Interview by Eetu “Ene” Niskanen
An Interview with Heidi, the soprano singer of the Finnish Metal Band Amberian Dawn. During this interview, we’ll talk about about the new album “The Clouds of Northland Thunder” that is coming this summer.
You just released your second album “The Clouds of Northland Thunder” with Amberian Dawn, how much work did it take?
Our front man Tuomas had already started the composing the new album when the “River of Tuoni” album was released and some of the song were already ready. Almost everything was recorded before the Epica European tour 2008 but some choir and vocal parts had to be done straight after the tour. It took lots of work from everyone and especially from Tuomas who almost lived at the studio during the recordings. I did all the choir parts except the “Incubus” male role so I had quite a lot to sing too.
Is there an lyrical concept behind the album?
Not a clear one. But of course I wanted to bring a bunch of exiting stories to this album and also pour some Finnish cultural heritance into the lyrics too. Some of the lyrics are based on the Finnish national epic Kalevala as also on our previous album. On the “Clouds” album the Kalevala songs are “Kokko- Eagle of Fire” and “Birth of the Harp”. But there are also lyrics based on my own stories and legends or even fairytales.
How the band has grown from the debut “River of Tuoni”?
The biggest growth has happened in the bands skills and of course our lineup has changed too. First came Kasperi to replace the former guitarist Sampo and just recently Tuomas decided to retire from guitar-business, at least the live guitars, and his replacement was Emppu with his wild hair. The sound of the new album is in my opinion more solid and there is more variation in musical ways.
What is your personal favourite song from the album?
Hard question because I kind of like them all but from different reasons and it is really hard to put them into any order. But maybe I would say “Sons of Seven Stars” because in my opinion the story and the music go so well together in this song. The story linkes quite remotely to the book about Seven Brothers of Aleksis Kivi, a Finnish author. But in this version of the story, the seven brothers were born in the ancient times from the alliance of a bear and a human. The bears left the land to their sons and moved to the stars. The seven sons grew up under the constellation of Ursa Major and the North star and persistantly and with vigor they plowed the frozen land and peopled the cold and dark North. They could have also been the forfathers for Finnish people.
How did you joined Amberian Dawn?
I was a keyboardist and a backing vocalist in a metal band called Iconofear from the year 1997. During the ten years with Icono-boys I developped my singing skills and felt that is was time to retire from the keyboards. I simply felt I was better as a singer than a keyboardist and I could give most on that area. So it was 2006 when I started to search a band as a singer. Tuomas and Tommi spotted my ad and I did some singing samples and also the lyrics for “Passing Bells” from “River of Tuoni” album as a test. I think I got the job…;)-
How long have you been singing?
I went on a music oriented school and I started taking singing lessions when I was 14 years old. By that time I didn´t even think about being a singer one day. I wanted to take some lessions because I felt tensions and pain in my throught when singing. I wanted to emprove my tecnique to get rid of the tentions which made my singing unpleasant. I enjoyed singing a lot and I wanted it to stay that way too. I joined a choir at the age of 14 and after that I have sang in various choirs and some ensembles too. I´m still taking singing lessions and trying to develop my skills – I feel that it´s an neverending project…..but I don´t mind as long as I keep developping!-
How would you describe your voice?
I’m a classically trained soprano and some would say I’m a soubrette soprano. – The soubrette voice is light with a bright, sweet timbre, a tessitura in the mid-range and with no extensive coloratura. The soubrette voice has a lighter vocal weight than other soprano voices and a brighter timbre. Many young singers start out as soubrettes but as they grow older and the voice matures more physically they may be reclassified as another voice type-.
What kind of music do you listen yourself and how often?
I listen to a lot of different kinds of music from heavy metal to classical. I don’t listen too much music because I´m not too much at home. But when I do I first listen to my mood and then I choose the right music for it.
Do you think it’s easier to rise as metal band on big metal country such as Finland?
Finland is the promised land for metal but because of that the competition is hard and the level is really high. You have to have a good concept, skilled musicians, good compositions and production, some luck, reliable and hardworking people to work with and a great team to built everything up. And not to forget the hard work from everyone. Sounds like recipe for a cake doesn’t it! Bake it in 666 degrees to make it metal…hahhah :D-
You did big european tour with symphonic metal band Epica last year, how was the experience?
It was a great experience and we all grew up as musicians during the four week on road. The Epica people were really fun to work with and everything went really as planned. Except we all got a bit sick on the tour and I was in a terrible flue for almost 3 weeks from the 4 weeks tour…there were mornings I didn´t have almost any voice but duringthe day I managed to get some of my singing voice back. In Germany I went to a doctor but I only got some herbs and allready in France I needed to see a doctor again who gave me antibiotics and some cortizone. I missed a lot of scenery because of being sick but none of the shows so I must be content.
There are a lot of female fronted metal bands in the world at the moment, how Amberian Dawn is different from them, how do you keep unique?
We play fast tempo, guitar driven metal with purely classical female vocals. To continue the baking theme I would say : the ingredients have been used before but not in this kind of mixture.
What are the plans of Amberian Dawn for the future?
We are planning a new European tour for the fall 2009 and maybe some touring also for the spring 2010. Tuomas has also started to compose new material for the becoming third album.