DPRP's Menno von Brucken Fock speaks with
Marcela Bovio from Stream Of Passion
on 12th June 2009
Originally, STREAM OF PASSION was the brainchild of the Dutch multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Arjen Anthony Lucassen, perhaps even more widely known as AYREON. When Arjen learned about Marcela Bovioís voice he was totally blown away and he knew instantly he had to do something with her talents. First step was to have her come to Rijsbergen and sing on his 2004 album The Human Equation. That wasnít enough: he wanted to do more, a special project, focused on Marcelaís vocals and violin. Recruiting musicians through the internet and sending files to and fro, eventually, with time Stream Of Passion came to exist. A keyboard player from Mexico, a female (and very attractive) shredder from Sweden and two talented young men (Johan van Stratum Ė bass and Davy Mickers Ė drums) from the Netherlands and so the first album Embrace The Storm was realized. A tour followed and thus the inevitable live album/DVD and then, as he already announced earlier, Arjen decided his support and interference was no longer required. The bandís name had been established and he wanted to pursue other goals in his musical career. However, Davy Mickers, Johan van Stratum and Marcela herself never expected that subsequently both Lori Linstruth and Alejandro MillŠn would call it a day too ...
Before the show in Haarlem, Marcela explains what happened back then and will give her comments about the making of the current album ďThe Flame WithinĒ.
MENNO: Hi Marcela, nice of you to join me and congratulations with the album, because this is one fine piece of work!
MARCELA: Well thank you! Yes, I must admit it was a long road and we really put a lot of energy in conceiving and recording this album, but it was definitely worth it.
MENNO: Let me start with a little side step: Last Christmas you were involved in a project initiated by Joost van den Broek: The X-mas Metal Symphony?
MARCELA: Yes, that was awesome, big names, beautiful venue and great music. Itís really sad the DVD will probably never see the light of day, butÖÖ that same organization has some more concerts planned and I think there will be a X-mas Metal Symphony this year too!
MENNO: Thatís good news because I really enjoyed that show last year! Back to Stream Of Passion: I presume you already knew Arjen wouldnít stay on board but you probably didnít expect Lori and Alejandro to leave early 2007?
MARCELA: When Arjen and I discussed the project, he explained that touring (at least extensively) wasnít his cup of tea and that he had some other plans too, so I knew he was going to leave at some point. So when he announced his retirement to focus on his own projects it didnít come as a shock at all. What we didnít expect was that both Lori and Alejandro decided to leave in the beginning of 2007, almost at the same time. Lori wanted to spend more time on her personal life and Alejandro wanted to do a solo album, of which he was dreaming for ages, as long as I know him! He managed to get a government sponsorship for a recording and he gave birth to his own project called ďHello MadnessĒ. Itís a really cool album, slightly rockier style than Keane: he does the vocals and keyboards and thereís guitars, drums and bass too.
MENNO: And what about your band Elfonia? No regrets that band could be history?
MARCELA: Well, since Alejandro is focusing on his solo projects and Iím here in the Netherlands working with Stream of Passion and all the other band members are doing their own things, it seems like this break will be an indefinite oneÖ
And you know, everything has its time. For me as a musician, keeping this band together, finding new band mates and composing my own music for the first time has been a huge challenge. I feel Iím still maturing, learning more and more and Iím enjoying what I do immensely.
MENNO: In the line-up with Alejandro there were two members of the band originating from Mexico; have you been to South America at all with Stream Of Passion?
MARCELA: Unfortunately weíve only been there once in 2006. But what a gig that was! We played a nearly sold out venue (some 3000 fans!) with Xandria (Germany) and Anathema. Mexicans are crazy you know: everyoneís screaming the lyrics and they all keep on jumping and going completely bananasÖ I guess in Europe you couldnít imagine what itís like unless you have actually been to a show yourself!
MENNO: What about this time, any plans to go to South America? Are you well known in Mexico?
MARCELA: Obviously I would LOVE to go there (smiles bright) and show all these Dutchies my country but we have to do this step by step. First establish a base here, then tour Europe and yes, hopefully there will come a day when we will be given the opportunity to tour that part of the world too. Iím not such a kind of star that people will stop me and recognize me on the streets but in the underground scene and the metal scene they do know about me and they think itís great I moved to Europe and Iím doing well. I can appreciate these kinds of comments on my ďMy SpaceĒ. (Menno looks stupefied) Yes! I actually read all that stuff and I think itís fun too, but yes, it takes time!
MENNO: When did you decide you were not going to give up Stream Of Passion?
MARCELA: It didnít take that long actually. We did that short tour in 2007 that ended with that horrible anticlimax when the two last gigs in the UK were cancelled . Thatís when Arjen told us: ďthis is pretty much Ďití for me and Stream Of PassionĒ. So, when Lori and Alejandro told us they were to leave the band too, Davy and I were at Johanís place and we just looked at each other and we asked ourselves: ďwhat are we going to do? Weíre not going to quit are we? No, itís gonna be tough and weíll have a lot of things to figure out but weíll give it our best shot, right?Ē And that was basically it. I already had a few songs and some other ideas and we started to look for replacements immediately. I guess this all sounds pretty simple but believe me, it still was a long process from early 2007 to where we are now!
MENNO: You didnít compose before except for vocal lines didnít you?
MARCELA: No thatís true. For the first album Arjen sent me some basic structures, and then I was supposed to come up with a vocal line, send that back to Arjen and then he would work on all the arrangements and so on. With Elfonia I was used to co-writing with Alejandro but this time I had to do it alone, quite challenging but most satisfactory! Starting from scratch wasnít easy but in time Iíve learned a lot. Sometimes I start with a vocal line. When Iím on the road I just record the vocal on my cell phone and back home I start working on the chords on my keyboard. But I also use my acoustic guitar to start with one or more riffs and try to build a song around them. Although I have the knowledge of the theory to write notes down, I donít feel too comfortable doing that: Iíd rather produce some rough demoís and let others work with and around those. At the time I was still living in Mexico, so sending demoís was the easiest way. Itís fun too, because you send out a rough demo and you never know what you will be getting back, itís always exciting, always a surprise. That part was almost like the first album, using the internet extensively.
MENNO: How did you recruit, find Jeffrey, Eric and Stephan?
MARCELA: It started with an ad on our website, then we could also use our network of musician-friends and these two together turned out to be a pretty powerful combination, because you have a lot of information, references before you even consider inviting someone to come to an audition. You know we received demoís from top notch musicians Ö and of course we were looking for really good musicians, but we also wanted to make sure it would click on a personal level too. If you would be embarking for a three month tour and youíre living together in a bus all the time, you have to be able to do that with the members of your band and thatís not with anyone! So Johan and Davy spent a whole afternoon with Stephan and they had a real good feeling about him. I think they even knew him from way back when. Jeffrey came into the picture via Joost van den Broek (ex-After Forever). He graduated from the conservatory in Enschede (where Joost also graduated some years ago) just yesterday and we played a song there: it was his final assessment! Eric sort of popped up after a thorough search; we didnít really know him until he came to audition. We havenít made it too easy however, because Eric lives in The Hague, Jeffrey in a little town called Tubbergen near the border with Germany and Stephan lives in Gemert (southern part of the Netherlands).
MENNO: Without Arjen it seems the tracks are a little shorter, a little bit less progressive but the piano is still the main keyboard. Why the piano and not the orchestral bombastic sound? Is there less violin solo on the album?
MARCELA: When we were composing, arranging and trying to define the sound of the band we looked back at the first album and we discovered we all liked the organic sound and the piano as main keyboard appealed to us all, so we decided to preserve that element in our sound. Jeffrey happens to be a very good piano player so this added even more to our feeling this had to be our sound. Throwing in huge orchestrations would mean we were bound to become Ďgothic metal main streamí while we wanted to focus on the piano and a more organic Ďliveí sound, songs we could play without a whole lot of technology of extra strings, choirs and that sort of stuff. After the initial demo-phase we actually did get together. We rehearsed and arranged all songs as a band and we succeeded to get that band-felling even before we decided we were ready to take our songs to the studio and record them. About the violin: I was planning to do more solo violin on this album but after hearing the first mixes we discovered that everything was so Ďfullí already that I decided: no more violin, letís keep it as it is now.
MENNO: How long did you take to record this album? You used several studio facilities?
MARCELA: Yes, we didnít want to make it too easy (laughs). Drums were recorded at the Excess studio by Jochem Jacobs (Textures), the guitars at Jochem Jacobsí place (Split Second Sound), grand-piano at the E-Sound studio (Weesp) by Joost van den Broek and the string quartet also by Joost at the Excess studio. Finally my vocals, violin and keyboards at the Juicy Studio. In total I think it took us about two months.
MENNO: You chose to hire the services of two different producers: Jochem Jacobs and Joost van den Broek. Can you explain why and how you met these two musicians?
MARCELA: Weíve known Joost for a long time. Of course he worked with Arjen, with whom he became good friends and Johan and he went to the same highschool (Gymnasium, the top in secondary school!). We knew about his expertise with string arrangements and orchestrations so we definitely wanted him for that symphonic part of the album. Jochem is well known for expertise to get a monster sound on drums and guitars. Johan already worked with him with Forcefeed, a band Johan used to play in. We kind of figured out that the powerful metal sound of Jochem, combined with the more symphonic approach by Joost was exactly the sound we wanted. They worked really well together and we agreed that should there be any problems, I would have the final say (smiles)!
MENNO: The mastering was done in the Fascination Street Studios (where the hell are they located?) by Jens Bogren. How did you find him and get in touch with him?
MARCELA: (laughs) I think somewhere in Sweden. We all loved the massive guitar sound he created with the album The Great Cold Distance by Katatonia, heís done a great deal of cool things and I believe heís involved in the new Paradise Lost album as well. He was recommended by our current record label Napalm Records, that was the first step. Then we made contact and we felt immediately this was the right thing to do so we sent our stuff to SwedenÖ
MENNO: And then: recordings done and suddenly no drummer?
MARCELA: Yes, thatís a fact. Davy found out he was to be a father soon and decided he wouldnít be able to combine his duties as a father for his family whilst giving all of his energy to the band. Of course we respectfully accepted his decision and we started asking around and we came across the name of Martijn Peters (ex-Novact) very quickly and anyone we asked said: ďMartijn? Sure, great drummer, should be your first option!Ē So we called him, he was enthusiastic right away and we got together just one rehearsal and he already figured out the songs almost exactly right: pretty scary but very positive, so we immediately accepted Martijn without any further discussions! Apart from being a truly talented drummer heís also a very cool, easy going guy and heís all enthusiastic about anything (laughs).
MENNO: Thereís a lot multi-layer vocals on the album, how do you perform those live? Is your sister Diana still with the band?
MARCELA: Diana isnít with us anymore. She went back to Mexico and fulfilled her dream: working in a musical theatre. Although she graduated as a graphic designer and has a job in graphic design too, she managed to get involved in a big musical production in Monterey, so she is very happy now. A great actress she is too! As background vocalist we now have a friend of ours, Lucinda.
MENNO: How did you get from Inside Out to Napalm?
MARCELA: We only had a contract for one album and two options, but when Arjen left, it didnít seem to make a lot of sense to have both artists signed to the same label. So we mutually agreed that we would look for another label. Napalm was in the picture very soon and offered us a very attractive deal and we were convinced they could bring us to audiences we never played for. They are from Austria, know their way around in the gothic metal scene and they have an extensive network in Germany. And this we can see now already: they are really doing a great job!
MENNO: Did you actually set out to be a Ďgothic metalí band?
MARCELA: No, not necessarily. I think itís a really vague term and frankly it doesnít mean that much to me. Some people call our music progressive rock, others metal or gothic rock. As long as our label finds us people who might like our music, come to our shows, buy our albums and t-shirtsÖwho cares? We like black and metal so it doesnít bother us at all if people like to define us as gothic metal.
MENNO: How were the shows so far?
MARCELA: Amazing! The CD-launch was quite a happening and the show in Tilburg was great too, the venue was full and both Arjen and Lori were there and were as enthusiastic as the rest of the audience. It was so nice to see them, especially Arjen because he helped us along the way, giving his opinion on the songs when they were created. He also stated after the show he was really proud of what we had achieved so far and that feels so GOOD!
MENNO: Why did you pick Street Spirit from Radiohead to be a cover song on SoPís album?
MARCELA: We wanted one cover song on the album but we found ourselves desperate at a point because we couldnít find the right one. Then there was this demo by Stephan, a cover of that specific song with a lot of heavy guitars and once we rediscovered that demo, we knew this was the one and it came out to be nearly exactly how his demo he sent to us earlier, sounded! It was really cool to be able to portrait this song in such a heavy way, the original being so contained and emotional.
MENNO: Could you comment on all tracks of the album, what inspired you lyrically?
MARCELA: OK ...
- The Art Of Loss was inspired through a poem by Elizabeth Bishop, called One Art; itís about losing something, someone.
- In The End is actually the first song that I wrote for the new album. In essence itís about the whole process of keeping the band together and keeping this project alive. When everything fails and falls apart, just stick together to overcome your problems.
- Now Or Never was the second song I wrote. I was still living in Mexico and at some point my mother, my sister and me were in the same kind of situation: strong doubts about yourself, wanting to achieve your goals but having to face numerous problems. It was an inspirational song for the three of us to stand up, set our goals and just go for it!
- When You Hurt Me The Most was inspired by the book Venus In Furs by the Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Because of this book the term masochism came to exist. The book portraits some strong emotions and thatís what I was looking for in this particular song.
- Run Away is a more personal song, the ballad on the album. Itís about the anxiety to connect with people in fear of losing them again. Sometimes itís easier to be reclusive; that way you canít lose a beloved one.
- Games We Play is a song that just popped up whilst experimenting with my guitar. Itís a kind of crazy, up tempo song about people playing games, victimize or become victims.
- This Endless Night is a song inspired by the post traumatic stress syndrome: getting flashbacks, nightmares, that sort of stuff. Most of the time I encounter such weird subject reading the news, watching some movie; I just come across them by accident. In this case I went on to read about this syndrome and eventually led to the writing of this song.
- My Leader is a song about charismatic leaders, person but not necessarily the Ďgoodí ones. I got inspired after watching a movie by Andy Warhol about this girl that got so obsessed by him, adoring him and ending up throwing her one life away just to follow him blindly. It concerns more the leaders who use their charisma for not so nice purposes. Thatís what the song is about really: not particularly about Andy Warhol himself.
- Burn My Pain is about the longing for a lover. I wonít go into detail (laughs out loud, Menno looks disappointed).
- Let Me In is about a person I knew, never opening up and obviously having a lot of problems, but nevertheless refusing help.
- A Part Of You too is a song Iíd rather not discuss in detail, but itís about the difficulty to connect to a specific person you want to connect with but somehow you just canít reach him, not able to get a message across.
- All I Know I wrote after reading some of Freudís works. Basically itís about the melancholy of a lost love, the grieving.
- Far And Apart, the bonus track is about the bond between two people, maintaining that bond in spite of being many, many miles apart.
MENNO: SOP entered the top 100 in Holland on place 57 and even better, on number 2 in the alternative to 30. Does this mean anything to you?
MARCELA: Absolutely. Itís a confirmation that weíre on the right track and itís a very positive feedback, making us more confident. It was a tough process to get this band together and this album released and we didnít know what to expect from the audience, because this is another band than 2 years ago, so we are very pleased with these results.
MENNO: Can you tell something about the artwork and the album title?
MARCELA: Sure! When we talked about the artwork we didnít have any visual concept. We just knew it had to be strong, bold and iconic. Almost by chance we got in touch with a Brazilian graphic designer, Gustavo Savez, and this is what we told him. We were in for a big surprise, because when he got back in touch after just a few days with this design, he had worked out every detail. It totally fits our ideas of the statement we wanted to make: drawing attention and tell the public: hey, here we are! The title was my idea but itís a result of the lyrical content of numerous songs, expressing the inner strength and willpower to survive and achieve ones goals.
MENNO: You will continue touring in Holland and Belgium, but also in Poland?
MARCELA: Yeah, we got an invitation to play there on a festival in October, so we said: sure, why not? At the moment we have a great team working us (a booking agent, manager and so on). This means there a lot of things we donít have to worry about because there are nice people taking care of them. We are really proud of our CD but we want to play live, we want to share this energy of the band with as many people as possible and we also believe, that seeing the show is a different matter than listening to the CD. Playing live and selling merchandise nowadays is the most important for most musicians!!
MENNO: Marcela, thank you very much, all the best for you and the band.
MARCELA: Youíre most welcome, see you at the show!
Interview by Menno Von Brucken Fock
Original line up:|
Marcela Bovio - Vocals, violin
Arjen Lucassen - Guitars, music
Lori Linstruth - Lead guitars
Alejandro MillŠn - Piano
Johan van Stratum - bass
Davy Mickers - drums
Current line up: |
Marcela Bovio - Lead vocals, electric violin
Johan van Stratum - Bass guitar
Eric Hazebroek - Guitars
Stephan Schultz - Guitars
Jeffrey Revet - Keyboards & Synths
Martijn Peters Ė Drums
Stream Of Passion - Official Website
Stream Of Passion - MySpace Page