Interview by Miriam C.
It’s not the first time that we’ve the chance to have a nice chat with the French melodic metal band Heonia (you can read our previous interview here). Their second album “Portraits” released via M&O Music caught the interest of Femme Metal Webzine for its interesting musical evolution (since their debut “Winsome Scar”) that adds into Heonia‘s musical formula some progressive and death metal nuances. Enough with the labels and definitions, let’s read what to the singer Marieke Delanghe has to say about “Portraits” and her upcoming project with the dark ambient duo Grey November.
Hi Marieke, welcome back to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you?
Hi Miriam! I am good. Thank you for interviewing me!
Do you mind to recall for us how Heonia got together since its inception in 2006?
We are a Melodic Metal band from the North of France and the lead guitarist Thomas and I set up the band in 2006. We searched for musicians to complete the band and soon met Damien (Keys & Growls) and we asked our friend Cédric (Rhythm guitars) to join us. During the first year of Heonia, we completed the line-up and wrote our first songs defining Heonia’s style of music: a powerful Melodic Metal with touched of Prog and Death. We released a self-produced EP in 2008 called “Simulacra” and our first full length album “Winsome Scar” in 2010. We played numerous gigs between 2007 and 2013. During this period, Heonia‘s rhythm section changed and we have been joined by Dereck on drums and JB on bass . In 2014, we decided to focus our attention on finishing the composition of our new album and we released our first music video “The Die Is Cast”. Our music evolved a lot since our first album and our new songs are still melodic but with a touch of death metal and a darker and violent sound. We recorded our second album “Portraits” during summer 2014 and then came the time for mixing, mastering, finding the right person to create the artwork etc. This album has been released in November 2015 via M&O Music and we’ve also released our second music video “Freaks’ Dance” last January.
In November 2015, you released via M & O Music your second album “Portraits”. What can you tell us about its genesis?
Well, the writing of “Portraits” began in 2011 or 2012. For this album, we wanted to really change our writing method. Actually, for “Winsome Scar”, the songs were not written collectively. If one of us had an idea, he just sent to the rest of the band and almost finished song. Either we liked it then we arranged it together and kept it or we didn’t like it and did not keep it. For this second album, our idea was to write the songs together in such a way that everyone was able to brings his touch to the tracks. So, we decided to meet every week (apart from our rehearsals) and work on ideas for the new songs. Unfortunately, with the changes in lineup, the writing process took more time than expected but when JB arrived in the band, we really focused our attention on composition and we realized that this manner was actually working pretty well for us, so the songs from this album are truly a collective work and it is one of the things we like about it. The fact that, all of us wrote the songs together, makes this album more coherent and we think that it really reflects our different musical personalities. Also our idea was to explore the most violent side of Heonia’s sound and I think we managed it. The music is darker, the guitars are louder and the lyrics and vocal parts are much more aggressive. We recorded this album at the Noise Factory Studio in Belgium with Gérald Jans who did an amazing job.
I’ve enjoyed very much the cover, who’s the creator of such chef d’oeuvre and what does it, personally, mean for you?
The creator of the cover is an independent illustrator from Spain called Mario Sánchez Nevado. We discovered his work while randomly searching for illustrators on the internet and we really liked his work. We contacted him and he agreed to create the cover of “Portraits” and I think this cover perfectly illustrates the songs from the album. Each song from “Portraits” is like a story, a portrait of a person or of a situation and this is why we named it like that. This cover expresses this idea with this damaged face like a collage of different pieces and the other face with the open eyes looking at what is happening.
“Portraits” comes after 5 years from your previous album “Winsome Scar”: if you could draw a parallel between them, how do you think your approach has changed since then?
I think these two albums are pretty different. “Winsome Scar” was our first album: we were still oscillating between different styles with a sound that wasn’t fully defined. Instead, with “Portraits”, I think we are more mature as a band and we exactly know where we wanted to go. But, it seems to me that this mixing of melodic, prog and death metal is still very present in both two albums. One fun fact is that “The Die is Cast” from “Portraits” is actually the sequel of the song “The Chase” from “Winsome Scar”. Although, both lyrics are not so funny. Indeed, “The Chase” tells the story of a woman chased by her former husband: she left him because it was a violent man but she can’t help feeling guilty. On the contrary, in “The Die is Cast” the same woman has a new life, she has become strong, powerful and confident but does not manage to heal from the psychological wounds inflicted by her former husband. Then, she hires people to find this guy and bring him to her with the sole purpose of torturing and killing him.
Following the previous question, why after years of self-releasing your material, have you decided to work with a label? How this has affected the band?
Working with a label it seemed for us the best way to keep developing the band. In addition, everybody in the band have a full time job apart from Heonia and it was getting very difficult for us to handle all the aspects of a self-production. Also, we needed advices, a broader network to distribute our music and we wanted to be more professional. M&O Music is the perfect match for us. They do a really great job in promoting and distributing our music and we thank them for that.
Aside working with Heonia, you collaborate with the dark romantic doom duo Grey November. Can you introduce the band for our readers?
As you wrote, GN is a dark romantic doom project. The first recording of the project dates back to more than 15 years ago and it is a duet made up by myself as a singer and Cédric Seyssiecq for everything concerning the musical and lyrical composition. I will quote Cédric here: “GN’s music is characterized by its poisonous melancholy, the significant attention payed to the languid atmosphere of each song, the passionate search for beauty, and also the tragedies experienced by a number of its former members…”
I really loved your latest album “The Fall of the House of Usher”, that you released back in 2011. How much should the fans wait for the next follow-up?
Cédric has already finished the composition of GN’s next album and he has also recorded a large part of the music. We are currently working hard on the vocal parts. The atmosphere of this new album will be absolutely true to GN, still desperately sad and tragic but with some touches a bit more modern sound. The concept is quite special beacuse it is based upon a long text written in prose by Cédric.
Instead, what insights can you share about the boxset “Novembre Gris”? How was this idea born?
Indeed, GN inked a deal with the Russian label GS Productions for the release of a 5 CD boxset consisting of the entire GN discography: the four albums and a CD of unreleased and rare material. The label made that offer to Cédric with the promise of an outstanding and atypical boxset. They admirably kept this promise. The new album of Grey November will also be released via GS Productions, if everything goes well, “during next Grey November”.
What are your next band plans (I mean for Heonia)? Where can your fans catch you in the next days? Do you have any plans for a full EU tour?
The plans for Heonia are to keep promoting “Portraits” and play live as much as we can! We have played at the end of April in The Netherlands, in May in Spain and in June in Belgium. We have no plans for a full EU Tour but we still visit the countries around France. We are planning more gigs for the rest of 2016. Also, we have begun to write material for the third album and we plan to release a live video of a song taken from the release party of “Portraits” in the coming months. So stay tuned!
So, Marieke, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again!
I thank you very much for this interview, it is always a pleasure! I would like to thank also the readers of Femme Metal Webzine and notably those who have read the whole interview if they read these words! And of course, I would like to thank very much on behalf of Heonia all the people who support us, come to our gigs, buy our albums, leave us comments etc.! You rock!!