Amberian Dawn 18/11/2010

Spawning in part from the legacy of the mighty Virtuocity, the starting point of symphonic power metallers AMBERIAN DAWN was the joining of vocalist and main lyricist, Heidi Parviainen in 2006. Having scored a record deal with their first demo, the group's first two albums ‘River of Tuoni’ (2008) and ‘The Clouds of Northland Thunder’ (2009) saw the band rapidly enter Finnish charts. They also managed to reap notable international acclaim and secured support slots touring with the likes of Epica and Kamelot.

 

AMBERIAN DAWN’s third album ‘End Of Eden’, the sextet's Spinefarm debut, sees the band take a giant leap forward in every aspect. ‘End Of Eden is a diamond in the rough for connaisseurs of symphonic metal, a brilliant neo-classical gem chock full of virtuosity, close attention to detail and classy execution. But it’s Heidi's soprano, that sets the album apart from its contemporaries. Versatile, classically influenced compositions, intricate arrangements, Heidi's soaring vocals and some of the nimblest guitar & keyboard interplay heard in recent history combine for a sound scape of magical, uplifting atmosphere.

 

 

‘End Of Eden’ was recently released, so of course we wanted to know all about this album and we had the pleasure of talking with the lovely Heidi Parviainen (vocals) and Tuomas Seppälä (guitar, keyboards). Here you can read what they had to say about Emberian Dawn and ‘End Of Eden’.

 

Could you start this interview off with a short introduction of the band and a short update what’s been happening since the release of your previous album ‘The Clouds of Northland Thunder’ in 2009?

 

Tuomas: Amberian Dawn today is me on keyboards and on guitar. I also compose all the songs for AD and act as producer in the studio. Heidi Parviainen is our vocalist and she writes all our lyrics. On guitar we have Kasperi Heikkinen, who has been around from almost the very first steps of AD. Then we have the three newcomers on board. First we have Heikki Saari on drums. In fact, he used to be our original drummer at the time when we were recording our first EP which contained two songs (“River of Tuoni” and “Evil Inside Me”). Those songs were included on our debut album, too. Heikki also plays in Norther. Jukka Koskinen is our new base player. He has been on stage with us once before, last summer at the Tavastia Club, Helsinki. Jukka also plays in Norther and Wintersun. Kimmo Korhonen is our new second guitar player and he also plays in Waltari. We had this lineup change recently because of the time issues of our three previous members. There's no drama involved in this matter and we are still all very good friends.

 

How did you launch into writing material for your album ‘End Of Edenand how much time did you spend on the songs?

 

Tuomas: Composing music is a continuing process for me and I compose music almost all the time. That's why I get so many songs ready so fast. It's always been like this since the first days I started to work with my own songs. The time spent on different songs varies a lot. Some songs need very little time and some songs needs a lot of time. There isn't any "normal" case and every song is different.

 

Which approach did you choose to make this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?

 

Tuomas: When I'm composing songs, I never have any kind of goal on my mind. I just start to write material that comes to me naturally. I've been very lucky that I've been given this chance to have a total artistic freedom. Usually I have these "periods" during which I write a certain kind of material, for example just ballads, just power metal or maybe something more AOR kind of stuff.

 

Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

 

Tuomas: The ways in which songs of mine are born varies a lot. Sometimes I just hear this melody or theme inside my head and then I just start working with preproduction, arrangements and a demo right away. Sometimes I might have been just playing with my guitar or with the keyboards and sometimes some new ideas come to me while playing and improvising. I always start working with a full arrangement of the song. I have a home studio and I have the possibility to work with different instruments and computers to achieve a demo of the songs (preproduction).

 

How can we imagine you worked on these songs?

 

Tuomas: I compose all the songs for AD and also make a demo of those songs. Then I play vocal lines for Heidi on the guitar or keyboards. Then Heidi  can start working with the lyrics. After that we record her vocal parts and after that we have a full preproduction of the songs before the band has even stepped in.

 

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘End Of Eden, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?

 

Tuomas: There were not any specific goals, except I was more brave to do some experiments like the classical piece "Virvatulen Laulu". I think I will try something completely new on our forthcoming albums too. It's fun.

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘End Of Eden, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

 

Heidi: We collected some themes from the lyrics and made a list of possible titles. Then the one that came out was End of Eden. It sums up the whole album from a lyrical point of view - The title ‘ End of Eden’ is also a metaphor for the state of the world.

 

Can you give us a little background information on the lyrics, is there a story behind them?

 

Heidi: I always include a small story or a novel in the lyrics and every song tells its own story. On this album I felt a need to write lyrics that speak out concerning the state of the world and the worry about it: climate change, corruption, greed, indifference and war. And I felt that I couldn´t do all that just in an imaginary world since it happens in our everyday lives. This is also a different album lyrically, and a little bit sad and dark, too. I´m not a religious person at all but there is a lot of symbolism in the biblical story about Adam and Eve´s eviction from paradise. It is also a metaphor for our time and maybe the end of it too. A lighter way to put it, is that- hopefully ´the end´ means the end of indifference. Maybe after the end comes a new rising of a healthier, sustainable, ecological and more human world. The songs about this topic are “Arctica” ( which was an icy continent in the worlds history long before our time ), “City of Corruption”, “Talisman” and “War in heaven”. There are also two Finnish epic Kalevala inspired songs like on both of our previous albums – “Sampo” and ”Field of serpents”. In the stories of “Field of Serpents” and “Sampo” the blacksmith Ilmarinen was given the task to plow a field full of vipers before he could get permission to marry one of  Louhi´s, the mighty witch of The Northland´s, daughters. Ilmarinen then got help from Louhi´s daughter who advised him to forge a mail of silver and a golden plowshare to succeed in the hard task. But Ilmarinen still got tasks from Louhi and also needed to forge Louhi a magical artifact Sampo- the lid in many colors which would bring fortune to its holder.

 

The song “Blackbird” tells us about an old creepy and sad Finnish pagan belief about birds which were thought to be ghosts of dead babies, possibly love children of poor maids. They were buried into an unholy ground by their mothers without babtizing or any one knowing. It is said that the birds follow you in the forests and you can anly get rid of them by going over a river or a stream. The ghosts can´t  follow you accross the water. The only Finnish song “Virvatulen Laulu” is a sad lovestory of a man and a will o’ the wisp - a light that shines upon a pond in the night. And because the will o’ the wisp dissapears when the morning comes, they can only meet when the night is dark. The English translation for the song can be found on our websites.

 

 

How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?

 

Tuomas: Personally I don't pay so much attention to the lyrics. I hear music basically as instrumental and I like to treat a vocalist like an instrument. Of course I know that it's different to actually sing than play an instrument, but that's how I see things. A vocalist is one instrument in AD music from my point of view.

 

Heidi: For me it is important because I take my writing seriously. I spend  a lot of time searching for different beliefs, stories and pagan myths and I read epics like Edda and Kalevala. I tell the stories in my own words and challenge myself to put a juicy story into a compressed form and tell it with only a few lines. I also write my own stories which are often mystical and I love to use personifications where trees can talk, seas can sing, winds can whisper and walls can breathe. It is also how the ancient people lived - with the nature spirits and that is a great topic to write about and learn more about at the same time. We work in such a way that Tuomas sends me a complete song and then I make lyrics. Therefore I always listen to the song and what it tells me. Often I get a really visual picture of the song and it makes my work much easier - I write about the pictures in my mind. When I have decided what to write about, I start to explore and learn more about the topic. I try to build a wider view behind the lyrics so that the people who get interested in the stories can also learn more about the topics. So to speak, there is a hidden world behind the lyrics and those who get interested can open many doors with only a few words of Amberian Dawn lyrics. It only takes a little effort to go and explore but it is much more fun than playing video games or watching tv in my opinion and it will surely enrich your imagination and internal world.

 

If someone was only going to read the lyrics and not listen to the music, what would you hope they would take from them?

 

Heidi: I would hope that people would get interested in the topics and go to a library and learn more and make small movies in their minds and watch them when listening to our music.

 

One of the most typical songs on the new album is “Virvatulen Laulu”, it’s not a metal song. Is this an influence you wish to develop more in the future, or do you prefer the uptempo, power metal orientated songs on the album like “Talisman”?

 

Tuomas: “Virvatulen Laulu” was an experiment. So I don't think that something like that will appear on the next album. But never say never…so it's possible still. I'm sure that fast songs are kind of a trademark of AD and I also like to write these fast songs, so fast songs are definitely going to be part of AD in the future, too.

 

What are the main differences between your previous alum ‘The Clouds of Northland Thunder’ and ‘End of Eden’ in your opinion?

 

Tuomas: The music of AD has evolved in a certain direction. It depends on the listener, whether the change has been a good or a bad thing. There's more diversity and heaviness on this album than on our previous albums.It also contains more progressive elements.

 

How did the recording process proceed and how much time did you spend in the studio?

 

Tuomas: We recorded this album in short sessiosn over quite a long period of time. We didn't have to hurry and we didn't have tight deadlines or anything. So everything went quite smoothly and we all enjoyed the recording sessions a lot. I used to supervise almost all the recordings because I act as producer on our albums too.

 

Who produced the new album, and what made him the perfect man for Amberian Dawn?

 

Tuomas: I have been the producer on all our albums. I like to control everything. I haven never liked the idea of using some stranger as a producer. I want to achieve a certain sound with AD music and as a composer and producer it's the easiest.

 

How would you describe this album to someone that has never listened to the band before?

 

Tuomas: This album is melodic metal with female singer. The music has many layers but still the result is quite easy to listen to. We also have a lot of virtuoso solo playing on this album and some interesting guest musicians and vocalists, too.

 

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?

 

Tuomas: I don't think I'm motivated by anything special. I like to do some sports and when I don't do anything useful, I like to watch some movies, comedies, horror and sci-fi mostly. Besides that I've always been quite active with computers.

 

What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?

 

Tuomas: There's so many highlights so far. I can mention two different kinds of highlights. The first one was the feeling I got when we started to work with our debut album. It was really great to start working in a studio with our own material. The second highlight for me was our first European tour with Epica (2008). That was the first time we played in Europe. It was a great experience and we all learned a lot.

 

What is your opinion on the metal scene these days? Is there anything missing from it?

 

Tuomas: I haven't been following the metal scene for many years now and I don't listen to music so much anymore. When I was younger, I used to listen to rock and heavy metal of the 70's, 80's and 90's. So, I cannot tell you anything about the metal scene of today, really.

 

How would you describe your own music?

 

Tuomas: Music composed by myself is always something which is done without any pressure from outside. I compose exactly the kind of music I've always wanted to. The basis of the music is the feelings I've been having. For example, if i've been depressed or something, I’ll compose different kinds of music compared to times when I’d been writing music while feeling quite energetic. My music is usually strongly based on harmonies and melodies. There's usually many layers of themes going on at the same time.

 

What makes Amberian Dawn different from the other bands out there?

 

Tuomas: I don't like to compare the music of AD with other bands. But maybe our kind of music isn't so usual for the bands of today. We have this old guitar and keyboard hero type of scene going on and music of AD combines many different kinds of genres.

 

Which goals did you have when the band started out and how do those goals stand now?

 

Tuomas: The first goal was to record this music and it was great to work on our very first songs. After that the main goal was to get this music available to as many people as possible. Then I started to dream about releasing the music worldwide. So far the results have been good and I don't see any reason why we couldn't go on and do more records and tours.

 

What can we expect from Amberian Dawn in the near future? Any touring plans?

 

Tuomas: We are looking for a suitable touring partner for our next European tour, which should be on early next year. Our new management Twisted Talent Concerts is helping us with this matter. Let's see what we can do.

 

Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?

 

Tuomas: I think we will keep on doing records with this fast tempo like we have been so far and I'm sure  that we're going to do a lot of shows during the next couple of years. We got our songs on RockBandNetwork and we've got a lot of fans there. It's our goal to release all of our songs on RBN. Right now we already have 10 songs available on RBN. The musical direction or a change in our style is something that is really hard to foresee. Like I said before, I compose music in different kinds of moods and I don't want to do any compromising with my vision. The music of AD has been evolving a lot so far and will continue doing that in the future. The direction is unclear though, even for me.

 

A last statement?

 

Tuomas: I want to thank all our fans who're supporting us and hope that you'lle see us performing live some day. Pls. visit our official sites for more info about the band.  www.amberiandawn.com and www.facebook.com/amberiandawn

 

Thanks for your time,

Eugene Straver

 

 

Members:

Heidi Parviainen – Vocals

Tuomas Seppälä – Guitar, Keyboards

Jukka Koskinen – Bass

Kimmo Korhonen – Guitar

Heikki Saari – Drums

Kasperi Heikkinen – Guitar

 

Former members:

Heikki Saari – Drums

Tommi Kuri - Bass

Sampo Seppälä – Guitar

Emil Pohjalainen – Guitar

Tom Sagar – Keyboards

Joonas Pykälä-Aho – Drums

 

Studio albums

2008 - River of Tuoni  

2009 - The Clouds of Northland Thunder  

2010 - End of Eden