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Elyose Interview

 Performed in August 2012 (via phone)

When the French electro-symphonic metal band, Elyose, first arrived on the scene in 2009, they were sporting an extra “l” (as Ellyose) and a six-track EP to introduce the world to their mix of electronic, techno, dance, industrial, trance and classical music. Fast forward to 2012, and Elyose is poised for a break-through. Their full-length debut, Théogyne, wowed the Sonic Cathedral staff with its razor-tight composition and hypnotic vocal work. (Read Doctor T’s 10/10 review here) And, oh yeah, Therion also agrees … Elyose have been tapped for an opening slot on Therion’s entire European tour.


During a break from tour prep, Sonic Cathedral caught up with vocalist, Justine Daaé, to chat about Théogyne, the stomach flutters that go along with sailing into uncharted territory, Justine’s non-musical passions, and much more! Dive in for a closer look at Elyose.

Sonic Cathedral is delighted to welcome Justine from the French metal band, Elyose. How are you today, Justine?

Justine:  I’m very good, and very happy to being doing an interview with Sonic Cathedral! You’re a very nice team doing a great job in promoting female fronted metal bands.

Robin:  Congratulations on landing a coveted opening slot for Therion’s entire European tour this fall! How in the world did that come about?

Justine:  We proposed our band to them knowing they were looking for support acts. One month later, while we had almost forgotten about it, thinking a developing band like ours wouldn’t even get their attention, we were told they chose US. (laughs) “I beg your pardon?” We hardly believed it! We had taken steps without actually believing it could REALLY happen. In fact, it did! They wanted to do the tour with us and a second band, which is called Antalgia. That’s how it happened. (laughs)

Robin:  The tour buses will roll out in six weeks for a 20-city tour supporting Therion. What are you guys doing to get ready?

Justine:  We are rehearsing a lot, of course, but there are so many other things than music to think about, like the tour bus and the organization around all of the gigs (sometimes I have to drive). We will do shows every day, always in different venues and sometimes in different countries, so there is a lot of organization to go from one country to the other -- all the transportation, the material and how it will be shared with the other band because we are on a separate tour bus from Therion of course. The other band, we’ll be together on the road, and that is the main thing to organize -- all that comes around the shows. I would have thought the hardest part would be focusing on the show, but there are so many other things to think about with the organization. There is transportation, what instruments to use, how to carry them, and the trip from country to country.


Robin:  Elyose are going to be hitting a lot of countries on this tour. Which countries have you never previously played in?

Justine:  Except for France, Germany and Belgium, all the other countries will be the first time for us. Italy, Romania and Greece, they are very exotic because they’re very far from France, and I’ve never been there. I wonder how it looks; I wonder how the people are; I don’t know anything really about these countries, so I’m very curious to meet metal fans … Therion fans, most of them. I wonder how they look like every fan, and I wonder if they’ll be supportive of us, if they’ll like us, and if they’ll follow us in the future. Of course, it depends on the show that we do. But I’m very curious to know how they will see us and react to us.

Robin:  Have you told your kitties yet that you’ll be gone for a whole month?

Justine:  I don’t have a kitty, unfortunately! I live in a small apartment, so I could never raise an animal. It’s too small. If I had a house in the countryside, I would have HUNDREDS. (all laugh) I love animals so much! They’re my secret passion, after music.

Robin:  When you’re up on stage and looking into the audience, what type of fans come to your shows? Elyose mixes metal and symphonic, but with a strong element of electronic dance music that bends and crosses two very different genres.

Justine:  It depends on the bands that we’re playing with. Therion is typically symphonic metal, so I wonder if their audience will be open-minded to other kinds of metal music. But what I’ve noticed is that, even in metal, the support artists are usually very welcomed. The people are going to discover some new music, and they’re very respectful of support artists. (laughs) But it doesn’t prevent me from being really scared.

In France there will be some of our fans, but in the other countries, there will be only a few people who already know us. So for most of them, they will be discovering us. I hope that the kind of metal we do -- which is quite different from Therion, although it’s female-fronted metal -- I hope that they will be open-minded to this kind of music and that they won’t say to themselves, “Eh, it doesn’t sound like Therion’s music. It’s bad.” Instead, they will be glad to discover some other kind of metal that is, in my opinion, more modern than Therion.

Robin:  I’d like to talk with you a little bit about the differences between the six-song Théogyne demo from 2009 and the full-length Théogyne album, which includes re-recorded versions of some of the demo tracks. When Elyose went back into the studio, what did you want from this album?

Justine:  The tracks were redone because I was not satisfied with how they sounded like. Not only the sound quality, which was home studio but also I wanted to shorten the songs that were too long (in my opinion), and I also thought there were arrangements that needed to be changed. I’m a songwriter with the bass player, so I also do the music. There were many things that could be improved with the benefit of hindsight and with a professional studio recording. I wanted my vocals to sound as much as possible like in real.


Robin:  Would you say that the new album captures more of Elyose’s live sound than the demo does?

Justine:  Uhm, live sounds so different from recorded albums. Every instrument is not balanced the same way, so you hear the drums very loud and the vocals usually are more lost in the middle of everything. I didn’t want the album to sound like us live, but these are technical things.

Robin:  I love the track “Le Libérateur,” which has a meaningful story behind that song. For those of us who don’t speak French, would you tell us the meaning of the lyrics?

Justine:  That is the only song that has a picture, like you said. It tells about the story of a young Tunisian, someone from Tunisia. You know the country?

Robin:  Mmmhmmm.

Justine:  So we wanted to pay a warm tribute to Tarek Hazizi, the young Tunisian who set himself on fire in early 2011 and who caused, without knowing it, the wind of democracy that then swept the Arab world massively. The Muslim world often overwhelms us with a dubious idea of sacrifice or martyr. Here, we have a genuine hero who by his sacrifice almost reminds us of the U.S. soldiers and others who attacked the beaches of Normandy in June 1944 ...

Robin:  Is it correct that the musical structure of “Le Libérateur” is similar to “L'Émancipée” from the demo. Ugh, sorry for killing the pronunciation.

Justine:  No, it’s very well pronounced, actually. You’re asking whether the structure is similar to “L'Émancipée”? It just sounds like they are similar, but we didn’t do it on purpose. I’m not a big fan of songs that have chorus and verse. I don’t like the typical structure of verse-chorus, verse-chorus, verse-chorus, bridge, chorus, chorus so I try not to … well, I don’t TRY ... I do it naturally because I don’t like the typical structure.

As I think, I write, and I don’t try and make some part of the music to repeat, or I don’t follow special rules. I do it as I like, and I don’t want to sound like it’s too repetitive. So, in some of my songs, there are not even any choruses, and I like it this way. I don’t like when it’s too repeated in the song. In “L'Émancipée,” I think there is no chorus. Well, some things may remind -- the beginning of the song or part of the song -- but there is not the typical structure.

Robin:  How did you go from being opera-trained in Paris to fronting a metal band?

Justine:  I’ve always liked metal music since a very young age, actually. Fortunately for me, most of the singers were classical singers. I didn’t know yet that I would become an opera singer, so I auditioned for conservatory to do this kind of singing. Fortunately I had the voice to do this kind of singing, and that’s what I wanted. My goal was always to sing in a metal band with opera vocals. Since the beginning, I’ve never really wanted to do anything else. I love classical music, and mixing metal and classical is the perfect band to me.


Robin:  For someone who is just discovering your band, which of the tracks best captures the Elyose sound?

Justine:  That’s a very good question because I don’t like albums where all the tracks sound the same. It could be an inconvenience or it could be something that people like, but all the tracks on Théogyne are not alike. Some are more gothic metal (only a few), others are more electronical. What I want Elyose to become on the second album is to be like some of our songs on the album.

So I’m going to answer your question: The track or tracks -- because there are two I think that tell who we are and who we want to become in the future, and that are our identity -- are the tracks called “Théogyne,” which is the name of the album, and the second one is called “Overload,” which is one of the songs that is in English. I think these two songs represent the Elyose sound.

Robin:  I understand that Elyose are already working on the second album. Where in the process are you?

Justine:  We are still at the beginning of the process. I am writing songs that are more electronic for now, but I also want it to be more metal. (laughs) So I don’t know what direction it will take. What I’ll say is that we won’t only touch it, we will go deeper. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I hope it does.

Robin:  When songs come to you, do you get music in your head, or a picture, or something else?

Justine:  I don’t write the lyrics, I only wrote the English lyrics. I leave lyrics to my drummer because he’s better than I am. What comes to me first is the music, definitely, and not the singing. The singing is what I do last.

It’s not a matter of sound or the type of instrument that I’ll use; it’s more … I just can’t find the words. Let’s say, it’s the music that comes to me first, but I think it’s the same for every band. To have a short time with music and then do a whole song is, I think, very challenging. I have the base of the song in my head, and the melody and the singing come at the last part. I start with the rhythm and chords.

Robin:  Where do you get the most inspiration for writing songs?

Justine:  From other songs that I listen to. I listen to A LOT of music, not only metal, but also electronic. Whatever songs move me, inspire me. It’s not that I take ideas. It’s just that it creates an emotion in me that I need to let go. Sometimes it’s funny that, in a store or in a shop I’ll hear music, and it starts very well, but then it finishes very badly in my opinion.

So I remember it, and I say: “Hmmm, it would have been better this way.” I sing it to myself how I would have wanted it sound, and I record myself on my cellphone. (laughs) I do as I can the instruments and then the melody, and then I do my own version. That might be the three first notes that inspired me. So usually I take inspiration from other songs that have NOTHING to do with what I write, but I turn them into what I like.


Robin:  Other than music, what are some of you passions? You mentioned, for example, animals.

Justine:  I really have a passion for animals. I would have loved to become a farmer to be close to animals, but that is incompatible with my way of life today. But in the future, it’s definitely something I want. I watch documentaries on animals a lot. I am very interested in the endangered species, and pay very much attention. Other than that, I’m very good at doing impressions and love acting very much.

Robin:  You are also an actress. Is that right?

Justine:  I am also an actress; that is true. I do mostly commercials that you would see on the TV or internet, but I’ve never played in some movies that are in the movie theaters. For now, I’ve only done short movies or commercials. There was a time in my life when I had to decide where to go because you can’t do both full-time. I had to choose between music and acting, and I chose music over acting. You can’t do both because each requires sooooo much time and commitment!

Apart from music, I go and audition for acting, but to succeed in this job, like I said, you need to be on it all day. I only have time for a few auditions and fortunately sometimes it works for me. But it can’t be my full-time job, because that is music.

Robin:  Do you find that having a background in acting helps with your stage presence?

Justine:  Uhm, well, I think it would help me in shooting video clips. You could’ve been on stage for the theater for drama lessons, but it doesn’t take off the shyness. You’re still very insecure. For myself -- I can’t speak for other singers -- but as a starting musician career, I don’t feel confident on stage. I feel very vulnerable, and I’m not sure that my extra skills have something to do with it. You know, because that’s a different job. But I’m used to comfort in front of people.

Robin:  Has Elyose given thought to shooting a video for one of the tracks from Théogyne?

Justine:  We have! The thing is that today you can’t release a video that is not excellent. It needs to be very professional. It needs to be very well done, and it takes a lot of money and a lot of time, so we had to choose between a tour and a music video. We can’t do the two. But, of course, that’s something that is very possible … to do a video in the future for the second album.


Robin:  Justine, we have about reached the end of our time together. What last words would you like to leave Sonic Cathedral readers with?

Justine:  I hope those who didn’t know Elyose will have the curiosity to discover and hopefully like it! Many thanks to Sonic Cathedral for doing this interview with me. You guys are very professional and so kind!

Robin:  We wish you a marvelous tour with Therion, and thank you so much for talking with Sonic Cathedral today!

Justine:  My pleasure! Thank YOU for your time and your support and your interest in our band. It means a lot, Robin!


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