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Floor Jansen Interview 2013

Floor Jansen Interview 2013

When I was given the opportunity to interview Floor Jansen for Sonic Cathedral, I don’t think I need to tell you that I jumped at the chance. As a longtime Nightwish fan, I was impressed by the way Floor had stepped in during the middle of a world tour and wowed audiences everywhere she went; myself not least among them. I had the opportunity to see Floor perform twice with Nightwish last October, and they were only about her 4th and 5th shows with the band. Even then, her stage presence was incredible, and her level of professionalism was stunning. It was as if she’d always been singing for the band. Just to give an example of how quickly Floor took to her new role as Nightwish frontwoman, she performed the very personal song “Higher Than Hope” at the show in San Diego after only learning the lyrics that very same day! So if this did not show me already what a hard-working woman Floor Jansen was, I would soon learn fast enough during our time on the phone together.

Floor Jansen

But of course, this interview isn’t all about Nightwish! Floor has a very illustrious career of her own already; currently fronting her band ReVamp, whose second album Wild Card is about to hit the shelves any day now. Yet for all Floor does, she is still one who gives back: when she is not fronting bands and performing anywhere there is an audience, she is giving vocal lessons to aspiring singers out there who look to her for inspiration.

We got off to a shaky start when we spent the first minute or two trying to hear one another; but once we figured it out, I had a pleasant chat with Floor on the phone for nearly 30 minutes. She spoke to me about the new album, her illness that inspired the direction of Wild Card, her last year touring with Nightwish, being a vocal coach, and our mutual love of dogs!

C:  How does your new album differ from your last one?

Floor:  We wanted to make it more heavy, more modern. The sound is heavier than, I think, the first one was; it’s more diverse. The keyboard sound has been used in a different way; a more modern sound. I tried to get into an even bigger vocal variety by using growls; sometimes a very extreme “rocky” sound, then a more “operatic” sound, then a “poppy” sound. I tried to do as much as I could [vocally], and I think that lyric-wise this is a more personal album; it has an extra layer and is written more directly.

C:  Those personal lyrics are especially prominent in a series of songs on the album titled “Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown”. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Floor:  I had a general burnout; I got extremely tired, I couldn’t do anything anymore. I cancelled tours; I cancelled everything in my life. For a year and a half, I was completely sick; I couldn’t do anything. So yeah, I wanted to write about it in my lyrics. “Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown” is really about that; the inspiration behind it.

C:  Speaking of tour dates, you just announced your European tour dates; among those a reappearance at the Metal Female Voices Fest, at which you have performed numerous times with ReVamp and your former band After Forever. What are the things you most look forward to, or some of your favorite memories from the festival?

Floor:  It’s great that there’s an audience from all over the world that loves to come to these kinds of festivals and listen to the females in heavy metal!

C:  You also just announced that you’ll be opening for Kamelot on their European tour. Some fans want to know if you might be joining them onstage for some of the duets that your friend Simone recorded with them several years back.

Floor:  I don’t think so, no.

C:  Why do you think it is that metal is taken more seriously or revered more in places like Europe or South America, as opposed to places like the U.S.?

Floor:  What do you mean, like metal in general?

C:  Yes, for example, in this country there are two ways people respond when you say “metal”: they either think the “hair-metal” stuff like Bon Jovi or Winger, or they think the “satanic” stuff like Slayer or Cannibal Corpse. They don’t really understand the subgenres, or music like yours doesn’t necessarily show up on their radar. Whereas it seems that in some of the European or South American countries, music like yours gets played on the radio or MTV, or that it has a wider acceptance than it does here.

Floor:  No! No, no, no…Europe is a continent with different countries, and every country has a different sub-culture. It’s really not played on the radio here [in the Netherlands]; it’s really not mainstream at all, and [in] most of the European countries. Maybe some Scandinavian countries; I think Finland is a big example of what you described, where it’s an exceptional thing. I think there’s a difference between the bands that are popular. They’re completely different scenes.

C:   Fans around the world can sign up online to take vocal lessons with you when you’re not doing all the touring/recording. I recently interviewed another singer [Pamela Moore] who also does vocal lessons, and I asked her the same thing as I’m going to ask you: even though you’re the teacher, what do you learn from your students?

Floor:  Patience! It really depends on the person…I’ve been teaching for 10 years, and I’ve learned that music and singing is not an exact science where you have one theory that applies to every student. You really have to feel how someone learns, what kind of ways you need to reach someone’s feelings. It’s a feeling thing; singing is an internal thing. I think that’s the main thing I learned throughout the years, the way of reaching people is different every time. Sometimes you use things that have nothing to do with singing and more for reaching a certain feeling. If you’re focusing on vocals and using your voice [just] as a singing thing, it sometimes can’t reach a different sound; a condition you have to step away from and then integrate back into singing and making music. It isn’t always logical; and that I think I’ve learned throughout the years to just do what I feel.

C:  So in some of your lessons, it’s not about singing at all, but the voice in general.

Floor:  It’s about singing, but it’s the way to reach a feeling. For instance, if someone wants to learn to sing more rocky, a rock style, or to sing higher…if someone has always been singing a softer or different vocal type, the only way to make them feel it is like a singing exercise starting with screaming. Sometimes when you’re pissed, you’re really feeling it, and what kind of sound do you make then? That has nothing to do with singing, but that is the way you do use your voice on a regular basis. So you learn, “that’s how I scream”, and then how to integrate it back into regular singing.

C:  While we’re on the subject of teaching, I just heard—and you can confirm for me whether this is true or not—you’re going to be some kind of an instructor at a “metal conservatory” that’s going to be opening in the Netherlands this fall?

Floor:  I was asked to at first, but I’m not gonna do that; I have no time. I haven’t been teaching much lately; I won’t have time in the coming months either. I go back and forth; sometimes I tour more, sometimes I teach more. I won’t be teaching at the conservatory because I won’t be here on a regular basis. It would be nice for the students to have the teacher actually there! I won’t be around for teaching; I learned the hard way that you can’t put your energies [in one place] 100% [all the time]; you have to divide it.

Floor Jansen

C:  Well, for the fans, that’s good news to hear you are gonna be touring more!

Floor:  We just announced the tour dates for 2013, but there will be more coming up for 2014. It’s very likely we’ll do an extensive North American tour; we’re 80-90% sure now. I wish I could announce it early, but the possibility is very high. I can’t say yet when we will be [over there].

C:  I have to be honest; I did not know very much of your music before you came on board with Nightwish, so I’m getting to know the new album and your [past] material. I really like it [Wild Card], so I hope I will get the chance to see you when you come to the States. I know a lot of fans are gonna be excited to hear about that!

Floor:  It’s good that you enjoy the music. I hope to see all of you fans out there at the ReVamp shows! 2014 should be the year that we tour the shit out of the States!

C:  A fan wants to know: your sister is also a singer, how is her career going?

Floor:  My sister is not a professional singer; she’s never sung [professionally] full-time, she has a full-time job and a husband and a very different life.

C:  OK, some Nightwish-related questions! My e-mail was flooded with questions about Nightwish, so while I had to explain to them that this is a ReVamp interview, I figured we might have time to talk a little about Nightwish. It’s been almost a year since you started touring with them; so many fans out there wanted to personally thank you for, what many of us (including myself) feel you did, “saving” the North American tour and everything you’ve done with the band since then. You made a lot of happy memories for a lot of people out there.

Floor:  Oh, thank you! That’s wonderful to hear!

C:  So many people love you and want you to stay, but I’m not going to ask you about that since I’m sure we’ll all know if/when it happens. However, you guys just did a show at Wacken that was recorded for DVD. Do you have any information about it yet that you can give us, or is this a sort of “you’ll find out when we do” type of thing?

Floor:  Well, I would like to see the material before it gets released! I can tell you that it went really well; the show was really great. The view, the crowd…it was so amazing, looking out at 71,000 people. It was an amazing thing to have done. It just went so well, I think it’s gonna be great memories from this period. There’s gonna be a tour documentary; I think it’s gonna be really amazing, a very nice memory. During the tour [we] became an extended family and that really shows.

C:  Another fan question: is there any Nightwish song that you haven’t performed live with them yet, but would like to if you got the chance?

Floor:  Oh, quite a few actually. I’ve always wanted to do “The Poet and the Pendulum”!

C:  I would have liked to hear you do that song too, but I really love your take on “Ghost Love Score”!

Floor:  Thanks!

C:  One last thing before I go: I heard you really love dogs; so do I! I saw a picture of your dog; he/she was very cute. Give a big hug from me and my dog!

Floor:  I will do that! I have two dogs, actually. You have a dog?

C:  Yes, I have a poodle. He’ll be 10 years old on August 13th.

Floor:  Oh, wonderful! Happy birthday to your poodle!

C:  Are there any last words you’d like to say for all the fans out there; either of After Forever, ReVamp, or Nightwish?

Floor:  I’d like to thank everyone for being so patient with me personally when I was sick; I got a lot of support from people all over the world got me through that. I hope that people really enjoy Wild Card. It was good talking to you; thank you for supporting ReVamp in the States. Hopefully we will meet each other sometime next year!

C:  Thank you so much for your time; on behalf of Sonic Cathedral, thanks for all your support towards us. As far as these last shows with Nightwish: have a great show; can’t wait to see the DVD! Hope to see you with ReVamp ASAP!

Floor:  Yeah, I hope so too! It’s been really great talking to you. Thank you very much.

C:  Kiitos!

Floor:  Ole hyvä. Bye!

Floor Jansen


Photos provided courtesy of the official ReVamp site

Live photos provided courtesy of Oceansouls of America (taken by DVDVampire) 

Special thanks to Matt Bankes and Tisa Douglas at Oceansouls of America, and Adrian Olebínski at Dream Emporium Poland for the fan-submitted questions.