vibrato of opera is essential: remember Freddie Mercury. The rest are only emotions that express with the means of the notes. I use my voice more like an instrument but not like a singer. My vocal sense evolves alone linked with the music and its requests. The idea is such: I search with my voice for the right musical expression that (sometimes very strangely) corresponds to the emotion involved. Of course, in opera there are too many codes and laws. It is divinely beautiful but this universe exists with a certain part of the public: a little elite of professionals or opera amateurs, but I, as a singer, exist for a much larger public and I search for the means of a direct liaison with those people.
Your music has such a theatrical aspect to it that it craves a visual component to complete the listening experience. The meticulous detail and staging in your videos and stage shows look to be so integrated with the music that in some ways listening to the music alone is incomplete. Do you compose with that visual performance component in mind or is the music meant to stand on its own?
My music is, of course, very linked with my visual realizations but all my videos are my sole point of view on this music. But with another individual that is listening to my music without watching my video can have completely different visions linked with his own experience and knowledge of this world and with his own luggage of emotional sensations. Here is my music. It exists completely without the videos in order to give the possibilities to each of us to create its own visual universe.
You project a strong sexual image in your videos and promotional materials but it doesn’t feel like it’s done in a gratuitous manner. We see you at times dirty, bloody and disheveled but you always maintain a potent sexual aura. What role does your sexuality play in expressing yourself musically and in the visual presentation of that music?
Not a very big role. But I think there is a blink of the eye at the very first moment. But for me it is an allegory of the human sin. All people observe beauty very quickly but at the same time don’t want to understand the source of this beauty by transforming it into vulgarity. Vulgarity kills this sense of beauty. The source of exteriorized attraction and the beauty are simply love. But not the stupid use of this love like a satisfaction of low physical envies. Love and beauty like the consequence of this love disappear forever… And I yell into the space about that in all my videos.
Your lyrics contain the same detail and potent imagery as your music. Does the music infuse the inspiration for the lyrics or viceversa? How do they serve each other in context of your overall musical vision?
Of course, music gives birth to all my lyrical characters. It’s like the lyrical drawing of all my sufferings and their history, mixed with my cerebral remarks. With the tools of my lyrics, I explain not only the mood or the subject.With them, I help go to the depth of emotions and you definitely know that emotions and sensations give birth to this sublime substance: music.
It’s difficult to discuss your music without touching on the reaction it arouses. When your name comes up with metal fans there are generally only two reactions: love or hate. There is no ambivalence towards your music. It gets a strong polarized reaction – which is rare thing. Is it simply a matter of taste or are the detractors just missing something? Does it even matter if they love it or hate it as long as you achieve a reaction?
I know that people either love me or hate me and that’s the same with my music. For me the people who hate exist in two categories: the ones that don’t understand and they are disturbed; the second category understand everything and it’s normal that they hate me because for human nature it is normal to love weakness – something lower in order to feel its own existence. The strength and beauty (of course I don’t speak about myself) call only for love from individuals that have the beauty of soul and body and, of course, from individuals less strong and beautiful it’s called jealousy. That is completely normal and about that I speak a lot in my videos. To love everybody and everything is not possible. Each person has his own taste, his color of love, his state of mind and his level of strength. To not understand is possible but the hate at the end kills the one who hates. If you don’t like something, don’t take it. Take something that is compatible with the chords of your soul and believe me you will not have the time to hate something.
Your music shares many musical ideas with the American musician Tom Waits. He hijacks traditional music forms, strips them of convention and injects a disorder and mayhem that creates a glorious musical noise that is only identifiable as his. His raspy vocal delivery is legendary as well. How important is it to evolve the musical form and push the boundaries of musical expression as an individual?
For me, Tom is an actor inside music. But me I am a musician inside cinema. It means that I do music and then I am transforming myself as she requests it from me. If this music takes or changes the expression or the shapes, I change as well in the same way and I hope that you can see that in my videos.
You go to great efforts to create a complete visceral experience for the listener. Is it more important to respond to music from and emotional level or an intellectual standpoint?
Only with the means of emotions: the highest in art was born from the emotion that sourced this envy or another envy. The envies have built that. The intellect can only do a very primitive and materialist analysis of the emotions.
In the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, Beethoven is kidnapped by two teenage time travelers and brought to the present. At one point they leave him alone in a music store and return to find him gripped in fervent compositional rapture using synthesizers and other modern instruments. Your music could have just as easily been used in that movie. Does that scene resonate with you at all? Do you have an attraction to taking older music and amplifying idea and form through modern technology?
‘My music worn in a form of song is, of course, a music of cinema.
Your music can be a challenging listen for the uninitiated. What advice do you have for people who want to understand your music better who might not have the frames of reference?
Clean your eyes, clean your ears, understand what you like and what you don’t like, exist in the place that you correspond to with the people that you like. Stop lying to your own soul because only your soul knows what is convenient for you and what is not. Throw out the concept “I must”. Don’t wear the shoes of others. The word “I must” should be changed to “I love” or “I like”. Gather your pains with my pains, for instance, and you could see my music in a very different way. The point of view can change each time but your envies – like an expression of your love – will never change.
You have mentioned in the past that you’ve been working on a metal opera and a metal requiem. Are there any new developments or surprises in those areas? Is there an “Ayin Aleph III ” looming anywhere on the horizon?
I already have some songs for the new album and some drawings for the video and the music of my metal opera.
With the contrasting styles of “Ayin Aleph I” and “II” and interacting with the crowds at your live shows, who do you see as your core audience?
The metal, gothic and classical public.
(Famous) last words?
Be in love or fuck off and die.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
OK. Time to go over the standard metal band check list: Throat tearing vocalist? Check. Guitars? Check. Bass? Check. Drums? Check? Hurdy gurdy? Well, maybe not for most metal bands but for Switzerland folk metalists, Eluveitie, hurdy gurdist Anna Murphy gets a big checkmark all her own. On the eve of Eluveitie’s April North American tour with Amon Amarth and Holy Grail, Femme Metal got a chance to chat with Anna about their outstanding new album, “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)”.
Congratulations on your excellent new album, “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)”! The fan response must be fantastic.
Thanks! Yes, so far the responses from both fans and press have been really good… It’s good to know they like the album as much as we do.
Celtic folk music and death metal seem diametrically opposed to each other musically and lyrically. What is it about these two genres that work well together?
To be honest, I have no idea – it just seems to work! I mean, it’s mainly the minor tunes we use with our music… so I guess this Celtic “melancholy” goes well with the rather rough metal around it. As for the lyrics, I wouldn’t say they’re opposed. As far as I know you can sing about anything you want in metal music…
Your music ties the traditional and the modern together in a unique manner. How did the idea evolve to combine folk and metal music?
That was Chrigel’s idea. Eluveitie actually started out as a mere studio project of his where he wanted to combine the two styles of music he likes best; Celtic folk music and melodic death metal.
Folk music is very acoustic and metal focuses on brute power. How do you balance the rhythms and melodies between the two?
That’s a business secret. ;-)
Lyrically, your music has a heavy historical influence – it draws heavily from ancient battles and early civilizations. This comes from the folk tradition of preserving the past. What traditions or stories are Eluveitie trying to preserve?
We’re not really trying to preserve anything, what we do is mere story-telling, you could say. We do sing about Gaulish wars and tribes but we either just do that from a neutral standpoint (how the legend/myth/occurrence has been passed down through time) or we look at these topics with a critical eye because in the end you never really know how it was back then.
Eluveitie has had a long history of members but now seems to have settled into a cohesive line-up. What were the reasons for the line-up changes and what is it about this line-up that is so unique?
Yes, there have been but now I guess and hope this line-up will continue for a few years. The reasons for those changes were always of personal nature. The people who left the band either didn’t want to continue or couldn’t fit the band in with their other plans in life. What’s unique about the line-up we have now? You tell me! :-)
When you learned to play the hurdy gurdy did you ever think you’d be playing in a death metal band? With that said, how did you get involved with the band?
Actually, I would have never thought that! I was actually listening to metal at the time which made it even weirder for me to join a metal band with such an instrument. I had been playing the hurdy-gurdy for three months when a friend of mine told me about Eluveitie and that they’re searching for a new hurdy-gurdist. I of course sent Chrigel an e-mail right away… so you could also say I learned to play the instrument with the band.
Your vocals bring an engaging contrast to Chrigel’s screams. You also provide some beautiful solo performances. How do you balance the vocals within the band? Do you ever try to push Chrigel for more microphone time? ;)
No, I don’t do that. Whenever I sing it just happens because it fits. Sometimes it’s my idea; sometimes it’s Chrigel’s idea… I always try out new stuff with my vocals, especially since I don’t really have a technique or sing professionally, I’m still trying to find the right style a bit.
The reviews of “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)” are overwhelmingly excellent. Musically, where do you go from here?
Wherever we want to. We’re not planning what to do next… we’ll just write songs and release albums. There’s definitely going to be one more acoustic album, “Evocation II”. But even when and how we’re going to do that is not planned yet.
Judging from the increasing number of bands playing folk metal these days, the scene is getting a little crowded. How does Eluveitie try to differentiate itself from other bands in the genre?
We play better music! ;-) No, I guess the fact that we use so many traditional instruments instead of keyboards is one thing. The other is that we balance our music – neither the metal nor the folk takes over. And I guess that’s why so many people like our music but we don’t differentiate ourselves by trying really hard to and having that in mind, we just somehow do that automatically with our music.
What is it about the folk metal genre that makes it so popular?
I have no idea. I’m actually not a big fan of folk metal… I don’t listen to anything except for our music (of course). I guess there are many people who search for “softer” metal and find a lot of bands they like in that scene. And it may be possible that people like the traditional aspects of it… singing about your heritage and using old folkloristic elements in the music can have a “homely” effect one can connect with.
You returned from a tour of the United States in 2009 with Heathenfest. How did you find the American response to your music? How do the American fans compare to their European counterparts?
The response was really good! I like American audiences – they’re very enthusiastic and sympathetic crowds. There’s not a huge difference to European crowds though… The only thing I noticed was that Americans are more into taking pictures with band members and having things signed.
With eight band members it must get pretty crowded on that stage… How would you describe Eluveitie’s live performances?
Yes, small stages are always a challenge for us. I think our live performances are getting better and better. We feel more confident on stage and the sound is getting much better due to having a crew that is familiar with us. We like to interact with the audience a lot and have a blast on stage.
What are your tour plans for 2010? Will you be performing internationally as well as returning to the United States?
Yes, we’ll be touring the States soon again with Amon Amarth actually! Apart from that we want to tour as much as possible and promote the new album. I really hope we get to go to places we’ve never been before, like South America for instance.