Recommended Aussie Band:Tamerlan Empire | Sydney Symphonic Black Metal | Listen

Interviews : “We’re all super excited to come over!” – An Interview With Simone Simons (Epica)

By on March 8, 2016

Epica

Simone Simons – Epica

Dutch symphonic metal sextet Epica have forged quite the name for themselves since their inception back in 2002. With six albums now under their belt, and their seventh currently in progress, I had the pleasure and honour to speak with their longtime vocalist and lead soprano, Simone Simons, on behalf of Metal Obsession. A lovely and soft-spoken individual, Simone and I had a nice chat about her family life, where the new album is headed, her personal blog SmoonStyle, and, of course, their upcoming Australian tour, which is set to kick off next week.

Getting right into their Australian tour, I asked Simone how excited Epica are to be returning to our shores since their last trip over here in 2013? “Very excited. I really loved our first experience in Australia. I loved the country and the people, so we’re very excited to go back.” Anything you’re hoping to see this time round, I asked? “Well, we already did a little bit of the touristy visit to a park where we hugged koalas and fed kangaroos, so we’ve done that already. When we were in Sydney we were walking around the Opera House, did some sight-seeing. And I hope I can do a little bit more sight-seeing if time allows it, because we have a pretty tight schedule. But otherwise, I’m just happy to be over there.”

During their last tour of Australia in 2013, local progressive metallers Voyager had opened for Epica in Perth. This time round, the Dutch band chose them to be their national support for this tour. Having heard from others that I know that the two bands had bonded quite well during their last time here, I asked Simone whether that made the decision to choose Voyager a natural one for them when looking for supports? “Yeah, always. When we have a good connection with support bands, we try to tour together again. You know, if it works, personally and professionally, why not do it again? If it’s a successful package, then you would be stupid to not do it again if the fans really like it and we’re up for it as well.”

Epica’s most recent album, ‘The Quantum Enigma’, was released in 2014 to critical and commercial success. Late last year, the band had teased that quite a large number of songs had been finished and were waiting to be recorded, and in December had further confirmed that they had entered the studio to begin pre-production for their as-yet-untitled seventh studio album. I mused that many of their fans – myself included – would be itching to know how progress is going and if we could get an update on things? “Things are going really well. I think more than half of the stuff has been recorded, as in the layers; first, the drums, then the guitars, the bass. We’ve recorded piano as well, and some extras. Soon the choir will start, the strings, and after the Australian tour, I’m going to record my vocals. And it’s basically the last step. That’s when mixing and mastering enters, and the orchestration should also be completely finished by then, so yeah, things are going really well.

“We are recording between the tours. We had a large amount of songs where we could choose from, because all of the guys have been writing songs over the last few years. And that was a really luxurious position we were in, and it was actually really difficult to choose seventeen songs. With ‘The Quantum Enigma’, it was a very intense writing process. A lot of time was spent on details and that’s something we find very important. We were very lucky this time around that everyone had a lot of inspiration!”

I then followed up with whether we could perhaps get a better insight into what types of themes or ideas Epica may be exploring with the new record? “Well, it’s definitely in the same line as ‘The Quantum Enigma’ but maybe even more metal than ‘The Quantum Enigma’. It’s still super heavy and melodic but the metal element stays very much alive and is becoming stronger each record.”

The_Quantum_Enigma_(2014)_-_Epica

The Quantum Enigma – out now via Nuclear Blast Records

As is quite well known when it comes to Simone Simons, in between touring and recording with Epica and her family, Simone runs a blog entitled SmoonStyle, where she documents all the neat little things happening in her life, and particularly her love of makeup, fashion, and food. It is here that she has mentioned in the past how creating her own look over the years on stage with Epica served to offer up that spark and fire that drives her passion for beauty. I wanted to ask her what is it about makeup and beauty that still excites and attracts her towards it well into the now? “Well, I always loved doing makeup and getting dressed up for Carnival and stuff like that. I’m very girly when it comes to that. It’s my luck that with Epica I can explore that even more because I can wear looks that I couldn’t wear out, you know, going grocery shopping. [laughs] So I can go more extreme; I can be more creative. I have been doing my hair and makeup, with the exclusion of maybe ten times, myself over the last thirteen years, and I’ve learned a lot from it. I enjoy it. It’s a nice addition that comes with being a singer, being an artist. And my blog is now, I believe, five years old. I had lots of questions from fans asking me about what do you wear for makeup, where do you buy yours clothes?

“And I love photography, I love cameras. An even bigger passion than my blog itself is photography. I thought ‘why not throw it all together?’ I can write the tour diaries, I can post photos of things that I like – artsy photos and the like. I can be a little bit more open with the fans and interactive. It’s become a huge success and I’m very happy. Unfortunately, my time has become more limited, and my priorities lie with my family, of course. I’m more productive on the blog when I’m on tour because then I have more free time and then I can also make more photos of where I’m at, or I grab one of the guys (mainly Isaac [Delahaye], who’s making up some photos of me). And he’s up for that. Not all guys want to do that. He’s cool with it, so it’s fine.”

Following on from what she’d said, I was curious as to whether Simone has ever done photography professionally in the same way she has with makeup? “No, I’d like to. But I have to say, I have an eye for composition, but my technical education hasn’t been up to date. So I really would love to, whenever I get the chance, do a workup and get into the technical side of cameras and photography. But I just love taking photos and I’ve been told I have a good eye for it, so I’ve made portrait shots of other people, and some fan photo shoots. But mainly, my son is my biggest subject nowadays! [laughs] But it’s fun to document seeing him grow. I’m very glad that I have photos. I find photographs something very special because you can stop time when you make a photo. You can capture that moment that is so dear to you, and I sometimes when I walk around, I think, ‘Ah, that could be a nice photo!’, and that’s a little bit of photographer’s antic. That you’re seeing the world in photographs! [laughs] But I’m not a professional as in I studied it. I have books and I just learned by doing it. But I guess there’s more to learn.”

As is also known when it comes to Simone is her longtime relationship with Oliver Palotai of Kamelot fame, and of whom she married in late 2013 and brought into the world a son named Vincent. I was interested to ask how her and Oliver best find ways to still spend time with one other and to raise their son, given their busy touring and recording schedules? “We work in shifts, basically. Whenever I’m on tour, my husband is home. When he’s on tour, I’m at home. And we have the big house that we have. One settled grandparents living really close, and my parents, they live in the Netherlands. They also help out. But it’s mainly my mother-in-law that helps us out big time, and without her, we probably wouldn’t be able to have me tour a lot, because Oliver doesn’t tour that much. But he still has, besides touring, a daytime job, and that would mean that after day-care, someone has to take care of the little one. So we are very blessed with a helping family, otherwise it would be difficult. But there is not much time for each other at the moment. But,of course, the child takes up most time, but we’ve been together for eleven years, so I guess we had, like, nine years to really spend a lot of time together [laughs]. It’s getting better, I must say. The little one is more self-sufficient. He likes to cook, mostly with LEGO Duplo, but it’s working out really well. But it’s a lot of organising, I’d say. And both bands — Kamelot and Epica — we keep an eye on each other’s schedules, so we make sure that there won’t be any double tours.”

As we neared the end of the interview, I asked Simone if she had any words she’d like to offer her fans anticipating Epica’s shows this month? “Yeah, we have three shows coming up in Australia and we’re all super excited to come over. And we want to thank everyone that come over to see us the first time, and we hope to see those people again, bringing along their families and friends and hoping to just have a good time down under!”

Epica are touring Australia this month. Tickets are on sale now through www.soundworkstouring.com and the usual outlets.

EPICA with special guest Voyager performing at:

March 16th @ The Studio, Auckland 18+
March 18th @ Max Watts, Brisbane 18+
March 19th @ Max Watts, Sydney 18+
March 20th @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+

EPICA AUST NZ ENIGMA 2016 _zpsm8dduxo6

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.