SIRENIA – An interview with Emmanuelle Zoldan

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Almost two years after the release of “Astral Arcane Aeons”, Norwegian/French symphonic metal act Sirenia gets back on track with a brand new album, “Riddles, Ruins and Revelations”, that will be released tomorrow via Napalm Records. We’ve managed to exchanged a few virtual chats with Emmanuelle Zoldan, concerning this new record that, like all the music that has been written and recorded in 2020, has dealt with some little obstacles concerning the recording process and a few other stuff, but let’s discover more with the French lead singer!

Hi Emmanuelle, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. It’s such a big pleasure hosting this e-mail chat with you. Ça va?

Ca va très bien Arianna, merci!

On February 12th, Napalm Records will unleash your tenth studio album “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”. The album follows the previous “Arcane Astral Aeons” of two years and a half only. What can you share about the birth of this album? How did the process go? I know that, due to the global pandemic, you’ve postponed the recordings of six months, more or less…

Yes, all along this album making, we had to adapt all the time, to move dates, to change our plans sometimes, the situation made this harder than usual but in the same time even more exciting. Having being able to face this challenge gives to this album a very special taste for us.

The album has been produced once again by Morten. Compared to the work you’ve done with “Arcal Astral Aeons”, that was also shared with Jacob Hansen, I guess that this time around the choice of not relying on a producer was also due to the historical period we’re living that didn’t allow anyone of you to have a direct debate with any producer. Is this right? What can you share?

Exactly! Due to the situation, among the difficulties we had to face, we couldn’t work with Jacob Hansen this time, and we had to find a solution for the mix. Morten decided to do it himself. Mixing an album , especially Symphonic metal is an extremely delicate work and I have to say that Morten did a great job of adaptation and efficy here.

What can you tell about the album title itself? Does it have any specific or hidden meaning, given that all the words begin with the same letter, as it happened for “Arcane Astral Aeons” (AAA) and “Dim Days Of Dolor” (DDD)?

It’s a riddle that will probably last for a long time! Morten has never talked too much about his titles or lyrics choices, prefering to leave it up to the fans to interpretate them. I also think that in all the arts, music, painting, writing, poetry, there’s never one and only one reading of the contents and everybody can have his own interpretation. Theres is as much interpretations as individuals on earth and that’s what is interesting.

Indeed, the album cover follows the steps of the previous Sirenia releases, even if, somehow, I see a sort of reconnection to “The Seventh Life Path”, maybe because in both the artworks there’s this character that seems to depict Death. In “TSLP”, we have a sort of reaper, while in “RRR” there’s a dressed skeleton who holds an hourglass, another mutual element in “TSLP”. Is this a sort of coincidence or, quite the opposite, there’s a clear related connection between the two album covers?

Gyula Hanvansak did both of these covers. We can see some similarities between these 2 covers, but here again, everybody’s free to think there’s a connection between the 2 opus, and if yes, to interpretate it freely.

This will also be the first record with your brand new drummer, Michael Brush, who was announced as the permanent drummer of the band right after the latest European tour you had in 2019. What kind of contribution did he give to “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”?

Yes, we are really happy with Michaël arrival in the band, he’s a great drummer and a very nice person as well. On riddles, Ruins and revelations, Michaël helped out with drums arrangements on several songs.

From “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”, you’ve already unleash two singles, “Addiction No. 1” and “We Come To Ruins” and a new single is about to coom soon, if I’m not mistaken. What kind of feedbacks did you get initially from the fans for these first promotional songs?

“We come to ruins” is a heavy song combining what a lot of people are used to with Sirenia sound across the years, the feedbacks have been really good on this one. “Addiction N°1” is a totally different approach: This one is a more catchy, maybe a more commercial approach of a song than the other ones and this artistic bias disturbed a lot of fans, and the feedbacks have been more contrasted. Sometimes, people like to hear a band doing exactly what they are expecting from it, and if it sounds different their world looks to crumble around, they feel kind of betrayed. Sometimes it’s all about time. People just need time to learn to appreciate something new and different from the band they know for years. And sometimes, some people just complain whatever you do!

I have to say that, as soon as I’ve listened to ‘Addiction No. 1’, I’ve found myself a bit surprised, because to me this is a single I would label as “out of the box” for what it concerns Sirenia. It’s a very modern song, indeed, that seems to introduce us a brand new side of the band, a catchier and “danceable” side of you. Do you think that this song could be a great calling card for those people who are still not familiar with you?

It’s definitely a song different from what we are used to do. Experimenting is the funny part in music. All the songs on this album have different atmospheres, „We come to ruins“ shows a heavy and dark approach, „December snow“ a melancholic one, and „Addiction“ explores this 80’s catchy sound. „Addiction“ doesn’t reflect the whole album direction, it’s only one proposition among the others. I would say that „We come to ruins“ would be a better calling card for someone who is not familiar with us because the song is more versatile and shows different atmospheres and different Sirenia facets in the same song.

Let’s say that, perhaps, “We Come To Ruins” could have been the most suitable song in order to give the listener a very first picture of this brand new album: indeed, the single shows off a part of all the trademarks that, we fans, got to know and love about Sirenia… what do you think?

It is, definitely, in my opinion, the song that shows the best our new album direction.

I guess indeed that this won’t be the only one surprise that you’ll offer us with “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”. Without spoiling too much about the song we’re talking about in order to leave the surprise as pure as possible for every Sirenia fan, I’ve noticed a great cooperation with a dear friend of the band, Joakim Næss. What can you share about this collaboration?

We collaborated with Joachim on „Dim Days of Dolor“ in 2016, and we were glad to invite him once again on this album. Joachim has a great voice and is a nice guy, it’s always a pleasure to work with him. The song we sang together on this time is called „Downward Spiral“.

Reading the tracklist, I’ve noticed that the album will contain a French song, “Voyage Voyage”, a famous cover by Desireless made in 1986. I’m pretty sure that Morten has put his own paw into this. What can you share about this choice?

Morten loves this song so much. That’s a song we often listen to while touring in the tourbus. When Morten came with the idea of covering the song, I was a bit puzzled, because I could hardly imagine how could sound a metal version of it. But when he sent the files I had to admit it was brilliant!

Essentially, what shall we expect from “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”? Since I’ve heard some electronics here and there and given also the presence of very intriguing elements, I guess that this new album will show off your hidden and original music nuances, so to say. Is this correct?

With „RRR“ we wanted to bring to Sirenia’s heavy symphonic sound, something more modern and fresh, adding some electronics elements and some 80’s vibes sometimes. It is a very strong and variated album, with different atmospheres experiments. Without never losing Sirenia sound and identity at any moment, it shows new unexplored facets from Sirenia.

The album will be released in less than ten days. Currently, what are your main future goals? And how will you promote this new album, given that it’s basically impossible to have gigs at the moment and for bands is becoming harder and harder to presents music without a real context with an audience?

Even if it’s impossible for now to perform live, We’re working on the future, planning tours, and projects for the next months. But waiting for an improvement of the situation, we put a lot of energy in promoting our new album with interviews, videos, playthroughs, and we are still thinking together about more solutions to develop in the next weeks.

Concerning live shows and since that you’re French, I’d love to ask you something that, lately, is intriguing also fans from abroad. I’ve read that Hellfest organizators asked to meet the French Government in order to get some answers for the regular, hypotetical development of the brand new festival edition that shall take place this summer. If I’m not mistaken, one of the organizators stated that, usually, the preparations for such a big festival as Hellfest is requires at least one year in its full in order to get and have everything completed and since no one got any answers from your government, the organization would love to try to have its new edition this summer, observing all the rules and the restrictions, of course. What’s your own opinion about this matter?

I feel really angry with the decision of closing concert halls and depriving thousands of musicians to work and people to see liveshows for more than a year now, while planes and supermarkets are full of people; In most of the theaters and concert halls, where people are sitting on chairs it’s possible to observe rules and restrictions quite easily. In big festivals,especially in metal, it sounds technically more complicated as people are standing up. But the Hellfest is known to be so excellently organized that they already thought about solutions to make it possible without taking any risk for their visitors and artists . I absolutely believe that the Government has to change his mind on this point and give the festivals and concert hall the help they need to bring back shows.

Do you think that, sooner or later, at least in the music area of interest, normality might get back or, on the contrary, the road is still very long, given that this year will be the transitional one in order to allow people to get vaccines against this global virus?

It’s too early to say…even if the actual worldwide situation looks inextricable sometimes, and the vaccine‘s pro and cons debate can concern , I want to stay optimistic, and I want to answer: YES, normality WILL get back soon. It HAS to. We have to believe and put all our energy to be ready when the situation will allow us to be back on stage, to be back to LIFE!

Emmanuelle, I’d love to thank you for allowing us to give spot to Sirenia, despite the big lack we had to face for this interview. As our tradition wants, I let the interviewee the chance to share the final words, so I call you to speak! I hope to manage to see you soon for our promised coffee and for enjoying Sirenia live on stage once again. Merci beaucoup!

Yes, we really hope to be back on the road as soon as possible, to have the pleasure to share with you our new songs live! We are really excited to perform them! We can’t wait for the new album releasing and we hope that you will love it! I wish you all the best and send you huge hugs, waiting for hugging you for real next time! See you soon!

Links:

Sirenia On Facebook

Sirenia Official Website

Sirenia On Instagram

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