Saw this band, Falcon One, at the Limit in Nashville on May 19th and they put on a great show. Check them out live if you get a chance.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Delain - We Are The Others - Samples
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Thursday, May 10, 2012
Recently, Siren's Cry held a fan Q and A session and they were kind enough to let it be exclusively featured here on Seeker of the Winterheart. It's a really good insight about the people who make the music and I am proud to present it to you out there.
1) How did you guys get the name 'Siren's Cry'? When choosing a band name, I'd assume it has meaning in a way to the background of the band.
The Name „ Siren’s Cry“ is inspired by a Russian painter who drew a picture of three evil Sirens in a dark evening mood…and when we started our band we decided to keep the name, because it fits very well. It’s passionate and strong but canorous, like the music that is in our mind when we write songs…
Or if you want it the epic way : it also reminds a little on the ocean… the sea changes subtle growing increasingly restless until the waves clash against the rocky coast…and Katie is our Siren! Hahaha so it fits perfectly!!
2) What's life like being in a band? What's it like to be recording songs in a studio knowing that there are people out there that look up to you as musicians?
I try to live up to my own expectations, that doesn’t mean that the listener has no meaning for me, but first I have to fulfill my imagination and requirements and then I can share it with the people who listen to the album… then I hope that they feel the same what I feel...
Playing in a Band is like living in a dream. You do what you are made for. In that moment you are not thinking about stuff like that, because you’re too focused to deliver your best performance. You are too concentrated to be stressed by something.
The pressure is quite on during the recording process, because time is money -especially in the studio. The other thing is that studio environment can be something very sterile.
When you’re on stage performing in front of an audience, you give and usually you get something back, but sitting in the studio with your guitar can feel like performing to the walls surrounding you.
However it is being in the studio – playing in a Band is great.
Sharing your dreams with “kindred spirits” is a very fulfilling thing to do.
What I really like is that you are equal to the others- as Phil said you are sharing a dream with people who are “talking the same language”. There is no one who will ever wonder about me rattling on about music and technical stuff and the possibilities how I would arrange song material. I’m surrounded by wonderful people who inspire me and help me to live my dream…
The fact that we are all perfectionists sometimes complicates things. I can feel some pressure in the studio, but not in a negative way. We want to get the best and most out of it, so we push ourselves as hard as we can to give the music that eventually reaches you the power to touch your hearts…and that is sometimes quite hard to do when you are performing into “nothing”.
3) Was there at any point in your career that you felt like it was the end, but made a comeback and prevailed?
Loads of times - To be a musician is of one of the hardest things:
To rise and fall and never give up because you love it!
Yes!!!Never surrender!!! Hahaha
I think it’s quite normal for every artist…
We are all very emotional and we love music…and of course it can be frustrating if something is not going that way you want to, but I think if you really fell in love with art…you never give up. It’s like some addiction to it… you can’t stop doing it!
4) You guys had a demo, "Center of Might" put together set for release back in 2003. What ever happened to that?
“Center of Might” was a collection of songs I wrote during high school. Back then the band had a different line-up than today (2 guitarists, a drummer and a bass player who also did the vocals) and at one of our shows we were approached by a guy who offered to record a CD with us. So we ended up doing this production and once everything was finished and we started to look for labels, things started to get ugly: it turned out to be all just smoke and mirrors and as a result everything started to fall apart. I had to do my military service and eventually we split up.
The record never was released and no one ever heard it so to put it in a nutshell it was a disaster.
But hey, here we are back and we’re better than ever ;)
5) Say you were going to record a new song. How would you do it?
Well the song has to be arranged completely …if it’s not, you have a lot of stuff that will distract you from the really important stuff.
So it’s always a lot of work before you start….especially on the keys and choirs.
You definitely need a good preparation and a detailed pre-production as your base otherwise you’ll lose the overview…
1st: A clear and perfect manuscript of your music, like a Score….
A well done pre-production in your home recording studio
These two things guarantee you he best results for the recording session, even for the most complex music! ;-)
And as soon as a new song is finished we go to the studio and start a proper pre-production, which allows one to refine the song a little more
Once this is done, we go to the studio again in order to produce a final version.
This usual starts with recording drums, at this point the most important thing of the recording is done J…hahaha…
Hahaha yes for you mate….
We start with drums next are bass and guitars that depends if the riff is oriented by the guitar … it happens that we first start with the guitar followed by bass…
Then we add keys and solos….at last we record the vocals
If we have choirs we add them when Lead Vocals are done.
6) How long did it take Siren's Cry to form the full band? Were there many In what order are things done? auditions?
We needed over three years….
It was very hard to find the right musicians
When you are mostly surrounded by people who are afraid of leaving their country, who don’t want to put any effort into it but ask everything from you it’s quite hard...
Also we needed people who are extremely good and virtuous on their instruments, since we always wanted to be free and flexible as possible in our doing and that was another fact that made the situation more complicated…
We hate being stopped or restricted in songwriting and never wanted to be slowed down by other musicians.
So we had a lot of auditions - especially on drums and bass.
7) Ever plan to come to Canada? [;)]
We have some Fans of Canada in our band… so…if there is any chance to fly over we will come!
If you call us – we will play J
[8)] When should the fans of Siren's Cry expect an album?
9) Draconian Spectrum. Offer some insight about this masterpiece. As in lyrical content, how long it took, etc...
Hard to say…every Song needs its own time…
Some need an evening, some take several weeks or months…several sessions…
Looking at “Draconian Spectrum” in particular, it took about four sessions.
Lyrical we decided to go for an epic story, because the song we did before was social critical, so we wanted to go for some fantasy stuff. We wanted something powerful and epic but in a cool way, in a new interpretation. We started with the idea that there is a dragon searching for his missing part of his soul…his dragon rider…to triumph over all evil….we started to tell the story through our protagonist’s eyes and send him on a journey over lands of ice J
To write the song didn’t take so long – it all came very natural and the most parts just accrued while jamming…
Katie wanted something different not the typical Cliché like Power chords beginning on the Tonica , big choirs and that’s it.
No… she wanted something untypical
Katie said:” If you are chosen by a dragon to fly with him…you jump on his back and then he moves his big wings and a heavy air blast sweeps around you and suddenly you feel how your feet leave the ground …. You must feel all this things…
We have to start on the 4 or 5 with a riff that ascends - clear??”
Sometimes when you listen to her it may sounds weird to you, but she was totally right!
She came up with the harmonies and everyone was a little bit confused, but then it was clear to the whole band: she swapped the roles of keys and guitars and so keys played big chords and I added a rising and powerful riff. It all seemed very rough at the beginning, but when Katie added the vocals she exactly added what was still missing.
10) Is the studio software that the pros use very expensive and what would you recommend for a home studio for the musician on a budget?
The place where we recorded uses Pro Tools HD, like so many places nowadays,
so that’s really expensive! When we did the pre-production we used logic 9 Studio
and that was sufficient to our needs… the real pain starts with all the plug ins and stuff
you need like samples libraries and so on...so if you are a home user and want to start with something easy to handle then start with Cubase or Logic.
Because of the technical progress, it become very affordable to create a professional home recording studio
I would recommend a smaller version of Pro tools like Pro tools MP
and versatile VST instruments like Omni sphere.
11) How do you approach the song writing process?
Hahaha… tough question…well sometimes we have a very funny way to write songs…
Someone starts with a melody or a basic riff by trying to sing it… if we take Draconian Spectrum for example, someone just bunched Katie in the side during a break and said “drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr d d d d” and she was laughing and suddenly she gets this psychotic look in her eyes and starts to play “drums” by taping her legs and giving some noises with her mouth that simulate a riff…. She mostly looks like Jack Black during these moments …:D
Hahaha yes… but seriously….
I count three Methods:
1) During rehearsals we work on new ideas
2) While working with the Computer
3) Someone comes up with a basic structure of a song
12) what parts are recorded first when making an album?
Regarding the instruments as we said before in question 3 – we usually start with drums… but if you mean the song structure Intro, Verse, Chorus….
It’s hard to say, since every instrument has its way to be played… but usually you either play or sing through the whole song a couple of times as a little warm up and then you start recording. The way I did it on guitars I worked quite chronological, but what you can do is to record all the verses followed by doing all the choruses and so on…this worked for me as a guitarist and I think for a singer it’s quite similar, right Katie?
Yes… definitely…I mean I can’t speak for all singers… but I do the warm up stuff… and then I really like to do the hardest parts:
As many may not believe the “highest” passages are not always the hardest ones. What is important for my style of singing is to get all the clean and operatic stuff done, before I move on to the “bad ass-stuff” by this I mean all the passages which sound punchier, darker or had to be interpreted with a character voice.
13) How many hours did it take in the studio to record your album?
We can’t really give a number …. We did a fair couple of hours…
Roughly we wanted to make it in 40 days…
14) Did the band oversee the mixing process for the album?
Phil and I were in touch with Karl and worked with him very closely… it was not so much to discuss since he really understood our music and had the same views and opinions on the way it should be mixed as we did….
15) Were there any album edits that you wanted to keep but had to be cut in the end?
We ended up with lots of layers and tracks in one song. For instance we recorded quite a few backing vocals and choirs and also did some extra guitar tracks. Before we did the mixing for the album we weren’t certain if we could keep everything we recorded.
But it turned out that everything we recorded you now can hear on the album.
16) What band member had the most takes in the studio and what song was the hardest to play at first?
Hardest song for me was controversial mind.
Singing in range that is not really comfortable, going emotional to places which are very dark and frightening, and of course to make the split between vulnerability and self-destructive aggression to clearly illustrate this inner conflict which the song deals with … but I loved it learned a lot during this recording!
Phil had the largest playlist, mainly due to the fact that he had a lot to play:
4 six string guitar tracks (two on each side), seven string live doubles and of course all solos and leads….it seems not so much, but in the end it’s a lot of work he had to do…
For example the largest playlist was for cold amber and scalding tears when we did the solo, because for this song Phil wanted to give the solo a more improvised kind of feel.
We sat down and did some takes and started building it from there.
So the hardest song for me was… Cold Amber and Scalding tears not only because of the solo, but also because there is not much happening in the song:
What I mean by this is that there are no riffs going on as such, but the rhythm guitars mainly consist of only broad chords. Now, the challenge was to get the chord changes as precise and clean as possible.
It was the newest and most difficult song on the album.
Another big challenge was to double the guitars; this was a completely new experience for me...
The hardest thing about the recording session wasn’t particularly one song, but rather the fact that I only had a short period of time to prepare for it.
17) how often do you have band practice and what is the typical band practice like?
It depends - when we have gigs lined up, we rehearse more often, but usually once a week, when the band gets together to play through the songs, or discuss other musical stuff
Or technical matters.
In most cases we practice about two hours without interruption
One hour repertoire
And one hour focus on sections and parts
Regularly short and efficient!
18) what is it like to have a manager for your band?
We’ve been managing ourselves so far and it’s still quite new to us to have Management behind us.
19) if you could switch instruments in the band, which one would you chose to play?
We are all happy with our instruments, but if we had to swap then I would probably
Drums or Guitar…I can’t decide!!!
yes!! You never can decide!!! J
I would play drums!
20) And finally, if each member was to offer one piece of advice to a young musician that intends to start his/her own music career, what would each of you say?
Find your perfect teacher and make sure that you benefit of him.
Be careful which people you trust.
Practice a lot!
Gather a strong team – a strong band, with people in it who follow the same idea that you do!
Always know what you want to achieve!
And above all: Always stay true to yourself!
Listen to your heart and yourself!
Don’t care about nasty things other people say! most important thing: BELIEVE – Never stop believing in yourself and your music!
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Tuesday, May 1, 2012
SEEKER OF THE WINTERHEART TALKS TO SARA SQUADRANI OF ANCIENT BARDS
Ancient Bards is one of those bands that I have heard lots of people talk about but never really listened to them until recently. I could really kick myself for not checking them out sooner. I absolutely LOVE this band. Their music is epic and well thought out. Sara Squadrani is by far one of my favorite female singers out there. Her singing has given me so many goosebumps that I could start a goosebumps farm and have them to spare. What a wonderful, sweet person Sara is and I am so proud to have had a chance to talk to her one on one about her and also about Ancient Bards. I believe that you will agree with me after you read this that Sara is a one of a kind sweetheart.
Hello Sara, so nice to have you here with me today at Seeker of the Winterheart. WOW this is a great honor for me to have this chance to talk to you one on one. So Ancient Bards is a band from Italy who is more than just a band. You guys are story tellers and use this form of metal music to take the listener on a great journey called The Black Crystal Sword Saga. What is the inspiration behind this path that the band is taking and who's idea was it?
Hi Scott! It’s a pleasure to be featured in your blog! Well yes, we are story tellers and this whole project came out of Daniele’s mind, our keyboard player and composer, who’s a huge fan of Rhapsody Of Fire and of fantasy stories like the ones of the video game Final Fantasy. He combined all his favourite things into this band and made it tell the story he started to write when he was 16 or so (the Black Crystal Sword Saga). At first Daniele didn’t have a name for the group, but it finally came out all of a sudden when he thought about who told stories in the past, the bards! So this is it, mostly the dream of a teenager and the strength of a very stubborn boy!
Are all of you fans of this kind of story telling and great myth adventure type stories?
Not exactly, Daniele, Martino and Federico are gamers and they like all this stuff in a very nerdy way. I like these stories but I’m not passionate about them, I admit I never saw the end of The Lord Of The Rings 1... I think I would like better reading the book (not that I’m a book girl, I’m a movie girl, but I think in this case Tolkien’s narrations and descriptions can be lost). I don’t know about Claudio and Fabio, they never talk about those things so I guess their only true interests are their guitars!
So something that I just thought of that I wanted to ask you is when you guys play live, do you play the songs in order of the adventure or do you mix them up? I mean, to me, the songs do have that stand alone quality to them you know what I mean? I could pick a random Ancient Bards song out of order of the story and enjoy it just as much as in order. So what does the set list look like at an Ancient Bards show?
As long as we had just one album out, we played it as it was, from the first to the last, because it was a better choice to unfold the story, plus when Daniele writes the songs he also thinks about the impact they have when played live, so actually the songs were “live-ordered” from the beginning. Now that we have two albums we need to perform the new ones without forgetting the songs that people started liking us for, so we mix them together. This way the story gets a bit lost, but as you say, if you don’t care too much for the lyrics or you know the story anyway, the songs can pretty much stand alone!
I don't want to give away too much of the story but we start this adventure with the album Alliance of the Kings and just recently the next part of the story was released called The Soulless Child. Could you give a brief summary of the first album without telling too much LOL and then also what can we expect to find in the this new chapter?
The Alliance of The Kings is the easy part, as in the second part things get a bit entangled... In the first part we see that there is a sword, the Black Crystal Sword, that has enormous powers and for this reason it’s very dangerous so it was hidden in a secret place. It is all set in a place called Lastworld that’s divided into four lands, each one with its own king (or queen). The kings come to know that Sendor, a Dark Wizard, stole the sword so they leave together to find him along with this mysterious guy Dorus, who gave ‘em the news. In the next part of the story we get to know better the characters personalities, what moves them, why they do what they do, we get to think about what is good and what is bad, we are led to rethink if the end justifies the means or not, we analyze the struggles that life forces you to face and the fragility of human (and elfic) condition.
Is there going to be a tour for the New album?
For now we don’t have a tour scheduled because for an emerging band it’s really hard to. We are attending a few festivals around Europe and having some gigs in Italy. We’re waiting for the big chance, let’s call it this way, to tour as support of some greater and far more famous band!
OK I would like to switch directions here if I may. Let's talk about the lovely Sara Squadrani. When did you start singing?
I started singing when I was young, I stepped onto the first stage when I was four: I was taking piano lessons in a school that had a performing group, it wasn’t a choir, it was a group of kids with different skills, we sang, we danced and acted but we weren’t taking lessons we just expressed ourselves freely and that was amazing and real fun! I’ve always loved singing, I can’t say how much in words, and when I was little it made me feel good, I felt like I had something that defined me, something that made me stand out in some way, even if I knew I wasn’t special, I was happy I had a little gift. But my true passion at first was dancing so I never took singing lessons because I dedicated myself for 15 years to dance class: I love ballet I have a huge heart for that, but I never had the “phisique du role”. When I quit my first school I joined two choirs so I never stayed away for long from a stage in my life. The stage is my favourite place, whether I’m there to dance or to sing, it’s just magical.
Was Ancient Bards your first band?
No it wasn’t. My first band was called Stay Jam, I joined it when I was 18 and before entering that group I had never really listened to hard rock or metal music, they sort of initiated me! Until then I had never sang with a real band and I got to discover all the pleasures of having real musicians playing real music instead of that cheesy karaoke style thing I did in the choirs!
I just wanna say since I started researching you and the band, I have not been able to stop listening. You have the most beautiful voice I have ever heard and I can truly say I get goosebumps every time. So who are your influences as a singer?
I have a large variety of influences as a singer, but only a few of them are from metal music. When I was a kid I used to get lost in the voices of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Freddie Mercury, Michael Bolton, Andrea Bocelli and Giorgia (an amazing Italian singer) and I guess these were my absolute favourites when I was growing up. Later on I discovered Steve Lee from Gotthard, Russell Allen, Eric Martin, Christina Agiulera, Gavin DeGraw, Jeff Scott Soto, Shania Twain, and lately I came to truly ADORE Jessie J’s voice, I mean, she really knows how to sing! I like singers with a strong personality who know what they do, I love virtuosos that can sing their heart out.
Have you ever made any solo stuff and do you have plans to do something solo in the future?
No unfortunately I haven’t, but I would really love to. I have some tracks of my own, but they’re all at an embryonic stage. Right now I have no time to bring this project on, I need to finish my studies and set my future life, but I’m definitely recording my songs sooner or later...we’ll see what happens!
So what is it like being in the music scene in Italy? Is it very competitive?
I don’t know, in Italy metal is and always will be a niche genre, it’ll never be as mainstream as it is in northern Europe. There are many good bands that, due to misfortune or to their little pragmatism, never have the opportunity to emerge and assert their talent. For my experience I wouldn't define our metal scene competitive, I met amazing musicians who have always shared their experience with us, there is a spirit of sharing because we're all in this together and we know the difficulties we can encounter. Sure every now and then we came across the jealousy of others who do not understand our spirit, but these things happen in all walks of life!
I have a lot of friends from Italy and most of them seem to be into this epic style Lord of the Rings type adventures and I was wondering if this is a cultural movement there in Italy? Is this like a sub culture there?
No no it's not! There are many who love the lord of the rings, but because it is an undisputed masterpiece, but they are a minority. I myself sing in a band like the ancient bards, but I never finished watching the first movie (I know I should read the book)! Many fans are serious, but others I think are just caught in the trend of being "nerds". In any case, I noticed that people who love metal (and in particular power and epic metal) are also lovers of fantasy.
What is it like to live in your town? Is there lots to do?
I am lucky because I live in a great city. Rimini is rich in history, it was a Roman city and you can still find signs of this in its shape and organization. It lies on the Adriatic Sea, we have a long beach that in summer is filled with tourists from all over the world. It is not very big, I would rather say it’s a small town, but it has a lot to offer: sea, food (if you come around here make sure you try the Piadina Romagnola!), Clubs, festivals,museums, history, architecture ... we also have a beautiful countryside,rolling and relaxing hills also full of stories to tell, about the middle ages and the great wars.
I love living in my town, but it isn’t an easy place to play our kind of music.
Where are some places that you would like to sing? What venue would be your dream come true to sing at?
There are loads of places where I would love to sing! Really, whenever somebody writes me “are you coming to France/Germany/UK/USA/Russia etc.” I always answer “I would love to” because it’s true, I wanna go everywhere! The world has so many good things to offer! If I had to pick just one place I would choose New York City, and as for the venues maybe the Radio City Music Hall or even a big stage in Central Park!!
OK it is a well known fact that I can't carry a tune in a bucket but I would love to be able to sing. Are there any tips you could give someone who is just starting out as a singer and do you have any "tricks" to warming up before a show or just to keep you voice in shape?
I honestly don’t, I mean I never studied so whenever somebody asks me for advice I don’t feel comfortable because I know what works for me, I tried it in my own skin, but I don’t know if what I do is completely right, who knows, maybe it could be harmful for another person. I was gifted with a strong voice and I’ve been playing with it since I was 4... I know it may sound strange but I don’t know technically what I do, I just do it so I wouldn’t be able to help someone else!
What kinds of things do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time! It would be nice to have some! Well I need to graduate soon, I have four exams left and they’re all very hard so between school and music I should be working every minute of the day, sometimes of the night too... But I’m also pretty lazy so I cut myself time to relax and to think about me... but it never works because I’m too worried about what I’m going to do next! In my pauses I watch TV series, I talk to friends on Facebook, I take a walk outside or I sing in my basement. There are sometimes when I feel like my head is not going to learn ANYTHING and you know what I do? I go shopping (but this happens rarely as I need money to do it hahah)!
Do you have a job outside of singing?
No, I wish I had a job but my studies don’t leave me time to work. Singing is the only thing I can do to earn a little money (veeeeeeery little tiny tiny amount of money, almost nothing). I am an engineering and architecture student at the University of Bologna. It’s a very difficult degree, it literally sucks blood out of me and I’m looking forward to finishing it. If I could go back in time I wouldn’t choose it again, I love architecture and anything creative but I guess I’m not devoted enough to it!
What could we find on your mp3 player?
Whoa! You’d think I’m crazy if you looked at what’s inside my mp3 player! I have a 60Gb iPod and it’s almost full. I can’t list all the artists I have. For most of them I have the complete discography. I never go out without my iPod, I always have music with me and I love that I can choose what to listen to according to my state of mind. I guess my “top 25 most played playlist” would show Dream Theater and Jessie J these days.
Who is your personal favorite character in The Black Crystal Sword Saga?
My favourite is Sheena, she’s like me and Smurfette, the only woman among men! I kinda see myself in her, or at least I see the person I’d like to be: I picture her very fragile as every woman yet very very strong! She was obviously crushed by the death of her son, Sendor got crazy out of rage but she didn’t, she accepted what happened because she had to lead her people, she couldn’t show her despair she kept it inside her. I like how men are strong outside but women can make these big sacrifices being strong inside.
Well dear Sara it has been such an honor to have you here with me today. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it and you my dear are welcome back anytime. Do you have anything that you would like to add before we close?
I wanna thank you for showing me your support every day even though you’re so far away, I wanna thank you for this interview because it was nice and your questions weren’t trivial as most of the others I get! I also need to thank you for being so patient! Your blog is truly awesome keep up the good work!! Hope to see you soon, best wishes to you and all your readers!
Thank you so very much Sara for your kind words and I too hope to meet you one day. I am truly liking forward to that day indeed. I would like to thank all of you out there for your support and I hope that you will get yourself hooked on the music of Ancient Bards. It truly is epic in every sense of the word. For Seeker of the Winterheart, I am Scott saying please support your local female musicians and your favorite bands and tell as many people about them as you can. Thank you and hope to see you at a show one day.