Interview by Miriam Cadoni

Photo by Tim Tronkoe

It’s not the first time that our readers have the chance to read an interview with Epica‘s mastermind Mark Jansen. Despite the current situation which brought the band to postpone for the second time its super amazing tour with Apocalyptica in 2022, I find this interview one of the best ones I’ve ever had with the Dutch guitar player and screamer. I cannot really say the reason why, probably the main reason lies in fact that I had the opportunity to watch the band live several times. That said, I was really excited for the band’s upcoming opus “Omega”. Let’s discover more about it with this heartfelt and sincere interview with Epica’s deus-ex-machina Mark Jansen.

Hi Mark, welcome back to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how these precarious times are treating you? 

First of all, thanks for having me, it’s good to be back. Indeed, these are some strange times and sometimes, it’s quite hard and rough because we cannot tour. 

But I would say that given the circumstances, I’m enjoying all in the best way I can. Actually, nobody has to be worried about me since I’m staying a lot at home and enjoying the company of my dogs which they are really happy. 

On February 26thEpica will release the new full-length “Omega”. What can you tell about its writing process? 

Personally, I’ve started collecting some ideas that our previous album “The Holographic Principle” was released while the guys started way later. At a certain point, after a lot of touring, we needed a small break for recharging our batteries. Subsequently that, we began in full throttle to work on “Omega”. Everything worked out quite smoothly and fast, we even got together for 5 days in The Netherlands in a rented house where we were hustling with each other’s songs. 

This session turned out to be quite fruitful and helpful since it gave us the chance to regroup more as a group and friends. Due to its smoothness, I think you can definitely detect some refreshing elements on the album itself too. We had seriously a good time spending together writing “Omega”. In a second moment, we started the actual recording which were compromised by the ongoing pandemic. In the wake of this happening, we weren’t able to travel anymore.

Luckily, the vast majority of new full-length was already recorded, just my vocals and Simone’s were missing. So, we have figured it out a solution that included Simone recording her parts in Germany near her place and I recorded mine in my home studio. Fortunately, this solution worked perfectly and it didn’t affect our schedule. However, if this would happen with the choir recording session, it would have impossible to keep up with planning. 

You mentioned in the press release that “Omega” can be perceived as “a very refreshing and well-balanced album”. In essence, what makes this album is such way after so much years of activity? 

You know, it’s always challenging after so many years to get the best out of the band. Despite that, we are still hungry to discover more and musically challenge ourselves. Once again, it’s not easy to find yourself 100% motivated to write the right album in a determined time of your life. So, we waited for the appropriate moment to compose it.

In effect, that’s the reason why it took a bit longer that normal to release “Omega”. Also, our main goal was to produce something that felt good and not producing something that later on, we would have regret it and not enjoyed at all. Because, if this would happen, we would never ever forgiven ourselves. So, we are really satisfied of “Omega”

“Omega” was introduced by the kick off single “Abyss of Time”. Of which ‘abyss of time’ you refer to in this song? 

Essentially, the single is dealing with some agnostic believes and some form of illusion in which we are living in. Once, you have experienced that and looked beyond the illusion, then the life gets a different, complete meaning. What I’m trying to explain with all this it’s take a journey, go and find your true essence. And you’ll find that your body is just an avatar in an illusory world.

Of course, in this world we should have also fun but not yield into temptations of the illusion. Nowadays, many people have a job which they don’t really like. Also, with this current pandemic, people start to be really depressed and they lost interest to finding any meaning in life. 

But, if they would go back to their true essence and source by leaving the illusion, they would become aware that there’s joy in the middle of a chaotic situation like the COVID pandemic. That’s mostly to what “Abyss of Time” refers to. In the end, you can let the time pass by with an automatic pilot or you can get a hold of it with your true self by living the instant in the best quality ever.  

Photo by Tim Tronkoe

Then, it’s followed by the second single “Freedom – The Wolves Within” which with its streaming revenues supports a nice initiative with de Wereld Natuur Fonds. Precisely, what’s it about the initiative and which is the history behind this amazing song? 

Firstly, I started writing the music of “Freedom – The Wolves Within” way back in time because this is one of the first ones I’ve composed and originally, I was still on a tour when I come up with the its riff. Instead, lyric wise, I wrote it together with Simone and it has as main characters two wolves that are within us. 

As a matter of fact, one wolf represents the negative emotions such darkness, hate and jealousy while the other one represents the opposite. So, feelings such as love, empathy and joy. In our song, these wolves are having a battle and the one that will feed the most, will be the dominant one. Between ourselves, we can always choose which will be the dominant one and it gives us the opportunity to control our emotions better.

However, if you choose the positive one rather the negative one without let him die because each of every one of us needs that darkness, but if you opt to be more an optimistic person, it will be beneficial also for the people around us. You’ll be much happier and more helpful to your friends around you.

Instead, with our fundraising, our goal was to help the nature and the wolves with something useful. They are slowly dying and their species are endangered more than ever in these days due to the lack of their ecosystem. The intent of Wereld Natuur Fonds is put in action some project to help them and save them worldwide.  

As I said before, “Omega” will be released on February 26th 2021 and it follows Epica’s previous release, “The Holographic Principle” published back in 2016. In your opinion, how the band has evolved so far and what did you learn from it? 

You know, with “The Holographic Principle” we have recorded with a full orchestra and in different sections and days. For instance, one day we would record the strings, another day the brass and so on. Instead, on “Omega”, we have recorded orchestral parts in one session only.

This helps the sound in being much more organic and more unified and it makes the music more alive and wonderful than ever. It’s the main lesson that we have learned. Secondly, we needed more time to breathe. If compared to “The Holographic Principle” which was really full and pushed to maximum power, on “Omega” we have balanced all these elements maintaining both the powerful and calmer moments. 

Lastly, on “Omega”, we decided to concentrate ourselves on songs that can be feasible to play live. For example, during a festival. In these occasions, you’ll have surely potential fans who might get interested in our music. Also, I noticed that on songs such as “Beyond the Matrix” and “Cry for the Moon” can capture quite easily the attention of may-be fans.  

Photo by Tim Tronkoe

On December 18th 2020, you have released the acoustic version of “Abyss of Time” which is called “Abyss O’ Time”. As a listener, I’m quite familiar with the fact that for Epica isn’t the first time (see the Bonus Tracks of “The Holographic Principle” and “The Acoustic Universe”). But did you ever think to offer some acoustic reconditions of the older songs? 

You know, sometimes the idea was there and I think in the future, we’ll definitely make it happen. But, I’m not sure yet when it will be the right timing to do it. Though, it’s an idea that we have in several occasions discussed.  

Recently, your upcoming album was postponed for the second time. Promotion wise, what plan have you devised?  

Firstly, we’ll focus on “Omega” by promoting it through our interviews. Sincerely, I would like to speak face to face with the journalists but unfortunately, right now isn’t possible. 

Though, I’m happy that I can do online. Then, when the album, will be released, we have two more video clips in the pipeline. Hopefully, it won’t take long to play live shows again.

We have already something scheduled for this summer, even though, everything depends if the rules will be lifted or not. If all goes well, the sooner the better. Due to external factors, this is not our control. 

Sadly, we’re at the end of the interview. Please be free to say hi to our readers and your fans. Thanks. Tot ziens! 

Yes, tot ziens! First of all, thank you so really much to all the readers for the support throughout the years. Then, I want to say to stay positive during these difficult times because, eventually, it will come to an end. As a tradition, chaotic periods will be always followed by better periods. 

And, sometimes chaos is needed to re-establish and rebuild everything in an improved manner. Lastly, it’s up to us, all the people out there, to recreate a beautiful world out of this bad period. I’m optimistic that we can absolutely manage that and all the readers will agree on that with me.

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