Some days ago, Dutch metallers After Forever played live in Madrid during their European Tour promoting their new mini album "Exordium". Just after their soundcheck Jorge had the chance to talk to Floor Jansen, vocalist and frontwoman of the band. [Jorge: "Lucky you! I hear some saying" Well, you know that's a reporter live, most of the times you deal with bizarre, long-haired, tattoed rockers, but every once in a while you can relax and lay your eyes on more nice looking issues ;-)] Here it's what she told him.
Jorge: How's been the response for your new mini album, Exordium, so far?
Floor: Very well. Extremely well, you know? We've entered the Top 100 charts in Holland, very high especially for a mini album. I don't know exact (sales) numbers yet, but we also sell the cd ourselves during the tour and we're selling very much, so the response it's being really well, and also on the internet.
Jorge: You have played already in the Netherlands with Exordium, right?
Jorge: Musically, Exordium differs quite a bit from both previous albums. Whilst it still keeps something of the previous sound, it's quite different at the same time. Is it mainly due to Mark Jansen's [band's previous guitarist and main songwriter, now in Epica] departure of the band?
Floor: No... yeah, I think it's something to do with it, of course, but I think there's a big difference between our first and second album also. I think a lot of people forget that. And because Mark left everybody says "Oh it's because Mark left the band!" But if you listen to Prison Of Desire and Decipher the sound it's different too and the music is different too. So I think of course it has to do with Mark's departure, but I think it's part of the writing process, Mark was our main songwriter, and guitarist but so was, and still is, Sanders, and so am I. So in that way nothing really changed, it's just a new evolution.
Jorge: According to the three new songs in Exordium...
Jorge: Ok, Three and an intro [not gonna argue with you in that :-)], anyway. According to them it seems to me that you are slipping away from the previous symphonic orchestrations that became a trademark of the band in the past. Are you moving somewhere else?
Floor: Yeah, I think on the mini album you could say that, but in the forthcoming album, "Invisible Circles", you'll have the orchestrations and everything we did in the past. It's not gone, it's just we wrote the songs for the mini album at the same time we wrote the songs for the new album, so it's more a coincidence that Exordium doesn't have any of those. It's meant to be an introduction and all the songs really have a function there. I think Gloryfing Means is the most similar song to the ones in the coming album. But it's not gone, don't worry!
Jorge: Wait, does it means the songs in Exordium are not going to be on the new album?
Floor: No, the coming album is a concept album you know?
Jorge: But I read on the liner notes of Exordium it is kinda introduction to the new album...
Floor: No, it's an introduction as you read it. You know, Exordium literally means "introduction of a story", and that story will be the concept. So I wrote in the liner notes that these songs have something in common with the ones in the coming album because they also have the same social, modern subject. So they are just related, they are not part of the story.
Jorge: And the concept behind the album will be?
Floor: That's a surprise. Like a said it's a modern story, in these days, in the modern times, it's social problems we wrote about, but I'm affraid I can't tell you much more for now.
Jorge: When is it going to be out?
Floor: Invisible Circles it will be released in the end of March.
Jorge: You've collaborated with other artists in the past and viceversa. Like Arjen Lucassen's Star One Project in which your sister was involved as well. I read there's a funny story about that, could you tell us?
Floor: You know, my sister whenever she goes to an After Forever show, she is always on the front row singing along. And Arjen once saw that and he said "oh, so your sister can sing, interesting!", and later when we... well, you know, I sang on the Star One CD, not my sister, I did all the choir for the Star One CD. And when we were to do it live, we needed another backing singer, and Arjen thought of my sister, because she has a good voice, she can dance and she is a bit tall. Cause, you know, if you put a sort person to sing by my side, [Jorge's note: Floor is a very tall lady, at least by Spanish standards :-)]it looks ridiculous,so the image was important too.
Jorge: Does she sing profesionally?
Floor: No, not at all.
Jorge: Also, Sharon den Adel, from Within Temptation collaborated on After Forever first album, on the song "Beyond Me". Would you work with her in the future?
Floor: Oh yes. If there's a project, sure.
Jorge: Do you guys in both bands knew each other, are you friends or something?
Floor: Yeah we are. We got along pretty well, we actually toured together, we did a tour in Mexico together, we had a great time there, and then we've played sometimes in festivals with them. It's a very nice band to play with because it's not like a competition or anything like that, very good vibes all the time.
Jorge: So, how do you see the Dutch Gothic metal scene?
Floor: I don't know anything about Gothic!
Jorge: But on the liner notes of Exordium you proclaim yourselves a Symphonic Gothic Metal band...
Floor: Oh yeah, but that's just a joke, you know, people call us Gothic, media call us Gothic, not ourselves.
Jorge: Same old story about music labels, styles, etc. [Jorge's note: Strange feeling of deja-vu here, maybe they've fixed something in the Matrix...] I had almost the same conversation with Robert from Within Temptation months ago...
Floor: Yeah. Gothic became a name for bands like After Forever or Within Temptation and so on, but to me there's such a big difference between that and the bands I feel any connection with... I think every band has the same problem, they don't wanna be classified and such.
Jorge: Well, ok call it what you want, the fact is that there is a growing number of bands playing that kind of music in Holland, you know, After Forever, Within Temptation, The Gathering (although they evolved into something more environmental nowadays) etc, which to me it's surprising coming from a small country. Any idea of why is that?
Floor: No. I think... you know, when The Gathering started, they were the first, and later on Within Temptation and us came out about the same time, maybe they (WT) started out a bit earlier than us, but I don't know maybe it was subconcious, it was really coincidence that we came out about the same time doing the same style, Within Temptation and us. Not delibered. And then thousands of other bands came out and... I personally don't really follow it because I prefer a more mellower music than this.
Jorge: Which are your main influences, both as a songwriter and as a singer?
Floor: I don't have main influences. I've never been a fan of somebody in particular. I get influenced by everything I hear. I'm always moving, like for instance, I listen to bands like Iced Earth and Blind Guardian but I also listen to a lot of pop music, so I get my influences from everywhere. And as for voice, is not strictly metal, I like arias from opera and mix it with the rock voice and such.
Jorge: Do you have a classical vocal training in Opera?
Floor: I have it now, yes. I started in the Rock Academy, that's a school in Holland for pop and rock music. The first 3 years I took vocal lessons there, and it was nice but I missed the opera, classical things, the belting [Jorge: not sure about the spelling] voice... You know I sing very high on my voice, that's called belting. So I got lessons on the Conservatory, and now I have classical training and know the belting technique.
Jorge: Back on your current tour, you are touring, amongst other bands with Dark Moor a Spanish band. Did you know them before? What do you think of them?
Floor: Well, I didn't know any of the bands before the tour. They were pretty new to me, I just listen to their CD a week before we went on tour so I had no idea of what they were gonna do. But specially the singer, Alfred, impressed me. Last friday was his first live show ever and you know he has a huge talent, he is really really good. And they way they compose it's really cool. It's not really my fave style the music they play but they are all good musicians.
Jorge: You know? There's a funny story about Dark Moor's vocalists. They used to have a girl singing...
Floor: Elisa, yeah!
Jorge: [Pretty amazed that she knew about her] Yeah, and people used to say she sang like a boy. And then they changed vocalist and now the have Alfred, a boy and they say he sings like a girl!
Floor: Yeah he told me! (Laughs) That's a funny story.
Jorge: Maybe it's a case of fans not knowing what they want (laughs)
Floor: Yeah ... I think that's a joke ... I hope so (laughs)
Jorge: Which are your plans for the future once the new album is released?
Floor: Oh, well. Because it's a concept album we really want to tell the story, visualize it. We want to make a special show. We will put up a few big shows, not like 15 small but 6 very big shows with only the concept telling the whole story and such.
Jorge: Maybe a DVD as well?
Floor: That's not in the planning. We want to focus in these big concept shows, make something different, more theatrical perhaps. Those are the plans in Holland for now. We are working on a tour in Germany, and I hope we can play in Holland as much as posible with this new album later on, and there are so many interests coming from other countries, South America, Spain, everywhere in Europe... so I hope that we can do more things in Europe and other countries, but there's nothing concrete about that yet. Oh well, once this current tour is over, at the end of February, we are going to Mexico for a week. That's before the release of the album, but it was something already set up, and so...
Jorge: Well, you have played the big festival "circuit" in Holland... How big are you there, maybe like Within Temptation, almost mainstream or exposed in the mainstream media or...?
Floor: No... Well, we are in the mainstream media, but we are in between, it's really difficult to define it for me. You know, we are not in the mainstream like Within Temptation, not so big you know, but on the underground circuit we are pretty well known... I mean, in between, like not in the top 40 in the charts but not in the underground either, in between, like I said. Everybody knows us, but we are not on the radio every day. We even had a video clip showed on the national television and such.
Jorge: Ok, Floor, I won't hold you any longer, thank you very much for your time, if there is something else you'd like to say to the fans...
Floor: Thanks to you and to the fans out there, see you later tonite at the show and on the rest of the tour, hope you'll have a blast as we do.
Jorge: Good luck with the show tonite, Later. Bedankt!
Floor & Sanders (who just finished another interview): De nada!
and photos by Jorge Antonaya