Dutch symphonic metallers Epica have carved quite a niche for themselves in the metal world over the past decade or so, bringing together the elegance of classical music with the glory and ferocity of heavy metal to create a beautifully unique sound. With six albums, massive tours and the Epic Metal festival to their credit, the band are now all set to reveal their majestic new record, The Holographic Principle. Wall of Sound had the pleasure of speaking with the beautiful and charistmatic longtime vocalist Simone Simons about the band’s latest album, sound dynamic, life on the road, her personal beauty blog SmoonStyle and more.
Simone was an absolute delight to speak to and very excited in the build-up the new album.
I’m really happy with the way things have turned out and definitely excited about the start of the new cycle for ‘The Holographic Principle’. The response to the new album is probably something we’re all really excited about. The fans have already heard ‘Universal Death Squad’ which we released as our first single. with a lyric video. The majority of the fans, have been giving us a great response and that’s kind of representative of the rest of the album as well, so it’s exciting to see all of this come to life.
One of the things that appealed to me most about the album is definitely the concept behind the title.
It is a very interesting concept and well, Mark is the one who came up with it because he already started including quantum physics in ‘The Quantum Enigma’ which exploded. Of course, the title says enough about the album and it refers to a concept in the subject that is now being widely researched. The inspiration as I said comes from quantum physics – Mark reads a lot and watches a lot of documentaries related to it. Of course, we’re not all scientists but we were definitely inspired by this idea and our lyrics have always been very philosophical, spiritual and this theory that we might be living in a hologram is quite mind blowing. It certainly was a great source of inspiration for Mark and I to write songs about. Our lyrics have always had a deeper meaning.
And is there any underlying message behind this intriguing concept?
Lyrically the idea of putting it on the table, putting out there and making people think and wonder about it is what we want. It’s more than just a hypothetical situation – it is something that is being researched in great detail and we want to share this through our music.
In addition to this, she also talked about what made their seventh full-length album different, especially during the recording process.
To be honest, one thing I think that was different this time is the production. Everything had to be very well-planned – especially the instrumentation on this album. We put so much more effort and time with ‘The Holographic Principle’ and actually had the instruments, that is the orchestral music, recorded instead of using samples. We went into all the details until everything was completely perfect in our opinion and for this we prepared really well. We finalised the demo tracks and started rehearsing the songs to see how they would feel when we play it live after that because to us the live aspect of our music is one of the most important things. So I think the fact that we started initially writing the songs in our home studios where everything was programmed but then everything was more organic – that was the difference for us.
As for the writing, Epica do it wherever they are – literally!
Well it’s kind of the same routine usually. Everyone starts writing at home whenever they feel inspired and then it can just continue anywhere really; it can be on an airplane, on a toilet, the back lounge of the bus – just everywhere! Our management and record company set a time frame and so we try to finish it four months in advance. We plan it all backwards so that we keep to a schedule and everything goes well. We started with a little bit of vision but you cannot control the creative flow. Sometimes you have a great day, sometimes it doesn’t work and sometimes you keep working on a song and you realize it’s just not going to happen. In this case, we had 27 songs to choose from, we recorded 18, but we worked on all 27 to make sure we could have them on the record, so we started making lists of songs we thought should be on the album.Two ballads, fighting which one was going to be on the CD. everyone would write at home then meet the producer separately and then come together as a whole and work on the music.
Musically, Epica are known to captivate their listeners with an array of soundscapes, majestic orchestration and beautifully interwoven melodies with heavier and harsher tones. With the new album, this signature sound of the band is present yet you also sense that they have been adventurous with a resulting evolution in their sound dynamic as well as the presence of a real orchestra. The results are fantastic.
It’s amazing how the album sounds with a live orchestra and with the real instruments, not samples – we are very lucky to have our producer Joost van den Broek who is very experienced in working with, recording and arranging orchestral music and scores. So we were very confident that it was going to be a great choice even though, it is more time-consuming and the finances need to be in proper order. But it all came down to how we could improve or build from the previous album as we like to get into more details. Also, we’ve always loved that mix of classical music and score music with metal, and this time we wanted to add more to it.
Epica’s live performance blends in the magnificence of classical music and heavy metal with a hint of theatrics and an abundance of light.
We like to bring that very strong energy to our live performances, and along with that is our light shows, something that we are known for and that is very typical for Epica. Our lighting engineer knows our music by heart. He programmes it and he’s like one of the members of the band. I’m especially excited for the shows coming up because we are adding some new things to our lighting show, and working with some new devices that are not even out in the market yet!
When she’s not being a lovely, enchanting soprano and songstress on stage, she has a family and also maintains a beauty blog.
It is difficult to manage because touring with Epica takes up most of my time. Also having a family is what takes importance so when I’m not touring, I’m at home spending time with my family and the blog takes a backseat. I don’t always want to be wroking especially since SmoonStyle is like a second business for me. But sometimes what I do is combine it with Epica so I write articles when I’m on tour or import photographs and videos I’ve taken on to my laptop so that I can work on the articles when I’m not at home. I try to keep it alive whenever I can because it’s another thing I love to do.
Simone had one last message for Epica fans ahead of the release of their newest album.
If you like metal, classical music, and movies, you’re definitely going to like Epica. We’re very diverse, and with five songwriters it’s always interesting to see how the music turns out. We’re very excited about the new album and we hope everyone likes the nice selection of songs – it will be a great journey from beginning to end.
Interview conducted by Prarthana Venunathan (@MetalMaami)