Clémentine Delauney & Georg Neuhauser – Serenity

Interview by Ary R. & Miriam C.

After almost two years, a lot of gigs worldwide and some personal satisfaction, Serenity finally comes back with a new album, great news and a lot of passion for music itself. We got the chance to talk with the mastermind of this Austrian band and with the new permanent bandmember Clementine Delauney about this release, which also reached a new goal in the music career.
 
Hi Georg, hi Clemi. Welcome to Femmemetal.net. How are you doing?

Clementine: I’m fine thanks! Still so happy about how our first headlining tour went! I’m also very glad about all the highly positive reviews and reactions we’re getting about our last record “War of Ages”!

Georg: I’m very happy too! The whole tour was a big success…so we’ll have to do this again!!

Let’s break the ice talking about your last music effort. It’s called “War of Ages” and if I understood correctly, it’s another concept album, with some related topic to great historical personalities like Napoleon, Henry VIII and Alexander The Great. Would you mind to share some little detail about it?

Clementine: Indeed “War of Ages” continues the journey back in ancient times that was started with “Death & Legacy”. Therefore each one of us embodies a specific historic character and has a song about him or her. However we had the will to explore darker times and personalities, dealing with history when it’s made of blood, treason, madness, illness, pain and war…Georg chose Henry the VIII and the song about him is “Legacy of Tudors”, Tom embodies Napoleon for “The Art of War”, Fabio is Nero in “The Matricide”, Andy is Ulrich Van Juningen leading the Teutonic knights defeated during the first Tannenberg battle in 1410, in the “Tannenberg” song and I’m Elizabeth Bathory in “Wings of Madness”. “Symphony for the Quiet” is about Beethoven

Where the idea of creating a new historical concept was born, after the great success of “Death & Legacy”? Does it come from the passion and Georg’s historical knowledge?

Clementine: We wanted to continue into this direction as history is very rich and also very inspiring for the visual aspect. Serenity felt they still could do something different than on “Death & Legacy” though keeping the same concept. Somehow it’s becoming Serenity’s trademark. Of course the original idea came from Georg and Serenity’s universe is totally his but we agreed on going on because we share this interest and it makes us special.

Georg: I’m the only one in the band doing history as his main profession…but thanks god all the other members are very interested in history as well, like Clemi said!

The band has reached the perfection with “Death & Legacy”, in my personal opinion and it happened again with this new record, keeping the same level. Reading some reviews on the web, without getting influenced by reviewers’ opinion in any way, I’ve noticed that you got very great feedbacks. Are you happy about the result? I’ve seen that some reviewers have described in particular the lyrics and talked a lot about your vocal range…

Clementine: I’m very happy about the result indeed! Some people though wondered why I don’t sing more but the thing is that they have to remember Serenity used to be a male-fronted band and released 3 records with only Georg singing although more and more female guest singers were invited. It would have been too big of a change to share the main lines equally on this album. I like to play with my voice and to sound different from one song to another if it makes sense with the music. Regarding the lyrics, well, I personally wrote more than half of them on this release…

Listening to the album, my attention was caught up by the track called “For Freedom’s Sake”. From a first listening, it seems a melanchonic and romantic ballad song, personally I can feel on my skin the passion and the feelings you have put in this lyric. In a very first moment, Georg’s voice slightly recalls Tony Kakko’s one (but Georg’s voice is better, it’s more emotional and deeper), while Clemi’s voice could be easily “linked” to Sharon Den Adel’s voice. What could you say about this track? Who has the pleasure to write the music and to write the lyric?

Clementine: Georg is the one who wrote the main melody for the whole song and I wrote the lyrics. If at first we can think it’s a romantic ballad, it goes further into a criticism against war. The scenery I had in mind was a soldier dying writing a last letter to his wife, looking at what he has done and how vain it feels to die on a battlefield. The meaning gets wider saying war only causes useless waves of pain. We can think war is behind us, that there’s few chances European countries go through what it was 60 years ago…Yet France has sent troops to Mali and when I hear news of a French soldier dying, my thoughts go to his family. Actually I would like to dedicate this song to them.

Georg: Hahah…you’re really the first one comparing my voice to Tony Kakko’s voice!!! Hahah, no…just kidding…many people tell me that I could be his twin brother…but to be honest I like his voice..so no reason to get angry about it! And sometimes I really have the same feeling with Clemi’s voice…on some parts she really sounds a bit like Sharon, which is not the worst thing at all I have to say!

What could you say about the song-writing process and what about the arrangements of the songs?

Clementine: On this record, songs have been written by both Georg and Tom, Georg took more part in the song writing process than on “Death & Legacy”. “Legacy Of Tudors” is a typical Georg track! While the song is being structured by Tom and Georg, they send a draft version to Oliver Philipps, our producer, who will start building the orchestral arrangements based on what Tom suggested. Then we make a real pre-production, the song is sent to me for writing the lyrics and adding my own parts. All the vocal arrangements and choirs are done with Georg and I, together with Oliver Philipps.

Georg: Exactly!

There are the typical elements that became your trademark, somehow, like symphonic orchestra, heavy riffs, bombastic choruses, but there is also something new… one above all is the permanent attendance of a feminine voice. From album to album the band has reached a high potential, but is there something you would like to do in this music universe? Let me explain better: are you satisfied about what you’ve done ‘till now or would you aspire to something bigger?

Clementine: The idea behind making me a permanent member of the band was to share the main lines with Georg and to turn Serenity into a “duet-fronted” band. So in terms of what we can do with two voices, we are just starting to explore the possibilities and we believe there is a high potential to make things bigger, richer, still following the same direction meaning in a “bombastic symphonic power metal” way!

Georg: I mean for sure there will be always songs in which Clemi’s voice will be more present, in some songs my voice will be more present…but the plan is to get more variability into our music! I love projects like Avantasia…so even Fabio will sing some parts in the upcoming record!

The cover for this record is slightly different from the previous ones. Would you like to explain us the concept of the artwork?

Clementine: This was not the first time Serenity had worked with Seth Siro Anton, he drew the first Serenity cover. So the band knew him and his way of working and since we wanted to go for something darker, asking him again to work with us came up naturally. We sent him ideas through pictures we liked, giving him the main line that it had to represent majesty in a dark way using the notion of time passing by but we completely let him free to work and produce his own art. Then among all the artwork he created, that we used in our booklet, we picked this picture of this face as cover.

A videoclip for “Wings Of Madness” has been released… Which historical personality or historical event will be covered in the clip? If I’m not wrong, Clemi seemed to fit Erzebeth Bathory’s shoes…

Clementine: This video is out now and deals with Countess Bathory and her husband Ferenc Nádasdy, a Hungarian nobleman. We didn’t want to make a video showing exactly what the legend of Bathory is. We insisted more on the fact that in the end she was mad, living in her own world. In that video she realizes something’s wrong with her, she writes to her husband begging him to come home but he arrives too late… That was an awesome experience and I can only recommend the team of the Runimation Studios!

This is the first record that marks the entrance of Clementine. A lot of people wondered why about the choice of bringing a girl inside the band, mainly after the release of 3 previous records as a “male band”. Would you like to give us some explanation?

Clementine: There are a lot of symphonic male-fronted bands, a lot with a female singer but still few with two singers. Serenity wished to enrich its music and universe when asking me to join them. It also appeals to more people and widens Serenity’s style and sound.

Clemi, what was your very first reaction when you’ve been asked to join the band?

Clementine: I felt very honored. Georg phoned me a couple of months after the Out of the Dark Tour, I did not expect it! I said yes immediately because I could envision all the musical possibilities we could achieve by singing together and it felt very exciting! I always loved their music and universe, so despite the distance (I still live in France) I was very enthusiast!

Indeed, some fan thought that Lisa Middelhauve (ex-Xandria) would have been the perfect candidate for the band, but this has been regretted after the tour you’ve done with Delain two years ago. What kind of relationship do you have with her? Are you still in good terms?

Clementine: Lisa is my colleague among the Eve’s Apple team and I can even call her a friend. She is a very talented lady with an outstanding brain and sense of humor, Lisa is a real phenomenon! She has all my support in whatever she plans and the fans of hers should stay tuned..! She keeps supporting the band and when she will release her solo project, we will do the same. I just would like to underline that it was never a question of “choice” about which female singer to join Serenity. Changing a line-up like this is a serious decision that requires to consider a lot of aspects and there was no question to hire a permanent female singer before working with me…

Recently you’ve announced that Mario Hirzinger parted ways with you. From his statement, it seems that he was tired of playing symphonic metal music and that he wanted to focus on something else. Is this true?

Clementine: Yes for sure, Mario is a very sensitive person, a real music-lover, listening to many many artists and therefore he didn’t feel complete expressing himself through symphonic metal only. He was done with the genre, felt there was nothing new he could bring to it and get out of it. For sure, leaving a band is a decision that is based over a complete analysis of the situation, the music genre must not have been the only reason. But we are still in touch, he played 2 songs with us on the first show of the headlining tour in Wörgl, he is still a close friend of the band and we wish him all the best!

I also know that you have found a new keyboard player. Could you please introduce him to the audience?

Clementine: No, we do not have a permanent keyboard player. For this headlining tour we had the honor to welcome Franz-Josef Hauser an awesome pianist and keyboardist, also best friend from Georg. Metal is not his universe but he was willing to help us until we make a decision about what to do with the empty seat Mario left behind him. Franz-Josef also contributed to the record, playing the piano on the two ballads, “For Freedom’s Sake” and the new version of “Fairytales” only available on the digipack album, that is the reason why he can be seen on the official pictures.

Let’s talk about the European tour you’ve done with Souldrinker and VOA. Unfortunately I’ve seen that you didn’t play in some countries. Is this due to some booking agency or is this a personal decision of yours?

Clementine: Chris Rodens from Souldrinker is a close friend of Georg, Maxi from Visions of Atlantis is a good friend of mine from the Eve’s Apple team and Chris from the same band was on tour with us on the Out of the Dark Tour so for sure we knew the ambience would have been pretty fun and it didn’t fail being so! However, I think it’s never a personal decision not to play somewehere unless it’s said to be dangerous! We’d love to play in Italy and Spain but it seems getting shows over there is a bit more difficult…We hope to be able to promote “War of Ages” there as soon as possible…

You like to keep in touch with your own fans, your audience. What does your relationship with them look like? What do you think about the people who support you and that keep on loving you as a band and as people?

Clementine: We love our fans since it’s thanks to them that Serenity still exists and that we’ve been able to make a successful first headlining tour. We come meet them after each concert and we tend to reply to emails as much as we can. We’d love to create ways to interact with them more through the social networks but sometimes our own schedule gets so busy that we unfortunately don’t find time to do it. Those fans are older fans from the very first record or fans who got to know us with each release. The great feeling is that those who loved the first Serenity, sounding very different to what the band does now, still follow us. I think our fans are very loyal and some of them we met several times, at different places on the last tour!

Now that the album is out, have you something new planned for this year?

Clementine: Yes I have! Nothing that I can talk about right now since it’s not yet official for one and not yet confirmed for another but I have other musical projects aside Serenity for the live this year. I have other ideas and desires too that I will start to work on…I’ll share news in the coming months!

Thanks so much for your time guys. We wish you a very good luck for everything and we hope to see you around, especially in Italy and in some other parts of Europe! Would you mind to say something to our readers and your fans? 🙂

Clementine: I would like to thank you all for the support you bring to the band and I’m very honored by all the positive reactions I got about the fact that I joined them in a permanent way. I’m happy to share this with you all and I hope this is just the beginning of a long-lasting love-story between Serenity and its fans!

Georg: Thank you for your support!! We really need every support we can get to keep this dream going on!! And we hope to see you all on tour as soon as possible!!

 

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Photos by  Francesco Sogaro / Postproduction: Seth Siro Anton

 

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