Dutch symphonic metal outfit Delain is about to release their fourth album, entitled “The Human Contradiction”. It may very well be their finest effort to date. ThisIsNotAScene had the pleasure of doing an interview with the ever charming Charlotte Wessels. A plethora of different subject were discussed and that’s why this interview is divided in two parts. In part 1 the new album is discussed in length and how Charlotte goes about writing lyrics. In the second part of the interview the focus is more on her personal influences and her desire to branch out to other musical genres as well.
Would you be interested in doing a full blown concept album, like “Operation Mindcrime” by Queensryche and Dream Theater’s “Scenes From A Memory”?
Yes, definitely! I don’t know whether this would be something for Delain, but in general it’s something I’m really interested in doing. There are some plans here and there which aren’t really tangible yet, but realistically speaking I could see it happen in the future. With Delain there are a couple of fan favourites that we play at every gig and we have a nice body of song material to choose from.
With a concept album I’d get very picky and I want to have those songs performed on chronological order in order to get the concept story across. Within Delain all the songs work autonomously from each other and that’s something that wouldn’t be feasible within a framework of a concept album. That’s why I wouldn’t see it work for Delain. Actually, I never considered doing something like this with Delain. As for me writing the lyrics is a very individual process and it’s something I do quite late in the overall songwriting process. It would be quite complicated, but never say never.
The Human Contradiction also features a couple of guest singers, including former Orphanage grunter George Oosthoek, Marco Hietala from Nightwish and Alissa Gluz-White from The Agonist. How did you guys manage to get them aboard?
Marco is someone we worked with on our first two albums and his voice is almost a part of our musical DNA. When we write a song that requires male vocals he’s always the first one in our thoughts. We approached him again and he was more than happy to collaborate with us again. The same goes for George Oosthoek. He guested on our first album. I think it’s kind of funny that we revisited a lot of our early sound on our current record, like the prominent grunts and the elaborate orchestral arrangements. So having him back is a very nice trip down memory lane in a way.
For Alissa White-Gluz, who’s now with Arch Enemy, we toured a month with Kamelot last fall and when you’re on tour with her it’s hard not to be impressed with her vocal prowess. When you know each other it’s easier to ask someone for a guest contribution. She liked the song quite a bit, she laid down her vocals and it’s a happy marriage so to speak.
How important is it for you as a lyricist and a singer to keep an open mind as far as musical inspiration goes?
I really don’t understand borders when it comes to either genres of music. I really admire somebody like Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Atoms For Peace. I read his biography years ago and as I vocalist I bump into things now which he wrote about. I guess some feelings are pretty universal for performers. He wrote a song called ‘Freak’, which was a massive hit on their debut album. At one point he was just sick of performing that song and all the emotions that came with it.
There are some very personal songs on Delain records and I do have these moments where I really have to disconnect, because it becomes too intense. His solution for this was to write lyrics for the “Kid A” album, put them on a paper and cut them out and put them together again in a total random order. After this process his lyrics were still so brilliant and that’s why I admire him so much. It’s this kind of creative innovation combined with his ability to move people emotionally, even if his goal is the total opposite.
For Nick Cave it’s mostly his lyrics and his sex appeal. He also writes beautiful novels by the way. One of them is a book called “The Death Of Bunny Munro”. Not everyone likes this book, because its full of foul and sexist language. I consider myself a feminist, but I really like the book because the main male character using that language is a total antihero. It’s a superbly written book in my opinion. Tori Amos is just an amazing songwriter. I really like her earlier works and I lost interest in her more recent albums. “Night Of Hunters”, one of her more recent releases, is a more classical album and it’s a superb release. I highly recommend it!
So what do you think of people like Trent Reznor Nine Inch Nails) and Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins), who both had their demons to face and are experts in writing dark lyrics?
With our current two releases I really let go of the whole concept that I should write about very personal stuff in order to be able to sing it. Over time I discovered how strong a tool fiction can be and how universal themes can become very personal when you think about them long enough. The second thing is that I’m a really positive person and that I only write lyrics when I feel troubled. Up until now I told myself that all my lyrics should have some light at the end of the tunnel.
When you’re writing a song from a very shitty place there should be a silver lining. On the bonus record of “The Human Contradiction” there is a ballad called ‘Scarlet’ which has pitch black lyrics. There’s nothing nice or positive about it. It reminds me of ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails. It’s not that I can compare our song with that of Trent Reznor, it just reminded me when I hear that song it makes me feel better, even though it’s pitch black. Hearing ‘Hurt’ really reminded me that a song doesn’t need to offer a solution to a problem and that it doesn’t necessarily need to have a happy ending. ‘Hurt’ really helped me coming to terms that we wrote this fucking depressing song.
Finally, would you be interested in doing a song together with some big name DJ, like Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) did with Armin van Buuren some time ago?
In a heartbeat, definitely! Actually, my niece is a hardcore DJ and a couple of years ago she headlined Masters Of Hardcore, which is a big deal in the scene she’s active in. I recorded a song with her and she asked me to perform it live at Masters Of Hardcore. I was probably the only sober person around there, which was hilarious. But I really jump at the change of collaborating with other artists and try out some new things. I sold my soul to metal a really long time ago, but my taste and desire to perform is not at all limited to just heavy metal.