Arven have burst on the symphonic metal scene once again with a powerful new album Black is the Colour. It follows their critically acclaimed debut Music of Light. The band is made up of all female members, with the exception of drummer Till Felden. Carina Hanselmann is the lead vocalist with a dynamic range of highs and mid range sounds that help lift grand symphonic stories skyward for this German band. Black is the Colour is full of a vast array of emotions and powerful symphonic metal as well as some prog-rock tracks. Sea of Tranquility's Mark Johnson recently interviewed Carina to unlock the history and future of Arven.
Mark- Welcome Carina to the Sea of Tranquility. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule promoting your new album Black is the Colour and rehearsing for your tour to answer some questions for your fans. Carina please describe the history of Arven and how you were able to assemble such talented and lovely ladies to create the warm and emotional symphonic metal you perform.
Carina: Hey Mark, I would love to. Our guitarist Anastasia was many years playing in different bands as the only female band member. One shiny day she was asking herself, why not to create a girl-band. After that idea she made flyers and searched for members- thatīs how we all found each other.
Mark Where did the name Arven originate?
Carina: That was an idea of us all, I think that Anastasia had started the discussion, but I donīt know exactly. We were thinking of a name that sounds mystical, female and is short enough to shout for our fans in front of the stage! (laughing).
Mark Before we discuss the new album, how would you describe the music from your debut album Music of Light?
Carina: The music from our first album is, according to our album title, very bright and happy. We have many folk parts in this album that vary a lot with our influences.
Mark Now please describe the transition from Music of Light to Black is the Colour.
Carina: The transformation was something that came out of our minds. In the time we composed the songs to Black is the Colour, many of us had crises in our lives, our lives were changing very fast and unpremeditated. Thatīs why we were so overwhelmed by our feelings. Because of that our songs are a bit harder in the second album and they tell about problems in our lives. We want to make sure that itīs important not to give up but to go on, to go as a stronger person out of it all, to grow.
Mark Where has been one of your favorite places to perform?
Carina: I like the Colos-Saal in Aschaffenburg a lot, because this place is so familiar and the backstage-area is great- yes- and also the food there! That's always very important for me (grinning big).
Mark Describe some other highlights of your touring with the band so far. (Any "Spinal Tap" stories are always treasured).
Carina: Ha ha, I think of a story many years ago. We were playing a gig in Munich and we discovered that they had a tent there with a swimming pool in it. We didnīt think- we simply ran with our beer and fall into the pool- afterwards noticing that we didnīt have any towel or changing clothes at all (laughing)- afterwards we went without drying ourselves into Tillīs car and drove to our hotel- it was a great thing, but we all got a cold afterwards!
Mark That almost sounds like a scene from the holiday movie classic, It's a Wonderful Life. One of my favorites.
Mark From your future gig list it looks like you'll be at the Czech "MetalFest" and the "Out and Loud Festival" with Xandria and Delain. That is some good company to be keeping.
Carina: Oh yes! And I canīt wait to go there and meet them!
Mark Let's talk about Black is the Colour. "Believe" is a powerful, rocking opener. It gets things off to a great start. Your vocals show their dynamic intensity to rise high and then return to mid range. Describe your emotions as you sing this type of rocker.
Carina: I like this song, especially the deeper meaning of the song. Personally I like to vary the voice a lot- I donīt like to sing in one style. I love to combine classical voice and to sing a bit straighter. Very hard to describe my emotions- a lot of adrenaline going through my veins when Iīm singing this song and a feeling of deep contentment.
Mark I don't know where I've heard that melody on "Rainsong" before, but I have somewhere. What beyond the weather and season is the inspiration for this wonderful song which shows your dynamic and versatile voice? (Living in Washington state in the USA we see plenty of rain, so I know how fun it is to watch).
Carina: The deeper meaning was my long-distance relationship. I had to travel from Frankfurt to Hamburg many, many, times. Very often we were phoning each other and we talked about the weather, which was, in many cases, the same. It was raining in Hamburg and Frankfurt and I thought about the distance and that we have the same rain at one time. Thatīs what inspired us to write our song.
Mark The opening piano on "The One for Me" helps launch a powerful synthesizer extravaganza. That was such a great surprise. Lena Yatsula does a great job setting this one up well. Would Lena like to describe how she created those wonderful sounds? She also does a soft and wonderful job on the next track "All I Got".
Carina: Lena is very talented with the piano, she is one of the best piano players that I have ever seen. When she plays it looks as if her hands were dancing over the keyboard, it looks so easy and soft. But behind this light "key-dancing" she has practiced very hard in the Ukraine and also in Germany.
Mark "The One for Me" also includes a great vocal duet with Stefan Schmidt, (any relation to Anastasia Schmidt?). It also provides you with a great showcase for the versatility of your vocal delivery. Is it one of your favorite tracks?
Carina: Yes, itīs one of my favorites! By the way, Stefan Schmidt is not related to Anastasia Schmidt- itīs a very common name in Germany. I like the variation in this song, the differences in our voices and the hard parts in the melody- I love the keys in this song!
Mark Yes, Schmidt is like Smith in the USA. ;^)
Mark "All I Got" is another great vocal showcase for your talents.
Carina: Thank you, I simply like to sing ballads. I like to sing soft with a lot of feelings, also very sad feelings. That touches my soul in a very intimate way.
Mark Which is your favorite instrument?
Carina: Very hard to say. I like the piano, because it fits so well with singing but I also like the harp- the sound of a harp is unique and very special. Thatīs why I want to take harp-lessons as well.
Mark Till Felden opens "My Darkest Dream" with some powerful drums. How does he like being in a band of all female performers?
Carina: I can only speak for Till, but I know that it isnīt that bad to work with 5 girls in a band, itīs not that annoying at all (laughing). He is doing a great job- when we girls are talking about girl stuff. He just sits there and smiles at us. I think after all of these years he is one of the few men that understand women. If he won't be famous with our band one day, he will write a bestseller of our time and then he will be a very rich guy afterwards! (laughing).
Mark Anastasia Schmidt and Ines Thomé, on lead electric and acoustic guitars and Lisa Marie Geiß on bass deliver a powerful, sonic realm. "My Darkest Dream" is a great showcase of their talents. Would you like to comment on their playing or describe the guitars they chose for this or any other tracks?
Carina: Yes. Itīs very important for all members of the band to have lots of fun and passion for what we are doing- thatīs the energy that you can feel when you hear this song. "My Darkest Dream"is a powerful song and with this kind of song the guitarists can have a lot of fun.
Mark Anastasia Schmidt is given credit for songwriting on your press release. Describe the song writing process within Arven.
Carina: I can only answer for myself. When I got the notes from Anastasia we listen to the melody very often and think about a topic that fits best. Many times we write the lyrics together. It is always a topic that is important to us at that special time and place; it always has a deeper meaning. When Anastasia comes up with a new song, we start practicing the song together. Anastasia wrote most of the song before, but while the whole band is together we often discuss or change some things. And then one day, the song is perfect to us.
Mark "Cercle D Emeraude" opens with some rousing violin. Who played that pirate/early English theme? It is an excellent opening.
Carina: The violin is played by a good friend of ours; her name is Anna Kaiser, sheīs very talented.
Mark Who plays the excellent acoustic guitar in the fireside like opening of "In Your Dreams"? It and "Ride On" sounds so much like Blackmore's Night. (Which is not a bad thing at all). Are you a fan of their work?
Carina: When we decided to make a cover song for our bonus album we wanted have classical acoustic instruments. Ines is studying classical acoustic guitar (actually in Los Angeles) and was perfect for this case. I like Blackmoreīs Night a lot, thatīs why itīs no problem for me to have our music compared to Blackmoreīs Night.
Mark Jan Yrlund's artwork is excellent on the cover. Tell us about the rest of the CD artwork and how you found Jan.
Carina: Jan was recommended to us by our record company. We took a look at some other album covers and very convinced that he was the right guy to do the job.
Mark That piano at the opening of "My Fall" took me back to some of Stream of Passion's earlier piano influenced music. It sounded so good to hear that again.
Carina: Thank you so much for the compliment! I like this part, too. The whole song is a musical metamorphosis, it develops a lot. I love the playing of Elena.
Mark Do any of the band members plan solo projects on the side? If so, describe what they plan to do.
Carina: Thereīs no one actually planning a solo project, we are very busy with Arven at the moment. I could imagine perhaps later making something on my own, but it is not planned yet.
Mark What is next for Arven?
Carina: First thing- having a lot of great gigs the next year! And second: Composing and training for our third album. We donīt stop to rock on
Mark Is there anything else I have not discussed that you would like to add?
Carina: If someone is reading this interview and doesnīt know us; you can visit us on Facebook or on our homepage: www.arvenmusic.com.
Mark-Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us. We at the Sea of Tranquility wish you and all of the members of Arven much success with the launch of Black is the Colour and all that you do in the future.
Carina: Thank you too very much for the interview!
(Click here to read our review of Black is the Colour)