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Angel Nation

Nu de Finse zangeres Elina Siirala actief is als frontvrouwe van de succes-formatie Leaves’ Eyes dacht ik dat haar andere band Angel Nation op non-actief gezet zou zijn, maar niets is minder waar, want met ‘Aeon’ levert deze Engelse band wederom een uitstekende plaat af. Daar moesten we toch wel wat meer over te weten gaan komen en dus werd er een belletje gepleegd naar deze uiterst sympathieke en charismatische zangeres.

Door: Sjak | Archiveer onder gothic metal

Hi Elina, the last time we spoke was in the summer of 2014 for the debut album ‘Tears Of Lust’. What did that album mean for the band both from a commercial as well as an artistic perspective?
The first album is somehow always special in every way and it was quite a learning curve for us making it. Via trial and error we finally created an album that had lots of meaningful songs for me and it got a great reception both from the fans as well as the media. It provided us with lots of opportunities and it was a good platform for this second album, so the first album was very important for the band.

Quite to my surprise, in 2016 you were announced as the new singer of Leaves’ Eyes. How did that happen?
Well, that was a very big surprise for me as well. I got a call in March of 2016 and I went all the way to Germany not really knowing what it was about, but when I got there it proves to be about Leaves’ Eyes who were in need for a new singer. It all happened quite fast and it was more or less at the same time as we were starting with the recording of our new album, so we had to put everything on hold for a while.

I would have imagined that the Leaves’ Eyes job was going to be the end of Angel Nation, but that was never your intention?
No, that was never my intention at all. Actually one of the first things that I said was that I wanted to continue with Angel Nation, because that was the start of everything for me in terms of being creative and writing my own music, so it’s very important for me.

How are you going to combine these two acts and which one has priority for you?
We’ll just see how it goes, but we definitely have to plan and schedule things appropriately. Until now it hasn’t been a problem at all and if we keep on having good communication about things I don’t expect it to become a problem in the future as well.

In 2016 you release the Leaves’ Eyes EP ‘Fires In The North’ and the Angel Nation EP ‘Do It Anyway’. Were these meant to show that both bands were still alive or did you have another intention with these?
It was kind of a coincidence that these were released almost simultaneously, but we were already planning on releasing the Angel Nation EP far before I joined Leaves’ Eyes, while the ‘Fires In The North’ EP was meant to bring some new music to the fans with the new singer.

The debut album was released under the Finish name EnkElination and this new one is released as Angel Nation. Do you feel more English now than Finish because of you living in London?
Hahaha…no, not at all. We have really thought about this name change for a long time, but in the end it became quite apparent that people couldn’t really understand, remember or pronounce the original name correctly. So it became quite of a problem to promote the band so we made the hard decision to change the name into the English translation of Enkelination, to keep it close to the old name.

The line-up on the debut album consists of Shadow, Alasdair and Ben, while on the new album Sonny Antoniou, Julia Cadea and Lucas Williamson are featured. Please explain?
When I started the band in 2011, I didn’t really have a plan and it was more about writing some music. But then we were at a point when we needed to perform the material live and then I got help from a few friends who back then wanted to join me on this journey. Unfortunately over the years like many other bands we did encounter some line-up changes for different reasons, but I think we’ve come through it quite well.

So where did you find these new members?
Julia has already been in the band for quite a long time now and we found her on-line when we were looking for people who might be a good fit for the band. Lucas was recruited via a mutual friend of ours as the local scene is quite small and after an audition we knew he was the right guy for us. Sonny is a friend of Lucas, so when we needed an new guitar player he was recommended by Lucas. With this line-up we have a great chemistry in the band now.

Most of the songs are however still written by Shadow and you. Does this mean that these tracks were already written before the new members came on board?
Shadow decided to leave the band just after the single was released in 2016 and the complete album was already written back in 2015. As mentioned earlier we were ready to hit the studio at the time I got asked for Leaves’ Eyes and because of that things got postponed a bit.

Did the writing process differ in any way from the debut album and if so, in what way?
It was quite a better working process this time, because it was a much closer cooperation between the two of us. Furthermore he had more freedom for the guitar parts and I think that you can also hear that from the actual end result.

Although Sonny Antoniou is mentioned as the band’s guitar player, on the album cover it is stated that the guitars are done by Olly Steele?
We wanted to really take our time to find the right guitar player, because whoever would come on board would have big shoes to fill. So back in the time when the album was recorded we didn’t have a guitarist yet, so I had the option to not record the album or to have somebody else record the guitars. I made the decision to continue with the recordings and I asked my good friend Olly to step in and I think he did a great job.

The debut album was released as an independent release, this time you’ve scored a record deal with Inner Wound Recordings. How did you get connected to them?
I was already in touch with a few record labels before everything with Leaves’ Eyes started and one of them was Inner Wound. When the time came, I contacted them again to see whether they were still interested in working with us. They’ve proven to be a great label and I’m very happy that they can take care of some of the logistical responsibilities from me, so that I can truly focus on the band. We will see how it will go in the future as we haven’t really decided yet.

Your music combines a lot of elements from different genres, which makes the material very varied. Is that something that comes natural to you or is it a deliberate thing to create variety in the song material?
It’s mostly a natural process, because although I’ve been writing music for a long time already I’ve learned a lot since the ‘Tears Of Lust’ record. Therefore I’ve developed more as a song writer in every way and I had more freedom in my song writing this time. I wasn’t scared to step out of my comfort zone, but just experimented more with different things. I’ve really evolved as a song writer because of that.

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What are typical elements that need to be present in a great Angel Nation song before you decide to release it on an album?
For me it’s a lot about melodies as catchy melodies are what I like about a truly great song. I’m really looking to piece together all the different instruments to create the right vibe for a song. But unfortunately there’s isn’t a magic formula to write great songs, so sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you want it.

Why did you decide to call the album ‘Aeon’ as there is no song with that title on the album?
We were thinking about the album title within the band and we wanted something that would represent the album in some way. Actually, Julia was the one who came up with ‘Aeon’ and we all instantly felt that it was a great title as it represents something substantial for generations and that’s what we want this album to be. Next to that she pointed out that all the letters of ‘Aeon’ were in the band name as well, so that was quite a funny coincidence.

Why did you choose the Titan Studios for the actual recordings?
Our producer Mark knew the owner of that studio, so that’s how we found the place and we did all of my vocals there. There’s not a big story behind the selection for this studio, it was just mentioned to us by our producer.

The first single and video from the album is ‘Burn The Witch’. Why did you choose for this particular song and will you release more singles and videos from the album?
First of all we all thought that it was a really strong song and we felt that it could be a good single. We intentionally took a big risk both visually and musically as the message in the song is about the modern world where we are overwhelmed with social media and people use phones and laptops more than direct communication. We thought that this would be quite an interesting topic to cover. We are going to release another lyric video for the song ‘Breathe Again’ within the next couple of weeks.

How important is a video nowadays for a band like Angel Nation as there are not too many broadcasting possibilities anymore besides YouTube?
Videos are still very important as people become more and more visual nowadays. Besides that YouTube is still one of the biggest places for people to find new music, so it’s good to have a presence there.

On ‘Free’ Jukka Pelkonen is featured as guest musician. Why did you feel that this song needed male vocals and how did you get Jukka in for this job?
The way the song was written with the heavy riff asked for a male vocal in my opinion and since we toured with Omnium Gatherum in the US, Jukka was someone I instantly thought about because he has a real brutal voice and luckily he was immediately up for it. I my opinion he did a great job as the song sound really good.

On ‘Music Plays’ there as very special guest spot for female violin player Merit Palas, who is your mother. How did this come about?
It started with the idea of the dialogue between the vocals and the violin, so when I started arranging it with Shadow’s help it became clear that we needed a real violin. Of course it was a natural choice to ask my mother, so she came to visit me in London and recorded her parts

I know it’s always a difficult question, but if you had to pick one song from the debut album that would represent Angel Nation best, which one would that be and why?
Oh dear, that’s really difficult for me…because I really love all the songs in their own way and they’re all so different. If I’m forced to pick one I would probably go for ‘Enough Is Enough’, as for me it a very different track from all the others. It’s a bit of an eighties anthem, so I really like it.

Did you record more material than the ten songs that are to be found on this debut album. If so, which ones and what is going to happen with them?
No, the schedule was quite tight so we really picked which songs we needed to be recorded for the album and we didn’t record any more at this time. I did have a few others, but we might use them later as they need some more work before we can record them.

The album is produced by MW. Why this abbreviation and how do you feel about the album sound-wise yourself?
It was the request of our producer not to mention his full name on the album, maybe because he want to create a bit of a mystery around himself. And it works, as you’re asking about it…haha. I think we’ve all learned a lot since the first album and that’s the reason why the album sounds way better than the debut. We really wanted to keep the band vibe on this one and therefore we didn’t want it to be “too perfect” if you know what I mean. Listening back to it I think we’ve succeeded pretty well in achieving that.

The cover artwork of the album was done by the well-known Jan Yrlund. What was the assignment that you gave to him for the creation of the cover?
I really like his work and style and therefore I wanted to work with him. We spoke about the concept of Angel Nation with him as we wanted something that would represent the band name. We talked about the idea of a city in the sky and a couple of years ago there was a picture of a city in China that was reflected in the pollution in the sky. Jan then came up with the idea to add a figure to that, but I didn’t want it to be a normal figure but more of a robotic half-human futuristic style character and I think he did a great job in combining all these ideas into the cover artwork.

What are typical subjects that you like to write about in the Angel Nation songs?
It can be anything to be honest as I can get inspired by the world around me, my personal life or the people that I meet. I don’t limit myself to certain topics for the lyrics.

What are you own personal expectation from this album? When will it be a success for you?
I just hope that people will like it as that’s the main reason why we write music. Hopefully people will buy the album and come to our shows, that would be great.

There’s a short European tour planned in December of this year, but what more can we expect in 2018 concerning your touring plans?
We’re going to do as much as we can, but we have to make the schedules work for anyone because we all have our own lives and obligations. Furthermore I have commitments with Leaves’ Eyes as well, but we’re planning everything now way in advance and I hope that we get to play lots of shows in 2018.

Okay Elina, 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?
I think we pretty much covered everything. Thanks for the interview and I hope that your readers will like our new record!

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