Interview by Miriam Cadoni

SPLENDIDULA - An Interview with Kristien Cools

In this interview, Splendidula‘s singer Kristien Cools will bring us through a gloomy journey through doom and the latest band’s full-length “Somnus”. The Belgians have recently released their third LP via Italy’s specialized label Argonauta Records. Join us in this dark and unexpected journey!

Hi Kristien, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and how is life treating you in these precarious days?    

Hi! Under the circumstances I’m feeling good. I really like to spend much time at home, but of course I miss my family/friends. And, it’s not an easy period for the band as well because it’s been a long time since we were able to rehearse.

First, for those who are not familiar with you and Splendidula, would you like to tell us how did the band get together?    

Splendidula was formed in 2008, but our guitarist David is the only original band member present in this line up. Actually, I joined the band in 2012 and the current line-up exists since 2017.

We are a happy family now. Since each member has his own preferred music genres (Doom, Post, Sludge, Black, etc.), we can say that Splendidula’s sound is a combination of all these elements.

On January 29th ,the band released its third album “Somnus” via Argonauta Records. What can you share about its general production?  

The songs featured on “Somnus” were already composed before the release of our previous album “Post Mortem”. Since we finally managed to gather a stable line-up where everyone looked in the same direction, it felt really good at that moment. So, this resulted in heavier and slower riffs combined with atmospheric synths, psychedelia drones, pounding drums and grinding bass lines.

If we have to draw a comparison between “Somnus” and our earlier works, the new songs feel much darker and more intense that are craving for intimate lyrics about personal feelings and experiences. Indeed, I wanted to create a lyrical concept with an extensive interpretation to make sure I could put all my emotions into it.

After 2 years of intense writing we started recording “Somnus” together with JDB at Kosmik Womb. The album was mixed by Tim De Gieter at Much Luv Studio (Brutus, Amenra, etc.) and mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music (Mastodon, Chelsea Wolfe, Zeal & Ardor, etc.).

Reconnecting with my previous question, “Somnus” marks your collaboration with Italy’s specialized label Argonauta Records. How is this partnership treating you so far? And how was the first approach with it? 

We only have positive thoughts about Argonauta Records and we really like to work with Gero because he was already familiar with our music when we got in contact. Then, for publicity, he works together with Mona from All Noir. She’s doing a great job to get the most out of it. Recently, I’m also taking care of the ad graphics for Argonauta Records.

SPLENDIDULA - An Interview with Kristien Cools

Instead, 2018 marks the time for the bands’ second album “Post Mortem” released via Inverse Records. What can you recall about it and how much of its sonic elements will be present in “Somnus”?  

Indeed, It was very nice working with Joni from Inverse Records and it marks our very first experience with a record label. We have definitely learned a lot during this journey. His record label is very professional and a lot of the bands signed with his label kept on collaborating with him.

However, we gain a lot of positive feedback to the point that we have received an offer by the Belgian record label Dust & Bones Records for a vinyl release. Also, “Post Mortem” allows to share the stage with some great bands such as Wiegedood, Wolvennest, Psychonaut, and many others.

Instead, for the new album “Somnus”, we decided not to repeat ourselves. And, in doing this, we started from the beginning of our writing process to adjust some important things. For example, we have downtuned the guitars, we added a subtle layer of synths and we worked a lot more with the vocal contrast introduced in our previous album “Post Mortem”. In my opinion, the result feels heavier, more atmospheric, and the songs are more cohesive.

The upcoming album “Somnus” was mixed by Much Luv Studio and mastered by Grammy award-winning mastering engineer Alan Douches at West West Side Music. How was working with him and how has he enhanced the overall musical qualities of Splendidula? 

We like so much our new material that we only wanted to work with the best people around. For this reason, we have collaborated with Tim from Much Luv Studio. While working together, we noticed that we shared the same musical vision.

As a matter of fact, he pushed our sound to a higher level and we also received from him a lot of great tips for the future. Then for the mastering session, Tim recommended Alan Douches from West West Side Music. And it turn out the correct choice because the result has exceeded our expectations.

I was literally intrigued by the cover album. What does it represent and how does it connect to the lyrics of “Somnus”?

Thank you so much for your kind words. For what regards the cover artwork, it’s a representation of the Roman god Somnus who is the personification of sleep. He has a thousand sons, the Somnia, who they appear in our dreams in many forms. These can be human forms, beasts or inanimate objects.

So, the main connection to the artwork lies in its concept and their lyrics because the songs on the album’s concept is about dream shapes, nightmares and how these elements connect with the world. On “Somnia”, there are some intimate lyrics about personal feelings and experiences which are open to be personally interpreted.

The author of the cover artwork is our guitarist David who takes care of all the Splendidula albums artworks. In addition to the cover artwork, he also created an artwork for every song which creates a visual reflection. These are included in the physical versions of the album (CD and vinyl).

What does the future hold for Splendidula and how did the pandemic impact your original plan?    

Due to the pandemic, the rehearsals are on hold at the moment but we’re already busy creating new music. For “Somnia”, its production was just finished at the start of the pandemic. Although we were satisfied with it, it proved to be a bad timing to approach record companies. For that reason, we waited a bit to see how the situation evolved. Though, after a few months, we began our search and we ended up at Argonauta Records, which they immediately offered us an interesting collaboration.

Naturally, Corona has caused a substantial delay in “Somnia”‘s release, so we are very happy that it is finally here. As many other bands, all the planned gigs were cancelled. Of course, it was a real bummer, as it takes a lot of time to plan all these shows, but I think everyone has suffered losses. But if compared to some others, we can’t complain. Though, we feel lucky enough to have played 2 sold-out shows in September 2020 before the pandemic. During which, we could already play some of our new songs.

Certainly, we are really happy about our online merch sales and pre-orders received over the past few months. I personally think that the absence of live performances has clearly pushed people to buy more online. The only thing we can do is wait and see what the future will bring.

So, Kristien, we’re almost at the end and with this please be free to say hi to your fans and your readers. Thank you so much for this interview. 

Thank you so much! I also would like to thank everyone who supported us so far. For the readers who are not familiar with Splendidula, please be feel free to check out our music and send us your thoughts.