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After Forever Interview 2008

Present - Jason Levine & Floor Jansen
Interview took place in New York City

Jason:  This is the end of your tour in America. How has the experience been so far in the United States?

Floor:  Well. Audience wise. Really, really cool. The people that were there were really into it. It went with ups and downs when it comes to how many people were there. I think it was not maybe such a very smart idea to go out as a headliner. We’ve done a couple of support act shows that were really cool because then you can reach other people. The people of your headline show, they were really into After Forever each time so that’s been very good for us. But once again the audience is really, really enthusiastic. So, yeah it went amazingly fast actually (*laughs*).

Jason:  Did you realize you had this many fans here before you came over?

Floor:  Well we knew. Internet’s a very powerful medium. So we did know there was interest coming from the states and the growth of the female fronted scene here was very obvious. It was a good time for us to jump in. We wanted that way, way before but our record company just couldn’t even get their distribution well done in Europe so that’s why we never made the jump across the ocean to come out here.

Jason:  Speaking of that. You switched over to Nuclear Blast for the last album.

Floor:  Yeah.

Jason:  Are things going a lot smoother than they did with Transmission?

Floor:  Everything’s smoother than with Transmission. I can definitely tell you that. But yes, it’s different to work with a bigger team. They do their thing the way they do it and yeah, it’s a different kind of work, but their distribution net is so much bigger. It’s so much easier to reach more people with their well-oiled machine. Nuclear Blast USA is different. It’s a smaller company. It’s really a European company that’s doing well in Europe. We noticed that over here Nuclear Blast USA is still growing. So we hope to be part of that growth and to make our next moves here as well.

Jason:  Do you still own the rights to any of your music from Transmission or are you still in the process of fighting that?

Floor:  That guy has broken every rule and no matter what all those fancy pants lawyers are doing, we have nothing. It’s amazing. It’s really a sad, sad story (*laughs*).

Jason:  So right now you just have the rights to the new album?

Floor:  Yeah.

Jason:  Has that been doing well here so far?

Floor:  Here, yeah. It’s just been released so it’s hard to really say how much we’ve already sold. There are no numbers yet. But what I’ve heard coming back form Nuclear Blast here is that they’re definitely having very big orders and we’ve sold a lot ourselves during the tour. So there’s a lot of interest in it. That’s for sure.

Jason:  In Europe when it came out a couple of months ago you had really big sales for it as well.

Floor:  Yeah. It did really go better than all the other albums. Yeah.

Jason:  Your first single was Energize Me.

Floor:  Yeah.

Jason:  What was the meaning behind the song?

Floor:  Well the song is about positive energy between people. There is a main theme on the album around energy. So it’s not like. It’s not a concept album. There are also songs about a whole different subject, but Energize Me is one of those songs that are connected to that theme around energy and this is about positive energy. Sometimes you can have a conversation with somebody and you both walk out of it completely revived. Which can also be the other way around, which is what De-Energized is about. But Energize Me is positive energy and people are always looking for that basically and that’s it.

Jason:  Your second single is Equally Destructive.

Floor:  Yeah.

Jason:  There was a video out on YouTube for that. Was that before or after you had decided to release it as a single?

Floor:  Before.

Jason:  How did you find out about that video that this fan put out?

Floor:  Yeah, because everybody was talking about it. You know, Internet is. Goes very quickly. It’s amazing how much people were looking at it. That’s also one of the bigger reasons why we chose that as our second single, because there was so much interest coming out from that song.

Jason:  Your spreading a great message there about the environment.

Floor:  Yep. It’s basically saying that we always. We’re very afraid of the power of our environment. We want to control our nature, but we can’t. Every once in a while we find out that we can’t because then there’s a tsunami or an earthquake or whatever. A volcanic eruption. There’s nothing in our power to stop that or prevent it. We can only take. We only have what’s left after and we’re so arrogant to believe that we can control the earth but we simply can’t. And every now and then we find out and next to that we’ve become more of an equally destructive if we use our bombs and all of the things that we’ve created. All that shit will definitely destroy the earth 101,000 times.

Jason:  Did you get a chance to talk to the person who created the video?

Floor:  No. Still don’t know who it is. It’s a mystery. It’s a mystery story (*laughs*).

Jason:  After the US tour, with the reception you’ve been getting, do you have plans to come back here for another tour for your US fans?

Floor:  Well we would definitely want to. The interest is definitely there. Well like I said before, it would be good for us to not be the headliner but to do a support act with a bigger band in the genre so we can reach new people. That’s definitely something that I could consider as our next move.

Jason:  There’s a lot of bands from Holland that are coming over now like Within Temptation and Epica. Would you like to do a tour with another female band?

Floor:  Not necessarily. It would be cool to something more progressive. A lot of people consider us progressive here. So maybe in that direction would be cool. Something like Kamelot. Something like that. Something melodic still.

Jason:  And you feel the support tours are the way to go?

Floor:  Yeah. It’s the first time in a country that’s so big. There’s so many bands already from here. There are a lot of female fronted bands coming over from Europe here and they’re all doing it at the same time. Most of the bands have been here before like Nightwish, like Within Temptation, like Epica. We’re somewhere in the middle of their tours and that we noticed is tough because people have to choose and of course they go for bands they’ve seen before and know before. So I think it would be important for us to reach a new, maybe their audience, part of a bigger audience anyway.

Jason:  On this tour you’ve played with many different bands like Mushroomhead and Overkill. Have fans from these different bands been receptive to your music overall?

Floor:  Yeah. Surprisingly, yeah. I mean, if we could choose we would probably not go for such heavy bands. But yeah, in both cases it was working very well. We’ve had a very nice reception of all audiences. We did also a show with Sonata Arctica that worked better in many ways, because they’re more melodic. Both Mushroomhead and Overkill has male dominated audience that in the beginning we had something like, my god there’s a chick on stage and she’s going to sing, give me a break. But in the end of the show they were rocking along like, hey this is heavier than we thought. And it might be a woman. She does kick ass and the rest of the band is a metal band too. And if that’s what they want to hear, that’s what they’ll get from us. We are one of the heaviest female fronted bands if it comes to lyrical singing in this genre. We’re definitely heavier than Within Temptation. Also Epica I think. My way of singing is also, because it’s not just lyrical, appealing to more people I guess in this genre. So that was ok, but it’s always a challenge to reach out, also tonight to the people who come for Overkill and get us. So we’ll see what’s going to happen.

Jason:  I understand you bring a big energy when you are on stage as well.

Floor:  Yep.

Jason:  Do you get really into the performance?

Floor:  Yes. Both performance and playing. I believe there has to be a fifty-fifty element in there. A band that is focusing on just playing, they play amazing but their show is boring. I don’t like to see that. I also don’t like to listen to a band that is completely focused on their performance, but sounds horrible. So it needs to be both and that’s the biggest challenge there is.

Jason:  In your music you perform both styles of vocals, classical and melodic. How do sing in these different styles and how have you been progressing with each album?

Floor:  Well first of all the first albums were not operatic. They were more in a head voice. The only opera stuff I am doing is on this album because now I know how to sing opera. There is a distinctive difference that I notice nobody knows, especially in this genre, that female fronted vocalists are operatic. The only operatic voice that I know is Tarja and the rest sings in a higher range but it’s not real opera. Maybe there’s an operatic touch to it, but it’s definitely not real opera. If you listen to a real opera you know what I mean. I would definitely ask every female fronted lover to listen to a real opera to know the difference in styles and voices, because I get this question very often and to be honest it kind of pisses me off because nobody knows for real what the difference is. And I became to sing more variated so I use both my head, the higher head ranges, and an operatic voice and a rock voice and that grew naturally because I always used both. But the differences were not that distinctive yet and I’ve been studying and during my study I grew and that you hear on each album. My voice changes and I use more different styles too, because I think that is one of my specialties that makes me different than all the other singers in this genre. Yeah, I really always want to point out there is so much more difference than just a lyrical voice. Opera is something different (*laughs*).

Jason:  You’ve been studying for years.

Floor:  Uh Huh.

Jason:  You started so young in the band.

Floor:  Yeah.

Jason:  You’ve been training even up until now, right?

Floor:  I finished last year.

Jason:  How much did that improve your vocal range and talents throughout the years of going to the Rock Academy?

Floor:  I started Rock Academy in 1999 and I finished that and I did two more years of consevatory. One year of music theater, so that’s more like musical stuff, and one year of opera. And I did opera stuff on the way during my study, but the focus was on that during those years. You know, singing lesson doesn’t improve talent. You have it or you haven’t. You don’t have it. But you learn how to use your talent and how to explore it and exploit it. That was my biggest mission to learn the different sounds. Perfect them. And do all that on stage as well while moving. While having maybe shitty sound or a loud band behind you. All that stuff. It’s a combination of experience and technique I guess.

Jason:  You studied musical theater. Is that something you’d like to try one day, something a little different than rock music?

Floor:  Well, the thing with, I like the music. Not everything of it and the same with opera. But the whole world around it like the people in it, it’s so different from the rock scene and I feel very comfortable in this scene.  Maybe one day when I am a little older I might grow into it. My voice would be, could do that stuff. But we’ll see. Maybe one day (*laughs*).

Jason:  You did something similar, the philharmonic show last year in your home country. What was that experience like?

Floor:  It wasn’t a philharmonic orchestra. It was a harmonic orchestra. It doesn’t have violins or anything. It’s just like a brass band. A huge brass band. It was already two years ago. That was an amazing experience. I wish we could have done a DVD of it. If our record company wasn’t so stupid (*laughs*). So yeah that was it. We played it and that was all.

Jason:  Is that something you would like to try again?

Floor:  Yeah, it was amazing. But, I think if we could do it again we would definitely go for a philharmonic orchestra with all the instruments in it. Like on the last album we worked with the symphonic orchestra of Prague. That kind of orchestra would really work live with us. But that’s, you know, a huge production. To put that on stage is huge and very expensive (*laughs*).

Jason:  In addition to going to school, you opened up on your website a chance for fans to get vocal lessons from you. Can you talk a little about that?

Floor:  Well, I give singing lessons. So if people are seriously into singing. Yeah, I give singing lessons and they can come and they sing. That’s it.

Jason:  Has it been successful? Have the student you have worked with done well?

Floor:  Yeah. I think so. Yep. I only want to work with people that are seriously into it. Don’t call me or e-mail me, hey I want to have singing lessons with you because I want to be in the picture with you. It’s like yeah, ok, I’m serious about my things and I want people to work with me seriously and if they do and if they improve, that’s what it’s about and that’s very cool.

Jason:  Do you feel proud of the students you are working with?

Floor:  Yeah, if they do. If they work for it and they are improving. Definitely, yeah.

Jason:  Is that something you’d like to continue doing throughout your career, being a teacher?

Floor:  It’s not my biggest ambition, but as long as I can do it, next to the band I’ll continue doing that.

Jason:  A lot of people have said you have one of the strongest voices in the genre.

Floor:  Thanks (*laughs*).

Jason:  With you getting a chance to show off that voice for the US fans, what do you feel like they can take away from hearing you perform?

Floor:  I think that we are a very energetic live band. It shows that we are having fun. That we want to share our energy with the audience. I think the interaction is really important. Also the proof that what we put on our albums is also doable live. We have a hard disk, but even if it doesn’t work we still sound cool. It still stands. The sound is the band with some extra to it and that’s a very important element to us. Especially in this scene where a lot bands use so much hard disks that you sometimes wonder what you are listening to. A tape or a real band. We are a real band and you can see it. You can hear it. And we want to share that with people. Also we want to have this perfection. It has to be tight. I have to sing in tune. I have to be understandable to people. It’s not like blah, blah, blah. It’s an obvious pronunciation. While it’s still metal so there’s a lot of things going on. Yeah, I think that’s something that we find very important and we want to show those people.

Jason:  You’ve done some collaborations in the past. You had Sharon sing on.

Floor:  On the first one.

Jason:  And you just had Doro sing.

Floor:  Yep.

Jason:  Do you like doing collaborations with other female artists, or is it just a once in a while thing?

Floor:  It’s a once in a while thing. It doesn’t need to be female. It can also be male. Like on previous albums we also worked with Damien Wilson and we had an opera singer. But yeah, if it contributes something to our album then we definitely do that.

Jason:  Are you happy to be part of this new growing genre of the Dutch female invasion?

Floor:  Yeah that’s cool. Of course a lot of other countries have female fronted bands, but yeah, I guess so. I don’t feel like we’re the same. Definitely because like only a few of us exist. Just as long as we do. We’re happier than most of them. So yeah. I don’t necessary need to hear at each show that we’re a part of this, because I feel like we’re also a part of a lot of other things. But I can imagine, of course, I can understand where it comes from. All those Dutch bands are just jumping across the ocean and coming to do shows here. So yeah.

Jason:  The album has been out for half a year in Europe and a month here in America. Have you started to look at any follow up material at this point?

Floor:  No. It’s too recent.

Jason:  Just concentrating on this album?

Floor:  Yeah.

Jason:  So we won’t see anything for at least another year probably?

Floor:  That’s normal yes (*laughs*).

Jason:  A big touring cycle?

Floor:  I hope so. Yes. For our team. Get something done. 

Thanks for taking the time to grant Sonic Cathedral the interview request.

www.afterforever.com or www.nuclearblast.com