Singer/bandleader Elina Siirala – Angel Nation
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Inner Wound Recordings for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Inner Wound Recordings for the promo pictures of the band.
Angel Nation is back with their brand new second album AEON which was released in late 2017. I hooked up with singer Elina Siirala in order to get to know more about the band and her journey within the metal genre. Since she’s also lead singer in Leave’s Eyes we touched that subject too. AEON is the first release on a label and the debut album was released on their own and is available from their webshop. The music of Angel Nation appeals to fans of melodic symphonic metal, so if that genre is your cup of tea then please continue read about the band and their music below…
Hi Elina and thanks for taking the time for this interview today. Are you ready to kick off?
My pleasure! I’m totally ready! 😀
Lets take it back to when it all began, what made you start the band in the first place and was it hard to find members to join the band?
It all started with me just writing a few songs after some hard times I went though. When I had those songs I thought it would be nice to actually play them live so a few friends joined me in 2011. After that I wanted to make it officially a band so came up with a name etc.
Was it given from the start that you were going to play this kind of music?
I really fell in love with rock and metal when I moved to London and I loved to perform the heavier music but didn’t really think my voice would suit it. So, i decided to write music for my voice, something that I would feel comfortable singing but still combining the heavy side of the music and my love of performing it. My songs are quite different to each other, some are much more heavy rock and others have more metal influences.
The band name in between 2011-2016 was Enkelination, why did you rename the band to Angel Nation?
Over the years it became apparent that people couldn’t really understand, remember or pronounce the name so after a long consideration we decided to change it to the English translation.
Is it correct that Enkeli means Angel in Finnish?
Yes that’s right.
Where does the band name originate from and does it have any special meaning to you and the members?
enkElination did mean a lot to me as it combined a Finnish and English word and also happened to have my name in the middle.
Since the beginning have you had any member changes if so which one have left and joined the band?
Yes, I think the way the band started also contributed to that (me starting it alone). Over the years people have had to leave the band for work reasons etc. but now we have a very nice balanced feeling amongst each other. Julia is our bassist, Lucas plays drums, Sonny on Guitar and we’re also looking into getting a second guitarist as most of the songs require that.
What did the media think of the bands first single “Tears Of Lust” that came 2014?
We were very overwhelmed by the positive response to the whole first album!
Is it correct you released it on your own via bandcamp?
It was self released through all the usual platforms (bandcamp, CDbaby, iTunes etc.)
The same year the debut album TEARS OF LUST was released, what reactions did you get on the debut?
As I mentioned before, we were absolutely delighted by the positive response from both, fans and media!
Is it also an independent release through bandcamp?
Yes we self released the whole first album.
According to the bio the band performed at Bloodstock Open Air as well as on several festivals in Finland during 2014-15 how was it to come out playing live and meeting fans?
We had already been playing quite expensively in and around London before the first album came out but after it we got a chance to perform at the Bloodstock which was a great experience! It was also special to get to play with Angel Nation in Finland for the first time in 2015. It’s always lovely to meet the fans, we really treasure them!
At the beginning of 2015 your video “Last Time Together” was unleashed, today it got 128000 hits, how does that feel?
That’s a very special song to me so it was great to be able to make a video for that song. It’s heartwarming to hear how many people have been touched by that song and I still get messages about that song very often.
Last Time Together (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Do you consider todays line-up in the band a solid one?
Yes, we have a very good vibe between us and this little tour just confirmed how well we get along and enjoy playing together.
The choice of having two females in the band, what reactions have you had on that? Personally I’m all for more women power within the metal genre so if you ask me I like it 🙂
First and foremost it’s about getting a solid player who’s also good on stage, has the same goals and ambition, availability etc. We came across Julia on social media and instantly thought she would be a very good fit in the band and we weren’t wrong! She’s a great player and an awesome person. It’s nice to have another woman on the road and it also breaks the usual “norm” of just a female singer and male musicians.
What can you tell us about the video to the 2016 song “Do It Anyway”?
It’s a special song so we wanted to make something completely different for the video. The lyrics are perfect for a tongue-in-cheek type video that we made. We wanted to show a very different side to the band, both visually and musically. We take our playing and music seriously but we don’t want to take ourselves too seriously so this song was the perfect chance to show that to people. We know it was a big risk but people have really loved the video and it’s a great song to play live!
Do It Anyway [Official Lyric Video)
What does the band think of shooting videos? Is it fun and something you would like to do more of?
It’s always great to make videos! However they require a lot of financing so it’s not always possible to make them for as many songs as we’d like to. But for sure we’d love to make more in the future!
Where in the world does the band have its biggest fanbase?
That’s hard to say as the fans are spread quite evenly all over. Germany, UK, Latin-America to mention a few places..
What does the rest of the band do when you’re busy with doing other things? Are they parts of any other bands?
We’re all involved in other musical projects too and we also work outside the band so there’s no problem to keep busy 😀
Is Angel Nation a project or a band?
It’s always been a band and I’d like to involve everyone else into the writing side more as well. Surely it was me who started the band and want to write music that suits my voice but I’m very open to ideas and love working with the guys. Already on ‘Aeon’ I was working a lot more with other people which is only good.
What is the reason to that it has taken you so long to follow up the debut TEARS OF LUST from 2014?
We were ready to go to the studio already in early 2016 but then I got the call from Leaves’ Eyes so we had to put things on hold for a while. But I’m glad at the end because I still wrote three more songs between then and now which are all on the album.
New album AEON
When did you begin to work on material for AEON?
I started already during the year 2015 and first song I wrote was ‘Farewell’
Who has written the music/lyrics?
I write the songs, keyboards, melodies etc. and then I’d send the idea to our guitarist (Shadow, who unfortunately decided to leave the band in 2016) who would make some guitar parts and more drums. Then we’d arrange and produce the songs a bit more until the final form was ready. I also write the lyrics and I had a bit of help from my friend in a couple of songs.
What are the lyrics about this time?
They’re all about different things. For me the music needs to fit with the lyrics and I need to somehow connect with the text. i like writing about many topics and I like the fact that people can interpret them in their own way.
Where do you find inspiration to write lyrics?
Mostly from the world around me. Things that happen in the world and around me and in my own life are great inspiration for songs. I’ve also written lyrics after dreams
Is Angel Nation a democracy where everyone is involved in the decision making or is it you that have the final saying?
We discuss all the big decisions that involve everyone together. Sometimes it’s easier to have one person taking care of something as if everyone’s always involved in all the decisions it becomes too difficult and messy. But for example we decided the video theme together whereas I took mostly care of organising the recent tour.
The official lyric video has had 15000 hits so far, are you happy with that?
We were very happy about the response to our first music video for “Burn The Witch”. The lyric video was the second single and again we were delighted about the reactions. Hopefully the views will continue grow as people find our band more and more.
Breathe Again [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]
How come you titled the album AEON?
We wanted something substantial to reflect the album, how much it means to us. Julia, our bassist came up with Aeon and we all liked it. It means ‘vital force’, ‘generation’ etc. which suited the album very well. Aeon can also be found in our band name which was a finny coincidence.
Jan Yrlund has made the cover art work, are you happy with the outcome? Was he given free hands to create a cover?
Yes, he did a great job! I spoke to him about the idea of an ‘Angel Nation’, something slightly futuristic. I also gave him the photo of the “city in the sky” that was photographed in China a few years ago. He suggested to have a figure on the cover so I wanted the angel to be a hybrid between a human and robot. We’re all thrilled with the result!
Jukka Pelkonen (Omnium Gatherum) sings a duet with you in “Free” was it given that the song was going to be a duet?
Yes, when i wrote the song I knew it would need more brutal vocals in the start, that’s how i instantly heard it in my head. And Jukka was the one I thought of as I like his way of growling. Luckily he was up for it and did a great job!
And your mother Merit Palas plays violin on “Music Plays” what did she think of playing on an album with you and the band?
It was great to have her participate on that song. The whole initial idea started with the duet with the vocal and violin so I knew I’d need a real violin for the recording. She flew all the way from Helsinki to record her parts and she enjoyed very much working with her daughter and she also likes the song.
Was it easy to convince the two to guest on the album?
It was actually very easy and I’m very happy how both songs turned out!
How would you like to describe what kind of music the band plays?
I would say it’s melodic metal with a lot of hard rock elements too. I also use quite a lot modern, even strange sounds on the keyboards. There’s a big emphasis on melodies and catchy choruses.
What are the longest song “Destination” (6.29) and the shortest “Enough Is Enough” (3.42) about?
Destination is about the journey in the music world, how you never really know where your destination is. It’s this passion that can sometimes very hard to follow but like the lyrics say “like sleeping beauty i keep following the light of desire”. It’s such an amazing field of art and you never reach the end, the journey really always continues with unknown destination.
Enough is enough is about self belief, it’s a bit like a personal anthem to motivate yourself, keep trying, to keep following your own way, no matter how hard it sometimes is.
45 minutes and 10 tracks are a pretty descent amount of music, was it meant that the album was going to contain 10 songs or did that just happen?
We discussed amongst the band which songs to have on the album and ended up with these 10. The songs work very nicely together and create a good drama from start to end.
Were there any songs that was left out or did you use all the songs you wrote on to the album?
There was a couple of songs that were left out this time as we felt they needed a bit more work. I’m sure we’ll use them in thew future
Do you think fans of TEARS OF LUST are going to like AEON?
Yes, I think so! It’s an evolvement from Tears of Lust but the music is still typically ‘Angel Nation’. It’s been great to see how well these songs have worked at the live shows too!
Does the band developed anything musicwise of you compare TEARS OF LUST with AEON?
I think Aeon is a bit more complex musically, has more energy and much more individual parts for each instruments. I also combined styles and sounds much more boldly in Aeon.
Have you ready any reviews of AEON? Do you and the band care about what the critics have to say about your work?
Yes there’s been quite a few reviews! It’s always interesting to hear what people think about the album and luckily we’ve had a lot of good reviews and good feedback from fans as well.
Are there any differences in how the band is treated by the native and foreign press?
I think reviewing music is always very subjective so it’s more about the person who happens to write the review, if they like it or not. It’s part of the business to get both, good and bad reviews and I don’t notice difference between UK or other countries.
Do you think the album have gained more interest amongst the masses with you being involved in Leave’s Eyes now?
It’s hard to say but I’m sure more people know me as a singer now and maybe that makes them familiar with Angel Nation too so it’s likely to reach more people.
The bio say “Get ready for it all: Heavy rocking and epic tunes from this highly anticipated album with tons of character”, what do you think of those line?
It’s exactly how I’d describe the music. There are some epic tunes, like Destination and also more rock orientated songs with also 80’s influences. All the songs have a lot of character in my opinion, little hooks and something slightly different.
Personally with Elina Siirala
For long have you been singing and when did you realize you wanted to become a singer?
I’ve always been singing but I started taking lessons officially when I was 17. I passed the auditions to a school two years later and went on to study a degree in classical music in Helsinki, so it all kind of happened organically without me specifically deciding anything. Even after the degree I felt like I wanted to study other styles so i decided to move to London to pursue that. Meanwhile I was also always writing music so i guess it all came together finally when I started Angel Nation.
Do you have any singer that have inspired you in any way?
I used to idolise Placido Domingo when I was younger and one of my all time inspirations is Freddie Mercury
You also plays the keyboard, what came first the keyboard or the singing?
I was always singing so that came first for sure. I kind of taught myself to play the piano and I used it also to write music.
Do you play any other instrument?
I used to play the violin for seven years so i can still play a bit.
You have an amazing voice, how do you keep it in shape?
Thank you! As a singer your own body is your instrument so it’s all normal things like exercise and normal practicing to keep the voice in shape. On tours I try to drink a lot of water and get enough sleep, eat as well as I can and not to shout or speak too much over loud music as speaking can actually be much more tiring than singing.
To all women that what to be singers what do you have to say to them, any advices or so?
To anyone, regardless the gender I’d say take the time to get to know your voice and build a good technique. It takes a lot of perseverance and discipline and of course you need the passion for it!
Since 2008 you live in London, what made you move from Finland to the UK?
I moved there to study for a year originally and then just stayed for many reasons
In the bio it can be read that before you moved to London you didn’t like any harder music at all, what changed?
It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just wasn’t very familiar with that style of music. Our first module in the school was rock and I really loved performing it! Later on I got to know more people who introduced me to the metal clubs in London and I just fell more and more in love with the heavier music.
Was it London you decided to form Enkelination?
It was back in 2011 that the band started so after many things came together it all lead to the formation of enkElination
Is it easier to get a breakthrough outside Finland?
It’s hardly ever easy and I would say that UK is not an easy place to play metal music at all. It’s always a combination of many things, sometimes some luck also but mostly a lot of systematic and hard work that goes into it all.
You’re now a part of Leave’s Eyes, how did you land that job?
We played together at the O2 academy back in 2015 as well as at the Dames of darkness festival. I got a call in March 2016 and flew all the way to Germany without knowing what it was about. I then learnt that it was about Leaves’ Eyes which was of course a big surprise!
Which band is you number one priority at the moment? Is it hard to find the time to focus on both bands?
For me both bands have priority but of course many factors have to be considered. Last year was a lot about making albums so now next year will be more playing shows so we have to schedule things and communicate to make it all work.
Leave’s Eyes toured heavily through Europe and USA/Canada last year, how was it being out on the road?
It was all great experience and also showed that touring is very tough especially when I got very ill during both USA tours. It’s great to be able to play in so many places and meet all the fans.
How is it to tour in a band where you are the only woman?
For me it’s not really a problem, we’re all in the same boat and like in life in general it’s much more about individual people instead of their gender. I had a blast with Noora from Battle beast but it was also because we were both singers, and could relate to each other very well on personal level.
What does the old Leave’s Eyes fans think of you as the new singer? Have they accepted you?
All the feedback I’ve gotten from fans have been really amazing! With singer changes you can never please everyone but I’ve been very happy with the support I’ve gotten.
Label and management
When did you ink a deal with Inner Wound Recordings?
We were already in touch a long time ago and started discussing the new album again around summer 2017 when the release was coming relevant.
Were there many labels that showed interest in the band?
There was a few, also already a long time ago and I was in touch with different labels during the recording process.
Are you happy with the work IWR have put into the band and the album so far?
We are very happy with IWR, they’ve been very helpful and put a lot of work into promoting the album. It’s been a pleasure!
How come you released TEARS OF LUST on your own?
At that time we had already done so much ourselves that we wanted to do the rest as well and not to make any kind of deal with a label.
The debut is available as CD and download on your webstore but can it be bought in physical record stores?
The physical copies are available only through our webstore and Nuclear Blast webshop
Have you any idea how many copies the debut have sold?
That’s very hard to say now as a lot of sales have also gone through third parties
Whats the pro’s with being inked to a smaller label like IWR?
Smaller labels have more time to put into all bands they have on their roster and we’ve had very hands on approach from them.
Any plans on releasing AEONS on vinyl?
It’s always a finance question with different editions etc. so hopefully we’ll be able to do that in the future
What are your thoughts and opinions regarding the streaming and downloading services of today? Do you think bands looses money on not selling physical copies of albums?
It’s how the music industry works now and surely it does affect sales when albums are available for streaming everywhere.
Is AEON available to listen to at Spotify, Itunes etc?
Yes it is available on Spotify
Who releases the album in Asia and South America?
Aeon isn’t released on CD in those territories, but specialized stores have imported the CD edition from EU/NA. The album is available in digital format worldwide.
For how many albums are you inked for at IWR?
We will discuss any future albums when the time comes. Currently we have a very good and special deal with IWR for the release of Aeon and then we’ll discuss the future plans when it’s time to do that.
Do you currently work with any booking agency today?
We don’t have any specific one booking agency but we worked with several bookers/promoters for this tour and we’ll see how things will shape up next year
Past present and future
The band is going out on a shorter tour during December, are you excited?
We’ve now finished our tour and it was an amazing one! It was great to see how well the new songs worked at live gigs and we had a lot of fun playing and meeting all the fans!
Why is the tour only 7 dates short?
We wanted to get all the dates for the period before Christmas, get to as many countries as possible and still make it also financially possible so 7 gigs was a nice run for coming to the Europe for the first time.
Which countries are you touring in? Why not any shows in Finland?
We started in London, then went to Belgium, France, Netherlands and Germany. It would require a separate flight to go to Finland so it wasn’t possible to combine that with the tour. We hope to play in Finland another time, perhaps next summer.
Are there any plans on touring more with Angel Nation next year?
We’d love to tour more so we’ll start planning next year soon
Would you like to tour in the rest of the Scandinavian countries?
Of course, that would be great! Sweden especially is very good for metal gigs
Any festival shows booked for the up coming summer so far?
I’m playing in Wacken with Leaves’ Eyes and there are a couple of other festivals with both bands being discussed
If you could pick any place/festival in the world that you could perform with Angel Nation where would you choose?
We would all love to go to Japan one day! And one of the favourite festivals would be Graspop
Do you see any problems in the fact that you are involved in two bands at the same time?
Making schedules work and having enough time is a challenge but it’s a good challenge to have. I like doing many things within music!
What could you tell us about the video to the first single from the album “Burn The Witch”?
It’s the world of social media, laptops and phones and how it consumes so many people’s lives now a days. It’s easy to feel isolated or lonely and people don’t seem to communicate in real life as much anymore. We thought it was an interesting and relevant topic for the video and that’s what the song talks about anyway.
Burn The Witch [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
At the end of October you unveiled an audio video on youtube to “Wonder Who You Are”, what did fans think of it?
We wanted to pick three quite different singles and ‘wonder who you are’ is one of the faster ones with a bit of a thrash/power metal feel to it. People have really liked that song as well and it’s also one of my favourites to play live.
Wonder Who You Are [OFFICIAL AUDIO]
The band got a really nice and informative website, who runs it?
It’s designed and managed by www.cazdigital.com
Are there many fans that buys stuff in your webstore?
Yes we have steady sales coming through the website all the time
Is the band active on Instagram and Twitter, do you think it’s important to be active on all the social platforms?
We have accounts on most social media sites. It’s very important to be active there and it’s nice to post news and pictures for the fans as often as we can.
Your facebook got 12000 likes so far, congratulations. Who do you think is the typical Angel Nation fan?
All I can say is that our fans are amazing, very supportive and nice people! We have many loyal fans who’ve followed us from the beginning and become friends as well. one of them just drove us through the Europe during our tour.
At the beginning of next year Leave’s Eyes is heading out on tour, is that going to cause any problems for Angel Nation?
We’re playing three release shows with Leaves’ Eyes in January and the tour will be around mid April so there’s still a lot of time for us to play with Angel Nation too.
What is your opinion regarding the meet and great events that more and more band’s do now where they charge (sometimes steep amounts) fans to meet them and to sign autographs? Does Leave’s Eyes hosts any meet and greet events?
I guess for big bands it’s the only way to guarantee that fans can meet the band as there would be too many people otherwise. It’s also a way to finance tours etc. I’ve never personally attended one or been a part of one as a band.
When do you think that the next album with Angel Nation is going to be ready for release?
That’s hard to say as right now we’re enjoying the current album after the intense period of working on it and recording it etc. When the time is right I will start writing again (I already have some ideas) and we’ll make a plan how to proceed.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Angel Nation before?
It’s an interesting combination of different styles, has female vocals but is not symphonic metal. The music has great emphasis on catchy melodies, has a lot of detail within the songs and parts but isn’t too complex in other ways. You should definitely check us out live too as we love to bring the fun and energy on stage and we really enjoy connecting with the crowd!
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy AEON?
It’s an album with great variety from heavy rocking songs to ballads which makes it interesting to listen to.
It has a lot of great melodies that will have you sing along, great stylistic combinations which makes it impossible to define the musical genre exactly.
And if you like angelic yet strong female vocals this is definitely an album for you.
Well that was all for me for this time. Once again thanks for taking the time making the interview, I wish you and the band all the best in the future. Finally do you have any words of wisdom to share with the readers and fans?
Thank you, it was my pleasure! I’d like to wish happy new year to everyone and thank you for the support! I hope to see you at the shows very soon!