Zuzana Jelínková – Dying Passion

Interview by Ed MacLaren

Intro by Miriam C.

The ways of music they said that are infinite, well this the case. For like 15 years Republic Czech’s Dying Passion has kept sail on to publish album with, sadly, no international acknowledgement. During this years, the first album to date is 2000’s “Secretly”, and as Zuzana states during these long interview, the music sound evolved from a ToT-esque Beauty and Beast doom metal style to a more atmospheric, “alternative” sound without forgetting the doom influences in the recent times. Ok, sounds a tongue-twister so it’s better that I leave you to this nice interview.
 
Greetings Zuzana! Thanks for taking the time to talk to Femme Metal Webzine.

Hello Ed, Nice to hear from you!

Congratulations on “Amplify”! It’s a darkly elegant and atmospheric album. Were you surprised how well it turned out?

Thank you! I was still little bit nervous when first reviews are out. Actually we were lucky. I can say that our previous albums have been well accepted by the critics too. So I ‘m happy to know we follow the right way on our musical path. We had as same enthusiasm as before but even more experiences.

When you started writing for “Amplify”, did you have a specific musical goal you wanted to accomplish?

At the very beginning we defined what we want the album to sound like. The title “Amplify” was a result of long-term discussions on how to deliver the idea we wanted the title to represent. It is a bit misleading rather than first plan idea. The very basis is in appeal to the present, the helplessness of a human trying to escape the ordinary routines and to refuse what they are daily offered and exposed to. We had the vision of a human screaming yet not giving out a sound; and even if heard, their voice would be hushed by all the chaos and mess around. “Amplify” says that today is the time of so much fuzz and “amplification” that it is necessary to consider very carefully what we are and where we are going. As the title “Amplify” is a contradiction to what we wanted the album to sound like. We planned a dynamic record not amplified to the maximum noise. This is how you may enjoy all the individual instruments without having them dissolved in the messed up.

The musical depth on “Amplify” is very impressive. The combination of progressive rock and doom metal makes for a very rewarding listening experience. How much effort goes into the composition and arrangements of the music?

“Amplify” album is more ‘dark’ or even ‘ambient’ compare to “Relief” or “Absorb”. The album was made in a few stages. The first was developing guitar riffs during rehearsals and forming a “basic product” together as a band. We recorded it at home, kept listening, improving and developing. The second stage was pre-production in a small studio in our home town where we recorded everything and step by step finished the vocal lines and finalized arrangements. After this we did again some editing, rearranging, restructuring, refining, tuning up and looking up the best keyboard registers. Finally we felt ready to go to the professional studio.

There’s such an interesting mixture of musical styles on “Amplify”. “A Strange Something” and “See the Bottom?” have some wonderfully progressive and melancholy arrangements but there’s also a lot of doom metal riffing on tracks like “Illusion” and “My Best Friend”. What’s the essence of Dying Passion’s music style?

I don’t want to label our music. it is the process of making records, trying to discover best for each song. And trying different things to see if the songs could be faster or slower, heavier or not that heavy, and you can be surprised by what happens. it’s always a collection of different types of influences and ideas. When Standa – guitarist and main songwriter, was making the music since past two years, he was open to search for inspiration and listened a lot of bands. I think that Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson was one of the big inspiration for him, because he is genius. But there’s more then this. We just want to combine sad and dark atmosphere with happier moments on every album. That′s how is in real life. That’s the way we like it.

The trumpet was a highlight of “Two of Us Alone”. The violin in “Back of Beyond” was also a nice touch. String, brass and wind instruments used to play a much bigger role in Dying Passion’s music. Was this paying a little homage to past albums?

Well, we had a flute and violin in our past line-up. We also mixed keyboards, female vocals with heavy metal riffs and sort of romantic touch on top as we were strongly influenced by doom metal scene those days. On my opinion we broke off from doom metal scene long ago. After a certain period of time we decided to use more synthetic sounds and samples. Strings has a big role to create the specific atmosphere and trumpet is just an awesome instrument, all these stuff will be heard on new album as well, I hope it′s going to be our best album.

“Thousand Eyes” is a standout track. It has a building feeling of majesty that wants to break free from the dark melancholy of the rest of the album. Could this be a new direction for the band?

It’s hard to say right now. Let’s see what comes out when all arrangements will be finished. We don’t want to just go back into doing the same old things.

You have an impressive tonal quality and the timbre of your voice in the lower register is very powerful. It’s a great contrast to the many soprano singers that seem to dominate the female-fronted metal scene. What was your process for recording your vocals for “Amplify”?

Yeah, I agree. I am a big fan of alternative metal. A typical band with opera divas in front simply doesn´t fit me. I think that is something that I’ve always felt was an advantage for us because we had something different than most of the bands out there. At the beginning we had some male growling too, traditional doom metal Beauty and the Beast style, you know, but lately, thanks god, we left this idea.

You can almost hear a jazz quality to some of your phrasing. Who are the singers that inspire you?

Do you think so? I don´t know, I´ve never really train my voice, I have to admit I´m lazy. So I sing naturally. I try to be a better singer every record and every live show. Maybe I learned some techniques from choir and I looked up some material on net but mainly I am teach-yourself type. Well I admire so many vocalist, where can I start? I love Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, Matthew Bellamy from Muse, Freddie Mercury, Bono, Vincent Cavanagh from Anathema, Brendan Perry, David Matthews, Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth, Róisín Murphy, Jon Crosby from VAST, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Beth Gibbons, Gerard Way, Pink and so many others…

Dying Passion has been together for about 15 years. What’s the secret to your longevity? Not many bands can do this – especially ones that aren’t backed by a major label.

Dying Passion is a big part of my life. For sure music is my undying passion. And frankly speaking Standa is very stubborn and persistent person, so we will survive.

The music of Dying Passion has evolved many times over the years. What brought on the changes to your musical style? Was it dependent on the band’s line up at the time or just a natural evolution of the band’s sound?

Our music as same as our audience is varied. We’re inspired by so many things in our lives, and that’s how we grew up, and that’s how our band developed over the years. We didn’t do it intentionally. Time has changed and we try to sound better as we did ten years ago. We can feel more maturate and more experienced. People come and go, we had a good times and bad times, but that′s all.

How have these musical changes benefitted the band?

It is controversy, some fans like our old stuff, I do prefer new ones, it’s a matter of taste.

“Amplify” is your sixth album and you’ve managed to release an album every couple of years in an economy where many bands struggle just to get an EP together. How have you been able to do this?

Music is our love. We don´t do it for the profit. We have this special tension as every artist has, pushing you to create a explore new stuff, to go on. That’s it.-

The Czech Republic is not a big place. What is the metal community like there?

Well yeah, we have sort of community here. I like the people in the scene. I think the metal crowd is very devoted. We have also few important events as Brutal Assault and Masters of Rock, we have played on both festivals several times. As we travelled a lot during the years we had a chance to meet many great musicians and some of them are our good friends. So here in Czech Republic are many interesting bands. Check it out!

Is it difficult to break out of the Czech Republic into the European and world music markets?

Yes, it is pretty hard. There are only few names known abroad like Masters Hammer, Krabathor, Root for example. Some years ago we had a license on “Voyage” album and we have international distribution but I see without any promotion we are still unknown band from Eastern Europe. I think it is one of the main reasons. And I am not happy with it.

“Amplify” could bring Dying Passion a lot of opportunity for recognition outside of the Czech Republic. Did you have a specific goal of what you wanted to accomplish with this release?

Absolutely! We wanted to spread out our music to the whole world and find some new fans.

Where can fans look for you to be touring this summer?

To be honest, we had so little time, as we are not professional band and we have normal civil jobs. It is important to notice. Most of my free time I want to put my mind to writing new stuff, so we are currently in our home studio, writing and recording stuff for our new album. We are planning to release it at the end of 2013 when things are going well. We have already confirmed some shows too. Immediately we finish the recording, we definitely want to go and play as much as we can. Of course, we are not a big name and it is very hard to get gigs. It’s a matter of logistics. But small tour across Europe will be great!

If Dying Passion could be known for one thing what would it be?

I leave it on our audience. It’s hard for me to say objectively. We play kind of melancholic emotive heavy music. So, I would call our music as alternative or progressive rock. Nowadays it is difficult to find really original band. That is fine. We keep on searching our own sound. We´ve never be afraid to try something new.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us at Femme Metal Webzine! We wish you continued success with “Amplify”!

You’re absolutely welcome! Thank you and have a nice day!

 

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