Interview with Marcela Bovio [Stream of Passion]

Danielle Eley catches up with Marcela Borvia, frontwoman for Mexican/Dutch symphonic metal band Stream of Passion a couple of hours before their show at Sheffield on 12th December.

Danielle: Hi Marcela, it’s nice to meet you finally. I saw you [Stream of Passion] last time when you toured with Leaves’ Eyes. This is your second [UK] show with Epica on the tour, how’s it going?

Marcela: It’s going great. We’ve had three shows so far – two in France and one, yesterday, in Nottingham – So yeah, it’s going great. We knew the combination works really well, from this year in April with the European tour, together with Epica. The audiences are fantastic. We share a bus with them [Epica], so it’s also a lot of fun, so yeah, we’re really enjoying it.

D: That’s great. Like I mentioned before, you toured with Leaves’ Eyes, but this year you’re doing more UK dates. Are you excited?

M: Oh, definitely! Especially since it’s a country that we haven’t had the chance to tour properly, especially back in the beginning when the band was just starting, so it’s always nice to see some different places. We also had time to visit the city a little.

D: So you’ve been for a look round Sheffield then?

M: Yeah!

D: Did you enjoy it?

M: Yeah, I did. I found a place that did falafels and bought some stuff, which is always nice, if you have the chance to do that.

D: The perks of touring?

M: Yeah.

D: I’ve been doing my research and language is a big part of Stream of Passion. You conduct in both English and Spanish, whose idea was that?

M: Funnily enough, originally the idea came from Arjen Lucassen who was in the band at the beginning. Well, he’s Dutch and he thought it would be nice if you’d put some Spanish into the songs, so I was like okay. Of course, I like the idea of singing in my native language. The audiences in America aren’t used to hearing something that’s not in English but in Europe, it’s way more well received and people actually enjoy it a lot. So, yeah, that’s great and I went ahead and did and nowadays, I just go ahead and give myself the freedom to write whatever language I feel like.

D: It’s the same in the UK though, isn’t it?

M: Yeah, I think it’s really great that people over here are able to appreciate that. Even that maybe you don’t understand the words, there’s the musicality and the ring to it and the musicality of the language is completely different. Well, for me, it’s a nice way of expressing myself.

D: On the topic of language, have you thought about bringing any others in as you speak French a little bit and you also speak Dutch?

M: Yeah but my Dutch is way better than my French. For some reason, I don’t think any Dutch bands think it’s cool to sing in Dutch.

D: Really?

M: Yeah! It’s really funny because basically most Dutch is very popular or like folky or kinda tacky music – At least that’s the impression I get from the metal bands anyway. But I like it. We might have the first Dutch symphonic metal song written by a Mexican.

D: Well, why not? While we’re on that subject, you did Nadie Lo Ve in Spanish. Why just that song? Because the other songs are in both English and Spanish. This one is completely in Spanish.

M: Well, you know when I’m writing the songs, I usually start with the music and the melodies for them and when I’m creating the melodies, I already have an idea like “okay, this has to be in language” or “this has to be in another language”.  That also gives me ideas of what the song should be about. But basically that song I had written along time ago but I hadn’t put any words to it, but I had basically come up with the inspiration for the words a few years ago when my grandmother passed away, so it was a very obvious choice to make it in Spanish. I felt it was right.

D: I thought it would have been because there’s a lyric in it which goes “He speaks words I don’t understand” because the vast majority speak English.

M: Actually, that idea, that image, is basically about things happening that you can’t comprehend and when someone passes away, it’s always beyond our understanding. It’s kinda like a metaphor, not being able to understand some words. I like your interpretation of it! It’s really nice, it’s…

D: It shows I’m interested.

M: Yeah!

D: Even though Darker Days was released last year, are there any ideas for a new album?

M: Yeah, actually, we’ve been writing for a little while so we have some new songs already but we’re not gonna be playing any of them tonight but we are gonna be playing some new stuff at the end of the year in Holland, where we have this end of the year show where we have all sorts of guests, joining us for songs and stuff. So, it’s nice to keep working on new stuff.

D: That does tie with our next question because there’s rumours you’ve left Napalm Records.

M: That’s true, yes.

D: So have you found a new record label that you want to work with or are going to work with?

M: We’re still figuring that out, reaching out and figuring out what the best options would be for us. So there is still a lot of uncertainty in that area. We’re not discarding the idea of going, maybe. But yeah, we’re still figuring that out.

D: As I was saying, I’ve been doing my research. You featured on Ayreon’s album. How did that happen because you weren’t known before that and it was before Stream of Passion formed?

M: Well, actually, the whole thing happened with Arjen Lucassen, the man behind Ayreon. It was this kind of rock opera thing with all different singers. He started a contest through his website, he asked you know “if you’re a singer and you wanna be apart of Ayreon, just send me a CD and I’ll pick someone”. A friend told me about this and I had a band in Mexico, so I sent him a CD and he ended up picking me for the part. From like a couple of hundred CDs that he got, he picked me and flew me over to Holland – He’s also Dutch – And I ended up recording on this album of his and along with James LaBrie from Dream Theatre and Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth and for me, it was just this insane experience. The whole thing with the two of us triggered Stream of Passion because at the beginning Arjen and I, we wrote this album together – the first album, Embrace the Storm – It’s also how Stream of Passion came to exist.

D: As you said, you wrote Embrace The Storm with Arjen, was it different when you wrote The Flame Within, as he wasn’t there?

M: I had always co-written with someone so The Flame Within was the first time I had to write on my own. It was a very big step but it was also very satisfying period for me because it was a challenge, but it was also very rewarding, especially looking back to it and seeing what the record became.

D: Would you go back and change anything, now that you’ve gained more experience?

M: Well, I wouldn’t change anything about it, I like it the way it is because it’s what I had to say at the time but these days I’m writing a little bit more complicated stuff, a little more ambitious. It’s all part of a process basically.

D: As you had said before, you had a bit of musical experience because you had a band in Mexico, are there any others in the band that had experience before joining Stream of Passion?

M: They can tell you themselves but basically, everyone has had other bands or projects before this one. For that matter, we’ve all seen the beginnings with other bands, so we all know what it’s like, and that’s nice because we all know how hard it is  to make your way in the music business and we all know what to expect. So, that’s good.

D: It is hard in the music business but do you feel that as you’re described as femme metal, it discriminates you?

M: It’s funny because it’s a two edge sword, there are people who are gonna easily listen to heavy metal that is led by a woman’s voice and that can be an advantage. Like for instance, I don’t know if you guys have been to Metal Female Voices Festival in Belgium but it’s this huge festival that covers everything that is heavy metal fronted by a woman. There are like thousands of people who are looking forward to discovering more of these bands because they like this. I don’t think it’s a genre because it doesn’t say anything about the music itself. Sometimes, it can be a disadvantage like you wanna play somewhere and they’re like “sorry, we already have a female fronted metal band”. Then it becomes a flotilla because the music is so different – Like Epica and us, because I don’t think we have all that much in common. But then again, their fanbase can appreciate what we do as well, so far. So yeah, it’s a two edge sword.

D: So, which song do you feel defines Stream of Passion as a whole?

M: Uh, wow. There are a couple of ones, from the last album. I really like, Lost, the opening track because I think that one of its main characteristics – especially with music I like to write – is that it’s very dramatic, kind of driven and also… Kind of melancholic in some ways. So, Lost is one of those tracks that from my feeling has that kind of atmosphere I really want to impress on music I make and I like Darker Days, the title track from the album, it has a little bit of Spanish in there and that vibe which I think makes it our own.

D: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film with your own music, which one would it be and why?

M: Oh my goodness. That’s a very good question. I think it would have to be… Something rather dark for it to fit. I have no idea. I guess like a horror movie or something. Or a thriller. Silent Hill!

D: I was watching that last night, how funny.

M: Or The Ring or something. But yeah, Silent Hill. Someone made this whole video montage with one of our songs with Silent Hill images. That was really cool.

D: The last question; your latest question, Scarlet Mark, it says on the YouTube link that you had 48 hours to make it all. How did that happen? Did you have to write all and then film it and produce it?

M: Basically, it was this brilliant project – I think it’s a global thing – the 48 hour film project and they have this sub-category which is the 48 hour music video. Which basically meant that we went to somewhere in Holland and we were there with like five other different artists, bands. So it was all completely different kinds of music and there were also five different video production teams and we basically got to pick from a hat the name of the team that we were working with and we got the 48 hours to make a music video. Of course, we didn’t know what to expect but it was really cool and Careface Productions are the name of the company we got to work with and they’re these really cool, young guys. We just sat down that very same evening and started discussing the ideas behind the song and they were like “okay, got it”. That was a Friday evening and we spent Saturday – almost all day – shooting. Just like work, constantly, throughout the day and night through to Sunday to get this video done. We’d never heard of this project before and when we did,we just wanted to give it a try. It was awesome and we wanna work with them again. So, it was actually a win-win situation.

D: Well, that’s the end of it. Thanks for your time.

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