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ReVamp Interview
Written by Sara Letourneau   
Monday, 02 August 2010

Floor Jansen - Revamp

ReVamp Interview
Sara Letourneau chats with renowned vocalist Floor Jansen

Sonic Cathedral’s Sara Letourneau spoke with Floor shortly before the release of ReVamp’s debut album in the U.S. on July 27, 2010. (“ReVamp” was released in Europe two months earlier.) The two ladies discussed the album and its many collaborators and guest artists, as well as the live ReVamp band, touring plans, and Floor’s most recent challenge as a vocalist. Read on to find out more!

 

Few names – and voices – are as well-known in female-fronted metal as those of Floor Jansen. This charismatic front-woman whose powerful voice shifts from melodic to operatic with the snap of a finger helped the Dutch symphonic power metal band After Forever become one of the most popular and influential of its kind. However, after 12 years and five albums, After Forever broke up in early 2009 after taking a one-year hiatus. So, when would we be blessed with the opportunity to hear Floor perform in a band again? Not too long. Just a year-and-a-half after After Forever’s split, Floor has returned with a new band: ReVamp.

Revamp

Sara:  First of all, congratulations on the release of ReVamp’s debut album!

Floor:  Thank you!

Sara:  How do you feel now that it’s been out in Europe for a few months?

Floor:  Well, good! Especially since we now know how it’s been selling. It’s doing very well. We were excited about it from day one. I felt like a teenager when I went to the stores where they were selling it to take pictures, and I thought, “Oh, look! This is great!” (laughs) I’ve been working on it for a year, which is not very long. So, a lot of things needed to happen. The pressure was big, and this was something I really wanted for myself, so I worked my ass off to get it done. And, to see the physical results of all that work and to have that good karma with it, it feels very good.

Sara:  And the album is coming out in the United States on July 27th.

Floor:  Yes.

Sara:  Are you excited about that as well?

Floor:  Very, yeah. With After Forever, I made five albums, and only the last one was released in the States. I remember during our tour there [in 2007] that I got to sign our first four albums as well as the current one. People were so enthusiastic for our music that they were willing to import music from Europe to the States. And now, I have a new album with a new band, and it gets released there. I think that’s very special. I’m very happy.

Sara:  Actually, I just remembered this. I went to see Within Temptation during their headlining tour back in 2007, and they played in Boston, which is near where I live. When we were lining up for the meet-and-greet, there was a young man ahead of me wearing a shirt with the cover art from After Forever’s “Decipher” album.

Floor:  Oh, sweet!

Sara:  Yeah!

Floor:  He must have imported it. (laughs)

Sara:  (laughs) And I remember Sharon [den Adel, singer of Within Temptation] commenting on that shirt to him. I was excited about it, too. I thought, “Oh, he knows about After Forever, too!”

Floor:  Yeah! That’s very cool.

Floor Jansen - Revamp

Sara:  Speaking of After Forever, that band broke up early last year.

Floor:  Yes.

Sara:  So when exactly did you decide to start a new band?

Floor:  Just a few months later. [After Forever] stopped in January, and I started writing and working on the concept of what ReVamp would become in April or May 2009.

Sara:  How did you feel when After Forever broke up?

Floor:  Well, I was very sad. It was not exactly my choice. I was hoping we would find the energy we needed to do this. And, of course, as everybody knows now, we didn’t. I agreed that we couldn’t continue, but I was very sad about it. It was the end of a period of 12 years of my life. Yeah, so then I had to move on. So, I used my sadness to get new energy and start ReVamp.

Sara:  What was your vision when you first began writing the ReVamp songs?

Floor:  I really wanted to make ReVamp heavier than After Forever. Less bombastic, more riffs and guitar oriented. And, I wanted to have even more vocal diversity. So, those were a few of the ingredients.

Sara:  You had two songwriting partners for the ReVamp album, and they were two of the musicians who played on it. There’s Joost van der Broek, After Forever’s keyboardist and your former bandmate, and also Waldemar Sorychta, who’s a big-name producer in metal. How did they both become involved with ReVamp?

Floor:  Well, Waldemar actually called me because he was working on a project. He was working on it after I had stopped with After Forever. He asked me if I was interested, and I said ‘”yes.” Then, I asked Joost if he would join us, and he agreed. He’s a very good songwriter, but also a very cool guy, very stable. He can write in various styles, so I knew that working with him would not necessarily lead to a copy of After Forever.

Sara:  How did you come up with the name ReVamp?

Floor:  Actually, I worked on a project in between After Forever and ReVamp. When I was looking for a name for that project, I found the word “revamp.” But, it was too much metal for that project, and the guy I was working with didn’t really like it. But, I never forgot about it. I just liked the word and what it meant. When I started ReVamp and started thinking of a name for it, I thought, “Yeah, that name’s perfect.” The whole meaning of the word was a symbol for my situation.

Sara:  I know you had announced the name of your new band online, but you also announced it at last year’s Metal Female Voices Festival. What about this venue made it the ideal place for you to make this announcement?

Floor:  Well, here in Europe, and I know even worldwide, the Metal Female Voices Festival became very well known. Everybody who loves this type of music is there or has their focus on it. So, it would be a great moment to announce something there. So, I had that opportunity. And, I wanted to announce my band as soon as possible so I wouldn’t be out of the scene for too long.

Sara:  And now you’re going to be playing there with ReVamp in October.

Floor:  Indeed!

Sara:  Are you excited about that?

Floor:  Yes, it’s nice. Absolutely. It’s actually because the guy who does this festival is such a fan that he booked me even before I recorded the album.

Sara:  (laughs) Really?

Floor:  Yeah. He told me he thought, “Oh, it’s Floor. No matter what she does, I’m going to love it.” And then, he offered me a spot in the festival. Now the slots are closing, and he gave me a co-headlining slot. That’s really awesome.

Floor Jansen - Revamp

Sara:  I think you’re playing the same day that Arch Enemy headlines, right?

Floor:  Yes, we’re co-headlining that night.

Sara:  OK. Back to the album for a little bit. The first song that you chose to feature from the album was “Head Up High.” Why did you choose this particular song as the world’s introduction to ReVamp?

Floor:  I think mainly because it’s one of the most original songs on this album. It really has a very distinctive sound of its own. That’s what I wanted to create with it. I wanted to say, “Hey, this is ReVamp. It’s a new band. It’s not like After Forever. It has some similar ingredients, but the whole sound is different.” And, I think this song is proof of that.

Sara:  The ReVamp album also features a three-song series that’s called “In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part.” That contains the songs “All Goodbyes Are Said,” “Disdain,” and “Disgraced.” What was the idea behind this series?

Floor:  Well, I was inspired by watching a movie about somebody who’s young and healthy and then gets sick and sees her life getting destroyed until she finally dies. And, I’ve heard stories from friends about people who have gotten sick and died. That’s why the title is “In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part.” There’s no health left; they’re all pretty much just dying. There are so many people in situations where they have loved ones in this way. And yeah, it just really did something to me, and it started to create a process in my head that I felt I should write about: To look at this situation from different angles and from the different people involved in it, like the patient who’s experiencing all this or the people on the other side of the bed who have to watch their loved one suffer and how powerless they are. It really affected me, so I felt like I should write about it. That’s actually what I always do with my work. [My song lyrics] are always about something that really did something to me, whether it’s from my own personal life or other people’s situations.

Sara:  I know it’s kind of hard to pick favorites on an album. But if you could, what would you say are your favorite songs on the ReVamp album?

Floor:  Mmm, yeah. I hate to pick favorites. (laughs) Always. Every song is a part of me. I always see every song I write sort of as my baby. You wouldn’t favor your children, either. But, I think I have a special place in my heart for “Disdain” and “Sweet Curse.” “Disdain” because it’s so heavy, and live I sing the parts that Bjorn Strid [“Speed,” singer of Soilwork] sings. So, I do the screaming stuff, and I really enjoy doing that. I was never able to before. I never found the technique to do it correctly, but I now did, and it’s so much fun. And, “Sweet Curse” is maybe my personal pride. I wrote this song. It’s one of the first songs I wrote entirely on my own. The [string] arrangements were done by Joost, and there were some other adjustments, but the rest is all me. And, I’m so proud of that. And, there’s also the combination of my voice with my good friend and idol Russell [Allen, singer of Symphony X]. So yeah, I should pick those.

Sara:  Speaking of some of the collaborations you did on this album, you mentioned Russell and Speed. Why did you choose those two vocalists to take part on your album?

Floor:  Well, Russell, he’s a good friend. We’ve known each other since 2002, when we did the Star One tour together. We did a couple things together afterwards, but we kind of felt we should record a song or do something more. So when I was writing “Sweet Curse,” I had him in mind from day one. So yeah, I’m very happy he could do it. And, for “Disdain” I was looking for a kind of vocalist who could add something diverse to the song. I’m a big fan of Soilwork, so when Speed said “yes” I was very enthusiastic. I think it’s a good combination. It’s nice to have two powerful singers, two male singers [to sing with]. They’re like male opponents, which makes it fun. (laughs)

Sara:  You also had George Oosthoek [former grunter for Orphanage] on the album. You knew him already because he had substituted for Sander Gommans during After Forever’s last tour. So, what was it like to work with him again?

Floor:  Actually, “Here’s My Hell” was all done without the growls. So it was done, but we felt we missed something. We came to the conclusion that it must be something with growls, and we started thinking of who to ask. It didn’t take very long. George is a very good friend, and one of the big voices in the Netherlands when it comes to growls. So yeah, he was only one phone call away, and he was so enthusiastic. It was really nice. He’s also joined us live now a couple of times. So yeah, it’s very nice. He’s very cool.

Floor Jansen - Revamp

Sara:  You now have a live band for ReVamp, with musicians you selected after some auditions. How is that going with the new members? Do you think it’s become a musical family of sorts yet, even though it’s only been a few months?

Floor:  Yeah, it has. It grew very fast. Of course, you can’t compare it to being in a band like After Forever like I was. That was for 12 years. So, this is different. But, yeah, what I hoped would happen is that to the world outside me, it would look and sound like a real band; and for us together, we would feel very comfortable with each other. That definitely happened in a very short time. We get many compliments from people, telling us they can’t even imagine we’ve only been together for a short period because it really looks and sounds good already. It’s nice to see this. I feel I can really rely on them. I know I can expect something good and professional from them, and we have a lot of fun together. So yes, we’re growing into a family very, very fast.

Sara:  I know this is looking ahead a little bit. But when the time comes for a new ReVamp album, do you plan to have these new bandmates more involved in the creation of that album?

Floor:  Yes, that would be great. It’s something I really want to try, but not something that I’m sure would work. The most important thing for me is that ReVamp keeps growing. If I have to, I’ll go find other songwriters to work with, like many bands do, actually. But, preferably, when we start, we’ll do this together. And, we’re going to start really soon, actually. Next month, we’re going to start writing just to see if what kinds of songs we can write together. A good live musician doesn’t necessarily need to be a good songwriter or somebody who helps create new material. That’s something that we’re going to find out soon. But, preferably, yes.

Sara:  Have you noticed any After Forever fans coming to the ReVamp shows?

Floor:  Yes! There were a couple of very loyal After Forever fans who came to almost every show we did [in the Netherlands]. And now, we’re seeing the same dedication to ReVamp from those same fans, which is very cool. But, I’ve also noticed that there are some new people coming. So, there are people who didn’t know After Forever or maybe didn’t like it so much, and now they’re coming to ReVamp shows and they like it very much. But, so far the reactions from people who liked After Forever have been positive.

Sara:  That’s good!

Floor:  Yeah!

Sara:  Are there any plans for ReVamp to tour outside the Netherlands at some point?

Floor:  Well, yes, there is a European tour settled, almost 98 percent. I haven’t been able to announce it yet, but that should happen in the next two weeks. We’re going to do a support tour. And, South America has been enthusiastic about us from day one, so I’m working on going over there. But right now, nothing’s certain. And in time, I would love to come over to the United States again to do a tour, maybe to support a bigger band. So yeah, that would be good.

*Footnote* Tour now Scheduled: Epica / ReVamp / Kells

Sara:  I was just about to ask you about whether you’d come to the U.S. again. I missed After Forever when that band played here, so it would be great if ReVamp could play here.

Floor:  Oh, I definitely hope so. Yes.

Sara:  Speaking of your live performances, you kind of touched on this earlier. I was watching a video online. I think it was a video of “Disdain” from the Graspop Metal Meeting. Not only do you sing in your normal, melodic voice and your classical voice, but you’re doing the grunts now, too. How did you decide to try that?

Floor:  Well, it was something I had thought about doing on the album. There was this technique I had been working on. I’m a vocal teacher, you know, and I work with new vocal techniques a lot. And, there is this vocal method I’m using that uses the same techniques for screams and growls. And, I thought, “Gee, this is cool! I really wish I could this.” But, I just never found out how. And now, I’ve been trying it and studying it a bit. It didn’t really work in the studio, but live I’ve found the right energy to do this. But, my guitar player Jord [Otto], he’s doing melodic vocals for Russell when we play “Sweet Curse” live, and he also does the growls. So there’s no real need for me to do it, but it was a huge challenge to give it a shot. And I must say, I enjoy it very much to be able to do it. I know I don’t have the technique down just yet. If I growled every song, I probably wouldn’t do it right. (laughs) I would never want to jeopardize my melodic voice, but it’s very interesting. That’s definitely something I’d love to explore more.

Revamp

Sara:  I thought you did a pretty good job in the video.

Floor:  Thank you! (laughs) It feels good. I don’t think I’m doing it wrong. But yeah, it’s a new challenge, and I always like that. I always want to explore the boundaries of my voice, and this was another way of doing that.

Sara:  I want to ask you about Nuclear Blast. With After Forever, you signed with Nuclear Blast and released the band’s last album through that label. Then, you resigned with Nuclear Blast for ReVamp.

Floor:  Yes.

Sara:  What’s it like to continue that partnership with Nuclear Blast?

Floor:  Well, here in Europe, they’re one of the biggest record labels for metal. So, I was very, very happy that they wanted to take me on board again. Especially these days, when a lot of artists have lost their record companies because the labels simply don’t exist anymore. It’s a tough time. So, I was very, very honored and happy that I could sign with them again. For the U.S., I know it’s smaller, but with After Forever they were very enthusiastic. I remember they gave everything they were able to do to promote us, and that’s very important to me. I think this whole scene is growing. The European metal scene is becoming more popular in the States. Nuclear Blast has the know-how in how to do that, and I think that’s very important.

Sara:  So, touring is on ReVamp’s agenda for the rest of the year. What other things are you thinking about doing? Maybe releasing a single or making a video or doing something else special?

Floor:  No plans like this. No. Touring and writing is on the agenda for now.

Sara:  Well, that just about wraps things up, Floor. Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans and the readers at Sonic Cathedral?

Floor:  Well, I think I’d really like to say to everybody that, of course, I hope they enjoy ReVamp. I also hope that the people who enjoyed After Forever can give ReVamp a fresh start. I know both bands will be compared because, of course, there are things that are similar. But, it’s definitely a new band. It’s not about comparing; it’s about ReVamp on its own. Also, for the people who don’t know ReVamp or who disliked After Forever, I hope they give ReVamp a shot. And, of course, I hope they like it.

Sara:  Thank you very much for your time, Floor!

Floor:  Yes! Thank you for your support. It’s good to talk to you guys again, and I hope we can come over sometime to the States to spread the word with live shows.

Many thanks once again to Floor for her time, and we at Sonic Cathedral look forward to ReVamp coming to the U.S. sometime in the future! Also, thanks to Loana dP Valencia at Nuclear Blast USA for arranging the interview.

Floor Jansen - Revamp

Learn more about ReVamp at the following websites:

Official Website: http://www.revampmusic.com

ReVamp on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/revamp

Floor Jansen on Twitter: http://twitter.com/floorrevamp

Nuclear Blast: http://www.nuclearblast.de

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