Interview by Danny Robertson, Marc Sels & Miriam C.
We spoke to Jessica from German folk metal act Lyriel to get the story behind the new album “Paranoid Circus” and more news about the band.
How did the band first get together?
Lyriel was formed in autumn of 2003. Oliver, Sven and Dani had been in a band called Sorrowsend. Oliver decided to found a side project with me and the other Sorrowsend-members joined the new project. We chose to add some other instruments and Lyriel was born.
Who are your main influences as a band?
Partially our music is inspired of the fantasy world and other musicians in this scene. It is sometimes not easy to find music that contains all our musical taste. We try to find a way and solution that is based on this concept. But we try also to develop our own kind of music and style. This is the idea behind Lyriel.
How long did it take to write and record “Paranoid Circus”?
The creative process just began after the release of “Autumntales”. So we worked almost three years at this album. It sounds very long but a great attention to detail costs a lot of time and gives the album that certain something. We haven’t got that possibility at the first two albums.
Are there any musicians that you admire?
There are a lot of good musicians in this world but I don’t admire anyone special.
What are the album’s main themes and concepts?
The main themes are several situations in life and its consequences and also personal experiences.
What inspired the album’s title?
We thought that “Paranoid Circus” is the suitable title of the sometimes paranoid situations of life which we described in the songs.
What would you say are the main differences between the new album and previous releases?
“Paranoid Circus” sounds mellower. The first two albums were more an expedition of our own style and sound. Something what can be recognised with Lyriel. Our music gets more folk-influences and less of the Middle Ages. “Paranoid Circus” sounds modern and different as “Autumntales” or “Prisonworld”.
Do you prefer to play live on stage or the studiowork (recording, writing new songs, rehearsals…)?
I, personally, prefer to play live on stage. I’m never satisfied when I’m singing in the studio. My voice is much better with a bit of adrenalin in it .
On the first CD there was a song in Elvish. Are you a Tolkien-fan? If yes, did you like the Lord of the Rings-movies?
I think we all are little Tolkien-fans but not fanatic. It was just an idea and the speech sounds very interesting. I like the movies and they are in my personal collection.
You played with Sabine Dünser, and she was a guest on the first CD. How was she to tour and work with?
Sabine was one of the nicest persons I’ve ever met. She was so native and we had the luck, to meet such a person on our first tour. She liked our music. One evening on the toilet, I catched her, singing “The Crown of the Twilight”. This was very funny. We were so delighted that she followed our invite to sing on the album. Although she was a little ill, she gave her best and brought her ideas into the melodies of the song. We miss her!
Are there any interesting young female fronted bands in Germany?
Oh – there are so many, like Xandria, Leaves Eyes, Jennifer Rostock etc.
Which current acts would you say you share the most common ground with?
Blackmore’s Night, The Gathering, Loreena McKennitt, Xandria, Within Temptation.
What is the band’s greatest aim/ambition?
We try to reach as many people all over the world with our music.
Where the fans can buy the “Live auf Burg Greifenstein 2005″ DVD and if it is sold out, as expected, shall is planned to publish out like a rerelease?
I’m sorry, it isn’t planned at the moment, to re-release it but it is available at YouTube.
What’s next for the band? Where can we next expect to see you perform?
We plan to produce a video of one of the songs. Anyway a tour to present “Paranoid Circus” is planned for this year and a few live dates are already fixed: 30.04.2010: Walpurgisnacht 2010, Bockwitz/Ger 02.-04.07.2010: 2. Bordun Rocknächte, Halle/Ger 11.-12.09.2010: Rollfeld Festival, Großhain Airport/Ger
Is music an escape from reality, or does it have to be critical concerning political and society?
Music is my passion. I just love to sing. Most of the lyrics are written by Linda and she described the critic on the society sometimes. I think one song of “Paranoid Circus” “Welcome” describes the whole feeling we have for music very well. (“Healing just as ruin – but it´s worth the fall it´s our last escape”).
What is for you the cd, movie, book and live show of 2009?
More a book then a movie. Most of the lyrics base on personal experiences but not only of 2009.
Any last messages for people?
We like to greet and thank all our fans. We know that they had to wait more than three years for a follower of “Autumntales”. Thank you for your patience! We hope “Paranoid Circus” can compensate this. Please visit our pages (below you can find the links). There you can listen to our music.
Interview by Robin Stryker
I became hopelessly addicted to the American melodic rock band, Hydrovibe, the first time I heard its new full-length debut, “Nothing Left to Lose”. The album has everything I look for in top-notch rock — muscular vocals that are packed with emotion (think Joplin), bristling guitar-driven music, and lyrics that connect with something deep inside. Thank goodness vocalist Heather St. Marie continued singing, despite being told early on that her voice was “just too low” and perhaps she should take up the piano instead. Apparently to hear Hydrovibe is to become hooked, even in the jaded world of Hollywood. The first week after Heather and Mat Dauzat (guitars and vocals) moved to Los Angeles, Sharon and Kelly Osbourne hand-picked Mat to play lead guitar for the world tour of Kelly’s album “Shut Up”. Likewise, actress Shawnee Smith (who plays Amanda Young in the “Saw” movies) fell in love with Hydrovibe and urged the director to check out a live show. Needless to say, he also fell under the band’s spell, and the movie studio invited Hydrovibe to write “Killer Inside” for the “Saw III” soundtrack and to record a music video with Shawnee on guest vocals for the Director’s Cut DVD. Read on to find out what makes this band so irresistible.
Heather and Mat, welcome to Femme Metal! We’re so glad you could talk with us today.
Heather: Thank you very much for this interview and your support.
First things first, please tell us about Hydrovibe’s new album. Why did you choose the title, “Nothing Left to Lose”?
Heather: This album tells the story of sacrificing everything to realize childhood dreams. Our quest to follow this crazy goal of ours has seen its fair share of amazing highs and some very trying lows. It’s amazing how liberating it can be when you literally have nothing left to lose. Your actions and intentions are no longer influenced by the prospect of consequence. It is humanity broken down to its purest and most basic level. In that broken-down state, it becomes apparent what is truly important in life, and one tends to re-prioritize accordingly. It allows for discovery of an inner strength and passion to TRULY LIVE. Not only does “Nothing Left to Lose” sum up and aptly title our first full-length album effort, it is our battle cry in approaching the music business in general. We truly have nothing left to lose, which allows us to leap without looking into this dog-eat-dog music business. We remain fearless and persevere in the music business as the major label giants continue to fall and the economy has taken a turn for the worst — not because we are smarter or better than anyone else, but because our priorities are different. We keep the MUSIC and the PASSION at the forefront as we continue this journey; the business part is…well…JUST BUSINESS!
The album’s songs run the gamut of emotions — love, hate, frustration, hope, rage and grace. To what extent are the songs based on your own experiences?
Heather: TO THE FULLEST EXTENT! All of our songs have very personal and special meaning to me in some way or another. Most of them deal with struggles in our musical quest or some sort of personal past experience. I have also drawn lyrical inspiration from close friends’ experiences as well….I don’t want every one of our songs to sound like a page pulled from Heather’s diary!
What are your musical backgrounds, and have you been involved in any other projects (musical or otherwise)?
Mat: I’ve wanted to be a guitarist for as long as I can remember. I’d sneak into my older brothers’ room when I was just a baby and listen to their albums… imagining what it would be like to play the songs on guitar. At 3 years old, I began teaching myself to play piano. I’ve always had a very good ear and could repeat what I heard, so I began learning whole songs on piano by ear while still in diapers. One day while playing around in our attic, I found an old acoustic guitar and immediately began actually playing those Led Zeppelin songs from my brothers’ albums, which totally freaked my brothers out. From that moment on, I was glued to the guitar. I toyed around with a couple of bands in high school, but nothing really serious. Hydrovibe was really my first band. Since moving to Los Angeles, I have branched out a little — touring the world with Kelly Osbourne for a couple of years and working with actress/singer/songwriter Schuyler Fisk. I work with a few other artists as well but Hydrovibe is and always has been the main focus… and fortunately takes up the majority of my time!
Heather: I grew up in South Louisiana where Classic Rock rules, so it wasn’t until high school that I realized that the music I was hearing on the radio (Rush, Led Zep, Sabbath, Boston, 38 Special, etc) was not current music! I think these bands gave me a solid foundation on song structure, catchy vocal melodies, harmonies, etc that are key elements to Hydrovibe’s writing style. I also played French Horn throughout my schooling, which not only perfected my pitch but opened up the world of classical music. I believe this taught me the importance of layering parts (another crucial element to Hydrovibe songs — both musically and vocally) … when NOT to sing so that the music can breathe … and how to have drama in your music. Drama is epic and passion is key. We like to take the listener with us on an emotional musical journey, in both songwriting and through live performances. Like I mentioned, I did play French Horn for years but Hydrovibe is the only band I’ve ever been in. Until this, I only sang for fun. I have a few creative side projects in the works — both musically and non-musically. I’m an eternal artist at my core, so I created heatherskingdom.com as a catch-all for my random artistic endeavours. Be looking for some very cool new music, art, and clothing randomness coming soon!
You have both been passionate about music since you were barely out of diapers. What is your favourite musical memory from childhood?
Mat: Finding that old acoustic guitar in the attic!
Heather: I can remember singing along to The Beatles records my Mom had in a big trunk; I loved the way the records sounded. I would get so excited when she’d put the needle down… My mom told me that I was only about 2 years old at that point. I started reading at an early age, so when I was in 1st grade I was chosen as a representative for a Literacy Community Service Project. I got to go to the local radio station and read the news on-air. The radio station fascinated me …. being near all that music and such a powerful hub of broadcast was a very cool experience at such a young age. That surely was an important event on my way toward discovering my passion for a career in music.
Hydrovibe just released “Nothing Left to Lose” in Japan. How did that come about, and what has your reception been like?
Mat: We’ve always known that Japan would probably be a very good market for us. When I got word that I was going to Tokyo to do a promo tour with my friend Schuyler Fisk to support her album release in Japan, I immediately began scheduling label meetings for Hydrovibe. Schuyler and I did 8 shows in 3 days, and somehow I was able to schedule meetings with the top 3 record labels over there between shows. Crazy! Even crazier — I was able to score us a deal with our first-choice label as well! The response has been overwhelming! We have big spreads in almost every major music magazine over there, we have end-caps and listening stations in every major music retailer there, and we are actually getting radio play — which is almost impossible for a new non-Japanese band! We are very excited to hear how the sales are going over there!
I’ve always wondered, why do Japanese releases have at least one bonus track that is not on the European and American releases?
Mat: The reason is that in Japan, the CD is still a viable PRODUCT. Here, a band’s CD is almost becoming like a business card… given away for cheap or free in hopes to bolster the band’s popularity and assist in bringing more fans to shows — where the band hopes to make some money on merchandise sales. In Japan, THEY STILL BUY CDs!!! As the mom-and-pop CD shops and the giant retailers such as Virgin and Tower are almost all gone here in the States, the retailers in Japan are all still thriving. You can’t walk two city blocks in Tokyo without seeing some sort of music retailer! Additionally, they sell CDs there for an average price equivalent to $25 USD. Since so much value is placed on the CD as a commercial product, they pay special attention to make sure that there is adequate perceived value. So, they include additional artwork, printed lyric inserts – both in English and Japanese, additional credits and thanks, and some sort of additional content beyond what is on the non-Japanese versions (bonus tracks, music video, etc.). Our Japanese release of “Nothing Left to Lose” has all of the above and includes “Killer Inside” as the bonus track. HMV went a step further to include a free Hydrovibe download card with every album purchase, that allowed them to download the radio mix of our single “Fame” as well as some other content. Diskunion (a big retailer there) went even farther, packaging a free DVD with our music video for “Killer Inside” with each Hydrovibe album purchase. Pretty cool!
Let’s go back in time to 2002 when you both moved from a small town in Louisiana to Los Angeles (equivalent distance-wise to moving from Moscow to London). Why did you relocate the band, and what was the biggest shock once you arrived in Los Angeles?
Heather: Biggest shock? COST OF LIVING! In Louisiana, I was living in a very nice 1,000 square foot [93 square meter] two-bedroom apartment with a huge balcony overlooking nature for $400 per month….my first 600 square foot [56 square meter] one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles cost me $900!!! We knew we had to make a big move to really give our dreams a fighting chance. We were located in a small town in Louisiana, and we were trying to find the right musicians to complete Hydrovibe’s lineup, but were having no luck. We had plenty of interest nationally, but asking people to relocate to our small town was a very hard sell. We knew we needed to move to a more major metropolitan area, so places like Nashville, Dallas, and Austin became attractive possibilities until the band could ultimately make the move out to where the heart of the music industry is located – Los Angeles. When it came time to make a move, however, we said “screw it – if we are going to make a move, LET’S GO ALL THE WAY!!!”. Why make a step toward moving to Los Angeles, when we can just MOVE TO LOS ANGELES! We officially relocated to L.A. at the beginning of September of 2002.
Which Hydrovibe songs best describe where you were in your lives a few years ago, compared to now?
Heather: “Shallow Grave” describes my frustration and desperation to be discovered a few years ago. Funny thing is, we were discovered by a major label and we were introduced to some less-than-savory aspects of the music business that made us rethink everything and follow the independent, grass-roots approach. Now, I’d say that “Liberation” best describes how I’m feeling these days — “through pain we grow!” Our story is nothing special — everyone has to jump through their own set of hoops in life. You just take what you can from the experiences and LIVE! This album sums up a huge chapter in my life, and as I segue into the next chapter, I summed up these experiences (as well as the album “Nothing Left to Lose”) with “Liberation’s” hopeful sentiment “NOW LIFE CAN BEGIN!”. We’ve re-prioritized our lives and are eagerly leaping head-first into this next chapter of Hydrovibe’s story.
If you could give one piece of advice to a fledgling band, what would it be?
Mat: Prepare yourself for the long-haul. Successes are not built overnight. The rare few bands that do blow up quickly, always fizzle just as fast. Statistically speaking, successes are usually seen after a strong 10-year effort. Scary? Only if you are in it for the success and not the pursuit of happiness through the expression of your art!
It seems that one of the biggest challenges when you moved to LA was finding musicians who were the right “fit” for Hydrovibe. What were you looking for, and what made Eliot Lorango (bass) and Philippe Mathys (drums) right for the band?
Mat: Whew…that was A LONG SEARCH!!! When Heather and I agreed that Los Angeles was going to be the place to find the right drummer and bass player to complete Hydrovibe, we had no idea what a tough proposition that was going to be! hahaha In all fairness, though, we had almost-unreasonable standards. Not only did we need two highly-skilled musicians with looks that fit the band’s image; we insisted that we find people with a solid character, and strong moral fiber, and good chemistry all-around. We knew that we were going to basically be living together in a van on tour for quite a long time, so keeping the high standard would eliminate problems down the road. For that reason, it took us the better part of a year and a half to find the right people, but it is by far one of the best business decisions we’ve ever made. Plus, not only were we able to complete our band with the perfect members, we added two dear family members into our personal lives.
The members of Hydrovibe often talk about how supportive and tightly-knit everyone is. What is the secret to keeping friendship alive, when you are literally living on top of each other for months at a time while touring?
Heather: Love and laughter. Even in the low times, we are somehow able to keep each other in good spirits through laughter and genuine support. We are certainly a tight unit and all rally behind one another in times of need … it is really heart-warming to experience, and necessary to keep it together in the sometimes mind-numbing world of tour!
Speaking of touring, I suspect that many people think that being on tour is all about riding from city to city on a luxury bus, giving interviews, and sipping mineral water backstage until you perform. Can you give us an idea of what a typical day on tour is really like?
Heather: You wake up in an unfamiliar hotel room sometime just before noon, pack your stuff, check email, look up the venue’s address for the night to put into the GPS, and run downstairs to check out. The band convenes in the lobby to discuss how far the drive is to the venue, whether or not we are being fed at the venue, or any other pertinent show info, and we jump in the van to begin the trek. While en route, one of us gets online to do all the show promotions — MySpace bulletins, Twitter, Facebook, Hydrovibe.com posts, etc. We then do any radio or local news interviews… or any other press-related promotion our publicist scheduled for us that day. We then take the time to respond to any MySpace or Hydrovibe email questions waiting in our inbox with whatever remaining time we have on the drive. When we get to the venue, the guys begin unloading gear while I set up the merch display. As they are setting up on stage, I’m doing merch inventory and accounting. Then we sound check and break for dinner. While waiting for the show to start, we discuss whether we are staying in town or making a drive that night. One of us then gets online to find a hotel for the night, while we make set lists for the show. Anyone who has been to one of our shows knows that we support every band we play with, so you’ll see Hydrovibe members up front listening to a good portion of each opening bands’ sets. Then comes the show part … we always laugh because we work long hours, but the ACTUAL PERFORMANCE aspect of our day lasts an average of 45 minutes to an hour! After our set is over, I run to the merch booth to meet fans while the guys break down the gear. When the gear is secured, the band all converges at the merch booth to meet fans and sign autographs. When the last fan leaves the building, the guys begin loading the gear out of the venue while I do some quick accounting and pack up the merch. Then we leave the venue to go crash in another unfamiliar hotel room. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Hydrovibe has a devoted fanbase, with people driving hundreds of kilometres to catch a show and getting themselves tattooed with the band’s logo. Why do you think fans feel such a strong connection to Hydrovibe?
Heather: I’ve found that fans gain strong connections to our songs and find personal meanings in the lyrics. We are told often by fans that our songs have moved them to do great things in their lives or that certain songs have helped them through harsh life experiences or that they have linked great events in their lives to one of our songs. I also think that fans feel a strong connection to Hydrovibe because we have made it a point to make strong connections with the fans. We personally answer each and every MySpace message, emails or any correspondence with fans. It takes a long time, but it is important to us to listen to the fans, take inspiration from their stories, and give them a platform for their voices to be heard. As a completely independent band, without fan support, we could not possibly move forward. Our fans are truly near and dear to us and we are excited to bring them along with us on our journey!
What is the most extreme thing a fan has done to show his or her appreciation for your music?
Mat: I’d have to say that the most extreme thing I’ve seen is the Hydrovibe logo tattooed completely across a fan’s forearm! It’s HUGE! And quality work, I might add. There are plenty of other extreme shows of support (including several other cool tattoos), but that’s the most extreme I’ve seen yet.
The band was an early adopter of social media, like MySpace. In what ways (good or bad) has the Internet changed the landscape for musicians?
Mat: As an independent band, we have to keep our band current with any and every social media site that pops up to ensure that every possible outlet to reach fans is being utilized. It can be exhausting at times as you can imagine, but necessary for business. For us independent bands, social media sites have been a blessing … we can make our music available to the larger general public free of charge. For major labels, however, the social media sites were a bit of a nail in their coffin. No longer did they hold all the keys when it came to bands being able to get their music to the general public. With these social media sites, it has become much more of a level playing field. Fans can discover new music 24/7 with the click of a mouse. We no longer need the major label giant dinosaurs to help us reach the public, so now it’s about making good music and touring your ass off to support the music.
Most new bands half-kill themselves chasing the big record labels. Why did Hydrovibe choose to go the indie route, after landing a deal with a major label?
Heather: Our hunt, chase, and capture of the major label was a huge learning experience for us. Through that experience, we learned that our focus was all wrong. We were spending way too much time courting and catering to the music industry instead of focusing on what matters the most …. THE FANS! We decided to shift our attention from the music industry back to the music itself and the fans who so deserve our attention. Once we made that our focus, we began seeing progress in leaps and bounds. Some sort of healthy partnership with a major label in the near future is not out of the question, but we are unwilling to do anything that impedes forward progress or would divert focus from our music and our fans. We are devoted.
Comparing the three tracks that are on both the 2006 “Killer Inside” EP and the new “Nothing Left to Lose” album, the new versions sound fiercer and musically thicker. Are my ears playing tricks on me, or were the songs re-recorded/remixed? If so, why?
Mat: Good ear, Robin! Yes, those songs were completely re-worked and re-recorded. When we recorded the EP, we had only been a band for about 3 months. Once we got Eliot in the band, we went straight into pre-production and hit the studio 3 months later. We actually went into the studio planning to record our album, but during mixing we got word that our song “Killer Inside” was going to be featured in the movie “SAW III” and the “SAW III” Soundtrack in a month’s time, so we packaged the 5 songs we had finished and put out the “Killer Inside” EP to capitalize on the exposure. We then hit the road for almost 2 years in support of the EP, playing all the songs that were to be on our album nightly. Needless to say, the band got much stronger on the road, and our songs took on lives of their own on stage nightly. When we got back to Los Angeles to finish our album, we knew that in fairness to the songs, we must scrap the previous recordings and re-record these stronger and more powerful versions for the album. Sure, it costs us much more time and money, but we are extremely pleased with the result!
What are Hydrovibe’s plans for 2010 and beyond?
Heather: Well, definitely touring here in the U.S. and hopefully some in Japan as well. We have also begun setting our sights on a UK release of “Nothing Left to Lose”. With all the excitement and press associated with the Japanese release, we have seen some interest by labels in the UK, and we have begun discussing details and laying out the strategy. So, if all goes to plan, we’ll be able to release in the UK soon and (fingers crossed) tour there by the end of 2010! After that will be Germany, then Australia, and we’ll continue to lock down territories to release “Nothing Left to Lose” and spread the reach of Hydrovibe!
Thank you very much, Heather and Mat. Do you have any parting words for your fans at Femme Metal?
Heather: Thank you, Robin… and everyone at Femme Metal! We appreciate the exposure and support! To all the fans, please continue to support independent music — buy your favorite indie bands’ CDs or merch … it goes farther toward their success than you’d think. And please continue to support Femme Metal … supporting Femme Metal = supporting independent music. Femme Metal is doing incredible work to assist independent female-fronted bands in getting their music distributed and heard, and using proceeds to support charity! Amazing! Femme Metal, WE SALUTE YOU! Thank you.
Label : Spider Rock Promotions
Review by Tony Cannella
Italy’s Symphonic/Gothic metal duo Evergaze Eternity began in 2007. In 2009 they released their “Incompatible Existences” demo. This brings us to 2011 and their full-length debut “Uninvolved”. The band is led by two main members. Valeria Salerno on vocals and Giovanni Ferranti on synths comprise the duo that makes up Evergaze Eternity. Some guest musicians were included to help round out the band on “Uninvolved”. From the very outset, “Uninvolved” is fueled by heavy guitar riffs and pounding rhythms, with the high-pitched vocals of Valeria Salerno leading the charge. The opening trio of “No Regrets”, “Insane” and “Crumbling” starts “Uninvolved” off with a good shot of adrenaline. For “In a Corner”, Evergaze Eternity is joined by Eldritch front man Terence Holler. This is one of the highlights and the song has a bit of a “Countdown to Extinction” era Megadeth vibe. Another highlight is a surprising cover of the Madonna song “Live to Tell”. As one would expect, this is a totally metalized version of this song that bears little resemblance to the original. The song is hallmarked by some plodding Black Sabbath style guitar riffs and some cool Type O Negative-ish keyboard parts. Evergaze Eternity has totally made this song their own and it blows away the original (in my opinion). Other significant moments include: “In Vain”, “Memories” and “Still Waiting”. My one complaint – and this is just my opinion – is that perhaps, just maybe the songs are all in a similar vein and there is no real variety throughout. Again, that is just my opinion and fans may love the barrage of heavy riffs contained on “Uninvolved”. One thing is for sure, there is no lack of energy and enthusiasm displayed by Evergaze Eternity. This band from Italy I am sure will be heard from in the future and prove they have a lot to offer the metal community.
Rating – 73/100
- No Regrets
- In a Corner (feat. Terence Holler of Eldritch)
- In Vain
- Live to Tell (Madonna cover)
- The Hive
- Still Waiting
- Valeria Salerno – Lead and Backing Vocals
- Giovanni Ferranti – Synths, FX, Programming
- Marco Ribecai – All guitars and Bass (except “Memories”) & Additional FX and programming (Additional Musician)
- Lorenzo Carpita – Bass on “Memories” (Additional Musician)
- Dave Simeone – Drums and percussions (Additional Musician)
Interview by Matteo Bussotti
The debut album is of course an extremely difficult task for every band; we must say Siren’s Cry completed this task with excellent results. Their first album, “Scattered Horizons”, is a powerful example of what prog-metal should sound like. Siren’s Cry frontman…I mean, frontWOMAN, Katie Joanne, is a very peculiar character: grown up in a family filled up with classical music, she one day decided to completely change path and follow the “prog-metal way”. Reading about her childhood, about her experiences and Siren’s Cry‘s ones was really interesting, and we are here to share them with you. Let’s not wait one more second and read what Katie has to say to you!
Hi Katie! We’re very proud and honored to have you here at Femme Metal! So, how was having your first album released after so much efforts?
Hi Matteo! Thank you, the pleasure is on my side! I am glad that our debut album is finished and I can leave it now for what it is: the powerful start of a great journey. I’m really excited to continue the journey and sail away to “new horizons”.
Do you already have an idea of what’s going to be in the next album? Have you already started composing something, or maybe is there any song you composed which wasn’t included in “Scattered Horizons” and which we may see in future releases?
Definitely yes! We are already preparing new material. There are many parts and even finished songs we didn’t put on “Scattered Horizons” due to lack of space! The album would have gotten too long and we wanted to show as many facets as possible, so that the listeners get a chance to hear and feel what Siren’s Cry is all about. Take Sahara Sagas for instance, which is a trilogy. The first part can be found on “Scattered Horizons”, while the remaining songs will find a home on future albums, along with other songs that didn’t make it so far.
How was growing up in a family filled up with music? We know your grandfather is an awesome violin player and your father was a ballet dancer at the Volskoper. You sure had a lot of pressure on you!
Yes, both my father and my grandfather were really passionate artists. Living in such a family is not much different from others. I would say you just have different interests than other children and this is often a point where you are left alone when you say “No, I don’t want to play with dolls, I want to play piano”. It often happens that you have to sacrifice something in order to have enough time to practice. However, if you really want to do this and you want to grow as musician it is necessary and if you are aware of this, it’s not a big sacrifice in the end.
We know you’ve had a quite difficult, or “challenging” childhood, musically speaking. You played different instruments, you entered in a music school, although at the beginning you weren’t as good as the other students and had to really work hard to keep up the peace. Later, you found out you wanted to be a “prog-metalhead”! How did your father react to this? Can you tell us more about your childhood?
I don’t think I have so many stories for you about my childhood, but yes, my dad went bananas as he heard that I decided to be a prog-head, because Vienna is very conservative and it is often a challenge to make your parents and friends understand why you have to do this whole stuff about making your own music. My childhood was not very easy but I’m happy for all lessons life has taught me and I don’t get back to those times anymore, because future lies ahead and not behind, so I’m always moving forward with no regrets!
What have you learnt from music school? I mean in terms of “not giving up” etc. As I said before, I guess it was a quite challenging period of time!
I studied music theory, learned playing the piano and started to study opera and classical chant and all other things you need to use as tools for composing… and beside that, I would say I learned a lot about discipline, about the spirit of art and music itself and how to move beyond my limitations.. There is no “I can’t”, there is only “I will”.
How do you feel now that all your efforts have brought you here, with a successful band, a great album (seriously, it’s great, I have to say it),and the opportunity to do what you really like?
First of all thank you very much for the compliment, I really appreciate it and am sure that the boys also do! I think we are no superstars now and when the first album is finished, the real work begins. Until the stone keeps rolling by itself it is a very long way. It is a lot of hard work to live your dream, we live a normal life like everyone else, we pay our rent, we go to work, we definitely don’t get anything for free, so it’s not as easy as it often seems. On the one hand there is all the energy, effort and of course passion and love straight from your heart you put into your work, on the other hand there is support and response that we get from each other and of course from our fans. I think this is the biggest reason for our success and we really appreciate it.
What can you tell us about Siren’s Cry members? How’s the “group’s alchemy”?
The band’s alchemy is excellent! We are a great team with aspiring and extraordinarily talented musicians who really appreciate each other! I don’t want to seem arrogant, I just want you to understand how happy I am about my instrumentalists and how proud and honored I am to work with them. The vocalist is often put to the front and all eyes are just on him, but I really have to remember that a vocalist without good instrumentalists is nothing! Only emphatic and musically sensual instrumentalists can highlight a voice wherever necessary, so I’m really thankful about my team. I have a lot of space to do what I want as a singer and as a songwriter, but if you want to know more, check out our upcoming “Making of”! People will get the chance to know a lot of things about the way we work! It will be available soon on our website (www.sirenscry.com).
Has there ever been a point when you thought you’d take another direction, trying maybe another musical style or genre (Even if I can’t imagine you playing Reggae or Pop, for example!)?
All of us have a lot of projects going on beside the band and also give lessons. Because of our students, we often get in touch with alternative, pop and soul music, some of us have classical projects, or have also a second or a third band. We are open minded and interested in all kinds of music.
I’m a great fan of HP Lovecraft, so, as you can imagine, I kinda got very excited when I read (and listened to) “Elegy of R’lyeh”! So, how did this Lovecraft reference found its place in your album? And so, who are your favorite writers, and how do they influence your lyrics (I mean, how do, if they do, affect you choice of words, your language and the themes of your songs)?
I must say that at first, I didn’t want to read Lovecraft because I was a little bit scared. But one day, Michael came up with some story about “R’lyeh”, a city under the water, evil gods waiting to rise up. He showed us the piano theme during a rehearsal break and suddenly I was obsessed with this melody. Michael didn’t expect such a huge reaction from us, but it was like taking deep breath of fresh air! He showed us the first parts, including the main theme, some little bits and the great chorus! He was not sure what to do with this little bits between the main melody and the chorus, so I just grabbed it and created immediately a verse and a bridge with some little arrangement changes, and there we had the first two minutes of the song! I was hypnotized by the sound and the writing process was so easy going and natural, an excellent feeling! I realized I had to read this book. Writing this song was one of the best moments I had during the making of “Scattered Horizons” and I’m really thankful for this experience! Writers who really inspire me are all the fantasy guys like J.R.R Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Bernhard Hennen, now of course H.P. Lovecraft and so many others. The influence of classical literature by John Milton and William Shakespeare can’t be neglected as well. I would say that every story you read affects your writing in a way. It always depends on what you want to express in your lyrics.
A simple, yet very important question: how was meeting Dream Theater?
I would say like meeting Symphony X: unforgettable! We are all huge fans of their music and extremely inspired by them. Their music has accompanied some of us throughout their whole life and it fills us with strength and hope. To have the chance to meet someone who “guides” you through your life for such a long time is just incredible! The guys are really nice and humble therefore we really enjoyed the time with them and really appreciate those moments!
I was very excited when I found out you played with our best metal band: Rhapsody of Fire. Did you have the chance to have a nice talk with them? Even if Austria and Italy are really close to each other, did you find any differences in your way of playing metal?
Playing together with Rhapsody Of Fire was fantastic. I had the chance to talk to Fabio Lione and Tom Hess, they are the kindest guys on earth! We had a great time after the show and were talking a lot about music and projects and so on. It was really nice and I hope I will have the chance to meet them again very soon. About the difference, oh boy… If I start to tell you about differences between Austria and Italy, you will be forced to sit here for aeons and never come home…(laughs). No, seriously now, what I want to say: There are definitely a lot of differences, but in a positive way for Italy! Italy has a lot more discipline, ambition, the will to try something new and to try to overcome hurdles, great precision and passion and of course much more professionalism and the better musicians! I love Italy for all that! I think Austria definitely has the prerequisites to arrive at the same level, but the motivation to work on it is often a problem here! Of course we have a few really nice bands like Dragony, Planewalker, Juvaliant, Dignity. But if I think now of what I can list on bands from Italy, there is no comparison. I would start with A like Athena an end with V like Vision Divine, which are all fantastic musicians.
How’s being supported, and being friends also, by a lot of famous metal musicians (As I said before, like Dream Theater, or Ross Thompson of Van Canto, as I can read on your Facebook page)? How’s the metal industry, the metal scene? Does it creates lots of bonds among musicians, or is it a very competitive musical scene?
This is fantastic indeed. I love Ross! I will never ever forget his support during our gigs in Germany. I love all of them!!! George, Roland, Apollo, Fabio, Tom, Jordan, Mike, Russell, Olaf and so many other great friends and musicians, you can always learn so much of them and I love to exchange experiences with other musicians and I really appreciate this. The whole work we do on our own and we don’t want to be friends with someone just because of business. The funny thing is that we never had some kind of friendship bonus like: “My mom knows someone who knows someone who knows someone”. I never wanted to be this kind of person; I always wanted to achieve everything with my own hands and my own strength. I can’t say much about competition, because I don’t want to be part of such nonsense. I’m a musician and I’m here for the music! We always mind our own business, but what I can definitely say, and this is funny indeed: the less known the artist, the more competition. If you get in touch with experienced professional musicians you will soon find out that it actually is all about the music. Music shall not divide people, it shall unite them!
Thank you so much for your time and your replies, it was a real pleasure and an honor to have you here!
Thank you for this nice Interview! I had a great time!
Interview by Si Smith
From the first chord to the final drumbeat, a Crimfall album is an aural spectacle to behold. Orchestrations and sound effects only serve to focus the listener on the music that is on offer: a rich tapestry of metal and gusto that transports the observer to another world, complete with swords and battles. But if this is escapism, than it is a guilty pleasure, as this album proves. Moving on into darker more wintry territory, it proves to touch on themes closer to our hearts, but still always that firm foundation of epic folk metal. I braved the cold and sat by the campfire with Helena to discuss the band’s progress so far…
First of all thanks so much for talking to us Helena, and a warm welcome from all at Femme Metal.
Thanks! It’s my pleasure.
I understand that the band began as a one-man project of guitarist Jakke Viitala. What did the music sound like at that early stage? How did you become involved in the whole scheme?
Jakke had heard my voice in my former band, Tacere‘s debut album, and he asked me to try out some vocals for the three song demo “Burning Winds”. The material was pretty much ready at that time, and when I came in, we only arranged some melodies to fit my voice better. The music itself wasn’t that far away from how it came out on our first full-length album, but of course some arrangements were made, and the overall production of “As the Path Unfolds…” sounds much richer than the first demo of the band.
“Burning Winds” was your first recorded opus – how did you feel the recording went for this early work?
I can only answer from my part, since the first evening we recorded my vocals was the first time I met Jakke, so I don’t know how the process was for the others. For me the situation was relaxed, laid back and I felt secure and appreciated. We didn’t do anything in a hurry, ‘though it only took a couple of evenings to get the demo vocals done. Jakke and his wonderful wife Heidi first welcomed me with their heart-warming manner of stuffing all their guests with delicious food and wine, and since I also loved Jakke’s music, I decided to continue working with him after he asked me to take part on a full-length album.
Two of the songs from this demo were re-recorded for the first full-length “As the Path Unfolds…”. Were these tracks changed much in transition?
The other one, “Where Waning Winds Lead”, has now a slightly different touch melody-wise, and it’s intro is completely recomposed. If I remember correctly, there weren’t such big changes for “Wildfire Season”, but if you guys really want to compare, I suggest hunting down one of our demos and checking the differences out yourselves.
There were many session musicians on the first album, including Trollhorn (Finntroll, Moonsorrow). How was it working with all these guys on the project?
Did they understand well the general idea behind what you were trying to create?I never actually saw any of our brilliant session musicians during the making of the album, nor can I tell you what exactly was Jakke‘s vision behind everything. “As the Path Unfolds…” came out as it did, and I hope our dear composer is also as satisfied with it as the rest of us are.
Your voice soars on this first cd – you are clearly very versatile in your approach to the vocal lines, what is your background in singing?
The flexibility of my voice was one of the main reasons Jakke contacted me in the first place. He wanted a singer, who could awaken many different kinds of moods and feelings, without getting stuck on one style only. I’ve been singing my whole life. I’ve done classical studies with many different teachers as well as I’ve taken vocal lessons from one of the best jazz singers in Finland, Sanni Orasmaa. Of course that all has molded my voice, but no-one has ever taught me to sing heavy metal, so on the other hand I’m self-taught. Distortion for example.. I’ve wondered how does one teach that kind of stuff to another! I learned to use distortion and that Janis Joplin-like rattle mostly on my own and by listening to good singers who tend to use it – men and women alike.
You and Mikko clearly have a great working relationship when it comes to your vocals. What’s it like when you guys hang out together outside of “work” times? What does Crimfall do to relax?
The whole band has a good, family-like vibe going on. We concentrate best on what we’re doing by not taking things too seriously and joking a lot – teasing each other like sisters and brothers do. We rarely meet outside gigs, band rehearsals and meetings, but when we do, it’s usually about celebrating and enjoying the life “the finnish way” – sauna, beer, good music and good company. Actually after our first rehearsals with our drummer Janne we all ended up just chilling out, going to the sauna and after that continuing our rehearsals butt naked between the times we sat in the sauna. (God I hope the guys won’t see this, ha ha..)
Some labelled you “soundtrack music” because of the orchestral parts and the sounds of horse, blacksmith, etc, in between tracks. How important were the “sound effects” to the overall meaning of the first album? Did you intend the album to seem like the soundtrack to some immense fantasy film?
You should definitely ask Jakke about this, since I have no clue about any overall meanings behind any of our music. I just create some of it myself, sing it and enjoy it. I think with Crimfall the music comes first, and all the sound effects remain extra. But our music wouldn’t be the same without the orchestrations and the choir parts, so in my belief they’re at least almost as important a part of our music as the guitar walls and the bass lines are. Of course the movie-like sound effects help the listener to reach the battle fields in a more detailed way, and I think that is a nice spice to our records.
Where do you feel that the band fits in in today’s metal scene? Do you pay much attention to the other bands that might be playing similar kinds of music to yourselves, or do you deliberately keep yourself separate so as not to be overly influenced?
Oh no, I hate to box music! We all listen to many different kinds of stuff, but also quite a lot of epic folk metal, which probably would be the closest genre to box us into.. What can I say: we love what we’re doing, so I think it’s quite logical that we enjoy music with similarities as well. I don’t think finnish bands are too eager to stalk one another – of course we’re interested if something big happens to a band we know people from, but otherwise we just mind our own business’.
The year 2011 has brought a new album in the shape of “The Writ of Swords”. Could you explain the title to us?
The new album is much darker and gloomier than the first one, and somehow the lyrical and the musical themes are much more hopeless as they were on “As the Path Unfolds…”. I think “The Writ of Sword” is an excellent name for an album handling all the horrors of war and the pain of the loss it brings with it.
The last track on “As the Path Unfolds…” was “Novembre” and the first track of the new album is “Dicembre”? Was this intended to follow on almost directly from the first album? Is there a direct thematic link between the two?
As you can hear, the musical theme of “Novembre” is also the main theme on “Dicembre”. And yes, as the winter follows the fall, so does our second album follow chronologically our debut album both thematically and musically.
In this interviewer’s humble opinion, your voice sounds particularly beautiful on the some of the more folky songs like “Frost Upon Their Graves”. If you could produce an album solely according to your own personal tastes and vocal preferences, what kind of album would it be?
I’d probably make something a cappella. In fact, I’ve had a dream of a vocal group for a long time. Something like finnish folk music or maybe even metal. But if I’ll ever find time to arrange stuff for a metal a cappella group, I’ll definitely make it very rough and try to produce also the drums only with human voices, unlike for example Van Canto does.
Now that the band is fully-formed, is this the way it will stay now? Are you all pretty settled in your roles within the band, or is there room for some flexibility?
This is the best possible “casting” for Crimfall. Five members is a great amount of people in a band and since we’ve all sort of found our places and accepted our responsibilities within our team, I don’t see us reforming anytime soon.
Since your music is so “epic”, how do fans respond at gigs? Do you get the viking helmets from the Finland connection, or maybe the more “serious” fan rather than the diehard mosher?
I’m glad to say we have both! And may I add, they’re equally pleasing to play to: the hard core fans in the front row, the nasty looking pit forming in the center of the crowd and last but not least the people standing a bit further away but still clearly enjoying our music, fists held up high.
I must say that “The Writ of Swords” is one album I would have loved to have on vinyl. Are there any plans to release this album on vinyl format?
We did discuss the vinyl possibility with our record company, and I’m happy to say they didn’t turn it down – as a matter of fact they brought the idea on the table. “When”, on the other hand, is a question I don’t know the answer to.
As we draw near the end of the interview, I have to ask about your plans for the future. Touring is a given and I hear you are supporting Turisas on their “Stand Up and Fight” tour. Did you meet these guys already when Olli played violin on this album? What are you looking forward to most about touring? What do you miss the most when touring?
Yes, we did support Turisas on some of their gigs on that massive tour: we got to perform in London, Nottingham, Vosselaar, Paris, Amsterdam, Hämeenlinna and Helsinki with them. And I tell you, it was a blast! Although only some of us had met Olli and Mathias Nygård while recording the violins and guest vocal parts, we all got along so well with them on tour. They and their awesome crew were just absolutely great! I think we’re looking forward to do some more touring with a band yet to be announced. While we tour abroad, we might miss our closest ones and the luxury of sleeping in our own beds, but at the same time the best thing in it is definitely to get to play for different kinds of crowds and people not from our cold country. It’s amazing to find such blood brothers and sisters who dig the metal we play. It’s a very uniting feeling!
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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