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Asylum Pyre

The French female fronted metal band Asylum Pyre has already released three full-length studio albums, of which especially the last one ‘Spirited Away’ is absolutely very worthwhile checking out. After the surprisingly good performance as support act for Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody in 013 I spoke shortly with front lady Chaos Heidi and we agreed to chat more extensively about Asylum Pyre after the tour and that’s exactly what we did…

By: Sjak | Archive under prog / sympho metal

Hi Heidi, when did you start singing and when did you discover that you had a certain talent for it?
I started singing a very long time ago, because I went to music school when I was a child. I started with piano and later on we also had some singing lessons. I decided to start singing in a band at a later age, when I was around twenty-five years old. I wanted to join a metal band and started to take private singing lessons to improve myself. I never stopped thereafter and singing is really in the heart of my life at the moment, as I’m working as a singing teacher as well.

How did you end up in the metal genre?
One day a good friend of mine gave me an Iron Maiden CD and that was really love at first sight. Iron Maiden became one of my favorite bands and I started to listen to other bands as well, also female fronted bands. That’s what made me realize that I could sing in a metal band as well and that was the beginning of my “singing career”…

Which bands besides Iron Maiden and which singers have had an impact on you as a singer?
Within Temptation with Sharon den Adel and After Forever with Floor Jansen, who now got the well-deserved front woman spot with Nightwish, were the ones that have influenced me the most.
Were you involved in other bands before joining Asylum Pyre and if so, which ones were these? Did you do any recordings with these bands?
I started to sing with some small bands in the local area, but we didn’t record anything with those bands. When I joined Asylum Pyre in 2011 it was my first professional band.

When and how did you get teamed up with Johann Cadot and his band Asylum Pyre?
I heard that the band were looking for a singer as their previous one left for one reason or another so I contacted them and told them I really loved their music and was very interested in filling the vacancy they had. So I was invited for an audition and since then I’m with the band.

The last time we spoke to Johann was in 2010 for the release of the Asylum Pyre debut album ‘Natural Instinct?’ on which Carole Alcantara was still responsible for the female vocals? Do you know why Carole left?
I don’t know exactly why Carole left the band at that time, I guess that she just didn’t feel to be in the right place anymore. Probably she didn’t like the way the Asylum Pyre material was developing and besides that, she was also pregnant so that might have influenced her decision as well.

Did you contribute to the song writing for the second album ‘Fifty Years Later’ and if so, in what way?
No, not on this one, because when I joined the band all songs were almost completely written already. When I got in it was just a few months before the recording of the album was going to start, so didn’t really had an opportunity to contribute to the song writing for ‘Fifty Years Later’. Besides that Johann is really the main composer of the band, he is writing all the music and the lyrics for the Asylum Pyre material.

For that album also original drummer Emeric Arnaudeau was replaced by Vince Kreyder. What happened here and what is the musical background of Vince?
I wasn’t there yet when this happened, so I don’t really know why Emeric decided to leave the band back then. Vince was contacted because he was a professional drummer and because he was someone we could rely on. He was very interested in doing the drums for ‘Fifty Years Later’ and joined the band as a permanent member somewhat later. By the way he’s not with the band anymore at this moment.

Looking back at ‘Fifty Years Later’, what do you think of that album now and specifically your vocal performance? Was the album capable of getting Asylum Pyre more recognition in the scene?
We see ‘Fifty Years Later’ as a big improvement when comparing it to the debut album ‘Native Instinct’ and that’s what we are continuously looking for as a band. We want and we think we need to improve every time, to develop the band further and further. We were quite happy with what we have done with ‘Fifty Years Later’, because the sound and the compositions were much better and it gave us a chance to do more gigs in France.

’Fifty Years Later’ was released on Massacre Records. How did you get in touch with them?
We just sent them the recorded album and they answered that they were interested in releasing it. We had a short discussion with them and came to an agreement. It was really great for us to sign with Massacre Records because it is a great metal label and for us it was the first record deal that we had, since ‘Native Instinct’ was self-produced.

The album was recorded in the MII Studio under guidance of Didier Chesneau. Why did you choose for this studio and Didier?
Didier was the main composer and guitar player in the band Headline, so he’s quite a well-known musician in France. We heard about his recording studio and since we wanted to work with a real professional who could bring us to another level, we contacted him and decided to work with him in his own studio.

I think ‘Fifty Years Later’ is quite a strong album with good songs on it, but I truly didn’t understand why a song like ‘Fisherman’s Day’ was included. What was the idea behind this and how did the fans react to it?
As a band we have many different influences and Johann really wanted to include this song on the album. We knew that the style is very different from the rest of the material, but that’s what we like doing with Asylum Pyre. We knew that people would be surprised by this particular song but that didn’t influence our decision to include it on the album.

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When did you start with the preparations for the third album ‘Spirited Away’ and did the song writing process differ with regards to ‘Fifty Years Later’? If so, in what way?
We started working on the new album in late 2013 and recorded it during the whole of 2014, split in different small sessions. Since I was onboard from the start this time, the process was a bit different since I was able to bring my ideas to the table as well. As always, Johann brings in the majority of the material as he’s still the main composer, we exchanges some ideas and changes some small parts of the songs sometimes. As a result of this the songs evolved quite a lot before we started the actual recording sessions.

What was the game plan that you had for ‘Spirited Away’? What did you want to accomplish with it?
We wanted to make the album somewhat more modern than ‘Fifty Years Later’, as that album was really a classic heavy metal record. We wanted to move a bit away from that traditional sound and incorporate modern and progressive elements into our material. As a result ‘Spirited Away’ shows a lot more variety, from poprock aspects to heavy symphonic aspects, which made it hard to properly mix it and to make it sound as a whole, but looking back at it I think we succeeded very well in accomplishing that.

What are in your opinion typical elements that need to be present in a good Asylum Pyre song?
The tune needs to be catchy and it has to sound powerful. Furthermore the songs need to have a good mix between music and lyrics, because also the lyrical aspect of the song is very important for Asylum Pyre.

What are typical topics that Asylum Pyre writes about in its songs?
It really depends on what Johann has on his mind, but ecological themes are very important for us. We tell stories about our earth, nature in general and the relation between people and nature. On ‘Spirited Away’ we focused much more on the human spirit and its twists and turns, which makes the album sound a bit darker than the previous album. This time we touch subjects like autism, schizophrenia and such.

Which songs on ‘Spirited Away’ are in your opinion the best examples of great Asylum Pyre songs and why?
That’s a very hard question and it also depends on the mood I’m in. ‘Unplug My Brain’ is probably the most catchy song, but a song that describes very well what we can do as a band is for instance ‘Soulburst’, because we incorporate so many different things in just this one song, which is what Asylum Pyre is about.

Also this time the line-up of the band has changed as you’ve lost your keyboard player, your bass player and your drummer. Are you such difficult people to work with?
No…we’re just evolving as a band. As Asylum Pyre is on the border of becoming a real professional band, not all people are willing to make this step. We respect that choice but that forces us to go out and search for replacements that have the necessary commitment to take this band to the next level.

What are in your opinion the biggest differences and/or improvements when comparing ‘Spirited Away’ to ‘Fifty Years Later’?
I think the arrangement of the songs have improved, we worked very hard on this. Also the vocals on ‘Spirited Away’ are different, because I tried some new things with different emotions and expressions which also makes this album better than the previous one in my opinion.

Did you write and/or record more material than the thirteen songs that are present on ‘Spirited Away’ and if so, which ones are these and what’s going to happen with them?
Everything that we have prepared is to be found on the album, but Johann always has lots of song parts and ideas on his computer. We could probably have recorded another three or four albums…haha.

You made a video clip for the song ‘Only Your Soul’. Why did you choose this song for that and what is nowadays the importance of a good video clip?
We have chosen this song because of the catchiness of the tune and because of the story that we could tell with it. The subject of the song could be visualized very well and since a video is still very important for promotion purposes nowadays that was really a good thing.

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The album is out for a few months now, so how is the response from both the press as well as the music fans been so far?
The reactions are quite good, both from the press as well as the music fans. We have gotten many good reviews and we’re extremely happy with that. Of course there are some people that still prefer the more classical style of our second album, but the majority is very positive about the evolution that the band has gone through.

The new album made it possible to tour Europe with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. As it was your first time playing outside of France, how was this experience for you?
We got on the tour through a French promoter, who told us there was an opportunity to do this tour. We got in touch with Luca Turilli and he chose us to become the opening act. Of course we were very excited as this was our first opportunity to play abroad. The tour itself was awesome, it was a great experience for us and I hope that we’ve been able to grow our fanbase as a result of that. There was a great click between the bands both on and off stage and that made everything a very pleasant experience.

How difficult was it for you being the opening act?
It’s always difficult for the opening act because most of the people that come to the show for the headliner don’t know you at all. But we had thirty-five minutes to convince the audience and we gave it all we got every night. As a result we were capable of getting good responses from the crowds that we played for.

The female fronted scene is quite big at the moment, especially in the Netherlands, so how are you going to distinguish yourself from all the other bands in the scene? What are Asylum Pyre’s unique selling points?
I think we have our own universe and we’re not trying to imitate or sound like other female fronted bands. The fact that Asylum Pyre has a female singer is not really important, it’s about the music first and I think the music of Asylum Pyre speaks for itself. I hope that because of that we get noticed by the music fans.

As the front lady, you’re the eye-catcher of the band. Doesn’t this put any extra pressure on you and how do the guys in the band feel about that?
There’s always pressure, no matter if you’re a front man or a front woman. Of course I know that I have a central place in the band, because I’m the singer and I’m a woman, but as a band we don’t pay too much attention to it, since we really want to show we’re a band and not five individuals.

Why do you use the name Chaos Heidi and what is your real name?
My real name is Adeline and I started using the artist name as a play of words with the Sepultura album ‘Chaos A.D.’, which sounds exactly like ‘Chaos Heidi’. I thought that was kind of cool back then and made the choice to use that nickname a long time ago, but I sometimes wonder if I should start using my own name again.

Now that the tour is over, what are your plans for the next six to twelve months?
We are working very hard to get more gigs and maybe some slots at the bigger festivals this summer. Furthermore we are also working on some songs for the forthcoming album, but the main thing that we want to do for the next couple of months is to play as much as we can to further promote ‘Spirited Away’.

You’re still a relatively young band, but what is the ambition level that you and the other band members have with Asylum Pyre?
We want to go as far as we can go!

Okay Heidi, I would like to thank you for your willingness to answer my questions. Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you want to express to our readers?
Not really, as we covered a lot of aspects already. We were very happy to come to the Netherlands to play in Tilburg for the first time. We are looking forward to come back to your beautiful country!

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