Carla van Huizen-Douw – La-Ventura

Interview by Abigail Henry

Carla Van Huizen is the incredible voice behind the Dutch Band La-Ventura. La-Ventura came crashing into the music scene in 2005 with their first album “A New Beginning”and now they are back with their second album, “White Crow”, after several years of hardship in order to see their new project successfully made. We had the chance to speak to Carla about of the events leading up to the albums release and what is to be expected in the future, which includes playing at the infamous Female Metal Voice Festival in October this year.
 
The release of “White Crow” has attracted a lot of attention and deservedly so! How has this been for you personally?

It is really great to see that so many friends and fans from all over the world like the new album! During the recordings of the album we talked about how to set up the promotion campaign and besides letting our promotion manager for the Benelux do his job we realised that we had to start working our way into the social media. None of the guys in the band were interested in signing up for Facebook so I had to dug into it myself. It was a race against the clock to get as many friends and likes as possible in a short time cause we stepped in much later than most other bands. Eventually it paid off very well and although it took a lot of time and energy to get the attention of the media and music industry we are now fully aware and very content with this virtual way of meeting and attracting new people to the band.

The Dutch have had a lot of successful women enter into the metal industry, how does it feel to be emerging as one of these women?

It is an honour for me and I am proud to be part of the Dutch female fronted metal scene. As a band we’ve had the pleasure to share the stage with a lot of Holland’s successful bands. We always have a great time and it feels good to be one big (successful) family. I also have had the chance to meet Floor Jansen for some specific vocal lesson.. We arranged to do some singing exercises and she gave me some vocal tips and tricks in preparation of a tour. It was very nice to work with her.

Who have been inspirations to you in your music career?

When I was young I liked the music of ABBA and as a teenager I always tried to sing along with famous singers like Whitney Houston and Céline Dion. Their technique and powerful way of singing was a great challenge. Later I discovered Alanis Morissette to be an awesome singer for her liberty of expression in both singing and lyrics. When I was asked to sing in a band, I was mostly inspired by the music of Evanescence and Lacuna Coil.

I’ve noticed recently that you have signed with EAM – has the release of your new album opened unexpected many doors for you?

O yes, it did! It is really exciting to see our chances grow. A lot of credits go out to our fans who believe in the new album which definitely convinced the music industry to work with us in order to bring the product to a higher level.

There are many fantastic tracks on the new album, “Falling Down” being a great example, but which is your favourite to perform and why?

“Falling Down” is absolutely my favourite metal song on the album. “Human Vanity” and “White Crow” are the two songs from the EP and therefore more evolved and pleasantly familiar to sing. “Time and Time Again” I think is my favourite song to perform on stage because of the high and expressive vocal range.

Would you say, that as an artist, you have reached your goal in life with La-Ventura or is there more to achieve?

From a music point of view I would say yes. We’ve reached a lot of goals but certainly not all of them. Once you’ve gone deep and struggled so hard to get something done, it’s almost impossible to stop and it makes you longing for more. We have no illusions, but let’s see what the future holds.

What advice can you give for young and aspiring artists, especially in regards to women entering into the metal genre?

My advice would be: believe in yourself and make the music you really like. Listen to solid advice and be open to improvement. And last but not least: search and connect to person(s) who know their way into the business.

Your vocals are amazingly suited for the melodic genre – were you always swayed towards metal?

Hahaha no way! Coming from a religious family I was raised with classical music and gospel choirs. Even before I met my band members I was all into pop and easy rock songs. They introduced me to the metal scene but when they talk about their hero’s like Metallica, Machine Head, Sevendust and Killswitch Engage, I don’t feel the same excitement as them. But I did find what makes a metal song strong and learned what works for the music. Luckily my voice was able to complement the heavy riffs and I think I have found my own way out.

“A lucky man is more rare than a white crow” – I adore this quote! How did the idea of “White Crow” come into development?

Well, I came across this quote during the process of working out the theme (la) “Ventura” which means “luck” in Spanish. The white crow was such a strong visual concept that we decided to use it as a symbol and subject for the new artwork.

What are the main themes and concepts that you tried to convey through the lyrics?

Most of my lyrics are about things that occurred in life, things from the past or subjects I struggled with during a period of personal turmoil. These are moods and troubles, I think everyone will recognize and are meant to be meaningful. For me the writing is all about emotional expression of feelings through music.

More often than not, when I am writing, my characters are inspired by real people – is this true for “Song for an Idiot”?

For sure! There are enough characters who fit the bill. Even though I wrote the lyrics some years ago, it matched the music for this album perfectly, but I keep asking myself the same question: who was the idiot exactly…? Anyway, it is never my intention to hurt anyone on a personal level, so let’s keep it there.

You have just been confirmed for the MFVF 2014 festival, how exciting is it to be a part of femme metal’s biggest festival?

One word: awesome!! The biggest festival for female fronted metal in Europe! It has been on my wish list for a very long time and this year my dream seems to come true. I am so looking forward to meet our fans from all over the world and to make new friends! They say the whole atmosphere and vibe of the festival is very special so I definitely can’t wait until October!

It is notable that since your first album, “A New Beginning”, there is a more mature sound present in “White Crow” – would you say the six year development period has helped you to become closer as a band and allowed for you to mature as artists?

We have certainly grown as a band and as musicians individually. With the release of our first album we have had some great opportunities like an American record label, a successful European release and a lot of memorable gigs. We made some really good friends in the music business and therefore we had the opportunity to record the new album in a professional studio, working along with one of the best guitar players and producers in France: Didier Chesneau. He not only created the exceptional open sound on the album but also pushed me as a singer to perform to the max. All these experiences have definitely shaped us more and more into the musicians we are today.

One of my personal favorites on the album is “Drowning”. It is a very progressive song that has both an oppressive sound, heightened by the thought provoking lyrics and outstanding vocals – could you tell us a bit about you come to capture such detail in each song?

I am not sure how it works exactly but first of all I let the music and blueprint for the song speak for itself. Then I try to work out a catchy vocal line and along with the process I create a first draft of the lyrics. The words are random at first but I can hear right away what matches the material best. That is how the subject for the song is usually ‘born’ and with that in mind I try to fix the rest of the puzzle/song. It also helps me to visualise the words that come up in my mind and “Drowning” is a good example. Imagining the feeling of drowning is like: struggling to stay alive, gasping for air, ready to be pulled down into the darkness of a large and unforgiving pool. These were clear details to work with and matched perfectly to the heaviness of the riffs and bombastic tunes of the song.

I believe you recorded the album “White Crow” a little differently from the first, merging both analogue recordings with digital ones. Will you be able to explain how this has benefitted your new tracks?

When going analogue, every bit of recorded sound, has more depth more gritty natural textures to work with. This results in a more alive and broad sound in the end, when you have the processing tools from Cubase or Pro Tools as helping hands but not as a guide. The whole album breaths, you hear and can also feel, when the track is moving from one section to the other. You really get a natural massive body of sound when all the layers kick in when going into a chorus. With the digital world, you only have volume and compression to work with if you want the “same” result, so to speak and that is really not the same.

Going fully digital, all natural sounds are mostly gone. There is little grittiness that can work as a benefit, making the sound and tracks; industrial, cold and straight. We recorded with the best mikes, the best analogue pre-amps, the best gear etc. And last but not least the best advice. Doing it right, means you can get as much out of the raw materials, before it cracks due to for instance over compression resulting in static noise coming in and broken sound samples where all the body is taken away. With the digital world, you need to be o so careful when pushing the limits of the recorded sound samples. You break more, than you gain in the end.

So this is, unfortunately, the end of our interview – is there anything you would like to say to our readers before we end?

I would sincerely like to thank you Abigail, the staff and readers of Femme Metal for their awesome support, time and effort to spread the word and music of La-Ventura. We cannot do it without you guys!! Enjoy the music and I would love to meet and see you all someday, somewhere, soon!

 

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