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Interview: Pythia

mit Emily Ovenden vom 2. Dezember 2012
Normalerweise stammen die bekanntesten Symphonic Metal-Bands aus den schönen Niederlanden oder vielleicht auch noch aus den Skandinavischen Ländern, die sich beide schon eine Art Monopol an guten Bands dieser Szene aufgebaut haben. Da schießen einem dann auch sogleich Namen, wie Epica, Nightiwsh, Delain oder auch die 2009 aufgelösten After Forever.
Und nun haben wir mit Pythia einen etwas anderen Genrevertreter, der aus dem für sein launisches Wetter bekannten London stammt. Wie uns Sängerin Emily Ovenden im Interview berichtet, ist jedoch nicht nur die Herkunft der seit dem Jahr 2007 aktiven Truppe etwas Besonderes. Nein, auch ihr Symphonic Metal Sound ist ziemlich einzigartig und wird von der Band selbst als eine Art Symphonic Thrash Metal beschrieben.
Es klingt auf jeden Fall exotisch, doch was genau verbirgt sich hinter dieser Selbsteinschätzung? Hat da ein pfiffiger Songwriter einfach mal zwei Genres kombiniert, von denen man nicht unbedingt erwarten würde, dass sie zusammen passen? Oder war das gar keine geplante Entwicklung und der Sound der Band kam einfach aus den Mitgliedern so natürlich hervor, wie ihn die Fans heute zu hören bekommen?
Außerdem berichtet uns Emily von Erlebnissen mit Fans, die in ihrer Verehrung für die Band den einen oder anderen Schritt zu weit gegangen sind sowie auch von ihrem im Jahr 2009 unter dem Titel „The Ice Room“ erschienenen Roman. Diesem soll voraussichtlich ein weiteres Werk namens „Glass Friends“ im Verlauf des kommenden Jahres folgen. Weitere spannende Themen findet ihr im unten stehenden Interview!
Viel Spaß beim Lesen!

The interview:

Alex: Hi Emily! How are you doing and how is the whether in the UK?
Emily: As changeable as ever ... not sure if it’s autumn, winter or something else entirely!
Alex: Pythia's music is most commonly described as something between power and symphonic metal. Where would you see the band on the genre line?
Emily: I guess we would call ourselves symphonic thrash metal? Like most bands nowadays, we draw from a lot of different influences, not least of which is extreme metal, from the guys’ backgrounds, so there’s that fast, technical base. But then we all love more melodic-sounding stuff so that brings in the symphonic element which I think gives the music a more epic feel.
Alex: Where do you see the major similarities between these two styles – power metal and symphonic metal – that makes sounding great when mixed together?
Emily: Ummm… to be honest I sometimes find it hard to differentiate between the two as they’ve been pretty closely-tied for a long time. Rhapsody have had elements of both from the out and as soon as you introduce keyboards or synths to a band – as most power metal bands seem to have – you get that symphonic edge to the sound. I think power metal has always had that neo-classical influence, so it’s not surprising it would sit well with more traditional classical sounds.
Alex: Especially the symphonic metal is a styles that is very much dominated by bands form the Netherlands or other Scandinavian countries. Do you try to adapt to their style of music or do you rather try to sound different in direct comparison to them?
Emily: We just write what comes naturally. We certainly don’t try and copy or emulate any specific bands or genres and on the flip-side, we don’t try to sound different to anyone on purpose. We’ve developed our sense of what sounds right from listening and playing over the years and we just write songs that fit with that.
Alex: What’s the intention behind your music? Do you want to transport a certain message – or different ones in different songs? Or is it more like pure entertainment?
Emily: I think you can communicate a message, have deep meaning and still be entertaining. The drive behind it is really just expressing our feelings and thoughts on the world around us. It’s kind of a release and there’s thought and intention behind the lyrics, the music, but it’s also something that we just love doing. So I guess it’s a bit of both.
Alex: How much of a deal is music in your very own live?
Emily: Music is everything to me. Always has been, always will be. It is main driving force and keeps me sane.
Alex: Do you sometimes listen to your own songs?
Emily: Yes all the time!
Alex: And when did the music actually become your life? Was there any key moment?
Emily: My dad taught me to sing a song when I was 5 yrs old. It was "Du bist wie eine Blume" Schumann. I was hooked from that moment onwards.
Alex: What would you say has been the most enlightening moment in your history as a musician? Any especially memorable stories (anecdotes) you would like to tell us?
Emily: Having a child has made me appreciate my time on stage more. I now know that if I am away from him I have to enjoy what I do and be good at it otherwise what's the point. Also a fan once dropped dead when we were in the middle of a conversation. She was a young woman with a heart problem. The last thing she said to me was, 'I'm absolutely fine.' That made me realise how fragile life is and how we must live for the moment.
Alex: Has there been any point in your career, where you actually thought about giving up this whole music business?
Emily: Many many many times. Mainly when I'm sick of being poor and promotors are treating you like shit. A recent trip on Ryan Air made me think there had to be an easier way of not making a living!
Alex: How is your experience in concerts? Is it only a small elite of fans coming, or are the people quite open to your musical approach when you’re playing like at a festival?
Emily: Like a lot of bands, we see plenty of familiar faces at shows. We’ve definitely got a hard-core of loyal fans who are awesome and always seem to be there to support us. But hopefully we’re gaining new fans all the time. When we played Bloodstock earlier in the year, it seemed there were a lot of people who didn’t know us that well before but who really warmed to our performance and had just had a great time watching us.
Alex: Generally, how is it for you to play concerts abroad? Still a thrill or already bald routine?
Emily: The buzz of playing live never gets old! We’d love to be playing abroad more as we’ve found the response is always humbling. I think people really appreciate that you’ve made an effort and travelled so far, just to share your music and hopefully help people forget their stresses and concerns for an hour or two.
Alex: How do you prepare for exhausting touring activities?
Emily: The usual kinds of things you’d expect. Practicing, obviously. And also just mentally preparing yourself, thinking through what you’re performing, what kinds of things you might encounter on the road. Of course things never turn out like you expect, but just psyching yourself up for it can really help.
Alex: Do you actually notice a difference between the audiences of different countries?
Emily: Yeah, definitely! Though you get some countries that have similar audiences to other countries. The UK is definitely different to the rest of Europe, as you’d expect. They can be more reserved, but still show their appreciation in a really enthusiastic way. Places like Spain and Italy, the fans can be far more passionate. I guess it kind of reflects the temperament of the people.
Alex: Have there been any disturbing experiences? Maybe fans that went “too far”?
Emily: Yes, I certainly attract the middle-aged man with marriage problems. In the past I've been far too available and too open. It's a difficult balance as I really enjoy interacting with fans but I've learn't my lesson the hard way and I won't ever let that happen again
Alex: So it’s still an amazing job for you to do and not at all like feeling burned out or something like that?
Emily: We all question our commitment at times, but I think if it all got too much, we’d quit, or at least take a break. The passion for it is still there and whatever issues or problems we’re facing, that is enough motivation to drive you through it.
Alex: When you’re writing an album, how do you actually do that? Is it like actually composing them or more like having a large-scale jam session?
Emily: Probably our approach is becoming more common with the way the industry is going. Generally, the guys come up with musical ideas and pass them around. Often they’ll be fairly structured songs, though everything goes via Ross who compiles and arranges the ideas into something musically completed and then send to me to work on vocal melodies, lyrics and arrangements. We all live fairly far away from each other, so working this way is the easiest way to do it. It seems to have worked so far!
Alex: What do you find to be most difficult in writing or coordinating the whole process? What do you like most?
Emily: I think the most difficult part is agreeing on the final versions of things! We’re all very passionate about the music and have strong opinions on how things should sound, so getting to a final decision that pleases everyone can be challenging. But I think that’s a good thing as we make sure the songs are the best they can be.
Alex: You published a fiction novel called „The Ice Room“ in 2009. What can you tell us about that?
Emily: I was my first attempt at a novel and I'm still very proud of it. It's going to be released as a new edition in 2013 through a new publishing house called Footsteps Press that I have started working with. I hope to have a new novel out, called Glass Friends in late 2013.
Alex: Are there any major similarities between composing a song and writing a book?
Emily: One is just a lot longer and more detailed.
Alex: What can you tell us about the future of Pythia?
Emily: Looking into the Pythian crystal ball, I can see lots of exciting opportunities! Obviously we have the album out in Europe now, so we’re working on getting some shows organised across the continent next year. We have a similar situation in South America, where we have interest in the album being released there, so that’s another territory we’d look at expanding in. And then of course, we’re working on album number 3, which is already developing at an impressive pace!
Alex: Would you like to leave some final words to the fans out there?
Emily: Thanks for your time. Please check out our music and let us know what you think.
Moderation: Alexander Kipke

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