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Visions of Atlantis Interview

Present - Jason Levine (SC), Melissa Ferlaak (Vocals) of Visions of Atlantis

Interview performed on tour in New York City

September 9, 2007

Visions of Atlantis


Jason: How were you chosen to join Visions Of Atlantis?

Melissa: Well I was looking for a change from my current band. Just something different. Something over in Europe. Because the music is really popular over there. I was talking to my friend Ashmedi who sings in the band Melechesh. He just basically put me in touch with Napalm because he had ties to them before. So he brought my name out to them and they said Visions Of Atlantis is looking for a singer funny enough. And I really liked what they were doing and they liked what I was doing. So it was a good fit.

Jason: On the new album Trinity you sing in a much higher range than Nicole did. How did that decision come about?

Melissa: Well in all fairness she's a Mezzo and I'm a Soprano. I wish I could sing lower. (laughs) I actually struggle sometimes with the songs they did before because they are in the lower block of my range. But they basically said that they want me to do my own lines. They want me to do what I do best. Experiment and throw my voice out there and be as high as I want. They kept pushing me to do more higher stuff. (laughs) And it's a good comfort range for me there.

Jason: How has the album been doing so far and how has the first touring experience been in America?

Melissa: Well first the album has been doing really good. It's been selling really well. People have been reviewing it and people have been buying it and loving it. What is interesting is people that would have never given Visions Of Atlantis a chance before and bluntly said so are now listening to the album and they love it. So that's good. As for the touring in the United States,  well of course coming home and playing my home country again is a very big deal for me personally. The guys have never played here before so for them it's a really big deal. We've just been having a good time and each show just gets better and better I think.

Visions of Atlantis

Jason: Do you feel more comfortable playing this tour with another female fronted band in Epica?

Melissa: Well I think between the two bands it's just a natural fit. It works really well together. A lot of the people that listen to Epica will listen to us too and vice versa. So would it make sense for us to go on tour with another band of another genre. You know, maybe, maybe not. It depends. But we've had just a really good time. They're all wonderful people and so we've had a good time.

Jason: Do you have another tour planned after this one?

Melissa: We are in the midst of talking about a couple of different tours right now. But nothing I can really fully say of yet. (laughs)

Jason: Unlike bands who can sustain themselves through their music fully your band also holds regular jobs. What it is like to balance music with a bill paying job?

Melissa: Stressful at times. (laughs) It's hard to tour. It's hard to concentrate on writing music. When you come home after a really long day it's very difficult to sit down and put yourself in that frame of mind again. I guess in all matter of it. You know, it's nice. It humbles you. It keeps you humble. But at the same time it would be great if I could focus on this full time. If we could all focus on this full time. Because then maybe we would get albums out in 1 years time instead of 3 years time. Fortunately the two guys that work for Napalm in our band. You know Napalm. They support their artists and they took them on because they knew that they needed that flexibility. With my job I had to develop an education program so I could be gone on tour. Otherwise I would have gotten fired. (laughs) So you do what you gotta do.

Visions of Atlantis

Jason: Tell me about this educational program you are doing.

Melissa: Well the education program is called Backstage Pass: The Business Of A Rock Band. It's a month long online program which will follow Epica and Visions Of Atlantis on our tour. While exposing all of the different areas of the music business that basically get us to bring our music to the stage. So it's a lot of aspects that people don't know about like who's all involved in booking a tour. Who's all involved in the label. How many different people there are in all of these different roles. The music business has changed so much. Basically why is there a business around music. So that's kind of what we're hoping to do is really educate kids. Maybe they're jamming out in their garage and they have the little garage band and they just think that they can grow up to be rockstars. Well it's not so the case. (laughs) It's very rarely the case. (laughs)

Jason: Is teaching what you do as your full time job?

Melissa: No. Well I don't actually teach. I run the education program. So I develop the programs. It's dance and music that we do. It's these online programs and then we do interactive video conference sessions. So we have like an artist in Minneapolis in a school 4 hours north somewhere in Minnesota. Conducting education. Like dance or music classes that way.

Jason: How has the program been going so far and what have you done for it?

Melissa: What have I done so far for this education program?

Jason: Yes.

Melissa: A lot of video interviews. I've interviewed the president of Napalm, the bands. You & the guys and gal in Sonic Cathedral. For distribution. You know, there's gonna be a lot of interviewing and a lot of written material. So I just have to basically collect it all and edit the videos and send it off back home. (laughs)

Jason: When and where in Minnesota can people see this?

Melissa: Actually you can access it anywhere in the world because it's all on the web. You can go to www.mnshubert.org/backstagepass or you can just go to mnshubert. That's what they can do. It starts September 10th.

Visions of Atlantis

Jason: How will you piece this out for viewers?

Melissa: Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 4 weeks we will put up new content. Every Monday will be sort of the business people. Every Wednesday will be talking more about the music and the tour and recording an album. And then every Friday will be the behind the scenes of what's going on like Thomas with a coke bottle on his head over there. (laughs) You know, just kind of like the sort of fun part of it. What's going on on the road. What challenges are coming up. How have the shows been and maybe some footage clips and everything.

Jason: I understand you are also going to do an online concert with this?

Melissa: Yes. We're going to webcast our concert from St. Paul. Actually we're going to kind of webcast it. We're going to videotape it and put it up all day on the 20th of September, the day after the concert. Then we're going to take it back down. So it will be one day that everybody can access the show and see it.

Jason: So everyone out there who hasn't been able to see Visions Of Atlantis and Epica because the tour didn't come through their town or couldn't make it to a show will have a chance to see it?

Melissa: Yep. Exactly. Yep.

Jason: How did you start out in singing and what got you involved in the music industry?

Melissa: Well I had professors at the University of Wisconsin in River Falls where I originally went to school for elementary education. Slowly changed to music education. Then got talked into a performance degree so I could go on to do my masters sooner. So basically that's how it happened. I had some very supportive teachers and went on to do my masters at New England Conservatory in Boston. At that time I was with Aesma Daeva throughout the whole masters degree. Then it was 2 years after I finished that I joined up with these guys. But definitely I feel like I've been schooled more in the business of music and everything by being in the metal scene and learning from. Learning about writing music. I didn't really learn that in school. Just learn technique.

Visions of Atlantis

Jason: Your first band was more mellow and Visions Of Atlantis is more...

Melissa: Fun. (laughs)

Jason: Yes fun. (laughs)

Melissa: Fun and jammy and we have a good time. A good rockin time.

Jason: Do you find it a change of pace to play heavier music and what emotions do you have from it?

Melissa: Well with Aesma Daeva it was always hard to get into the music. You know, I got into it. But I think at some times maybe it was more fun to be on stage than in the audience. But this is just. It's like you can just let it all out. You can just rock out on stage and have a good time and have people just cheering with you and just singing the words. It's like night and day. It's two completely different animal bands. Yeah.

Jason: You also once auditioned for Broadway?

Melissa: (laughs) Yes. For the La Boheme on Broadway I made it to the final audition and then they cut me. (laughs)

Jason: Do you have any aspirations to do something like that in the future?

Melissa: Sure. Singing in the classical realm. Eventually. Not yet. I'm not mentally ready for it yet. Maybe when I'm in my 30's. (laughs) I might be ready for it. But actually right when we finish the tour I am actually performing in an opera in the La Boheme again. I'm just pigeon holed in La Boheme. (laughs) For a smaller opera company out in Minneapolis. That starts. I think it runs from October 27th through November something.

Visions of Atlantis

Jason: Then you pick up with your band again.

Melissa: Yep. Exactly.

Jason: Although Trinity just came out. Have you guys been working on anything for a second album with you in the band?

Melissa: Yes. We have. We have been thinking about a second album. In fact we are going to try to do a lot of the writing on the road on this tour. Since we're all here and it just makes it easier instead of sending the files back and forth by the computer. So yeah. We're gonna try to do our best. We're gonna hopefully get it out much, much, much sooner than Trinity took.

Jason: Speaking of being all together. Is it tough having all your band members in Europe while you live here in America and what is it like to work together living in different countries?

Melissa: You know, it's worked out fine. The world because we're in a digital age. The world has become really small. Fortunately I work with guys who are really good musicians where I can come in a week before a show and we'll basically rehearse for a week and it'll be spot on. For the recording that we did we sent things back and forth. I kind of like creating in my own sort of box anyway. Not as a group because I get nervous. (laughs) So it worked out fine.

Jason: For people going to the shows. What can they expect from you guys on stage?

Melissa: A lot of energy. Lot's of energy. Just to have a good time and just let it all out. That's all we can hope for is just to give people a really good time.

Jason: Have you been enjoying the ride so far?

Melissa: Enjoying the ride? Oh my god. Yeah. It's been awesome. (laughs) It's been awesome. These guys are. They are so much fun. They are just like brothers. And the audiences. The people. The people that we have met have just been amazing. Everywhere. All around the world. It's been fun.

Jason: A bright future?

Melissa: Bright future. I hope so. I really hope so. But that's up to our friends. (laughs)

Visions of Atlantis

Sonic Cathedral sincerely appreciates Melissa and Visions of Atlantis for taking the time to meet with us for this interview as well as the bands patience waiting for an interview opportunity. 

Be sure to check out the Visions of Atlantis website & also Napalm Records.