sábado, 28 de fevereiro de 2015

Interview: Issa Oversveen - New Queen of Melodic Rock Arises

When we were looking for Issa to talk about her new album, the recently released "Crossfire", Norwegian singer did not hide her enthusiasm: "I think it's my best album until now." And the enthusiasm is justified because "Crossfire" brings all the elements that fans of Melodic Rock and AOR more love, great choruses, great melodies, many keyboards, and the "plus" that Issa is a singer above average and in addition, has amazing writing partners beside her, and even extreme care in production, resulting in albums that are a step ahead.

With the fourth album in hand, a lot of talent, growing popularity among fans, undisputed quality songs, Issa is already one of the names most greeted when we talk about Melodic Rock, and it is no exaggeration to say that today is one of the most important female voices of the style, legitimate heir of great singers as Ann Wilson (Heart) and Robin Beck. Indeed, a new queen of Melodic Rock arises.       (Portuguese version: read here)

Check out the following interview with the always friendly Isabell Oversveen, or just as she is known, Issa, where we talk about the new album, their discography, a little of history, curiosities and more! check it out!

RtM: Hi Issa, thanks for your attention, first, i would like you tell us a little more about your fourth álbum, “Crossfire”, what the fans can expect, and what your expectations?
Issa: Heya and thanks for having me... As you can understand, i'm very excited to release this álbum. “Crossfire” has taken me 2 years to record, and some of these songs will go back 5 years in writing. “Crossfire” has lots of keyboards, huge choruses and great songs, to sum up. I think this album will show a more pure AOR feel – a little like roxette.

RtM: And comparing with the first  records, what did you try to do different on this new?
Issa: I do have this “thing” about not making every álbum sound the same. I think as people we change over time, and so do the music that comes out of us, i always try to do what i feel like at that time. “Crossfire” is different to “Sign of Angels” in the way that i think the songs are bigger and since i've been a part of writing this album, it will be more suited to me of that reason. I think when you write and demo up songs over time, you do get some that sticks out. 

RtM: In "Crossfire", do you risk to point out what are your favorite songs, and which you bet will win immediately highlighted among your fans?
Issa: Well, like i said to Frontiers Records when we talked about what song to do a video,  i had no clue, coz all these songs are fantastic. Saying that i would say that “Long time coming” is a darker edgy rock song, “new horizon” is an amazing song and just sounds fantastic with all its synth sounds, “heartbeat” its a hook song that simply just gets you hooked ha!! And lets not forget “Raintown”, thats just a dream come true and this song should have been a huge world hit.. it's fantastic.

RtM: The album has special guests, and one in particular I was very anxious to hear,  is your duet with Steve Overland (FM). Can you tell us a bit more about this duet?
Issa: I have always been a big FM fan and especially Steve Overland's voice , he has an amazing voice and very individual. When I recorded the album, i wanted to make the song “fight fire with rain” into a duet, i knew i wanted Steve Overland to sing it, so i managed to get his contact details from Steve price at ARFM. Steve overland received “Fight Fire With Rain” and loved the song so we planed the recording from there. Then, a few days later, i got the mix of “Raintown” back, and it just hit me then: "THIS is the song". It just wasn’t enough with just me on it, and i started immediately to work on changes, so this could be turned into the duet i heard in my head. So after all this i had get back to Steve and show him “Raintown” - he loved the song and shortly after we recorded the song as you hear it today. Steve is not just an amazing singer, but an amazing person to work with. I’m so happy with the result and very proud of it too.

RtM: And this team of musicians who accompanying you on "Crossfire"? Some you've been working since “Can’t Stop”, including Alessandro Delvecchio, and sure, James and Tom Martin. And the results achieved , shows that there is a beautiful chemistry. Tell us a bit more about how Works the composition of an album yours, and also What you could tell us about this team?
Issa: Yes, i'm very lucky to have só many amazing people to surround myself with. We had a “core” team on this álbum- James martin on kees, Tom Martin on base and Mikael Cruise on drums, with guests on guitar and kees on all the songs. It was very easy for me to get in touch with all the guys, because i've worked with all of them at some point. I wanted each and everyone to put their own feel to the song as i do believe that brings out the best of people, and i can't say more then that the result is amazing, i'm very grateful for all the work everyone put in.

RtM: On your page you've released some concert dates to promote "Crossfire". Do you have plans to visit more countries to album release? There are some good proposals?
Issa: I'm love playing live, and i think for now planning a uk tour closer to the summer. I dont know the details of this yet, but i will post this on facebook/issasite as soon as i know more. Its always harder beeing a solo act then a band, for the financial reason, i have to pay everyone involved with my gigs. It just makes this a little more harder to do lots of gigs, even that, i would love to. If any festivals comes up, i'll definitelly be there:O)))

RtM: Of wich countries do you receive more contacts? Can you tell which countries your albums have a higher demand?
Issa: Well that's always hard to know until a year or so after the release. I would say Japan seems to be a great place but in general it goes down well everywhere. I don't have the details about that. Its always exciting to know that Frontiers records is doing such a great job all over the world, and i'm very lucky to have such a good label behind me.

RtM: Talking about your previous albums, “Can’t Stop” was a compilation of great songs from bands  that did not have proper recognition, and on this album they had another chance. How surged the idea of making this record with these versions? You participated in the choice? Some of the original authors even talked to you about what they thought about the new versions?
Issa: Yes, well the whole idea came from the president of Frontiers records, and we thought as a bit of a pit stop, this could be great to do. I think i recieved the songs from the label in the same e-mail and after having a look at the songs, i thought there was some amazing choices there. Funny enough some of these songs was on my ipod already, so they were no surprise to me. I also had the chance to meet the singer of Boulevard ("Dream On") at Firefest last year, and it was pretty cool when he came up and sayd we did a smashing verson of “Dream On” on “Can't Stop”.

RtM: I Believe many people went looking for the original versions of “Can’t Stop” after that, and also know more of these bands. And if you were to do a new album with versions of other artists or bands, which songs you would like to create your own interpretation or version?
Issa: Unruly Child –  “WhoCries Now" is one of my favourites, Cheap Trick – “The Flame” , Maybe another Tower City song like “Aint Nobody To Love” would be cool also. Ah! what an album that would have been!!

RtM: Agree! Do it!! Well, and about your debut, “Sign of Angels”, how do you felt about have the opportunity to start a solo career, and how did surged the interest of Frontiers Records on your work?  And "Sign..." sounds a little more “Metal”, i think.
Issa: Yes, well this is a funny story. I used to be a lot in the music scene in Oslo, Norway. I was singing in several cover bands and a lot of my friends was in Metal bands. Over the years i did some guest work on some metal bands recordings, and in general, did not even think about trying for my own career. One day i got a phone call from Mikael Erikson from Circus Maximus and he asked me for some demos, he mentioned he was in touch with a label, and they had asked him if he knew of any females to sing on a duet they was working on. So i gave to him a few demos- i remember i sent him AC/DC “You Shook Me all Night Long” and TNT “10000 lovers", these were demos  that i used to promote my cover band with. And well, a few weeks later, i got a e-mail from Frontiers offering me a deal... 

It's so strange, but it seems things just fell into place with me, and i will forever be grateful for that. I believe that you should never “be to good” or say no to things, because you don't know where it can lead. If i hadn't done lots of guest work for some local metal bands, i dont think i would have been here today. “Sign of Angels” was a great album, and strange enought when the whole production team that was arranged i knew them all !! So, it's a small world ha! I like to do every album a little different every time, and who knows, my next album might be darker again, i do feel like i crave doing that again.

RtM: And about your second álbum, “The Storm” (a true ‘storm’ of amazing AOR and Melodic Rock!), you have participated of the songwriting, and had by your side the Martin brothers (House of Lords, Veja, Khymera). How was to work with them, and why just in this second album you participated more actively on the compositions? It was because you was feeling more secure than the debut?
Issa: Yes i do think with the first álbum, well everything was new, i had never gone true the process before, and we started recording my first álbum very soon after we decided to do the album- i never really had the time to be part of the writing process on that album. After the release i came in contact with the Martin brothers and we started to work on songs together- they maybe sent a backing track and i went on from there, it's a good thing that the internet was invented, so we could send  things between us.

We never really wrote to write for me, we just wrote to pitch songs. It was fantastic to see songs like “Find Me” on an album... When Frontiers got in touch again to start up on “The Storm”, well we had to dig out some songs and see if any of those songs could suite the album, i always wanted to have the song “Invincible” on a record and i think it got pulled from another album, so that i could have it for myself. It's a song that means so much to me and its very personal. I remember singing the Demo a year or so before this, and it was hard to recreate that feel when the recording of the album started- but at the end i had to see myself happy... now a few years later, the list of songs are much bigger, so that is why this new album features a lot more songs that i've been part of.

RtM: You have a beautiful voice, with a lot of feeling. What about your start in music? Who was your great supporter and what are their main influences or inspirations as a singer, and also in music in general?
Issa: Well, when i was a child, i was singing everywhere alllll the time- i even remember my parents giving me some money if i could stop for a little bit (heheeh)- of course my mum has been my biggest supporter. I'm very lucky coz i got the chance to be in many bands and get that experience that so many new artists dont have today, especially with all these talent shows on TV. I think that was worth i'ts weight in gold for me... i knew very soon, into my coverband work, that i liked singing rock songs, and i just loved how i could belt out and the amazings songs that came with it. Not to forget to that i think my dad still wears the 80s jeans, so you can say i grew up with 80s music. 

I've always been a fan of huge voices, so Robin Beck and Ann Wilson would be up there for me, mostly because they were female. A little later on in my life i think, the male voices got to me- it was just so cool.. i guess bands like U2 also played a role.. all in all i had lots of influences, but didnt really discover what i liked to do with myself until i started playing with a band.

RtM: I remember you won a contest, where you performed the song "Fade Away", by Stian Aarstad (former member of Dimmu Borgir). Tell us a little about how it was this opportunity, I believe must have opened many doors for you.
Issa: Haha! Yeah, i started to work for an artist called Jahn Teigen in Oslo when i was 16 years old. I started out auditioning for him as he was starting up a talent school in Oslo. Jahn Teigen is well known in Norway, so i remember traveling in to Oslo to go to the audition. I was chosen by one of his talent shows in a local club, and i was so excited. Then, one day, i bumped into Jahn and his assistent when i was out handing out my cv for work.

A few weeks later he called me and asked if i was still looking for a job, because he had a job as a receptioning at his office. I accepted and had a blast working there, putting together shows i even got to sing with the man. Stian Aarstad was working as an engeneer in his studio and, well we spent a lot of time together and became a couple the following year. Stian used to write some songs, so we recorded “Fade Away” together and entered in a competition for the TV channel Fox kids. Never ever did i think it would win, but there you go!! it was amazing to look at the CD when i got it in the post- i was there together with all these huge artists.

RtM: And how to be a singer of AOR and melodic rock, in a country like Norway, which is well known for black metal bands? I believe many people should be surprised when they find out that you are from there. Including i've seen one site erroneously posting that you were a swedish singer! Hehe!
Issa: Haha! Yes, i know- i got no clue where they got sweden from, i guess so many melodic rock bands are from sweden, so they just asume i'm from there to, haha!! Yes, Norway has a huge scene for Metal music... like i said i've done lots of guest singing on Metal albums, and some of my best friends are very into the Metal scene.. i like Melodic Metal personally, and can i tell you, it's fascinating to watch these bands.. the amount of music partnership is amazing- they are the nicest people and soooo talented.. most of the guys i played in bands with, had their own Metal bands, so it was a stroll for them to play 80's rock with me.

RtM: And besides music, what are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
Issa: I guess i'm like what everybody else like, i like to be social, love my 2 dogs, and of course then, we have music!! As a secret, i'm a "clean freak"!!! I spend lots of time beeing tidy- cant do anything without a tidy house- ha! if you only knew! (Hahaha)

RtM: Haha, your secret is revealed!!Well, I have a curiosity, you seems to be very tall, how tall are you?
Issa: Haha!Yeah, I'm 1,75 cm tall... Typical Scandinavian hahah!

RtM: Issa, thank you for your attention, we are waiting the new album (the interview was made few days before the release date, 20/02), and maybe your visit here in Brazil (Hello producers!)! And now i let the space for your message to the Brazilian fans, and also the worldwide fans, since this interview will also be published in English, and we have many readers in another countries, like US and Germany.
Issa: Thank you so much, it's my pleasure, i would love to see Brazil, i'm just waiting for an invite!

Issa xxx

Interview by Carlos Garcia

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