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Factory of Dreams Interview 2013

Factory of Dreams Interview 2013 
April 6, 2013 (via Skype)

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, geography is no longer an insurmountable obstacle for musical projects, as amply demonstrated by Factory of Dreams, the collaboration between Portuguese multi-instrumentalist/composer Hugo Flores and Swedish vocalist Jessica Lehto. Factory of Dreams first caught my attention with their brooding, cinematic music videos … I’m never quite sure what is happening in the videos, but I sure do enjoy the look and feel of them! With their fourth release, Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction, the band embarks on a conceptual sci-fi adventure that leaves much open to interpretation, but is nonetheless a more accessible album than Melotronical. This is definitely an album that you’ll want to listen to with headphones and the lyrics in front of you, as the story and the layers of sound unfold.

Factory of Dreams

\Sonic Cathedral’s Robin Stryker had a long one-on-one chat with vocalist, Jessica Lehto, which actually was one of her first live interviews. (Thank you, Jessica, we’re so honored!) Dive in for all the details on Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction, Swedish myth-busting, Jessica’s other projects and much more!

Robin:  Hello, Jessica, and welcome to Sonic Cathedral! It’s so nice to have you back again.

Jessica:  It’s really nice to be here!

Robin:  I would like to jump in with getting you to tell us about Factory of Dream’s new album, Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction, which will released on May 7, 2013.

Jessica:  It’s a conceptual album, science-fiction is the genre, and you follow the adventure of a character named Kyra. She finds her purpose and destiny in this album. It starts with a series of sounds coming to the Earth, and then it takes off from there.

Robin:  Melotronical was also a concept album; is that right?

Jessica:  Yes, that’s right. It was about the evolution of an electronic molecule turning into a living entity. Melotronical was about the emotions that this entity goes through.

Robin:  Comparing the story arcs of Melotronical and Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction, it seems like the new album has a clearer narrative line. Do you agree?

Jessica:  Yes, I think it’s much easier to grasp somehow. Melotronical was a bit harder to follow, a bit diffuse perhaps. Compared to Melotronical I’d say Some Kind of Poetic Destruction is much clearer. It’s sort of like you can see a movie while listening to Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction because each song could describe a scene.

Factory of Dreams

Robin:  It’s interesting that you phrase it that way. Since you also are a screenwriter, do you have pictures in your mind when you compose vocal lines?

Jessica:  Yeah, very often it tends to get like that. That didn’t happen before I started writing movies, but I’m thinking much more in scenes by now when going through lyrics. There was a big difference for me between working on Melotronical and working on Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction, maybe also because of the different concepts. But it just is a more movie-like album, this latest one, and maybe it also helps when I have written more films and stuff.

Robin:  You and Hugo are not in the same part of the world, with you being in Sweden and Hugo Flores in Portugal. How do you go about writing the songs from so far apart?

Jessica:  He sends me an mp3 of the track (like a rough mix) and the lyrics, along with some sort of timing for when I should start singing a certain part. I just try to work it out from there.

Robin:  What do you do in order to get yourself into the emotions of the character or the song?

Jessica:  It’s a bit different. Sometimes I just listen to the song a couple of times before I start thinking of vocal lines. Other times I focus more on the vocal lines before I begin recording. It really depends on what the lyrics are about. So it differs a bit, depending on the track. Then there are also times when I just throw myself into the vocal lines and the lyrics, and I don’t really go through the track before. I just sing what I feel when hearing the stuff for the first time, sort of.

Robin:  With Factory of Dreams having a lot of progressive elements, your songs are not the standard verse-chorus-verse structure. Does that make it more challenging to compose vocals?

Jessica:  Yeah, it definitely does. In the more typical song structure, you can reuse some melodies because verses are typically similar, and then there is the chorus that is the same. And now you don’t always have that, so you need to invent new things all the time. It might be challenging. <laughs> Sometimes, it’s really hard! But now it’s the fourth album, so I think I’ve gotten more used to it by now. In the beginning it was a lot harder than it is now.

Robin:  So you compose the vocal lines and melodies, then what do you do with Hugo to finalize the songs?

Jessica:  I usually send him just a rough test mix of the vocals along with the music. Then if he wants me to change melodies or sing something in a faster pace or similar, I do that, and then I record everything once again, more worked-through recordings since I then know exactly what vocal lines I’m going for. Then I send him the vocals in a .wav file for him to mix in his studio.

Robin:  I know Hugo is a big fan of science fiction. Are you?

Jessica:  Not as much as Hugo, but I do like science fiction. It’s maybe not my favorite genre, but there are a lot of nice such movies out there -- Gattaca, for instance. But I think he enjoys such movies a lot more than me, and he seems to watch more movies of that kind than I do.

Robin:  <laughs> I imagine with you being a screenwriter, you watch plenty of movies. What is more to your taste?

Jessica:  I tend to like drama, but also some action where there’s not only action but also heart -- for instance Léon is a really, really good movie. And I like some anime, like Spirited Away. I guess that I just try to watch every genre because I need to know every genre well, in order to be good at writing everything. So then, I need to watch everything.

Robin:  Gotcha. Getting back to Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction, can you give us a brief overview of the story?

Jessica:  The story is narrated by Kyra’s boyfriend, but Kyra is the most important character and the one whom things center around. A series of sounds hit the Earth, and after that, the adventure takes off. Three narrators -- Mark and Nathan Ashby and Angela Merrithew -- will be heard in between some of the tracks as we follow these adventures. We also have guest vocalists on this album, one is Magali Luyten [Beautiful Sin] and the other is Raquel Schüler [Hydria].

Robin:  Having guest vocalists on Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction is also something that is a little different than Melotronical. Could you tell us more about collaborating with Magali and Raquel?

Jessica:  Magali did the vocals on the track “Dark Season.” It is a more aggressive track, so her vocals fit perfectly! I think she has that kind of rougher voice that you rarely come across, and it’s just a perfect match for heavier music. Raquel’s vocals appear on the track “Angel Tears.” She has a softer and really lovely voice that goes so well along with the atmosphere in that track. So, it’s a real pleasure that they participated on this release.

Robin:  Before I actually read the album bio, I was listening to “Dark Season”, and thought: “My goodness, this song has quite a Beautiful Sin vibe to it!” <laughs> You have said in other interviews that you tend to feel a deeper connection to songs for which Factory of Dreams has made music videos. Why is that?

Jessica:  Maybe it’s because you work with them in a different way than you do with other tracks, and you have some sort of other experience than just standing in your studio at home, singing and rehearsing and stuff. You really EXPERIENCE something and learn that track by heart more than you do with the other tracks.

Factory of Dreams

Robin:  When you finish a music video and have listened to the same track for 10 hours straight, is there a period of time where you just can’t listen to the song again?

Jessica:  No, not really, but I don’t really listen to tracks with my vocals on them, other than when I rehearse them. I don’t know why; I just can’t sit around and listen to my own voice. It would feel weird. When I listen to music, I prefer listening to something else instead. That way, I don’t really get tired of listening to the same track over and over again, since it just happens for a small amount of time anyway.

Robin:  You had listed Coraline as one of your favorite movies. Could you ever see a Factory of Dreams album made into something like an animated movie?

Jessica:  Yeah, why not? I guess that would be up to Hugo. <laughs> But I don’t think it would be impossible at all because you could find a lot of filmic connections. Factory of Dreams releases are taking place in other worlds you could say, and that’s quite interesting settings when it comes to cinematic visions. Also there are stories being told within the albums, and they definitely should be able to adapt into film scripts.

Robin:  Among the other guest musicians on Some Kind Of Poetic Destruction is Lyris Hung, who performs some ravishing violin passages on the album version of “Seashore Dreams.” Do you know how she became involved?

Jessica:  I don’t know, actually. Hugo is the one who gets in touch with the artists who participate on the album. I’m just glad she participated, since her amazing violin performances really are a treat to the ear.

Robin:  I threatened you with exploring the article, “22 Things a Foreigner Can’t Help but Notice About Swedish People and Culture”, so here goes! <laughs> Swedes drink tons and tons of coffee; true or not?

Jessica:  <laughs> It’s true! I don’t really, because I don’t like it. But it’s very common. People seem to drink it when they wake up, when they go to work, when they arrive at work, when they have a break at work, and then in the afternoon, and then when they get home, and so on. It’s really A LOT of coffee happening in Sweden.

Robin:  One thing we briefly emailed about is the strange thought that Swedish people have never known the delights of peanut butter and jelly.

Jessica:  It sounds really odd to me to have something like that.

Robin:  But yet, you have some sort of fish egg cream, which comes in a tube and everyone loves?

Jessica:  Yep. I guess that sounds strange to people who haven’t heard of it. You put it on sandwiches. Some people put it on eggs, but I don’t do that. I just put it on sandwiches, which probably sounds weird enough. <laughs>

Robin:  I understand that you are in film school and working on your final project called, “The Boy in the Wardrobe.” Could you tell us that? Is it a short film?

Jessica:  It’s a full-length film, which would be about 90 minutes if it turned into a movie. The story is about a 12 year old girl, Irja, whose father dies but a little later she meets him in another world that might only exist in her own mind.

Robin:  What else are you working on musically, Jessica?

Jessica:  I am working on a project with Beto Vazquez, but it’s not for Beto Vazquez Infinity. It’s another project he started recently that is a lot calmer than the BVI one. Then I’m working on vocals for music written by a guy here in Umeå, where I live. And I’m about to begin recording for another new collaboration with a Belgian composer who is into writing film scores and that sort of stuff.

Robin:  Do you also do musical composition, or is your main interest vocal composition?

Jessica:  I also really enjoy writing music. I have my own project, Once There Was, but I don’t always have time for music writing. There has been a lot of vocal work lately, so I’ve mainly focused on that for a couple of years now. Although, it seems like a new release with Once There Was is approaching, since kind people are mixing tracks for me at the moment.

Robin:  When you were a little girl, what was your first musical experience?

Jessica:  Oh, let me see if I can remember that … I don’t remember really, but I think my first LP was some Cinderella soundtrack that I listened to a lot.

Robin:  I think I had the same album when I was a child, with little singing mice.

Jessica:  Yeah, that was on my album too! Maybe it was the same. <all laugh>

Robin:  Did you take music lessons when you were little?

Jessica:  Yes, I wanted to play the piano, and to do that I first had to play the recorder for a couple of years. You have to play it as the first tier in Sweden to move on to some other instrument; I don’t know why, really. But I played that flute for maybe three years or something, and always thought the instrument sounded horrible. Then I took piano classes for a year or so, but learning notes was really boring so I stopped after a while. I would rather learn by ear instead.

Factory of Dreams

Robin:  Can you pretty much listen to music, and then play it by ear on the piano?

Jessica:  Sometimes I need to struggle a bit, but eventually I can do that.

Robin:  When you work on musical composition, do you normally compose on a piano or keyboard?

Jessica:  Yeah, I have a synthesizer at home that I record everything on. I have software plug-ins that I can get drum sounds and such from. I like pads and orchestral sounds and similar, so plug-ins are really useful then.

Robin:  What is coming up next for Factory of Dreams?

Jessica:  There is the album release on May 7th, and there will be a release of the music video of the track “Seashore Dreams.”  This video will be released on April 19th.

Robin:  Well, we certainly enjoy the Factory of Dreams videos, and congratulations on the “Back to Sleep”video breaking 301,000 views!

Jessica:  Thank you!

Robin:  Do you have any final words for the Factory of Dream fans out there?

Jessica:  Please keep your eyes open for the album, because I think this is the best one yet. <laughs> I thought that previously about Melotronical. But hopefully people will enjoy this one even more.

Robin:  I think they most certainly will. Thank you for talking with Sonic Cathedral today, Jessica!

Jessica:  Thanks a lot!

Read Sonic Cathedral’s 2008 Factory of Dreams interview

Factory of Dreams

Factory of Dreams on Facebook
Jessica Lehto on Facebook 
Hugo Flores on Facebook