APRIL 9th 2016
IMPERIA EXCLUSIVE

Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Music Entertainment Worldwide, we are here with Jan "Örkki" Yrlund of Imperia, who are about to release a new album “Tears of Silence” through Massacre Records on February 12th. Thank you for taking time to do this interview with us.

1. First I have to ask you, your band members come from different countries, Norway, Finland, Germany and Belgium, how does it work when trying to get together to create an album, is it all done over computers, or how ?

We started the band when we all were living relatively close to each other in the low countries and Germany. I lived in Amsterdam, our singer Helena in the Dutch city of Groningen, our bass player Gerry just across the border in Belgium and the drummer Steve in Cologne in Germany. And our former guitarist John lived also in Holland. So back then it was easy to tour and play together. These days indeed that is more of a challenge. On our previous album "Secret Passion" everything was done via the internet and we didn' t even meet each other during the recording process. Everybody recorded their parts in their home-countries and it was mixed in Denmark. We met afterwards actually in London where we had a gig. That is when we played some of the songs for the first time together. But this time with ”Tears Of Silence” we wanted to do it differently and go back to the older days when we used to record together. So now we all travelled to the studio in Germany for the drum recordings and the vocal recordings. I think that was important, to be together and to share ideas. Of course the songs themselves were for the most part already done. I wrote the most of the songs in my home-studio in Finland and Helena wrote the lyrics in the studio in Germany, but we could share arrangement ideas and such this way. We had quite a lot of fun this time with the recordings!

2. Your style of music is not metal alone, it has more to it than that, can you explain to us what you might classify yourself and why ?

I read somewhere that it would be like Gothic Power Metal or something completely weird like that. I have no idea to be honest. It just has a lot of different elements in it. In the basis you can find heavy and power metal I guess. I have a background in speed and thrash metal actually, but not sure if anything comes from that. But I sure dig a lot of folk-metal these days and also lot of epic orchestrations. I guess it's a mixture of a lot of styles. I think we are in a fortunate position to write whatever we like and even cross musical borders if we want to.

3. Tell us how each of the band members came to be in Imperia ?

Helena wanted to start the band around 2004 I think, after it didn’t' t work out with Sahara Dust (pre-Epica). First guy she found was our bass player Gerry, then our ex guitar player John. Steve, drummer from the German Bethlehem joined in the spring of 2004 and I joined a few months later. The first album was already recorded by that time but not released yet. On the album the drummer was Arien van Wesenbeek (later Epica) and Henri (God Dethroned) on guitar. They left short after though. With the fixed line up we've been ever since. John moved a few years ago to Caribbean island of Bonaire and isn' t on board anymore unfortunately. Our "6th" member Audun Gronnestad who has done keys and written songs for the band has only played one show with us (on guitar), but I consider him as part of the family nonetheless. So we've been playing more than 10 years together now …

4. You have a new album “Tears of Silence” that is about to come out in February here, explain what fans can expect from this album ?

Musically it's a very varied album. You have the heavy metal riffing and double-bass on there, but also loads of cinematic orchestra and folk instruments like bagpipes, flutes, bozouki and all. You have metal songs, but also symphonic power metal songs and even some oriental bits and folk bits. Our singer Helena presents her most versatility recording till now and goes from high operatic vocals to deep metal grunts. Hard to describe vvcvmnbn…, you better check and judge yourself.

5. How did you come to name it " Tears of Silence" ?

It is a bit sad title. Some lyrics have been pretty personal for Helena as she's been through a lot. And sometimes when you are sad and down you feel like even the silence cries. On the cover I tried to bring some hope to the sadness but illustrating the tears that actually turn into butterflies, so the sadness can be won.

6. Who creates the lyrics for your songs ?  And where do the ideas come from to write them ?

Helena does. But sometimes we also give suggestions if she's stuck. This happened this time for example with The Viking song. We talked about the topic and she got inspired. But most of the stuff is very personal to her. She never writes lyrics upfront btw. Everything is written on the spot in the vocal booth. The same goes for all the vocal melodies and the harmonics. there is nothing prepared or rehearsed, but we let the music inspire us. Helena creates all the vocals right there in that moment of recording. She has a great pitch so it's just a matter of inspiration, you hardly ever need to re-record parts at all. Only if she wants to change some lyric or add more vocal lines. Sometimes she also likes to experiment with different voices and styles of singing.

7. You have some orchestrations and a guest appearance by Oliver Philipps (Everon). How did that come about ?

I've known Oliver for ages, I think I made the first album with him already in 97 or something. He is a great talent and a friend so I've been bringing my bands over to him ever since. We even shared the project and stage together at one time with Satyrian. So he has always been important part of our music and sound. He has written also some bits and songs in the past. This time he did only the orchestras based on my demos, but sometimes he also picks up a guitar and does that too. I like his sound very much.

8. The mastering was done at Hansen Studios by Jacob Hansen (Volbeat/Destruction/Pretty Maids), why did you pick this studio over others to do the mastering ?

Jacob is also an old friend, but he is also top notch mixer and mastering engineer. When getting to him you can be sure it turns out great. I especially like what he has done with Amaranthe and Raunchy. We’ve done the previous album and this one now with him and still like a lot of his touch on these releases!

9. The mixing was done by Christian "Moschus" Moos (Delain/Leah/Everon), impressive names there, at Spacelab Studio, had you worked with Christian before, or how did you come to pick Spacelab Studio to mix it ? 

Yes, I recorded first time with Christian back in 1997 actually with my ex-band. He was starting the studio with Oliver (they worked together back then and they both play in Everon). The first studio was just a room in their rehearsal place. Through the years I just kept coming back. I think we have done like 10 albums together or something by now. The biggest reason to go back to Spacelab is especially our drummer Steve. He and Christian are both excellent drummers and Germans and they really get along very well. So you know the drum recordings will be great. And obviously Moschus is also great mixer and he has the files there already so sure, it's just very easy to let him handle the stuff right away. I think on this album he did the best sound of all albums I've done with him so I'm really pleased.

10. Can the mastering/mixing not be done in one studio ?

Yes, it can. But sometimes an extra pair of ears is handy. Furthermore Moschus is not specialized in mastering though he does that too. But in our case it just adds an extra dimension to it. The last album was mixed and mastered by Jacob, but this time he only did the mastering.


11. Jan Yrlund of Darkgrove Design, who works with Korpiklaani/Impaled Nazarene/Manowar/Sirenia designed the cover artwork, did Jan create the image or do you give some ideas to work with ? The artwork really represents the name of the album
.

Haha, yes I did :) I always make our own album covers. I thought it would be cool to have something that reflects the album title and the feeling of the album. We've had Helena in a way or another on our covers, but next to that also details that give you an idea of what the album is like. Hear you can see the tears falling through her fingers and turning into butterflies. As scenery I chose for a quiet forest as that is one of the few places where you can still have silence from the urban life. You do have natures sounds, but often not.

12. There are 13 tracks on the album, with 2 bonus tracks on the Digipak Bonus, do you have particular song that means more to you than the others ?  If so why that one.

I know for Helena the most important song might be Broken Hearts because of the lyrics that are deeply personal. For me it is "Away". It is a song that has been in my head already for more than ten years I think. I never got to finish it before. It was waiting there to get the final inspiration. Originally it was an acoustic song actually, but now I got inspired and wrote the band version. In the end I managed to get an awesome guest Henrik Perello to play the violin on it and I really like how it turned out to be. It's one of my favorite Imperia songs. Next to that I also really like "Crossroads" - this song really catches the essence of the band and the style we do and like. It's heavy and bombastic with oriental orchestra, yet also sweet and catchy on the chorus part.

TRACK LIST

01. Silence Is My Friend
02. Crossroads
03. Broken (When The Silence Cries)
04. Away
05. Friheten Vil Seire
06. My Screaming Hart
07. Motherlove
08. The Vikingsong
09. Spirit Chase (Keep Fighting)
10. Innocent Child
11. Wings Of  Hope

Digipak Bonus Tracks

12. We'll Be Free
13. Broken Hearts

Broken (When the Silence Cries) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kKf40w5opk

13. The songs are epic metal, along with some folk elements, and you have gone big with orchestrations, what made you put all this together to create your songs ? 

The folk parts are something I've been experimenting with quite a lot. Coming from Scandinavia, folk is never far away for me and Helena. Only, till now we've only had a song here and there. This time we gave this style much more prominent role. Orchestrals then again we've always have. In my demo's I actually have even more different melodies going on, but in the end we skip most of them. I don' t have any vocals when I write the music, so all those solo instruments kinda fill the music as if it would be instrumental music. When the actual vocals come, many of the melodies just don' t work or are an overkill, so we are even arranging after the vocals are done.

14. Because you have folk elements, is that why you used flutes, whistles, bagpipes, bouzoukis, acoustic guitars and a Russian choir ?

Yes absolutely. Some instruments you can' t just do with samples. Thought you have wonderful sound libraries these days, nothing beats the real acoustic instruments. Especially when they play solo. We were lucky to get Dagda from the Spanish band Celtibeerian to play the bagpipes and some flutes and Mr. Hittavainen (ex-Korpiklaani) to play tin whistle and alto flute. His tin-whistle solo on "The Vikingsong" is way cool! The chorus on the song Spirit Chase were done by AOR from the Russian band Imperial Age. I've done their album covers, so we know each other. I knew AOR is very talented and that their singer is at the conservatorium of Moscow so I asked them to do it for us. They got a tenor, alto and so on and recorded these way cool choir lines for us in Moscow. And it really does sound Russian, really everything I imagine from a huge Russian choir. I love that and owe them big time. Very nice co-operation.

15. The album sounds like you can gather more than just metal fans, it will bring in a variety of fans, was this your plan, or did you put together this album the way you wanted, and the gathering of others types of genres to your music is a bonus ?

We listen to a lot of different styles of music ourselves too. We did record with the band also Angel's  "A Woman's Diary Part I" album back in 2005 and that is pure pop music I think. At least not metal. But with Imperia we rather keep it more or less metal, at least when it comes to guitars and drums. But yes, we do like to mix genres too….

16. Will you be touring after the release of the album ?

Yes there are some summer festival slots that we are about to do and in the autumn a short tour in the UK. So yes there are some plans, can’ t really tell the details yet…

17. Was it a hard process to put this album together because you have so many elements included ?

Yes it wasn’t’ t that easy. We started recording in April 2015 and finished in August, so it took a long time to get all the bits and pieces together. Also, we do like to make arrangements even when recording drums for example. Often one thing leads to another and things start to grow. Sometimes we’ve even written songs when everything was recorded, booked another day on top. So we are by no means a band who spends time jamming in the rehearsal room, we rather live in the heat of the moment and let us get inspired

18. What is the best part about putting a new album together, other than when it's finished ?

I like the whole process of making it. From the demo-writing phase when I’m all alone just with my guitar and keyboard till the day that we actually start to record it together. The writing process is for me always very relaxing. I never get stressed or desperate. This time I even bought a small portable recording kit & travelling guitar and took the portable studio setup with me to Thailand on my vacation. That was really cool, you have no stress and can completely relax and get inspired and let the music lead the way. The best feeling is to get the final master in your hands. And this time I’ve been really happy about the result. And of course I like to read the reviews from other people, how did they thought of it.

Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that you want people to know ?

Well I really hope people will have a chance to check the record out and with an open mind. I hope one day we would make it to the US. Never played there and always wanted to. That really would be cool for sure!

Again, thank you so much for sitting down and taking the time to do this interview with us here at Metaltitans, and we wish you much success with your new album "Tears of Silence" being released February 12 through Massacre Records.

Thanks!