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Seduce the Heaven Interview

Seduce the Heaven Interview
Performed via Phone - December 2011
Seduce the Heaven

Prepare to be gobsmacked when Field of Dreams, the debut album by Greek metallers Seduce The Heaven, hits shelves in 2012!!! A fair number of albums scampered across my musical radar this year, many of which didn’t leave a lasting impression ... been there, done that, next please. I’ll be the first to admit that growling vocals usually have all the sonic appeal for me of sitting next to a screaming infant on a cross-country flight.But holy moly, Seduce The Heaven’s five-track promo album pinned my ears back -- and garnered a perfect 10/10 review from Doctor T -- with its winning combination of Elina Laivera’s richly-textured voice and Vagelis Kolios’ guttural growls.

Apparently, Metal Female Voices Fest had the same reaction, since they booked these unsigned newcomers based on the strength of the promo alone.

Sonic Cathedral’s Robin Stryker sat down with 19 year-old vocalist, Elina Laivera, for her first phone interview. (Thanks, Elina!) Dive in for a behind-the-scenes look at Seduce The Heaven’s upcoming album, Elina’s epiphany after talking backstage with Russell Allen (vocalist for Symphony X), the wonderful world of corsets, and much more!

Robin:  Welcome to Sonic Cathedral webzine, Elina! We’re excited to talk with you about Seduce The Heaven’s upcoming album, Field of Dreams. How are you today?

Elina:  Everything is fine. Thank you, Robin dear, I am really happy to talk to Sonic Cathedral!

Robin:  Seduce The Heaven are busily working away on their debut release. Where are you in the process of completing the album?

Elina:  Actually, I have to tell you that we started recording the album during the fall of 2010. But at the beginning, the process wasn’t going really fast, due to some difficulties. However, during the year 2011, it actually ran pretty quickly, so now we have accomplished almost all of the recording sessions needed for the album to be fulfilled. However, we still need to add some final touches, and then the final mixing and mastering needs to be done in order to be able to say that we have something ready in our hands.

Robin:  At this time, Seduce The Heaven have an awesome five-track demo that is only available to the media and record labels. Will those five songs all be included on Field of Dreams?

Elina:  Yes definitely, they are going to be on our debut album, along with five more songs moving pretty much in the same style. However, the last song of the album is going to be a Celtic ballad that we wanted to use as the closer for Field of Dreams. But yes, all of the five songs included in the promo CD are surely going to be in the album. Actually, these five songs are the five best songs of the album … if you want, the five strongest features of this album. We wanted the world to listen to them, and wanted to see what kind of feedback we would have from them, so we gave our best work out to be heard.

Seduce the Heaven

Robin:  I was excited to read that Seduce The Heaven were selected to play at the 10th anniversary show of Metal Female Voices Fest next year, but I was also a little surprised because you are unsigned and have not yet released an album. How did you come to MFVF’s attention?

Elina:  Well, we simply applied. We waited for some answer, and we got a REALLY nice answer from them. (laughs) You know, the whole thing just happened.

Robin:  Have you attended MFVF as a fan before?

Elina:  No, unfortunately I hadn’t had the chance to. But I have been watching it since 2008, so I remember many female-fronted metal bands that actually started a new way to success through this festival. I have seen many bands becoming really famous and many front-women becoming really beloved to the metal world through this festival. I have gotten to know many new awesome bands myself, too. It is such a well-organized festival, with respect towards the bands participating in it and towards the audience. The guys there care a lot about promoting the bands very well, as well as offering a brilliant show and entertainment to the female metal lovers. It is a very important festival, as in my opinion, it is the ultimate proof that women are warmly accepted and welcomed in metal music.

Robin:  How wonderful that your first time at MFVF will be up there on the stage, as well as watching from the audience!

Elina:  (laughs) That is what I’ve been thinking, too! I must tell you that I am extremely happy that Seduce The Heaven have been confirmed for MFVF. It’s a great honor and, to me personally, it had always been a life’s dream. I am sure it is going to be a wonderful experience.

Robin:  Since Seduce The Heaven are a new band to many of our readers, would you give us a brief overview?

Elina:  Seduce The Heaven was formed back in the middle of 2009. Our guitarist and mastermind of the band, Alex Flouros, and I created some nice musical stuff -- a bit different than what we had been creating so far. So, this gave us the idea of forming a band to perform this music in order to record an album. We started searching around for the appropriate musicians, and we found the right people in the faces of some friends of ours --Alex had even been playing in various bands with them in the past -- and the band was completed.

Seduce The Heaven are moving musically into a combination of power, symphonic, melodic/death and metalcore elements, along with the use of two vocal styles (clean vocals and growling ones). We are preparing our upcoming debut album as I have already mentioned, which is going to be released within the year 2012. Meanwhile, we are making some nice plans regarding the release of an official video clip to promote our work. And of course, as we also said before, we are going to perform next year at the MFVF in Belgium.

Robin:  From your bio, it seems that your background is in classical music. Is that correct?

Elina:  The truth is that my educational background has been of a classical orientation. I attended the Music School, where I studied piano and flute. Later, my vocal education was also on classical singing; however, when it comes to my vocal style for example, I am moving somewhere in between a classical vocal style and a more rocking, power style. You cannot say that it is completely this or that. It’s something in the middle. I use both classical and rock colors in the songs. But you have to be careful, and use each technique wherever and whenever each one is needed.

Seduce the Heaven

Robin:  Did you play in any bands before Seduce The Heaven?

Elina:  Since my very early years, I have been a member in various musical ensembles like choirs and symphonic orchestras, as well as rock and metal bands. I had been a singer, but also a keyboardist, in various self-founded bands in the past, but none of these efforts were really serious. I usually couldn’t find the right people to match with and create music. Plus, during the previous years, other obligations -- like school, university, and all this stuff -- would actually devour my time, so that it was impossible to sit down and focus seriously and committedly in a band.

Robin:  You wrote on your blog that you were a fan of Alex’s other band, Fragile Vastness, since the age of 14. How did you go from being a fan to collaborating with some of the members, as well as singing backing vocals during Fragile Vastness’ recent reunion show?

Elina:  Well yeah, as you correctly said, I have been a big fan of Fragile Vastness since I was 14 years old. Alex is the lead guitarist of Fragile Vastness, and the band’s front man George Ikosipendakis has recorded some backing vocals on our upcoming album. He has done an excellent work!

Since we have already been really good friends for quite many years, Alex suggested that I should go and perform some backing vocals for the reunion live gig that was planned. So I accepted (of course), and I can say that it was a really beautiful experience! It gave me all the pleasure of performing with musicians whom I’ve admired since my very early years.

Robin:  During Fragile Vastness’ opening gig for Symphony X, you had a conversation with Symphony X’s lead vocalist, and seem to have had an epiphany. Would you tell us about that?

Elina:  Sure, why not? Actually, I had the chance to meet Russell Allen, a really great singer, backstage. We had some minutes before the sound-check, and we discussed a bit about singing techniques. What I asked him was: “Could you tell me, what is your technique? What exactly do you do? How do you sing so good?” He specifically answered me that he is using “everything he has”, meaning that he is singing with his whole body and soul … he is using his whole passion for what he is doing. When I also saw him performing, I understood exactly what he meant. You know, I hadn’t really been a listening to Symphony X because I hadn’t discovered their music. But since that day, I love them!

What happened was that I understood inside me that this man was perfect in what he was doing because he really LOVED his job. It was more than a job to him, actually. And I said to myself: “He focused on what he wanted to do, so you have to focus on what you want to do, too!” And I asked myself: “What do you want to do? Do you want to become an opera singer, performing arias and operas in grand halls? Or do you want to be a metal singer and get your band higher than what you have even been dreaming of?” Of course, the answer was clearly obvious inside me, but I hadn’t really realized it since then. So, this is how I got the decision to make a little change on my vocal studies.

You see, lately, I wasn’t feeling very well singing classical music. You know, sometimes our body is reacting, showing us that what we do is not appropriate for us, but we don’t seem to hear it. At the beginning, I really enjoyed classical singing, but later I found it to be too restrictive for me … it was taking all the feelings and expression away from me. It was not easy for me to express my feelings anymore through this kind of music. You know, people change, and so do their tastes and their needs.

Seduce the Heaven

Robin:  What sorts of feelings are you able to express through metal that you are not able to express through classical vocals?

Elina:  Here is the point. Actually, I have been feeling that, while singing classical music, you have to be something more like an actor. It was not easy for me … in fact, it was IMPOSSIBLE for me … to express my feelings. If I felt anger or if I felt sorrow or even if I was happy, I could not express this through classical music. I had to overcome myself, be an actress, and simply act. This did not happen with metal music. WHATEVER I am feeling, even if it has nothing to do with the lyrics of the song I am singing at a specific moment, I am always going to find a way to express myself and to express what I feel through this music.

So this is the point: through metal music I can express everything I feel. Through classical music, I simply did not reach the point to manage to express myself. Maybe I was not good enough, or maybe this was really not what I was meant to do. There are people for example who are able to express themselves through it. I don’t know, but it simply did not express my feelings anymore, and it was suppressing my personality. So I had to quit doing it, since music is for pleasure!

Robin:  Which song on the upcoming Field of Dreams album captures your emotions the most?

Elina:  Does it have to be just one song, or can it be more?

Robin:  (laughs) It’s is unfair to make you choose just ONE. Feel free to pick however many you’d like.

Elina:  Yes, it’s quite not a fair question. (laughs) You see, I cannot really choose only one! In fact, I love the whole album. You know, it is a chest full of treasures to me. Each song is unique and very well written, there are no … “filler” songs. Well, let me see … I can say that “Field of Dreams” is actually a very dear song to me. I love its vocal lines, I love the melodies in it.

If I had to answer this question as about the meaning of a song, the song I would choose would be “Reflection.” It is a song that described me very much at the time I wrote it. It’s actually talking about overcoming a harsh situation. It’s all about facing something really difficult, but yet, finding the strength to get over it. It is describing the feelings during this whole process. And it is even worse when this difficult situation you are going through was caused by yourself. So then you feel regret, but you have to live with it. You have to leave it behind and go on, or else, you’ll keep bleeding, and this is not going to take you anywhere. So, as the lyric says “once you cross the line, you’re obliged to close your eyes and dive.” It is a difficult song to sing (laughs), as it requires a good control of your breathing technique. But until today, “Reflection” is a very dear song to me because of this meaning. “Let it go” … I could talk for hours about this song. (laughs)

There is also one more song that is really important to me, regarding its meaning. This Celtic ballad, which I told you before will be the closer of our album. It is called “In Close Distance,” and it’s actually talking about the feeling of losing a big love of your life. We have all experienced something like that at some moment in our lives, I guess. We are still working on some arrangements on this song. It is not completely ready, but I can say by now that it is going to be awesome with its strings and ethereal backing vocals. I must also say that the awesome piano score included in this song is performed by the pianist/composer/musicologist -- and conductor of the Athens Choir Ensemble, where I am also a member -- Dimitris Karavelis. I am telling you, this album is gonna rock! (laughs)

Seduce the Heaven

Robin:  When it came to creating Field of Dreams, who did what as far as lyrics, vocal lines, compositions, etc.?

Elina:  Okay, talking about the lyrics, I can say that I have written the majority of the lyrics included in the album, but Vagelis has also contributed in one or two songs with his very own special ideas. This is how we actually managed to have a very nice result, in my opinion. Alex wrote the background of the songs … the music behind the songs. Upon this musical base, I would add my melodic lines and the lyrics.

Robin:  Seduce The Heaven decided to hold a competition for fans and graphic artists to design the album cover. What was it about Studio Pitch Art’s design that spoke to you?

Elina:  First of all, I have to state that we did an open competition because we did not care whether the great artwork would come from a professional or an amateur digital artist. We wanted everyone who was interested in it to send us his work, and then we would choose the best. We received many works, and Pitch Art’s work was the winner art cover.

We had the album title in our minds before even the competition began, but it’s not that we had something specific in our minds. If it was that way, we would have gone to a digital artist and said: “Okay, can you please create this and this and that?” But no. If you see the album title in combination with the beautiful art, it has a story to tell. Differently, as a title alone, Field of Dreams could mean anything to anyone. We liked exactly how abstract it was as a concept. In the fields of a dream, anything could happen, and we wanted to see how each digital artist could comprehend the album title.

We received very good works, and we also thank all these artists for sending us their creations. But what we saw from Pitch Art had something unique on it. It was shouting out a deeper meaning for us. Once me and Alex saw the art cover, a whole story came to our minds. “Oh look, this one could be symbolizing this, and this one could be symbolizing that.” And it all seemed like a very nice story, so we said yes. I liked its atmosphere, and I liked its colors. To tell the truth, we did some SLIGHT changes on the album cover, but you know, it was what we were hoping to see because it created a story in our minds. We wanted the digital artist to show to us how he comprehended the album title.

Robin:  At this time, fans can check out song samples on Seduce The Heaven’s social media pages, like Facebook. Do you have an estimate of when fans will be able to hear full tracks or see the music video?

Elina:  Actually, this is not 100% up to us, and let me tell you why. At the moment, we are in the middle of negotiations with various record labels. So basically, we cannot really use whole songs on the public. I guess that the audience will be able to experience the full songs once this issue is solved … once we have found a record label, and there is no problem with using the songs ... you know, once there is no problem with the copyright and all this stuff. Until then, people can listen to some samples on YouTube (for example), so that they can have a slight idea of what is going to come next.

Robin:  If I understand correctly, in addition to your passion for music, you also are interested in designing stage clothes. Do you design your own stage wear?

Elina:  Yes, I am designing stage clothing like corsets, gothic dresses, and even Victorian period dresses. I LOVE corsets! All of this really began for fun and because I wanted to design my very own clothing for my stage performances. I do design my own stage wear, but there are times I wear corsets that I also buy. I am also preparing a work with corsets, but it is going to be a surprise. I am going to have some news soon, but since nothing has been confirmed or announced yet, I can’t say anything for sure.

Robin:  (laughs) Okay, fair enough! When you are drifting off to sleep and thinking about the future, what is your biggest dream for Seduce The Heaven?

Elina:  Hmmm, my biggest dream … Well, I would like to see this band sharing its music worldwide and inspiring people. I would like to see how our music would affect people. I would also like us to shape a great career in the metal scene, to be successful and all these obvious things. I would be really happy if my life was filled with music, travelling along with my bandmates -- people that I really love -- and interacting with musicians and other interesting people of the music industry.

Robin:  My dear Elina, we have all too quickly reached the end of our time together. What would you like to tell your fans that you have not yet had a chance to tell them?

Elina:  I would like to thank all of these people for listening to our music, following and supporting us, and believing in us from a very early point. And I would also like to let them know that their support is really important to us because we started composing music in order to express ourselves and in order to inspire other people -- just like we got inspired by other musicians in the past, and we still do. Thank you all deeply, and I hope that we will make you really satisfied with the work we are going to release in the near future.

Seduce the Heaven

Robin:  Thank you so much for talking with Sonic Cathedral today, Elina. We wish you and all the members of Seduce The Heaven much success!

Elina:  Thank you for the opportunity to talk about Seduce The Heaven and our music. I would also like to wish all the best for the future to Sonic Cathedral and its audience.

Photo credit: Yiorgos Zach

Seduce the Heaven

Seduce The Heaven official site 
Seduce The Heaven on Facebook 
Elina’s blog