Interviewed by Adrian Hextall (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Photos by Adrian Hextall
Returning only a few months after a successful tour supporting Within Temptation, Dutch metallers Delain find themselves on a choice bill with Finnish rising Power Metal stars Battle Beast and Swedish behemoth Sabaton. For those lucky enough to see all three bands on the tour, it was indeed a special night and the review of the London show can be found here:
Before Delain took to the stage at the packed Forum venue, Adrian Hextall was able to catch up with Charlotte Wessels, vocalist and founding member of the band. With their latest album ‘The Human Contradiction’ released last April, it seemed like a good point to look back at what seems to have been a rather remarkable period for the band.
MGM: Thank you very much for releasing it ( ‘The Human Contradiction’ ) on my birthday by the way (8th April). It was a very welcome present.
Charlotte: (Smiling) Oh my pleasure.
MGM: As the album’s been out the best part of the year now, what’s the reaction been like? I imagine you’re pleased with the responses from critics and fans alike?
Charlotte: Definitely. I’m really happy. We made this record in record time. We spent double or triple as much time as on some of our other albums and a lot of that was simply because we were in a good mood, a good flow and the other part was because we really wanted to finish the record before we went on tour with Within Temptation.
That was obviously great timing and so basically for this album we just did whatever came to us instinctively in the writing room. Although we went in with those ideas we didn’t second-guess anything too much. It was really great to see, with that kind of instinctive approach, that people liked it so much. It’s kind of like a confirmation of our natural instincts so to speak. So, yeah, I’m really happy about the way that the album was received.
MGM: You went out on tour with it pretty much, straight away by the looks of it. Last year looked like a fairly full tour schedule and you’re straight out this year (2015) as well.
Charlotte: But this year is even better. We’re doing the European tour with Battle Beast and Sabaton and after that we’re heading to the US again with Sabaton and Nightwish.
MGM: Your touring took you to Vegas last year as well? Was that a little bit different, a little bit special or does it just turn out to be just another venue?
Charlotte: Actually it was, of course you know, you know the city from movies and the funny thing is in real life it looks more fake than it does on television because on television everything’s kind of a sheen and a glow over it, you know. It’s a really weird atmosphere. It’s really like a theme park for grown-ups. And there’s a lot going on, you know all the gambling and the Heart Attack Grill, we were straight across from the Heart Attack Grill, you know if you are over 350 pounds in weight you can eat for free!! They have the world’s highest calorie burger. You have to wear like a hospital suit because the food is so unhealthy; they promote themselves by that, so it was kind of surreal.
Click on the link for : the venue and menu:
Charlotte: But then again, yeah, it’s a fine line between surreal and just fake. You know? I was surprised by how quickly everything closes, at least where we were at that moment because we were finished with the gig and we loaded everything back in to the bus, we went out and everything was closed and it was just this, very strange and eerie atmosphere around the whole place.
MGM: Very surreal indeed. Also in that time you picked up a new drummer ?
Charlotte: Even though Sander (Zoer) might still be present in the background it was just not possible for him to be our live drummer any more. He was at the gig yesterday, so we’re still in very close contact. Yeah. It’s going to be surprise to see how it goes with the next record. I think Ruben (Israel) will be very much involved but maybe Sander will also still be involved. We’ll see how that goes, yeah, see how it develops.
MGM: From a touring perspective , Timo (Somers) won’t be playing with you this time so you’ve got Merel (Bechtold) filling in? Have you known her for a long time or did she audition or was it just a right fit?
Charlotte: Yeah. Actually we have known her for quite some time and she has played gigs with us before. We’ve been always wondering how it would be to have two guitarists on stage who we have experimented with back in the past. And she has played with us before and at this moment, Timo being so busy you know with all of his personal projects and solo records, it turned out to great that we have somebody else who knows all of the material and she’s doing a great job with us on tour.
MGM: Having seen some of the YouTube footage of her playing, very energetic on stage, very lively. I presume you’re giving her as much space and freedom to play as any other member of the band.
Charlotte: Sure definitely. It needs that you know, because everybody needs to have that kind of maximum interaction with the crowd also an interaction with each other.
MGM: Now, just turning to your own background, in terms of your training, you started singing originally focused on Jazz. Is that right?
Charlotte: Well the thing is, where I come from their music school was a very traditional music school and everything that’s classical is called classical and everything that is not classical is called Jazz. A lot more of the modern institutions now say ‘light music’ but you know I wouldn’t say metal is necessarily any lighter than classical music but…
MGM: If anything it has its roots in classical music doesn’t it?
Charlotte: Exactly it does so and this is just, I did sing some Jazz but basically everything from Nina Simone to Kate Bush, to everything that doesn’t fit classical music, everything that’s not Opera was categorized under that name. So yes technically you’re right. I did have Jazz training but it doesn’t mean that I was, I know scatting (vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all) all day long.
MGM: I had visions of you being able to happily play in this little club in New Orleans somewhere with the guy on the piano in the corner.
Charlotte: Well, I did play in our high school big band that was playing on a pretty good level and I was in for seven years which says something about how long I did my high school for but I played both the Clarinet in that band and I sang as well. So this was probably the closest thing to playing some Jazz in there. I maybe do have some Jazz roots but it’s actually more of the instrumental side of things.
MGM: Does that prior knowledge of the different styles of music help shape what you write and record these days, or are you influenced more by all the say, Rock and Metal outfits that are out there?
Charlotte: I must say that I’ve always listened to a lot of different styles at the same time, even now, you know if you look at the music on my phone, well actually there’s no music on my phone because it’s new but if you look at the music that would be on my phone it would be anything from, from the very Heavy Metal acts to the most chart Pop acts that you can imagine and I’m also a big fan of 90’s alternative style because that was kind of my time of starting to listening to music. When I was growing up, my older brother, he started listening to Metal and at one point my favourite artists were Metallica and the Spice Girls. We were just listening to the radio and would press record either time Metallica or the Spice Girls went on so I have the weirdest sets from that time, like my favourite mix tapes with those two things on it.
MGM: Such a contrast in style. But again it’s the song presumably that grabs you and that’s what draws you into that?
Charlotte: Exactly and I still think even with the Jazz, you know any Classical music like there is so much that I did always tend to like the more dramatic songs from whatever artist I listened too. So if I’m listening to Classical music, you’ll most probably hear me listening to Rachmaninov or something because that is just so, it’s just so massive and there is so much passion in it. At the moment that I’m listening along to one artist and she’s had a big breakthrough this year but I’ve been listening to her for ages and she writes, she writes, she writes pop songs for herself but she’s been writing for all of these other artists like Christina Aguilera and David Guetta as well.
I don’t really care about the style but more about the atmosphere and the song whether it’s the words or the chords or it, there’s just need to be something in there that grabs you and it doesn’t really matter.
MGM: Has there ever been a desire to sing over some of those other artists tracks, you know working with them. For example you’ve got a cousin I believe that’s a Hardcore DJ? Very often what you find with that style of music is they then will put a female vocalist over the top of some of the tracks.
Charlotte: We worked on a track called ‘Embrace The Night’ and it was quite a hit, I have heard, in the Hardcore world and I’ve performed with her two times at Monsters of Hardcore which is like a huge, huge festival and it’s a totally different world. It’s really nice and I was singing live and everybody was looking like oh my god I can’t believe this because not a lot of things there are performed live.
MGM: They may be on stage but it tends to all have been put all or most on to a mix disc before they start.
Charlotte: Yeah. That is really interesting and I could imagine myself doing music in a lot of styles it just that within Metal there is so much allowed when it comes to drama and you know larger than lifeness so I tend to feel most at home here but I see the charm in a lot of things.
MGM: I was talking with colleagues earlier about how we define the band. How to describe the band to someone who’s never heard them before. I’ve heard you use the phrase Goth before now but I don’t see you guys as that any more and especially with the latest album you’ve put yourself into another bracket again.
Charlotte: When I think of Goth I think of mostly as the lyrical darkness. That is the thing that I very much like. There’s the style as well and I’m a very big fan of wearing black lipstick to go grocery shopping because you can, you know there is something about it which I’m very much drawn to and when we were starting out actually with Delain, everybody was calling us Goth but it was the style that was kind of used for everyone that had a female vocalist for some reason. I kind of disliked the term but as it’s going out of fashion I feel like reclaiming it.
MGM: Oh yes now you want to own it.
Charlotte: Yes I just like to use the term and basically as an excuse to be overly dramatic and because it’s a kind of niche that I like a lot. Also when it comes to the fashion and the static side of it I think there’s a lot of creativity to be found. You know when I was in high school everybody who called themselves Goth they were wearing the same dresses from the same one store that was selling Goth dress. That’s obviously not what I’m talking about but there is a lot of designers that do such brilliant work in that scene that it’s just yeah, something I really really like.
MGM: In terms of approach for the band and the music now going forwards as well I mean you’ve got I guest vocals from Marco (Hietala – Nightwish) on this particular album which give you almost a sound that’s closer to say Epica rather than your own traditional sort of feel; with those gruff vocals and growling. Is that something you’ll go to more in the future you think or is it more just a one off to see how it works. I mean it’s a great second track in.
Charlotte: Yeah it’s very much, it’s very much kind of the classical Beauty and the Beast. I tend to like that but we don’t want to overuse it because also this is something, sometimes it even feels, it kind of feels like a trick so whenever we work with songs with guest vocals we really search for parts that need other vocals and spots where it really compliments each other and especially with Marco this has become kind of a signature sound because there’s only been one record where he wasn’t present with us. So that’s really definitely something that we like. As far as music in general I really don’t feel comfortable comparing ourselves to any other band in comparison to what we do.
Like I told you with this record especially we just basically do what instinctively comes at that moment. It’s been quite a while since we’ve been working like that. I remember us doing that in the beginning when we started out. What kind of thing do we want to make…. and sometimes we do still think that, other than that it’s more just grabbing what’s in the air so to speak.
MGM: Whatever feels right at the time has to be good. Tell me, how did you get yourselves onto the current tour. It’s a fabulous line up the three of you together.
Charlotte: Yeah I really noticed that and what Battle Beast and Sabaton are doing is much more comparable to each other than what we are doing is comparable to any of those two bands so I feel like we are a bit of the strange one in the bunch.
MGM: They’re all very epic in feel though, all three of you. So I mean it blends itself quite well.
Charlotte: That is true and especially yesterday we’ve gotten a very good response from the audience as well so,
MGM: Where were you yesterday?
Charlotte: In Tilburg, ,Holland. It’s kind of maybe our people but yeah, we have performed on the similar festivals, on the same festival as Sabaton a couple of times and then it’s basically our people getting in touch with their people and you know we’ve even played on Sabaton Open Air up North so there’s somewhat of a history there but this is the first time that we’ve actually toured together.
MGM: How long are you out with them all?
Charlotte: For five weeks this tour and then we head back to the US in April they will be on the bill as well, so actually it will be with Sabaton for half a year. Yeah so it’s good that we like each other. When you’re in the changing in the room at the end everybody gets to talk to everybody. So it’s always good if there’s a good atmosphere especially we’re two bands on our bus now, we’re sharing a bus with Battle Beast so you know it’s always good if there’s good relations between the bands.
MGM: You’re touring with Nightwish as well in the US?
Charlotte: Yeah, it’s going to be, it’s going to be a good one. I’m really looking forward to it.
MGM: With such a full schedule, what do you do for down time. What does Charlotte do for relaxation?
Charlotte: What do I do, do I relax? Last week I had a week off was around Christmas, going snowboarding with some friends which was really nice and whenever I have some downtime I just, I like to write or or draw, basically I keep doing the same things but then I do them for fun.
And it’s always, you tend to do it when the pressure is not on, so if I have to write this song and I don’t get there and I say OK now I’ll relax for a while then sometimes you end up writing another song that you didn’t have to write, you know? So even that time can be efficient sometimes.
MGM: You mentioned drawing, is that something you do with a view to people seeing your works or is just for you?
Charlotte: No. Maybe if I ever get good at it, I will. People have requested for me to draw something for them but I don’t really feel confident about it enough.
MGM: You draw for yourself?
Charlotte: Yeah. It’s just doodles basically but I really like it because it’s like kind of a different mindset to sort of speak. Sometimes I really do have ideas. In a few years I want to be tattooed all over and I’ve drawn like a million tattoo ideas but I never think that they’re good enough but now I’ve had some and I’ve shown some to people and people have shown interest in actually that they want to have them so maybe they’re not that shitty anyway.
MGM: You could find that you become the designer and you know take a tattoo artist on tour with you and people can get your designs while you’re on tour.
Charlotte: Yeah. That would be, that would be so Rock and Roll.
MGM: That would be cool. That’s a US tour option there, isn’t it? You would be one of the first to take your tattoo artist on tour with you, I’m sure.
Charlotte: Now that’s a good idea. If we do that, I’ll let you know!
Passing on my thanks for her time, we wrap up at this point with Battle Beast soon to take the stage.
Confirmed dates for the upcoming NIGHTWISH 2015 tour with SABATON and DELAIN are:
09.04 USA New York, NY – Hammerstein Ballroom
10.04. USA Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
11.04. USA Worcester, MA – Palladium
13.04. CND Quebec City, QC – Capitole Theatre
14.04. CND Toronto – Phoenix Concert Theatre
16.04. USA Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
17.04. USA Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre
18.04. USA Chicago, IL – Concorde Music Hall
19.04. USA Des Moines, IA – Val Air Ballroom
21.04. USA Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
22.04. USA Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
24.04. USA Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory
25.04. CND Vancouver, BC – Orpheum Theatre
26.04. USA Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
18.04. USA San Francisco, CA – Warfield Theatre
30.04. USA Las Vegas, NV – House Of Blues
01.05. USA Los Angeles, CA – Greek theatre
02.05. USA Phoenix, AZ – Marquee Theatre
03.05. USA El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls
05.05. USA Dallas, TX – Bomb Factory
06.05. USA Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
08.05. USA Orlando, FL – House Of Blues
09.05. USA Fort Lauderdale, FL – Revolution
11.05. USA Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Work
12.05. USA Louisville, KY – Expo Five
13.05. USA Charlotte, NC – Filmore
14.05. USA Silver Springs, MD – Filmore