Interview by Ed MacLarenBarely into their 20s, Germany’s Voices of Destiny has a musical maturity that belies their young years. With their shining debut, “From the Ashes”, Voices of Destiny is packed with massive chops and soaring vocals that match many of the premier symphonic metal bands you’re listening to right now. Vocalist Maike Holzmann joined Femme Metal to talk about the creation of “From the Ashes”. Congratulations on the new album! With Massacre Records no less. How are you and the band enjoying the ride so far? The feedback must be excellent.
Working with Massacre and all the great people we met during the recording process is awesome. Of course, we got some positive reviews and comments on our homepage, but we can’t tell how often the album is sold by now. We will know better in a few weeks.“From the Ashes” is a very multi-textured album that draws you in deeper each time you listen to it. There’s a lot of detail happening musically. What’s the key to maximizing the “From the Ashes” listening experience?
Maybe just sitting down and listening to the album carefully and consciously. If you read the lyrics while listening this might also maximize the experience. You can interpret them and find out how they fit into your life.What’s really impressive about “From the Ashes” is the number of potential singles: “Ray of Hope”, “Return from the Ashes”, “Apathy” and “All Eyes on Me” are all standout tracks. Each song on the album can stand on its own as well as a cohesive part of the whole album. Was that the band’s approach during the songwriting process?
Yes, indeed. We didn’t write the album as a concept album. Some songs already existed for 2 years or longer. But we thought they’d fit the album as well. Every single song is good on its own but concerning the whole album they reach another level somehow.
Interview by Connie Bach
Here is a band with quite a strong, distinctive voice. Exoterik’s brand of metal blends raw power with sweetness, with element blending fluidly with the rest and yet standing on its own two feet.
Hello, Anneka. Hope your summer is going well. What is Exoterik up to these days?
Exoterik are very busy behind the scenes at the moment. We’ve just released a free single “Revive” for people to download and share amongst friends with a video to accompany it. We’re also in the process of planning and shooting out next two videos with a view to releasing the next one around October/November time. This will again be as a free download. And on top of that we also have quite a few gigs booked for around the UK.
I love the lyrics to “Butterfly in Your Hand”. Where did this song come from, and why was that the one Exoterik decided to contribute to “Beauty and Brutality”?
“Butterfly in Your Hand” was written mid-way through the songwriting process for the current album. The lyrics can be interpreted in many ways and it’s always best to get what you want out of them as opposed to me telling you what they mean to me. Although, at the time of writing the song we were all feeling a little exhausted and frustrated at focusing every ounce of our energy and being into the band whilst feeling that other people put barriers and obstacles our way to try to trip us up. The song is a slight dig at the backstabbing and two-facedness of the music business. If you had one song that was the most personal for you, which would that be?
Good question. I suppose I’ve spent so much time with the songs that I’ve become a little numb to them and I sometimes have to remind myself why we felt compelled to write them in the first place. “Butterfly in Your Hand” is an obvious choice, as it was a way of lyrically venting out our frustrations about certain types of people in the music business. “Uninvited” is another personally favorite, as myself and Tom wrote it very quickly and it just seemed to flow out of us with no effort at all. Even when we were writing it we could hear the drums and electric guitars in our head. We just knew what was needed for this track and it was exhilarating to hear it come to life.Since “Butterfly in Your Hand” is Exoterik’s second release after “Don’t Swallow”, what goes into creating one really polished track? What is the process like? I mean it is clear that certain members contribute certain aspects but how hard do you have to work individually as well as collectively to produce the music that you do?
It’s like the old saying goes – “You’re only a strong as your weakest point”. It’s very important to all have the same goal and the maximum time, effort and energy to put into the band. Each of us play our own important roles within Exoterik and each are gifted in different ways, whether it’s writing a song or marketing the band. We all live, eat and breathe Exoterik and that’s what’s kept it alive for seven years. Even when the band seems quite on the outside, I can guarantee you that we’re working our arses off behind the scenes! As for writing and recording a “polished” track – It really comes down to many factors. The song writing must be great, the lyrics must be memorable and the melodies must grab people. Even with this all in place, the song can still be killed in the recording process. As artists, it’s incredibly important to us to have our music recorded, produced, mixed and mastered in a way that gets across our sentiment and most importantly in a way that represents the band, our music, our talent and our vision for the song. It seems that the UK’s metal scene is reviving in comparison to the U.S. In what way, would you say this impacts the public’s feedback?
We’ve never had the opportunity to tour Exoterik in the U.S. so it’s difficult for us to put a perspective on the differences between the two audiences. However, there seems a definite divide between the U.S metal scene and the European one. It’s even noticeable between the UK and the rest of Europe. However, in the past few years festivals such as Download, Sonisphere and Bloodstock have really helped to raise the profile of metal in the UK.
I’ve watched Exoterik perform online and the crowd seemed pretty wild. What is the craziest thing a fan has ever done to show support?
We recently had a fan get our band named tattooed on his arm to show his loyalty and appreciation for Exoterik. That was really cool and we felt quite humbled by the gesture. It was such an honor for us to feel that we’d made such a difference in his life that he felt compelled to get a lasting impression of us to carry with him everywhere.
For that matter, what kinds of fans does Exoterik’s music seem to connect with the best (meaning within the obvious genres)?
I hate “pigeon holing” our fans. We hate being distinctly categorized as anything as a band and I wouldn’t like to do that to our fans. After gigs when we get to talk to fans, it becomes apparent that they are quite varied. Some are metal-heads whilst others prefer rock. Some are still at school whilst others are nearing retirement. We really do seem to have a broad fan base and we seem to appeal to a mixed group of people which is fantastic and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Moving on, how did you, Tom, Darren and Steve become Exoterik? How have the four of you grown?
Myself, Tom and Steve are the founding members of Exoterik and Darren joined us around two years ago after our bassist left the band. We’ve definitely developed as a band throughout the years and when we look back at how we were when we first started we’ve definitely changed and progressed. I think that experience is the key part to our development – whether it’s from the countless gigs that we’ve played or travelling abroad to record material to spending days and nights living in the band van whilst touring the UK. It’s all part and parcel to being in a band and molding us to who we are as individuals and as a unit.
Where are your future goals, as well as the band’s?
It’s very important that we all share the same goals within the band. Of course we’d love to be an over night success but that rarely happens in the metal scene and I think it’s very important that a band should have to work hard and truly deserve the success that comes there way rather than it being handed to them on a plate overnight. We always like to see ourselves progressing and never halting or taking steps backwards. When I look at where we were this time last year I ask myself, how have we progressed and improved ? What have we done within this year that we have never done before ? At this current moment in time I can say that we have 3 new singles with videos to accompany them, which is something very new to us. We also have a publishing deal with LoveCat who are in talks with television and movie companies about placing our songs in their projects. We’re gigging further afield throughout the UK and we continue to expand our fan base. So far, so good!
Have you become what you had in mind when you became a singer, Anneka?
I can’t say that I ever really had any particular preconception of what I wanted to be like as a singer. I can’t even say that I ever decided to sing – I simply always have! I’ve always enjoyed singing, for as long as I can remember. The enjoyment I get from it, and the seeing the enjoyment it gives others, is what keeps me going from strength to strength and spurs me on to push myself a little further every time I sing.
How did you also take over keyboards for Exoterik?
I originally started out as the keyboard/vocalist in the band. Keyboards was a focal point in the band when we first started Exoterik, although we now tend to pre-record them for live performances so that I can engage with the audience more rather than being stuck behind a keyboard. I’m only 5’1’ so I very quickly get hidden behind a stack of keyboards! However, I still play and record them the studio and occasionally live. It’s something that is often used in the song writing process too. Finally, this is something I’d like you all to contribute to, if possible. What is the symbolic value of music, and how did you come to realize that (at what point)? What could it do for us all, potentially?
I have always thought of music as a universal language. It is something that touches every person’s life, from the modern Western world to African tribes and so on. Music has a place in everyone’s lives. We can all find a song that stimulates memories, that makes us smile, that makes us cry and that we simply never tire of hearing. We may not all share the same tastes in music but that’s what is so great about it. Music gives us an identity, a connection with others. Following your favorite band and meeting others who share the same passion for them can really give you a sense of belonging. A little community. And those people may not talk the same language but they can share the same emotions that the piece of music or band evokes. I think that’s truly inspiring and I love being a part of it. Thanks a lot, Anneka, both for the interview and also for Exoterik’s contribution of “Butterfly in Your Hand”. Hopefully we’ll see you here in the States soon.
The pleasure’s been mine. Thanks for interviewing me and I hope it will encourage people to check out Exoterik and download the free single from the website: www.exoterik.co.uk.
Photos by Stuart Glossop
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