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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Interview: Martijn Westerholt of Delain


On February 19th Delain will release their upcoming EP Lunar Prelude. DutchMetalManiac's Glenn van der Heijden asks Delain's Martijn Westerholt some questions.

First of all, I want to congratulate you on the release of the new EP Lunar Prelude. I have listened to it and it’s very nice.

Thanks!

What are the reactions so far? Are you happy with the results?

Really good. Actually I followed some response on Facebook and the most negative one I could find was: “I should give it a couple of more spins, so it can grow on me.” That’s the most negative one and the rest was only positive. I think we spoiled, we should not complain about that. The people like it and they are the boss, they are in charge, so they decide if it’s good or not, not us. I’m very happy with that.

Good to hear! With Interlude in 2013 you did something similar. I have not seen many bands releasing EP’s before releasing a full-length album. Is there a particular reason why you wanted to release this EP right at this moment?

Yes, there was! Because last year we had so many requests for playing live that our schedule went to smithereens and later that year of course a request came in from we would love to have new material. We were of course busy with writing. But because of the tours, which were three big tours in between of festivals and Dutch shows, we decided let’s release already our first single before the new album, so we can already give the people something. That’s when the idea started of an EP. Of course there are a lot of bands releasing a single before an album. We thought an single is nice, but we’ve got so much stuff here. We made a lot of live recordings last year on our headline tour and we were all very busy in the process of recording. We also mixed a couple of songs of which Suckerpunch was one. So we want to release that. That’s what they want, material and we can release the full-length album later on in 2016.

So, you listen a lot to the fans?

Yeah, they are the boss of course. Then I can do this job. Of course you should make what you want to make yourself, because it has to come from you. Nonetheless, the fans decide that we can do this, so I think it’s very important to listen to them.

I like Suckerpunch, it’s a very good song!

Thank you!

I am also looking forward to the next full-length album, I am curious to see what it’s going to be.

Well, that was one of the goals, to warm people up for the album. Hearing this is a good sign!

There are two new songs on the EP, how do you feel yourself about them?

Yeah, I think they suck, haha. No, I am happy with them. This time we approached the whole production cycle differently. Normally, you start recording the whole album, then you start mixing it. But in this case we decided to chop it up in pieces. So, we recorded a couple songs and mixed them immediately. Then record again a couple songs and mix them. If you chop it up then you have far more possibilities to tweak on it. For example, with past mixing sessions you already have the end result and if you want to change something for the album you can do that. So it could be that we still change something with the songs Turn The Lights Out and Suckerpunch for the album. It could be a little bit different there, but that’s the good thing about it. In general I am really happy with the material.

So it could be that the ones who bought the EP have a very unique song?

Could be, perhaps we make an acoustic song from it, haha. No, I don’t think so, it’s going to be mixing issues or structure things. Maybe highlight a different instrument in the mix, those kind of things.

Can you tell me something more about the creative process and the songwriting process in general for Delain?

Sure, when sitting on the chair of a songwriter, I would have loved to have two years of writing and no distractions whatsoever. But this is of course a fairytale scenario, because I am also sitting on the live performer chair now and then. So we tried to create situations in between where we can write. Me, Charlotte and Guus are the main songwriters, together we write about 90% of the Delain material. Already from the beginning actually, so this is a very fixed team. I do have to say that the band is getting more involved, which I think is a very good development. Timo, for example, is very involved in the guitar arrangement part or sometimes in the structure. We are very open to input from the band, but in the core Guus, Charlotte and me still write most of the material and finish it like that. So that's the way we work.

You started Delain as a project and then it became a band. In what way is it different now as it supposed to be then?

That's a good question. Well, in the beginning it was mostly me and Charlotte and every album production you learn. That's one of the things I love about it. You get experience with it and use it with the next album. So, you grow in this and the team working together gets better as a collective. Another thing is we are not a project of guestmusicians anymore, we are a band. There is far more cohesiveness in the group. That radiates through everything, also in album productions. Because we also record it as band. For example, last friday Merel recorded her first stuff for Delain and Otto recorded five songs this sunday. It's 50% of an album in one day, which I think is pretty cool. Everybody has their part in Delain, we recorded some drums last wednesday. So, it's a fixed team.

I saw you, way back in 2006, in the Broerenkerk in Zwolle. It was the show where all the guest musicians were also present. It was the first time I saw you guys, it was an awesome show. Later on I've visit some other shows of you and you are way better live now than you were back then.

Thanks, that's part of spending time together and playing together. Then you become a team and not some musicians playing the same songs.


I think people can see that on stage. I know I can, because I am going frequently to your shows, so I can really see it.


Cool! Thank you!

Looking back at the band's history, are there some Delain moments that are extra special to you?

Some highlights? Yeah, sure! I only have to look back to last year, that was pretty cool. Those were the most fun tours I ever did actually. The one with Sabaton in Europe was fantastic, they were really nice guys and it was so much fun. And a challenge, because Sabaton's crowd is totally different than Delain's crowd. That was part of the plan because a lot of people would choose for a tour with Within Temptation or Nightwish, but a lot more people know you and you want to present your music to new people. But it's also more a challenge, because you have to win them over. Another highlight was the tour with Nightwish, you might know I am a huge Nightwish fan, so it was a privilege to tour with them. I can say we also became friends and it was so much fun. Of course also exactly the kind of crowd we want to reach as well. So, we were really welcome by the people in the States and that's fantastic. Another highlight we must not forget is the My Masquerade show, that was earlier in Haarlem, which was also a big highlight. I can really name a lot and I really hope I can add more this year.

You have seen a lot of countries. Is there a particular country that you guys really liked?

That differs for everybody of course. I know that Otto really likes the Eastern European countries. He likes the vibe. He went on holiday to Ukraine, before the war there like four/five years ago. It's not something I would do, I like the US very much and the UK as well, more the English countries.

Are the British people stiff or do they headbang to your music?

No, they are great actually! I think the UK is one of our strongest territories actually. I think the best show we ever did so far was our London show last tour. It was amazing, it was magic. So, I like them very much. About the States, not speaking as a musician, but in general, I like them because of nature. It's so diverse, you got the Caribbean zones in Florida, you got the Rocky Mountains, snow, you got everything. I like the West Coast very much.

How do you think about festivals? You already said you wanted to reach new people with your music and festivals are also a good place for that.

Absolutely. I like festivals very much. Sometimes your hands are tied with the possibilities production-wise. You want to show people a bit more of your show, but I love it. You reach new people and when you win them over, that's a fantastic feeling. You make them happy, which makes us happy. In general I like festivals very much. Some journalists asks 'what do you like more, playing big crowds and big festivals or small crowds and small clubs?' That's very difficult to answer, because that are completely different things and they both have their charm. When you play a club there are mostly people who already know you and you already won them over with your music. Of course you still have to treat them with a really nice show. That's more an intimate 'us together' part. You can also watch people in the face and know if they enjoyed it or not. With festivals and their crowds it is more anonymous, but the energy of a big crowd is huge. So, it's totally different, which is something fantastic. I like them both.

Can you tell me something about the future of Delain?

That's the one million dollar question of course! Looking to the future, let me say that I hope we can keep doing this for years to come. I do this fulltime, Charlotte does this fulltime, Timo is a fulltime musician, Merel and Ruben as well and Otto has a really good balance in his company, so he decides his own schedule with the band. So it makes us very flexible, we are in balance. I also hope that the boundaries of what you want to make keep getting smaller. The more people come to your shows means the more possibilities you get to make something beautiful. I absolutely don't care about money. If I have an old Japanese car and it still drives, it is fine by me. I don't have to live in a big mansion. I don't care about those things. But it's good to be able to pay your mortgage and to be able to do this work, because I think I have the best job in the world for me. I wanted to this for a really long time.

Your debut album, Lucidity, was released in 2006. Do you have anniversary plans or something? Because it's 2016.

That's a really, really good question! Yes we do, we are actually plotting and screening about that. We will keep it surprise till it is arranged. So we are working on that, this is indeed our 10th anniversary year and we really want to do something with that. And we will! I hope we can reveal that surprise pretty soon.

I am really looking forward to that! Is there anything you would like to say to the DutchMetalManiac readers?

Yeah, first all of thanks for reading this article, so thank you for the interest. I also want to thank the Dutch fans, because this is our home ground and basis for what we can do in other countries. I am really proud that we sold out the Haarlem show again and I hope I can people happy with our music in the future.

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