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29/10/2007 – Interview with LA-VENTURA

The newly formed Gothic band LA-VENTURA (official website) released their first album, "A New Beginning", by themselves earlier this month (October). You can check out the review of the album at this location. This is a very young band, meaning the forming took place in January 2006. Its members aren't beginners, though, as they have been gaining experience in other bands. At the moment their agenda is filled with gigs to promote not only the band, but also their first release.

As a result of this release I sent a couple of questions to the band to know more about this release, their music, the deal (that broke off a few months ago) with Razar Ice Records, the band's expectations and more. Vocalist Carla Douw answered the most, but drummer/founder Erwin Polderman added his input where necessary, as did bassist/manager Mike Saffrie.

La-Ventura logo

Congratulations with your first album. How excited were you when you started working on the songs?

Carla: It was a real challenge to create this first album on such a short notice. The band was formed in Jan 2006 and in Sept of that same year we signed the record deal. By that time we only had 3 songs ready. When it became clear that the album would be a full-length cd we started to write all the material in record time. We had a very tide schedule and managed to write and record everything in only 5 months. And in spite of the pressure we were able to combine all the input of each member and learned how to work with a deadline. It soon became clear that all skills were present such as experience, motivation, ambition and personal click. That gives a lot of confidence for the future.

Could you give a description of the writing process for "A New Beginning" or how it's done in general?

Carla: It was definitely a band process. We worked with blueprints based on a riff or let's say a 60% finished idea from one of the band members. We all worked out our own ideas and contributions at home and passed it on through email. This way it was build up piece by piece and later we talked it over to decide its definite form and structure.

La-Ventura bandRegarding the recordings: did everything go as planned or were the some obstacles that interrupted the process in any way?

Carla: The recording process went very well. As a band we didn't have to go through the pressure of recording in a studio because each member had the possibility to record the tracks at their own home studio. We could do this in our time but held on to a schedule to make sure it was done in time. The only obstacle was the fact that the record company worked with a different timeline and didn't come up with a finished (mixed and mastered) product for over half a year. That's when we decided to pull out the plug and to take over the production process ourselves.

What is "A New Beginning" about? I was thinking about the end of ORPHANAGE, the birth of LA-VENTURA = a new beginning, perhaps also mentioned in the title track? But after reading the lyrics, I see you/Carla tackled some socio political issues ("Deadline", "Trefoil", "Right & Righteousness"), no?

Carla: LA-VENTURA is a new beginning for all of us. We did choose this album title because of its symbolic value, a fresh and new start. However I didn't write the lyrics with that point of view. They are just various subjects. Some are indeed socio political issues, others are about things that occurred in life, some personal issues and dealing with the past.

Additional arrangements: Roy Jacobs. Who is he and what's his input on the album?

Carla: He is a friend of us who helped us out during the recordings of the keys.

La-Ventura - A New BeginningThe artwork was done by Dalibor Marinkovic. Why did you choose him? Did you see one of his works elsewhere or did someone you know recommend him? In addition, did he get carte blanche or was he given some guidelines of how the result should have been like?

Carla: We discovered the work of this talented Croatian artist on the internet and contacted him. He happened to be a former musician and we asked him to create the artwork based on the "Icarus" picture we had chosen from his work. His professional way of working was very satisfying. He also designed the band logo and all the stuff for our merchandise. We really tend to work with him in the future.

What exactly does this human bird represent? The birth of something new? It could be that I'm searching too far, but either the roots form the firm basis or else they prevent the 'bird' to take off into the sky. But what's the role of the black birds then?

Carla: The birdman or "Icarus" is a character in Greek Mythology. We liked the subject and the colours of this picture. It definitely represents the birth of a new band. Breaking away from old roots and flying towards a new future. Many other birds (bands) have entered the airspace before all trying to fly as high as possible. The face of this strong man figure is covered similar to the fact that we're still an unknown band. The muscles represent its strength and are not only visible on the outside, but also show the inside which reveals the same energy we feel when we work and perform together.

I noticed there's a huge lack of guitar solos on the album. Were the songs composed this way or is Saz not fond of solos? And will you have some on the next album?

Saz: During the writing process of the songs we focused mainly on the 'composition' as a whole, rather than individual elements. We started with a basis of drums, bass and guitar and worked from there to add the 'leads' such as the vocals and the strings. In almost all of the cases for this album, the strings ended up playing the lead parts, where the guitar (as there is only one in the band) mainly play rhythmic riffs. At that time we felt that it would be best to compose our songs in such a way, that we could play them live in an acceptable representation. So the songs turned out the way they are now because we decided to let the strings play the leads, and let the guitar play riffs to act as a 'whole' with the bass guitar. It seemed like the best choice at that time. It's not because anyone in the band didn't like guitar solos, and you can be sure that there will be some cool guitar solos on the next album!!

La-Ventura - Saz live"Only Love Will Find Its Way" contains a few breaks and by that I mean silent parts, before the music kicks in again. But they last one or two seconds longer than expected, so you think the song is over. Was this done intentionally and do they have a purpose other than keeping the listener's attention vivid?

Saz: That was done intentionally, one the one hand indeed to keep the music interesting and less predictable, and on the other hand also because most of the band members felt that it was exactly how it should be done. There has not been very much discussion on that, we usually get along quite well and for the most parts we reach agreements easily.

Could it be that the sound of "Right & Righteousness" is a little different, less powerful? I don't know if it's due to the production or the mix, but to me it's not like the other songs.

Saz: It's not a possibility, but a certainty that there is some difference in the sound over the songs, not just "R&R". During the mixing we asked the engineers to tweak the sound to match the different compositions to their expertise, with respect to the compositional differences. So this means that we approved a slight variation in mixes over the songs to make it sound less 'sterile', but not by such an extent that the songs would sound too different. We feel that all of the songs are mixed the way they should have been. Of course there are always minor details to fuss about, but we do not feel that it pays off to keep on moaning about that.

Were there any leftovers? Songs you can use a next time, entirely or partially?

Carla: We will have to see if we can use some 'old' stuff for our next album. We basically use every (good) idea we had because of the tight timeframe. Hopefully we'll have more time to work out ideas from different sources such as jam sessions.

About the founding of LA-VENTURA: this was done by Erwin and Carla. How did you two get in touch? What musical background did you have until then?

Erwin: Carla responded on a advertisement I placed at Before LA-VENTURA I played the drums for 20 years in a lot of (cover)bands, and did some session work. ORPHANAGE and SILICONHEAD, where the highlights during these years.

How did the others get involved? Did you place ads or was it through other people that you got in touch with Mike, Marco and Saz? Or did you already know them?

Erwin: Carla and Marco already knew each other from their former project where Marco was playing the drums. After he heard some pre-recordings he offered to join us as a keyboard player. We asked Mike to play the bass because of his great performance and radiance. He also brought guitarist Saz Kondic with him. I knew them both from the band BADLY PRESERVED.

Erwin, ORPHANAGE split in 2005. what did you do - on a musical level - between that moment and the forming of LA-VENTURA? Are you still in touch with the other "orphans"?

I quit ORPHANAGE in 2000, from that moment I played in some local rock and metal coverbands and again some session work. I don't have much contact with ORPHANAGE, but soon we are going to see 'orphan' Eric with his new band KINGFISSRE SKY at the Mindview Metal convention in Belgium where we do a acoustic session.

Last year you signed a deal with the American label Razar Ice Records. All was going well apparently, until a few months ago you decided to terminate the contract and take matters into own hands. 1) What was the cause of this? Weren't you more watchful when signing a deal? 2) How easily did you find the right people for the production/mixing/mastering?

Mike: Whenever it is apparent that you do not get the support or when promises stay promises, you have to be realistic. Can this party produce the goods or not? In this case: not. We had a lot of things riding on the release date in October. In July we again received notice that this release date wasn't going to happen, because of the album that wasn't mixed yet (everything for it was delivered in January!!!), no artwork was done/ finished, nothing was clear about promo etc etc etc. The deal itself was perfect, the people who worked for the label unfortunately were not up for the task.

I myself work in the music/ entertainment bizz as a professional. In this bizz one thing is key: have a good network. With a few phone calls the whole production was safe and ready to go. Everything was done in record time: it took only 3 weeks to do the final tweaks on the music, get it all mixed, mastered, artwork ready and shipped out to go to get it manufactured!

I guess you're in talks now with other labels for the distribution of the album. Do you already have an idea of who to sign with?

Mike: I can't reveal this yet, but what I can say is that we are in no hurry for a new label. I admit that the CD isn't out in the shops, but when there is a good label showing the right interest and having the right tools we go for it.

Now it is no use to rush in to things. Remember because we did all the work ourselves and paid for it, we own ALL the rights to the music/ artwork. A new label really has to show us what they think we are worth in any negotiations. We now have a position to get more out of a deal than rushing into something. I myself think that we will get a re-release for this album next year shortly followed with a second album released by a label that really believes in us.

La-Ventura bandYour gig-schedule is getting filled pretty rapidly. Did you expect this to happen so soon in the band's very young history? In addition, do you prepare in a specific manner, besides the rehearsals?

Mike: No, not at all. I'm sceptic when it comes to this bizz, because we do not work with exact science here. Too many factors are in the game you can't control. When we started working to get the name out, I knew having an American label in the promo wouldn't hurt. Second we used MySpace in an early stage and combined it worked magic to get people interested in us, enough even to book us our first gigs, doing our first interviews and all. People liked the music (fans) and the industry liked the professional look of the band from the start. Factors that were key to get our name out!

We do a lot of rehearsing back home. We are all working people with busy schedules and all. To get the routine in your playing you have to be professional enough to practice on your own. Feed the music into your body, so whenever a rehearsal is scheduled or whenever a gig is, you are prepared. This small sacrifice in time can make it all work without putting much strain on the time of the band as a whole.

Some weeks ago you shot a video for "Trefoil". How did it go? Not too cold? ;-)

Carla: The video shoot was done on Aug 14th and took place at an old abandoned fortress called Fort Ellewoutsdijk . Besting the elements like heavy wind and rain made it quit an exiting experience. We are very content with the results and so are the people who've seen it!

This one is pretty logic: the similarities with EVANESCENCE and LACUNA COIL. Now, I can understand you like what they do, but the border between them and you is thin, although it's luckily there. Will the next album be different or still something in that vein?

Carla: I know people will always compare bands and music. I think it is a pity and a lack of vividly. We write our songs to touch people and to enjoy it. That is our main goal. And I believe we've succeeded to give the songs our own twist. Speaking for myself : my voice and melody lines are a resonation of my soul. The words and lyrics I write are my personal vision and will find its way to be expressed through music. Of course we are all influenced by other musicians and believe me if I got a choice I would've hoped they'd compare me with Alanis Morissette. Never the less are Amy and Cristina a big example for me too. I'd feel honoured to be a competitive frontlady.

Our next album? First things first. "A New Beginning" is great debut album for us. It contains a lot of catchy songs that will easily find its way to a big audience and to the radio. This is a big advantage for an upcoming band like us. During our co-operation we'll definitely develop our own style, probably go for more progressive songs but always work with groove and catchyness.

Speaking of sales: the album's been out since a few weeks and reading all the positive comments on your MySpace page, I guess you'll need to reprint soon. Or is the amount of comments (people who say they'll buy the album) bigger than the amount of sold CDs?

Erwin: There are indeed a lot of comments from fans who want to buy our cd from our MySpace site, but for some people it is not possible to buy the cd because they dont have a creditcard or PayPal account, but it is also possible to get a copy by bank transfer. Sales are going very well both on the Myspace site and at live gigs.

The reviews are also (very) positive. Do you take criticism, constructive of course, to heart when thinking of future material?

Erwin: We are very happy with the reviews and comments which are indeed very positive. We realise that a review or criticism is just some ones personal opinion but we do take it seriously. It is important to hear how people respond on our music whether it is someone with a professional point of view or a fan.

Is LA-VENTURA your only band or is any of you also active in other bands?

Erwin: Mike and Saz did their last gig 2 weeks ago with their band BADLY PRESERVED and I just quit 2 coverbands in order to create more time for LA-VENTURA. Carla and Marco do not have any other bands at the moment.

Since making money with Metal is hard, I guess you all have other sources of income, like e.g. a dayjob? Do you still have time for yourselves?

Carla: Yes, that is correct. Being a musician is a great hobby but doesn't provide enough income (yet) so we all have a normal day job. Time...besides being a singer, housewife, mom and hairdresser I haven't got much time for other things.

What's your opinion on today's metalscene? If you don't keep an eye on it, you'll never know. But if you do, then you're just stunned at the amount of releases every month, how many bands pop up (MySpace is just one source), etc... In short: which bands stand out for you and how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

Mike: The Metalscene today knows a few changes that incorporate the old with the new. More Trash elements can be found, more old skool heavy metal can be found etc. Almost everything is 'done' already, but it is cool to see the old days getting attention again blended with the new.

For me KILLSWITCH ENGAGE is one of the bands that stand out.

It is not up to me to decide which bands are 'better' than the other or whatever. For me the Metalscene has always been true, whatever style of metal you like as listener or style a band plays. That's why I will always stay Metal!

That's it for me. Many thanks for replying and all the best with things to come. If there's anything you'd like to add, post away.

Carla: Thank you, Tim, for your time and support! Wish us (la ventura) LUCK !!

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