In January we got to interview Amanda. This was also posted on the myspace but now it is available here as well.
First of all, 2008 was a big Amanda year, there was the release of album 'Windows' and Avantasia's 'the Scarecrow', the tours with Epica andAvantasia and the working on HDK. What are your plans for 2009?
To keep on keepin' on! I'm still working on gaining some momentum with Windows, plus I'll be doing some limited live performances (a bit of a Windows tour, if you will) in a rather intimate setting in Europe and North America. I've really got to pound the pavement for everything, but it's exciting and definitely requires my complete attention and devotion. The project I did together with Sander Gommans of After Forever, HDK, will be released on February 23 and I'm not sure what all I'll have to do surrounding that. Also, I'll start on the Epica pre-production for their new album next week, as well as continuing working with other bands. 2009 is bound to be another exciting year!
Can we expect some Amanda Somerville shows to promote 'Windows'?
For those who haven't heard it yet, can you describe 'Windows' in one sentence?
From alternative powerpop tunes like “Mayday” to the metal-laced anthem, "Inner Whore" and on to world music-flavored ballads such as “All That I Am,” Windows is an album that is as diverse as the genre-jumping, continent-hopping songbird that created it. ;-)
We know that for 'In The Beginning There Was...' and 'Blue Nothing' you wrote out of your own experiences, what was your inspiration for 'Windows'?
Same deal. It isn't always easy to spill out your life, your desires, your weird day dreams for everyone to analyze, but it isn't something that leaves me a say in the matter. Writing is my emotional outlet, whether it's about something I'm experiencing personally or something I witness going on in a far corner of the world. I've always thought that I would be a pretty uptight and unpleasant person if I couldn't purge everything through writing and performing. It's almost a compulsion sometimes, but I'm sooooo thankful that I have it!
It's hard to label your music because almost each song is a different genre. What kind of vocal training have you had to be able to sing all these styles?
I've never had any formal training. My entire family is comprised of musicians, some professional or retired. We were one of those circus-type families in the sense that we were always having concert sand jam sessions and hootenannies. I just grew up in that environment and it basically chose me. I've known my entire life that music was my calling and I'm very fortunate in that respect. The musical influences from my various family members range from classical to jazz to folk to rock (my Mom was a Black Sabbath-loving hippie :-). Techniques and tips were passed down to me and I've been able to put all of that to practical use.
We know it's difficult but could you describe yourself in 3 words?
Silly. Dreamer. Melodramatic.
Do you think your writing has matured since 'In The Beginning There Was...'?
It's evolved, that's for certain. As to whether it's matured in the sense of being more grown-up... that I don't know. I don't think I could write the songs that were on in the Beginning any more today. With all that I've been through and the influence I've had from everyone I've worked with since that album, it was bound to take my writing style all over the place. But I'm happy with where I am right now, musically.
If you hadn't been a musician, what other profession would you have had?
Ha ha! Well, I was studying Psychology at the University of Michigan when I broke off and moved to Europe. I was contemplating going to medschool because I love the idea of helping and healing people. But the dreamer in me most likely would have won out and I probably would have gone to New York to study acting or maybe gotten into more creative writing.
If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and have you met any of your own idols?
I've met him once and almost peed my pants and I would probably seriously have to wear some diapers if I were to ever work with Paul Simon. ;-) He's my all-time favorite musician for so many reasons.
Apart from your solowork, what has been your favourite project to work on/tour with so far?
Hm. A "favorite" question. Those are tough because I can never pick a favorite. I have a ball whenever I get to do what I love with people that I love. I'm a pretty fierce family person and I consider quite a few people to be part of that family. The Epicans and Avantasians are definitely in there and I had an amazing time with all of them. I also had a ball doing HDK with Sander. He's incredible and an absolute riot. And of course anything I get to do with my home team; Sascha, Miro, Robert, Olaf, Simon. How's that for narrowing down favorites? :-)
Something else now, apart from your solowork you're known for your work in the metal industry. 'Aina' was one of your biggest projects so far, are you considering writing a sequel to 'Aina' or another rock opera?
Oh, schnykes, it's been a while since that's come up! I actually have a lot for a sequel for Aina already written. It just kind of fell dead in the water because of what happened with the label that originally released Days of Rising Doom and then we all got so busy working on other things. I'd be up to continuing the saga, but I'm not sure how probable that is at this point.
Do you think 'Aina' will ever be performed on stage?
That was another thing that was planned but fell through. I'd love to do it someday, but again, don't know how probable that is.
On the cd it's pronounced in different ways but what's the one and only correct pronunciation for 'Aina'?
We did some research and found out that 'Aina' is a Catalan name meaning'joy'. Is this how you came up with the name?
Actually, no. After I came up with the name, I found out that it meant all kinds of things in all kinds of different languages, which I found particularly interesting. The original name is Aindahaj ("Eye'n-da-hadsch"), which is the name in the natives' language, Ainae ("Eye-nye'"). It was obvious to me that the album couldn't be called Aindahaj, so I did what we native English speakers do to everything foreign and I anglicized it.
How did you come up with a completely new language and was it difficult to develop it?
I've always been fascinated with linguistics. When I was little, I used to makeup my own languages and make up stories about the far-away lands in which they were spoken. (Yep. Add "weird" to that list of self-descriptions. ;-) It was pretty natural for me to do something like that. Also, I'd noticed that most everything that had been done in a similar vein in the scene was always done in Latin. Now, nothing against Latin or the bands who choose that route, but I just wanted to do something completely unique and it doesn't get any more unique than just inventing your own damn language!
The latest project you've been working on is HDK, can you tell us what to expect from it and how you were involved with it?
Gladly! I'm really excited about the album because it marks a turning point for me, personally. This is truly where I crossed the line into metal and you can count on the next album from me to be swimming in darker waters because of it. HDK is by far the heaviest and most intense project I've worked on thus far.When Sander first asked me to write the lyrics / vocal lines, I didn't hesitate to say, "Yes", because he's a very close friend and also because he has my utmost respect as a musician. When he played me the first demos, however, I was thinking, "Holy crap! Can I do this? Am I going to like this?" So I started and everything just clicked into place, as cliche as that sounds.
In my opinion, there's nothing out there that sounds like System Overload. It's also a very diverse album and very intense. As I've said a million times before, for me it all boils down to emotion. If I can't feel a song, if it doesn't speak to me, it's nothing more than background noise. I've come to find, as counter-intuitive as this is being how passionate fans of metal are, that it's rather rare to find true and raw emotion in the European metal scene. It's more about the technicalities and perfection and impressing people than about delivering a true message and expressing one's innermost workings. That's all fine and good, if that's what people can appreciate, but I just work differently. In any case, HDK brought out all kinds of emotions and it was a thrill to work that way with such fiercely thrashing music. I think you'll be able to hear that, though!
There's a new Epica album coming out at the end of this year, will we be able to hear you on that as well?
What advice would you give to a new band or music project that has just started up? How should they go about in the music industry?
Get out while you still can!!! *kidding* Well, I'd say that perseverance probably counts as much if not more than the traditional and obvious factors like talent, luck and hard work. Most of the people that I see fail in this business are those who simply give up after a certain amount of time because they get tired of playing the game. Or of the game playing them. If you stick to it and roll with the punches long enough, something will eventually come about. Of course, the traditional and obvious factors still apply!
Have you got any nicknames that have a cool story to them?
Haha!! The ones that I'll share with you ;-) are Am-Ende (which means "at your wits' end" in German) that my dear Olaf coined and all of my Gate Studio boys call me and then Amandalala, which Sander called me from the second day he knew me. He's about as big a nickname giver as I am, so I think he just pulled that one out of his hat. It's stuck, though, and even my Mom calls me that now!
And lastly (and completely random) what's your favourite type of cheese?
Colby-Jack, which I can NOT get over here in Europe! *sniff* But seriously, almost any kind. I'm a cheese freak!