Interview by Tony Cannella
I must admit, that the first I heard about Exit Eden, I thought, “Huh, what?”. Four great metal singers joining together to perform some popular pop numbers in a symphonic metal style. I expected the worst and hoped for the best. I am happy to say that on their debut album, “Rhapsodies in Black”, Exit Eden totally won me over and I am so glad that I gave this album a chance (a chance that it so richly deserves). The combination of Anna Brunner, Marina La Torraca, Clémentine Delauney and Amanda Somerville have such rich chemistry together that it is impossible not to get on board with this project. Recently Anna, Marina and Clementine were kind enough to answer some questions for Femme Metal Webzine. Here we go…
How did Exit Eden first get together?
Anna Brunner: For me it all started out simply being a studio job. My friends from the production company Elephant Music – who I work with a lot – had the whole idea of rearranging pop songs and turning them into a symphonic metal style. They asked Amanda and me to sing the demos and I really liked the production and the new sound of the old familiar pop songs. When they heard the recording they asked me and Amanda if we would like to be the real voices and members of this band and we both agreed. I had known Amanda from Avantasia and several other projects and I was very excited. She has an extraordinary beautiful voice and she’s achieved so much, I was thrilled to be in a band with her. She had the idea to ask Marina, who had been a friend of hers. They had heard Clementine with one of her bands and asked her to join as well. She was up for it, too and our quartet of front women was complete. After meeting all girls it was clear that this was an amazing fit not only our personalities but also our voices matched really well. This was spot-on!
Your debut album, “Rhapsodies in Black” has just been released. How would you describe it for those who haven’t heard it?
Anna Brunner: “Rhapsodies in Black” is an album full of great hit songs in a symphonic metal style. You can listen to 11 powerful and magical arrangements and interpretations of famous pop songs which were put in a symphonic metal style. The songs are very diverse and varied, so you can hear metal anthems, ballads and also rock tunes in a great production. With 4 different female voices, which fit together like a puzzle make the songs even more interesting and exciting. We all love heavy rock and metal so this is absolutely our taste. We wanted to show that it´s not a matter of genre, style or era, to make a song sound like a great symphonic metal track.
Marina La Torraca: I’d say: a collection of great hits in a way never imagined in your wildest dreams… Or worst nightmares. (haha)
Clémentine Delauney: It’s a daring attempt to have pop and metal colliding and enhancing each other. Catchy melodies from famous songs, sung by four different and powerful voices, surrounded by strong guitars and massive arrangements.
“Rhapsodies in Black” is a great album, I love it. It was a unique idea to record an album of pop covers in a symphonic metal style. Was that the idea going in?
Anna Brunner: Thank you very much! Yes, that was the original idea. But simply having an idea never gives you the guarantee that it really works in the end. We are really proud that the album turned out the way it did and it’s always a great compliment, when people say they like our new version better than the original. 🙂
Marina La Torraca: Absolutely, that was the idea from the first moment on. Producers and musicians involved where the whole time highly aware of what they/we wanted.
Was it difficult to arrange these songs in a metal style?
Clémentine Delauney: Yes and no. No because the musicians and the producers we’ve been working with are from the metal culture and they know how to write metal music. The skills and song writing tricks were there! And yes, it could be difficult as we didn’t want to go the easy way, by just adding a guitar and heavier drums. Some of the songs have been stripped down from their original arrangements and we rebuild everything, even by changing the tempo like on “Unfaithful”.
Anna Brunner: Some songs definitely work better than others, but by choosing different songs from many different styles and eras it also showed us that every song can be turned into a metal style.
Can you tell us a little about the recording process for “Rhapsodies in Black”?
Anna Brunner: Sure. We mainly recorded the album in the studio of Elephant Music in Northern Germany. It was crazy because this was the first time we all met. I had met Amanda before and we all skyped and texted with each other but I actually met Marina and Clémentine there for the first time. So this was very exciting. Some songs were still in the layout period and others were pretty much done. For the vocal production of course we sang a lot more parts than each of us had in the end, because sometimes you can decide better afterwards by listening to each vocal track. It seemed like things just fell in place like a puzzle and we had trust in the producers from Elephant Music, so they contributed very much to the album.
Marina La Torraca: It was intense work, but a lot of fun! Clémentine and I got to record at the same time in the studio, Anna was hanging there too, and we got to spend a lot of time together for the first time.
Clémentine Delauney: The instruments were done separately and when it comes to the voices, Marina and I recorded at the same time in the same studio, Anna was there to keep us company. Amanda has a studio at home so it was way easier for her to do everything there!
Is Exit Eden just a one/off or do you see yourselves recording more in the future?
Clémentine Delauney: The band has been created with the intention to last in time. This is not a one shot. We plan on having a real band life with concerts and tours. So, it’s still a bit early to talk about a second album since our first one just came out but we’ll definitely be looking forward to this.
Anna Brunner: This is definitely just the beginning! Right now we’re so happy that our album is out there and we just want it to cut it’s path. It is great to see that the response is so positive and we are looking forward to our first live shows. We definitely want to tour and are also thinking about a 2nd album but we’ll see what the future holds for us.
How did you go about choosing the songs to record on the record?
Anna Brunner: We chose songs that were great from the start (songwriting wise) and also songs that are very different from the style we put it in, so the contrast and the effect was bigger. And it’s kind of shocking to hear it in the heavier style. I mean this is what makes it a new song. To really change it and turn it around. There are so many good songs out there but some just have the wrong arrangement or instruments or honestly the wrong singer performing it. And I think most of them even work better with the heavy production.
Clémentine Delauney: At the beginning, there was a huge list of around 40 titles that everyone had thrown in. Songs we loved, songs we’ve always wanted to hear with metal arrangements. The choice was following some criteria: the songs had to sound massive and interesting once turned the Exit Eden way and we wanted the whole album to be diverse and yet coherent. We wanted each song to have its own universe so it made sense to choose songs from a large period of time, from various artists, in order to end up with a rich and complete first album.
Are there any songs that you would have like to record that didn’t make the record?
Anna Brunner: Well the thing is, once you think of songs you could put in your own style you come up with more and more ideas. So it was hard to choose 11 in the end and there are a bunch of songs left over now that might be just right for a 2nd album.
Clémentine Delauney: I don’t wanna spoil any potential titles that could be used for a next album.
Do you have any touring plans?
Anna Brunner: We don’t have any concrete plans yet but I’m sure we will soon. I personally can’t wait to go on tour with Exit Eden. To perform the songs will be so much fun and I am very excited. It was already so cool to sing the songs in the studio or on the video shoot and we definitely want to make it an extremely powerful and amazing live show. We’ve had so many people from different countries responding to us, I hope we will be able to announce a tour soon. We hope the request continues to be so high that we can make it happen. So please keep it up, everyone!
Marina La Torraca: For now we are accompanying our fresh-from-the-oven baby take its first steps, it’s a bit early to talk about a tour. We have our first show at the Metal Dayz Festival in Hamburg in September, let’s see. We are all totally psyched about touring with ExE, we also hope for it to happen!
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Do you have any final words for the fans to close this out?
Anna Brunner: A big shout out to all the metal heads out there! We hope you like our band and that we will soon meet on tour! Horns up!
Marina La Torraca: You are welcome. Check out our album, we really hope you enjoy the curious experience of headbanging to the sound of Rihanna and others.
Clémentine Delauney: I would like to thank all the people who supported this project and concept since the beginning as well as all the others who don’t like our concept but who would still give our songs a listen to make their own opinion about it!
Photo credit by Christian Berz Klein