Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack at Massacre Records for setting up this interview
Promo pictuers taken by: Irene Kolovou
Thanks to Massacre Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Here is an interview with singer Christianna of the Greek goth metal act Elysion. The band has recently delivered a stunning debut album called SILENT SCREAM which I think that all fans of goth metal music are gonna love. I hooked up for a chat with the very nice and friendly Christianna and here is what she had to say about the band, the debut album and the past, present and future of Elysion.
Hi Christianna, how are you? I hope everything is fine with you, are you ready to do an interview with me and metal-rules.com?
Hi to everyone on behalf of all Elysion, I’m very excited about this interview so let’s go!
You and your band Elysion released your debut album SILENT SCREAM at the end of last year, what can you tell us about the album?
We believe we let out a strong, powerful and very up-to-date album. One my favorite things about SILENT SCREAM is the fact that it can relate to a great variety of different musical backgrounds, since we feel we have freely expressed ourselves throughout our many influences and haven’t been tied down to a specific music label. Our working with Ted Jensen for the album’s mastering has definitely been one of our most highlighted moments, together with having Mark Adrian as our producer. SILENT SCREAM to me is a fluid ray of light sneaking into a dark room…
Who writes the material in the band and what are the lyrics about?
In SILENT SCREAM Johnny Zero was the main composer, with a great help of Elysion’s ex singer Maxi Nil in some songs, who also came up with some wonderful lyrics. However, it is important to point out our sound as an outcome is the result of the contribution of all Elysion, each of us blending our ideas and musical personalities with the rest. This is why I think that this album contains the very best of all of us!..As for the lyrics,I believe that one of the most beautiful things about the album is that it lets people listen to what they want to hear out of it. Some see melancholy and sadness,some see a form of romantic hope in it,we ourselves simply see it all. SILENT SCREAM has a very strong emotional platform,it is a celebration of the human soul in all its moments of greatness or weakness.
How long did it take you to record SILENT SCREAM?
It took us something like 9 months to record,mix and master the album. That was a very creative time for Elysion because day by day we were witnessing our ideas and feelings put down to notes until the songs formed their final shape.
Does the title have any special meaning to you and the rest of the band members?
Well, we needed something to best describe Elysion’s sound: something simple but beautiful, quite but strong and alluring at the same time .Picking out two words contrasting one another for the title best communicates this element. I guess this, as well as the outcome of the entire album, was a team work. SILENT SCREAM is what each of us would like to whisper, sing or cry out to life hoping to be heard.
Were there many songs that didn’t made it on to the final edition of the album?
Actually we had a lot of material to work with when making SILENT SCREAM, a lot of songs to choose from, so there were quite a few songs that had to be left out. This was a tough call because we were emotionally attached to all of the songs for different reasons, but we believe we have chosen the best ones!
Your biography labels you as a dark/gothic metal act, how would you like to describe what kind of music Elysion plays?
Well the songs in SILENT SCREAM are quite varied. We liked the fact that there is no strict label in the matter of what we sound like, because throughout variations in atmosphere and sound we can best express Elysion’s range of creativity. Still, I feel that all songs, however different from each other, form a unique identity of what Elysion are about. We hope that each listener will find in SILENT SCREAM a feeling to relate to a sound able to reach to him. In general we certainly never labeled what we play our sound is a combination of metal, rock and gothic/electro elements all blended with our very personal musical identity.
Natalie Shau have made the very stylish cover art-work of the album,. What do you think of her job?
We have actually been following Natalie Shau’s work for several years and loving it. She is an extremely talented artist and she has worked miracles with so many bands among them PoisonBlack and Lacuna Coil. She was the first to come to mind when it was time for us to decide upon our cover. We needed the outside to match the inside we wanted Elysion’s simplicity and beauty to be captured on the cover and be just what the title says: a SILENT SCREAM is quiet but loud at the same time. Natalie took this all to the next level: she managed to come up with something so pretty, inviting and eye-catching but at the same time dark and weird, we knew from the moment we saw it that this was it. The girl on the cover is so still and silent, but yet breathtaking and intense, it couldn’t have worked any better!
And the same goes for the pictures inside the booklet which is taken by Seth Siro Anton. What do you think of the outcome of the photos?
I think Seth Siro has done an amazing job,unfolding the atmosphere presented on the cover into the entire inlay of the album. Again, pictures are not exaggerated but they completely match Elysion’s dark/romantic mood. It definitely was a bless to collaborate with both Seth Siro and Natalie,their work combined came out so solid and atmospheric it was as if they managed to visualize exactly what we had in mind.
You have shot a video to one of the songs from the album. Which one and what can you tell us about the video? When and where was it shot?
Well actually we haven’t shot any video for any of the songs yet!
It is certainly among our top priorities at the time to shoot a video-clip and we are still trying to figure out which song will be our very first video…we hope that this is going to happen during the spring so we ”ll be probable seeing ”Killing My Dreams” soon on the screen!
Do you have any plans on releasing any CD singles from the album?
There haven’t been any thoughts about this for the moment I guess. But considering we have plans of touring Europe and America this year we might be considering putting all this wonderful energy of a live show down to a CD or a DVD later on. We hope to return home after our tour so full of magical memories that we manage to create something great out of it!
Have you read any reviews of the album yet? What have the media to say about it?
Everything has been amazing so far! The release of SILENT SCREAM is very recent it has only been out for less than a month but we are more than grateful for all the support we have come to meet both in Greece and abroad. We have been over numerous reviews and it is very encouraging to us to come across such beautiful critiques. We cannot thank everyone enough for embracing us and showing us that even in these days that competition has reached extreme levels, a good work can always be appreciated.
Is there any differences in how Elysion have been treated by foreign press compared to national media?
Not really. We wouldn’t expect the local media to be”easy on us” because we are Greek on the contrary! Most people in the national media know how hard it is for a Greek band to make it through all the tremendous foreign competition in the field and it means a whole lot to us to be considered as a very promising band. Other than than we don’t categorize our media feedback as it is important to us to listen to what anyone has to say regardless of his country of origin. So far we are truly moved with all feedback we’ve been having…
Is the album released worldwide yet? If not in which territories has it been released in? Did you throw any release party for the album? If so when and where was it held? Did you perform live?
I believe that by this time SILENT SCREAM must have been released worldwide with the exception of Japan where it is going to be released during springtime. This has been a huge honor for Elysion because we were told that a special edition of the album will be released in Japan including some extra material and acoustic versions of some of the songs. As far as the release party is concerned it is yet to be thrown probably in early March in our hometown Athens so we are very excited about it. Don’t know yet whether there will also be a live performance that very night but it will definitely be a night to remember for us!
Are you happy with the outcome of the album or do you feel that you should have done anything different on it?
Not a thing! We are 100% happy with the outcome of the album and we feel more than grateful for the fact that in our very first album we got to collaborate with so many talented people whose work we had been admiring for years. We put all our love and energy down to SILENT SCREAM so there is nothing we would wish to change. After all, music is not about perfection it is about feelings.
Do you have any favourite track amongst the ones on the album?
I am attached to all of the songs to each one for different reasons…I tend to listen to a song more according to my mood when I’m all excited and energetic I usually put “Killing My Dreams” or “Never Forever” on. When I’m rather melancholic I most relate to “Erase Me”one of my dearest songs of the album.
The album was recorded in ARTemis Studio in Athens Greece, how come you chose to record the album there? Have any other well-known acts recorded albums there?
Mark Adrian is an exceptionally talented producer whose work we were very fond of so we didn’t have to look any further. We also had the luck of him being located in our hometown but this was just a happy coincidence. We would choose him as a producer for silent scream even if he was located in another country. I guess this explains how much we trust him. We also had the responsibility of coming up with a very high quality mix of the album since we knew that his would afterward end up in the hands of Ted Jensen so we had to know that we choose wisely. Many well known Greek but also European acts have collaborated with Mark Adrian and we are more than proud to say that Elysion is one of them!
Mark Adrian have both mixed and produced the album. How was it to work with him and what are his strongest features as producer do you think?
We got very lucky being able to work with Mark Adrian for "Silent Scr3am", as
his contribution to the sound outcome of the album was major. Not only is
mark Adrian one of the most talented producers in Europe but he is also gifted
when it comes to knowing how to bring the best out of all musicians he works
with. He did an amazing job throughout all recording and mixing of "Silent
Scr3am" and “fed’’ Ted Jensen with a wonderful platform to be able to easily
work on and master the album.
Do you think that you’re gonna continue to work with Adrian in the future?
Definitely! It is a rare thing to have the luck to collaborate with such a skillful producer and musician who is also a great psychologist and knows how to treat musicians. Not to mention the fact that Mark Adrian is such a calm and peaceful spirit that he makes anyone around him feel that they shouldn’t worry about a thing in the world. He provides the perfect atmosphere for a musician to record and put his soul down to his performance.
Mastering was done by Ted Jensen who has worked with acts like Iron Maiden, Korn and Slipknot, in his studio in America, how did you get in touch with him?
Working with one of the top sound engineers of the industry was a huge honor and opportunity. Over the years we have been very impressed by Jensen’s work, since it has contributed so much to the sound of many of our favorite bands and artists so once we contacted him and he was interested into working upon our material we totally trusted him to do whatever he thought best with our music and of course, he did. We are deeply grateful that someone of his talent got interested in our work and provided us with the sound we had prayed for!
Did any of the band members take part in the mastering process?
No. We were kindly invited by Ted Jensen to speak our mind and ask for any possible alterations but it wasn’t necessary. When you work with someone of his experience and talent you should respect his point of view and trust him 100% it is his personal approach that we wanted. Once we listened to what he had done with the album we were totally thrilled about what he did and we never had to change a thing.
Are you happy with the work Jensen did?
We couldn’t have been any happier! Again Elysion are truly grateful that mastermind Ted Jensen has mastered SILENT SCREAM. It was really important to us that our debut album sounds exactly what we had dreamed it would and Ted was a definite guarantee…he came up with a crystal clear, sharp and clean powerful sound which helps you focus on the beauty of the songs rather than the production itself. This was our goal to have a production that is totally balanced and lets the music flaw easily right into your heart.
Do you think that you will work with Adrian and Jensen again?
We would definitely love too! It has all worked so perfectly for SILENT SCREAM we would be foolish not to go back for more!
It seems like many labels were interested in signing Elysion when they heard you demo. Was it hard to choose which label you should ink a deal with?
It was very important to us to receive quite a few offers from many labels to begin with. But once we received the contracts from Massacre Records it was a no-brainer. We seized the opportunity to collaborate with one of the highest- reputable label in this industry right away but still being down to earth and knowing that there would be a lot of work on our behalf to follow..
How come you chose to sign on for Massacre Records? And for how many albums are you signed for?
Like you mentioned above, once our demo was recorded we drew the attention of a number of Labels for which we are more than grateful of course. One of the labels interested in Elysion was also Massacre Records who came up with a very honoring deal and really ”swept us off our feet”! It was some of the greatest news we had ever received and a great way to make our entrance to the scene. As for the contract I can only say that the number of albums is flexible but we can say we hope this to be a long lasting cooperation.
When did you sign a deal with Massacre Records? I read that you did it during the recordings of your album?
Do you see any problems in the fact that Massacre Records isn’t based in your home country?
Actually it was somewhat after Elysion recorded their demo. Once signed up with Massacre Elysion entered the studio right away to begin the recordings of SILENT SCREAM. We never thought the fact that Massacre isn’t based in our homeland to be a problem..If there was any need for it we would gladly relocate anywhere to follow our dream…we’d relocate in space if we had to!
Are you happy with the work Massacre Records have put into the album so far?
We are more than happy! Not only has signing up with a to of the field label for our debut album been a great honor for us but seeing what great faith Massacre has in Elysion and how strong their support is make us feel a whole lot of sense of responsibility to measure up to all that trust in us. We hope that we will let no one down first and foremost ourselves.
How old were you when you first started to sing?
My dad was an opera singer. My very first memories as a child are full of him singing to me songs and lullabies he used to write for me. When I turned 6 I got a synthesizer as a Christmas present and my dad started teaching me some theoretical things about music. I remember we would sit down for hours and record songs we sang together. So I don’t exactly know how old I was when I first sang as far as I can remember I’ve been singing ever since I can remember myself.
Have you taken vocal lessons?
Not really. I have always admired many varying vocal techniques and by the time I got 15 I began to study like crazy on my own all sorts of different vocal techniques I found interesting, from funk and soul music to power metal, trying to absorb any good element but also find my personal identity as a singer. Today I’m still learning and I know I will always be.
Have you always wanted to be a metal singer?
I think so yes. I have always been very open minded about music and tried to test my voice in different approaches but deep down I’ve always known that this is what i wanted to do.
Are you inspired by any other vocalists? Did you look up to any vocalist when you were younger?
When I was growing up this all metal female vocal -boom had not yet occurred so I didn’t have much to look up to when struggling to develop my vocal character. That was partly a good thing because i had to find my own voice not being abstracted by any imitating temptation. Later on i became a fan of many well-known vocalists for different reasons what attracts me is how distinctive a voice is and whether a singer can carry me away with the feelings unfolded by her singing. Floor Jansen(ex After Forever)is definitely one of them…
Can you play any instruments as well?
I started attending piano lessons when i was about 8 years old so i can play the piano. I never finished my studies so I am no Mozart:) but this all helps me a lot when it comes to composing a song and having an overall better understanding of music.
Have you been involved in any other acts before you joined Elysion?
I have been involved with many bands since I was 15. Some of them had a heavier appeal some had a more of a hard rock sound. My latest band before joining Elysion were Bare Infinity a symphonic/atmospheric power metal band.
How did you end up in Elysion?
I was no stranger with the rest of the guys because in the past we had shared the stage before not belonging in the same band that is. When they approached me in fall 2008 I was extremely honored to join such a talented and promising band. I entered the studio right away to record the vocals for SILENT SCREAM which made me overly excited but also conscious to both respect the original atmosphere of the songs and at the same time blend my ideas and character as a singer to the final outcome.
You were invited to sing with Fernando Ribeira when Moonspell played at Rock Em All Festival, how was that?
Actually the one to make that guest appearance with Moonspell you refer to was Maxi, Elysion’s former singer. I joined the band a few months later on. Still, I can say I trust it must have been a wonderful opportunity and a great moment for both Maxi and Elysion!
Elysion was founded in 2006 by guitarist Johnny Zero. When did the rest of the members join the band?
Johnny and Maxi our former singer co-founded Elysion in 2006 inviting Petos Fatis our drummer and FXF our bass player on board right away. I was the last one to join the family in November 2008.
Have any of the members been a part of any other acts prior to Elysion?
We have all been involved with quite a few bands and projects over the years! There are always side projects each of us is taking part in but due to Elysion’s increasing needs for our full time and energy right now every extra activity has been limited to a minimum. At this point we wish to give Elysion the fullest of our attention make sure we do whatever possible to make this work!
You did record a demo straight away, had Zero songs laying around all ready for you to record?
Something like that yes! I believe it was very important for Elysion not to lose any time but to be very organized and devoted to what we wanted to do right from the beginning. We were also lucky enough to have a very inspired and hard working songwriter who came up with such wonderful material from the very beginning. There was no point in waiting we were 100%confident we had something good to work on.
That demo was pronounced to Demo Of The Month in Metal Hammer Magazine. How did that feel for Elysion?
It surely was the best possible beginning for Elysion but soon as that happened the band felt that we would have to work extremely hard to measure up to that promising start and do our best so we evolve our sound to what we wanted for Elysion. It gave us one hell of a psychological boost but if this all wasn’t followed by constant work and improvement it wouldn’t mean much.
Was it given from the start that Elysion were gonna play this kind of music that you do?
Surely there was an overall structure in mind from the very beginning but this was all developed through endless composing and jamming. We didn’t choose to start a certain way we just expressed ourselves and felt free to blend many varying elements into our music SILENT SCREAM is what came out of it. We didn’t choose our sound it’s more like our sound chose us!
You have also won a large amount of awards and prizes. Can you tell us about that?
I guess one of the most important ones for us was to be awarded as best band in a national contest organized by Fillipos Nakas and EMI records because it happened in the very beginning of Elysion and gave us great confidence and strength to keep going. But like I said before awards and prizes alone don’t mean nothing what matters is to never take anything for granted and constantly try to be better.
Elysion comes from Greece, how’s the metal scene doing there?
The metal scene in Greece is getting quite crowded actually! Competition is getting greater and greater and this is a good thing because it’s very beneficial for the Greek scene to see the standards improving. I am proud to see talented bands hitting the international scene after Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh and Firewind there now seems to be quite a lot of an activity going on in Greece. Still, it is difficult to overcome certain obstacles and stand out but I still am a romantic thinker who believes that whatever the difficulties there will always be space for beautiful works and talented people.
You have done shows as support acts to other bands. Which bands have you been out with?
Elysion were lucky enough to share the stage with The Gathering, Christian Death, Diary of dreams, Star industry, Septic Flesh and many others even before our album was released and all these were very important moments for us. However, it is important to say that we cherish every show and honor individually everyone who comes to see us because it is the people and what we stare with them while on stage that make our music meaningful not who headlines or how big a festival is.
Where does the band name Elysion come from and what does it mean?
Well, the name Elysion has a kind of mythological reference actually one of the reasons why we chose it was because we treasure all this dreamy concept behind it thinking it is a perfect match for our somewhat romantic perspective of things. In detail in ancient Greek mythology Elysian fields were supposed to be a place of rest for the virtuous after their death. We love the fact that there is a strong sense of hope and promise behind all this but other than that it is the human soul and its feelings that inspire our music.
Does the band members have any common idol or role model that they are inspired by?
I guess we all have our own heroes we don’t have any role models in particular except for Johnny Zero whose musical identity is so affected by Iron Maiden they practically run through his veins. Since he is NOT reading this at the moment I can say that if he was to choose a way to die I bet he’d choose to be eaten by Eddie:))!!
You incorporates keyboards and programming in your songs which is played by Zero, how do you solve that on stage in a live situation? Does he play both guitars and keyboards live?
We are so grateful that you asked about this because we feel obliged to give great credit to several people who help us in all live sets. There is Nid who is the fifth member of Elysion on stage and always does an amazing job with the guitars apart from Johnny Zero. It is a fact that our sound is quite demanding and that out of respect to the people who honor us by coming to our shows we try to make sure that what they hear is as good as the CD. In order for Elysion’s live sound quality to be best possible there are also some programming ,keyboard and loop arrangements handled by our sound engineers, Mike Skarakis and Wee, again a huge plus for the whole team. Elysion are very lucky to be surrounded by such talented and devoted professionals and we owe them all big time!
Have you got a big fanbase at home in Greece?
Considering Elysion is an upcoming band with a very recent release I would say we are more than pleased to meet such great feedback! It was one of the reasons why we wanted to tour Greece before we were off to Europe to thank everyone for their support in these very first steps we have taken.
How many shows have you done so far?
Quite many I suppose and we treasure each and every one of them! Each show is an opportunity to communicate our feelings with everyone that has honored us by being there and we surely make the best out of it! Our very last appearance was a few weeks ago when we had the pleasure to share the stage with Draconian. It was definitely one of our most beautiful experiences so far!
Have you done a lot of shows outside of Greece yet?
Not yet, but we intent to start pretty soon! I cannot describe how excited we are we counting the days for our European tour to begin. I think the most fascinating thing about getting to visit many countries is that you find out that whatever the cultural differences music is the strongest means of unity and communication of the entire human race.
Are you big enough at home to do headline shows?
We have had the pleasure to headline in many shows so far but this is of little importance to us. It is performing live that interests us so we are equally thrilled when playing live no matter how big the crowd is or whether we headline or not.
Do you have any plans on try to conquer the American or the Asian market in the future?
Well SILENT SCREAM has already been released in the U.S. and will soon be released in many Asian countries too. What we do best is to play music so we try to do this the best way we can and leave the marketing plans for those who are in charge of it. What we wish is that people no matter the country or the market get to hear something beautiful in our music and maybe embrace us for who we are. That would be our greatest reward! Still I can say there are some plans of crossing the Atlantic and visiting America by the end of the year.
I haven’t found any website for Elysion, do you have one or do you rely on your MySpace site?
So far our website has been under construction but as far as I know it will be all ready and fully functioning within this month. Until then we are waiting to hear from all of you at www.myspace.com/elysionmyspace. Do drop a comment we always read everything and try to reply as fast as possible!
Are you also active on Facebook?
Yes! It is also a great way to stay in contact with all of our friends and share our news! pay us a visit at www.facebook.com/pages/Elysion/100952843663
When are you heading out on tour through Europe?
Probably our European tour is bound to start in the second half of 2010 as for these first 6 months we plan to tour our homeland and honor as many cities as we can for all the wonderful support they have granted us with so far. We are also at the terms of arranging our participation in a number of European festivals during the summer so I hope our full schedule will be announced soon! We are all counting the days for all of this to begin because playing live is what we live for!
Do you think you’re heading over to Scandinavia anytime soon?
Hopefully yes! We couldn’t do otherwise we share enormous respect for the entire Scandinavian scene so we ‘ll do all we can to soon be able to make a date with all of you and get to share all this great live energy and emotions with everyone!
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question you get from fans?
We do get a lot of mail and we have internet to thank for this because it’s so thrilling to get to talk with people that we might never be able to come across. We are very grateful for all mail we get and always try to respond. One frequent question we get is whether there are any plans of visiting a certain country and throw a gig there which is so complimentary since we are an upcoming band with such a recent release. It means the world to us to see such interest from so many countries worldwide it makes us want to work even harder and definitely makes us want to catch the next flight and get there!
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy SILENT SCREAM?
I’ll just give you one: it was made not no prove the abilities of Elysion as musicians but to help us share our feelings with you as simply and beautifully as we can.
What can we expect out of an live show with Elysion?
Tones of energy and emotion!
That was all I had for this time, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you and the band all the best in the future, finally, do you have any words of wisdom to the fans and readers?
I would like to thank everyone on behalf of all Elysion for embracing us we keep our fingers crossed that we’ll get to see you all in a show soon! Instead of any words of wisdom I will quote a phrase from our opening track:”…always a dreamer, always fighting for more than I can have…”
(ELYSION cannot thank you enough for this interview and all your interest and support. We truly hope that we’ll get to meet you in person one day!)