Today I have the honour of presenting the interview with Epica, which is one of the most popular symphonic metal bands in the world. Epica's founder Mark Jansen and the beautiful vocalist Simone Simons from the Netherlands agreed to answer me several questions about the beginning of the band, their life values, connections with Poland and future plans. Enjoy it!
(Photocredit by Tim Tronckoe)
QUESTIONS TO MARK JANSEN:
Your musical adventure started in 2002 from the symphonic metal band called Sahara Dust. How do you remember your first steps as a music group and how did Sahara Dust become a metal legend called Epica?
I founded Sahara Dust after my departure from After Forever. We got signed by Transmission Records even before the band was completed. So that was a promising start. The first line up with Helena Iren Michaelsen didn’t work out due to various reasons but the second line up was a succes. As we thought Sahara Dust wasn’t such a strong name after all we decided to change the name into Epica. From there on everything developed well and fast.
You have had a lot of concerts in your career in many different parts of the world. Do you remember you first ever gig? Which one was your favourite?
With Epica (by then still called Sahara Dust but already with the new line up) I remember clearly as it was on my birthday as support of Anathema in the big hall of 013 - Tilburg. This is a great venue and a great opportunity so needless to say that we were very happy with this chance. Some of the guys were extremely nervous that day but all went well :) With After Forever the first one was in our own rehearsal room on a party. I can’t tell which gig was my favourite as there are so many with great and special memories.
What surprises me most in your music is a perfect combination of your growl and Simone's operatic voice - it is something fresh and different in metal bands. What are your greatest musical inspirations and favourite genres besides symphonic metal?
Besides symphonic metal I used to listen to Death metal a lot, bands like “Death”, “Gorefest” and “Sepultura” to name a few. I also like progressive metal: “Dream Theater” and “Symphony X”. Besides metal I also like to listen to atmospherical music like “Clannad”.
It has been almost twelve years since Epica began and now you are one of the most influential metal groups. Does the popularity change your view of the world? What are the most important values for you?
First of all I’m very happy with our current position. Many years of hard work have paid off. My view of the world hasn’t changed by the popularity but mainly by books I read and knowledge I’ve gained. My most important values are living in harmony with nature and being there for each other. I believe in the theory that we are literally all one. So the good or bad things I would do to you, I do to myself at the same time. We’re living in a time where the people with most money have most power. So they are not really the best representatives of my values unfortunately.
I know from your official Facebook page that you like cycling - now you can do it in Epica's special cycling outfit. What are your other hobbies besides leading the band?
Haha yes, it’s nice to have our own Epica Cycling Team now. I can combine my two passions: cycling and music. I like to take pictures of nature. On my Instagram account you can find many of those. Besides that I like to walk with my dog.
In January 2015 I saw your concert in Warsaw and you seem to enjoy our country. What do you think about Poland and your Polish fans?
My aunt is Polish so I have a small connection to your country :) Indeed I enjoy the country and whenever we play in Poland I like to chat with our fans there. In general the Polish fans are very kind and friendly and during the concert they release their inner beasts. I consider the Polish crowd as one of the best in the world!
Every album of yours tells a different story, for example "Consign to Oblivion" is a tribute to Maya civilization and "Requiem for the Indifferent" describes the end of the world. What story can we expect from your upcoming album - are there any plans yet?
Without revealing too much I am thinking about exploring the concept of the Holographic Universe even deeper. It fascinates me, the idea that our experience of reality appears to be a hologram, it would change everything. In that case nothing is what it seems. I ask myself questions like, what is our influence on this reality? Can we change the course of our life? And when everything is one, how is it possible we don’t know this with more certainty and act like it. Life is fascinating and interesting. I like to explore the mechanisms beyond it and the purpose of it.
(Photocredit by Stefan Schippers)
QUESTIONS TO SIMONE SIMONS:
During Epica's gig in Progresja club you said that you visited Poland before you became famous. How do you remember your first time in our country? What do you think about Poland and your Polish fans?
I spend two weeks in Lublin when I was 14 years old. My best friend's grandpa was Polish and his family invited us to stay with them at the country side. They were kind and very hospitable. We ate food from their land and had the best time. I felt at home in Poland. They made me feel like I was part of their family.
You have a blog about beauty and lifestyle - I must tell you that you look gorgeous and it is great that you help other women feel this way too. How long does it take you to be ready to rock the stage? What are your tips to keep the good look during all your performances?
Thank you! I am happy that Smoonstyle is loved by many. For a show I take about 40 minutes to get ready. I wear a good foundation that stays put. I also like to wear a matt lipstick so that my hair doesn't get stuck in to it while head banging. At the side of the stage, I always have a little place with a light and mirror to do quick touch ups in between songs.
(Photocredit by Stefan Schippers)
I also invite you to visit Simone Simons' blog about beauty and lifestyle: