Charlotte Wessels – Delain

Interview by Ary R

Considered as one of the leading figures of the metal music panorama nowadays, Delain has gained a huge fame that a few female fronted bands has got in these latest years. After a really bad episode that has affected the band in the past, this quintet from the Netherlands is going to introduce the audience the brand new record called “The Human Contradiction”. In order to present this baby creature, we had the chance to talk to the singer of the band, the beautiful Charlotte Wessels, who has spoke to us about this brand new album.
 
Delain this year comes back on the music scene with a brand new album. Let’s talk about the album title which is a very curious one. Would you mind explaining us the meaning of the title itself? If I’m not mistaken you love reading, and this album somehow is related to Octavia Butler.

Yeah, it is! It is taken from a fantastic work fiction trilogy by Octavia E. Butler, which is called “Lilith’s Brood” and in the book “The Human Contradiction” is taken as a way to explain kind of… the contradictory qualities in human beings as they’re both intelligent and hierarchic. The hierarchic thing is actually the nasty part, because this mix for human beings is kinda rank, you know other human beings but also inhuman others and we take these kinda totally random qualities in order to justify ranking one over the other and this is exactly that kind of system that causes nasty things like racism and sexism and speciesism even and since you know I’ve been obsessesed about this whole idea of how people related on this last couple of years, I’ve thought that it was a very interesting metaphor to kind of explain where it comes from, in a way this of course reflects back on the topics that we’ve touched upon for the first time in our previous record, “We Are the Others”. On the new record, “The Human Contradiction”, there’s a lot of songs with this topic of otherness in it from different angles, so whether it’s otherness like within human beings, or whether it’s human or inhuman others, and they have to spoil each other. It’s not like a concept album, but the songs are kinda related to this topic in a way, a lot of the songs are. Yeah, I’ve thought that THC was actually a very striking and powerful metaphor to explain these dynamics so yeah, I’ve shamelessly stole it from her book.

What about the very colorful artwork?

Well, I mean. I had a very extensive wishlist for the artwork of the record and I must give all credits to both the photographer, Sandra Ludwig, that we’ve been working with, I mean she’s been our photographer for quite some time now and also the graphic designers that they actually were able to translate like this extensive wishlist into one striking visual image: for example, I wanted to have a kind of cosmic element there, in order to pay tribute to the origin of the title, you know the books from Octavia Butler; I wanted to kinda have one of the several contradictions visible and in this case we chose the contradiction between the human and inhuman nature so that’s why we worked on the branches and everything… and then, in order to have not too much focus on this kind of nature style I wanted like the technology represented in it as well and we did this kind of shapes, these really straight lines… so yeah, there’s a lot of visual information in there and for me it’s rather symbolic and yeah. Like I said, all credits go to the visual designers and the photographer to get to that point.

Last year you’ve released “Interlude”: as the title suggests, it was a sort of an album released in order to give you to time to write “The Human Contradiction”. I’ve listened to the album and I’ve noticed that there were 2 new songs: “Collars and Suits” and “Breathe On Me”. Why haven’t you decided to include these songs in this new album?

These were songs that we have written during the time of writing “We Are the Others” and they didn’t make it to the album because we were listening to a long time like what, which songs would result in the right type of balance on the album “We Are the Others” and these ones did not make it, because not that we didn’t like them, but because of this balance and… yeah, we were really happy that they were able to give ‘em a place on the record of their own anyway when we released “Interlude”, because we just basically liked them a lot as songs by themselves, so… Yeah, we had those songs and, you know, we kinda revamped them in order to get them on the record but they were written during the “We Are The Others” sections.

I’ve mentioned “Interlude” because it was released via Napalm Records last year after a bad episode you had to face with your previous label and I remind that the band launched a sort of petition in order to be able to release WATO. If I’m not indiscreet about this situation, would you mind telling us what happened with the record company?

What happened was that we were perfectly happily married with Roadrunner Records, that at one point we started working on “We Are the Others” when we were still with them. At one point, Roadrunner Records got sold to Warner and all of a sudden we were a Warner band and we didn’t chose to be with them as a label and they didn’t chose us but we just came with, you know, the big package of bands that they have got when they were Roadrunner, so basically this was not a good marriage at all, we didn’t really felt like we were in the right place with them, so… actually we wanted to… at one point we have finished the album after we had already a lot of troubles with the record label and then they said: “You know, we’re not sure if we’re going to release the album now or you know, maybe in a month or in a couple of months or in a half a year”. Of course it was horribly frustrating for us because, you know, with the band like with any company if you expect to be touring and then you do nothing for a year, you just go bankrupt… so they really wanted the album released but we knew that it was not going to happen through Warner Records, so we were looking for another label that did want to release us, so at the point that we had almost found this label and that we were actually convincing Roadrunner not to release us but to let us go, the fans were kinda impatient and they started this petition like “Warner please release Delain!”, so the fans couldn’t know what was happening at the moment between us and the record company. We were trying to convince them not to release us so they could quickly release it with another record label and then the petition started as “please release “We Are the Others””… but you know, actually I said it as now as back then I didn’t tell anybody “please stop your petition”, because for me it was really heartwarming to see all these people going through all the efforts of, you know, getting that together, so in the end we left Warner and we released the thing under even another record label and then we left them and now we are with Napalm, so… aaah! That was a episode. Yeah!

Reading the tracklist of the album, I’ve noticed of course the song you’ve premiered last November at the special gig you had @ Patronaat in the Netherlands. I’ve seen the performance and I found it very theatrical with you wearing this mask, being so pretty. What could you say about the track itself?

It was one of the first tracks that we actually wrote for the new album, so we’ve thought it was really nice because we always tried to do kind of special gig at the end of one album round, at the end of the touring round for one record and we thought it would be really nice to give people like a taste of what is to come, and at the same time kind to celebrate that “We Are the Others tour” was the last one so yea! We performed “My Masquerade” there for the very first time and we’ve actually thought it would have been cool to call the show “My Masquerade” gig because of course it was also a very nice theme for a party and there were a lot of people really dressed up and you know took the time and effort to really make something theatrical about the whole evening as well, so… yeah, it’s just great, you know, I really like the song and I really like more because we had this “My Masquerade” gig and because people responded so well, they really asked us “Please let us hear the studio version”. So yeah, we were intending to but now we’re happier too.

This is the first real album that sees the total involvement of the guitar player Timo. When he joined the band for WATO, the songs and the album were almost already written and he didn’t get the chance to give his contribution. What could you say about this guy? What kind of contribution he gave to the album?

I think that the biggest contribution in that is, you know, the part when he recorded the music, because actually the Delain writing team is Martjin, me and Guus Eikens and we basically write the songs together with the three of us, but I can imagine that it makes a big difference, you know, whether you step into that, when the songs are already done or whether, you know, you are there from the start and of course you use playing on a demo and in a way I do think you kinda influence each other like that even, you know, when it’s not… when the actual songs are written. I think it makes a big difference and I think in a way this album is more personal to everybody, because we have not – like the last time -being involved with an external producer, who has basically overseen the whole project, but I think that everybody was a lot more… everybody had a lot more responsabilities for kinda their own part in the recordings and stuff, so yeah. I do think it makes difference.

What could you say about the writing and recording process of the album itself?

We chose to do basically everything without any third parties involved until we really had to, so we had Mikko Mustonen who did some awesome orchestral arrangements, we had Ted Jensen who mastered brilliantly, we had the mix @ Fredman Studios. This is what we did, but actually this was already very late in the process and until there, we chose actually not to have any inside involvement and Martijn was producing again, so he kinda created the pre-process also and… yeah! I think you can hear the way you listen to the music but yeah! As for the writing, like I mentioned, we wrote everything just the three of us together again – Guus, Martijn and myself – and it all went very fluently actually, I must say!

This album sees the attendance of some amazing guest. I’m talking about Marco Hietala and Alissa-White Gluz from Arch Enemy who started also a cooperation recently with Kamelot and she toured with those guys. What could you say about the decision of picking her up in this record?

I’ve always liked the versatility of her voice, I mean she does the clean vocals and the screams and the grunts and I’m just very much impressed by her voice in general and we have been touring for a month together with Kamelot actually in the US, so I guessed this time we’ve got the ball rolling. We were really happy that she did want to collaborate and I really like the results, I think that the song where she sings is pretty… well, it turned out pretty epic, I really like it!

And what about Marco Hietala? He’s a sort of permanent guest since he first appeared in “Lucidity” and later on “April Rain”… it’s a sort of “back to the roots”, if we can say so…

Definitely and I do think that this album in a way kinda reflects back on our earlier material, in the sense that it has, you know, so many orchestral arrangements and it has a prominent grunt and I do think that actually the guest appearance of Marco that is a kind of reunion is a kind of feeling, because it’s like a back to the roots kinda feeling, but also in general it’s just that whenever we kinda imagine a male vocal on some of our songs that because it’s such an internal partner for music we kinda always set up imagining his voice up there so…

The question is kinda spontaneous since we’ve mentioned Hietala. What’s your opinion about the new Nightwish singer? The amazing Floor Jansen from the NL!

Yeah, I think it’s probably the best decision on Nightwish’ part. I mean: Floor is a singer who is technically so brilliant, she could sing, I think she could sing anybody’s songs basically so of course there are songs written for different types of vocalists in the Nightwish repertoire by now, and you know, she’s able to take them all and take them all brilliantly so this is going to be a permanent thing! I’m really happy for all of them!

I’ve listened to the album and I must say that it totally rocks. I must also tell that I’ve found a very ‘recent’ sound without losing that energy who was previously given by the more dark symphonic approach of your earlier works. What could you say about this new research of this more recent sound?

Well, I think in general that… whenever we write songs, we don’t… we don’t, well, we always set out and we write the fastest riffs and catchy choruses, you know, heavy sounds. This is something that we were actually always looking for and we never deliberately made a new choice like: “Ok, now we should kinda change in that direction on this or that way”. This is something that usually happens quite spontaneously, so I think that it’s actually really funny how you can see in this album how you can kinda both recognize our more recent sound but how also some things that have not been present recently for some time and I mean that it’s a great combination. It’s kinda cool, yeah!

Delain will embark on an European tour on April with Within Temptation. Do you have any expectation for this tour?

Yeah, I mean: there are some expectations. We have toured with Within Temptation before and it was totally awesome, so I just think that you know if this experience was anything to go by then we were right and I’m really looking forward to it! We’re going to play in some really awesome venues and it’s a pleasure to join this band anyways since it’s obviously a band we all like. Yeah, it’s going to be special, I guess!

I’ve seen that nothing is still scheduled for Italy. Any chance for at least one Italian date?

We are still planning actually an extra European tour also, dates haven’t been confirmed yet but like our touring schedule for next year is not yet complete, so who knows?

You will also share the stage for the USA tour with well the mighty Sonata Arctica and Xandria. What about this tour?

Oh yeah, I mean: the same thing with Sonata Arctica we basically toured with them back in 2009 and it was quite awesome, so I’m looking forward to it also since we had a quite successful experience when we joined Kamelot on tour last Fall and we really want to return to the US as soon as possible, so I’m really happy that we got to return within a year.

You’ve also shared the stage with Tony Kakko and Sonata Arctica in 2009, for the promotion of “April Rain” that year and I still remind with such a great passion the duet you had with Tony on “Last Drop Falls”. I was like “damn, this girl rocks!”. Will we ever see you making a duet again in the future? It would be more than amazing.

Yeah, these things usually also back then they usually happen spontaneously but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t hope for that to happen again, because I really liked it and I really liked the song, you know. It was one of the songs I’ve been listening to a lot actually; I remember the first night when we were doing the duet he asked: “Do you have any songs that you know the lyrics too?” and I felt like: “Control yourself, don’t tell that you know them all”, you know (she laughs, ed). So, yeah! It would be really nice to do something like that it would be possible again, but as I mentioned, these things usually happen spontaneously so we don’t have anything planned yet!

Ok bella, our time is over. So dankjewel for everything. Wow. Very nice! Thank you too! It was nice talking to you again, and hopefully we do return and we see each other soon

I give you a big hug and… as usual, the final words are up to the person involved in the interview. No, just thanks a lot, thanks for the support, you know, I’m really flattered by the new album, yeah, I hope everybody likes the new album and I will see them on the road so thank you so much!

 

Photo Credit

Photos by Sandra Ludewig

 

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