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Interview with Marcella Di Troia and Pierre Lateur (Black Mirrors)


08/10/18 01:27AM

Hello, and thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Muses Of Metal today. We are most glad to have the opportunity to sit down and ask you some questions!

Can you tell us a little of the band’s story and your journey so far?

Marcella: We started the band 5 years ago. At first, I wanted to form a girl rockband so I began to play with two friends of mine who played the rhythm section. We were looking for a guitar player and I was already playing in another band with Pierre, as I was really fond of the way he played, I asked him to join the band. We did several rehearsals, jamming all together but the girls couldn't give more time to make it more concrete. So, we started to play with two other friends: Edouard and Gino. I forgot the idea of my girl band as we had a very good feeling together. We wrote a few songs and recorded a first EP couple of month after with them because we wanted to hit the stage as soon as possible. Since then, we released another EP called Funky Queen and a debut album Look Into The Black Mirror via Napalm Records.

What is your creative process? Is there a main song writer in the band, or is the writing process a truly collaborative effort?

Marcella: The first ideas come from Pierre and I. Most of the time, when he got a riff idea or a basic idea, he shows it to me and I write the melody. After that, He can spend hours working on and on until he gets something almost complete. Then, we work on the song together with the bass player and the drummer. 

Pierre: At this point, a lot of changes can still happens because we jam around the song, adding or removing parts, sometimes I simplify a guitar idea to make some room for the bass or the drum.
So even if the first input is from Marcella and I, the final result is a collaborative work.

Marcella : When the song arrangements are done, I write the lyrics according to what the song inspires me or even sometimes I already got a basic idea of some words which came out during the writing process.

You have just released your album Look Into The Black Mirror via Napalm Records – has being signed to a predominantly metal label shaped or influenced your sound? 

Marcella: No, not at all. As you can hear we are not playing metal. The thing is that we never think about how we want a song to sound. Actually, during the writing process, we don't pay attention to the genre we play. We only do music that comes out. We are listening to a lot of different stuff, it goes from Queens Of The Stone Age to Radiohead going though Otis Redding or even tribal music like Lakota chantings.You can feel all these influences in our sound. Musically wise, Napalm let us completely free during the writing process. 

Can you tell us about the stories and themes behind Look Into The Black Mirror?

Marcella: There are various topics covered in our album. We can say that Look Into The Black Mirror is the result of all our personal, musical and spiritual experiences we’ve went through during the past five years. We wrote at least 40 different songs before recording Look Into The Black Mirror, our goal was to have enough songs to make a strong first record. 
Musically, it goes from heavy rock with powerful riffs to intimate and acoutic songs. We tried to write songs with catchy vocal lines as well because to us it's very important to have strong melodies in our songs.

Your sound is very reminiscent of iconic blues rock and rock and roll artists of decades past, and draws on artists such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix – what drew you to this style of music? And what about these artists drew your attention as creative individuals?

Pierre : The first vintage rock I was into was Pink Floyd. I bought The Wall in a second hand shop without knowing anything about them. Then, I saw the Live in Pompei which blew me away and I started to read a lot about them. In a interview David Gilmour was talking about Hendrix. It gives me the will to listen to his music. I started with a “best-of” before buying all his albums. What really caught my attention were his beautiful and unique guitar sound and the freedom I felt in his creations. You can't really name the kind of music in his music because there's so many elements all mixed together.

I really like the album artwork! Can you tell us a bit more about it and how it made the final selection?

Marcella: Thank you! We decided to work again with the talented Sebastian Jerke for our cover. We already worked with him for our previous EP Funky Queen. At that time, he proposed several cover ideas and this one was part of his proposals. It reflects fairly well the way we approach our music. It shows somebody exploring altered state of consciousness. You know, when you're writing, playing, or listening to music, you can experience a beautiful journey into your consciousness. It's like meditation or even a trance state... Look Into The Black Mirror is an invitation for the audience to explore another state of mind. We hope people will enjoy the journey as we do.

How is the music scene in Belgium for rock and metal music?

Marcella: It’s not really easy. Metal and rock surely aren't the mainstream genre where we come from, the French speaking part of Belgium... Even if there's an audience who likes it! You know, our release party in Brussels was sold out, so this means that there's an audience for rock bands... I think radios have a role in this, if rock bands would have more airplays, the situation will be different but the it's now more about electronical music and 'fresh' pop songs. I believe that this is why the main audience is not really into heavy-rock and metal. But the genre is surely not dead. I think, it's just because the mass medias don't follow and promote these styles that it seems dead. Meanwhile, there are plenty of rock and metal good bands who deserved to be known. 

Your name is similar to that of a hit British TV show. What do you think about the show Black Mirror? Is the name of the band in anyway inspired by the show, or is this merely coincidence?

Marcella: The name Black Mirrors came up because of the tv show. The different topics of Black Mirror touched us, you know, on how technology is progressively changing our world. We are from the last generation who lived without all this technological stuffs. People are more distant to one another by being so connected to the virtual world. We do not judge anybody, it's just that we are witnesses of that change in our society and it touches us and scares us somewhere.

What is the best TV show on now? 

Marcella: I'm looking forward to see the next season of Vikings!

Pierre: Walking dead and the BBC documentaries Earth. They succeed to captures so many beautiful landscapes and animals, it's really mind blowing.

What music are you currently listening to? Any new favourites?

Marcella: Alice in Chains new album for sure! I'm curious about the new album of Rival Sons and Reignwolf as well. Both have release a single a couple of weeks ago and I really like it!

Pierre: Alice In Chains too and I'm currently rediscovering Tool.

What’s your all time favourite album?

Marcella: Waw, that's a tough one! There are so many... If I can name a few, I would say: Dark Side Of The Moon of Pink Floyd, In Utero of Nirvana, Song For The Death of Queens Of The Stone Age and Strange Days of The Doors.

Pierre: Electric Ladyland – Jim Hendrix. This album was done in the late 60's and the guitar sound is still actual.

Now that the album is out, what is next for Black Mirrors? 

Marcella: We are going on tour two times this Fall. The first one will be with The Vintage Caravan and Wucan from October the 15th to November the 3rd and the second one will be with The Night Flight Orchestra from November the 23rd to December the 22nd. We hope to have a time to compose some new songs during the tours to come back with a new killer album very quick!ahah!

To bring the interview to a close, we’d like to ask some ‘quick fire’ questions. 
What is your favourite cake?

Marcella: I'm more a dark chocolate person ahah!

Pierre: Cheesecake

Cats or dogs?

Marcella: Both and every animals in general! I love them all!

Pierre: I would say dogs even if we have two cats at home.

Winter or summer?

Marcella: Every seasons are beautiful to me but if I have to choose one, I would say spring time

Pierre: Summer is nice to party and to enjoy the sun but winter is more inspiring to me as an artist and composer so winter is my favorite.

What is the best dinosaur?

Pierre: My grand father haha

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today, it’s been a pleasure. Do you have any final words for our readers?

Thank you and we hope to see all very soon on tour!

 

Photos: Sebatien Van Malleghem (1), Philippe Falke (2), Van's Ography (3)

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Interview with Laura Dolan (Electric Citizen)


01/10/18 12:43PM

You’re gearing up to release your third album Helltown, which has been described as something of a homecoming and is based upon your home town’s history – can you give us some more insight into the focus of the album, its themes and stories?

The world through my eyes, I suppose. I guess that’s why the title is so fitting. Helltown is where we live, write and record our music. What’s near to me, what worries me, what angers me. I don’t write based on themes, necessarily. It’s really just what’s moving me at the time the song is created: Human interactions with technology, the destruction of the earth and our country, the power balance between women and men, the internal struggle between good and evil. It’s very much an album written for the times. 

Why the focus on your hometown and its history?

Simply because it’s us. It’s where we make this music. It’s also a reflection of the style of music we play; scrappy, gritty, blue collar rock n roll. I liked that it could take on different interpretations and meanings, what it means to me isn’t necessarily as important as what it means to the listener. 

On this album you’re rejoined by bassist Nick Vogelpohl from Electric Citizen’s original line-up, what’s it like to join forces again? Is it a happy reunion?

Absolutely, it’s as if he never left. Nick and Nate have played bass and drums together since high school, there’s a chemistry there that’s irreplaceable. We all love Nick, we missed him, and I don’t think we truly appreciated what he brought to this band till we were without him. 
Three tracks – Hide It In The Night, New Earth and Lunch – have been released for streaming on your bandcamp page – can you tell us about these songs? What do they mean to you?

My songs are meant to be multidimensional, hopefully they come off as such, and that people find their own meaning in them. To me, here’s what they mean...
Hide It in The Night is about finding purpose in your dark side, New Earth is an exploration into what happens when we finally destroy the earth, and Lunch is about the internal human conflict between good and evil.

Which vocalists have inspired your style and flair?

I love when a singer’s voice is so unique you can tell it’s them without knowing the song. Nina Simone, Marc Bolan, PP Arnold, Geddy Lee, and Burke Shelley have all had a profound effect on my life. 

 

Helltown’s album cover features some mysterious figures and a curious landscape – what solidified the choice of this image as the album cover? Does it have any specific meaning? Is it linked to the notion of Helltown?

RidingEasy directs all of our cover art. This piece was created before it met this album, but perhaps in some other dimension they were made for each other. It just felt right. I love future exploration in my lyric, when we saw this, it fit. 

You’ve toured with some big names - who has been your favourite band to share a bill with?

Touring with Arthur Brown (the godfather of shock rock, god of hellfire) feels more like a dream than something that actually happened. And 5-6 years ago, it literally was. This is something I don’t bring up much because I can’t make sense of it, but prior to this band I had a vivid, somewhat prophetic, dream with Arthur. 

I was sitting in the middle of this rock scape/stage/pit (picture the Houses Of The Holy cover) and a giant, muppet-style character that looked like Arthur Brown appeared out of nowhere and performed his song Fire. At some point Ross (our guitar player, my partner) showed up; lying on his back, spinning in circles (ala Spinal Tap) playing guitar solos. Arthur finishes the song and takes this giant leap off the rock stage down a slide that looked like it went for miles into outer space. Some dreams I forget the minute I wake up, but not this one. 

The last US tour Arthur performed before our 2017 tour was with The Doors, 40something years ago. He’s still got it: his singing is perfect, his stage performance is perfect. He’s also an incredibly kind, intelligent, interesting person.

If you could put together your dream line up for a tour – who would make the bill?

Oh God. How to chose!? What genre?!
I’m going to go out there, first 5 that come to mind, because you asked.

T Rex
Blue Cheer
Nina Simone
Flower Travelin Band
Roy Orbison

What’s the best show on TV?

Curb your Enthusiasm

What music are you currently enjoying?

Been listening to a lot of old Alice and Chains. And Roy Orbison. Nina Simone and Trex are always on rotation. Really dig this newer band MaidaVale from Sweden, and a Cincinnati band called Leggy. Also recently found the genre Desert Blues, Tinariwen is an awesome band. 

To bring the interview to a close, we’d like to ask some ‘quick fire’ questions.

What is your favourite cake?

Carrot (vegan)

CD or vinyl?

Vinyl

Cats or dogs?

Both. Seriously, this divide angers me, they’re all perfect. I identify more with cats if you really want me to choose.

Winter or summer?

Summer. I hate being cold!

What is the best dinosaur?

Brachiosaurus

 

Photos: Emily Harris (2), Nikita Gross (3)

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Interview with Catherine Nyland and Pål Wasa Johansen (Heart Of Pandora)


26/09/18 09:33AM

You're back with a new project after several years, Heart Of Pandora. It is different from previous bands you've been part of - how would you describe the sound of this project?

Catherine: Heart of Pandora has very melodic vocals and is a bit dark in it’s expression, but with elements from different genres such as pop and jazz. Its atmospheric with less heavy guitars, still with some similarities and elements from Mortal Love’s music.

Pål: Dark and melancholic songs with beautiful vocals. You will recognise the melodic songwriting and the voice from Mortal Love, but Henning has added his style and made it a bit more atmospheric. Less heavy guitar, but still melancholic and filled with elements and contrasts.

What have you been up to since the untimely disbanding of Mortal Love? 

Catherine: When ML disbanded I was having my first child. Two years after came number two, so naturally my priorities has been on my family. I have been writing some music on my own, and also made some vocals for a Norwegian band. Through the years I have been singing a lot at weddings, funerals and at different art-openings. There has been some Christmas-shows throughout the years and cabarets too as a singer and dancer.

Pål: First of all I would like to say I miss the days of Mortal Love, and I believe that Heart Of Pandora is a result of that void. I have been doing some projects and writing new songs, but other things in life have taken more of my time. For the three last years we have been working on Heart Of Pandoras upcoming album, and working with Catherine and Henning again makes me very excited. 

A few live videos appeared of you with the band Wolf Awaken, some nearly 10 years ago.. what became of this project? 

Catherine: Wolf Awaken was a project together with Ole Kristian Odden (Keys Mortal Love). We did some live performances in Norway, and recorded a demo, but it ended with that. Wolf Awaken had the honor to support Anneke Van Giersbergen when she was doing a smaller concert in Norway/ Glassheim together with Danny Cavanaugh (Anathema). It was truly an inspirational an unreal experience because Anneke Van Giersbergen has been an inspiration to me from the early start with Mortal Love.  

What can we expect from Heart Of Pandora's debut release?

Catherine: We hope that our first release with Always In My Heart  will make our fans from the ML period curios about the rest of our songs that we are releasing in 2019. The cooperation with Pål W. Johansen and Henning Ramseth has formed the music to be a bit different in style this time, but I hope it will stand out as something new and that people will find it interesting.

Pål: Our ambition has been to write individually great songs with a clear structure and good melodies, and with a dark undertone as a contrast to the beautiful voice of Catherine. We have also strived to make each song fit into the unique sound of the debut album.

Heart Of Pandora is a bit of a shift in style from your former bands - what prompted this shift of direction? 

Catherine: To develop musically is always something that I have strived for. When Pål came to me with his project I was eager to be a part of it because of this shift of direction. I wasn’t keen on doing the same as before, but be a part of a collaboration that at the end developed a common and new sound.

Pål: The collaboration with Henning makes a difference. The way we work is that I do a demo version of the songs, then Catherine add the vocal lines, and Henning develop the songs in his direction. He is a great musician and his contribution is a major part of the sound.

Would you say your vocal style has changed? If so, can you describe how, and what this means to you?

Catherine: In my career as a singer I have always used my voice in different ways depending on the projects that I have participated in. My background contains a lot of pop, jazz and even musical theater. In Heart of Pandora I have been using my voice more freely with elements from different styles. It means a lot to me that I can influence the music both composing and writing the lyrics. Makes me feel more connected to it in a personal way.

The magic that Mortal Love had, has carried over into Heart Of Pandora's debut single Always In My Heart - was this intentional? Will there be more elements from previous projects featured in the music of Heart Of Pandora?

Catherine: It was not intentional, but when we finished the song we thought it might be a good idea to release it as our debut single because of the sound and it’s elements from ML. The rest of the album is not so heavy as ML was, because it’s less guitars, but I think it has the same touch of darkness and melancholic sound. And with my voice it is probably difficult not to compare it with the music from ML.

Pål: Thank you for your kind words. It was not intentional, but I basically write songs in the same way as I did in Mortal Love. The demo version of Always In My Heart was made by Hans Olav from Mortal Love and me. And combined with the voice of Catherine it is a lot of Mortal Love in this song.

Have your inspirations for writing changed?

Catherine: I have to be in a writing modus to create lyrics and music, it’s not something I can force to come. It can also be just a moment when I drive my car, or as simple as being at the grocery store when an idea just pops up in my head. As I am older I think I feel more confident in my writing using more personal aspects of my life in my lyrics.

Pål: As the world changes the inspiration change, but I am still inspired by everything around me, and that is a driving force in my songwriting.

Are you planning to create/release any music videos?


Catherine: Yes, we have been so lucky to work with Øyvind M. Saugerud. He is a brilliant filmphotographer and director. The music video Always In My Heart will be released 26th of October. We are so excited about it. We are also planning a new video for our second release.

Pål: Yes! Øyvind Saugerud have made a music video for Always In My Heart, and we are so grateful for his wonderful work. We will have a releaseparty in our hometown for the video a week before the official release, and we are so eager to show it to all of you who are interested in Heart Of Pandora.

Any advice you would give to aspiring musicians?

Catherine: Music should be fun and something that makes you happy. Have faith in yourself and be open towards different collaborations that can develop the music even more.

Pål: A small idea can grow into a great song! And it is more fun if you involve your bandmates in the songwriting

What music are you currently enjoying?

Catherine: At the moment I am inspired by Vuur. It has become my favorite album this summer/fall. And somethimes, when I am in a lazy mood I listen to jazz music. Mostly Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald or Lisa Ekdahl.

Pål: Within Temptation - The Reckoning. What a great song! Ghost - Prequelle. My favourite album of the year so far. Madder Mortem - Marrow. The new album from our friends in Madder Mortem sounds very promising after a few listenings.

What's your favourite animal?

Catherine: Cats. I have a very sweet one at home. His name is Lennart.

Pål: My dog

What's your favourite cake?

Catherine: Chocolate cake

Pål: Red velvet

Winter or summer?

Catherine: Summer

Pål: Summer

Best show on TV?

Catherine: I prefer a good movie, but when I watch TV I like good drama series, especially from Sweden or Denmark.

Pål: Godless

If you could collaborate with anyone - dead or alive - who would it be?

Catherine: Anneke Van Giersbergen

Pål: Roy Khan

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