Interview by Danny Robertson
Industrial quartet Lahannya are about to unleash their new album “Defiance” upon us. We spoke to frontwoman Lahannya to discuss the new material, and the future.
What initially inspired the story behind “Defiance” and last year’s release, “Welcome to The Underground” ?
Well Danny… Like the prequel told on “Welcome to the Underground“, our 2008 EP, “Defiance” is set in a future distopian Britain, which has evolved into a total surveillance society as a result of severe terror attacks. The protagonist of the story is a resistance fighter who is plagued by feelings of guilt and anger for having inadvertently contributed to the rise of this brave, new Britain. The setting of “Defiance” is mostly inspired by current political and technological developments as the UK is slowly turning from one of the most liberal countries in Europe into a surveillance state par excellence. With 5 million cameras CCTV is omnipresent and DNA details pertaining to over 5 per cent of the population are held in a national database as a tool in combating terrorism. Biometric ID cards are already being introduced and more and more government databases are being centralised resulting in our private lives becoming increasingly transparent. It might not be long before we are forced to make difficult choices affecting our principles and lifestyles. The storyline of “Defiance” imagines what those choices and their consequences might be?
How long did it take to put the whole album together?
Basically, although we wrote a couple of the songs from “Defiance” while still working on “Welcome to the Underground”, the real song writing work for this album only started in September last year. All in all, it took around a year to put the new album together.
Was it a conscious decision to make this album more rockier?
The majority of songs on “Defiance” deal with betrayal, hatred, the consequences of difficult decisions and revenge and, when the lyrics deal with such strong emotions then the music has to follow suit! “Defiance” has become our darkest and most aggressive release to date because of it. I must say I very much like the direction it’s taken and absolutely love performing the new songs live!
Will the story of the resistance fighter be continued on future releases?
Let’s see? I’ve really enjoyed writing songs that follow a storyline, creating the right setting and putting every song into a context. For me the story is definitely not finished yet because it ends with a terrible betrayal and declaration of war…. so I am very much looking forward to working out the next instalment and finding out myself what happens next to my heroine and her companions…
Many labels have been applied to your music in the past, but how would you describe your sound?
I’ve given up describing our sound because it combines influences from quite a variety of genres and therefore doesn’t neatly fit an obvious description. In the press, we’ve quite often been compared to Evanescence and Lacuna Coil, which is very flattering but quite misleading in my opinion. The best and certainly most innovative comparison to date came from “Heavy”, the third biggest metal magazine in Germany, who said our sound was “a mixture of Zeromancer, Pain and Madonna”!
What influences you the most, musically and non-musically?
Lyrically, I take a lot of my influences from what is going on around me and from my own experiences and emotions. Since our last couple of releases were set in a futuristic Britain I’ve also done a lot of reading up on socio-political issues and took inspiration from science-fiction literature. Musically, I was probably subconsciously influenced by everything I like and have been listening to – whether I wanted to or not. Over the last couple of years I’ve been listening to a lot more metal, which I am sure has left its mark on my song writing and the overall, general feel of the album.
Which current acts do you admire most, or feel you have most in common with?
There are a lot of great bands out there – I have a ton of respect for System of a Down, Rammstein and The Prodigy for being incredible live bands and entertainers…. But, there are also lesser known bands that I really like – Sacred Mother Tongue I saw by pure chance on their first London show and I’m sure they’ll be going places in the metal world and The LoveCrave from Italy are definitely the most fun band out of all the bands I’ve ever played with recently! Meeting other artists and bands is actually one of the most enjoyable aspects of what I do. For the upcoming German and UK tours I’ve personally selected 90 per cent of the support bands in each city, which involved sifting through a lot of MySpace profiles before contacting the bands I liked best. Now I am looking forward very much to seeing these bands live because I really love their music and hope our fans will enjoy my selections as well.
Are there any upcoming acts or releases you’d like to recommend to people?
Yes… Although it’s not really a new release and the band is no longer a newcomer, I would very much recommend that people check out Mankind Is Obsolete’s album “Trapped Inside”. For me it’s a great industrial rock album with a perfect balance of heavy guitars and electronics, with some amazing vocals and creative lyrics. It’s such a shame that the band is not better known, they definitely deserve to have international success!
What have been your personal career highlights thus far?
Playing this year’s Wave Gotik Treffen in Germany and Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium; both were absolutely amazing experiences and career highlights for me personally. The other highlight was the release of our second album “Defiance”. A lot of sweat, blood and tears went into it and holding it finally in my hands was an incredible feeling!
What are your current aims for the future?
Like all bands I suppose, I’d like to start playing larger venues in the UK and Germany where we perform regularly and then, extend our tours to the rest of Europe. I’d love to play live shows in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain and Italy, where I know we have fans… We keep getting asked to play in their countries, so I hope to be able to do it very soon!
What’s next for the band? Whereabouts will you be touring in coming months?
Having played six festivals this year, we’re finishing 2009 with a 15-date German and UK tour going to great places like Sheffield, Leeds, Glasgow, Nottingham and London as well as Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg. All the dates are on www.lahannya.com. We haven’t really started making concrete plans for next year yet because the current one has been keeping us so busy, but I’d definitely like to continue touring, playing festivals and start writing new songs too….
Any last messages for people?
Thanks to everyone who has supported us so far – see you on the current tour! Check www.lahannya.com for the dates!! – Cheers!!