Interview with La-Ventura

Fresh off of their performance at Quinphonic Festival 2 our writer, Mick Birchall chatted to frontwoman Carla van Huizen and bassist Mike Saffrie from La-Ventura. Where they discuss touring, influences, the symphonic metal genre and how music has kept them going.

Mick: So we have just come off of Quinphonic Festival, how did you enjoy it?

Carla & Mike: Quinphonic Fest and The UK were a blast! We had a fantastic time there, meeting many old and new fans and enjoying some great UK metal hospitality!

Mick: How did you like the UK crowds?

Mike: The crowd was fantastic, because they showed their appreciation in many ways, which is not always the case here back home. With the crowd we encountered at Quinphonic, you could see them enjoy the music and efforts of the bands where genuine reactions, before during and after the shows, were shown – prefect!

Carla: All we can say is this: UK crowds are AWESOME!

Mick: Is there any countries that you haven’t been to that you’d like to play in?

Carla: Well, the easiest of answers would be The States or Japan for instance for our kind of music, but we are glad and appreciate to do these trips closer to home here in Europe.

If we can do trips across the Oceans than of course we will do them, but for now we have a lot more to do here in Europe first!

Mick: To you, what is the most important thing about playing live?

Mike: Connecting with the audience and work your ass off to give them a great time! Worst scenario would be, seeing people leave during your concert, because they thought it isn’t worth their time. If it came about, because you as an artist did not give your best, then right so. We artists need to understand, that having an audience is not a standard, there is so much more people can do with their free time. When they choose to go to a gig, to see you, then we have to give them our a-game – nothing more, nothing less.

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 Fest (in Belgium), Quinphonic Festival and Muses of Metal (in UK) just as examples. Have you noticed the increase in interest for this type of music?

Mike: Yes, we are aware of this and it can work in our favor. To be truly honest: for me it is irrelevant if a band is female or male fronted: a band is either good or bad, regardless who fronts it.

Nevertheless, Metal has always been male dominant, so it is a good thing a female fronted band can have an edge to compete with established bands in the genre.

We now are at a point, that also for female fronted bands, the market is flooded with way to many (copy-cat) bands. Now it is clear bands need to have their own identity to survive. Now many more programs and line-ups at venues or festival are with both, male and female fronted bands to give the people the best. To me this is a good thing, to make sure that only the worthy can do the things needed to setup a good career and showcase the best of music for people to enjoy regardless if it is male or female fronted.

Mick: What do you think draws people to this type of music?

Mike: Pretty faces if it concerns female fronted…..?!?!!? ;)!

Mick: What do you feel drives you to make music and who influences you?

Mike: For me music has always been part of my live Even at an early age, Metal/ Rock was the one thing that really inspired me to pick up my guitar/ bass. Of course when looking at my age, Metallica was there to give me the first basics of how to riff.

12938164_1005385862831619_2290800798376230759_nBut it went all over the place. I listened to Death (Individual Thought Patterns and Symbolic), got to know Machine Head (Burn my Eyes), went to Fear Factory (Demanufacture), to the new dawn of Metal with bands like Sevendust (Home), Soilwork (well all of their earlier stuff!) to nowadays even bands like Killswitch Engage (though I really miss Howard as singer, the new album has some great moments!)and Crown the Empire with their excellent musical skills and songwriting.    

Mick: What first inspired you into playing music, singing and songwriting?

Carla: Well, my first love for music came from listening to the top 40 hits, and watching the Eurovision Song Contest 😉 Even though I grew up with classical  music and learning to play flute, I always liked the Rock scene very much. It took me a lot of courage and self esteem to climb up a stage, myself. Just by incident I was asked to help out some friends in a band, to fill in a temporary vocal position. After that it just grew on me. Took some singing lessons and learned to become more confident in the spotlights. I am now enjoying myself immensely on stage and off stage, especially putting my soul into writing lyrics and vocal lines together with my brilliant band mates.

Mike: My family, cause we all play an instrument or sing. So, it wasn’t that big of a leap to do more with it. I also did (what is more known worldwide as the Rockschool) the Rockacademy here in Holland, to give me even more tools to work with behind the scenes, to make some sort of career in making music.

Songwriting was not something I picked up, cause I was good at it (I do not consider myself as songwriter), but with all the bands I worked with it seemed at one point that the songs came from one hand primarily.

Only for La-Ventura it has now grown to a certain direction, which for me suits the bill in making new songs. With the clear path we have chosen, music wise, making songs is in this case my cup of tea. Maybe in the future this can change, but for now it is “just” me.

Mick: What’s the one song you wish you could have written and why?

Mike: That is a tough question… There are many examples of songs which are seriously gems in the genres. Because I do not consider myself in any of their leagues, picking one would almost be blasphemy 😉 What I will say is this: we all need to be grateful that in all matters in life there have been pioneers, opening up possibilities for others. I hope maybe one day, I can contribute in one of these matters in my own way.

Mick: What are your favorite things outside of music?

Carla: It is my nature to be creative, therefore I really enjoy spending my spear time on creative activities. Even my work holds a great deal of creativity, as being a hairstylist. It is also the social aspect that I like about the job: the interaction with people. I am also the one responsible for the band promotion on the social media and I really enjoy to connect with our fans and friends on FB.

Mike: MOVIES!!! I seriously enjoy movies, which is almost the only thing that can make me think about something else for the running time, instead of problems or other matters of work, the band and daily life.

Cause I am doing also the management for the band, I am faced with many many logistic problems and ways that would really make you hate music. When I am watching a movie, my brain can finally relax a bit. I just saw Batman vs Superman in the cinema, with a running time of about 150 minutes: this means 150 minutes of just pure MY time ;)!

Mick: To end with, what is the hardest thing that you’ve had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Mike: For me the death of my youngest sister, which made a lasting impression on my whole family, where many before the accident would never thought life would unfold how it did after the accident. For me the music was one of the main things that kept me going and made the pain go away. I was not blind to what was happening at the time, so I experienced it with both eyes open, but with my escapes in the music, many things on the background got a place and were solved without too much anger or pain.

When life throws you such a curve ball, you either are strong to cope with it in your own way and/ or you have such fantastic people around you that will keep you going.

For me the music was one of those things that really meant a lot, even without knowing it at that time, which kept me solid and true to myself without losing my mind in despair.

I will never forgot what happened, but it all got a good place, when either listening or playing music. Life is too short to just dwell on things, make the best of it, cause you only get one life/ one chance. LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST!

Interview & Words by Mick Birchall

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