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Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
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
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 : Vàn Records
Review by Luisa Mercier
After the highly praised debut “In Witch Order”, Castle are back after only a year with “Blacklands”. The vocalist Elizabeth was and still is impressive with her gloomy, raspy voice, perfect for this kind of music, but, of course it is the whole band that is really convincing. Without too many pretenses, the band managed to create some of the heavier doom metal out there. There are no embellishments in these riffs, which seem to get more fluid and encompassing as the album goes on; and Elizabeth not only contributes with vocals, but also with her powerful bass. Castle manages to draw a thin line between traditional and doom metal. The lyrics are smart texts about the dark sides of life, forcing the listeners to think about it. Definitely “Blacklands” is one of the best albumns released in contemporary doom metal, one which mixes old classics and more modern myths, so if you are a fan of the genre, please take a listen.
Rating - 70/100
Interview by Si Smith
Crucified Barbara will stomp across your skull and leave skidmarks, such is the impression they are having all over the world. Their style is balls-to-the-wall hard rock, no holds barred. Third album “The Midnight Chase” hits the streets soon so Femme Metal caught up with bass player Ida Evileye for a quick word.
First of all thank you for taking the time for this interview, and a warm welcome from all at Femme Metal Webzine. For those who are presently unfamiliar with the band, would you like to introduce the different members to us?
Yeah. We’re a four piece band and I (Ida) play the bass, Mia sings and plays lead guitar, Klara plays rhythm guitar and Nicki plays the drums.
Almost 15 years since your humble beginnings you are back with another powerful album. From the outset it is clear that you mean business, with opener “The Crucifier” giving it large 100%. For this listener it is a remarkable trip back into the early Motorhead days and punk-influenced heavy metal. Do you think the band in 2012 still reflects those kind of influences?
Absolutely, we love that type of music. We listen to a lot of different music (Mainly old school for me) and of course that shines through in our songwriting.
You certainly have a memorable band name – could you enlighten us as to where it originates from?
Actually “Barbara” in Sweden is the name for a blowup doll (a sextoy). We were at the Roskilde festival many years ago and we saw that somebody had pinned a barbara on a cross and it looked really evil and cool so that’s where it comes from.
You guys look great in all the promo shots we see and have a very distinct look that reflects your music style – how important is image to the band?
The music is of course the most important thing without a doubt but image is important too. I love to go to concerts and it’s always more fun when the band wants to entertain the audience. So that what we’re trying to do with clothes and makeup!
It has been a remarkable journey across three albums. What are the highlights of the journey for the band?
Oooohhh, there are soo many. The Motörhead tour, the Nuclear Blast deal, the Russian tour, playing at the Download festival, the Australian tour. Meeting Brian May, having a drink with Lemmy……the list goes on!
Throughout the band’s life your lyrics have touched on all the usual hard rock topics. Does this reflect your lifestyle? Who is the biggest party animal?
Hahaha, of course! I am the party animal. You can always count on me and Nicki!
Three years on from “‘Till Death…” , you seem to have a tradition of working a long time on your albums, what is it you are looking for in the final product?
We don’t want it to take so long time but we’ve toured a lot and there has also been business things that’s prolonging the releases. And of course that we don’t wanna release something that we aren’t 100 percent happy with!
“The Midnight Chase” has 11 well-crafted anthems. How does the song-writing process work for you as a band?
It’s different with every song. Some of the songs has been written by one person only and then we’ve worked on the arrangements together (“Kid for the Upperclass” in on example, Mia wrote that song). Other songs we’ve done based on a riff or a melody and we’re written it together (“The Crucifier”, “Shut Your Mouth”). So it’s different with every song really!
By the time this interview gets to you, the band will have just played the Sweden Rock Festival. How did it go?
Greaaaaat! It was fantastic, so many people and a really good crowd! We had a great time, I love that festival!
In July you are heading to Italy alongside Elvenking. That should be some good shows! How have you found the band’s reception in different countries? Have you a favourite?
Italy is really good for us and France is very good too. It’s been good from the beginning and it’s always so nice to come back, you feel like home!
You have also recently been booked for the Getaway Rock Festival in Sweden alongside bands such as Manowar, Saxon and Nightwish. What are your hopes for the festivals this year?
I really like that festival, it’s a bit smaller than Sweden Rock but a lot of cool bands are playing. So we’re gonna have a great show and then drink some beers and watch the other band, so it’ll be a fun night!!!
Finally, what is the next stage for the band? After all the touring this year is there a plan?
More touring, another album etc! This is what we love to do and we’ve just got started so you won’t get rid of us anytime soon!
Thanks for your time, we at Femme Metal wsih the band all the best for the rest of 2012.
Thank you! I wish you the same!!!!!!!
Interview by Danny Robertson
We caught up with Dani Nolden, singer for Brazilian heavy power metallers Shadowside, to get a glimpse into the band’s history and talk about the new album “Dare to Dream”.
How did it all get started - who initially formed the group?
We pretty much got started as a garage band that wanted to have fun and register permanently some ideas we had. We were good friends that had never played a real gig, had never recorded a CD, we were very inexperienced, very naive and didn’t have much in mind regarding what we would do with the demo in hands. We would always joke to each other about being rockstars someday *laughs*. But we didn’t really know much about the music industry or what we really wanted to achieve. However, after we released that demo EP, we got so much attention from the press and from people that we saw ourselves in the magazines as a very promising band and our 6th show as a real band was supporting Nightwish in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in front of 7000 people that went just crazy. It was a bit too much for some of our members since we were teenagers… kids, if you wanna put it that way. Some thought making music seriously and professionaly was too much of a responsability and decided to quit. Another one got a bit carried away with all that and thought he was already a rockstar *laughs*. So I’m the only one left from that original lineup. I managed to keep myself together because I surrounded myself with friends and family who would help me keep my feet on the ground. We were just starting out - as we still are, so there’s a lot of work ahead before we can say “we did it!”. I found Fabio shortly after we started so I consider him as being with the band since its birth. Since then we’ve toured with Helloween, co-headlined concerts with bands like Kittie, Divine Heresy, Metalium, so it’s been an awesome ride so far.
Who/what were the group’s main influences back then? Are they all still a source for inspiration?
We never had one or more set influences, we had the bands we listened to more but they haven’t changed much since then. We are all into more or less the same thing - everything *laughs*. We all love from 80’s pop like Duran Duran to Slayer. Some of our favorite bands are Deep Purple, Judas Priest… but at the same time we all dig different stuff. Fabio’s favorite bands are Tears for Fears and Slayer, mine are Disturbed, Rammstein and Skid Row, just to name a few. Raphael is really into Pantera and Scorpions. We all like all of those bands but we don’t have the same favorite bands and definitely not the same influences. I think what influences us is everything we listen to combined with our own personalities. We just try to make sure we do not sound like other artists so we don’t think of anything in specific that we want to sound like.
What was your local scene like back then? Did it take long for you to get noticed?
No, not at all, we didn’t expect anything that happened to us back then. Let’s put it this way, the scene back then in my hometown was boiling water. We had a large number of great musicians and bands so we thought it’d be harder to get noticed but we packed a 500 seat venue on the first show we played in Santos, that’s how fast things happened for us. That kinda set fire on the scene and even more bands started activities. There’s still a lot of talent alive here. The old venues were all shut down though. We still have places to play because we don’t have to play only Rock venues anymore back home, but young bands that haven’t proven they can draw a crowd don’t get to play at a decent place and rarely get attention. We always try to pick at least one band from Santos to support us whenever we are in town.
How would you say that the new album compares to your older material? Has much changed?
We want to give a new direction to our sound, I mean, we want to keep focusing on our style, but, this time, we also want to make it more experimental. Heavy guitars with modern synths and an alternative, powerful bass. Some has definitely changed as it’s only natural to evolve and modify some things with time but the essence is exactly the same. Energy, intensity, anger, passion - it’s all there. The heavy guitars are there as well as the catchy melodies. We just decided we didn’t want to sound like other bands and go 100% for our own identity. Nowadays we are a more mature band, we aren’t afraid to try and rely on our own personalities anymore, that’s why we’ll dare even more on the next record! We found our thing, we’re a raw Metal band, Hard Rock influenced, that plays music to make you bang your head and go crazy. We don’t really want you to come out of one of our concerts thinking “wow they are great musicians”. We just want you to escape your reality for those 2 hours, scream your problems out and just have fun.
How long did it take to write and record the new album, “Dare to Dream”?
Not long at all, we recorded the whole album in exact 23 days. Maybe a month more writing it. There wasn’t much time to really think hard of what we were doing because all our plans changed pretty much on the last minute. We had plans to write and record in like 6 months, no rush but right as we started the songwriting process, “Theatre of Shadows” was released worldwide. We had no plans for that record anymore as it had been out in Brazil for a while already. So we had to prepare for the first U.S. tour at the same time as we were working on the new album. In the end that was the best thing that could have happened to us because it kept us from overthinking arrangements and changing stuff that didn’t have to be changed and also kept the live feel that we wanted. We just trusted our guts and went along with it.
Are there any main themes or concepts which run through the new album?
There’s no real concept, lyrics are simply based on real life situations that happened either to me or to people close to me. ‘“In the Night” is about a secret relationship when one of the parts isn’t interested in keeping the secret anymore. I took the humorous approach and told the story of a woman, probably in PMS, going absolutely nuts and threatening to tell all *laughs*. Lots of people have seen themselves in that situation or know of someone, sometimes it’s an office relationship that’s not allowed, or dating someone much older or much younger or simply dating someone already committed that’s promising you things. “Baby in the Dark” is about a friend of mine who was desperately trying to fit in. He wanted to be loved by everyone so he would mold his personality according to the group he was currently in. He ended up not knowing who he was anymore and for a while I had lost one of my best friends. Nowadays he’s back to his old self but lots of people just become generic and boring. I don’t mean generic regarding looks, anyone can look and act “normal”, you don’t have to be eccentric to be special, you can if you want to, but you don’t have to. But you always should stick to what you are. “Dare to Dream” is that song to push you, to make you believe you can actually achieve stuff if you try. You might not reach every single thing you wanted but you’ll never achieve anything if you don’t try. And the end result will surely be better than what you had before you started out. Whether the dreams are of a job change, a trip or being a Rock musician, anything is possible.
You recently shot a video for the track “Hideaway” - how did that go? Where and when can we expect to see the video?
That was a lot of fun, we are still to record the second part of the video in the next few days, that will “test” me as an actress, you’ll be able to tell me how I did very soon *laughs*. It will be very intense and dramatic. First part was the band playing and we were asked to make it angry and very energetic. We recorded at an old warehouse and the place was huge, we thought the whole area was abandoned but it turned out there was this building right behind the warehouse. Fabio’s drums were really loud and people got so mad because of the noise that they called the police on us. We are very proud to have annoyed our neighbors *laughs*. The video should see daylight in early February. I can’t wait to see it finished!
What would you say have been your biggest achievements, or favourite moments as a band thus far?
All the 5 U.S. tours, the 2 Spanish tours, all the big concerts we’ve played as well. Being on the road is always fun and whenever we are all together, I always have a great time. We were recently one of the top 5 best selling Metal bands in Brazil, along with Iron Maiden and Heaven and Hell so that was a huge achievement for me. We also were picked as the best band in Brazil in 2009 by Roadie Crew magazine, which is currently the most important one here.
What are your future goals?
To keep making music, keep touring and take it as far as possible. We’re not nearly done yet! *laughs*
Who are your favourite current acts?
I’d say Disturbed and Rammstein… they’re not exactly new bands but are some of the non-80’s bands that I’m really into.
What’s next for the band? Where can we expect to see you next?
Hopefully you’ll see us touring the U.S. and Europe at some point this year, not only in places we’ve played before but also some new ones as well. We’re also going to play Brazil and who knows where else! After that, we’ll go back to the studio to work on new material. We won’t stop in 2010, whether we are on a stage or in the studio, we’ll be extremely active.
Any last messages for people?
I hope you all started 2010 well and that you go for your dreams, believe in them and try to make them real. Hope you like “Dare to Dream”, it’s a very honest and straight to the point album. If you don’t, just listen to it louder and you will automatically start to bang your head *laughs*. I’ll see you all on the road at some point… when I do, show me your horns! Cheers!
Label : Ministrel Hall
Review by Luisa Mercier
The happily married wife of Ritchie Blackmore decided to go solo and provide us with this nice collection of tracks. Of course, they stray away from the usual medieval tinged acoustic music played by Blackmore’s Night and propose us a mixture of pop, pop-rock and sometimes hard-rock. For example “Gone, Gone, Gone” the first single, is a perfect catchy rock song while the following “Black Roses” and “Now and Then 2011” go back to the fairish atmosphere we are used to associate to her. “Dangerous Smile” could have been a real hit if sung by some pop-star and with a slightly different arrangement. Completely Celtic influenced is “For You”, so it fits the imagery Candice has created around her during these years. “Call It Love” is a bit cheesy, but it is equally a good song to listen to, followed by “Robin Red Breast”, a sweet ballad driven by acoustic guitar and Candice’s vocals. Violin is the lead instrument in “Alone with Fate” which closes the album together with the medieval sounding outro “In Time”. A good release, not a masterpiece, but sounds suitable as pleasant background music.
Rating - 75/100
Interview by Miriam “NocturnalConcerto”
Not only known for her mesmerizing and fairy-like vocals in the mediaval act Blackmore’s Night, now Candice Night has decided to go solo for her debut album “Reflections” and in this specific occasion we have decided to lodge her thoughts about this project.Hi Candice, first of all thanks for accept our interview and after how are you? Hope your little Autumn is ok! So, we are here to talk about your first solo album “Reflections”, how was its genesis, when have you started to nail down the first ric?
I guess I first started writing the lyrics for this album the same time I wrote the music. In 1995 I was in the studio writing lyrics for Rainbow and also for our Blackmore’s Night songs, which at that point I didn’t realize were going to go out for the world to hear. Ritchie and I just thought we were writing those songs as an escape from the rock world and the corporate stranglehold it was going through at the time. So, I was coming out with a lot of ideas and at one point I told Ritchie I needed more music to set the words to. He was so caught up in what he was dong at the time he told me to go write my own. So, I got a used piano that had been in a family for generations that was out of tune, but needed a home and I sat down and all at once “Black Roses” came out. The words and the music all came out at once. “Alone With Fate” came after that and then “In Time”. For some reason my writing process seems to be different than when I write with Ritchie for Blackmore’s Night. Music and words seem to flow together when I am writing by myself. I write the skeleton of the song, just piano and voice.
“Reflections”: does this title for you has a special meaning or there’s any specific reason for the title?
After all these years of writing songs many of my own songs wound up collecting dust on a shelf for years unless Ritchie decided to use them on a Blackmore’s Night CD like “Now and Then” or “Ivory Tower”. So after compiling these songs for so long it felt like the reflections of the moments in which I wrote them, looking back over the years. Perhaps reflections of myself at those times.
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
The band Dendura is from Detroit/Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA). Dendura describes themselves as (breath in) Female fronted Egyptian themed prog metal or Egyptian infused prog metal with live belly dancing. Of course, Dendura is not the first band that incorporates Egyptian themes in their music. Examples are Nile (music and texts) and Iron Maiden (artwork see the album Powerslave and the current world tour. Steve Harris, who wrote the music for the song Powerslave never intended it as an Egyptian song. That was the idea of Bruce Dickinson much later in the writing process.) Belly dancing is also something bands use on stage - see DeadCell or the dancers from Rapalje (both from Holland) and singers like Shakira (who has like Dendura’s singer Lebanese roots) Other references of the ancient Egypt in our modern culture are TV series like Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, the movie 10,000 BC and cats are everywhere today. In fact, one can write entire books about this subject. So what makes Dendura different from these bands? Let’s find out with some questions for Dendura’s singer and keyboard player Aziza Poggi.
Can you tell us something about Dendura? Who founded the band and why did you decide to use the ancient Egypt as a theme?
I founded the band and recruited Steve Wethy a month into it. I always wanted the middle eastern and Egyptian influence in our sound as I always was intrigued and felt close to that kind of music. In the beginning, only half of our songs had it. Now, they all do.
The fascination of the western culture for ancient Egypt originates way back in the days of the Roman empire, more than 2,000 years ago. Since you use the ancient Egypt for your music, can you tell us why we in the modern world are so interested in a civilisation that vanished 2,000 years ago?
I think Egypt is one of the most fascinating and mysterious countries in the universe and it does carry on in today’s world. So much history and invention comes from Egypt. Makeup, the mummies, architecture, the temples, statues, the kings and queens, deity’s, how Egyptians lived and functioned, their beliefs in the afterlife and preparing their dead for mummification. If you watch The History Channel, you’re bound to see something about Egypt there. Egypt will continue being a place of discovery as long as mankind is still here. There is so much more out there to be discovered and that fascinates people as it is a place of mystery.
Where does the name Dendura come from? There is a Hathor temple in the village of Dendera. (Hathor was among other things an Egyptian love goddess. She also tried to destroy the human race but that’s another story.)
The name came from the Temple of Dendera in Luxor Egypt, Hathor’s main temple. I am very fascinated by the Egyptian deities and found Hathor’s temple perfect for our band name. She was known as being the goddess of music, dance and poetry. We just changed the spelling.
Who is Aziza Poggi?
I am an artist. I look at our music as colors that need the right textures and elements to paint the song. I look at everything as a journey and the road never ends as long as I don’t want it to. I am always learning something new about my voice, discovering new things that intrigue me and I feel deeply connected to my roots.
Tell us about your interesting tattoos.
I have four tattoos total. I have Nephthys, the twin sister to Isis, the goddess of lower Egypt who tricked her sister’s husband/brother into sex to have a son of her own who was Anubis, the god of the underworld and guardian of the dead. She was the lesser known of the sisters. I have her son Anubis on my shoulder, a cobra with hieroglyphics wrapping around it and the Eye of Ra as well.
You have Lebanese/Egyptian roots. Does your cultural heritage makes you a different singer compared to other musicians?
I think everyone is different really. This is just what makes me different, but of course there are other middle eastern singers out there. We just all have our own voice and sound.
Is it difficult to combine being the frontwoman and to play on a synthesizer onstage? Personally I think only Anneke van Giersbergen from Agua de Annique and the Gathering can get away with it. With a lot of other bands, like Grimskunk from Canada it simply doesn’t work. The synth acts like a barrier between the singer and the audience. What synthesizer do you use?
It’s a Korg, IX300.
And how? Like a piano or more for the sound effects?
I use the keyboard more for effects. Like a nice and heavy chamber sound or symphonic sound. In my case, I am not behind the keyboard that much. I play on sections where it fills up the sound. Our newer songs have less keyboards so I wont be back there as much as I have before. I have played it throughout the entire song of “I Have a Gun” and on the song “Symphony” and sometimes I just play sections on the keyboard on those songs that require it. If I were doing fancy keyboard parts, I couldn’t sing and play it at the same time (not yet) but because the keyboard parts I do play are simple, I can do that. I guess it depends on the vibe I am feeling with the audience.
Can you tell us something about the other members of Dendura?
Steve Wethy (Guitar) has been with the band since the formation. He also sings backups and writes lyrics. Sometimes, he comes up with vocal melodies which he is great at. He and I have been through a lot together and have always been on the same page musically when we were going through members and changes in our sound. Paul Stein (Guitar) joined about two year ago. I call him the linear thinker. He is very creative and also very technical. He and Steve are always coming up with new guitar lines and feed off each other very well. The guys all act like brothers. Justin Lee Dixon (Drums) is the newest member. He can mix up the metal and Middle Eastern drums really well. He has an incredible ear. He isn’t just great at playing drums. He sits in on my singing lessons with me often and gives me feedback and knows when I’m singing my best and when I am not. Each one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses and we all know what they are so we all balance each other out. It’s a perfect relationship.
Last time I was checking Dendura’s website there was no bass player. For what kind of person are you looking for?
We have been looking for over a year now for the right bassist and we are working with one right now who we think might be the permanent member. We won’t be announcing anything final until after our CD is recorded. He fits in perfectly on a musician level and on a personal level. We auditioned several bassists before him and had one other really good candidate. We were looking for someone who musically was right, who would play more low-end bass, no slap (as was before), and who had the right personality. We have had people in the band before whose personalities and styles didn’t quite fit our own and, ever since, the band has said that will never happen again no matter how long it takes us to find the right person. We’ll use session people until then. Justin was playing as a session drummer for three months before we asked him to join, a bassist filled in for four months and we didn’t hire him, and now the bassist we are using has been with us for three months and he is on the verge of being hired. You only can get to know someone’s true colors with time and much practice. I compare it to being in a relationship because it really is like that. I wouldn’t commit myself to someone if I wasn’t with them for a few months. Steve and I just got lucky from the beginning as he was hired right away and sometimes luck plays a big part, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Dendura has released one album in 2006 called “New Life” (Killzone Records). Can you tell us something about the songs and the album in general?
“New Life” was self-released before we were on Killzone but they are releasing our new album we are working on right now with a Grammy-winning producer and Killzone has distribution with Century Media. The songs on the album are about a mixture of self-empowerment and Egyptian gods and ancient Egyptian history. For instance: “I Have a Gun” is our first song we wrote as a band and, at the time, I got out of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. I wrote the song as my own defense weapon. Like my own protection. The gun isn’t stating I am going to harm this person, but I am protecting myself in case he comes and harms me again. The gun is more imaginary. “I, Nephthys” and “Isis” are Egyptian goddesses and sisters. They actually lyrically go together if you check out the words. In “I, Nephthys”, I am singing the song as if I am her confessing my sins to my sister for tricking Osiris (Isis’s husband) into sex to have a son, hence Anubis. In “Isis”, the song is still sung as if I am Nephthys and it’s about her qualities as a goddess. “Mummified” is about transition in life. I left it a little cryptic so it’s open for interpretation. “Rage” is about feeling as if I’m a puppet and releasing myself from others wishes on my life. “Symphony” came from a dream I had actually. I was out cold asleep, dreaming of wolves hunting me down in the woods. The keyboard parts were playing in the background like I was in a film. I have always had a fear of being eaten to death. I woke up, remembered those keyboard parts and started writing “Symphony”.“Nemesis” is a self-empowerment song about fighting the machine and way of life others put on us. I remember someone telling me once, we should strip away our Egyptian roots so we are more commercial-friendly and that is what is wrong to me in music. I think creative freedom and control is very important and feeding ideas and thoughts on how to make the song better is completely fine and understanding, but changing someone’s roots is wrong to me and we won’t do that. “Shadowman” has nothing to do with Egypt or self-empowerment but is about the fictional character Laura Palmer from the Twin Peaks series to be exact. I am a movie buff and sometimes, we’ll combine story lines with films we have seen.
And the last question: what are Dendura’s plans for the future?
To continue to grow musically and myself vocally.
Interview by Si Smith
France had produced some great music over these past few years, and now has a new champion: a satisfying blend of pop, rock and general progressiveness that takes on board influences from all across the musical spectrum. Femme Metal spoke to vocalist Adeline to discuss how they found the perfect recipe for combining all those elements!
First off, a warm welcome to you from all at Femme Metal, and thank you for speaking with us today.
Thank YOU for your interest in what we do !
Before your arrival in the band in 2000, the band began way back in 1998 as many bands do, as a cover band. Do you know what kind of songs were being covered at the time?
I think they covered a few songs of Anathema, Moonspell, Yearning, Edge of Sanity… that kind of bands. As for me I had a cover band too in which I sang classic rock songs from bands such as The Cranberries, The Police, U2… That’s how they found me, they attended one of our gigs and they contacted me a few days later.
Your first couple of demos with the band, “Stanzas” and“Dreamland”, must have been relatively successful as you eventually landed a deal with Sacral production. Thinking back to those early demos, was the sound a lot different from what it is now? Or is it just a natural progression through the years?
Those demos sounded a little bit heavier than the music we play now and there were quite a lot of synths/electro inputs, but the “mellow” side of our music, that mix of rock, pop and metal, was already there. So were the flute and the percussions. It was more than ten years ago now, and at the time my bandmates were obviously much more influenced by the metal bands they covered a few years ago than they are now. In between they sort of abandoned things like the death metal growls and the electro inputs, and they gave the music a “progressive rock” feeling. Maybe because they managed to build through the years a common reference table in the composition process, where as ten years ago the music of Akin was more a raw mix of the very different musical influences of each member of the band.
France seems to have produced some successful progressive-edged bands in recent years, including Auspex, Qantice, Kalisia, Adagio and Spheric Universe Experience (to name but a few). Even Gojira (although much heavier) still hold on to a progressive influence. What do you think it is about the French culture that seems to launch this thirst for the progressive in music?
It maybe because the accent is put on the music rather than the lyrics. There might be a few exceptions but the lyrics are mainly in English which is not our mother tongue. What we find most interesting are the actual melodies, the rhythm, the harmony… That’s probably why the French are so interested in progressive music. That’s my guess anyway.
Considering these other bands, what do you feel Akin can bring to the scene that is different from the other bands of the genre, if you consider yourself “labelled” by a genre at all?
It maybe the variety of influences in our music. I personally listen to a lot of Sting and Tori Amos (and recently I found some interesting things in Lady Gaga’s music, please don’t hit me!), when other members of the band would be more into Dream Theater, Opeth or Anathema, for some others it would be the Beatles … It may also be the variety of instruments we use in our songs: we like to do experiments. In the end, we think that the music we play doesn’t belong to a genre in particular. Whether you’re fond of rock, metal or pop you might like our new album. We hope so in fact!
There was a long period between releases before the new album was birthed. What were you guys doing during this time?
We have had arguments in 2004 and the guys decided I wasn’t a fit in the group anymore. They therefore had to look for a new singer, which took them quite a long time. Then I know that a combination of different factors really slowed the band’s activity down : some members of the band had to move to Paris for professional reasons while the others lived in Lyon, some got married, became dads… And they also suffered several hard drive crashes where they lost a lot of data (there seem to be some kind of “Akin’s curse” with computers…). They really planned to record the new album in 2008, and it took 3 years to record it because of those personal, technical and professional constraints.
This time round the album has been billed as “with a string quartet on the side”. In what ways did this affect the way the album was composed and recorded?
The string quartet brings harmonic texture to the songs. It kind of has the same function as the keyboard did on the previous album. Only it gives a more organic and Beatles feel to the music. The songs were pretty much finished before the arrangements were added.The strings were recorded separately and mixed into the songs.
There is also a wealth of other instruments on there - darbuka, djembe, dilruba, daf and tablas to name a few. What is the key to co-ordinating all these instruments do you think? Did you ever sing live alongside these musicians, or was it all recorded separately?
Adding these instruments was like adding relevant touches to spice up the album. We had already used a djembe on the previous CD’s and on stage and we thought it worked rather well. We had the opportunity of using other traditional instruments on this album and it felt natural to include them as long as they served a musical purpose.
You put a free 8-track version of the album up for free download at bandcamp.com (in fact all your previous releases are there for free download too). Did you receive any specific feedback from that at all from people who had downloaded it? What was the aim behind putting this sample up for free?
It’s too early to say because it’s very recent, but the feedback has been positive up to now. Putting this sample up for free seems like a good way to get people to listen to our music. Obviously, the album as a whole is more interesting because it takes you through one hour of music which we tried to keep as dense and exiting as possible. The Digipack is also very smart, we think.
The first two songs on the new album “The 92nd flight” and “Cassandra” also appeared on your 2003 EP “Forecast”. What was the reasoning behind revamping them for the new album alongside the new material?
“Forecast” was a “forecast” of the 2nd album “The Way Things End” which we had hoped to release a lot sooner. It gave a glimpse of the 2nd album and included new versions of songs featured in “Verse” (the first album) and a song that we didn’t have time to record during the “Verse” sessions (“The City in the Sea”).“The 92nd Flight” and “Cassandra” don’t only work as previously lost tracks, they have a real purpose because we can safely say they are much better versions that the ones recorded eight years ago.
I must say that I enjoyed the idea of the album “Verse”, being based as it was around the works of Edgar Allen Poe. This album too contains its fair share of poetry (eg on tracks “Miller’s End” and “Resilience”). What is the significance of these particular poetic works? Could you tell us a little about them?
It felt natural to use poetry on certain passages because the themes of the selected poems were very relevant and the quality of the speaker’s voice served a real musical purpose. It also gives some kind of relief to my singing voice. I must say I’m flattered that you use the word poetry to qualify “Resilience”, because it’s one of the two lyrics I wrote for this album, and I never thought about it as poetry.
Label : Grailight Productions
Review by Vard Aman
Ambehr was founded in Armenia in 1995 and moved to Russia in 1998, first to St. Petersburg and then to Moscow where they are still based. “Amber Dreamland” is their fourth full length studio album. Describing Ambehr’s sound is a no easy task - they are one of the most unique, original and diverse bands around. They play a variety of styles, but none of the styles they play are typical in any way, and yet it all comes together in a sound that is unmistakably Ambehr. Their roots are still noticeably Armenian (providing you know what “Armenian roots” sound like so that you can notice it – otherwise they’ll just be a band unlike any other you would have heard before – which they are anyway). The term “Amber Metal” has been used before, so let’s stick with it. Think Folk Metal mixed with Power Metal mixed with Progressive Metal but not like any of the kinds of Folk, Power and Progressive you’ve ever heard before – now add to it bits of Traditional Metal, Death, Thrash, Glam and Hard Rock. Sorry, I just cannot do better than that – you’re just going to have to buy the album and listen to it yourself. One of the most noticeable elements of Amber Metal is the dual vocal style of Art and Marina. Most of the time they sing together, complimenting or harmonizing with each other, with some occasional solo vocals from one of them. Both vocalists are very accomplished and very versatile, which they’d need to be to pull off this kind of music. Marina’s singing style ranges from folk to operatic soprano, and everything in between; and Art’s from standard clean vocals to a more Power Metal style of singing and to growls… and everything in between. “Amber Dreamland” is a concept album, with all the songs covering the topics of fairy tales and childhood dreams (or their “dreams of Amber Land” as Marina put it in my recent interview with her). All the songs are in English (with an occasional Armenian passage – in “Nothing to Die For”) except for “Garnan Aravot” (“Spring Morning”) which is sung entirely in their native Armenian. The songs are catchy, melodic and generally upbeat – as one would imagine songs about the dreams of Amber Land would be. The production on “Amber Dreamland” is crystal clear and the songwriting is excellent. This album also features some outstanding guitar work (you can substitute “outstanding” with “blazing” or “killer” if you like – you get my drift). All the tracks on “Amber Dreamland” are really good, but the diversity of the music on this album will no doubt mean that everyone who listens to it will pick different favourites. I can mention mine: “Proud Heart”, “Prince”, “Oriental”, “All Goes”, “Garnan Aravot” and most of all, the titletrack – it is the slowest track on the album with almost doom-like progressions and melodies, it creates a slightly brooding retrospective atmosphere but with an almost ecstatic and climatic feel to it. It’s a beautiful piece of music indeed! There is not much more I can really say here, other than that you need to buy this album! It would be a good idea to hunt down their previous releases as well; and their new Russian album “Bezdna” (which was recorded at the same time as “Amber Dreamland”) is due for release in a few months at the time of writing this review.
Rating - 90/100