Beyond the black album teaser: Beyond the black

Dear all; we have been working the last couple of months on our song called “Beyond the black” which names the whole debut album and which is a very special song for me that I wrote some years ago. The lyrics were originally a nihilistic poem that one way or another inspired the music with its own musicality; I leave you a teaser here.

Regarding the soundscape for the album, I think I have it very clear right now, and that we´ve learned while recording and producing this track besides our beloved mexican guest singer Maly Reyes, who is a great fit for this incredibly number, and who co-wrote part of the new melodic lines, making it her very own song!

Thank you dear Maly; the whole number will be available until October, when the whole album is expected to come out!

Have a great week!

-D. Heksolson

“Beyond the black” album teaser: Oceanic Idyll.

The last couple of weeks I have been recording and mixing the very first Beyond The Black album track that surely most of you already know “Oceanic Idyll”, but this time I finally added a second part to it and here you have a small “teaser” of it with marvelous images from the place that is the source of inspiration for both the song and the project itself: The Karl island up in the north of Norway!

This is the very first mix I made this week, after recording everything the previous one, so, please enjoy it!

-D. Heksolson

One on one: Simone Alves

By: Aleyda Ortiz.

Beyond the Black is an album that will mix essences from different places of the world, sensations and characteristics owned by the guest singers who piece by piece are making part of their thoughts, feelings and voice; the track that they are going to record, each one of them, have been sharing with the “One on one” readers, the experience of working besides Danny Heksolson on this debut Red Page album. This time, we had the pleasure of interviewing an artist, in the whole meaning of the word: Simone Alves, who shares with us the musical beyond the black trip that she does.

Simone, tell us a little about the song that you are working out for the Red Page debut album.

1-1“I’m still working on it. Most probably I’ll adapt very “known” lyrics from Brittany called Ar Plac’h Inferniet: It’s the story of 2 young lovers, eventually the girl dies before they get a chance to get married, and the young man is so devastated that he prays for 7 years in the hope to see her again, until a ghost gets him to visit her in the overworld. Very mythological, very black! I like these lyrics not only because of the story itself, but also because they are very familiar to me. I’m thinking on an improvised part too, not everything is fixed yet, but I have the general idea of what I’ll record. The tune itself has (to me) something from the turkish 70’s atmosphere, and I’ll try to bring that ambiance too.”

Because, talking about Simone Alves is talking about atmospheres and oriental flavours, with a very own technique and style that has set her on a very unique place inside this allbum. But, which is the story of Simone?

“I was born at the end of the 70’s (just on time to get to hear 80’s music as a child!), in a little corner of France, surrounded by borders (Germany and Switzerland were about 20 mins. drive), which probably influenced my love for travelling and crossing borders of many kind, not very fascinating! What I really consider as my home village was left behind by my parents in Portugal as they decided to come to France. As a child my favourites voices were Bono from U2 and Sting, and till now I still treasure quiet moments listening to their music. Then in my teenage years I discovered Dead Can Dance & Lisa Gerrard amazing and impressing way of using voice as an instrument, and this is definitely a huge influence in my approach to vocals. Technique-wise I have learned a lot from Erik Marchand, with whom I got the chance to learn for years in Brittany, and I also got very much influence by the famous Kurdish singer Sivan Perwer. Other musicians/singers with traditional background that somehow influence me are Azam Ali & her project Niyaz (Iran), Muharrem Ahmetti (Makedonian gypsy), Aynur Dogan (Kurdish). I’ve always had a crush for traditional musics, for new wave and for opera!, but it was only when I first visited Celtic Brittany (western part of France) when I discovered singers from there and then I started to seriously learn songs, and well… to sing!”

Besides singing, do you play any instrument?

4-2“I gave up! voice is my instrument! Even when I use percussions I most definitely use them as something “around” the voice more than as a real percussion line, I think I really get to try to use my voice as an instrument, experimenting, trying sounds, bringing atmosphere with some vocal effects – and I still have a lot to explore on that field! I just know I have a very typical voice of someone in love with traditional types of music, that is maybe ruff but powerful.”

A voice that takes us to specific places, to ancient times, to travelling time and space. “This was musical love at the first sight, as soon as I heard her voice singing with her marvelous Astrakan project, I started to figure out a song for her; she has this authentic oriental musicality that have always fascinated me”–said Danny Heksolson when Simone Alves collaboration for Beyod the Black was confirmed, but Simone won´t be working alone on this song, the Astrakan Project spirit will let their energy there in full with the performance of Yann Gourvil.

“I am among the luckiest persons in the world to be working daily with my husband Yann Gourvil. We are very complimentary on the way we work together, we love to work together, and this particular project is definitely the one we started to pour in what was trully us instead of kind of doing what we thought was expected from us. All that are pretty good reasons to defend what we create, to stay focused! I really see it as a way of life, we humans have this great and amazing gift of being able to create!

A lot of our songs are very mythological or tragic, and what we try to do is to create the atmosphere around the basic song that will get listeners to travel to our world. And the visual part is part of that too!

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As I said we really complete each other; generally I’ll have a very broad idea of the general sound, ambiance and energy, then Yann will bring my idea into structure and rhythm, then we listen together, get sometimes ideas to replace a sound/instrument by another, he’s very used to record my voice, and that way we spare a lot of time; he also knows very well my level of expectation, and when he says we need to record it over, I trust him 100%. And he will be adding samples and sounds into the mix to the Red Page song.”

Tell us about your participation in Red Page and how did you become part of it?

“A while ago Danny asked me if I would be interested, and I had listened to some of his work on SoundCloud, including his “oriental”-like sounds. Then he sent me the primal idea of the tune he had in mind, and again, it was the “oriental”-like spirit that I liked. As well as the sound of the very first guitar versión!”

Has it been difficult to adapt to this kind of project – overall because of the distance that separates you from the composer-?

“Why? Absolutely not – just of course I really wish one day we could play live (let’s make it a goal, right?). Anyway, I’ve leaning a lot of the songs that I sing now from old recordings, I never got to met most of the singers that had already passed away! In a way, I’m used to long-distance collaborations even from beyond our world!”

The thoughts-feelings-energy connection which is being created when listening the Simone Alves voice is full of textures and colors as it is on art -painting- where you imprint such characteristics. Tell us about your art (painting) taste, how do you make the art of your albums and which painting techniques do you handle?

3“I’m a very intuitive artist, whether it is for painting or for singing, I never started with technique, rather I will learn techniques on the way that will serve what I have in mind. I learned a lot from “art journaling”, which is a daily form of introspection using painting/drawing/writing. Frida Kahlo is with no doubt for me a great influence too, art journaling has been a great way for me to experiment techniques, and also to get away from some “pressure” I could get while working on new songs/recording – because it is really important for me to keep making music in an harmonious atmosphere. I can’t see myself being recording in a painful or stressful atmosphere, I just get the feeling these would be the emotions that would be captured on the recording.

Generally, I pick up from my paintings the ones I feel will relate with the music and then I use them as artwork for the covers, until now, only our last digital EP Within the Circle was specifically painted for that cover, other ones were created by chance!”

What does a normal day look like in the life of Simone Alves?

“The great thing is… there is no normal day! There will be times when I’ll be doing a lot of painting, then only focus on music, or sometimes on a specific style of singing, or on video making, or on knitting/sewing… Generally I’ll focus mainly on the creative field for a while until it’s done! What matters in my creative life is to find a balance in which I can have enough time, I need time to let ideas emerge, to try things also, and to learn. But anyway, I tend to be a hard-worker, sometimes I need to put on my agenda a “no-work-today” mark… but it’s hard for me to stick to it!”

What are your future goals Simone? What are your dreams to achieve both professionally and personally?

“Being able to keep on creating everyday, in a joyful and harmonious way is what keeps me going. My main challenge at the moment is to find the financial balance to do it, a lot can be done with very little material (like microphones, cameras, sound-cards), but I also can see the limits of that way of doing things by ourselves. Another BIG dream I wish I can bring to life within the next years is a big European tour, visit and play in every single European country, not only in big cities, but also in remote little towns, wouldn’t it be great?”

Simone Alves: an artist, a woman with a peculiar energy and mysticism, she is totally committed to her goals, we know she will achieve each one of them.

Let’s discover together what lies Beyond the Black, let’s discover the pieces of this project, one by one, revealing their dreams and desires, meanwhile the Astrakan Project and Simone’s voice takes us into their world:

Lyall

Lyall : Vocals -death growl-

Lyall

Nombre: Lyall
Country: Mexico

She was born in Guadalajara Jalisco, México. Currently is the death growl singer for NAURUM, a death metal Jalisco´s band.

She has performed along with several musical projects playing diverse roles all around her city Guadalajara: bass player for Empire of blood, guitar player for REN, among others. One of her main habilities is the enjoyment of free music composition.

Lyall enlighted me when I listened to her band Naurum, she transmitted emotions to me inmediately with her dark growling vocals!” -Danny Heksolson.

As for being part of the Red Page project, this is what Lyall tells us all:

Such an honour to collaborate besides great performers and vocalists for the Danny Heksolson´s project. This experience will be rewarding in many ways. C´mon team! to give the best!

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“Higher back” E.P. small teaser!

Last weekend we were working on the E.P. version for “Till the end of our lie” an old song composed around 2002. Marike Groot upgraded it seriously and here you have a little advance of how it is sounding nowadays.

This is not the final version, because it lacks the mixing works by Dhan Eriksson, the producer who is helping us with this release! Enjot the teaser and let us know what do you think!

-D. Heksolson

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One on one: Marike Groot.

By: Aleyda Ortiz.

When we found out it was official that Marike Groot was part of the Red Page Project for the first álbum “Beyond the Black”, the news themselves brought joy and satisfaction among Danny Heksolson and all the staff members because we have always rejoiced with her work ever since her participation in the dutch band The Gathering. “We are recruiting a very unique and awesome line up” said Danny at the time.

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So, “One on one” requested an interview with Marike Groot in order to get to know better about the substance of the album, about her and the songs that she will record. Being always friendly and profesional, she agreed on talking with us about her childhood and her early approach to music, about her dreams, about her life:

“I cannot remember when my fascination for music started, it probably was at a very young age. I do know that my parents listened to The Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young and jazz music round about the time when I was very young.”

“I probably sang along with those from a very early age. At the age of six I was already actively looking for music and my father started introducing The Beatles’ albums to me, which I devoured one by one. I remember thinking at that time that it would be no more than natural for me that I should do what The Beatles were doing: playing the guitar, singing, performing and recording. Ha ha!! How convinced you can be at that age!”

“I was born in IJmuiden in the Netherlands, on 28 January 1968. It was the place where I was born but I had never really lived there as a child, now I’ve come back here for the last five years. Actually it can be a boring place, I sometimes miss a nice place to have a drink and all, but apart from that it’s lovely. People are friendly but they also leave you to yourself; We live close to the beach, a lovely park and a wonderful nature reserve; historically it is also a fascinating place.”

The Marike´s route inside the musical world, it is not limited by her time with The Gathering, it is more, like she says: “a history of ups and downs” that has carried her to develop her voice, to improve her performance quality and ultimately, to experiment with writing and arranging her own tracks.

“I joined my sister’s band when I was eighteen. My sister Tetje played bass, we had a fantastic guitar player, Wieger Janse, and we were called The Grabbits. We recorded a single in the days of punk rock, when fellow musicians The Vernon Walters set up their own record company LMOOR.”

“After The Grabbits split up I joined Thank God For Us, with guitarist Jacob de Greeuw who later formed the wonderful Johan. We renamed the band Little Mary Big when bass player RJ van der Woud joined us and we really got going, I mean, we were doing quite some gigs and we felt that we were really getting somewhere until we split up in January 1992.”

“By some wonderful coincidence the last demo we recorded was brought to the attention of The Gathering, who were recording Always in the very same studio, owned by Han Swagerman. They were looking for a certain something and found it in me; I was heartbroken from Little Mary Big’s split-up and my break-up with my boyfriend at the time so I welcomed the opportunity to record with The Gathering, who I did not know before then. I listened to their demo and just jumped at it. I was not at all familiar with death metal, but I was intrigued by what they were doing and immediately felt that I could do something for them. The Gathering had only just begun as a band and we were from such different worlds, geographically and musically, that we never expected to do more than just record a CD together, but I joined them on stage for fun one day and just stayed. I think we never expected the way things turned out and we were probably overwhelmed by success, then one day you find out that although you feel it is absolutely great to be on stage together, you drift apart again because you view things differently and back then I found it hard to communicate this sort of thing. I also thought that in the end the music and the band itself would become too big and too loud for me to handle, and that at the same time I would not find fulfillment with the minor role that I played, contributing to just half of the songs and half of each gig. But I felt I could and should not change the way they were, so I decided to leave The Gathering. Because I wanted to take composing and recording in my own hands I started learning to play the guitar.”

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“I took a while off to graduate in English linguistics and think about my future in music, I always seem to have periods in which I don’t do music at all followed by periods in which I am totally going for it, so I started composing and joining and forming bands, and playing and rehearsing as much as possible. I formed a band with guitarist and singer Tjarko Edzes, drummer Reinier Claessen, and one of the best bass players in the world, Arry Niemantsverdriet, who now plays in The Jig. This band was called Mae West and it did not last long: sadly Reinier, who is my favourite drummer ever, left in 2002 and the band fell apart.”

“A few years later I got together with Tom van der Nulft, my cousin, and Sander Brink, who is now my partner, and decided to form a The Beatles tribute band, The Weavils. We took on Maikel Voors and after he split Erik Seyferth on drums, this was so much fun! “

“I really learnt a lot playing guitar and bass in this band, I discovered my voice really blended well with Sander’s and so I felt like starting my own band again, together with RJ van der Woud and Maikel Voors, called Wonderlust. This is when I first started to really enjoy writing songs and working them out together, however, in the end we felt rather pressured by work and other activities and so in 2008 Wonderlust broke up.”

The Weavils lasted until the end of 2010. By 2011 I gave birth to my son and decided to concentrate on raising him and devoting my energy to my work as a translator for a while. I have taken up singing lessons again and now and then perform as a singer for the Liedjesdag, a workshop in which translators translate songs from several languages into Dutch.”

You have already explained about your “The Gathering” contribution, could you tell us, which is your current perception of the band?

“We reunited in 2012 to do a series of concerts performing the CD Always in full. We had not really parted on very friendly terms in 1993, but I think we all loved to see each other again and perform this magical CD once more.”

M3“It was so great that all of us were enthusiastic about the reunion, even though four of us were no longer part of the present Gathering! I was really impressed with Bart Smits and how he led The Gathering onstage, superb! I felt so much at home again with them all, perhaps even more so now that we were all a little older.”

“They are great guys and I would very much enjoy to see them all again sometime, onstage or off. And though I have a different taste in music to what The Gathering are doing now, I love the passion with which they craft their music and I hope they will reach even more people than they are doing now.”

Talking about musical tastes and preferences, what are your musical influences, favourite bands, singers and composers?

“I already mentioned The Beatles, who will always remain very important to me. It’s funny when you think about how out of style they were in the seventies and how they are now kind of like ‘classical pop music’ as if they have always been so.”

“I never used to listen to female singers much for inspiration, funnily enough, because I never intended to ‘sound like’ anyone, I just admired certain musicians and bands, like U2 and The Smiths (and many more) when I was in my teens, and Soundgarden, The Posies and Alice in Chains (and many more) when I was in my twenties. When I was in my thirties I discovered Joni Mitchell and she really blew my mind, I delved into her work as I did with The Beatles before, and I still get a lot of inspiration from her. But there are lots of other influences as well, for I will be influenced by any music that gets to me.”

Do you have any favorite mexican or latin-american rock band?

“No, I don’t, I’m ashamed to say, that’s because I don’t know any. In The Netherlands we are so much oriented to English spoken popular music that it is almost self-evident that you look to British or American bands or artists or at least English spoken music, perhaps you can name me a few I can explore?”

Tell us about your collab with Red Page, about the “Beyond the Black” songs that you´ll be recording and about your long distance work with Danny Heksolson.

“I think it’s been a year ago, or maybe it’s been two years already? Danny asked if I’d be interested to work with him, I listened to what he was doing and I said yes. I will be performing Will to Deny, a beautiful song which I fell in love with right away! I went to my favourite rehearsal studios, the Rock Supplies in Amsterdam to get really inspired and recorded vocals on four tracks, I sent them to Danny and he was inspired in turn to add to the song again.”

“I have also been working on a song called Strøm, but that proved a lot harder. I like the song, but it didn’t get me as much as Will to Deny, so I was not really satisfied with the first take, so we keep on working with them; to my surprise I have been engulfed by work these last one and a half years so that sadly (well of course it’s a good thing, really) I have little time for anything else but my son and my work. Luckily Danny is the most patient musician in the world!”

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“I find that the distance up until now is not a problem at all, Danny is very easygoing and we have a lot of fun communicating. I must admit that we haven’t got very far up until now, but it amazes me that nowadays you can communicate so easily and send bits of music right around the world for someone else to work upon. It’s wonderful!”

For Danny, the guest singers selection was a long process which resulted from an organic way: a song conceived with a voice in particular and the circumstances were in charge of finding the ideal performer, such way was no different with Marike, her voice captivates the listener:

“It’s safe to say that I am a soprano, which you probably already know from my work on The Gathering’s Always, but as far as I know I can also manage the lower ranges. I think I have a wide range, but I couldn’t tell you how wide exactly.”

What does a normal day looks like in the life of Marike Groot?

“A normal day… that’s easy, because my life nowadays is highly regulated most of the time. Because I have a little boy my life partly revolves around him: me and my partner share the responsibilities equally! I wake up when my son wakes up and then I or my partner takes him to the daycare centre three days a week, after which I sit down behind the computer and work all day translating books, together with my partner. Or we take care of him at home. We have dinner, the three of us, which is always very enjoyable, and then spend some time with him before taking him to bed and reading him a bedtime story. Then we work for another one or two hours before sitting down on the couch to watch tv and then go to bed, is that exciting or what? When my son doesn’t go to the daycare centre we spend the day caring for him and playing with all kinds of toy cars at home, or making trips to the beach or the playground, or go cycling or swimming, or visiting friends or family. These days we usually work seven days a week. It’s a simple life, really, but we enjoy it very much.”

What are your future goals Marike? What are your dreams to achieve both professionally and personally?

“I’m not sure, I hope to be a good mother and continue doing the job that I love, which is translating books. I guess you could say that my dream is to combine the peace and quiet of the life I have now with the excitement and satisfaction of making music that I really love and feel good about, and getting better and better at it in the process. But all that may just be a dream…”

Certainly, real dreams are those that Marike produces with the gentleness of her voice and her stage presence. I let you all with this piece that I´m sure will make you fly! We read each other on the next “One on One” interview.

Photographies: boekblad.nl / Bart Smits / schaikr.home.xs4all.nl / Lijst van de Boekvertalers (as well as the vid).

Emmanuelle

Emmanuelle Vigneron: Vocals

Emmanuelle

Name: Emmanuelle Vigneron
Country: France

Emmanuelle was born in Strasbourg (France) and moved to The Netherlands 10 years ago, where she currently lives.

She started to play keyboard and to sing in some bands during high school for fun, but she already knew at that time that music was all she wanted to do.

She played in several bands, but never found her place until she met Dutch guitarist Peter Bloemendaal. Together they founded Chemical Days in 2012; a shoegaze, alternative pop rock band, difficult to tag.

Their first album produced by René Rutten ( The Gathering ) should be available this 2014 spring.

Emmanuelle has this soft but passionate color in her voice that would make you fly through out  the sound textures, our understanding was unique.” -D.Heksolson.

As for being part of the Red Page project, this is what Emmanuelle tells us all:

I feel honoured being a part of Danny’s musical universe. I really like the diversity of his music, and his open-mindedness. I like musicians who are receptive to new ideas, and I like this one!