Rock Eyez


Interview with Simone Simons
(Lead Vocals - Epica)

Simone Simons - Epica

Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: October 4th, 2005

Hello Simone and welcome to Tell me, in your eyes, what Goth music means to you?
This is a question I get a lot these days. Nowadays gothic seems to have become a word to generalize metal music with female vocals. It is hard to describe, a lot of people think we are a gothic metal band, but when we played at real gothic festivals we were the odd one out. I would like to describe Epica as symphonic metal with female voices. We have a lot of elements in our music and everybody interprets it in his own way. That is fine by me.

In your youth you played flute and you had singing lessons. What kind of kid were you in high school?
Very shy and withdrawn. I liked to watch TMF and MTV when I was at home. At school I enjoyed the music lessons very much. During the last year I auditioned for a role in our musical. The part I auditioned for was Marilyn Monroe. Unfortunately I didn’t get the part because another girl was very good at acting and I was standing there very still. They really liked my singing so they decide to write an extra role for me. I had to sing “All At Once” from Whitney Houston.

Before Epica and any other band you were in that recorded material. What was the first garage band you were in?
Epica is my first real band. I rehearsed with another band two times but we were more interested in playing with our dummy guns than working. It was a black metal band; don’t know if they still exist.

What was the feeling you had the first time you stood in front of a big crowd singing?
That was for this musical. I was sweating like a little pig he-he. Very nervous of course, my singing must have been terrible. One of the three times I had to laugh during the song because Marilyn was amusing the crowd and it was hilarious! Luckily I got myself together and finished the song. There were about 200 people each night.

Did you win any awards as a youth?
No, unfortunately not. I wanted to participate to the Soundmixshow for kids; I loved Tony Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’. I was singing that song along in the car radio of my neighbor. I never enrolled.

You mentioned that the first time you heard Nightwish that was your passion. But what was the first record you ever bought or was given. Plus what was the first concert you attended?
I was already listening to metal music way before I got a Nightwish album. The first album I bought was a single from the Dutch band K’s Choice, “Not an Addict.” Oh, I remember I also bought a compilation CD when I got my first mini CD player. I don’t think I still have it.

My first concert was Art Garfunkel; I went there with my mother. Without Simon, Art is a bit dull. Still it was it was impressive my first concert.

How did Epica get signed by Transmission Records?
Mark already knew them because After Forever was signed there also. They knew Mark had talent and told him they were interested to sign his new band. We recorded a demo and they loved it. We are very lucky they believed in us. Because of them we could record a real CD with a wonderful producer Sascha Peath.

Your first CD “The Phantom Agony” came out in 2003 which had much success. How does the new CD “Consign to Oblivion” differ from that CD?
The success is even bigger but the music itself is a bit different. The sound is more mature, my singing is more versatile. I do not sing only classical, also pop and rock. I use various techniques. Yves our bass player seemed to have hidden talents. He also composed some songs with Mark. Both of them are great admirers of film music. This is why it has a lot of that element.

The arrangements were done by Miro this time. He had worked with Rhapsody and Kamelot and he did a good job on our last album.

How long did it take to record “Consign to Oblivion”?
It took place in the Summer of 2004; I think we were working on the recordings for about 3 months, which is usual for a CD recording.

Which song was the most difficult to record?
For me singing wise it was “Dance Of Fate.” Don’t know why exactly, it took me a while to get the feeling there, it is not one of my favorite songs to be honest.

Let’s get to some of the songs. “Force of the Shore” has some demonic vocals and grunts. Is the band reaching out to the death metal scene with this particular song and a few others on this release?
I would say that this is the rough edge Epica has in their music. We always had grunts in our music. Mark has a good voice for that so it would be a waste not to use it since we all like it.

“Mother of Light (A New Age Dawns)” is a killer song. The power on this song is amazing with low harmonies of aggressive vocals. Tell us about the recording process of this song?
Now, this is one of my favorite songs! I love to play this one live. The audience reacts wonderful to it. About the recording process I cannot tell you much since I was only there for the choir, grunts and vocal recordings. First of all the verses were only sung with grunts, but every time I heard it I had a singing line in my head. I sang it to Mark and he liked it so much that we also recorded it. The song has a lot of choir parts in it, my singing, the grunts of Mark, ah, it is just a great song! Ha-ha.

“Trois Vierges” is one of my favorite tracks. How was it working with Roy Khan? and how did you approach him on the song?
It was great that we could have him for this song. We asked him also some time ago but he was too busy and didn’t want to do anything besides Kamelot. When we met in the studio where they were finishing their album we talked about it again and they told me they were also searching for a female singer for their first single. So we did a little trade. Luckily for me they also wanted to record a video clip. So I flew to Sweden and had a great time!

With Goth music becoming more popular with the first ever US GothStock Festival would there be a chance that Epica could be playing more dates in the US and could there be a chance that the band would attend the 2006 US GothStock Festival?
It would be great if Epica could play there. We are certainly interested. We want to play everywhere!

Would Epica consider doing a full length movie sound track?
We already released a soundtrack CD, it is called “The Score”. Mark and Yves love to write film music so if they would get another offer they wouldn’t say ‘no’ he-he.

Seems that Holland is the mecca for Goth and medieval music is there a reason why?
It is true that there are a lot of female fronted bands. You could say that what Holland is to gothic metal, Seattle was for Grunge. I cannot really give you an explanation for it.

If you had a chance to do something that you have not done yet musically what would that be?
I would like to play the cello, piano and sing at the same time! No, serious an opera would be wonderful. I want to discover if I have talent to play another instrument. Time will tell…

Are your clothes custom made?
Some clothes are custom made. I have a deal with HorsNorm. They are French; I have a dress and some corsets and cat suits from their company. I designed them myself and they made them for me. The other clothes that I wear I found in stores all around Europe.

What is you favorite track on the new CD?
For the moment, it is “Consign To Oblivion.” I also like “Mother Of Light” and “Quietus” a lot!

The booklet that comes with “Consign To Oblivion” has pictures of ancient statues. is there a meaning behind those pictures?
Since Mark has written some songs that are about the Maya’s we thought it would be also nice for the artwork of the CD. It is something new, special.

Were there any songs that were recorded for the new CD that you did not put on the record?
There is only one instrumental song that didn’t make it till the end. “Palladium”, it is Yves’ song. It became a bonus track on our first single. For our second single we had to record two new songs just to have a bonus track. One of them is a cover and the other is a ballad called “Linger,” we already played that song live.

If you had a chance to record, a song with another male or female vocalist, who would that be?
I guess Tarja from Nightwish, it is also a request from many of our fans, and I wouldn’t say no. I think our voices would blend together very well… in a classical piece even more.

If you had one fantasy dream come true what would that be?
Travel around the world with Epica. Become a good singer and make a living out of it.

What is your feeling about religion?
I believe in myself and in the strength of the human mind. Don’t underestimate the power of your own mind. There is probably something supernatural but I don’t read the bible or convert to any religion.

Would you consider doing a solo project?
For now I don’t have the time for it. Also not really the ambition, I just started singing in Epica and I want to see how far this band can get. We have achieved a lot already in such a short period. I want to see if the sky is really the limit.

Simone, Rockeyez would like to thank you for the amazing new CD and the chance to talk with you. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
Pleasure is all mine, thank you for your sincere interest in Epica and I am glad that you like our new CD. As soon as we know anything about touring in the USA, it will be on our website!

Rock Eyez Review of 'We Will Take You With Us' by Epica.

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