Interview by Alessandra CognettaToday’s guest here at Femme Metal is Elina Laivera, the voice of Seduce The Heaven, one of the newest rising talents from Greece. Their debut album, “Field of Dreams” is definitely worth listening, a strong release that gives us all the elements to be sure we will hear only better and better stuff from them in the future (they got a 97/100 on our review for a reason!). Elina kindly talked with us about Seduce The Heaven, her own personal experience as a singer, a person and a songwriter, record labels and much more… Hello and welcome to Femme Metal Webzine, Elina! I’ve been really looking forward to this interview since I first got the chance to listen to Seduce The Heaven‘s music. So, how are you and how’s it going for the band so far?
Hello dear! Thank you very much for having me. I am doing pretty well and so does the band. Our debut album “Field Of Dreams” has been released a couple of months now and we are enjoying an amazing feedback!
Well, lately we see that more and more metal bands are being released in Japan, which is a huge market and the feedback is great. Of course releasing an album in regions such as Asia is a tough process but having a label like Spinning Records do the work is a big thing. Spinning Records has been releasing bands like The Agonist, In This Moment and more in Japan with success. Plus, we’ve been receiving lots of messages lately from Japanese metal fans who have discovered our music and like it a lot. So I think we are going to have some good things coming up from such a movement.Most of the lyrics of the album are as heavy as the musical arrangements that support them. You’re the main lyricist of the band, so could you shed some light for us on the writing process and the themes you drew inspiration from?
The writing process is simple. Alex would send me the backing tracks of the songs and I would compose vocal lines and lyrics upon them. I use to vocalize at first upon the backing tracks and if a melody is good I keep it and start writing lyrics upon it. I use to re-write my lines may times. There have even been songs like “Ignorance” that their vocal lines were re-written right from the start when the song had already been recorded in the studio and was ready to be mixed. I drew inspiration from everyday situations of life, full of emotions, like love, or hard times we all might have experienced like disappointment, anger, sorrow, pain etc. Sometimes I even write about things I haven’t experienced myself but I can understand and wanna talk about.You deliver impressive vocals on “Field of Dreams”, swiftly progressing from heavy tunes to lyrical melodies with great elegance. What kind of training did you get to acquire such control on different types of singing techniques? And how do you keep your voice in shape in general?
Thank you for your words. Actually, I have been singing since I can remember myself but I started taking classical singing lessons at the age of 18. During these three years of working in the studio with Seduce The Heaven I must say I discovered many things around singing, how I sound better, developed my own technique, the one that expresses me. I keep my voice in shape by studying, working on exercises my teacher recommends me, usually I have 3 days in a week when I can focus on studying on my technique but also the rest of the days of the week I rehearse with my band or the other projects I am working with so the voice gets its training daily. I sing lots of different things. And I try to experience different techniques to see what more I could learn from all this. But I mostly try to stick up to the “rules” of singing correctly no matter what else I try.Seduce The Heaven first started recording “Field of Dreams” in 2012, but the album came out much later. How much did the songs change during these years? Do you think that taking some extra time in these cases helps the music grow better and mature?
We entered the studio in 2010 and the album was released in January 2013. Yes, the material changed a lot and got better and better. Many songs were re-written and ideas got better developed. I certainly believe that taking extra time helps the music and the artist grow and evolve.
Last year marked your debut on stage as well. First in Athens with Epica, and in October at the Metal Female Voices Festival. What can you tell us about these two decisive experiences for the band’s career? What was the feedback from the audience?
Well, these were amazing experiences. Generally we love playing live but we are very careful regarding where we play and under what names. It is important to us that we maintain a high profile and that we don’t take steps back but only forward. The live shows we’ve done are not many but have been indeed decisive experiences and the feedback has been amazing since we were given the chance to present our work under fine circumstances.I have to say that Greece is full of surprises for the metal scene. Despite the difficult situation of the country, I keep seeing talented bands and artists give their all, even though culture and music are usually the first to suffer in times of crisis. What is, in your opinion, the most distinguishing element that Greece musicians can offer right now and are there any particular Greek artists you admire in particular (not necessarily metal stuff)?
I’d say exactly this will and urge to do something outstanding and show to the world that no matter the difficulties, music and arts in general are always gonna be the vessel to carry us out of misery and make us never forget our creative self. Greeks are a strong nation, for sure. So yeah, it is most likely you would get surprises from us.I’ve read in one of your previous interviews that you’ve had a revealing encounter with Symphony X vocalist Russell Allen that helped you figure out your path as a musician. What advice would you now give to someone who’s dealing with the same problem you had back then?
Well, OK, it wasn’t that big, I was just not really sure whether I wanted to follow classical or modern singing. And seeing Russell Allen performing on stage in Athens, Greece when I was a guest musician for Fragile Vastness, opening for Symphony X, persuaded me I have to follow my heart and inspired me to see metal was all I wanted to do. I walked up to him and asked him at the backstage “how can you sing this way”? and the answer I got was “I use my voice, lungs, heart, soul, balls, everything I got”. So, I realized it is not about metal or classical music, it is not about the genre but about the art. So I swore to myself, I would from now on only serve like this the art I love the most; music, giving my all. Some time later I also figured out it was metal I wanted to sing. I still sing classical music but in my heart the hard sound has the most special place. To anyone dealing with the same “problem” I had back then, I would simply say “step back and observe, get inspired and then decide who and what you want to be”. Russell Allen got to be one of the most inspirational people for me, just by talking to him and seeing him performing.And you also design corsets and stage outfits (I’m sorry, but I’m a long-time corset lover)! This is something I’ve always been curious about: how is a corset born? And, most importantly, is it really that uncomfortable to sing a whole setlist while wearing one?
I design stage clothing but for personal use only. I do not have the means to do it bigger. Regarding corsets, I just design them, I do not make them. My mom brings them to life, so I cannot really illuminate you about it. And if you notice, I hardly ever wear corsets anymore. I cannot move properly on stage wearing a corset. Plus corsets are for… more qualified women! (laughs) I am really thin, corsets cannot serve my body properly. So I mostly wear tight but comfortable clothes, I love feminine dresses influenced by the pop culture, you know, my band is not playing symphonic/epic metal either so I cannot go out there with Victorian dresses and corsets. I use such outfits for photoshootings, however. You know, a photoshooting can have a specific concept where you can use such clothing. But on stage, there are practical issues like breathing, being able to bend and stretch etc. So no, I avoid corsets on stage.“Field of Dreams” is a tasteful combination of different genres and musical elements. Is it something you’re going to keep in the future or must we prepare for a surprise?
Well, so far we love our sound. And it is something special we do, generally as many reviews as we had, they all conclude into the same point: not knowing where to include us. We combine all these features in such a unique way that it could be something new and innovative. So no, we are not really willing to change our sound, at least not on the second album. We love experimenting and we will keep doing this the way we know and love. Of course a second album shouldn’t be a replica of the first one but you know, there are some standards we would like to maintain in combination with new features and ideas.Time for a more personal question: do you have any other interests or activities besides music? Did you ever think “if I can’t make a living with music, I’m going to do this or that”?
Well, I study German Literature and it is something I love very much. I have a passion with foreign languages and history. But I don’t wanna think of alternative plans. You know, I do music and German Literature because I love both fields. If I had to choose I would choose music and I don’t wanna think a negative ending to this. I hope I can take it high enough to be able to live entirely from it. So far I am in a good way, I think.Unfortunately the interview ends here, Elina, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! On behalf of the webzine I wish you and Seduce The Heaven all the best for 2013 and we can’t wait to see (and hear) more! If you have any last words for fans and readers, this is the place!
Thank you very much for the opportunity to talk about Seduce The Heaven and all the nice things we discussed about. I wish all the best to the webzine as well and can’t wait to talk with you again! Rock on!