Interview date

08 Février 2012




Interview Manuela Kraller, Nils Middelhauve (by mail)

Hi to both of you, my name is Ostianne and I thank you to answer to this interview for the French webzine http://www.auxportesdumetal.com. Now that the album is out, how is your excitement and happiness?

Manu: We are very happy about the great feedback from all the fans and of course about the result in the German Top 100 (position 43). It shows us that we are on the right way and that we reach many people with our music. For me personally most important was that the people will like the album and as it seems they do;)

Nils: To me the best thing is having a new album out after all the problems we had to go through.

Why did you apply to be the new Xandria front-woman?

Manu: To become very famous (laughs)! No, Xandria made music that I really liked and when I heard the demo songs for the first on my way to the audition, I fell in love with it and I knew "I have to sing this song!";) I always wanted to sing symphonic metal and now I have the chance to:)

What does the deal with Napalm Record bring to Xandria so you signed with them?

Nils: Napalm is one of the best labels for our kind of music, maybe even the best. They are experienced and have a roster of great bands. They were our favourite company from the moment we started contacting labels for the new album.

What kind of funny anecdotes or your favourite moments during the recording of "Neverworld's End" can you tell us about?

Manu: The funniest thing was that Marco and I went to Wacken Open Air in between the two weeks of recording !! This is definitely a bit crazy, because for my voice it was a bit dangerous, but I took care a of my voice a lot and at the same time had party with my friends. I wanted to go there because it was my thirtieth birthday and I got the ticket as a present from my parents. So I HAD to go there;)) I think it was good that we were there. This little break during the recordings gave me energy again and all the festival experiences in my mind made me even more ambitious to sing on a very good album. Because one of my greatest wishes is to play once with Xandria on the mainstage in Wacken;)

With this new album, people start comparing Xandria to the "old Nightwish". What do these comparisons inspire you?

Do they? Well, those comparisons are nothing new to us. Actually, they started with the release of our very first album "Kill the Sun", which really had nothing to do with Nightwish except for some heavy guitars and a female voice ... Frankly, this time I would be an idiot to state there weren't any similarities between the two bands - but I'll tell you something: I take it as a compliment.

To continue with this Xandria/Nightwish thing, people think you have the same kind of voice as Tarja Turunen or that you are inspired by her singing. What do you think about that? Is it a compliment for you or would you rather not be compared to any other singer?

Manu: Since the album has been out I've heard so often that I sound like Tarja. It has both sides: On the one hand it is a compliment for me, because Tarja is a really good and adorable singer and being compared with her is great. But at the same time I wanna be seen as a stand-alone artist and singer, that has her own voice and unique style. Of course it is not easy for people to hear the differences, because when you first listen to my voice you hear the same similar timbre that Tarja has. I think that is what we have in common by coincidence. But what many people do not know: The first two years when I started having singing lessons I hadn't listened to Tarja or Nightwish. There has been no influence at all on my voice. And when you hear some recordings of me of this early time I already sound quite similar like I do now. Without trying to sound like Tarja at all. It´s not fair if some people say I try to copy Tarja, because that’s not true. It is just my voice. Nothing more. And by the way: Tarja would never ever sing a song like "Soulcrusher" in rock style like I did, or sing "A Thousand Letters" in such a soft and quite unclassical singing technique style;)

The songs have been written before Manu joined the band. Did you have to change the songs to adapt them to Manu's voice?

Nils: There was only a little fine-tuning in some parts of some songs, we did not have to change much, actually.

Did you participate to the rewriting process? For instance, I'm thinking about the lyrics of "Valentine" that are not the same than when Kerstin sang it.

Manu: There have been only some vocal line changes, but not very much. Just here and there, because most of the material had already been written when I joined the band. But you're right with "Valentine", there we changed the lyrics and also in some other songs.

The fans of Ennio Morricone and the film "My Name Is Nobody" will recognize a part of the music of the movie in "Call of the Wind". What is the story behind this song?

Nils: We discovered the movie soundtrack when a fan pointed out that "Call of the Wind" was rather similar. And I have to admit we were shocked when we listened to it. There's no way to talk ourselves out of this: The chorus of "Call of the Wind", at least its second half, is very close to the Ennio Morricone tune. All I can say is that this definitely did not happen on purpose...

The album is more metal and heavier but also more orchestral. What caused this change?

Nils: That's because it is exactly what we wanted to do. We are all metal fans and love symphonic sounds. It's as simple as that...

The cover of "Neverworld's End" is far from the older ones. Why this cover, and did you chose it to announce the big changes we hear on this album?

Manu: We all had the same opinion that we didn't want to have my face on the cover but something that fits the album and reflects the content of it. Our designer "Heile" did a great job and managed to put the content of most of the lyrics into this one image.

If you had to say only one word for the album, what would it be?

Manu: Epic!

Nils: Xandria.

I heard it was very cold where you shoot "Valentine" video. Can you talk about this shooting and the video itself?

Manu: It was indeed extremely cold. I just wore a not very warm dress;) But nevertheless we had a lot of fun there! It was in an old shut down sanatorium, where the atmosphere was quite creepy. The content of the video is actually about someone in the music scene (musician) who sells his soul to a label and loses his inspiration. Therefore stands the harlequin as a metaphor: he has to show a "perfect face" in front of the public but inside he is very sad. The heart at the end means that he sold his heart and soul.

We've just learned that you will tour with Epica for their European Tour, and so will Stream of Passion. How do you feel about that? And do you plan to do a tour on your own?

Manu: I am very excited! It's a great feeling to know that we'll soon perform our songs live on stage! Perhaps in autumn we'll make a tour on our own, but it's not planned yet.

As we are talking about live experience, what are the advantages of introducing a new singer with a show/a tour rather than on a CD?

Manu: For me live concerts give me the possibiity to get in direct contact with the fans through the songs but also through words. Live, you can prove that you are a real good singer not only a good studio singer. You can convey the content of the songs much more with gestures and mimics underlining your vocals.

Living with the former singer of Xandria might bring some weird situations. Do you have (or have not) some funny anecdotes concerning conversations you had about Xandria?

Nils: I would not call it weird situations, but of course Xandria will always be a topic for Lisa and me. The band is a part of her past and the band I am still in. So it would be weird, if a couple did NOT talk about it...

The last words are up to you!

Manu: I am really looking forward to giving concerts in France and to finally seeing and meeting the French fans out there! Au revoir!!:))

Nils: It's been a long time, but I am very excited to play in France with Xandria for the first time!

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