Sharon den Adel – Within Temptation

Interview by Michelle Henriquez & Steve Debets

Questions by Miriam C.

Recently, Femme Metal Webzine had the opportunity to interview the charming and talented Sharon den Adel from Within Temptation. Within Temptation is one of the first and biggest emerging symphonic bands in the late 90s and early 00s. They paved the way for later bands in this genre by becoming a huge success, both in the Netherlands and worldwide. Due to my schedule I wasn’t able to interview Sharon myself, but thankfully I have wonderful friends who have an immense passion for Within Temptation’s music that were able to fill in for me. So with thanks to Sanja Bankras, who suggested longtime fan Steven Debets to me, I present you this interview. In this intimate interview Sharon shares with us how she balances work and her family life, takes us back to the past, in her wardrobe and gives us details of the special shows in theaters.
 
Hi Sharon, first of all welcome back to Femme Metal Webzine! How are you?

I’m fine, thank you very much. It’s been a long time.

I can imagine that you were very tired after the Hydra world tour, how do you recover from such an effort?

We had a few weeks off – so we ended in South America last year, and this year we started of course with the theater tour, which is a new page in the history of the Hydra tour. It is also the final phase of this tour; after this we will do the festivals and afterwards we will be working on a new album again.

I was personally wondering, how do you recover after a world tour, especially considering the big effort you put in it?

Mainly taking some time off, being with family and doing normal stuff instead of playing and trying to be onstage and interacting with the audience, which is quite intense. Especially during the South American tour, we were on an airplane every day. Mainly, the waiting parts before you go onstage or get on the plane are the things that really wear you off. But, I must say, a few weeks off with family and friends, to have a normal Christmas.

Day to day life. . .

Yes! Day to day life brings you back, gives you the energy back in order to do everything you need to do.

Ok, that’s cool and now you are full of energy.

Yeah, we are almost done with this tour. We only have a few shows left and then we’re off to the festivals. Festival season has already started. We already had one festival and we also had to do a show in Ukraine last week, because we postponed it. So those things also come in between. We’re also writing new stuff already.

At which festivals are you going to perform?

Oh, you can see that on the website. We’ve done Paaspop. There are 3 more coming in the Netherlands. The rest is all going to be abroad like in Germany, Bloodstock in England, we have one in Canada. I think we are working on one in Italy, but I’m not sure, so keep on checking the site!

Let me get started by asking you, one year after “Hydra”‘s release, how has the reaction been from the fans and, most importantly, from the media? In hindsight, does the album live up to your expectations? Is there something you would you like to change?

The media really received it very well. The sound goes back to past influences we’ve had on the first few albums, which is a more up-tempo and heavy sound. It’s a combination of old and new stuff and I think that it was received very well. I’m very happy with how it was received. For the radio it’s another story, because it’s quite difficult to be on the radio when you have a heavier album. But we are very pleased. We did a very big tour and the venues were better, so it was a step up for ourselves.

Did they live up to your own expectations?

Yes, most definitely! I think for us it was a pleasant surprise that all the fans reacted so well, also the media, because there weren’t any real single on the album. It was meant mainly for a heavier audience and then to have so many people come to your concerts, even more than before… you know? The fact that the numbers didn’t decline, sometimes that happens. But yes, we’re happy to still be continuing as a band. Yay! (laughs) Next year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our band.

You mentioned reaching a higher level with every album. Do you have any learning points from “Hydra” that you are going to take to your next album?

Good question. Well maybe start earlier with the tours and announcing them, because people need time to buy the tickets and plan those kind of things. We were a bit late with that. Also, we can visit more countries that we didn’t play at. Another thing is planning a better route. Certain countries such as Sweden and Norway we haven’t visited this year for the first time. I really missed it, because there is an audience, but because of how they planned the travelling from city to city, it didn’t fit in the schedule. But we should have played at those countries, because you shouldn’t neglect your audience.

“Hydra” marks a new era for the band: the band self-released it, by licensing the album to some different labels around the world (Victor for Japan, Nuclear Blast for the USA and BMG Rights for the EU). How did you feel, for the first time, to be directly managing this side of the business?

Well, we’ve always been enforced with that. But this time we did everything ourselves. We just got a budget to do everything like “How many videos do you want to do?, How much will they cost?, Who do you want to work with?”. And also hiring people ourselves like “Ok, we want you to work for us, we want this guy for the videos, We want this speaker for the radio”.

Maximum control

Maximum control is the best you can have! But you take a lot of responsibility on your own, because you have to do way more than before. Sometimes it eats away time to write new songs. But in the past we always were in control for what we wanted to do. It was sometimes a debate how many videos we could make and how much it should cost or not. And where to put your money into promoting yourself like on the Internet – sometimes we have a disagreement on how to do that. Sometimes we get offers like to use our music in a TV-commercial, but you have to pay way too much for that. The money can be used in so many ways for better promotion.

You are at the top of the management also. It costs a lot of time and it can become challenging when you have three kids.

Four actually.

Four, now! I can imagine managing work-life becomes challenging. How are you giving enough attention to that part of your life?

Well, my partner used to be in the band. He used to be the guitar-player and nowadays he is still behind the scenes in full control of everything together with me. But he also takes care of the kids, so that’s why he stepped away from the limelight. He could be at home and be the stable factor and in assistance to the kids.

Well, if that works.

Yes, it works perfectly!

It gives stability to the kids.

Yes, it does. And it also gives me a lot of peace to know that he is taking care of them, not my parents. That can be very straining. It’s my family and it’s my responsibility. That what it comes down to, basically.

Ok, yes, so energy can go to the creative place this way.

Yes, exactly!

Recently you have released your double Blu-ray called “Let Us Burn”. One in Antwerp and one in Amsterdam?

Yes, one at HMH (Heineken Music Hall) and one at – the big one (Sportpaleis) in Antwerp.

Can you share some personal memories of those two performances and the differences between the two performances?

One of them was a 15th years anniversary concert, even though we’ve existed longer, about 16 – 17 years, but officially 15 years (laughs). Anyway, it was great! We had all old-guitar players onstage, old drummer – old band members in general. We had a lot of fireworks and a lot of extreme things like people on stealth and stuff like that. So that was pretty amazing. We took a lot of things we didn’t do in past shows and put them in this show (in Antwerp). We also did some covers – this may had seemed very strange, because we had a lot of our own songs to choose from already. But we were doing a project with Qmusic, which was promoting that event as well. And they wanted us to play some covers. We did them also because we liked it, it was the project we were into so it was nice to bring that energy on stage as well. With HMH it was a different kind of show, more traditional. There were other people, so it was not that intimate.

But HMH has a cozy feeling.

Sometimes it has. It depends if the band on stage can create a good atmosphere and get all the people together to do stuff. But we did that two times, and that was also very special. Also because together it was 10.000 people and yeah – it’s a huge crowd that comes to see us in our own country.

Old audience. . .

Yeah, so it was very special to end in our own country, in Amsterdam.

Not so long ago, you have re-released your long time out-of-print debut “Enter” in the USA which originally was released back in 1997. Taking a trip down memory lane, what are you feelings about this album after 18 years? 

Has it been 18 years? (laughs). Yeah, this was from 1997, and we are now in 19 –

2015 (laughs)

Oh yeah, then it’s been 18 years! Sometimes I’m like “in which year are we?”, time goes by so fast! (laughs) But yeah I think I’m still very proud of it, because we didn’t have much experience when creating the first album. Actually, I didn’t have much experience. Rob and the rest were in the band way before me. I was also in another band, but I didn’t write my songs and stuff like that. So that was the first time for me. So I learned a lot from it. Not only me, but the whole band. It was the first time people saw us as a band. I think for that time we were still refreshing and new. Looking back now, of course, you would do some things differently, but still that was then and now is now. In the time frame that it was, I think it was the best we could have done.

What’s the difference in recording sessions for example?

Oh my god, way different. Because we still had a studio when we did these.

The one in Utrecht?

Yeah, in Utrecht yeah. DB’S, we recorded there. Do you know it?

Yeah!

Cool! Well, Lamomates were found in Utrecht and they were helping us with recording. That was Orphanage in Utrecht. They don’t exist anymore unfortunately, but they were located in DB’S and they had their friends there and we were helping them out with their albums. So we automatically also went there. Plus it was very nearby for us, because we came from Waddinxveen and that was a half hour drive home. They had really old-school recording, you know, old tapes. It was already like “Woohoo, we have this, you know?” (Burst of laugher from both sides) Then we had CDs and nowadays we make files and people download music for free!

Lately the renowned photographer Tim Tronckoe has done an interesting photoshoot and I was really impressed by your dress. Your dress is amazing but it’s not the first time that you wear something so peculiar and at the same time enthralling. Would you like to tell us more about how your dresses are created?

The one I wore for Tim Tronckoe‘s photoshoot was a coercion of what I have been wearing throughout the years. It was a dress from the “Heart of Everything” period – I had a video done in it – and then in combination with a nice skirt. Normally I didn’t wear anything underneath it, except for a black skirt to make it more wide. But now I had a very short skirt underneath it and a white corset, which made it more robust. I think it is a nice thing, because I always like the combination of black and white. Those are my favorite colors for clothing, it’s very Chanel and I love Chanel. Not that it’s anything like Chanel of course, it’s really extreme (laughs). I’m in love with those two colors and so I play with those two colors mainly. These are things that I did with Ronald Kolk. He is a Dutch designer that does things mainly for the Dutch Royal family and he contacted me a few years ago. He wanted me to open his show with a few of his dresses. I bought this piece of clothing from him, because he had some old pieces and I was in love with them – I was like “What do you mean old pieces? Those are mine!” (laughs). I got very greedy. I didn’t buy only that one, I bought a lot actually, a lot of white stuff. (She shows vest) This is a vest that I use also as a cape. You can use it to be creative when you don’t have everything that you want. Sometimes you can play around with it.

Do you do all the dressing yourself?

Yes, I do all the dressing myself. Sometimes I have a few friends that are really good, especially with videos. I like to have some more input, because sometimes I need different kind of clothing to fit the theme or subject of the video. On stage you can put on whatever you want, you know?

Yes, two hours later people forget what you were wearing.

Yeah, exactly! People just remember that you were wearing something spectacular. Another thing that’s really typical for me is that I always wear Dr. Martins onstage. I was sponsored and they made me a pair that was never on the market. They made it in England I think, because the main office was there.

As you now Femme Metal Webzine unites fans from all over Europe. Some of our readers are wondering if you are thinking about expanding the theater  tour to other EU countries, in order that your non-Dutch fans can enjoy WT in this different setup?

We are looking into it, it’s kind of difficult because it is very expensive. We have a very expensive show, the equipment, the number of people that we need for preparing the show. Also we have a certain kind of tradition of how our theaters are built in the Netherlands and not in every country you can find similar theaters. Of course there are theaters, but how they are technically built – to get the truck with all the stuff we need upstairs we need an elevator and you are busy from early morning until night to get everything done. So it takes a lot of time. Sometimes that makes it impossible to do these kind of things, but we’re looking into it.

Ok. It would be nice. You got a different feeling, and people would want to experience that feeling.

Yeah, of course. Yeah, we see a lot people coming from Germany, England, America and even from Australia. We have a lady that always comes to every show when we do something special.

At least they would like a DVD blue-ray of the shows. Are you thinking about publishing a DVD based on the theater tour for the fans outside of the Netherlands?

Yeah, that’s very difficult, because we work with projectors and it has to do with the amount of light that we can use and sometimes when you want to film you need a lot of light to see something. But then, because we are working with creating illusions and projecting layers and layers of stuff to create a 3D effect, you can’t film it somehow. When you film it, you lose the effect.

So we’re at the end Sharon, I hope you enjoyed my questions. Do you have a greeting for your fans and for Femme Metal Webzine. Thanks to you again!

Yes, I have! You had really good questions! And I hope to come really soon to Italy and there might be a festival coming up. Keep in tune and hopefully we’ll see each other soon again! Wherever that might be (laughs).

 

Credit Photos

Photos by Tim Tronckoe

 

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