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Hydria Interview

Hydria Interview
Sara Letourneau talks with singer Raquel Schüler and guitarist Marcelo Oliveira


Bands from South America are often overshadowed by their North American and European counterparts. That’s not entirely true for Hydria. This Brazilian symphonic metal band caught their country’s attention in 2008 after two opportunities of a lifetime: opening shows for their idols, Tarja Turunen and Within Temptation. This led to increased demand of Hydria’s debut album, Mirror of Tears. Fast-forward to early 2011, and Hydria is now celebrating the release of their second album, Poison Paradise. This album shows the band’s maturation in every aspect of their music, from simplified compositions and rich orchestrations to singer Raquel Schüler’s heartfelt lyrics.

Recently, Sonic Cathedral staff writer Sara Letourneau chatted with Raquel as well as founder / guitarist Marcelo Oliveira. They discussed Poison Paradise, their songwriting methods and inspirations, and the broad range of opportunities (both live and on screen) that have given Hydria’s music more exposure in Brazil and around the world. Read on to learn more!

Sara:  Tell us about Hydria and how the band was founded.

Marcelo:  Hydria was “born” when I was playing and recording at home while I was testing some different sounds, and I accidentally finished the song “Sober Dreams.” I imagined this song with a female vocal and started searching for a female vocalist to sing it.


Sara:  Marcelo, I read in the band’s bio that Raquel was the vocalist you had always imagined for Hydria. What about her audition convinced you that she was the one?

Marcelo:  I believe a vocalist needs to have three very important prerequisites to be in a female-fronted band. She needs to have an interesting look, sing very well and interpret the songs with her heart, and speak English very well. These three things Raquel has to spare. (laughs) More than this, she has a quality which I admire a lot. She's humble. She shows you what she came for, and she does it in a true and direct way.

Sara:  Raquel, you couldn’t join Hydria right away because you were singing for another band at the time. What made you come back to Hydria in the end?

Raquel:  Actually, the other band decided to finish its activities, and I was already in love for “Sober Dreams.” I really felt like I should be singing it, so I called Marcelo and told him I was very interested in joining the band!

Sara:  It seems like the symphonic metal scene is growing by the day. We constantly hear about bands of this kind at Sonic Cathedral. In your opinion, how does Hydria stand out from the rest of the pack?

Marcelo:  This is the answer I’ll never have. (laughs) I believe the ones who know the difference are those who somehow identify with our music and emote with it. We use the same elements other bands in the same genre do. There’s no recipe or formula. We make music with our hearts, the way we feel it, the way we understand our emotions.


Sara:  Hydria released its second album, Poison Paradise, in November 2010. How is this album different from your debut, Mirror of Tears?

Marcelo:  In my opinion, they’re really different. We’re not the same persons today; we’re not the same musicians. We have different musical experiences now, and it reflects in the album almost totally. I consider Poison Paradise more “heart,” and Mirror of Tears is more focused on the technical part. I believe the mutations that occur in our daily lives and turn us in different human beings each second have a direct influence on the album. As I believe this, our next album will probably be totally different from both albums.

Sara:  Why did you choose Poison Paradise as the album title?

Marcelo:  We have a friend who once told us he had a dream about our second album, and it was called Poison Paradise. I’m not a superstitious person, but we thought it was a really good name and started referring to the album as Poison Paradise even before the [title track] was written.

Sara:  Raquel, you’ve said in other interviews that the lyrics on the new album are more mature and personal. Tell us a little more about the themes you explored.

Raquel:  In this album, I had the opportunity of writing all the lyrics by myself, with no collaborations. So I guess it was the first time I really jumped into my feelings and thoughts so deep. There are so many different themes in this album, and that’s what makes it unique to me. A part of what I am and believe is there.


Sara:  The lyrics in “Sweet Dead Innocence” are especially serious. They talk about sex trafficking and child prostitution. How did you come up with the idea to write about this topic?

Raquel:  The lyrics from “Sweet Dead Innocence” are my favorite. I wrote it when I was watching “Anjos do Sol” (“Angels of the Sun”), a Brazilian movie that explores this theme with such realism that makes you feel angry and then cry like a baby, thinking “Why are these things still happening?” I needed to write about it, or I couldn’t sleep after watching this. It’s an AMAZING movie. I guess it’s available with English subtitles. Everyone should watch it!

Sara:  I enjoyed the orchestral arrangements on “Poison Paradise.” They give an epic, cinematic quality to the music. How do you come up with the arrangements? Does this happen before or after you’ve composed the band’s parts, or does it happen both ways?

Marcelo:  My writing process is kind of strange. (laughs) When I start making a song, sometimes I play the whole song in one time, like I already knew it or had it on my fingertips just waiting to be played. Sometimes I see it as something mathematical, like “This riff needs to come after that one” or “This part is the continuation of that other part for sure,” and there it goes. The preconception of the song shows me almost everything about it, and that includes the orchestral part, drums, etc. I guess the only thing that always surprises me is Raquel’s vocal lines. She amazingly always makes something completely different from what I imagined for the vocals, and I think it’s great!


Sara:  Two of the songs on the new album – “In the Edge of Sanity” and “The Only One” – were featured in the “2012 Onda Zero”(C) soundtrack. It looks like “2012 Onda Zero” is a Portuguese-language TV show or movie. Could you tell us a little more about this project and your involvement with it?

Marcelo:  This one was an unusual situation. Our ex-drummer Fabiano Martins was talking to a friend who coincidentally was involved in the “2012 Onda Zero” project. This friend asked him if he knew someone who could possibly make the soundtrack for the webseries, and he said, “Yes.” He was talking about me. But I never did any soundtrack before, or nothing even close to it. Fabiano told me I should try ‘cause it was a really good project and it was worth the try. I had no idea of how I would make the suspense tracks, or the tracks which totally guide the emotion of the scene. Working with Flávio Langoni, the director, was a great experience. He’s very smart and competent, and absolutely rigorous when it comes about the scene’s “feeling.” We spent hours in front of the computer writing all those complex orchestras, but the results were amazing. “In the Edge of Sanity” and “The Only One” were made very quickly. Both songs were designed for this purpose only. All the lyrics were made for the webseries context, and we were very happy with the results. That's why we decided to include them on the album.

Sara:  I know it’s not easy to pick favorites. But, what are your favorite songs on Poison Paradise, and why?

Raquel:  My favorites are “Sweet Dead Innocence” and “When You Call My Name.” Both songs are very touching to me, and I think they have their own soul!

Marcelo:  This is really hard. (laughs) I like all the songs, and I think each one has its particularities which makes me love all of them equally. Maybe I could say I like the atmosphere of “Poison Paradise,” and the serenity and interpretation of “Whisper,” but I love them all equally.


Sara:  One of the songs on Poison Paradise is a cover of Roxette’s “Queen of Rain.” Why did you choose to record your own version of this song?

Marcelo:  It’s something quite personal, I think. It brings me good memories from my childhood and many good times I’ve been through in my life.

Sara:  Speaking of cover songs, you released an EP called “The Versions” in 2009. It contains only cover songs from a wide range of artists, from Killswitch Engage and System of a Down to Madonna and Deborah Blando – all of whom have different musical styles than Hydria. How challenging was it to apply your own style to these songs?

Raquel:  We had the idea of making this EP without profit, as a gift to our fans and as a “tribute” to the artists and songs that inspire us somehow. It's not really official, and it's only available for download. We're still working on it, choosing other songs, and my favorite version 'til now is [System of a Down’s] “Forest.”

Marcelo:  It’s interesting to imagine a song in another way, different from what we know or are used to listen. The challenge is listening to it and in the end, you say “Whoa, it sounds really good.” This is what motivates me to make these versions. I still want to make other versions. You’ll see some of them very soon!

Sara:  Some metal bands in foreign countries have recorded songs in their native languages. Have you ever considered singing in Portuguese or incorporating elements of traditional Brazilian music into your music? Why or why not?

Marcelo:  Particularly, I think it’s not good to our genre singing in Portuguese. I don’t think it would work. English is much easier

Raquel:  Would it sound weird if I said I NEVER wrote a song in Portuguese? I don’t know why. Maybe it would be nice to write a song in Portuguese for the first time, but absolutely it won’t be heavy metal! (laughs)

Sara:  Hydria has had some great touring opportunities in the past. In 2008, you opened local shows for Tarja Turunen and Within Temptation – two of the biggest names in female-fronted metal. How did those shows go? What was it like to support both bands?

Marcelo:  It's a good sensation, and a great responsibility. But it's really nice to play in big stages, in a crowded place. It felt really good!


Sara:  What other famous bands would you like to open for?

Marcelo:  I particularly think opening for another artist is hard in Brazil, 'cause it might be something positive or negative for a band who's still building a career. The opening acts usually play without the necessary support from the production, in really bad conditions. It can make things harder for you to show your real potential. Sound check, good equipment, and many other things usually are not allowed to the opening acts. These things have a huge influence that can make a band go really good or bad. If things go bad for technical problems, the band has a meaningful prejudice. That's how things usually happen here. We were so lucky to work with serious people, but it was an exception. We're not sure we would open more shows here in different conditions!

Raquel:  It's true. Most producers here are not really interested in a good band to play on their events. They usually offer the opportunities for someone who'll pay for it. It's a ridiculous way of gaining a little more money. Even for the ones who pay, the conditions are usually bad. We're absolutely against this kind of thing. We've worked with serious people, without money involved, in different conditions. We're much more interested in making a good job, and we would never pay for it. It’s a right! We would love to tour as opening act for other bands we admire, but we're not sure if this would happen again in Brazil. I would love opening for Within Temptation again. We’re BIG fans of ‘em. They’re lovely people, and though we didn’t have the opportunity of talking too much, I can tell Sharon [den Adel, singer of Within Temptation] is the sweetest person on earth!

Sara:  What are Hydria’s plans for 2011? Maybe some shows to support the new album?

Raquel:  Our new album Poison Paradise will be released in Japan on March 23rd through Spinning Records. We’re really excited about it! Tour dates will come very soon.

Marcelo:  We hope we’ll have many shows soon to promote Poison Paradise live and take it to everywhere we can go!

Sara:  Obrigado for your time! ;) What would you like to say to your fans and our readers at Sonic Cathedral?

Raquel:  Thank you so much, guys! I hope you enjoy Poison Paradise, and we’re already working really hard on the next one. Hope we’ll see you soon! =)

Marcelo:  Thank you guys very much for always supporting us! I hope everyone enjoys our music. Keep looking for the next albums! Best regards!
Thanks once again to Raquel and Marcelo once again for their time. Best of luck with the Japanese release of Poison Paradise and your future touring plans! Also, many thanks to Bruno Pigozzi for arranging the interview.

Check out Hydria at the following websites:

Official Website