At a certain age you started playing in bands, what kind of bands did you play in?
I think I started my first band in junior high. We played a lot of Nirvana covers and tried our best to write new songs. Over the years I’ve been in a lot of band that played both covers and originals.
How did you guys meet each other and what made you decide to form this band?
Van Halst started as a solo project for me. Scott and Ii have known each other for many years and started working on this project in 2013. Once it was established that the sound was going to be heavier then turning the project into a band made more sense. Scott met Brett while tracking in the studio and I met Brendan when she moved to Toronto. Thus, Van Halst was created.
What things were the inspiration for the subjects of the songs of 'World Of Make Believe'?
‘World Of Make Believe’ contains ten songs that speak to a variety of social justice issues such as poverty, youth homelessness, religion, domestic violence and feminism. We strongly believe that musicians and other public figures have a responsibility to try and create positive social change through their art and their voice: ‘World Of Make Believe’ is our contribution. We want this album to make people think about systemic issues in a different way and motivate them to create positive change through activism. I became very active in charity work, political activism and community impact during her time at the University of Alberta where I completed a double major Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology & Musicology. I witnessed youth homelessness, poverty, domestic violence and inequality through volunteer time and youth work in the Edmonton community and felt compelled to write about my experiences.
What are the things that inspire you to write your music? And what message are you trying to deliver?
We get our inspiration from everyday life and the world around us. ‘World Of Make Believe’, we really want people to open their eyes and not ignore the world around them. Everyone can be doing so much more to make a difference in the world. We need to be critical thinkers.
It’s clear that reviewers mention bands like Evanescence, how do you react to that?
It’s something we can’t change. We are big fans of Evanescence and it’s true that my voice sounds a lot like Amy Lee’s. We try to differentiate ourselves by creating a heavier sound and utilizing different parts of my voice like the screams and growls.
Most critics are enthusiastic about your debut album, what does this mean for the attention from the side of record companies?
We actually aren’t signed to a label at the moment. We are releasing this album ourselves and we’re really excited about it. The reviews that’s we’ve gotten about the album so far have been amazing. We’re so excited that people are liking what we’re putting out there.
If I listen to the screams and grunts, I wonder how do you keep your voice in shape?
Lots of practice. I work very hard on my voice and enlisted the help of some of the best vocal coaches when I decided she wanted to learn how to scream and growl. You have to think of training your voice like any other muscle, it requires rest, exercise and lots of water.
Who is on you wish list to play music with and why?
My biggest influences are Shinedown, In This Moment and lately I’ve been getting really into Motionless in White. I would love to tour with any of these bands! They are all such powerful performers and I would love to learn from them.
How do you stay fresh for the writing of songs?
Songwriting is so hard. We try to draw inspiration from the world around us. We also take breaks if we need it. We like to set aside certain times for writing and we try not to beat ourselves up if nothing comes out.
What’s your 2016 goal?
I have some goals in mind for the album, personal goals anyways. Being that this is our debut release I think we have realistic expectations. We want to introduce ourselves to the metal community and play as many festivals and shows as we can.
Thanks a lot for answering these questions, what question did I forget?
Thanks of having us! We’re really excited for this year. You can check us out at our homepage and follow our blog posts to see what we’re up too.