Interview with Tuomas Seppälä of Amberian Dawn

With Amberian Dawn’s new Release, Magic Forest, out now,  Mick talked with their keyboard/guitar player Tuomas Seppälä about the writing and production of Amberian Dawn’s music, as well as his musical taste. Capri stepped up to say a few words on the lyrical themes of the new album. This is how it went:

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Mick: Firstly, I’d like to say what a good job you have done with Magic Forest, I personally have been enjoying it. So this your third record in 3 years, having Circus Black (2012) and Re-Evolution (2013). Where do all these ideas for songs come from?
Tuomas: Before those albums, we also released End of Eden (2010), The Clouds of Northland Thunder (2009) and River of Tuoni (2008).  I don’t have any specific way to compose music.  Sometimes I just start to improvise with guitar or keyboard and sometimes I hear a tune or an idea inside my head. Usually,  I will make a demo of all songs in my home studio. At that point, I use computer to play/programme the drum and bass parts. The keyboards and guitars I’ll play live in the studio. For the vocals, the first ideas are played on guitar.  As for the solo slots, I either play a demo solo with the guitar/keyboard, or, I’ll just leave the solo parts as an instrumental background track and that’s how the chosen solo player (Emppu, Kimmo, me or some guesting solo player like Jens Johansson for example) has more freedom to work with his solo part.  On Magic Forest, Capri took part in making the final adjustments on the vocal lines, just like our co-producer Mikko P. Mustonen. So this was the first time when we had an actual “team” working on final vocal parts. Both Mikko & Capri helped me a lot with final vocal arrangements.

Mick: Listening to Magic Forest was my first experience of hearing Amberian Dawn. I was taken off guard with just how different your sound is to a lot of other bands within the same genre, this album just felt softer in tone and all the layers of the production felt smooth and easy to listen to. Whereas most band keep a gritty harsh guitar tone. Is this how you wanted this album, and your music as a whole, to sound? photo Tuomas-NET-2_zps2a1fd253.jpg
Tuomas: Our new sound didn’t happen by accident. We made a decision with our production team that we’ll try a new, more keyboard driven sound and also will give more room for the vocals too. Before, we had a more metal kind of tone on rhythm guitars. Our music has changed a lot after our debut album and it’s just not the songs alone, as much as compositions, arrangements etc. are made differently now.  We also have a different kind of singer which is one of the key elements of our bands new sound. The general sounding of an album is always a result of dozens minor factors and decisions that go into it.  It’s important that an album’s production has a strong producer(s), otherwise the ideas, hopes & dreams of different musicians might be very hard to put together.  It’s not just about compromising. It’s always better to have a producer who has a clear understanding of what sound needs to be achieved.

Mick: Typically speaking of the genre of symphonic metal and female fronted metal. I’m a big fan of the music that is produced and I’m seeing the genre grow all the time. With festivals like Metal Female Voices (in Belgium) and Dames of Darkness (in UK) just as examples. Have you noticed the increase in interest for this type of music?
Tuomas: No I haven’t.  Melodic metal is kind of ”marginal genre” nowadays, at least according to what I’ve seen/heard. Most of the new metal bands are death metal or black metal and most of the metal labels are signing bands just from that genre. Also most of the metal festivals are having either death & black metal or some nostalgic old bands. There’s less and less room for melodic metal bands nowadays in my opinion.

Mick: So, do you take the time to listen to any new bands coming up through the woodwork?
Tuomas: I don’t listen to music so much nowadays. Often I still have radio on when I’m driving my car.  Recently I’ve been having stuff like old Black Sabbath albums spinning in my CD-player. I also listen to Rammstein, although I don’t have any of their albums, Rammstein is often on air on Finnish radio stations (the ones which are playing metal & rock anyway).

Mick: Personally my favourite track off the new album is “Warning”, It just has so much energy and the lyrics are so well written. What is your favourite tune from this new record? photo Capri-NET1_zps4d2c4eac.jpg
Tuomas: Warning is one of my favourites too. When I was doing the first demos of that song at my home studio, the song sounded like videogame music when it was just the instrumental version.  It was funny.  I also find the opening track “Cherish The Memory” one of the best songs on the album. I still like them all naturally, otherwise I wouldn’t have included those all on album at all.
Capri: When I wrote Warning’s lyrics, the first version of text was much longer.  We needed to make those lyrics shorter otherwise the song would have lasted 20 minutes.  I find Green-Eyed most emotional to me.  The feeling that I have when I sing it is incredible.  I really loved the song right away when I heard it, the melody was perfect and I think I heard someone said “I’m sorry”. So it had to be the last line of the song.

Mick: Which tunes are most likely to hear from this new album live in concert?
Tuomas: I’m sure that the title track will be in there somewhere. Otherwise, we haven’t thought so much about our setlist for gigs yet.  Probably we’ll pick most of the songs from 2 of our previous albums, Magic Forest and Re-Evolution because we have already tested those with Capri on vocals.

Mick: I love all of the brilliantly composed melodies that went in to this record, Do you feel like mad scientists sometimes? Throwing all these wonderful sounds together and experimenting, or, is writing music to you more regimented?
Tuomas: Composing and playing music is very natural for me, since I started to play classical piano at the age of 4 and learned to read notes before I learned to read text.  I can’t imagine myself in a situation that I wouldn’t have music in my life at all.  Music is something that’s been in me since my childhood and I’ve grown up while playing and composing music.

Magic Forest is out now on Napalm Records.

Mick Birchall

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