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Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
Back in Europe, precisely in UK - after our little trip in Australia - ‘cause it’s time to introduce you to Alunah, the next musical sensation in matters of DOOM/PSYCHEDELIC. So, we have saddled to Alessandra to do some digging and questioning a bit their singer/guitarist Soph Day about their second album “White Hoarhound” out via PsycheDOOMelic Records, questionable tour experiences (I’m not kidding, guys!) & last but not least her love for the vinyls and about this Soph states : “You get a completely different listening experience with vinyl than you do with any other kind of format. I’m a graphic designer so being able to see the artwork up close is important for me. I remember when I was 14 years old listening to my mom’s copy of Electric Light Orchestra‘s “Out of the Blue” for the first time. Staring into the amazing spaceship artwork and hearing this (for me) new sound blew me away, it gave me a whole new musical experience”. (via Soph Day – Alunah « Femme Metal Webzine)
Interview by Roberta Ilaria Rossi
Fronted female world is slowly extending all over Europe, more and more, allowing some more other realities to spread their voice to the metal audience. The band we are going to introduce was born in Sweden a few years ago and, after a few early hitches, it’s having to gain some popularity thanks to the debut album released a month ago and trying to broaden their boundaries. Femme Metal is proud to introduce you all End Of September, that, led by the nice and bubbly Elin Redin, is going to introduce themselves on our Website, sharing some interesting things. That’s our chat! Enjoy!
Hi Elin. First of all, welcome to FM! It’s a great pleasure to have you with us today! Let’s begin our chat talking about your musical activity. Currently, you’re the lead singer of the Swedish melodic band called End of September, which is a “small” music reality that has released its first debut album a few weeks ago. Would you like to share some detail about the band biography?
Hi and thank you! Great to be with you! Well, End of September as a complete band is still a quite new thing actually. I joined last summer and me and Erik continued the search for drummer and bass player together. Bass-Johan we found at a website where you can post adds for musicians and bands. And drummer-Johan was actually a student to a friend of mine. He called me one day and said he had found our drummer and he was obviously right! He came to place late fall last year.
The project was mainly driven by Erik Tordsson, which gave way for the creation of the band in 2009. The former singer, Victoria Sundberg, recorded a demo with him and then she has left the project shortly after the record deal with Ulterium Records. How did you get in contact with this project?
Sometimes it can be as simple as a message on Facebook! And the message was not for me, but for my husband asking him if he knew any female singer who liked and would like to sing in his metal band. Or, if possibly I would have any interest in it. We knew each other briefly from before and Erik actually did not think I was into metal at all. Little did he know…
Shortly after your entry in the band, two other members have taken part in it and they are the bass player and the drummer, both called Johan and after then, End of September rolled up its sleeves and started to work on the homonym record, released on May 2012 for Ulterium Records. How did you feel like working on your first debut album? Was you coming from some other bands or was this your first experience in a studio?
This was not my first time in a studio. But definitely my first time fronting an entire album. I had mostly been helping out friends before doing backing vocals and shorter solo parts. Me and Erik spent two weekends working concentrated together with the vocals, both solo and backing. Coming from an intense every-day life with kids we kind of enjoyed just being away for a while, and being able to work undisturbed. A million takes later and a tired voice we got a great album, and had gotten to know each other a whole lot better as well!
I assume it has been something unique and special for you. Is there any particular moment related to the production of this record or related to the recording process you would like to share with us?
One very special moment for me was before I had really entered the band. After me and Erik first talked about the whole thing for the first time we decided I should do a recording of one of the songs at home, to see if it worked for me and if Erik liked it of course. It was “Waiting for the Rain”, by the way. I was very nervous sending my track to Erik. His positive reaction was such a great relief and a great acknowledgment for me as a singer. I had struggled quite a bit finding my voice in a genre, floating in and out of most. On top of that Erik liked what he heard it was one little silly thing that convinced me to go for it. I had interpreted the melody in my own way in a line and Erik told me he had actually wanted the melody to be that way, but it wasn’t in the recording I had gotten to learn the song from. We just seemed to be on the same track, me and Erik.
As we know, Erik comes from different backgrounds, since he played with other bands in the past before creating this new project, so I think that he brought some influence inside the band. What I would like to know is: what is your musical background? Was there any band (or artist) that has influenced you during your music career?
My family was the first and perhaps the most important influence on me as a musician and singer. Mom sings and dad plays different instruments and one of my brothers plays the bass and my second brother is a true music lover. My stage experiences goes as far back as the age of maybe three or four. And growing up in a wonderfully encouraging environment has really molded me into who I am as a singer today. I’ve been able to just sing, a lot! It was my brothers that taught me to love the hard rock and metal, I’m very thankful for that. I must mention my husband as well as a great inspiration. When I sing with him it just brings a whole new dimension to singing. I’ve listened to so many different band and artists over the years, from Sepultura to Alyson Krauss and the Union Station, I couldn’t possibly single out a few that have had more impact than the others. I guess it has more been the great musicians I’ve had around me that has influenced me the most. A great gift really!
Reading your card presentation, your music is described as “perfect for fans of Evanescence, Within Temptation & Delain”. Listening to this record, I found some little similarities with these 3 bands actually. Do you agree with this statement? Have you taken some little inspiration from those bands? Have you ever had the chance to listen to something about these bands? If so, is there any song you like to listen to the most?
Since uniqueness is what we all strive for I guess it’s a compliment that you don’t think we sound so much alike! And I must be honest with you and say that none of us have been listening to them. Sometimes the comparison comes up just because we happen to be female fronted. But I do have a great respect for them, they’re all very good at what they do!
Aren’t you afraid about the criticism you could get from fans, risking of being pointed out as “clone band of some other famous band”?
All bands and artist have to deal with this matter, more or less. It’s certainly a very popular topic in our genre. And people do this all the time, putting things into boxes, pairing and comparing. It only disturbs me a little when I feel that we end up in the wrong box. But one thing I’ve learned so far is that the sharing of opinions from everywhere is endless, and it’s just foolishness to let the comments run how we should feel about our music.
So don’t you fear the comparison?
Comparisons can actually be very good, especially when the band we’re being compared with is great! So no, I don’t fear it.
The first track of your record is “Isolated” and you also filmed a video clip for this single. Would you like to tell something about it?
We worked with video production company 11 frames, a real win-collaboration we think! For our first video it was important for us to really show who we are, both as bandmembers and feeling of the band and the song. So no fancy side story! Just rocking out with the band! So that was basically what we did during 12 hours. The day after I felt quite okay, still a little high on adrenalin. The day after that the fall was very hard, I tell you! But we really had so much fun recording the video, we can’t wait to shoot another one!
Will you film a second video clip, in order to introduce yourselves in a better way?
We’re planning on releasing some live-video clips of other songs. Hopefully very soon…
The record has been released more than a month ago. Have you already got to know how it was acclaimed by fans and press?
Since we couldn’t hardly have any fans before the release, ‘cause it was kind of the first thing that happened for us, the response after the release has been quite overwhelming. As for the press it has been written quite a few encouraging reviews. I was happy to read the one in here in FM of course! But I would lie if I said that it has been all roses, but that wasn’t either expected.
In my opinion, this is a very good product for a debut album, with a very good sound, great vocals… so I hope that fans of melodic rock metal could appreciate your efforts and I hope they will support you in the best way possible. I think there are some very good songs that are seriously valid and they worth! Is there any song you feel more connected to?
I must say that “Inner Voice”, in it’s quite clear message is one that speaks to me directly. Being about the struggle with the pressure we, especially women, deal with everyday. Feeling the need to look and be in a certain way. It really just says: Be true to yourself, be the one that’s genuinely you!
Certainly, End of September is one of those bands who surely deserve more attention from that audience that loves this music genre, so we wish you to find lots of greatness on your path. What are your expectations for the future?
A lot of stages, and a second album in a not so distant future! On a deeper level I really hope to grow as a singer through End of September as well as really grow together with the guys musically. We started off in a way not many bands could wish for, already having a label ready to sing us. But now we need time to dig deeper into the sound and feel of End of September. I look forward to that!
Any European tour? Or some live show?
This summer we pay a visit to our neighbors in Finland. But look out, there will be more shows to come this fall!
Currently, the band is not as famous as everybody think, but I’m sure that with the official release of your debut album lots of people will pay more attention to you. What is your “modus operandi” to get in touch with people? I mean: lots of “little bands” try to get some attention using Facebook or sharing their own music on this social network to gain more fans… which is your thought about it?
Yeah, you can’t really deny the importance of Facebook and Youtube and other social channels on the net. The ability to come close to the fans, although they live in Indonesia or Peru is fantastic! But despite the many ways today to get your music out there it’s hardly any easier to really reach out to an actual audience. There is just so much of everything! I’m very grateful to have Ulterium Records behind us, helping us to find the right ways in the media jungle.
This was our last question. Thanks for your time, Elin. We give you the chance to share something with our readers and your fans out there! See you soon!
Thank you for having me, it was a pleasure to talk to you!
Label : Rare Noise Records
Review by Luisa Mercier
After a successful EP and a beautiful debut album, the Italian post-rock band from Naples is back with another fascinating record. “Ghost Dance” delivers us eleven tracks that show an evolution towards more ethereal soundscapes. Less rock, more keyboards, synth, thick moods, closer to acts like Sigur Ros or soundtrack music. “Heads or Tails” is an example with its piano ending while “Death Baby Chicco” toys with electronic music and distortions. “The Wolf” has some apparent psychedelic influences coming from Pink Floyd, “Trieste” is a rocking, melodic piece where blues makes its appearance. So I guess you must have understood that The Mantra ATSMM has a lot to offer: progressive, post-rock, shoegaze, electronic music, beats. My personal favourite is “Harlequin”: dreamy, soft, it is like a trip. I think that the title really captures the essence of the album: light, melancholic, nostlagic, ethereal like a ghost wandering in a room.
Rating - 75/100
Label : Rare Noise Records
Review by Luisa Mercier
In May 2010 The Mantra ATSMM finally released their debut after all the expectations built up by their promising EP “Rooms”. The full-length succeded in getting raving reviews both in Italy and abroad, confirming the band as one of the most important post-rock realities in a country where this genre is almost unknown. “Defeated Song” is a sophisticated, elegant, classy record opened by “Golden Mermaids”. This already is one of the highlights of the album and is opened by guitars and vocals, the voice of Adriana, a disturbed angel. The first single is the following “Septembers”, a bit more lively than the previous one, playful but always with a vein of melancholy. Last verses are in Italian. Again sad and nostalgic is “Mangrove” with a hint of electronics in the end. Adriana performance is quite emotional here, mixed with piano and synth. My personal favourite is “Blanca”, maybe one of the most complex songs on the album, but really you can perceive the vibration of every instrument, the quiet, the sadness, the sweetness. There are many emotions in this track, all to be discovered. Gothic, romantic mood is what we find in “Rooms” and it goes on the same atmosphere in “The Inner Season” which is decadent, gloomy, dissonant, while closing track “Lines of Fire Bless The Mountain” is warm, sweet, romantic. It is sad to see such a talented Italian band forced to find success abroad, but we Italians know how the scene works here, so I am happy that they found someone able to appreciate them in England (their label).
Rating - 70/100
Label : Rare Noise Records
Review by Luisa Mercier
The Mantra ATSMM is an Italian post-rock act from Naples. They have already released two albums and this is their debut EP, which was recorded back in 2009. In this record we find a foundation made of minimal rock enriched by moody electronic atmospheres that recall Sigur Ros, Bjork and The Gathering (the “How to Measure a Planet” age). The four tracks show personality and a talent that the good production highlight as best as it can. I will mention above all the opener “Helder Pedro Moreira” in which we can perceive the strong influence of the Icelandic little singer in the ethereal, floating atmosphere. “Rooms” is a quiet track, dreamy and very short that introduces “The Fog” which has some similiraties with trip-hop, especially Portishead. It is mesmerizing, that is for sure. Closing track “A Friend with a Knife” is opened by some whispers and Adriana singing a capella. Dissonance, screaming, despair make this song quite gloomy. This EP marked the beginning of an interesting career for this Italian band as we will analyze further with their two full lenghts. Really a pleasant surprise coming from my country!
Rating - 70/100
Interview by Miriam C.
If the first interview was a sort of an exclusive, the second one is a confirmation of what’s happened and to get some updates. So in the first episode we left you with an establishment of a label, now we see the album officially released… well, you want to know how the tale ends (or what’s the next projects) just read the interview below with the factotum Tom Simonsen.
Hi Tom, first of all thanks again for this interview and sorry for the delay. As promised time ago, I’m here to asking you the last updates about Omit. For the rest how are you??
Thank you, Miriam! I’m doing great! I hope you are doing fantastic! And don’t worry about the delay. We didn’t have time to write down our answers until now. Better late than never, hopefully. And, as you know, we’ve been working quite a lot on promoting the release of the new Havnatt EP. We’re also quite busy writing and recording new Havnatt material, at the moment, for what’s going to become a full length album. Maybe this new album will see its release this year. Right now, it’s a bit too early to tell, but we certainly hope to be able to release it that soon.
We left us with the upcoming release of Omit and the project of a indipendent/self managed label and for what I see you manage to accomplish both goals. But let’s do a step back, when you have got the idea to create a self managed label? It was like the final solution for publish your music or a way to manage your music as you like it? When have seen that there’s no solution that to found your label?
Well, it wasn’t a last resort. The idea of becoming more independent as musicians has always been lingering in the back of our minds. We just got fed up with the all the evil record contracts we were reading and wasting our time reading. You know, it seems that there is a consensus out there - among all the labels - that when you want to sign a new artist you start the contract negotiation process by showing the artist the bend-over-version of the contract. And If you’re lucky - from the label’s perspective that is - the artist is a real sucker and signs this version of the contract. As a label you now own the artists very name and the rights to everything the artist will ever produce in any context for as long as it’s legally possible. This is what all labels hope for, of course. Otherwise, they would be offering you more decent terms to begin with. They want to rip you off, basically, and it’s obvious if you read these contracts. And that’s a great starting point for a business relationship, don’t you think? And finally, it was this process of getting a reasonable deal for Omit that really pushed us into seriously thinking about starting our own label. We wasted about one whole year trying to reduce the bend-over-factor of various record contracts, but the record companies would not let us own the rights to our own music. And that was it, you know. It was impossible to come to an agreement. And shortly thereafter we started setting up Secret Quarters. At this point we felt that we had wasted enough time and it was about time to just get the music out, you know.
The name that you have chosen for the label is Secret Quarters. Curious name, from where you got the inspiration? You have in project to sing more bands of the same musical field? And if not, why?
I always used the words “secret quarters” to refer to various rehearsal facilities or studios that we’ve been using over the years. It’s sort of become a term for that nondescript location where we make our music. The location isn’t important, you know, it’s the music being made there that’s important. So, why not use those words to name the label as well. You know, in a similar way, the label is just a vehicle through which the music is being made available.
Since I’m really curious and forgive me for this but I would like to know what’s behind a CD and its costs? I’m meaning the press and things like that. When a band decide to self publish an album what’s the costs that have to burden?
Well, I really don’t want to go into too many details of the cost of our own productions. But we are very fortunate, as we’re able to do almost everything ourselves. And we keep the costs relatively low that way. We own our own studio equipment, we have several locations - or “secret quarters” - where music can be rehearsed and recorded, and we do all the recording, mixing and mastering ourselves. If you have to pay by the hour in a hired studio the costs run high very quickly. And the costs for doing the mastering can be really silly, to be honest. That whole thing has become very overpriced. And then there’s the hiring of other musicians, like we did for the “Repose” album. It too has a cost, of course. And so has the printing, pressing and manufacturing of the physical product - CDs or vinyl or what have you. Vinyl production in particular can be quite expensive if you want to make a quality product, so we’ve decided to put that off until a later time. Digital distribution, however, has almost no costs associated with it, except for the fees that go to iTunes, CD Baby, Spotify or any of those other ones, but that’s more on a sale-by-sale basis. So, basically, if you do everything or almost everything yourself, then releasing your own recordings doesn’t have to cost so much. If you go for a digital distribution only kind-of-a-deal then the costs are very low indeed. If you’re not put off by the increase in paperwork, by the fact that you have to make sure that the releases get promoted or by the business stuff you have to deal with, then I would recommend going DIY to any musician. You don’t have to deal with evil labels or record company people. In the DIY musician’s case, the record label is the musician, and the record label really only exists in people’s imagination..
After this 2 questions about your genesis’s label now I want to focus on Omit. How it was the media reception, I mean did the press liked the album?
The press seemed to like it. The number of positive reviews was almost a bit overwhelming.
Back in the last interview I’ve noticed reading now that I’ve forgotten to ask you, a curiosity of mine about the title,“Repose”, is connected with the lyrics inside or you feel it’s the right word for the platter? Just your opinion….
I think the name just sets the right mood for the album as a whole, you know.
Also we must update the infos about your other projects. Any updates to add for Havnatt and Vagrant God? And we must not to forget Skumring, Glade, Dooms Vain and Vali…
Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about almost every project that you mentioned there. And we’ll do it in the order you that mentioned them. Regarding Havnatt: Great to finally be able to properly release the “Havdøgn” EP. I think a half hour of music is a very, very good EP length, and the material deserved to get the proper release treatment and become available to everyone in better audio quality than previously. Now, we’re working on the follow-up release. This time it’s a full length album. How long it will end up being is still too soon to tell. And regarding Vagrant God: The long, long overdue release of the Vagrant God album will be happening this year. And regarding Skumring: We’re still waiting for Vàli to get all the writing done for his new album. He has told us that he doesn’t want to work on two albums simultaneously. And we respect that. We’ve got plenty of other things to do, so we’re not waiting idly for him, you know. And then there’s Glade: Well. Glade was an experiment and we uploaded some preliminary drafts and mixes to the web. We’ve done various other experiments too, that have never made it to the web. Glade was just one of those who did. There are others out there also, that you may try to find, if you’re able. However, regarding Glade, I don’t think there will be any new music written for Glade. You never know, of course, but I seriously doubt it. And finally there’s Vàli: Vàli started writing music for his upcoming album many, many years ago. I took on the job of recording and producing this album about three years ago, now. At that point recordings had already been made in a different studio. We basically started by throwing all those old recordings out and starting again from scratch. After that, we’ve had lots and lots of sessions in the Secret Quarters studio, but I would almost go so far as to say that none of the tracks have been completed this far. He’s still writing new stuff and putting new stuff in. So, at this point there’s no telling. It’ll be done when it’s done, I suppose.
Kjetil, in a recent interview, stated (and I quoth) about a second Omit album “We will eventually begin the writing process for our sophomore album, which is probably taking a more neo-classical turn. We shall see”. In my order of ideas, if Omit should write a neoclassical album should create another different music project for not “confuse” the music genre, hahaha. Back to be serious, I think it’s a great idea, I love neoclassical music and I’m really really looking forward to this album. How you are approching to the writing of this second Omit release?
To be honest, we don’t really have a defined approach or a method that we use in order to make music. It just happens the way it has to. We write what we want when we want, and eventually the music comes together to form “an album”. Our way of writing metal or guitar-based music may differ a bit from how I can imagine that other metal bands come up with their stuff. We don’t necessarily start with the typical guitar riffs and build things around those.
Now speaking of priorities, what’s next?
Next we’re going to write more music! That’s the focus for me, anyway.)
Never thought to play some gigs? Or book a complete tour?
The focus right now is on writing, recording and releasing new music. Rehearsing and gigging just takes a lot of time away from that, and sometimes it costs a lot more than what you get in return. It just isn’t a priority right now. With Omit, especially, it would be a rather huge undertaking. We don’t really want to put any of the instruments on playback, and we really don’t want to cut down on the arrangements too much. To make it work we’d have to be roughly 15 people on stage, preferably more than that. We wouldn’t really be able to perform on the smaller club stages with a band like that. And that makes putting a tour together rather difficult.
For the moment that’s it, I really thank you again for the avalaibility, it really means a lot for me. I think we will speak soon for Havnatt. Lots of love and the best. Again thanks.
Thanks, Miriam! Always a pleasure.
Photo by Roberta Ilaria Rossi
Gig Review by Marcy Bell
It’s clear: Epica and Italy are entwined. The concert at the Alcatraz in Milan on the 27th October was a huge success for Simone Simons and her fellows. Stage B was almost full, there were more fans and friends than in the previous tour. As in 2008 Epica were supported by the Finnish Amberian Dawn and in this new tour also by the brand-new German band: Sons of Seasons lead by Oliver Palotai. The Dutch band presented live some songs of the new album “Design Your Universe” but most of the show was made with hits from the past such as “Black Infinity”, “Cry for the Moon”, “The Phantom Agony” and “Consign to Oblivion”. The gig started with the new “Resign To Surrender” and then it went into the old mood with “Sensorium”, hands up with Simone and the whole band with the beginning of “Quietus” and then the Oriental style of “Fools of Damnation”. It was time for “Design Your Universe” and the first single “Unleashed”, the beat of Ariën on drums started very loud running through “Martyrs of the Free World”. Epica’s classic “Obsessive Devotion” led the central part of the show, as it’s always a pleasure listen live this song with Mark on growl and Simone running back and forth the stage in a seven minutes Epica-old-style-vibes. “Tides of Time” showed all the deep and sweet part of Epica with Simone solo in all her vocal talent and Coen on piano: a moment that gave you shivers on your spine. The band went again on stage with the last three songs: “Black Infinity”, “Mother of Light” and the techno-version of “Phantom Agony”. The latter was an enjoyable surprise for the crowd that started dancing with color lights as in a dance floor. Good point for Epica indeed. The encore was with “Cry for the Moon”, “Sancta Terra” and the final “Consign to Oblivion”. The show was good, the crowd really enjoyed it and finally we can say that Epica are improving themselves live in every tour.
Interview by Lindz Riot
So many forms for femme metal exist, the most common being in symphonic or heavy metal. But what about straight up metal that just rocks? I’ve been searching high and low and when out at a local show recently I found Canadian rockers Embracing Soul. Fronted by singer Chelsea Pisano and guitarist Brandon Iajecznyk, though this band may be young, they bring the energy and the old school spirit of a metal/rock infusion. Also, it’s just fun and a guilty pleasure to dip back into music that heals and fuels teen angst. Of which, this band brings forth that feeling well and honestly, especially in their recent EP “Shadow”. I (Lindz Riot) was able to catch up with this local act to ask them what Embracing Soul is all about and how it works for them at such an early stage in their musical lives.
Hey guys! I want to thank you both for joining us here at Femme Metal for this interview. First off please tell me about how Embracing Soul came to be?
Thanks for this opportunity! Well, Brandon and I met in 2007 at our high school. Brandon was already in a band playing metal that sounded kind of like Trivium and As I Lay Dying. They broke up at the end of 2008, he joined another band, and we decided to create a side project. We created it because we had all these ideas of what we wanted new metal to sound like. Also because Brandon’s current band was very progressive and he had ideas that didn’t fit into that genre. A bit after we started writing and recording, we recruited a bassist and our guitarist Tom. Brandon was our drummer. Now, we still fight with member changes, and I’ve taken on the role of bassist, but we’ve found steady ground.
Sounds like quite the switch up, but glad to hear its working for you guys now. How would you describe Embracing Souls sound?
We’ve been trying to figure that out! hahaha. So many people tell us different things like our riffs sound like Pantera or Death, our vocals sound like a collaboration between Evanescence and Opeth, and our music sounds like a mix of death metal and melodic metal.
Brandon: It ends up just being a thing that we make, and it sounds cool and we like it.
Chelsea: I just go with ‘gothic, rock/metal’ and hope that works.
You’ve released your first LP “Shadow”, how has the response been?
We always sell more at each show, so it’s going well! It was finished January 2010 so we look at it now and knowing so much more about recording, we’re not as pleased, but we still love all the songs just as much.
So this release was a self-produced effort?
Yes. We produced it, we got the copies made up, and we distribute it at shows. Slow paced, but we have big plans for our next one.
Well congrats! That takes a ton of time and effort. And how have people responded to your live show?
We’ve noticed we get a really good response from the crowd at our shows. We don’t bring a room full of people, but normally once we start playing, the room fills out and the crowd thickens. People have a good time and they tell us afterwards, so we’re happy about it.
From your experience so far how do you feel about the Toronto hard rock and heavy metal scene?
Brandon: It’s terrible.
Chelsea: There’s a lot of good talent in Toronto, our only problem is that we play shows with the wrong group of metal heads. We’ve ended up playing a lot of death core shows and that’s not who we are at all, but that’s the main genre out in Toronto now. The people out here don’t seem to like it live as much if they can’t mosh the entire time or if a whole song isn’t only growling
It is quite a mash up, at least we have good bands tour through, but you are definitely right about local show grouping. With the strong underground Femme Metal movement, do you feel things would be different for Embracing Soul if you were relocated in Europe?
I think we would get a lot more recognition. Even looking at our list of Facebook fans, the more dedicated fans are from European countries. The arts scene and appreciation for women and music, no matter the genre, is also a lot greater there. I think it would be fun to tour there lol
Amen to that! So briefly tell us about your musical training and backgrounds?
Brandon: HA! None. I taught myself guitar and basically everything I know about song writing. I just screw around until it sounds good.
Chelsea: I’ve never taken vocal lessons and I learned all I know about guitar and writing musical compositions from Brandon and I learned bass on my own. Neither of us have taken lessons for anything, nor even have taken music in school. Well, I don’t think the year of Clarinet helped Brandon in high school…
Brandon: No… not at all lol
That certainly is impressive guys. K next question: Top 10 most influential bands for both of you! GO!
Evanescence, Opeth, Korn, Godsmack, Disturbed, Tool, Slayer, In Flames, Trivium, Epica.
Wicked. If you could play with any three bands, who would they be?
Korn, Evanescence and Disturbed.
Outside of the band, what do you guys do in your daily life?
The band is our daily life! Well, not all the time, but when we do break, it’s for school and video games. We do spend a lot of our time just jamming, writing and recording though. It’s what we find fun and what we’re studying in school anyway.
What is it that you two study in school anyways?
Chelsea: I am studying Entertainment Management. This is basically for managing bands or artists, getting to know all the legal aspects of the industry and all the right ways to get bands higher up in the music industry.
Brandon: I study Audio Engineering. Basically I want to record bands in the studio.
You guys seriously sound like a super team of which any band would be jealous of, or well, wish to have. So with all of this being said, what does the future hold for Embracing Soul? Can we expect to hear some new music soon? Any other big plans?
We are currently taking a writing break. With all the stress involved with school, we don’t really have time to practice too much, but we’re always writing. We’ve already started on some new recordings actually. These will just be promotional copies until we get into the studio (which we plan on doing after school). Our song writing is constantly improving, so the songs we’re currently working on, we’re very excited about. So yes, there is a lot to come from Embracing Soul in the next year! We’re looking forward to it.
Interview by Andy Axworthy
It is always more interesting when you get the view from the inside. Sometimes we need to be reminded that bands just do not normally manifest fully-formed with a distribution and record deal. Ability and a bit of luck might provide the opportunity but sheer hard work, belief and determination usually sustains it all, and with an album as strong as “Euphorialight”, Finland’s Embassy of Silence have the right ingredients to move everything to the next level. Femme Metal grabbed some quality time with vocalist Ines Lukkanen to talk, amongst other things, about the story so far, keeping it real, plans for world domination and Mediterranean cookery… Read on.
Hi Ines - a warm welcome from the inmates here at Femme Metal : ) How is the world treating you today?
Quite well, thanks for asking! Looking forward to my birthday bash, and although this is one hectic week, I’m happy to take this chance to sit down, relax and answer some questions. It’s been nearly a year since “Euphorialight” was released into the wild.
Has is been a headlong rush since then or have you managed to occasionally stop and smell the flowers along the way? What have been your personal highlights so far?
It’s been a lot of work, to be honest, both before and after the release. Can’t really say we’ve enjoyed leisurely rock star life so far, since performing live, advertising, composing new material doing the occasional interview and so forth (in addition to our other projects, personal life and day-jobs) take a lion’s share of our time. It’s a labour of love. Even though we’ve done interviews several pages long or gotten fabulous ratings and reviews, personal highlights of mine have been other things, like seeing people in the crowd sing along to our songs or having them come up to me after a show, saying they were so touched, they couldn’t help but cry. I may sound pretentious, but as a performer, that can’t be topped.
The album itself is a delicious blend of style and substance that is refreshingly difficult to pin down to any one rock genre and that alone is enough to set “Euphorialight” apart from the crowd. How would you describe the Embassy of Silence sound to those not lucky enough to have heard the album yet?
A dreaded question appears…this is one of those times you wish you had a patented answer. Although the style of our songs vary, there is always an undertow of slightly melancholic beauty, whether it be grandiose or subdued. Some songs are notoriously difficult to bore into, let alone whistle or hum along to, others open up quite easily without being fast-food. Our sound isn’t exactly rock or metal, and it’s not quite pop or goth either, but all of those things with a twist of progressiveness. Just when you think “hey, this kinda sounds like…” something happens, and you go “…no, wait…”.
I say ‘those not lucky enough…’ because the album is fiendishly difficult to track down in these parts, or at least to stumble upon if you are not already aware of EoS. Are there any plans with Supernova for wider release or availability in the near future and if so, which countries are likely to be next in line?
I really, really wish I’d know, so that I could tell you. We’d make our album available everywhere, if it were up to our resources! What I can say is that the country we’re trying to cover next – at least to some extent – is the U.S., but since that’ll have to be a result of our own arduous efforts, the future remains foggy. We’ll keep you guys posted!
Looking at the promo pictures on your website there is a juicy sense of humour at work in everything EoS. You have the slightly glazed expression of someone who just knows the rest of the band members are up to something unspeakable in the background. There’s nothing like working with a bunch of professionals! Could you introduce them and give our readers some background on how EoS came together?
Haha! To be perfectly honest, that glazed look is more due to the fact that I have no idea how to pose presentably, and would rather be mucking about in the background with the rest of the monkeys. This pack of baboons (warning; may include traces of nuts) are as follows: Tero Kalliomäki, the guitar-player, co-founder and main composer of EoS (also one of my best friends). Samu Lahtinen, bass-player and devil’s advocate, who’s been in the band since the beginning; our angelic-looking keyboard-player and kid-at-heart, Harri Koskela; Second guitar-player and side-crackingly funny, bear-like dude by the name of Jarno Suodenjoki; and lastly, our spanking-new drummer Make Lievonen, who’s not only a great drummer, but also a very likeable fellow. Yeah, and then there’s this red-headed midget who would croon into the microphone if she could reach it.
How about yourself? The EoS journey started back in 2007, but how did you originally get started with singing? Did you (and do you still) have any icons that have influenced your style?
I’ve always sang. Ever since I can remember. I sang at daycare, at school, and joined bands when I was old enough to do so! The closest I’ve gotten to a classical training was singing at a few choirs where I acquired the right breathing technique, but other than that it’s pretty much been a matter of learning by ear. I haven’t had any huge idols whose pictures I would’ve plastered all over my walls, but the vocalists I’ve admired and even learned things from have been Skin from Skunk Anansie, Dani Klein from Vaya Con Dios, Shirley Manson from Garbage and the jazz-singer Randy Crawford. Most of these phenomenal women remain my favorites to this day, with the addition of, for example, the amazing Kate Bush and Beth Gibbons from Portishead.
How about your musical influences? Could you share with us any particular tracks or albums that hit the spot every time where your personal tastes are concerned and maybe tell us a little about why you like them so much?
Damn, you ask things I could go on about forever and ever! If I’d be held at gunpoint I probably couldn’t be able to pinpoint just a couple of songs without having second thoughts afterward. Both I and Tero share some bands that have had some influence to our songs, such as Opeth, Type 0 Negative, Portishead, Ulver and Anathema. The songs “Chaos Path” or “Ad Astra” by Arcturus, the album “Murder Nature” by Head Control System and music by the Finnish band Poets of the Fall all vibrate on my frequency, so to speak. I should stop, but I haven’t mentioned Meshuggah or Rammstein or Ihsahn… The reason I like any of these is because they either evoke strong emotions for different reasons, be it raw power of the sound, ingenious lyrics or spine-chilling, insurmountably incredible composition work. I’ve once said in another interview, that some music is impossible to hide from if it passes the gates of your ears, where it quite shamelessly ravages your brain and inhabits your heart from the moment you let it in.
The song titles on “Euphorialight” are very descriptive and almost tell a story in themselves. What comes first – the title, the lyrics or the inspiration - or do you find they seem to feed off each other and evolve as you write?
The title comes last, that’s for sure. There are even times when I only decide the name of a song at the very last minute, and until that moment, they’re still carrying childishly humorous working-titles along the lines of “Raisin” or “Poontang-reggae”. I know, I know. Anyway, there’s no certain way things progress, but usually I listen to the crude instrumental version, and catch the general vibe. Inspiration may come then, or sometimes I write lyrics first and ‘pimp’ them to match the song under construction.
There are some interesting themes running through your songs, and at times it is almost like you taken a look at the seven sins and spiced them up with a few more of your own : ) Where do you get your ideas and do you find you write with one theme or focus in mind or take a more kaleidoscopic approach with your thoughts and imagination?
Definitely the latter. Since songs aren’t composed during a short period of time, the moods and styles shift from one extreme to another, and I don’t tend to apply censorship or filter ideas, thinking “but these lyrics won’t fit the overall theme, to the bin with you lot, then”. Considering this, it’s quite astounding that the themes on “Euphorialight” really do seem to revolve around the “7 deadly sins; now with 25% more sin!” as you mentioned. On the other hand, what else is there to tell about besides the sins, love, good, evil, death and life, not just in music, but in literature and movies as well? So yes, I’m super random when it comes to writing.
In terms of tracks, a personal favourite is “Euphorialight”. To cunningly avoid the usual question here, which track do you think gets the best crowd reaction and which is the most satisfying to play live (and why) ?
The favorites of our audience seem to vary a lot, but the tunes that get the crowd to bounce or sing along more often than not are “Catherine and Heathcliff”, “Void”, “Soul-broken” and “Baron Samedi”. “Baron Samedi” is also the one song that seems to boost the band’s energy level, which is usually the reason we try to play it early at our shows. It’s an especially fun jingle to play!
There is an Escher-like quality to the cd artwork that reflects the songs on the album in that the harder you look/listen the more you actually see/hear. Can you tell us something of the ideas behind this?
We originally toyed with the slightly corny idea of a raven’s eye, in which there would have been a reflection of burning sugar on an absithe spoon. We trashed that one, but the raven remained as a symbolic figure. In the end we gave Kalle Pyyhtinen of UtuDesigns free reign with only the guideline that there might be the bird, and the general colour-theme would be teal. He came up with this result that perfectly captured what we were after, and what “Euphorialight” sounds like. I’m also totally impressed that you caught that, we’re always slightly uncertain whether we’re too subtle with these things.
Given your experiences with the two eps (“Wendigo Winter” and “Pristine”) and the current album, what will you take forward and what would you do differently next time you enter the studio?
As we’ve already made new songs, and are currently recording demo versions for some of them, I don’t have to think theoretically at all. What I’ve learned is that even though it’s sometimes frustrating to do many takes of one song, it’s not okay to let the feeling flatten, because that’ll affect the result. No matter how pissed off I may be, I’ll have to take that energy and convert it into something positive. I’ve also come to learn the ways my voice behaves, and what I’m able to do with it. One of the most important aspects of this is that I can use my “big girl gig-voice” during recording sessions.
You seem to have a pretty broad-minded approach with EoS. What’s your personal philosophy when it comes to dealing with the pace of change in everything the music business throws at you?
I think you wrote this question in the sense that music industry expects a certain image and a certain easy-to-chew recipe from all bands and their music, if they’re to be successful. This we can shrug off and do what feels right. When it comes to trusting the industry, that’s another story. It’s easy to get disappointed, and even easier to get screwed over. In the words of Pat Benatar, “we can’t afford to be innocent”.
Away from the microphone, do you have any hobbies or other interests that keep you going?? What do you do to chill out or warm up when you get some quality downtime?
I’m a busy gal! I exercise regularly (and at least pretend to enjoy it), read books, listen to music and watch movies, like the vast majority of people do from time to time. I also draw comics, play games (even tabletop RPG) and hang out with my friends and significant other. I love cooking, too. Lately I’ve been making Mediterranean food – you can’t go wrong with olive-oil and garlic!
How about a Plan B? If you were not singing what would you be doing instead?
Since EoS doesn’t put much bread on my table as it is, I suppose I’d be doing what I’m doing now – I’m a lowly office-rat – but with some other artistic outlet for my creative bursts. I might write more, and as I already write both poetry and journalistic texts, that’s probably what I’d be concentrating on.
2011 started well, with EoS getting best band and album for 2010 on Tuskasi – congratulations! What does the rest of the year hold for EoS and what can your fans look forward to?
World domination, hopefully! In all seriousness, though, next to conquering the international markets, our top priority at the moment is to compose and throw awesome gigs. It’s still pretty early, and part of the fun is not knowing. We can only do our best, right?
Ines, thanks for taking time out to talk to us. Is there anything else you would like to add for your fans and readers?
Don’t you dare give up on us, we’re not giving up on you either! We’re tirelessly toiling day and night to make our fresh produce available where you are, no matter how long it takes. Keep supporting us, check out our website www.embassyofsilence.net , listen to us through Spotify, and join our deranged family at Embassy of Silence’s Facebook Group. We love you long time!
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An interview with Daniel Håkansson, the guitarist and male singer from Diablo Swing Orchestra. When a reviewer writes a review about a relatively unknown band he or she will try to compare the music with another band operating in more or less the same genre. You can say a lot of things about Diablo Swing Orchestra but they certainly do not sound like your average metal band. This is good because there are already enough copycats and faceless bands in this world. Diablo Swing Orchestra adds a new chapter in the long history of hard rock ‘n’ metal.
Before we start a question about the bio: most bands have a simple bio but Diablo Swing Orchestra has a nice fairy tale in the style of Hans Christian Andersen. Who wrote it?
I did… but I merely wrote what we found out. I really wish I could take credit by saying we made it all up. Would be a nice movie, don’t you think?
Nobody can accuse Diablo Swing Orchestra of being predictable. Where do you get the inspiration for the songs and the music?
It’s a bit different with this album and the last one where I wrote pretty much everything. Me and Pontus (guitar, vocals, FX) did most of the writing together on this one. But everyone was more involved in the arrangements/writing on this album. We learned a lot while recording the last album which came in handy when putting these songs on tape.
And how would you describe Diablo Swing Orchestra’s music?
A god description I read somewhere was : It sounds as if Danny Elfman collaborated with System of a down and got Maria Callas behind the microphone.
Did you always wanted to become a guitarist and singer?
No not really, I wasn’t that interested in music until I turned 16. But because of my upbringing and my mother was an aspiring opera singer I got it from an early age anyway. Guess it was bound to happen but I just had to figure it out myself.
How do you see yourself, as a guitar player that can sing or as a singer who also can play the guitar?
Well, I first and foremost see myself as a songwriter and the guitar is just the instrument I use. But I’m more of a guitarist than I singer. I wasn’t even supposed to sing in this band at all. If just happened since some verses/choruses didn’t fit Annlouice’s voice on the first album. But it turned out I worked great as a contrast so we have incorporated more male (not just mine) vocals on the new album.
What kind of guitars & amplifiers do you use?
We actually use custom made guitars from Henrik Jansson in Stockholm. When it comes to amps we both have Peavy amps.
To what kind of music and bands do you listen yourself? Oh that’s a long list. To make it easier I’ll just write what I listen too at the moment: Kroke – Awesome Balkan folk band. This is the only band I’m playing in at the moment, I have played in other bands in the past but nothing serious really. Since it’s not my full time it does take up a lot of my free time but I’ll keep doing it as long as it’s fun. Even if no one would want to listen I’d still write songs. We felt that the name sums up the feel and sound of all of the songs in a good way. This is your second album. What have you done different compared to the debut album? We came better prepared this time around and we had rehearsed the details in the arrangements. We had also done better pre-production recordings and prepared special klick tracks containing all the tempo shifts. Then of course we wrote better songs =) He did a lot for the sound on the record. We had some ideas where we wanted to take the album and he picked up on them in a very good way and manage to turn into something even better.
Oh that’s a long list. To make it easier I’ll just write what I listen too at the moment: Kroke – Awesome Balkan folk band.Was Diablo Swing Orchestra your first band and/or do have other bands right now?
This is the only band I’m playing in at the moment, I have played in other bands in the past but nothing serious really.Is it easy to combine Diablo Swing Orchestra with your personal life?
Since it’s not my full time it does take up a lot of my free time but I’ll keep doing it as long as it’s fun. Even if no one would want to listen I’d still write songs.What is the idea behind the name of the album?
We felt that the name sums up the feel and sound of all of the songs in a good way.
This is your second album. What have you done different compared to the debut album?
We came better prepared this time around and we had rehearsed the details in the arrangements. We had also done better pre-production recordings and prepared special klick tracks containing all the tempo shifts. Then of course we wrote better songs =)Why did you choose the In Flames studio? (besides the fact it is located in Sweden)
He did a lot for the sound on the record. We had some ideas where we wanted to take the album and he picked up on them in a very good way and manage to turn into something even better.
Can you tell us something about the songs on the album?
If I am to say something general about all of them it would be that they are all more thought through in terms of arranging. We also had a lot of production ideas in the writing process. They may also come off as a little more weird than then songs on the debut at a first glance.
What is your favourite song on the album and why?
It kind of shifts from day to day but I’m really pleased with how “A Tap Dancer’s Dilemma” turned out.
How was the album received by the press and fans?
As it is to be expected the reactions have been mixed but the majority seems to think that we have taken a step forward with this record.
The cover art by Peter Bergting: who usually does book covers and graphic novels. Why did you / the band choose him for the artwork?
He did the cover for the first album as well and he’s a great artist and a friend of Andy.
What are the highlights for you with Diablo Swing Orchestra?
Two gigs I remember as being particularly awesome are the Summer Breeze 2008 and Mexico City 2009. That and of course recording and releasing our two albums.
And do you have any negative experiences in all those years with Diablo Swing Orchestra? Nothing juicy but I guess waiting for flights, busses etc can be a drag sometimes. We’re working on new songs but taking our time, since the main goal at the moment is to play live. Would also be great to put out a video for one of the songs but we’ll see about the financials for that this time around. No, I think you’ve covered most of it. Links
Nothing juicy but I guess waiting for flights, busses etc can be a drag sometimes.What can we expect from Diablo Swing Orchestra in the future?
We’re working on new songs but taking our time, since the main goal at the moment is to play live. Would also be great to put out a video for one of the songs but we’ll see about the financials for that this time around.And the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
No, I think you’ve covered most of it.