Amanda Somerville - September, 25th 2010 (by email)- Amanda Somerville - Sep. 2010 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
www.michael-kiske.de© Kiske - Somerville
Frontiers Records has a new band project called Kiske / Somerville. This time Michael Kiske teams up with Amanda Somerville, an American singer who some might know from other projects she was involved with - like Avantasia and Aina. What makes this album interesting - beside the two singers -, it's an album full of duets! Time to learn a bit more about Kiske - Somerville and I have to thank Amanda for answering my questions.An album full of duets... Serafino Perugino had the idea to do it or wanted to realize it, what was your first reaction when you heard about it? Please tell us a bit more about how everything got started!
It seems that Michael has the boss of a record company as a huge fan and a musician couldn't wish for anything better, I suppose! It all started for me sometime in the spring of last year, I believe. Mat Sinner called and asked if I'd be interested in doing a duet album with Michael Kiske and I was very flattered that I was on their list of prospective singers. I thought it would be great to finally be able to work and sing directly with Michael after a long time of kind of indirectly working with him on projects like Aina and Avantasia, so I was thrilled!Most songs were written by Mat Sinner and his band mates, but you also wrote some songs with Sander Gommans. Did you already had some ideas for songs which ended up being used on Kiske - Somerville? Or have all songs been written especially for this album?
Actually, when Mat asked me to be the other half of the album duet and had sent along some demos to give me an idea of how the album was going to sound musically, I asked him if there was any room for creative contribution because I'm just as much a songwriter as I am a singer. He said to send whatever I had his way, so I set to work! I'd worked together with Sander before writing songs together for HDK and it all went so well that we'd talked about writing more together. This was the perfect opportunity, so we wrote 4 songs specifically for this album and 3 ended up on it!How long did it take from the beginning to the release? How long did the actual recordings take?
I'm not exactly sure when Serafino came up with the idea and then handed it over to Mat as the director of everything, but I was contacted in spring '09, wrote the songs in the summer and did the recordings in Stuttgart in November. Something like this is always a long process of finalizing ideas, songs, recordings, mixes, etc.Michael and you both were involved in projects like Avantasia and Aina, but I guess this was the first time you really worked together, right?
That's correct. If you've seen my video blog I did during the video shoots for Silence and If I Had A Wish, you can see that I was very excited, of course. And it's funny, because those videos I record are really candid. I'm just shoving my camera in people's faces at random intervals and so when you see Michael's face when I explain that it's the first time we've met face-to-face after working together on earlier occasions, he looks a bit confused. That's because he never realized that it was me who sang the Silver Maiden demo for him, for example, or that I was also part of Avantasia, so that was all news to him! And it's great that I got that initial surprised reaction on camera. :-)The first single was Silence and you did a video for this one as well as for If I Had A Wish. Can you tell us something about the video shoot?
It was a great video crew and fun group of people, plus the locations were beautiful, so it was a lot of fun. However, the location for the If I Had A Wish video was in this former bath hall that was freezing cold - much colder than it was outside - and we were warming ourselves in the spotlights. You can see our breath while we're singing!Will there be another video? A video for a track you wrote? And which song would you like to do a video for?
I guess it depends on how well the album does, but I believe the videos that were planned have been shot. I'd love to do a video for A Thousand Suns and Michael has mentioned that that's his favorite song on the album which is very flattering, since it's one of mine ;-)!What age did you start taking vocal lessons? And which singer have been your main influenced when you started? And what are you listening to these days?
I never had voice lessons or any kind of formal training. I grew up in a very musical family, was singing before I could talk and have been performing since I can remember. Growing up, I loved Madonna, the Pointer Sisters, Paul Simon and so many others. I think a huge influence on me was Jem & The Holograms. ;-)Today I listen to all kinds of music, but since I work and write in a genre that's generally loud, I tend to listen to much softer stuff in my free time, like Feist & Norah Jones.About 10 years ago you moved from the States to Germany. How came you ended up in Germany?
Love originally brought me over to Europe, but it was music that made me stay. :-)You are now working mainly in Germany and the Netherlands. I think it wasn't easy to get started... What was the first job you did as a singer?
When I first moved to Germany, I was doing little solo gigs around Wolfsburg / Braunschweig with either just me on a piano or a little combo with bass and drums in addition. I met Sascha Paeth in 2000 after I'd won an internet contest and needed to record a song, so I was referred to the Gate Studio. Sascha also remixed a song of mine and he liked what I was doing, so he asked if I'd sing on his new album he was doing with Andre Matos, called Virgo. Then he was asked to write a metal opera, he outsourced the writing of the concept, story & lyrics to me and hence Aina was born! From there the ball has just kept on rollingBeside working on your own releases, you worked as a lyrical editor and vocal coach beside being a hired gun. A good possibility to get more experience, to work with other musicians?
Or merely a way to make a living?It just kind of happened that way and both of the factors you mentioned ended up being the benefit of it!You play shows once in awhile, but then you did a whole North American tour with Epica, jumping in for Simone Simons who suffered from a MRSA infection. How was it to be on tour with Epica?
We had a lot of fun on that tour together. It was really too bad that it had to come out of a negative situation, being that Simone was ill. Simone asked me to fill in for her, because it was a logical choice being that I'd been with the band since the beginning, had co-written their songs, and could be seen and heard on their albums / DVDs. The fans were very gracious and accepting of the situation, so all around it ended up being very positive, because had that not been the case, they would have had to completely cancel their tour.Do you miss being on stage? Is there a chance to see Kiske - Somerville live on stage?
When I haven't been on one in a while, then yes, definitely! I love performing live and touring. Both Michael and I would very much like to take Kiske / Somerville on the road, however it really depends on how the album does sales-wise.Last year you presented your 2nd full-length album - Windows -, are you working on new songs already? Another EP / album in the making?
Oh, yes. I'm a pretty prolific writer, so there are always songs I'm working on. And my next solo album is underway! Beside the release party in Ludwigsburg, what else is on your schedule for 2010?
Well, there's the Avantasia tour coming up in November / December, then another tour with Rock Meets Classic in January. Then there are some other things in the works that I can't quite discuss yet, but there's more to come!
Looks like Amanda will be pretty busy the next few months, hopefully there is enough interest to bring Kiske - Somerville on tour... And that this won't be the last time they team up for an album! http://www.ice-vajal.com/k/interview/kiske-somerville.htm