An Interview With Charlotte Wessels of Delain
The symphonic metal band Delain is one of those few studio experiments that worked, and worked well. What originated as a group of musicians working on a special project with Martijn Westerholt is now a full-fledged five member band that has released their own album, “April Rain,” and toured throughout Europe with female singer Charlotte Wessels at the forefront. I recently spoke with Charlotte about how Delain grew into its own name, and what life has been like since that first studio project.
Nichole Nash: First off, how did Delain get together?
Charlotte Wessels: I met Martijn somewhere in the end of 2004 when he was looking for musicians for his project Delain. He had been trying around with some other band members before but that hadn’t really worked out. We recorded the first album "Lucidity" with lots of guest musicians; it was really a project back then. When the album was released we got the band members that now form Delain together. Some of them we knew from former bands and projects; we’ve been playing with them since 2006.
Nichole: What happened to change Delain from being a guest musician project to forming a band?
Charlotte: Well, when we started recording for "Lucidity," Martijn was still struggling with some health issues. The choice for a guest musician project was a logical one back then because of course it’s interesting to work with a lot of people, but also because Martijn’s health was not good enough to tour and play gigs like a regular band. When the album was released we were so enthusiastic about it, and besides that Martijn was feeling a lot better, so the idea of having a band to tour with became a lot more realistic. We really hit the jackpot with the band members we found back then. When we started recording for our second album "April Rain," it was only logical that it would be just as much their album as it would be Martijn’s album and mine. They played a prominent role in recording and also in writing some songs on the album.
Nichole: You’ve said that you feel like "April Rain" is more your project because the songs are yours, rather than already being written. Are you responsible for the writing of all the songs?
Charlotte: I am responsible for the lyrics and vocal lines on the album, which indeed makes it more personal. But the main difference with the previous album is that I’ve been present from a more early stage in the writing process. On "Lucidity" a lot of the songs were already finished except for lyrics and some vocal lines, so it felt more like 'filling in the gaps' than really being able to create something. I really like the fact that with this album the vocals adapted to the music, but also the other way around. I also could add a little to the music which is quite new for me since I never had the patience to properly learn to play any instrument other then the clarinet, which is not that convenient for songwriting. (laughs)
Nichole: How did the collaboration with Marko Hielata come about?
Charlotte: Martijn asked him at a Nightwish gig if he’d be interested. He gave him a cd - actually he gave it to the manager because it was the last gig of their tour and he was worried that the cd would get lost since the band had already emptied a few bottles on stage - and got a positive response afterwards. Martijn went to Finland to do the recordings. We’re very happy that Marko wanted to participate again for our latest album "April Rain."
Nichole: Some people might say there’s some similarity in sound between Delain and Nightwish. Do you think that’s an accurate description?
Charlotte: Well I think it’s quite different on some levels but I know how people, including myself, find it convenient to compare bands to each other to give people a general idea of what it’s like. Since I really appreciate Nightwish and their music, I have no problems whatsoever with the comparison.
Nichole: What I find unique about Delain’s sound is that you bring a lot of different styles to the table. How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard you?
Charlotte: Probably something like symphonic rock songs with a pop-structure in a metal production.
Nichole: What bands or musicians have influenced you?
Charlotte: Lots of oldies, I really like the classics like Led Zeppelin and Joni Mitchell, but my all time favorite band is Radiohead. I really like lots of aspects in their music and I’m certainly influenced by it in some ways, but I’m sure you can’t hear that too much in Delain, since Radiohead bores some of my bandmates to death. (laughs) I really like Nick Cave and Amanda Palmer for their lyrics. They inspire me in that aspect.
Nichole: You’ve done a lot of touring and are still doing some summer festivals and shows. What’s it like going on tour, particularly as the only female band member?
Charlotte: It’s awesome. We’ve had our first really long tour in April and I loved every minute of it. Being the only female in the group is not really a problem. At some point you just become 'one of the guys.' However, we now have a lovely female in our crew and I must admit that I’m looking forward to having another woman on board on the next tour!
Nichole: One of the big shows you’ll be participating in is the Metal Female Voices Fest. What’s it feel like to be selected for that?
Charlotte: It’s nice because the festival is really international, I hear from people all over Europe who are coming to MFV. It will be our third time playing there.
Nichole: Are there any plans to do another tour to promote "April Rain?" If so, where and with whom would you like to tour?
Charlotte: We’ve already done a support and a headlining tour to promote "April Rain." We’ve got another European headline tour planned in October. I’d really love to tour outside of Europe. There are so many places I’ve never been before! As for with whom, we’ve been touring with Subway to Sally and with Kamelot last year. Both I didn’t think of before as the most obvious bands to tour with, but both worked out very well, we had lots of fun. So I’d love to be surprised in a positive way by more bands.
Nichole: What about any live performance catastrophes?
Charlotte: Worst one for me is still the one where I fainted on stage in a Dutch club about two years ago. That sucked. Big time.
Nichole: When you’re not busy performing, recording, etc., with Delain, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Charlotte: I still have my studies, art history - I’m starting my third year. I study part time now but it’s still difficult to find the time. Mostly because I also like to work out, spend some time with my love and cuddle with my pets once in a while.
Nichole: Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?
Charlotte: Everywhere! I hope we get the opportunity to travel the world and make some really cool records in the future.
Nichole: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Charlotte: Thanks for the support! I hope to see you at one of our shows one day!
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