Interview with Clive Nolan

Interview by Martien Koolen

Clive Nolan Caamora represents the partnership of Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon) and Agnieszka Swita. They met back in 2005 when Agnieszka visited England and after working together for a short while they formed Caamora and so they began preparing for a rock opera version of the Rider Haggard novel called “She”. Over the following two years material for the “She” project was written and developed. The musical landscape of the album is wide and varied and the music is intense and colourful. “She” has elements of heavy rock and moments of almost “pure” opera and maybe this is a rock opera that will stand the test of time. So it is about time to talk to Clive; here we go...

Martien: Could you first of all tell me how you came up with the name Caamora and what it actually means?

Clive: The word Caamora comes from a set of fantasy novels called “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” by writer Stephen Donaldson. It is a fictional word to describe a ritual, which was the spiritual act of cleansing by fire.

I love those books by the way... How did you come up with the idea for the She-project and how big was Agnieszka’s influence on the project?

As a child I saw a film version of the story. For some reason it had a great effect on me. The next thing I did was read the novel and I have carried the main themes and atmospheres of this story in my psyche ever since. I always knew I would do something musically with “She”. However it was not until I met Agnieszka that it suddenly became time to begin that journey. The demo songs were recorded with Agnieszka testing the vocals and this gradually helped to give us an overall picture of the opera.

How long did it take to work out the concept and the songs and how did you go about composing the songs?

It took three years from the conception to the release. Two years of that was all about writing material. Then it became a question of structuring the rock opera and orchestrating and arranging the music into a consistent whole. This is definitely the biggest project I have ever embarked upon, presenting me with many musical, lyrical and directorial challenges. The recording of the album started in June 2007 and it was completed in December of that year. In the meantime the live performance was recorded on October 31st in Katowice, Poland. So, this year will be a very important year for us as the CD and DVD are being released and we have planned more concerts for later in the year.

“She” is originally a novel by Henry Rider Haggard written back in 1887!! So, you like to read Victorian novels?

I discovered the book as a result of seeing the movie. The Victorian era is a time that fascinates me particularly indeed and I have read many books from that period, including the “Sherlock Holmes” novels and “King Solomon’s Mines”, which was also written by Haggard.

What exactly is the story of “She” about?

In my version, two explorers travel to darkest Africa in search of the source of a legend. Ayesha, the queen of a lost tribe, is believed to be immortal, but surely such a thing cannot exist? The explorers, Leo and Holly, eventually find themselves in the city of the lost tribe and meet the mysterious queen. It transpires that Ayesha has been waiting for 2000 years for her dead lover to return and she believes this man to be Leo. Despite the warnings from the native girl Ustane, who has befriended the explorers, Leo is intoxicated by Ayesha’s will. The queen will let nothing stand in her way and she murders Ustane in a moment of anger before showing the explorers the secret of her immortality, the fire of life deep in the heart of a nearby volcano. Ayesha is keen to persuade Leo to join her in the fire so they can share eternity together, ruling over the lost tribe and possibly the world. As Leo hesitates something terrible happens - and Ayesha begins to age. The 2000 years are returned to her by the fire and with a last gasp she beseeches Leo to wait for her to return ..


How did you find/choose the musicians for the project?

Most of the musicians were easy choices to make because I have worked with them before. However, there were some new faces. Scott Higham (drums) was a musician I had seen perform in our studio some years ago before and I knew I wanted to work with him at some point. Mark Westwood is a guitar player who I had only worked with briefly in the band NEO and I wanted to do more with him. As far as the singers were concerned, I felt Alan Reed had the right voice and dramatic style for the part of Holly and it was Alan who recommended Christina Booth to me for the part of Ustane, which proved to be an excellent choice.

Which singers/musicians were on your wish list?

The ones that are on the album! [laughs]

It is a sort of rock opera, but where is the rock on the album?

I believe many people will have many different opinions as to what they would describe as rock. However, I would suggest that “The Storm”, “The Veil”, “The Bonding”, “Ambush”, “Judgement” and “Shadows” – this is just Act 1 ! – could be labelled as rock. If it helps, why not call it a musical?

I find that there is a lack of instrumental interludes, do you agree?

No, I do not. It is a rock opera, not a concept album. There are instrumental interludes, for example in “Fire Dance” (Act 2), but this is not the focus of the work.

Some people already call “She” a very, maybe too, ambitious project. How are your feelings about that?

Yes, this IS an ambitious project. But it has been written, recorded and filmed, some other people can judge this now. Personally, I am very pleased with the result.

So, will you be doing more projects like this one in the future?

Quite probably, yes!

Are there also plans with Arena or Pendragon at the moment or in the near future?

Pendragon have just begun to record a new album and Arena will be on tour in April. I have also just begun writing material for a new Arena album.

Ok, thanks for your time and good luck with the She-Project.

Thanks, mate, talk to you soon.

Interview for DPRP by Martien Koolen

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DPRP's Review of Caamora's She Album


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