Interview by Si Smith
Intro by Miriam C.
It’s time again to give space to the British symphonic rock band Winter in Eden, after the 2010 debut “Awakening” it’s time to talk about “Echoes of Betrayal”, the new album out on Lycan Records, so we took the occasion to ask some questions to Vicky Johnson, their singer. Let’s see what she tell about this second platter and some band novelties.
First of all thank you for doing this interview and a big welcome to Femme Metal Webzine.
My pleasure! Thank you for asking me!
We don’t get that many gothic metal bands hitting the limelight from England – is there much of a gothic metal scene there?
We get described in lots of different ways, as we are at the softer end of many categories, so I feel that it would be unfair to comment about the whole of the gothic metal scene in general. But, from my experience, it is difficult for artists like us in England. It is an underground scene really….
The title Winter in Eden sounds like it should be self-explanatory. Could you tell us a little about the concept for the band and the band name?
The idea behind the name is to reflect the music; light and dark, orchestra with rock, masculine and feminine. Essentially, contrasts!
Your first full-length album “Awakening” was released in 2010 – how was this received by the press and the public?
It was received extremely well by the press and the public, which we were overwhelmed about.
Has your approach to recording changed much since the first album?
Yes, hugely… Steve (Johnson, my husband) has started to use real orchestra samples (on the keyboard tracks) and writes parts for many different instruments now, so there is a much denser sound. Also, we all feel much more comfortable, so we say what we feel and are not afraid to experiment a bit more. I guess we are starting to find our sound, and although the actual process is the same, we have paid closer attention to the orchestration in the mix.
Your voice fits the genre so well. Tell us a little about your singing experience.
Thank you! I guess I began singing when I started playing the piano; when I was 5 years old? I wasn’t keen on playing the classical pieces I was supposed to be practicing, so I started to write my own songs and sang to them. I sang at school and church but never had any formal training as such. It was really when I went to secondary school that it became more serious for me. I wrote my own song as part of a music project and sang it to get the idea across. I was then asked to play keyboards in the school band that Steve was in, back then. I sang along to one of the songs….. Then stopped playing keyboards and became the second singer in that band. I was 12 at this point and we played everywhere from shopping centres to care homes. When I left school, Steve and I played as a duo and worked full time for a few years as musicians. We didn’t do it all the time – we didn’t really do anything musically for a few years, until the predecessor to W.I.E. got going at least, but it was a great grounding!
Has the band’s line-up changed much since the early days?
Only slightly… Wayne, our original drummer, sadly had to leave earlier this year, due to illness. We are very lucky to have Steve Hauxwell join us now, as our new drummer. That is the only change in the line up.
Let’s talk about the new album. After the orchestral intro the first song begins very boldly with a solid rocking sound. “For the Few” is an excellent opener. What does it feel like for you to sing a Winter in Eden song like this?
Thank you! I really enjoy singing this song and love the way it kicks in after the gentle start. I love to sing all our songs, of course. But, because I am one of the songwriters and the main lyricist, I already have a huge connection with each song. I guess only I really know the true meaning behind each word that I write, so it can be very emotional if it is a personal subject. It does give you a real kick when a song goes down well and you receive positive feedback, especially when people identify with the songs. “For the Few” is about the Battle of Britain and one of our fans even made a video to reflect the lyrics to it….! It never ceases to amaze me what loyal fans will do for you.
One of the highlights of the album is the “Awakening parts III, IV, V” sequence. As the Awakening saga began on the last album with parts I and II, could you tell us more about the story?
“The Awakening” is the story of a woman being abused and how this has affected the rest of her life. She simply cannot escape from it. Although there is hope, from the end of Chapter 1 and 2, that she can finally move forward and start again, the hope disappears in Chapter 3, as she has done something that she deeply regrets. It is kept open as to what she has done and that was deliberate.In Chapter 4 she cannot live with the guilt and commits suicide. Chapter 5 is the time to reflect, with the idea that she may finally be at peace. However, the track is called “Descension”, so it is not clear if she is going to heaven or hell!
Many of the lyrics on the album seem to come from a dark or melancholy place. Where do you find your inspirations?
I find inspiration everywhere! It can be a personal experience, something I have seen, someone else’s experience, a documentary, a film or pure fantasy. However, it’s not necessarily a reflection of my personality. I find writing lyrics gives me the opportunity to air thoughts, concerns and frustrations that I otherwise would not be able to air, so I guess it is a good stress release for me? It helps my daily life remain positive!
You must have been very happy to receive a 9.5/10 for that first album review! And to get onto Classic Rock’s Track of the Day is a great achievement too. If there was anything you would like to achieve with this album, what would it be?
Yes, we are very happy with the review and getting “Track Of The Day”, especially with “Lies”, which is slightly different in style from the other songs that we have written. Our continuing aim is to increase our profile and ultimately make this a full time concern. At the moment, playing in Europe is our next big goal.
I see you are signed up for the Whitby Vampire Ball!! That will be a blast. Have you plans for festivals and/or a tour to support the album? If so, what can we expect from a Winter in Eden performance?
We are very excited about that gig! We played a few dates earlier in the year to support the album release and have a few more dates planned later this year as well. As for festivals, we just played the Cambridge Rock Festival again, on the Classic Rock Society stage as main support to Kyrbgrinder, and it was a fantastic show with great support!! Really enjoyable!
Apart from the singing, are there any other sides to Vicky Johnson that we would not otherwise hear about? Do tell!
Where to start! I do like to keep a lot of my personal life private, but I guess a few people are starting to find out that I am a solicitor. People never expect that, so I usually get an interesting reaction!
Anyway, thanks so much for giving this interview. We wish the band all success in the future.
Thank you very much for your support!