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Amberian Dawn Interview 2013

Amberian Dawn Interview 2013
June 2, 2013 (via Skype)

You could have knocked me down with a medium-sized feather when Amberian Dawn announced that they were parting ways with their longtime vocalist, Heidi Parviainen, shortly after their electrifying performance at Metal Female Voices Fest X. And well, you could have knocked me down with a tiny feather when the band announced that they would release an album of re-recorded songs, taken from Amberian Dawn’s previous four albums, with their new vocalist Capri. Despite some initial trepidation, Re-Evolution is an album that stands on its own merits, rather than feeling like an imitation. Yes the songs are familiar, butCapri punches up the songs with her rock style, while the music continues to have the wondrous precision that Amberian Dawn fans adore.
Amberian Dawn

I was so pleased to have another opportunity to talk with Tuomas Seppälä, Amberian Dawn’s founder and composer, and to meet the band’s new Finnish vocalist, Capri. Dive in to get all the behind-the-scenes details on Re-Evolution, the arduous search for a new vocalist, and what is coming down the road for Amberian Dawn!

Robin:  Sonic Cathedral is delighted to welcome back Tuomas, the leader and composer of Amberian Dawn, and to introduce their new vocalist, Capri!

Tuomas:  Hello, this is Tuomas from Amberian Dawn! It’s really nice to do another interview with you guys. I think this is probably the second time or third time doing an interview for Sonic Cathedral.

Capri:  Okay, I’ll say “hi”! <laughs>

Tuomas:  Capri’s English is much better than mine, I think. <Capri laughs>

Robin:  I am always reluctant to start off interviews on a controversial footing, but I have to ask the question: What was the thinking behind re-recording Amberian Dawn tracks with a new vocalist, when that decision might be divisive for fans?

Tuomas:  Hmmm, it’s a long story really. We were looking for a new vocalist, and after a long search, we found Capri. I contacted her and asked her whether she could send me a demo on which she is singing some AD song. She then recorded ”Cold Kiss” for me. It sounded so different and awesome to me, and we all thought that it would be nice to hear more songs sung by her. At first, the project was supposed to be just a “visiting card” with maybe three or four songs on it to introduce our new vocalist with it to record labels etc. But then some time passed by, and we got this idea that maybe we should do a whole album with her and also release it. The sound on this album is so different compared with our previous albums that we thought that the new album is going to be a totally new studio album, and not just a compilation album.

Robin:  Capri, to Amberian Dawn fans, you are a woman of mystery. From the introductory video for Re-Evolution, we hear you using a lot of rock-type vocals, but you are classically trained. Would you tell us about your musical background?

Capri:  Well, I started to play piano at age 12, but I always liked to sing more. The first time I remember singing in front of an audience was when I was three years old.When I was 14 or 15, I started to sing classical music. And on the age of 19, I went studying to be a vocal coach. I think it was then when I realized I liked rock more than classical. Nowadays, I sing both styles and I love to mix them during one song, for example.

Robin:  We get a good flavor of both your classical and rock voices in the new version of “River of Tuoni”. Beautiful!

Capri:  Oh. <laughs> I wasn’t sure I could do it because I LOVE the way Heidi is doing it, so it was quite nice to sing both rock style and classical style in the same song.

Robin:  Tuomas, I read that you and Capri have similar taste in music. What are some of the artists or styles that the two of you share?

Tuomas:  I suppose it’s quite obvious that we both like for example Yngwie Malmsteen and ABBA.

Capri:  Yeah!

Tuomas:  I find that it's a winning combination -- Malmsteen and ABBA. You can’t go wrong with that kind of combination!

Robin:  I give a big thumbs-up to both of those!

In late December 2012, just a month a month after announcing Heidi’s departure, Amberian Dawn introduced Capri along with snippets of each track from Re-Evolution, which suggests that plans were underway months and months earlier. Tuomas, would you please walk us through how you first started looking for a new vocalist?

Tuomas:  I remember that we started in the beginning of last year already. I talked with Heidi, and she agreed that Circus Black was going to be our last album together. Still we decided to do the whole year together, and if there were going to be some festivals (for example), we would do those. But at the same time, I started looking for a new vocalist early last year. It was a really hard task because it was not so easy to find a suitable vocalist for us. I didn’t want for us to have “another Heidi”, you know. I was looking for something different for the singing. I think it was summertime when I got a lead from my friend that Capri was maybe available. So, I contacted her that I was interested in her, and she sent me a demo of “Cold Kiss”. I was just blown away about her singing capabilities! And that’s the way it started.

Amberian Dawn

Robin:  Obviously, Amberian Dawn could not place a public advertisement for a new singer, because you had not yet announced Heidi’s departure, and your fans are very attentive to news about the band. So, did you privately send out inquiries to keep things quiet?

Tuomas:  Yes, that was the first phase because, like you said, we didn’t want to make a public ad or anything like that. But I used ALL my contacts. It was really hard to find a superb singer like Capri, but I remember it was a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend or something …

Robin:  Capri, how did you learn about Amberian Dawn seeking a new vocalist, and why were you interested in applying for the position?

Capri:  Tuomas contacted me by email, and there were some their videos of what kind of music they do. For example, “Arctica”. He asked if I like that kind of music at all, and I was THRILLED because I love the combination of female singers and metal music. I loved everything Tuomas composes, and I loved Heidi’s stories in Tuomas’s music. So it was easy for me to say: “Yes, I would love to try out.” Did I answer your question? <laughs>

Robin:  Indeed, you did! <laughs>  Capri, you interpret Amberian Dawn’s music in your own way. What did you do to help you decide how to interpret the songs on Re-Evolution?

Capri:  I had tracks with Heidi and without. I first started to sing "with Heidi", and how she was doing it. When I was doing it for the third time or so, then I knew how to do the songs in my style. I changed a little bit how she sings the rhythms on those melodies. Oh, I don’t know quite how to say this in English …

Tuomas:  The idea is that Capri changed the rhythms of those melodies so that those lyrics would fit better for her.

Robin:  Tuomas, the compositions have also changed; is that correct? Amberian Dawn did not simply replace the vocal tracks with Capri’s voice. What did you differently, from the standpoint of composition?

Tuomas:  I would say that there is no difference in compositions, but more in arrangements. Because Capri’s sound is so different (compared with Heidi), there was some need to change some instrumental parts. And also, we added some orchestra parts too and changed the key of some songs. Do you know that term,“key”?

Robin:  Yes.

Tuomas:  We needed to change the key of some songs, and that’s why we needed to re-record all the material again, and not just vocals. I would say we made just new arrangements, and not new compositions.

Robin:  Some of the songs have significant male vocals, like “Cold Kiss.” Who does the male vocals on Re-Evolution?

Tuomas:  We haven’t changed the male vocalists at all. There is still Timo Kotipelto on “Cold Kiss” and Peter James Goodman on “Incubus”. So, we are using the same male singers again.

Robin:  What has the response been like so far to the video for Kokko- Eagle of Fire?

Tuomas:  You too have perhaps noticed that it is a really big thing for a band that a vocalist is going to be changed. But I think the major part of fans are liking also our new sound. Of course, there are also people who are not accepting our new singer at all. It’s a shame, but we can’t do anything about it.

Robin:  Capri, looking at the music video, you seem very comfortable on stage. How much live performance work have you done, and in what context?

Capri:  A LOT. I’ve been performing since I was maybe three because I LOVE to sing in front of the public. Nowadays, I do kind of cover gigs and tributes like Pink, and I have a lot of gigs. Now I love to go with Amberian Dawn and do something different and something else.

Tuomas:  <to Capri>You can also mention about your new ABBA musical you’re in...

Capri:  Yeah! I’m doing Frida from ABBA; we have a mini-musical in Musiikkiteatteri Palatsi. We had our premiere on Wednesday, so I have like five shows already in four days. In one week, I’ve been singing and dancing and acting A LOT.

Robin:  <laughs> For each of you, what is your favorite ABBA song?

Capri:  “The Winner Takes It All”, definitely!

Amberian Dawn

Robin:  Tuomas, how about you?

Tuomas:  I have too many favorites. It’s very hard to pick just one. Sorry. <Capri and Robin laugh>

Robin:  I understand that Amberian Dawn is also working on a new studio album with all-new material. Where in the process are you?

Tuomas:  We are doing it a little different way this time. So far, I’ve been composer and producer of all songs, but this time we are using co-producer. This guy named Mikko P. Mustonen, who did orchestral arrangements for us on Circus Black, is going to be a co-producer on this album. We have a team of producers now; so, it’s me, Capri and Mikko. In fact, today, we met together for the first time with these new songs, and we started just talking about those songs. It’s more team-oriented now than before. Of course, they are all my songs, but I’m using more help with arrangements this time. All songs are almost composed by now, and now we are starting this producing part, and Capri will start doing the lyrics.

Robin:  Capri, what sorts of things inspire you? For Heidi, Finnish and Norse mythology -- particularly the Kalevala-- were big influences for her lyrics.

Capri:  Well, I was born on Kalevala Day (February 28), so I think I’m going to continue the story-telling style in my lyrics, because I love those stories Heidi wrote. Those songs Tuomas is composing are obviously kind of … not fairy tales, but something like that. For example, those new songs we were listening today they are kind of fairy tales. I think it’s the music that inspires me and every sound gives me different kind of feeling of what kind of direction I should go with my lyrics.

Robin:  So, we’ll continue to see the stories that we love in Amberian Dawn’s lyrics?

Capri:  Yeah. <laughs> Well, I HOPE people will love my stories too.

Robin:  Do you enjoy other types of fantasy, like Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time?

Capri:  Oh yeah, I love Game of Thrones! I just love it.

Tuomas:  I have also always loved all those sorts of things. I love different mythologies and sci-fi movies, etc., but I don’t like lyrics so much in music. Like I’ve said before on many interviews, I just only concentrate on musical part and I don’t listen to lyrics AT ALL. So, if it would be up to me, there would be no lyrics at all.

Robin:  <hisses>

Tuomas:  Sorry!

Robin:  Thankfully, it’s not up to you. <laughs>

Tuomas:  But I know there are people who are really liking lyrics. I respect it, and of course, I know music should have some kind of lyrics. But I just personally don’t so much care about those. I’ve been lucky that, before I had Heidi for writing these awesome lyrics, and now Capri is also leading that field. So, it’s easy for me because I don’t need to do anything related to lyrics.

Robin:  What else is percolating for Amberian Dawn? Will you be focusing more on booking live shows or working on the new material?

Tuomas:  We are doing both. This summer, we are going to do this new studio album, and we are planning to do some gigs next fall -- maybe a couple of gigs here in Finland and maybe a mini UK tour too. We are just now trying to arrange those with our booking agencies, but let’s see what happens.

Robin:  A non-music questions for each of you: What is your perfect day? When you have time for yourself and can do anything you like, what do you really love doing?

Capri:  I love to eat. <laughs> I love to cook, and I love to go to the sauna.

Robin:  That sounds pretty perfect.

Capri:  I know! Also I love to spend time people close to me. That’s a perfect day.

Tuomas:  For me, if I’m at home, it’s different than being somewhere else. If I’m home, I would like to watch my favorite movies and series like South Park, Simpsons and Seinfeld. Those three Big-S shows: Seinfeld, South Park and Simpsons!

Amberian Dawn

Robin:  The Simpsons is brilliant!

Tuomas:  Those are my favorites, and also these old Finnish comedy series like Kummeli. I love those! But if I’m not home, my perfect day would be spending a nice day in the studio because I love working in the studio. I don’t know anything that would be more interesting. When I’m in the studio, it’s like I don’t need to eat at all or drink at all. I can be the whole day in the studio, and after the day is gone, I start to think about eating etc. It’s like being in a whole different world.

Capri:  It’s all about the music!

Robin:  Okay, doesn’t it get boring in the studio to do the same thing again and again and again to get it perfect?

Capri & Tuomas [simultaneously]:  NO! <Capri laughs>

Tuomas:  Maybe we haven’t done it enough because it’s still so exciting and new every time. In the studio, you’re creating something new--you are recording new songs and new arrangements. It is always new and exciting. Especially if you have the chance to use guest musicians and singers, it’s even more interesting because music is always a product of combining different people. It is not just me or my songs, but it’s also about the combination of different musicians and singers. So, the perfect day in the studio would be doing some new material and having several different guest musicians (besides AD band members) for it.

Capri:  I love to spend time in the studio. I don’t even have to sing because I love to listen to what other people are doing. So, it’s wonderful!

Robin:  We have about reached the end of our time together. What final words would you like to say to your Amberian Dawn fans?

Tuomas:  I would like to say that I’ve been so long waiting for a chance to visit the US, and I think next year I’m going to spend some vacation there. It would be so awesome to do gigs there with Amberian Dawn … maybe some kind of tour. I know that we have many fans in the US because we have released so many songs on RockBand Network, especially on Xbox. Xbox is the device on which we have the most songs on RBN, and those are released just in the US. So, we know that we have a lot of fans there, and I would really like to visit there someday. I hope it’s going to be next year.

Capri:  For me, it’s almost the same. I’ve never been there, so I would like to come and visit there and SING for you!

Robin:  We would love to have Amberian Dawn on US soil for the first time. Tuomas and Capri, thank you both so much for talking with Sonic Cathedral today!

Tuomas:  You’re welcome!

Capri:  Thank you!

Read the previous Amberian Dawn interview here.

Photo credit: Toni Härkönen


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