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Factory Of Dreams

Portugal heeft zo zijn eigen Arjen Lucassen, alleen heet die daar Hugo Flores. Maar waar Lucassen vaak de halve muzikale wereld uitnodigt om op zijn platen mee te doen laat Flores het bij zijn favoriete zangeres Jessica Lehto. De rest doet hij zelf, dan blijft het maar zuiver en persoonlijk. Deze aanpak heeft geresulteerd in een uitermate pruimbare plaat zoals je elders kunt lezen. Als je van Nightwish, Therion of Ayreon houdt, of van alle drie, moet je vooral even doorlezen. Maar beter nog: die cd gaan checken.

Door: Hans | Archiveer onder prog / sympho metal

Jessica, Hugo, welcome to Lords Of Metal. Your new cd 'Melotronical' came out just now and from what I hear reactions are quite positive. This is your third release. Is there a steady progression in your popularity?
Hugo: Thanks! You're correct Hans, since the first release ('Poles') we've been gaining many new fans that seem to grow with the music. In fact this progression is also noticeable in the music itself; you know, even though Factory Of Dreams is a very tight band, with a specific genre, our sound progresses along with each release and according to what we wanna create or explore. So, it's safe to say that this is indeed a progressive cybermetal album, if you will, but the band also evolves with each release. For me, 'Melotronical' is our best album to date. I think the fans and the news media, even if they responded pretty well to our previous albums, this time is even more evident. This album is pretty strong, very aggressive for Factory Of Dreams, plus it features an extensive booklet with specific artwork for each song, and the music delivers a strong message. Such is the case with track four ('Protonic Stream') that is very critical of the way people live their everyday lives and how they are confined in this imprisoned society. In fact, an analogy to our own Earth:

“On a trail, like tireless ants
Following their destined path
Fighting for their cold desperate lives
Running towards their boring jobs
Hoping one day to be free...”

Jessica: People do seem to gain a bit more interest for the project for each release yes. To me that comes as no greater surprise I guess, because Hugo is a wonderful songwriter and even though the tracks on our first release are really nice as well, I think Hugo is right when saying that 'Melotronical' is the best Factory Of Dreams album so far. The music is pretty complex but once you've listened so much that the songs begin to open up there are so many nice elements to discover within them.

Is 'Melotronical' very different from the first two releases, and how?
Hugo: Melotronical is indeed different. 'Poles', our first album from 2008, was a very atmospheric metal album, it was slower, 'ambiental' even if it had quite a heavy electric guitar distortion. 'A Strange Utopia' was much more progressive and bold regarding the genres that it approached. 'Melotronical' is far more metal mixed with a “Tronic” feeling throughout and it's much more aggressive. This progression was natural. The world is becoming a far more uncertain place, and everyone reacts. I react with my music, with the lyrics and vocals as well. 'Melotronical' is also different since we totally let the music like 'explode' whenever necessary without thinking if we were crossing over to a type of 'doom metal' sometimes, especially with the drums and guitars. 'Obsessical' is an example of that aggressiveness. It's my favourite track actually. And, as with all our albums, we do not to stick to the norm or formulaic songs. We also like to add 'more' to each composition making them richer. There's always something new added, including orchestrations or some 'hidden' instruments, kind of like subliminal messages and melodies. Jessica also has quite a unique voice and she manages to add the best of herself into each piece of music. On 'Melotronical', it was really brilliant.

Jessica: Well thanks for those kind words Hugo! The tracks are indeed heavier and more complex than in the previous albums. Plus, as Hugo mentions, he has a way with not sticking to the norm, not making standard arrangements. I can't think of many verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus tracks in the releases at all. I definitely don't mean that tracks that are more traditionally built are bad at all, but I'd say the way Hugo writes the music is perhaps something that makes it a bit more unique. I still think you can hear the Factory Of Dreams-sound in each release, so no radical changes have been made for 'Melotronical'. It's just a natural progress, which this time is mainly of the heavier and more complex kind.

Jessica, Sweden and Portugal are not exactly adjacent countries. How did you get involved in Factory Of Dreams? And what is your role in the band, other than delivering vocals?
Jessica: Hugo asked me back in, im 2007 was it, if I'd like to record some demo vocals for him. I think 'Transmission Fails' was one of the first tracks I recorded for and luckily he liked what he heard, so then the cooperation began. I record all vocals in the home studio my boyfriend and I have in our flat, and then I send them over to Hugo for mixing. Apart from just recording vocals I arrange them too, which is probably the most demanding part of the job. Knowing how to sing everything both melody-wise and then blending in the right kind of emotions and atmosphere, plus adding harmonies, is quite time-consuming. Other than that I sometimes give a bit of feedback to Hugo concerning the tracks. For our previous release, 'A Strange Utopia', Hugo made a new arrangement for one track I have originally written myself, titled Broken, which was released as a bonus track of the CD.

The first minute of 'Enter Nucleon' may lead people to believe that you are heavily influenced by Tarja Turunen. Somehow, I think that is not a coincidence. Did I not read that you have been involved in the Nightwish fanclub?
Jessica: I haven't been involved in their fan club, but since 2007 and forward I've been translating their website to Swedish which is really nice. I like both languages and music so why not combine those interests a bit. I have been listening to the band since 1998, so I definitely have some influences from Tarja. I suppose that's unavoidable after having listened to someone for that long, and I've always enjoyed her work within this band. Still I wouldn't say I'm all that heavily influenced by her. Anneke van Giersbergen is my favourite singer and I listen a lot to Enya, Sarah Brightman, Anna Ternheim, Björk and Within Temptation as well, to mention a few of my top female vocalists. I think I'm about equally influenced by all of those singers, but of course that's just my own opinion and what I hear in my vocals. Other people may hear something else.

Jessica, I visited your website and found out that you have some music of your own. Can you tell us something about your musical history and your other musical endeavours?
Jessica: How nice that you found your way there! I started playing the piano when I was around seven. I definitely am no master at it but I do it well enough to be able to record my own tracks and to do live stuff when opportunities are given. When I was fifteen I started singing, and when I was seventeen I started writing songs. For a year I studied Creative Music at the university here where I live, and it was a really nice experience. I learned to play the drums a bit during that course, my drumming skills aren't the best but it's fun so I don't care how it sounds, muahaha. It was really nice to get to perform some of my tracks live during that course, too. Luckily I didn't play the drums there, that wouldn't have been much fun. Or yes, it would, but not in a good way. I've released three demos since 2003 under the project name Once There Was. The music is usually described as gothic rock/metal. I'm currently working on a fourth demo which will hopefully soon be done, and then I have material for two more demos. I suppose I'll keep writing as long as it's possible for me to do so, even if I'd be the only one listening to the stuff in the end. I write for my own sake, so then it's easy to keep it up.

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Hugo, titles such as 'Protonic Stream', 'Enter Nucleon' and 'Subatomic Tears' indicate that there is a Sci-Fi theme, I seem to understand that you use the atomic world as a metaphor for our society. Is that right? Please tell us something about that.
Hugo: Absolutely. If you follow the track list order, there's indeed a story that we're telling. It's all about how an 'engineered' molecule evolves into a living breathing entity and how she experiences emotions and life. Instead of focusing on visually creating certain worlds and sceneries, as opposed to 'A Strange Utopia', I basically wanted to follow closely the sound that my new songs were naturally developing. So, the genre was pretty much electronic or 'tronic' if you will. This said, the idea of following the evolution and life of an electronic molecule into a bionic person started to come together. Each song is a voyage through her life and emotions. This entity simply does not know that it can change her own world… so one of the 'messages' that Melotronical is telling is that we're all capable of 'Creation', and we do have the capabilities to determine the course of our lives. The album begins with the opener 'Enter Nucleon'. It's quite a brutal track, and we see this electronic molecule evolve, getting to know her world and falling in love with it; it's the track ' A Taste of Paradise', track three. Once things start getting clearer, the world isn't such a paradise anymore, stressful lives and no time to really enjoy it. As I mentioned, there's a strong criticism towards our own world, like you so very well noticed in your question. So is the case with 'Protonic Stream', the longest track on 'Melotronical'. It's a very critical view of our world, a system made to survive mainly:

“Welcome to the System
Made for Survival
Not for Living
Protonic Stream”

Upon 'Into Oblivion', everything in her life was dark, desperation took over. When you reach the track 'Dimension Crusher', the entity destroys her current dimension and via 'Reprogramming' starts rebuilding a whole new universe, reprogrammed to meet her visions and desires as a conscious being.

The cd starts off with 'Enter Nucleon', which has some very hectic or even chaotic parts, where music and vocals seem out of sync. What is the meaning of that?
Hugo: Probably the most chaotic in the whole album, because it's where everything fusions. Atoms, protons, electrons everything crushing and fusioning, to create something new. Let's see, this atomic universe is an analogy to our own. Despite huge amounts of empty space, it must be teeming with life. I firmly believe that. There is order in chaos. I take the opportunity also to mention a new thing in this album, since it is introduced with 'Enter Nucleon', which are the male vocals on some of the tracks. These were basically the counterpart, or a complement if you will to what Jessica did so well. So, I heard her melodies and did my parts according to that. I performed vividly, the best I could. So, those songs have a great interaction between me and Jessica. One thing that I ensured, was that male vocals would appear only where the music demanded them. Otherwise, I preferred to stick with FoD's mark with Jessica as the lead singer throughout the full cd. I think she really excelled, even more than on Strange Utopia. Her voice is very controlled and she is very versatile.

Factory Of Dreams is just one of your projects. What is the difference between Project Creation, Sonic Pulsar and Factory Of Dreams?
Hugo: Sonic Pulsar evolved naturally into Project Creation, which is prog rock/metal in essence. Factory of Dreams is more focused in terms of genre. It's symphonic metal or cybermetal and in turn may have elements of gothic metal and industrial. Conceptually, they're all similar, even though each Factory of Dreams album is unique, and the story has a beginning and an end, unlike Project Creation that has story-arc spanning for three cd's. So, ultimately, Factory Of Dreams' concepts provided some freedom for me, since I could develop other themes, such as the one for 'Melotronical', without being confined to a story-arc. With Factory Of Dreams, I always wanted something bordering the progressive genre and the metal genre, but never ever being just one of those in full strength. Most of all, to me melody is always the key; that's what people remember and what music is made of mostly, so the challenge for me was to be able to focus more on that. On my Project Creation cd's, I usually work with lots of musicians, and although this is difficult to organize, it makes the music very vast and complex, bringing lots of new elements and styles to the compositions. This makes Project Creation an epic project, covering lots of different music genres. But it's also more dangerous, because you don't focus that much on a particular style. It can become more experiential.

You do just about everything yourself, from the writing to the postproduction. How do you know if something is right or if something needs a little more work? I mean there is no-one to provide you with constructive criticism.
That's what makes it all more personal and unique and honest. But I receive inputs from Jessica of course and from some occasional listeners that provide some inputs. However, you're right, it's all done by myself most of the time, except for the mastering process. I leave that to other 'ears' and 'Melotronical' was beautifully mastered. But don't you think that sometimes bands rely a bit too much on labels and producers, that thrive to impose stuff or to make the music 'more appealing/commercial', and perhaps the music gets way too influence or unoriginal? Maybe sometimes it's for the good, but many times I see bands loosing their own mark and essence…

Taking your music to the stage would obviously mean that you have to get a band together. Will that ever happen, or will Factory Of Dreams remain an hermitic act?
Hugo: In essence it's a studio band/project, but we never know. We're now very focused on preparing the new videoclip for one of 'Melotronical's tracks. That's gonna be the highlight now. We're trying to setup an epic scenery and having quite an atmospheric take on the video's visuals and aesthetics. I think it's gonna be awesome! Many thanks for the interview Hans! Hope everyone will enjoy the album!

Jessica: Thanks a lot indeed!

Hugo: Oh, one final thing if I may. If you guys have the opportunity, get the full cd; 'Melotronical' features a great booklet with artwork for each song. So even though the album is at iTunes, Amazon mp3,, I have to recommend getting the full album/cd for its presentation. But it's up to the fans of course. Our facebook page is also growing, so, join us there. Here are our official sites where you can hear and see us, send comments, ask questions, and we always reply!

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