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28/06/2007 – Interview with DELPHIAN

The Dutch Progressive band DELPHIAN (official website) released their second album, "Unravel", in the second half of April via Lion Music. This was a step forward and a little different from their efforts on "Oracle". You can check out the review of the album at this location.

As a result of this release I sent a couple of questions to the band to know more about this new album, the band itself, tour plans and a couple of other general things. Enjoy the reading and if you think all female-fronted bands in The Netherlands are Gothic, let DELPHIAN prove you wrong.

Delphian logo

The band was originally formed to play Progressive Metal. Was this due to musical preferences or more to not go with the flow of the many Gothic bands that reside in The Netherlands? ;-)

Roel: Coert Bouten (lead guitar) and I (drums) founded the band in the year 2000. We were fan of bands like NEVERMORE, OPETH and DREAMTHEATER. So that was kind of the direction we wanted to go to. We weren't that much into the gothic scene, that was all a bit too 'sissy' for us. 3 years later we finally found a singer, who happened to be female. So the progressive/heavy nature of the music together with Aniek Janssen's vocals gave us a bit of a unique sound.

Delphian bandThe demo's production was quite good, apparently. How important is the sound for a demo in general and did you want to catch the bull by the horns so you would have less worries for the albums ("Oracle" en "Unravel")?

Roel: A good sound is definately a must for a demo. If you're going to send a demo to a record label and you present them with amaturism, they won't even listen through the first song, no matter how good the songs are. So we also spend some money to get the demo's pressed instead of burned on CD-R's. Of course the experience in the studio for the demo helped us for the recording of the following albums.

You (Roel) and Coert prepare the basis for the songs, after which everything is put onto the internet - for the other members - under the form of tabs. Can you all read notes and how important is this transition to tabs?

Roel: The program we use is called "Powertabs". And you don't really have to be able to read music notes that well to use it. Aniek and I have had a musical education, so we are quite trained in reading music from paper. But like I said, the powertab program displays the music in tablature format, so it's understandable even if you can't read notes. The program is really usefull, you can instantly hear what someone composed and all the details of how to play it are there. This works better for us then sending recordings of guitar riffs to eachother.

How easily can you come up with new musical ideas? Do you need a certain amount of time? Once you have something, do you instantly present it to the others or does everything come from the tandem Roel-Coert?

Roel: It depends, I usually write more easily than Coert (he's really critical). Mostly when there's some pressure (right before a recording), I come up with a lot of stuff. Then I'm always thinking "we have to have one more great song.." and I put myself to writing. When something is written we send it to all the bandmembers and make the arrangements in the rehearsal room.

How easy is it to perform the songs in a live setting? And do you have this in mind when writing new material?

Roel: It's fairly easy to play the songs live, because we only record what we can reproduce live, except for some vocal harmonies (we just leave some out, because most guys in the band aren't that talented singers!). We did take a live situation more into account when writing the second album "Unravel". When we experienced what works and what doesn't work live, we kind of went into that direction.

In every band you've got different tastes. What's this like in DELPHIAN and does it have an influence on the songwriting?

Roel: Of course there are big differences in tastes. I for instance like bands like SENTENCED, FATES WARNING, THIN LIZZY, FAITH NO MORE, etc. All of which are very different in style. As goes for most bandmembers; everyone has a broad musical taste. Except for Coert: he's really into bands like THE PET SHOP BOYS, THE VILLAGE PEOPLE, THE WEATHER GIRLS, BOY GEORGE, etc.

Labelwise you're under the wings of Lion Music, which also houses SUN CAGED, Roel's other band. How's the collaboration going so far and for how many albums did you sign?

Roel: We've signed a licensing deal for the debut album "Oracle" and an option for the two following (of which one ("Unravel") has already been released). The cooperation and communication goes really well. Lion Music is a label run by the talented guitarist Lars Eric Mattsson (check him out!!!). So the labelboss is an active musician himself, so he's really fair and honest towards the artists on his label.

Delphian - UnravelAniek, last April the new album came out. Which theme(s) did you cover in the lyrics and how do the songs connect with the album title?

Aniek: On the last album, "Oracle", I was inspired by things that happened outside me; other people, politics etc. On this album I went inside my head for inspiration and what I encountered there wasn't always pleasant. I learned more about myself than I wanted to know. I literally started to unravel...

Can you think of a lyric at any time of day? Or do you need to isolate yourself from cilization, extremely put?

Aniek: I can't always write. Sometimes I write new lyrics everyday, but other times it takes months to come up with something worth singing. It has to do with what I'm going through at the moment. When I'm busy and my mind is full of thoughts and feelings I just can't write. I need some time to go through all these thoughts and feelings and some rest to put this in order before I can start to write.

Leon Brouwer (THE BARSTOOL PHILOSOPHERS) sings along in "Air". How did he get into the picture and did you ask him directly for this appearance?

Aniek: Roel send us a song from THE BARSTOOL PHILOSOPHERS and I immediately fell for this dark and warm voice. I thought it would be a great contrast with my voice. After we decided that Leon was going to sing with us I completed the lyrics and the vocal lines of the song.

Roel: THE BARSTOOL PHILOSOPHERS is a band that the keyboarder Rene Kroon (from my other band SUN CAGED) plays in, so the contacts were soon made.

The demo and "Oracle" were produced by Hans Reinders. This time you took matters into your own hands, so to speak. The engineering was handled by Edwin Balogh, de mix and mastering by Peer Rave (Custom Recording Studio), while Joost van den Broek did this for "Oracle". How do you explian this change? Did everything go smoother or are Edwin and Peer Rave more experienced, with better equipment, etc...?

Roel: All the 4 people mentioned above are real professionals, and are really good to work with. We would have recorded "Unravel" with Joost van den Broek, but he was too busy at the time with his own band.

Most of the comments regarding "Unravel" are quite positive. What do your families, friends, colleagues, etc... think of the album?

Aniek: Most of my friends love pop music and aren't really into metal or rock. The strange thing is they seem to like this album much better than the last, though it is heavier in some parts. I think it's more catchy and therefore more accessible for a bigger audience.

Roel: None of my friends bought the album, the bastards!

Do you have any dates set for a tour? If so, where will you be playing? And where (and with whom) would you definitely like to play?

Roel: There won't be a tour, just single gigs. Probably just in the Netherlands and hopefully some in Belgium. We need a good booking agency.

Aniek, I read in an older interview that you're very fashion-minded. Something that doesn't really fit the Metal profile, does it? ;-) Or do you draw a line between what you wear on stage and what's suited for other situations?

Aniek: That I'm interested in fashion doesn't mean I'm not metal! There's a difference between what I wear when I go out or when I have to work. But the clothes I wear on stage I also wear when I go out. Most of the time it's black of course; but that's usually a very fashionable colour! And what is more metal than black?

Coert: Pink!

You're also a ballet practitioner. Again a contrast with the heaviness of Metal. What makes ballet attractive for you? Does it give you an energy boost or does it serve as a katalyst or is it just a fun activity?

Aniek: I started ballet when I was 5. I didn't even know what metal was at the time. I just kept on dancing till now and I still love it. It's the only exercise I like (I really hate sports; that's metal isn't it?). Ballet helps me to relax, to give me some new energy and to empty my mind. All others things fade when you try to make a great grand jet´!

Books are another of your intrests, or so I've read. Do you have certain preferences regarding themes or genres?

Aniek: I read just about everything. Ever since I was a little girl I read very much and I read it very fast. At the moment I most enjoy reading books with a historical input like "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Houseini or "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon or "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer. I also like fantasy novels like books of Weis and Hickman or fantasy with a twist, like Terry Pratchett.

Delphian bandBusy as you are, you also followed a course in music therapy. What exactly did this comprise?

Aniek: This is what Wikipedia has to say about music therapy and I agree:

Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a qualified professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

In other words, music therapy is the use of music by a trained professional to achieve therapeutic goals. Goal areas may include, but are not limited to, motor skills, social/interpersonal development, cognitive development, self-awareness, and spiritual enhancement. Music therapists are found in nearly every area of the helping professions. Some commonly found practices include developmental work (communication, motor skills, etc.) with individuals with special needs, songwriting and listening in reminiscence/orientation work with the elderly, processing and relaxation work, and rhythmic entrainment for physical rehabilitation in stroke victims.

The idea of music as a healing modality dates back to the beginnings of history, and some of the earliest notable mentions in Western history are found in the writings of ancient Greek philosophers. Robert Burton wrote in the 16th century in his classic work, "The Anatomy of Melancholy", that music and dance were critical in treating mental illness, especially melancholia.

Music Therapy is considered one of the expressive therapies.

Metal is often depicted as noisy by mainstream people and many of them don't want to understand that it takes talent to make such music and that it's more than just heavy riffs, grunts, etc... Does it do anything to you or do you simply think "Oh well, whatever..."?

Roel: I don't really care, but I'm always annoyed by the clips they show on the rockshows late at night on MTV and other music channels. There's always so much crap broadcasted while great bands like DREAM THEATER are never shown. So if non-metalfans see this crap, the stereotype of the screaming mindless metalhead will be kept intact.

How often do you practise, and as a band?

Roel: Twice, sometimes once a week as a band, I myself practice everyday for some hours.

Can you tell what your equipment consists of and where most of the attention goes to? (brand of guitars, drums, parts, amplifiers, ...)

Coert: I play Bo-el, Ibanez and Godin 7- and 6-string guitars. For the acoustic parts live I use a godin Multiac because this is an ideal performance guitar and has a great live sound. For the rest I mostly use a MC7 electrical 7-string guitar from Bo-el, the best elctrical guitar I ever played. For the rest I use a Brunetti XL R-evo with a Bogner Cabinet. And last but not least I use the Replifex from Rocktron: great sound and possibilities. For me this is the best combination of equipment yet.

Marcel: I play Gibson and Ibanez guitars also 6- and 7-string. I also play a 12-string accoustic guitar. For the heavy sound I put on the Gibson Explorer ("88 sunburst) a low B-string instead of a high E. That way it's quite similar to a 7-string guitar. For amplification I use a Marshall JCM-Slash top and cabinet. For the best opportunities of this amplifier I modified it to a 3-channel amp. For the effects there's also a Rocktron Replifex. For me the combination of the Gibson Explorer with the Slash-amp gives a fabulous sound.

Sjoerd: I only play Ibanez basses. I've got two 4-strings and one 5-string. I think Ibanez has a good relation between price and quality, the guitars play very well. My amp is a Hartke model 3500 with a 4 x 10" and a 1 x 1 x 15" cabinet. It's a good amp because it has fallen out of our van 2568 times and it never got broken!!

Roel also drums in SUN CAGED. How about the other members? Do you have ideas to realize in other porjects/bands or is DELPHIAN the one and only?

Coert: I also play in an acoustic band called COMA together with the singer of my former band, we play covers from great bands like LED ZEPPELIN to RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS. For the rest I am working on a soloband. I hope to have some songs ready by the end of the year, this music will be different from DELPHIAN.

Marcel/Sjoerd: For us there's no other band than DELPHIAN.

Roel: Besides SUN CAGED, Aniek and I are working on a (yet nameless) project which will be a kind of dark pop/rock music. We're currently recording a demo with guest musicians, but in the future we'll try to form a real band; so if anyone (guitarist or keyboarder) is interested; contact me;

Do you have time for any hobbies or something else to focus on, free from everyday's routine?

Coert: At this moment I'm renovating my house, not really a hobby but whatever, I really like to read books, and I like to drink beer.

Marcel: I have two little daughter's, that's enough for changing thoughts. And when they're asleep I watch DVD's or play a little online poker with a good whisky in my hand.

Sjoerd: I'm a member of a small youth center. I'm responsible for the public relations and all the activities they organize. I also like drinking lots of beer.

The last couple of years there have been many "Idols" competitions and every time you - at least I - are suprised of how many people think they can sing, but very soon have to face the facts by the jury. Once in a while there's someone with potential. There are videos on YouTube (from Germany and Scandinavia) about Metalfans covering a song of a band they like. For example, CANNIBAL CORPSE and NAGLFAR. Needless to say that the "Idols" contestants' voice is never as good and well-trained as the vocalists of these extreme bands. This results in a bad performance and once again people's thoughts about Metal remain in the negative zone. Of course, the guys deserve some applause for trying, but still... But when you look at Finland, there is someone (Ari Koivunen) who managed to get a contract and release an album, for which he got the help of members from SONATA ARCTICA, STRATOVARIUS, NIGHTWISH, ... In general, don't you sometimes think - in case of the aforementioned failures - "Why do you participate if the result will never be as good as the original?"? And how do you feel about such TV programmes ("Idols", "Star Academy", "X-Factor", ...)?

Aniek: I think it's great entertainment! Especially the shows where the most awful singers are confused why they didn't get to the next round...

I've reached the end of my list. At least for now. ;-) Many thanks for replying, best of luck with "Unravel", the gigs and future plans. If there's anything you'd like to add, be my guest.

DELPHIAN: Thanks for the support!
For the readers who are interested in our music, take a look at


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