sábado, 19 de outubro de 2019

Interview - Adrienne Cowan (Seven Spires, Avantasia, Masters of Ceremony)

ADRIENNE COWAN was practically born within the world of music, since she was a child taking part in choirs and taking piano lessons, performing in musicals and then entering music school, and from there start to compose her music, expand her knowledge and skills, especially as a singer.   (Versão em português clique AQUI)

She had good visibility with work on bands like Light & amp; Shade, Winds of Plague, and especially with her lead band Seven Spires, began to attract many admirers, including Sascha Paeth (Avantasia, Heaven's Gate, Aina), who invited her to his new band, Masters of Ceremony, and this opened the door to join the lineup of Avantasia, during the tour of the new album (“Moonglow”), which even went through Brazil.

For Adrienne the experience was extremely positive, because many more people knew her work, everyone wanted to know who was that girl who went to the higher tones of Power Metal, to softer regions and then to make guttural voices. We chatted with Adrienne, who told us more about her work, about albums with Seven Spires and the newly released Masters of Ceremony debut, and more! Check it out and know more about this grateful revelation of the Metal scene.

RtM: Hi, Adrienne, everything okay? Thanks for giving us this interview so you can tell us a bit more about your career.
Adrienne Cowan: Hello, thanks for your interest in my music.

RtM: Well, to start this conversation, I'd like you to tell us how you got started on music, who were your main motivators at the beginning, and how did you start your interest in singing and playing?
Adrienne Cowan: I had my first performance as a vocalist at the wee age of 3, at an event at the church my family attended. After that, I began piano lessons at 6, and was mainly into choir and darker popular musicals such as Phantom of the Opera throughout elementary and middle school.

My parents pulled me out of high school so that I could attend a music school full-time, so through that show of support I already had a good feeling about my potential skills. But, I guess when I received the full scholarship to Berklee two years later, I started to suspect that, “Well hey, maybe this could really be…” That was in 2013, and every year since then, there has been some notable event that feels a little bit like the Universe saying, “Do not falter, this is the path I made you for.”

RtM: And how did you get into the universe of Heavy Metal music? You started studying classical and contemporary music, did not you?
AC: My uncle showed me Metallica and Scorpions when I was maybe 11, but it wasn’t until I found truly “shreddy” guys like Alexi Laiho, Janne Wierman, and Yngwie Malmsteen that I really started to feel at home listening to metal. I guess it appealed in some way to my classical background, and watching live Bodom videos was quite inspiring.

"I already had a good feeling about my potential...a little bit like the Universe saying, 'Do not falter, this is the path I made you for'.”
RtM: And tell us a bit about how to get through these extremes and which vocal style was more difficult to develop?
AC: When I was 16, I enrolled at The Academy of Contemporary Music, and it was there that I joined an after school club where all the metalhead students got together to jam on a new song every week. The director of this club opened my eyes to the rest of the metal world, and challenged me vocally to try the many different singing styles of each subgenre.

I have studied many techniques of singing — theatrical belting, Speech Level Singing, bel canto, even some throat singing. The hardest part was un-learning things previous teachers had told me in order to properly approach whatever new technique I was learning.

The very high power metal “scream” took quite some time to develop, and a lot of frustration and laying facedown on the floor… hahaha!

RtM: To maintain an intense performance like yours on stage, and still sing with loud and clean vocals, guttural vocals, sometimes with concerts from one day to the next almost without rest, what care you take to take care of your voice and health , and maintain a high level?
AC: In order to maintain some amount of vocal health, I basically have to just mind my sleep and hydration levels, try to stay out of the direct blast of heaters or air conditioners, and try not to get sick or allergic. But at the end of the day, even dehydrated or sick, the show must go on, and we develop alternate techniques to sing through sickness.

I’ve played shows where I was sick in bed with no voice all day up until half an hour before showtime, or I had an eye infection, or one enormously swollen tonsil— which, by the way, I learned the hard way that you shouldn’t take painkillers to sing through swollen tonsils, because it silences the body’s signals if you accidentally hurt yourself more.

RtM: I knew your work through the albums of Seven Spires and Light & Shade, but in your opinion, in what work of yours, or moment, did you realize that could stand out in this concurred scenario? And how do you feel getting a lot of positive reviews, and what put you as one of the great revelations of the current Metal scene?
AC: “One of the great revelations of the current metal scene” is both an amazing thing to read about myself, but it’s also terrifying. Even though I would say I have a secure amount of self-confidence and courage, I also struggle quite a lot with impostor syndrome. I hope I can continue to grow into the best version of myself, make my best art, and I hope people continue to enjoy it as much as it seems like they have so far. :)

"The very high power metal “scream” took quite some time to develop, and a lot of frustration and laying facedown on the floor… ha ha ha!"
RtM: About Seven Spires, could you tell us a bit about how the band and its concept came about? In Seven Spires, I see that there is a lot of your formation in classic music, and influences from styles out of the Metal, bringing to the band something new inside the style, including with the EP and full-lenght receiving many compliments.
AC: In 2012, still living in England, I was alone making demos for a dark and theatrical project I had yet to debut. The following year, I moved back to America, met Jack Kosto in a bookstore in my first week at Berklee (where he was also studying), and told him about my project and songs. He paid for his books, and as I was leaving, he told me, “Call me if you ever get the rest of your band together! 

I guess the rest is history. The four of us all studied music quite extensively throughout our lives — I think I’ve seen a picture of 3-year-old Chris sitting on the floor in front of a snare drum — and have been trained in various eras of classical, jazz, and contemporary music. Most of us were trained on a second instrument, too, and I think it’s safe to say we enjoy drawing on our backgrounds to express ourselves musically without limits of genre or technique.

RtM: Tell us a little more about the main story in "Solveig" and what are your main sources of inspiration?
AC: “Solveig” is the first installation of a story of two souls. One is a lost human navigating a sunless, Neo-victorian underworld, and the other is the ancient demon ruler of said underworld. It’s a story that reflects on human nature, quite a bit about depression, hope, love, and death. I love worldbuilding, and was inspired by Carl Jung’s “Night Sea Journey” as well as some real-life experiences.

RtM: Seven Spires seeks to bring something new and creative, having a great hand to create captivating melodies. I can say that the album never gets boring, and cannot be simply put as "Symphonic Metal". We have for example passages of the Black Metal symphonic as in "The Paradox", and the sticky melodies of "Stay". I would like you to comment a bit more about these two songs.
AC: Thanks a lot for that! “The Paradox” was actually inspired by the cyclical melodies from Hans Zimmer’s score of “Interstellar”, plus a healthy does of comforting nihilism during a particularly trying time. I am sure I am not alone in enjoying looking at the night sky and remembering that we are minuscule specks that do not matter in the slightest. It was also one of the first songs I wrote that is primarily extreme vocals.

“Stay” was written in the dead of winter and is intended to be the beginning of Act II of the story. It’s sung by the demon to the human soul, pointing out how painful life can be and how peaceful and dark existence could be in the beauty of the underworld. The song ended up being a fan favourite, and we try to squeeze it into our live shows when we can.

 "I hope I can continue to grow into the best version of myself"
RtM: There we have the theatrical air, present in several moments, but I would highlight "Cabaret of Dreams" and "Ashes", two of my favorites, and I would also like you to talk a little more about them.
AC: “The Cabaret of Dreams” was the first of the original 2012 demos I made. It’s the cornerstone of the Seven Spires universe: demonically pompous, brocade-clad, genre-bending. It has changed so much since its original version, most notably including the addition of the bridge “Damned is he who walks with these disenchanted souls…” and the faster kick patterns around 3 minutes in, during the lyrical reference of “The Paradox”.

“Ashes” to me feels a bit like a Studio Ghibli soundtrack at the beginning. It was also one of the very early demos from 2012, and actually it hasn’t changed much since then. I remember feeling something in my chest glowing and my eyes burning while writing the ending. It’s a song about rebirth from a terrible death of a terrible life, of course — In the story, the demon summons the sun and incinerates the underworld, setting every captured soul free and finally ending her long and weary reign, letting her find true peace. It’s quite bittersweet.

RtM: And about Light & Shade, how did the opportunity come to be part of this project, formed in Italy, having musicians known from the scene there, like Marco Pastorino? Tell us a little bit more about the repercussion of this work. 
AC: Marco found “The Cabaret of Dreams” on a compilation CD of ProgPower USA and contacted me about making an album together because he couldn’t believe the very long high notes. I guess people liked the album; I get asked about it quite a lot in interviews. It was also the first time I ever read a very bad review about myself, I’ll never forget this, hahaha!

RtM: And are there any plans for the next one?
AC: At the moment I am active in Spires, Avantasia, Winds of Plague, and Masters of Ceremony, so I’m not sure if there are any other plans at the moment!

RtM: Now tell us a little about how the opportunity to do the tour with Avantasia came about?
AC: Sascha called me last year and asked if I was available, I said yes, he said: “Well Avantasia needs a new backing vocalist, but please don’t tell anyone yet…” That was a hard secret to keep!

RtM: And how did it feel to get on stage for the first time with that team of great musicians? And to travel and exchange experiences with all of them! I’m sure you have a lot of great stories to tell.
AC: It was terrifying at first to sing with these legendary vocalists and musicians. I knew Sascha and Miro a bit already since they worked on the Spires record, and I knew Herbie, Felix and Andre a tiny bit from the little we had done together in Masters, but aside from that, everyone was a stranger — and at least twice my age. It became a great joy to be with them, though, and traveling together was never boring. It’s a full cast of characters, and if I ever need a drinking buddy or a good laugh or someone to just be quiet and not say anything with, there’s somebody!

RtM: And how you felt having the chance to go through different countries, which certainly brought you and will bring much more visibility. Here in Brazil you have already conquered fans with Seven Spires (Solveig was released here), and now I see a lot more people commenting about your work.
AC: Getting to see even just a little of new places has been amazing. I always wanted to see Sweden and Brazil and Japan and Moscow… We don’t always get to sightsee, but I try to when I can. And I usually try to go out and talk to people after the show, if anyone is waiting, and if I’m not disgustingly exhausted. It’s always amusing and heartwarming when someone says, “I knew you from Seven Spires, it’s great to see you here but BRING SPIRES NEXT TIME” in a place I have never been before.

RtM: And about the upcoming album with Sascha Paeth and the Masters of Ceremony, what can you tell us about this project, what can we expect in terms of sonority? And of course, how was the process of composing and working with Sascha Paeth?
AC: Composing with Sascha was a unique experience. He wrote so many of the power metal albums I listened to while learning to write songs (so much Kamelot, haha), so often when he would present a melody or some chords or something, I wouldn’t have any suggestions because it’s exactly what I would have written or sung. 

He’s a hard worker and I have much respect for him, and I wholeheartedly appreciate the opportunity to write music and talk about anything with him. The Masters record is mostly Sascha’s writing, and Sascha’s choices for my vocal approach. I’m excited and a little nervous for our first live performance at Full Metal Holiday this month!

"The Master's record is mostly Sascha’s writing, and Sascha’s choices for my vocal approach."
RtM: Well, changing a little subject, when you are not on tour or studio, what are your favorite hobbies, what do you like to do to rest after a few weeks on the road on tour?
AC: After a long tour, I like to sit at home and sleep in my own bed, play video games, maybe think about going out… hahah! If I get to go on a little holiday or something, I love road trips and anywhere remote with alpine forests and quiet waters. Wyoming is great for this, as are many spots on the West Coast. Anything to get me away from people and out of my regular world.

RtM: We noticed that you are very fond of animals. In this life more and more agitated now, of being in tour or recording, you can have time to dedicate to some pet? 
AC: I wish with all my heart for the space and time to take care of a dog or three, maybe a brave cat too. But I live in a studio apartment at the moment, and have been gone for most of the year, so I just have to pet every dog I see instead, hahaha! 

RtM: Another thing we noticed, is that you like coffee a lot too! Tell us what your favorite types, then we already know what to indicate to you when you come to Brazil, because here we love coffee! ha ha ha
AC: About coffee, I honestly like it all as long as it’s not weak! Espresso, drip, flavoured, full-bodied, milk, black, sugar or none, I don’t really discriminate! ha ha! Perhaps next time I am in Brazil, I’ll ask about the absolute best local beans.

RtM: Adrienne, thank you very much for the interview and congratulations for your work. Your performance, talent and friendliness impressed the Brazilian fans, we are sure you have a lot of success ahead! I let this final space for your message to the fans and we hope to talk to you many more times.
AC: Thank you so much for your kindness and enthusiasm regarding my work. I very much hope to return to Brazil soon, I know we in Spires are dying to play for you! Hopefully we can work something out with our coming album next year :)

Interview by: Carlos Garcia (with colaboration of Raquel de Avelar)

Seven Spires
Masters of Ceremony
Winds of Plagues






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