Interview by Claudio Grippi
This time we let the guitarist and mastermind, Anastasia, intruduce this young German band symphonic metal caressed by JRR Tolkien’s symphonies and some real kick ass girl power (hahahahaha men this time you’re the minority). Well, hail to the girl power, isn’t?
Hello Anastasia! Thank you for taking the time for this interview. Let’s start immediately. First of all, How are you?I would like to start with a simple question. Where does the name Arven come from? What is its meaning? Is it somehow related to the name Arwen from the movie trilogy “The Lord of the Rings”?
Yes, you got it right. We named the band after the female character from the book “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien. Well, we are certainly not the first band to look for a name in his book but Arwen seemed perfect for us because the beautiful story of an she-elf, who gives up her immortality for a love of a mortal man, represents very well everything our music stands for: intense passion and strong emotions.
How did this project start?
Before I founded the band Arven, I have already played in a couple of metal bands, where I always was the only female musician. I thought it’s a bit sad that metal music is so men-dominated and on the other hand I was personally acquainted with 2 girls, who also played in metal bands. So when I started to compose songs and wanted to found a band it seemed only natural to me to try and form a female metal band. But finding capable female musicians, who would be interested in playing metal turned out to be a real challenge. The search for musicians lasted almost a year and at times I was so frustrated, that I almost gave up. It seemed to be impossible to find what I was searching for, no matter how hard I tried. But in the end I’m really happy that I didn’t give up, because finally I got lucky and Arven finally came into the world. I can say that for me it’s a big pleasure and an honour to make music with the girls of Arven and it’s one of the best things I ever experienced in life!
Why did you choose “Music of Light” as the title of the album? Does it have a special meaning for the band since it is also the opening track of the album?
On the one hand “Music of Light” was a title of one of our early songs, that represents our musical style really well. On the other hand “Music of Light” seemed like a good description for our musical style in general, as you can associate “light” and “clear” or “ardent” with our sound. This double meaning seemed interesting so we choose it to be the album title.
Arven is mainly composed of ladies with several musical backgrounds: from classical music to metal. Which musical backgrounds or bands do you mostly inspire to when it comes to song writing? Is it a specific choice you made to hire female-only musicians and singers? Or it just came as it is?
Yes, like I said earlier it was a choice. From the beginning I wanted the band to stand out of the crowd in some way. There are very many metal bands out there with a female singer and sometimes you see a girl play an instrument in a metal band. But I know of only very few metal bands, where the song writing and the whole musical concept has been done by female musicians, so from that perspective Arven creates a feminine version of metal.
In your opinion, what are the main differences in terms of song writing within a group of five girls and one boy? Do you think ‘female song writing’ is more detail-oriented?
I don’t think that the song writing process itself is different in a female band but our tastes may be. In general our music seems to be softer, than the most men-dominated metal bands are, but actually we didn’t plan it to be this way. Our desire was (and still is) to explore different styles of metal from soft to hard and create our own version of it: there is a distinct soft and feminine side to our album but we also like to contrast it with powerful aggressive energy, that you could call our masculine side.
As far as the lyrics are concerned, what are the main topics that inspire you?
In our song writing process music always comes first and lyrics are created after the song is almost finished. This way we have to find a theme for a song that fits the mood created by the music. Basically we try to write lyrics that mean something to us, we put a lot of our very personal experiences in the lyrics, though it may be not so obvious sometimes. As a songwriter I put a lot of myself into my music and with Carina I’m very lucky to have found a singer, who us able to express the feelings that I put in the music in a genuinely way. She really “means” what she sings about. Typically for a female dominant band there are a few love songs on our album: in “Music of Light” we tried to capture the euphoria of being freshly in love whereas “Till Death do us Part” is about a painful experience of a breakup. The song “My Dear Friend” is the song that means most to me, I wrote it after the death of a close friend of mine. But not all songs on the CD are earnest, “Raise your Cups” is a cheerful party-song, for example and “Midwinter Nights” is a fairy tale with reversed gender roles.
Your new album has been released recently. This is a very delicate time for new female-fronted metal bands to come out with new, interesting material among the greatest female-fronted metal bands. How do you think “Music of Light” may find its way into the listener’s heart?
Considering the great number of the female-fronted metal bands on the market it’s indeed a difficult time for a new band that plays this kind of music. Often times we get the: “Please, not yet another female-fronted band out there” message, even before someone even listened to our music for one second and it can be very frustrating, after you put so much passion and energy into the songs. But in the end, we just have to accept that fact and we certainly wouldn’t change our musical style because of that. No matter what, we will stay true to our style and hope that there are enough people our there who follow their hearts instead of just being in line with the musical trend.
This album features many well-known names in this genre. Stefan Schmidt from Van Canto and Sascha Paeth (producer) are among these, for example. How did their experience help contribute to the production of the album? Did they influence your sound somehow or did you already have a clear picture of the album?
Working with Stef (Stefan) Schmidt was a great experience for us. He met us at one of our live-shows and he liked our music and offered some great ideas, so that we ended up doing some kind of a “song writing workshop” with him, where we took some new song material of Arven and experimented with different arrangements and song structures. He is a real professional and a very skilled and experienced musician and we enjoyed to work with him so much, that we decided to record the choirs for the album in his studio. You can hear Stef among the male voices in the choirs. We think that he did a great job and would like to thank him one more time for supporting us along our way. Finally Sascha Paeth did the mastering of the album and gave the sound of “Music Of Light” it’s final touch.
How would you describe the new album in terms of genre? It seems you are fond of Medieval/Celtic music.
I was always fascinated by medieval music because of it’s background and history. Every music tells it’s own story,and I am very interested in this time. I love the instruments and the sound of medieval melodies so it became one of the main musical influences for the album. We are often asked the question about genre but for me this question is not one the really important ones.
Do you think your sound is going towards symphonic or power metal in the near future?
Actually right now we are experimenting with both. We have a couple of new up-tempo power metal songs that are a lot of fun to play life. On the other hand I’m thrilled by the idea of using more orchestral arrangements in future but it’s a relatively new approach to me and will certainly take time to get the results that I’d like to have in this area.
What are your plans for the future?
Our greatest wish right now is to play live-shows as often as possible because playing live in front of our fans is what a metal band is all about in the first place. This year a number of live-concerts are already planned and we are very much looking forward to the shows. On the other hand we are working on new material for a second album and we hope that it wont be long until we enter the studio one more time and go on the musical journey and find out where it would lead us to this time.
One last question. Are you planning to tour in Europe supporting other bands or are you looking for promoters for your own tour?
As a young band it’s not quite easy to get the opportunity to play great live shows, but we hope that we will be able to play more live shows in Europe in near future. We already played in France a couple of times last year and we got excellent feedback from our fans there, so we are curious to see more countries, visit new places and get to know more people who are interested in metal.
Anastasia, thank you very much for your time! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thank you for your interest in our music and the band and also thanks to our fans all around the world! We didn’t expect that much positive feedback and we are happy to find that our music is so well received. Best wishes for all of you, and who knows, maybe one day we can meet at a live show ;-).
Photos by angst-im-wald.com