Interview by Alessandra Cognetta

Seven Kingdoms hail from the US and bring us into the world of George R. R. Martin‘s works by the means of female-fronted power metal. With three albums released (their latest effort “The Fire Is Mine” included) and a tour with Blind Guardian, we took the chance to have another chat with frontwoman Sabrina Valentine about the band, women in metal, the Eve’s Apple community and Game of Thrones.
 
Hello and welcome to Femme Metal, Sabrina! It’s a pleasure to have you with us again. How are you and how’s it going with Seven Kingdoms?

Well Hello! Thank you for having us back!! I am great, Just back from my first over sea’s experience at Female Metal Voices Fest! Me and my Band brothers are well, just waiting to see what comes from the release of our Latest album “The Fire is Mine”.

A consistent part of your music and lyrical themes was influenced by George R.R. Martin‘s works. How much did you actually take from his books and how much (and in which direction) developed on its own “inside” Seven Kingdoms?

Well, on our new album “The Fire Is Mine”, we dedicated 3 songs and 2 audio/narrative pieces to the book series. Mostly the songs lyrical content are written to fit the music, because the music is the what makes you think about the emotion we are trying to portray. The rest of the songs on our album were stories that we wrote as a group or on our own.

How was it, touring with no other than Blind Guardian? And how did the two bands get in contact in the first place?

Touring with Blind Guardian was the best moment we as a band have ever experienced. What better way to learn, than to be taught by the forefathers of Metal? They are a group of the most professional and down to earth men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Camden and Claus (our Manager at Intromental management) had tried to work something out for us to go overseas and tour with Blind Guardian but being a fresh new band, the financial backing was not there. Camden was determined, so they both discussed if they would be coming to America. It was half the cost to do it on our own territory and more feasible. We applied and Thanks be to the Gods, we were chosen.

We know the setting of your songs very well, and Seven Kingdoms does a great job in recreating the right atmosphere both with music and lyrics. But who is the narrator you give voice to in the songs?

The voice is of the characters of the story its self, the songs that aren’t inspired the Novel series is of us. For example, “Forever Brave”; the voice of the people who are tired of watching the evil governments mistreat and misuse their power. “Kardia”, a song that is about learning to love yourself and the people who are put in your life to help you learn to do it. “Fragile Minds Collapse”, a song that speaks of the mental state of a person/persons that cannot be warped but the feeling of insanity clings to their heals. Are they sane or are they truly the insane one? Many times I am the voice of many, because music seems to be the only language we all speak.

Seven Kingdom is a rare example of a band going from a male to a female vocalist. How did this change affect you, as a person (because as much as we may not like it, it’s a fact that there are still differences in how male and female leads are perceived by the industry and part of the public) and as a singer, from the point of view of technique and song arrangements?

One thing that does suck about being a Female in music (no matter what style) is that the visual perception has been warped due to the media. Before there was TV, a singer would be loved solely because of their talents. Now with the TV and magazines portraying females only in a sexual way to catch the audiences eye, it has declined in the talent department and escalated into very much only a beauty contest. It is hard to live up to a fairy tale expectation on the perfection the media pushes us towards… because it doesn’t exist. The only thing I can do is do my best and hope that someone likes it. There are so many opinions that trying to please them all is impossible.

Back in your first “group” interview here at the webzine, you stated that joining Seven Kingdoms was a completely new experience for you, since you had never listened to or performed this kind of music before. What changed up until now? What do you feel you could still do in the future to improve your contribution to the band?

Well, what changed was me meeting Camden. I had heard only a glimpse of Metal music from the late night rock stations and even those don’t play anything like our style of music. He heard something in my voice that he believed would blend perfectly with this style of music. The only thing I can do to keep contributing to the band is to keep singing, keep progressing, and keep doing my best.

Do you still perform or would like to perform the things you did before Seven Kingdoms? Or would you like to try something different from both in the future?

I honestly don’t do most of the stuff I use to do. However, I still sing Hymns and oldies songs and I very much love to go to the Karaoke bars (so does Keith) and sing all my favorites. I would love to record a CD with both my favorite Christmas songs and Hymns, but I think it would be so much better with the influence of metal simple because it’s a path less traveled and unique. I believe as long as I sing, metal will be a huge influence.

What’s your favorite song to perform live, and why?

From the self titled my favorites were “Vengeance by the Sons of a King”, “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothes” and “Seven Kingdoms” they were fun yet emotional.. So I could sing and act out the emotion of the songs. I haven’t had too much time in discovering my favorites from our new album just yet, since we haven’t performed them all. November 17th I will be able to answer that much better (our CD release party) but for now, “King in the North”, “Flame of Olympus” and “After the Fall”. They are full of just epic storytelling, a grand grove to get into and the melody lines I just seem to be able to soar with.

Have you had a chance to read anything from “A Song of Ice and Fire” or watch the TV show? Is there a particular character, element or event that caught your interest?

I really like Tyrion and Dany. I like the fast and witness of Tyrion, he may be small and many people doubt him but he is so smart beyond what people first give him credit for and very funny. I like Danny because she is beautiful but also a woman that is blessed and yet has the world of pain to overcome. I like this style of story, it’s got enough fantasy and reality mixed in with a few good sex scenes and epic war battles. It has its sad and serious moments mixed in with great humor… it’s just a wonderful book and TV series.

You are a member of the female singers community “Eve’s Apple” (an initiative which I can never praise enough) and recently participated in the big Eve’s Apple event held during MFVF X. Can you tell us a bit about the special acoustic concert and your experience with the Orchard in general?

It was a dream come true. The stage is amazing, the crowed was wonderful and greatly supportive. The girls were like my best friends that I had been away from for long time (Apple family reunion) and Phil was the most amazingly polite, friendly and professional promoter I have yet to meet (besides Camden, Hoyt and Glenn). I was very excited to see how welcomed our group was and how much that we were wanted to keep going. I believe the show was a huge success and that with much luck we will do it again soon. Phil even sent me a thank you e-mail on behalf of the MFVF family and himself… I was very impressed and hope that one day Seven Kingdoms would be able to grace the stage. It wasn’t enough for me… I want to do it again, soon.

You have a very varied experience, coming from Christian-oriented music (and being now in the metal scene), so who are the artists that inspired you the most throughout the years?

There are so many… to name them all it would take a LONG time, but I’ll give you my absolute favorites from off the top of my head: Allison Krauss, Celine Dion, Dina Carter, Amy Lee, Sarah McLauchlan, Melissa Etheridge, Third Day, Sharon den Adel, Adele, Hansi Kursch, Tobias Sammet, Andi Deris, Devin Townsend. That’s only just the few I can think of at the moment… it’s hard to name them all on the spot and also because I find new singers all the time who just “have it.”

Last, mandatory question: what does Seven Kingdoms have in store for us, in the upcoming future?

Right now, amazing songs and great shows (when we get a tour lined up will be when the excitement starts) and as always, more metal music as the years go on. We are in the waiting pattern since the album has released, the marinating process has taken full effect… we will see what comes of the new year, at the moment the only show booked is our CD release. Next year I think will be the year of the Seven Kingdoms… I just feel it. Be ready for us to take the scene by storm if given a true chance, We are ready.

Thank you again, Sabrina! We wish you and Seven Kingdoms all the best and hope to see you soon in Europe! Any last words for fans and readers?

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Seven Kingdoms and we can’t wait to see you all and hear how our music has influenced you. Keep your fingers crossed, who knows what’s right around the corner <3

 

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