Hi ladies, the first thing I would like to know from you is who came up with the initiative to create Exit Eden and what was the game plan that you had when founding the band?
Anna: The whole idea of taking the pop songs and turning them into metal anthems came from the music producers we work with. When they came up with the idea they asked Amanda and me to sing in the demos for the pilot tracks, so it started more or less as a studio project for me which later on became a real band. Amanda had the idea to ask Marina, who was an old friend of her and they together came up with the idea to ask Clementine to join and that’s how it all started.
So the intention from the start has always been to do a cover album and to rework these pop songs into bombastic metal tracks?
Clementine: Yes, that was the plan from the start. As Anna already mentioned, everybody was so enthusiastic about the result when working on the first tracks, that the idea grew from there to make an entire album out of this. Pop music is such a huge genre with many different periods and artists, so when you open the gate to a new approach of pop songs, you have almost limitless possibilities.
Who came up with the band name Exit Eden and does it have any special meaning?
Anna: That’s always the big question when you have the band started and clear ideas about what you want to do, what are we going to call ourselves? We’ve had lots of conversations about that between the four of us and in the end Amanda came up with this name and we all thought it was a name that really fits what we’re doing.
Clementine: It was very important for us as the four female singers what our name was going to be, because everybody agreed that it should be our band, although we made this album with a much larger team. When Amanda thought about the name, she wanted to step out of the clichés that women can’t be strong and independent and position us as the rockers of pop music to show that women can be strong, daring and powerful. This whole album is a daring affair, because to rework all these famous songs and try to make something new out of it requests courage and Exit Eden is a way for us to praise girl power as we’re daring enough to do these kind of things.
The core of the band consists of four female lead singers, all coming from different counties. Weren’t you afraid that this would create a lot of logistic difficulties for this adventure?
Anna: We didn’t even think about that when it started, because we just kind of came together and started thinking about that aspect later. We knew that it would be hard, but we have every intention to make it work.
Clementine: Marina is originally from Brazil, but she’s been living in Germany for a number of years already, so it’s not like we’re completely living at the other ends of the world, but it indeed requires a little bit of logistic planning. We’re all organized and professional enough to be able to cope with that. So far it’s working and we all want this to work out, so it probably isn’t going to be a big deal.
Clémentine, you are known from bands like Whyzdom, Serenity and Visions Of Atlantis, while Amanda has been active in Avantasia and Trillium. The other two ladies are not as well-known yet, so could you introduce them further to us, especially their musical background?
Anna: I have been a musician for several years. I work as a studio singer, I write songs and try to make a living with music. I’ve been in some rock/punk bands before, but we never really got big. We played small gigs, but were never able to score a record deal. So to be part of Exit Eden is really a big thing for me and I’m glad that this has worked out so well.
Clementine: Marina has been a singer and a musician for a pretty long time as well. She had several bands back in Brazil, including an Evanescence cover band. She wanted to move to Europe and started to do musicals. She’s now also part of Sander Gommans’ new band as the lead singer and as they’ve just finished the recordings for the first album, you will hear more from her in the near future.
For the first release ‘Rhapsodies In Black’ you got a record deal with Napalm Records. How was this deal established and how does it look like?
Clementine: The connection with the label was pretty easy as it’s one of the biggest independent labels for this kind of metal music. The negotiation went pretty fast and Napalm for us sounded like a very good choice. I’ve been working with Napalm for several years and I feel very confident about our collaboration. It’s a little bit too early to talk about possible second or third albums, because it will depend quite a lot on how the public welcomes this one. But for us this band was not created as a one-off project, but as a real band and whenever the time is ripe we will start the discussions for a possible second album.
How did the selection process for the covers look like? Who decided which covers would be featured on the album?
Anna: For me the process for this already started two years ago as I work very closely with the music producers. I was there in the whole process, even before knowing that I would be part of the band. Of course it’s always hard to pick songs, but important to us was that our versions needed to be very different from the originals. The contrast with the original version needed to be clear, because otherwise it wouldn’t have any use to re-record it.
Clementine: We joined when the selection process was already done. At first there was a list of about forty titles that could become an Exit Eden song and after lots of discussion we limited this list to the eleven tracks that are on the album. The main requirement for us was that these re-recorded pop songs needed to sound different and fresh once being an Exit Eden song.
Did you record more songs than the ones that are featured on the album?
Clementine: There were one or two trials on some titles, but for some reason it didn’t work out correctly.
Why did you not incorporate any metal songs on the album?
Anna: We were really looking for a big contrast and when we had chosen a metal song then the contrast wouldn’t have been so big. That was definitely the thought behind it.
As you are with four singers, how is it determined which vocalist does which part of a song?
Clementine: This would have been very tricky if the decision would have been totally in our hands, but we were very lucky that the producer’s team was there to guide us with these kind of issues. It’s hard for us to take the necessary distance from the material and do what’s best for the end result. So we had to step back a little when it came to how the different parts would be divided so that our ego’s couldn’t get in the way.
Anna, you were involved from the beginning in this project. When did the other ladies jump on the bandwagon and in which studio(s) were the vocals recorded?
Anna: Most of the recordings were done in the studio of the production team, which is Elephant Music based in Northern Germany, where we came together to do the vocals. Amanda did some of the work in her studio as well, but the main part was done at Elephant Music studios.
Clementine: Marina and I were brought in at the same time when most of the instrumentals were done and we did our vocal recordings at the end of last year.
How do you feel about the actual end result of the album from a sound perspective?
Anna: I like it a lot as every song has its own magic in a way. The production makes the songs sound so great and the team did a fantastic job there in my opinion.
Clementine: We really wanted to create a modern massive metal sound and use real instruments only. I have to agree with Anna that we’ve succeeded in creating a very powerful sound for the album.
Of course there’s a risk in transforming well-known pop songs into metal tunes. Weren’t you afraid that a lot of people weren’t going to like it or was that in fact exactly the challenge that you were looking for?
Anna: I think we were counting on people not liking it as there are always a lot of people that don’t want you to change the originals, especially when it concerns very well-known pop songs. For us it was just a cool idea and great fun to do it, so we took the opportunity to do this.
Variety is one of the strengths of Exit Eden, yet you sound very recognizable. Is that something that you were intentionally looking for of did that happen naturally?
Clementine: There was a lot of work done on the sound to make the album coherent from that perspective. Even though a lot of songs are from various periods of time and not all the arrangements are the same, which probably added to the variety aspect, we needed to make a natural connection between the different songs and make it sound like one album.
Who came up with the album title ‘Rhapsodies In Black’ and what is the meaning behind it?
Anna: I don’t really remember anymore, but the process was similar to finding our band name. We did some brainstorming and came up with a bunch of album titles, which we limited to three.
Clementine: At the last part of deciding the album title we threw titles like ‘Songs In Black’ or ‘Melodies In Black’ into our group chat and when someone came up with the word rhapsodies, we ended up on ‘Rhapsodies In Black’ which everyone agreed to.
Who was helping you out with the instrumental parts on the album?
Anna: The instrumental parts on the album were mainly done by people who also worked with the Elephant Music production team, but also Sascha Paeth did lots of guitar work on the record.
So far you’ve released three videos being ‘Unfaithful’ (Rihanna), ‘Impossible’ (Shontelle) and ‘Incomplete’ (Backstreet Boys). Why these songs and why in this order?
Clementine: For the first song it was very important to make it clear what the direction of Exit Eden was, so we wanted to release a song that was more metal, but also the original artist was one of the criteria for choosing that first song. Rihanna is an artist that is very talented in creating controversy and for us it was important to draw attention to our project and create intense reactions and I think it was a nice provocation to the metal universe to do a Rihanna song as the first one. And I must say that just like expected this first video resulted in a lot of reactions and emotions. Later on it was more developing Exit Eden’s sound and show different aspects of the band. ‘Incomplete’ and ‘Impossible’ were completing what ‘Unfaithful’ started to show.
Which cover is best succeeded in your opinion and why?
Anna: My favorite song is ‘Unfaithful’, because I really like the contrast of the original song and our version, which is so different and so powerful.
Clementine: Yeah, that one really shows what our band is about, that it’s not just covering songs but making something totally new out of it. ‘Frozen’ is one of my favorite songs of all time, so when I knew that this song was going to be on the album I was super excited. I’m extremely happy with the version that we did, because we totally kept the spirit, but at the same time made it much heavier and more powerful.
As you’re going to continue as a band, probably the second album isn’t going to be a cover album?
Anna: To be honest, we don’t know yet what we’re going to do for our next album. We hope that this is going to be a great success and that we will get the opportunity to record a second album, but at this moment we can’t really say anything about that yet.
Okay ladies, 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?
Clementine: Don’t be afraid about the concept of making metal versions out of pop songs. Don’t be stuck into the clichés, but be open-minded enough to give it a try as you might be surprised.