Interview by Erwin van Dijk
On June 1st the compilation double CD “Demonic and Divine” is released by Femme Metal. The CD is to support the Macmillan Cancer support and Cancer research UK. Aesma Daeva appears with the song “The Loon – Thalassa mix”. This song originally appeared on the album “The Thalassa Mixes”. Aesma Daeva is a symphonic metal band from the USA. Most people in Europe will know this band because former Visions of Atlantis singer Melissa Ferlaak was a member of this band and Therion singer Lori Lewis is the singer of Aesma Daeva. This interview is with John Prassas – Composer/Guitarist of the band.
Did you always wanted to become a guitar player?
Only for a short time did I want to be a guitar player – after that I started to see guitar as a compositional tool.
Where did you get the inspiration for the music?
Nature is a big influence for me. Sometimes life experiences – but I try to not focus on my own experiences as much as I try to focus on the experiences of others.
And to what kind of music do you listen yourself?
I listen to a lot of different music – I find it changes with the seasons. Lately I have been listening to Leo Kottke Blue Man group, Dan Swano, and S.U.P.. When fall hits I will probably start to something slower.
Did you have any other bands before Aesma Daeva?
No not really, I have a few things I am working on that will not be released under Aesma Daeva. They have yet to be completed though.
How do you work together with Michael Platzer, the lyricist of the band? Do you have a general idea about the lyrics before he starts writing or is Michael free to use his own imagination?
Both – “The Loon” – is adapted from a poem he had written. Where as “The Bluish Shade” was a song where I gave him just a few lines and phrases.
Aesma Daeva is an unusual name for a band. What does it means?
How would you describe Aesma Daeva’s music? Because many bands describe themselves as Gothic – Metal – Progressive and the name of your website is “symphonicmetalband”.
I think of it as Symphonic Metal – Mainly because I have so many classical and symphonic influences. Especially when it comes to colour and dynamics. We can debate all day as to what bands are symphonic and what ones are not.
Can you introduce us to the other members of the band?
Lori is the main vocalist, Chris plays bass, and that is about it for main members. I have been working with a lot of guest guitarists and musicians. At the moment I write 90% of the music, but they certainly are good at bringing it to life (which is not something that easy to do).
Aesma Daeva contributed a song to the “Demonic and Divine” double CD. This song was “The Loon”. Why did you choose this song for the album?
It was the only new track I have under 5 minutes. 😉
Thalassa is Greece for “sea” and the goddess Thalassa was the personification of the Mediterranean Sea. And another Greek connection is “The Garden I Long For” which is performed by classical guitarist Kostas Grigoreas. How did you get in touch with him and what are the differences between this version and the original version?
Kostas and I have been friends for a while. I suppose the main difference is that this version is played and recorded much better than the original. I also adapted it to have a bit more “water” influence.
What is the idea behind this EP and why did you choose these songs for it ?
I was in Greece visiting friends and family. I did not have much for musical ideas, but when I left I found I was thinking about the sea and all of the colour’s within the sea. My original idea was to make a remix that would give the impression of the sea. Like “Le Mer”.
Speaking of Greece again, does the band have something with this country because the album “Dawn of the New Athens” which was released in March 2007 has also a very Greek name. Or is it about New Athens in Ohio (USA)?
No, it is about the “New Athens Colony” in the book “Childhoods end” by Arthur C. Clarke. However to assume it had something to do with Greece is completely understandable since so many other things I have done are influenced by Greece. Arthur C. Clarke is the writer of “2001: A Space Oddyssee”. Together with Isaac Asimov he is one of the most important SF writers of the 20th century.
When can we expect new Aesma Daeva music?
We are re-releasing our first album with a bunch of bonus material. However at the moment I am working hard at a new approach to music. Which means working with different singers and musicians. The new material probably will not be released under the band name Aesma Daeva.
And will it be different from your previous work?
Very much. I hope you can always stop by our web site symphonicmetalband.com. Their you can go to my personal web page where you can hear bits and pieces of new material. Thank you for the interview and support!
Single photo by Jill Vansickle
Band photo by Debbie Stiller