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Emmanuelle Zoldan: «A creative band needs to evolve and to go out of its comfort zone”
Exclusive interview with the voice of Sirenia
19 декабря, 2020г.
Vera Donovan

Early 2021, Norwegian symphonic/gothic metal band Sirenia will delight their fans with their new studio album — the tenth for the Morten Veland’s project and the third for the vocalist Emmanuelle Zoldan.

It has already become a good tradition for MetalGossip to talk to Emma about every new album with her participation, so we didn’t miss the opportunity to have a chat with the singer about the upcoming album “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”, and on the whole about life.

MG: Emma, last time we talked 2 years ago, right before the “Arcane Astral Aeons” release. So the first question is traditional: what was your life filled with during these two years? How do you cope with this damn pandemic?

Emma: After the “Arcane Astral Aeons” release, we toured a lot with Sirenia, I had some Opera/operetta engagements, I developed my artwork activity and spend some time with my family.

Since February of course, it’s a disaster in terms of contracts, like everyone in music industry, I lost 90% of my engagements…Luckily I have been able to make some opera concerts and a summer production, but all the rest has been cancelled until April…

Even if each of us never stopped creating, writing, recording at home, that’s terrible to be deprived from the stage, from the band and from the fans. It’s been one year this month since we did our last tour with Sirenia…One year without playing together… It looks neverending…

MG: We all are eager to listen to Sirenia’s 10th studio album “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”. As the people haven’t got the chance to listen to it yet, can you please introduce your new album? What can we expect from it? Styles/genres

Emma: In “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations” we brought to the Sirenia’s epic symphonic sound something fresh and modern, giving electronic elements a bigger part without never losing anything of the Sirenia’s essence. The album is extremely variated, offering different interesting atmospheres.

MG: Tell please about the difficulties on your way to this album caused by COVID-19 pandemic. As far as I know all mixing and mastering was done by Morten, not by Jacob Hansen. Why?

Emma: For several reasons, the recording conditions for this album have been different than as usual; First, as the Sound Suite Studio in Marseille (where Sirenia were used to record since 2003) closed, the plan was to record in Norway this time, in February, but due to the Covid situation and the lockdown announcement, we had to cancel my flight a few days before I moved to Norway…we had to wait 6 months to finally make it happen. Same with the video that was supposed to be shot in Serbia, but at the last time we had to cancel the shooting due to the 2nd lockdown…The complicated situation pushed us to find different solutions for this album, also for the mixing/mastering/choirs.

MG: Not long ago your first single and video “Addiction No.1” was released. Unfortunately most comments on the YouTube and many of them in Facebook are negative – people haven’t appreciated this “pop metal” and found the song rather mediocre. What can you say on this point? It is mostly hate, or is there any part of truth in all these waves of criticism? Does it hurt to read it?

Emma: Of course, it’s never easy to have bad feedbacks when you put so much time, involvement and heart at work, especially in the actual situation that makes an album releasing so complicated in every point. But criticism, and also hate have always been part of the dance; some people can’t just dislike, they feel the need to be hateful and aggressive. That’s how it is, this is human nature and that’s the game.

On “Addiction No.1”, it was kind of expectable that some of the “old fans” can be disturbed by this new sound, especially people hoping for years for a return to the first Sirenia’s albums atmosphere; But lots of other fans also know that a creative band needs to evolve, to explore, to go sometimes out of its comfort zone, to experiment new paths. It’s always a risk, for sure, but who doesn’t take any risk in music just die of boredom.

Yes, “Addiction No.1” sounds more catchy, more commercial as a first single can be; but it is far to be a bad song.

I’m confident for the album releasing, because I’m pretty sure that a lots of people will change their mind about our direction after having heard the rest of the album, especially songs like “We Come to Ruins” or “Towards an Early Grave” showing some really heavy stuff.

MG: What about the video? Tell please how, when and where did you film it?

Emma: Here again, our plans have been modified at the last minute, as we had to cancel our video shooting with Icode Team in Serbia, due to the 2d lockdown… We had to find an emergency solution for each of us making a professional video shooting in our respective countries. So frustrating and sad not to be together for the first time for a video shooting…The guys from Icode Team did an amazing work on this video, despite of the situation and the distance, collecting, editing and including our individual shootings to their work. We are extremely thankful for the miracle they did on “Addiction No.1”.

MG: Emma, I just can’t miss the chance to ask about “Voyage Voyage”. Is it a cover version of the famous song? How did you come up with this idea? What can we expect from this cover?

Emma: Yes, it is a cover of Desireless song. For the little story, “Voyage” is a song Morten was used to ask all the time on the playlist when we were in the bus, and it officially became our tourbus opening party song these last years;

The sound engineer also put it sometimes on the PA just after our last song.

This is a kind of funny “tradition” 🙂

And one day Morten came with the idea of the cover and to be honest most of us were not convinced at all; we finally did it, and the result was sounding so cool that we finally decided to put it as a bonus track on the album. 😉

MG: How do you think – have the Sirenia music evolved in “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations” album? In what way does it differ from “Arcane Astral Aeons”, for example?

Emma: Maybe answer will be the same than question 2 😉

MG: Now you’ve got a drummer as a permanent band member. Did he record the drums for “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations” album or… not?

Emma: Unfortunely only some parts, but here again, it was complicated to record drums in studio with the Covid situation.

MG: Emma, did you take part in the composing process this time? I mean vocal lines, suggestion of some ideas…

Emma: Morten has written the music, arrangements and lyrics, I only did the French parts.

As always, he has been very open minded to my suggestions when I want to try something different, but most of time, everything is already written.

MG: Your operatic vocals… It’s something I pray for… Will we hear them on “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”?

Emma: There is some operatic parts for sure, but less than on “Arcane Astral Aeons”. But I absolutely don’t feel frustrated, because this album direction is different, operatic style would have not match with every song; I’m really happy with how it turned out, more powerful versatile and dark side of myself.

MG: Well, enough about “Riddles, Ruins & Revelations”. Let’s talk about your personal creative activities. As far as we know, you are going to be a part of Vivaldi Metal Project’s new album. Can you tell us more about this collab?

Emma: Mistheria contacted me for a collaboration on a metal arrangement of Albinoni Adaggio some months ago; I immediately loved the arrangement and recorded my voice some time later at home during the lockdown. That was nice especially in this period we’re all in need to make music, more than ever. This kind of music collaborations help to feel still active and socially connected to music life and other musicians.

MG: And NesKoH… You’ve just presented your old song in a new rendition. Will there come anything new?

Emma: Nothing is officially planned for now but we think about making another collaboration in the future 😉 NesKoH is a good friend and a great musician, it’s always a pleasure to work with him.

MG: Many fans are interested in your cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” that you mentioned in our previous interview. When do you plan to release it? Who helps you with it?

Emma: I had a lot of other projects to finish before this one, and I didn’t finalize it… Lots of arrangements are still on the works, But it should be released early 2021 if everything turns well. I invited some friends to perform on it but I keep the surprise 😉

MG: Not long ago your friend Sébastien Damiani released this beautiful video with fantastic rendition of Akhenaton’s song “Mon texte, le savon”. I’m really very impressed with such beautiful arrangements that make rap sound so rich. Can you tell us about it?

Emma: I have met Sébastien in 2015 in Marseille, for a project we both were on. We immediately appreciated working together and he often invites me on his musical projects from this time. When he asked me to participate to the arrangement of “Mon texte, le savon” with Akhenaton, I was really glad and excited; first, because I always love challenges in music, but also because collaborating with such a great Rap artist like Akhenaton was an honor for me. Generally, I’m not a big fan of Rap but what Akhenaton writes is just pure poetry that touches me a lot.

When I first heard Sebastien’s orchestral arrangements on the song, I felt in love with this surprising and enchanting mix of genres. The music just makes the lyrics even more beautiful and touching.

MG: As I remember, you took part in Sébastien’s Champions League Anthem. I’m a huge football fan so I just couldn’t miss that. Can you say some words about this collab? Do you like football?

Emma: No I’m not really a football supporter 😀

But it was cool to participate with all these people singing all together, to celebrate the football team of Marseille with this beautiful Champions League Anthem.

MG: Emma, what about your recent activity in Opera. What’s new? How was your annual Offenbach Festival in Bruniquel? What did you play this time?

Emma: We had the chance that we didn’t cancel the “Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein” in July/August, and we gave 10 shows of it. It was fantastic to be on stage again after the first lockdown. I also sang for a date in a Festival in south of France, but unfortunately we didn’t have the same chance with the other productions … I was supposed to sing Carmen and mademoiselle Lange between September and November and 3 other projects in December but everything have been cancelled…

“La Perichole” and “Mireille” are planned for spring but nobody knows for now if we will make it happen or not…fingers crossed!

MG: Have you ever considered a possibility to release a classical album? Or maybe a full solo work?

Emma: Full solo work yes, I’m on it. 😉

MG: Whom would you like to sing in a duet with in metal and in Opera?

Emma: In Metal: James Hetfield.

In Opera: Jonas Kaufmann.

MG: How about your artworks? Are you working on something new? Do you want to create an artwork for further Sirenia releases or merch?

Emma: I’m working on some celebrities portraits. I began with the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper and also an “Allegory of Music”.

Only Frida and David are finished, still working on the others and have a many ideas already in my head.

In artwork like in Music, I love small details. That’s why It takes me so much time to finish only one work!

Regarding creating Artwork for further Sirenia releases or merch, I would be glad to, but we are working with Gyula Havancsák for years now and he’s doing incredible Artworks that match perfectly with Sirenia’s style.

Photo credits: Hervé Brouardelle

Vera Donovan
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