[schema type=”person” name=”Charlotte Wessels” description=”By: Gamze Öyünc” ]
Interview with Charlotte Wessels – 03.12.2015
Q: Hello Charlotte, how are you doing? How are the reviews so far?
A: I’m good, the album is out for a week now. I don’t think a lot of people had the opportunity to read the book yet, but responses have been very well so far. So we got nothing to complain about.
Q: Wonderful. I’ve checked Phantasma’s Facebook page and everyone seems to love it.
A: Yes, that is very rewarding for us because of course we all have our main bands that have their own share of success, but we’ve been deliberately trying to do something different from that for this projectand of course, the question is if you do something different than what people really like you for, what happens? But yeah, so far so good.
Q: How did this project find you, what were you doing at the time?
A: We were on tour with Serenity and Georg asked me if I can perhaps sing on this thing he’s planning and a bit later I got a call saying, “Thank you for wanting to sing but would you be interested in becoming the third leg of the creative team?” On one hand, it was really interesting to me because I knew Georg and Oliver, I knew that I would be in great company doing this project. Whatever it would be, I would be very happy to sing but on the other hand I never really had the ambition of doing a concept record before nor do I know many concept records, as I generally don’t listen to them so much so that I really thought for a long time about whether I wanted to do this because if I’ll do it, I want to do it right, personal and meaningful.
I also wasn’t sure that I was prepared enough to do a concept record. A lot of people told me “you should listen to this rock opera, that opera…” but I thought very deliberately that I am not actually going to do that because then I will end up approaching it too technical, but I wanted to come up with an idea that’s myself and it wasn’t until I had the idea of actually including a novella, than I thought “okay, this is the way I’m going to do it right and personal, this was the part to me I wasn’t only excited to start but also confident. That’s when it came out as very me, very personal, not me trying to do something that other people do.
Q: Your input on this project is huge. Have you written all the lyrics and the novella for this?
A: Yeah, a few songs, as well. Oliver arranged and went over everything but we all had our own song ideas that we brought to the table. And yes, i did write a novella.
Q: Did you write the novella or the lyrics first?
A: On and off. I started with the novella because I wantedto finish off that first and put all the songs next to it and kind of a puzzle which one should go where and put the lyrics in the right place but I was very slow on doing the novella and actually the music was written very fast, I guess it was a dynamic because, Georg, Oliver and myself we all had our song ideas on the table, Oliver went through all of them and made beautiful arrangements for them, he produced it all even though the songs are very diverse that they sounded like a whole.
This actually went faster than my writing of the novella. So at one point, there was a deadline to finish the vocals, so I had to finish all the lyrics and at this point I was three quarters of the book. From that point I knew “we recorded the vocals now, so I can’t make any changes to the story anymore because then we have to redo the vocals.” So it was first doing the novella, then doing the lyrics and then back to the novella.
Q: Is this novella your first written work of literature?
A: It’s the first of this kind. I’ve been writing poems and lyrics but this is my first longer part of fiction. I’ve been writing a lot for my studies as well, some of those were much bigger works than this but they were non-fiction and this is also different because this was not a research. This is a piece of fiction so it was a challenge.
Q: So you had the theme in your head for a while, or you just conjured it up for Phantasma project especially?
A: It was written especially for this. All the doors were open, one one hand it’s very nice to have that freedom and openness but on the other hand, of course I had to think like, “you have all the freedom in the world, then what is the story you want to tell…” It took me until I had the idea of “The Deviant Hearts” only then I thought, “this is it.”
Q: Did you get inspired by your own life?
A: In a way, it is inspired by my own life, it is a fantasy story after all, but the themes that are based on everyday stories, things that you can come across everyday. It’s partly based on true experiences. The whole thing with “The Deviant Hearts”, if you look at the things that affect us emotionally, like a lot of metaphors around it are centered around the heart and it is also the way that best describes your feelings for me, it really presses on your heart, there are so many metaphors in English language that refer to the heart, like they say that your heart grows if you are excited about something or if you love something.
For me, being a generally sensitive person, I thought it would be really interesting to take that metaphor and turn it into something real and to think about what will happen if you know the things around you that affect you emotionally, mentally and physically, as well, to the extent that your heart actually grows. What would one do with the choices you make, would you live inside your comfort zone or would you crave for something beyond that even though you know all of the risks that it has, on one hand it is fantasy story about 2 children that have a heart disease that doesn’t exist, they make paper crane that come to life, on the other hand, it is a story about being hypersensitive and about the choices that you make in your everyday life. And this is for me why it looks as a story because it’s not just about the magical creatures but it is what they represent.
Q: How long did this Project take to come alive? How was the process, did you enjoy it, did you record it seperately?
A: It took me a year to complete the novella, at one point it kept replaying in my head. So I’ve kind of seen the story, but when I had to put on the paper what I saw, I was very critical of myself, it never looked as good on paper as it did in my head. So I’ve spent a lot of time searching for the right way to put the story to words, at times I would just throw everything away and start all over again. Of course, we had tours and gigs in the meantime writing music for Delain, everything just went on, basically everything happened at the after hours. We recorded separately although at one point, Georg and me recorded at his studio. Writing and recording process was musically really smooth. We recorded with people that who knew each other and we’ve all had experience at that point so this all went really nice, I don’t recall any discussions or anything.
I know Georg from touring, I also did the guest appearance for his band Serenity, but I’ve been working with Oliver for over 10 years. He’s always been involved with Delain records, so actually it was him to suggest that rather than just singing some parts, I should be included in the creative aspect of the record, as well.
Q: Who is the singer of the track “Try” on the album?
A: Her name is Chloe Lowery. Randy from Trans-Siberian Orchestra was playing on the record. He suggested that we ask her for this part, I actually had someone else for that part, but she couldn’t make it. I didn’t know Chloe’s work before and I’m very ashamed of that because to me it was such a pleasant surprise what she has done. I really thought that was amazing. I really fell off my chair the first time I’ve heard her sang the song because I had written the parts that she sang.
Q: What does Phantasma mean?
A: An imagined image of something that is unreal. I really like this in terms of the genre of the story. It is a fantasy story that reflects on real-life challenges. I like the fact that it kind of reflects on this image of fantasy. The title wasn’t my idea. Georg came up with this idea for a title. Oliver has a record called Phantasma in the past with Everon. He hesitated a bit about this. But I think, in the end it really fits the project.
Q: As Phantasma, are you planning to do any gigs in Europe?
A: I don’t feel like doing any real tours with Phantasma because Delain already asks for a lot of focus and attention from all the Delain members, I can’t skip on any of that, so what I’d think this project really has the potential for, it has very theatrical music, it has the story at the heart of it, it has a very rich visual world, so I do think it’d be very nice to do a couple of very exclusive gigs.
Q: Like a musical…
A: Yes, making it larger than life, maybe even with actors, that would be something we would aspire doing.
Q: Do you consider releasing a DVD in the future as Phantasma?
A: In order to do that, we have to do the special gigs first. If we do a couple of shows, not everybody will have the chance to see it live. So a DVD would be a good way to present the present for who didn’t get to see it on stage.
Q: Are you thinking about doing another Phantasma album? Is this a one-time project?
A: It is a one-time project. We all did have a really good time doing this record so I wouldn’t say there is definitely never going to be another album, but for just now we’re not considering that yet. We couldn’t really think anything else other than making it to the deadline for this album.
Q: As final questions, how is Delain doing nowadays?
A: We’re working on an EP. We are announcing it in a few days. It’s going to include some new tracks and fantastic artwork. It’s like a preparation for the new album that’s coming out next year. We’ve put very hard work on it. We have a full year of tour coming up next year.
Q: I realized a sound change in “We Are The Others” album, will you also go for a change of sound for your next album?
A: I don’t think we ever deliberately go for a sound or style changes, the only thing we always say for our upcoming albums is that it will be bigger and louder. But we never think like “Okay, let’s make a completely different move.” Maybe you can say that for “We Are The Others” in a few songs. Basically in the end of a decade together as a band, it makes sense that one thing is a bit different than the other. As song writers and human beings you are in a different place as time goes by. We are not deliberately looking for a different turn to take.
Q: You are a very versatile listener, maybe that affects the changes in the albums?
A: As Delain, we write most of the music as 3 of us. But it surely plays some part.
Q: How is the next Delain album going to sound like?
A: In terms of production, it will be pretty similar to our last album, because we really liked the mixing and the master. The next album is very versatile again and it has very upbeat songs, there is one intense ballad we are working on, as well. So, definitely many different things will be there.
Q: Thank you so much for taking the time Charlotte, good luck with Phantasma and Delain.
A: Thank you, and have a good evening.