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Oct 31, 2012
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Interview : Margina Catherine Margaret & Efthimia Aprilia Manassi – Julian’s Lullaby

 

 

Interview by Si Smith

 

They say that two is always better than one, and this is definitely the case with Julian’s Lullaby. The dynamic frontispiece of this band involves TWO female vocalists, equally enchanting and providing the band with a double dose of femme metal magic.The bonus is that the music is also as enchanting, involving romanticism but also a dose of heaviness and mystique. Femme Metal had the pleasure of the company of both Julian’s Lullaby vocalists, so we asked them to spill the beans on the true nature of the band….

First thanks so much for joining us at femme metal for this interview, and welcome from all of us. The band formed back in 2004, were you both there at the start? How did the band build up to what we see today?

Margina: Well, when I joined back in 2009 the band was already focused on “Sand on Your Hands” using male – female vocals. Then Elias thought it would be really fascinating as well as interesting, to experiment using 2 front female vocalists. So a few months later Aprilia joined us, and since then we all stick together successfully.

Aprilia: I also joined the band in 2009, after a series of coincidences… The band was already formed as it is now at that time and they were recording “Sand on Your Hands”. Elias had the idea that a second female voice would be interesting, so I joined in.
In the four years before the first demo release, you must have spent much time working on material and practicing together. How did the band go about building up its profile “out in the world” at this time?

Aprilia: Most of the material is composed by our rhythm guitarist Elias. When a new idea comes in, all of us work together, through rehearsing, and everyone puts his own touch on the piece. In the end, though the initial idea is there, the result is something new, reflecting the whole band in it.

Margina: The original ideas mostly come from our guitarist Elias as Aprilia already said. He composes and gives “life” to the songs. Good thing is we all work together as a team and each one of us has always some sort of a new idea to propose/add. So with Elias‘s implementation, team work and the personal touch, the final project is unique, and it certainly represents the whole team’s expectations.

On your Facebook page you quote differing bands such as Slipknot, Epica and Queen as your influences. What elements would you say go into making a great Julian’s Lullaby song?

Aprilia: As I mentioned earlier, the major element of making a great song is the involvement of the whole band. Since each of us has different influences and likings as far as music is concerned, putting them all together, in the right amount, makes our songs what they are.

Margina: Differing bands is because each one of us has a different musical background and that’s what practically helps us in proposing new ideas and keeping experimenting on them. Now the exciting thing about teamwork is that we somehow manage to mix and match all these ideas/influences yet retain a balance, without having to “sacrifice” our original idea of the project. The basic elements are: the fact that we seem to interact in the best possible way and of course the fact that we are friends besides being Julian’s Lullaby.

Your first demo “I Can Hear You Thinking” was released in 2008 – and then Julian’s Lullaby tracks appeared on a number of compilations. How did these opportunities come about? Did it all come on the strength of the demo release?

Aprilia: At first, the demo was the reason for our appearance in these compilations; we approached MNR guys initially and really jumped into this opportunity. Then Elias saw an ad placed by “Kiss Army” fan club and Rock-Hard magazine (GR) recruiting bands for an upcoming Kiss tribute CD, we recorded “Beth” they liked it so also joined! After that we were asked to join again on MNR’s next volume CD with a song, this was the time when the whole line-up changed; so we decided to go on with something new, a song outside the demo and “Sand on Your Hands” came to be.

You guys seem quite “romantic” in your approach to music – from the artwork of the latest album cover to the quote on your website, “no angels, demons or dark desire can keep us apart”. Where does that come from? Is this something you all share?

Margina: This quote is from “Sand on Your Hands” and I must admit I really love this song probably ’cause it was my 1st song to record as a Julian’s member. Well we all certainly have our “romantic” side and the artwork also proves that, still not all of our songs share this orientation. We try to keep a balance between “hard” and “soft” and our album proves that!

Aprilia: Well, we all have our lyrical parts. And the combination of the compositions with the female voices brings out something “romantic”. But don’t be fooled. Not all of the songs are “gentle”.

It must be a great support for each other to have TWO vocalists on stage together. Do you girls spend much time together outside of the band – get up to any mischief when no-one’s looking…do you get time to work on your rapport outside of just live performances?

Aprilia: The fact is that we do spend time together outside of the band – but no mischief done! Especially this past year we got closer, and we combine working out for the songs and having fun.

Margina: Of course we share moments and have fun besides singing together, since we are good friends. Actually even on rehearsing we are having fun. On stage things are not different for us I guess, since we do share a nice chemistry and we fully interact. We generally combine practice with having a good time.

I notice from your videos that one of you moves around a lot more onstage whilst the other sings – does this represent quite different personalities for you both, or you both similar kinds of people and singers?

Margina: Different personalities and music backgrounds I would say, yet the same goals. We both seek the best vocal output. I just go on stage and do the things I feel like doing (things I would probably do when rehearsing as well), while at the same time focusing on the best possible singing performance. Feeling “free” on stage is what good chemistry and interaction does like I mentioned before.

Aprilia: We are different personalities but the “secret” of our performances lies elsewhere… I am very self-conscious about my singing performance onstage. So I prefer to sacrifice some movements to have the best result on the singing part…

Hailing from Greece must seem like a bonus, as the Greeks are well known for their classical and romantic traditions. Is there a particular Greek element to your music or lyrics would you say?

Aprilia: I don’t think there is anything in particular that connects us to the Greek classical and romantic traditions, apart from their being in our DNA of course.

Margina: Classical and romantic traditions are part of our history and they are somehow in our nature. I have the impression though, that besides some romantic “stigmas” that you already discovered in our music, there is no other particular element.

Signing with STF Records must have been a great boost to the band’s morale. Has it changed the way you work at all?

Aprilia: Having a label deal is a good PR and really wonderful in the sense of additional promotion – guys at STF work right and serious – but I believe that with hard work and focus you can live up to your standards.

And so the new album is out now, “Dreaming of Your Fears”. What is the significance behind the title?

Margina: “Dreaming of Your Fears”, just came to us naturally as we were deciding about the title. We all liked the idea since it had some sort of relevance with some lyrics and song titles in our album.

Aprilia: There isn’t any hidden meaning behind the title. It was just a brainstorming of what would sound “appropriate” as an album title. And like “I Can Hear You Thinking”, “Dreaming of Your Fears” reflects the concept of the album in a beautiful manner.

You seem to manage to keep a balance on the album between the heavy and the melodic. Is this a hard balance to keep? Are there any in the band that would pull more in one direction than the other?

Aprilia: You bet they are. But since we know our style the balance is easily preserved. In the end we all get to be happy with the outcome, whether it is heavier or more melodic.

Margina: Keeping balance is never easy when it comes to different people with different opinions, preferences etc. Our intension was to compose the songs in a way so that any of us would be satisfied with the outcome no matter what. Since we are fully aware of what we want from our project we just collaborate and exchange ideas. This leads us to a more “heavy” or “romantic” aspect, but what matters is that we all like it.

For me “Would It Be” is one of the finest moments of the album, where all the elements come together in just the right way to create the perfect alchemy. What are the best and worst moments of the album for you? Were any of the songs particularly problematic in the recording process?

Margina: Glad you like it! I love this song as well and I bet many people under certain circumstances have come to wonder… would it be that hard…I never had the chance to study music as much as I wanted to or take any vocal lessons thus I cannot say that I encountered problems during the recording sessions. It is well known that one cannot have the very same performance every day and of course there will always be songs that do require more focusing and effort. Actually recording sessions have been really fun, because Elias and Aprilia were always there to help when necessary so everything turned out to be ok.

Aprilia: There were some difficulties, I admit that. But with the help and persistence of Margina and Elias in particular I overcame the obstacles, and I want to thank them for that. I wouldn’t say there was a song that was particularly problematic. We all had our ups and downs during the recording sessions but everything came out just fine.

I have to ask why you have included two versions of the last song, is there something special about that song that needed emphasizing?

Aprilia: The reason is that we all like the acoustic version as much as the original one. So we wanted to share this emotion with our audience.

Margina: Oh I guess we all liked acoustic as much as the original one and we could not easily decide, so we thought it would be really nice to include both versions in our album. I believe listeners will like the idea.

Now that the new album is well out there, what are the next aims of the band? What are your next targets as creative individuals and as a band?

Margina: We will definitely need time to promote our album the best way we can. In the meantime we are already working on new songs and ideas…

Aprilia: Once the recordings for the first album were finished we started working on new ideas and developing new songs. We have to work on the promotion of our album and after that, who knows?

Finally, thanks for talking to us. Are there any final messages to the world you would like to get out there?

Aprilia: We would like to thank you too. And a thank you to everyone for their support: the audience, our label and the other members of the band for making this happen.

Margina: It’s been a pleasure talking to you, thank you for this interview. A big “thank you” goes to our friends, fans and our label for all the support so far. Thanks to the people who contributed to the album and every single member of Julian’s for making this dream come true! 

 

Links

 

Mar 21, 2012
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Indie Zone Reviews : Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny – “Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose” (2012)

Label : Mute Records

Review by Luisa Mercier

Beth Jeans Houghton is a 22 years old girl from Newcastle, who is now releasing her debut album with the monicker of Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny“Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose” is a very nice record that mixes rock, art pop, folk orchestral sounds and other influences, resulting in something that vaguely recalls Florence + The Machine but with much more attention and care as far as arrangements are concerned. The album starts with “Sweet Tooth Bird” : choirs, very nice orchestrations, vocals that only on the surface may seem raw, but that are able to reach interesting emotional heights. It was also shot a video for this track, sort of weird mini-movie; you can watch it on Mute channel on YouTube. “Humble Digs” is indie pop enriched by folk music, I’d say the influence of country music is quite evident, but does not annoy. It is very nice, indeed. The other single is “Dodecahedtron” which is slightly melancholic and baroque. I got a My Brightest Diamond feeling while listening to it. I especially loved the vocal work that shows how Beth has a certain versatility in switching from a range to the other. “Atlas” has a structure similar to the other songs in the record: choirs, orchestra, percussions and a progressive attitude that makes Beth really different from the other girls in the indie scene. “The Barely Skinny Bone Tree” and “Liliputt” are maybe the most effective songs on “Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose”. The first one starts off quite slow, melancholic and gradually builds up til the final explosion, while the second starts with a delicate harp followed by strings, percussions and vocal lines which are really ethereal. “Veins” is the one closest to Florence Welch but with its own identity, “Franklin Benedict” has a nice string section and the closing track “Carousel”, as the title says, is full of violin solos. This debut is really fascinating and a must for all indie lovers!

Rating – 70/100

 

Tracklist

  1.  Sweet Tooth Bird
  2.  Humble Digs
  3.  Dodecahedron
  4.  Atlas
  5.  Nightswimmer
  6.  The Barely Skinny Bone Tree
  7.  Liliputt
  8.  Veins
  9.  Franklin Benedict
  10.  Carousel

 

Line Up

  • Beth Jeans Houghton – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard, Banjo, Loop Pedal
  • Dav Shiel – Drums, Cajon, Keyboard, Vocals, Steel Pan
  • Rory Gibson – Bass, Vocals
  • Findlay Macaskill – Violin, Vocals, Eyebrows
  • Blazey Blazey – Trumpet, Vocals, Guitar, Drums

 

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