Label : SPV
Review by Tony Cannella
The Swedish band You Say France and I Whistle are as unique as their name. To call them metal definitely a stretch – I really don’t see it at all. You Say France… are an eclectic band that is for sure. Their songs have a quirky sense of humor and musically they are a mix of alternative, ska and get this… Polka (they have an accordion player for heaven’s sake).
You Say France’s… debut is called “Angry Men” and from the opener of the first track you realize that there is something unusual about this band. The band utilizes both male and female vocals and it is easy to see that they don’t take themselves too seriously, obviously they take their music seriously but some of their lyrics have an eccentric sense of humor. Continue reading »
Interview by Roberta Ilaria Rossi
Indie pop music always has been a bit undervalued but it hides lots of great new acts most of the time. This is the case of the Swedish band You Say France and I Whistle, that already got the chance to perform at the Fashion Week in Milan and that got a bunch of surprises. Here you can find what the lead singer Ida Hedene said to us! Today FM has the pleasure of having Ida Hedene from You say France. Welcome Ida.
Thanks, nice to be here.So, let’s start the chat talking about your band. It’s a Swedish indie-pop band called You Say France and I Whistle. Would you like to introduce us the biography of the band and how was this project born?
The band was born out of the frustration to be cool. All the bands around us were really cool. We more wanted to release joy. So all become to be spreading joy. Continue reading »
Interview by Alessandra Cognetta
Marja provides vocals and percussions for the Finnish Hexvessel, whose latest album “No Holier Temple” has been released on the 7th of September by Svart Records. It’s difficult to put into words what a surreal experience their music provides, and I probably wouldn’t do them justice anyway, so we took the chance to ask her a few questions about the band and all the elements that surround their work. So get ready and follow us on this journey through the forests of old.
Hello and welcome, Marja! First of all, thank you for being with us. How are you?
Hi Alessandra! Thanks for getting in touch! I’m great, we’ve been touring and rehearsing a lot lately, so tiredly happy!
Since this is the first time we have the pleasure of featuring Hexvessel in the webzine, could you please introduce the band to our readers?
We’re a psychedelic forest folk band residing in Finland, founded by Mat McNerney and rest of us have gathered around him since.
Hexvessel‘s second album, “No Holier Temple”, is due for release on the 7th of September. What are your hopes and expectations for this new record?
This is our first album with the bigger live band involved and the sound reflects that. On the first album Mat told some of his and our stories through his sound, and now we’ve invited the band to channel some of new spells with their unique styles added. We’ve played some of these songs live for a while now so based on the live feedback from the audience, I believe “No Holier Temple” will be a great successor for “Dawnbearer”. It’ll probably be easier to get into, and will open up more levels, layer by layer with more listens like the first one.
The front cover of “No Holier Temple” (by the artist Bastian Kalous) is stunning, and really shows how important nature is for you. How was it conceived and, most importantly, how was your bond with and reverence towards the native forest born?
We were looking for the right visual for a long time, from illustrations to paintings until we came across Bastian’s work. You can see from his art that he’s one with it, and we were stunned how one simple image can be a symbol or a gateway to so many stories. It has the same eerie, beautiful atmosphere as the whole album. Magickal on its own terms. This is how we see the nature as well, it’s full of mythical signs of the cycle of life but it also holds the eternity of something more substantial. Only if those trees could speak.
What are the elements of your music that, in your opinion, changed (or evolved, if you wish) the most since “Dawnbearer” and why?
Mat has his own strong sound as a songwriter and singer which has always been present in his works, but now his voice as the narrator and storyteller is deeper and clearer, and the band supports his sound and vision. “No Holier Temple” is a story through music but also a step towards future and ideals, not just looking back.
I found particularly intriguing the “spoken” tracks, like the album opener, “Heaven and Earth Magic”, they feel like a prayer, even a shamanic ritual, we could say. As if you were summoning the old gods themselves. How do you manage to bring such magic to Hexvessel‘s sound?
Words, in any language, possess magick when spoken aloud. Humans have invented complicated communication systems that allow us even to talk about the metaphysical, abstract level using simple words. Poems, lyrics, incantations and prayers are initially the same, conjuring an emotion that stands out from the common day routines. Robert Graves calls poems “stored magic”. When you combine that with music, a non-verbal way of expressing emotions, it becomes even better, and the reader and in this case the listener, really completes the circle by joining it.
I’ve read on Svart Record’s press release that the themes of the new album were inspired by eminent figures such as naturalist John Muir and environmental activists Dave Foreman and Howie Wolke. How did you come across their work and in what ways did they influence yours?
I guess we’re all looking for something to hold on to these days, some grab a hold to global capitalism and consumerism, some to religion and some to trying to ignore all that’s happening around us. If you look at it all in the long term, it’s horrible how we’re just speeding up the decline of the Earth while people become more and more concerned about their own short term bliss. Mankind seems to be the worst kind of dictator, spoiling its own valuables. This while technology, ecological and moral thinking are on their height and would enable us to be bit better than that. To strive to do the right thing and leave behind something else than garbage and deserts, some ash in an urn – I guess that’s what it’s about. These guys been doing it, some are still doing it by showing that one man’s passion and vision for the common good – not meaning just the mankind here – can really make a difference. It’s like standing in front of the disfigured old god, and realizing what matters like the last conclusion in Rilke’s poem Archaic Torso of Apollo:
“We cannot know his legendary head with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso is still suffused with brilliance from inside, like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low, gleams in all its power. Otherwise the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could a smile run through the placid hips and thighs to that dark center where procreation flared. Otherwise this stone would seem defaced beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur: would not, from all the borders of itself, burst like a star: for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.”
Speaking of influences, what do you draw inspiration the most for you music?
I think we all bring a bit to the table, but overall you could hear some 60-70′s psychedelic themes and sounds, pagan folk and proto metal shavings and more jazzy spoken word poetry, not to mention just jamming at the Wastement. But most of all, I think we are inspired by literature, history, words and acts of meaning and beauty – and those stories find themselves in musical forms after a while.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Hexvessel has a Tumblr, as well as many other profiles on different social networks. What is your approach to the internet in relation to music?
We embrace internet as great means for interaction and learning. Long gone are the days when people would use all their money and time shuffling through albums and books on Saturdays – it’s all online now. I personally love following blogs and tumblrs for new music and inspiration. One great example is the Youtube channel for Sagan Series, quite epic short videos mashed up of Carl Sagan quotes, audio books, emotional music and excellent video footage. Perfect for the short attention span generation to experience something that you had to really search up before. We also enjoy exchanging music with our fans and friends online by putting up mixtapes of our favorites and receiving back great recommendations of lost and hidden gems so I guess we’re quite social online.
You provide both vocals and percussions for the band. Can you tell us about your musical background and how you got into Hexvessel?
I’m an active music fanatic so I’ve done lots around it, from having the honor to work at a record label with some of the best progressive rock legends in Finland to writing for zines, organizing gigs since early 2000s and taking photos. I loved Mat‘s early demos for Hexvessel and have been quite involved since as a wife, producer, and even devil’s advocate. Lots of Hexvessel material directly relates to the two of us, our life and love so in a sense, we create a lot of it together though Mat is the main vessel. I sing along and play air drums to my fave music so it seemed natural to do that on records and live as well, quite a dream come true.
Director Justin Oakey created a beautiful movie for your song “I Am the Ritual”. How did the collaboration develop?
If you check out Justin’s earlier work, you’ll see what caught our eye when we saw his visuals and he had the same feeling about our work. Mat and Justin see eye to eye so the planning and production of “I Am the Ritual” was very easy and the end result is just amazing. Justin is pretty much a natural extension of the band, he channels the music through the aesthetics. We are so happy to see other bands picking up on Justin‘s talent now.
You recorded a cover of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds” for “Dawnbearer”. Was it a one time tribute or we can expect to see more covers (or even guest musicians) in the future?
It was pretty much essential to have a Paul Simon cover on “Dawnbearer” as his music and especially “Graceland” play such big role in Mat‘s life. I love his take on “Diamonds” – its completely transformed but true to the original lightness of the vocals and story. There is in fact another cover on “Dawnbearer” – “Solomon’s Song” by C.O.B. which is bit more in the vein of the original. We’ve just recently started playing “Solomon’s Song” live which I really enjoy a lot, one of my faves.
You promote the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation through your website and even your T-shirts are created with natural and recycled materials. What do you think is the role of music in raising awareness on environmental problems and the respect for nature?
We owe it to nature so we should give something back, make that difference. To be honest, the nature preservation topic has very little to do with the music itself as we don’t preach or even talk about environmental issues in our songs, but as all art, they can be made into a soundtrack to something that stands for a cause. “Woods to Conjure” video is of that sort, its not directly related to the song’s theme, but seeing those big trees fall makes you feel and think, and the song acts as a doorway to those emotions. We just try to do our part by preferring ecological and sustainable shirts and inks, using recycled paper and cardboard on our CD and LP covers and donating money to the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation that buys forests and swamps to stay forever preserved in their natural state. It’s the little things that count, and in return we can have our walks in the forests and be in awe of those magnificent trees around us.
That’s it, thanks again and we wish you all the best for “No Holier Temple”’s release and your upcoming Finnish tour!
Thank you so much, appreciate the interview and good questions!
Interview by Miriam C.
Transcription by Tony Cannella
Interview Floor Jansen it’s one of my countless dream that I’ve fullfilled, it was fantastic know that her she’s back with ReVamp but at the same time it was hard to ask for me ask some questions about After Forever, I’ve felt, during the interview, her rage talking about Transmission Records and as a fan and chief editor I feel very sorry for this bad story. In the end she was very happy to talk with our webzine. I want say only one thing before you start to read the interview, for all you After Forever fans overthere : Floor has told us (better had begged me) not to buy the new re-release of “Prison Of Desire” because this release it’s practically illegal or better not officially recognized by the band.
Your first album, with Revamp is available from the 26th of May and the first album of your come back since the After Forever split. What was the genesis of this album and what was the right moment when you realized it was the right time to begin this new adventure?
After Forever stopped a year ago now, over a year ago, in the beginning of 2009. I did need some time to sort of mourn that, I was very sad that we stopped. I didn’t want to stop making metal, I did need some time to recover and to think what was next because I studied a lot of different styles, I like a lot of different styles. I had so many amazing reactions from all over the world, asking, “okay, what are you going to do now ?”, that gave me a lot of strength and energy to start working on Revamp, which was April or May of last year, I am very proud that within a year I managed to get from a concept and an idea to an actual release.
I read through Twitter that you were ill?
Yes, I was. It was nothing serious actually, it was just a lump in my throat – not a very pretty story – so I wasn’t really sick, there was just a little thing in my throat that disabled me to sing. I sounded horrible, I sounded as if I would never sing again. It sounded but it didn’t feel bad. I really doubted if I’d be able to sing again. It took over the weekend for me to get back, I don’t even have my full voice back now, I’m just trying to shut up as much as I can (laughs) and take it easy, live healthy and then I’ll be fine on Friday. Yeah, it’s one of those things that when you work hard, your body becomes tired, it loses its resistance, and then all of a sudden, there you are. If I was doing anything other than being a singer then I would have no problem.
Good luck for the release party with the Red Limo String Quartet.
Yeah, I’m so happy they are joining. I really wanted this evening to be special and so many people had a positive response to the shows that I did with them before even though they were After Forever songs, I’m very sure people will appreciate it.
I know that’s hard to talk about and I can understand if you don’t want to answer questions about After Forever anymore.
No it’s okay, I mean for 13 years it was part of my life and part of the reason why Revamp can become successful is because of After Forever. I know a lot of people felt the end came very sudden. We put our explanation on line and a lot of people felt like it wasn’t enough, a lot of people wanted us to do a good bye show and none of that happened. I can imagine that a lot of people are kind of in the dark, how After Forever stopped then you start with something new and it’s not weird that people want to hear that part of the story.
After Forever is and will forever be one of my favorite metal groups, along with Nightwish and Within Temptation. The only thing that’s missing is an After Forever live DVD. Never got a temptation to film one?
We had a many. We had a record company for our first four albums, Transmission Records.
That label, Epica had problems with them too.
Well, Epica had problems, but believe me, we had way worse because we were with this label for much longer, and we couldn’t get away. We wanted to make a live DVD but the label just made it impossible and by the time we were able to when we were with Nuclear Blast, and the time we can start planning for that we stopped playing live. I understand that people want a live DVD; I would have really liked to have it as well. I was hoping we could do a farewell show or farewell tour, but you need six people to agree on that, and the rest didn’t want to.
In the future, will there be any official re-releases of the early After Forever albums?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. The guy who went bankrupt is still in charge of the rights of the CDs, so it is up to him if he wants to release something again or not. That is a very frustrating thing as an artist, to see that your albums are not being made or distributed anymore, or he makes a re-release and he re-masters something or puts more crap on it then re-sells it, he puts After Forever on it but then it is something we never really wanted. I don’t know how the future will look when it comes to this, because the guy who owns it, I’m sorry to say, but he’s crazy. I don’t know, I have to admit that it got to such a negative energy that I stopped running after it, because it is useless, there is nothing to do about it.
I have a question about the cover. Who is the creator and what does it symbolize to you?
Well, it’s not a literal symbol for something. It’s more that I wanted the cover to be very aggressive and dark with a feminine edge with a lot of bright colors (white and pink). I saw a picture in a magazine actually, where that was one image with more pictures morphed into one, I really liked that idea, so I asked the team who made that picture, “can you do my art work?” so yeah they created that image out of pictures of me. I never wanted to be on one my own albums, but the way it’s done now, it’s not like typical singer on the cover thing, and it’s really integrated artwork. I’m really happy with it.
If I define your style as Gothic or Symphonic metal, is that right or is there something you would add?
We can be Gothic as far I am concerned. I never understood what Gothic or our music has to do with each other (laughs).
Can you talk a little about the lyrics behind the songs?
The lyrics all have different subjects. Some are more written by personal subjects, others are written about what is happening in the world. Three are connected to one theme though, “In Sickness Till Death Do Us Part”, they are three songs that deal with the subject of a person being very sick without ever being healthy again. The only thing left for him or her is death and this process is seen through different eyes and different moments in those three songs. “I Lost Myself” for instance, the piano ballad at the very end of the album that is a more personal song.
The album has three guest stars on the album. Russell Allen of Symphony X, Bjorn Strid of Soilwork and George Oosthoek formerly of Orphanage. How was working with them?
With all three of them I didn’t work personally with them. George came to the studio on a day I couldn’t be there, but he did come to the same studio that I did my vocals at here in the Netherlands. He sings on the song, “Here’s My Hell” which was basically done but we felt we were missing something, we missed growls. I called him because I knew him when he was in Orphanage. Russell Allen I met on the Arjen Lucassen’s Star One tour in 2003 and we stayed in touch ever since. We’ve always had the intention to record something together and when I was writing, “Sweet Curse” it felt like the perfect time for that. Bjorn of Soilwork I never actually met before, I am a big Soilwork fan though, it was actually the record company who recommended him for that part, they contacted him and I got a message from him the very same day that he really liked the song and liked my voice and was happy to work on it. So that was very cool.
Do you have any promotional video clips planned?
No, nothing yet.
Let’s talk about the present line-up. Are they only live members or in the future will they be considered the definitive ReVamp Line-up?
Yeah, the ReVamp members that I played with live today are the ReVamp members. I started with them more as a project. I got the name, I had a plan for the art work and the music and I thought, “okay, how do I get this done fast and good”, so I started to work with two other songwriters that I knew, of course it is never a guarantee that it will work, but fortunately for me, it did. We also recorded the album together with a studio drummer and at the same time we started to look for band members, and the guys who are now in the band are the ones that I want to continue with. ReVamp is not a solo thing, but it is initiated by me, I am sort of the captain of the ship. We are doing this together and hopefully we will be able to write the next album together.
Talk about your plans for the future…
I have some things in the pipeline but nothing is concrete yet. The main thing we are focused on is doing a tour in Europe – hopefully Italy as well. It is definitely important that ReVamp crosses the border soon and we probably will be supporting a bigger band in Europe, and there is a lot of interest coming from South America as well. Nothing is 100% yet.
Never thought about just publish a live album with the Red Limo String Quartet?
I did, but because After Forever just stopped, it wasn’t something that was on my main priority list. I was working hard to set up a new band and After Forever stopped. To release something with After Forever songs, the rest of the guys didn’t really want that.
Thank you for the interview, Floor.
Thank you spreading the ReVamp word in Italy.
Label : earMUSIC
Review by Tony Cannella
Based on the strength of two very good solo albums, Tarja Turunen has managed to escape the shadow of her previous band Nightwish, and the time is coming where we won’t use Tarja and Nightwish in the same sentence – as often as we do, anyway. Of course it doesn’t hurt that she has surrounded herself with great musicians and songwriters, but at the end of the day it is that voice. Her vocals are and always have been captivating and she has always managed to come through in a live setting as well – and if there are ever questions about her stage presence than watch the Nightwish DVD “End of an Era” (oops, sorry, starting now we can stop mentioned her and her previous band in the same sentence) and that will put those questions to bed. Or you can watch this. Her first official solo DVD/live album “Act I”. The show was filmed and recorded over two nights in March 2012 in Argentina and really features a comprehensive cross section of Tarja’s solo musical career. The CD contains 24-songs spread out over two discs. The track “Anteroom of Death” is a dynamic set opener as the show gets rolling. “Falling Awake”, “I Walk Alone” (just a great song and an obvious crowd favorite) and “Little Lies” are crowd pleasers as well. “Into the Sun” is a brand-new track that is quite good. It has a “Sleeping Sun” vibe to it and definitely fits right in there with her other material – this for me was a huge highlight. To her credit, Tarja has not relied on her Nightwish past; instead she showcases the plethora of strong material she has built up on “Act I”. The only Nightwish song that she performs is “Nemo” from the “Once” album and it is obvious from the recognizable piano intro this song really gets the audience’s attention and it’s no wonder why the fans love this song so much – it is just a classic. The cover of Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night” is also performed and for me it is one of the down moments. I always thought it was an odd choice of songs to cover – I thought it sounded okay on the album but live it just doesn’t translate; maybe her version of Alice Cooper’s “Poison” would have been a better selection. Both solo albums are well represented and performed. Another highlight is the medley of “Where Were You Last Night”, Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” and Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. The cover of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Phantom of the Opera” is excellent as well as closing trio of “Die Alive”, “Until My Last Breath” and the closing number a cover of Gary Moore’s “Over the Hills and Far Away” brings this album/concert to an excellent conclusion with the fans obviously still wanting more. Tarja can definitely deliver the goods live – that has never been a question throughout her career. The pacing of the CD is very well done and it is cool to see how these songs lend themselves to a live environment. For the most part, very well; “Act I” is a good – not great – live album.
Rating – 80/100
- Anteroom of Death
- Falling Awake
- I Walk Alone
- Little Lies
- Into the Sun
- Never Enough
- Still of the Night
- In For A Kill
- My Little Phoenix
- Dark Star
- Boy and the Ghost
- Lost Northern Star
- Ciaran’s Well
- Tired of Being Alone
- Where Were You Last Night – Heaven Is a Place on Earth – Living On a Prayer
- Oasis – The Archive of Lost Dreams
- Crimson Deep
- The Phantom of the Opera
- Die Alive
- Until My Last Breath
- Over the Hills and Far Away
- Tarja Turunen – Vocals
- Alex Scholpp – Guitars
- Christian Kretschmar – Keyboards
- Max Lilja – Cello
- Kevin Chown – Bass
- Mike Terrana – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
- Mystery Blue – “Conquer the World” (2013)
- Orianthi – “Heaven in This Hell” (2013)
- Pamela Moore – “Resurrect Me” (2013)
- Dante Fox – “Lost Man’s Ground” (2012)
- A Persuasive Reason – “A Persuasive Reason” EP (2013)
- The Reasoning – “And Another Thing…” EP (2012)
- HUNTRESS & GOLD @ 013, Tilburg, THE NETHERLANDS 08/06/2013
- Anneke Van Giersbergen
- Noora Louhimo – Battle Beast
- Leah – “Of Earth & Angels” (2013)
- Kells – “Anachromie” (2012)
- Tristania – “Darkest White” (2013)
- Infinitus Mortus – “The Conspiracy of Love” (2012)
- Illuminata – “A World So Cold” (2011)
- Hitherside – “Hitherside” EP (2012)
- Hanging Doll – “The Sacred & Profane” (2012)
- Edenbridge – “The Bonding” (2013)
- Delain – “Interlude” (2013)
- Emily Lazar – September Mourning
- Ashley Costello – New Years Day
- Androniki Skoula – Chaostar
- Arkona – “Decade of Glory” LIVE (2013)
- Оксидерика – “Step to Darkness” (2013)
- Chaostar – “Anomima” (2013)
- Helalyn Flowers – “White Me In Black Me Out” (2013)
- My Ruin – “The Sacred Mood” (2013)
- Belladonna – “Shooting Dice With God” (2013)
- Visions of Atlantis – “Ethera” (2013)
- Upon Wings – “Afterlife” EP (2013)
- Maxine Petrucci – “Back to the Garden” (2013)