REVAMP is a relatively new band from The Netherlands, but taking a good look at their front-woman, Floor Jansen, and at some of the other guys behind the curtains and you’ll find a massive pool of talent. Floor has been around the Metal community for more than 15 years, first as the singer of AFTER FOREVER (together with Mark who later formed EPICA), then as a collaborator on numerous projects, and more recently as NIGHTWISH‘s new live vocalist.
With her unique control over several vocal Technics, Floor became a house-hold name for fans of female-fronted Metal bands, but then, just as things started to look-up for her band, the singer suffered from a Burnout1 – a mental sickness that took her out of action for quite some time.
It wasn’t until last December that REVAMP finally entered the studio to record their sophomore album, “Wild Card”, which is just about to be released. To find out how Floor managed to overcome her sickness all while getting enlisted to NIGHTWISH and continuing to work on REVAMP‘s latest album, I jumped on the chance to speak with her. Not only it has been a huge honor (since me and her go way back), but also very entertaining, since she’s one of the nicest Metal persona’s out there.
Metal Blast: Let’s start with REVAMP’s new album, “Wild Card”. In what aspects would you say it differ from your debut?
Floor: I think this album is heavier, more diverse, more riff oriented, more modern and more versatile when it comes to the vocal lines.
MB: I understand the lyrical concept of the album is much more personal this time around, especially with the three “The Anatomy Of A Nervous Breakdown” songs, that deal with the Burnout you went through. Was it like a therapy for you to write on such a hard subject?
F: Actually I’ve always been writing about personal things and personal experiences, but this [Burnout] is such a big thing, that I wrote more directly than ever before. It’s always good to put feelings into the music, only this time the feelings were extra heavy. It was definitely therapeutic. What I always hope – and what happened in the past – is that people can relate to the lyrics even if they didn’t go through the same experience. They can have different interpretations, and it’ll be great for them.
MB: Can you tell us in short about what some of the other songs on the album deal with?
F: For instance, “Wolf And Dog” is a song about the balance between private life (the wolf) and career (the dog). Especially for someone ambitious who’s running a carrier, it’s very challenging to find the right balance. “Infringe”, which is going to be a bonus track, is a song that deals with friendship gone bad. “Wild Card” is a more lighthearted song, somewhat seductive and flirting, a bit of a joke and not too personal. The idea behind it is that sometimes you meet someone that you like on the outside but you can’t really see what kind of person there is behind the physical façade… There are all kinds of different songs.
MB: Much like on your debut, you brought in some guest musicians on some of the songs. Who are these guests and why did you choose them for their specific parts?
F: We had a wish list for singers, but it always depends if the song would fit that specific person. When “Neurasthenia” was born, for example, the song was definitely suitable for DEVIN TOWNSEND. I was very happy that he wanted to do it, and he gave so much of himself into that song. Same goes for “Misery’s No Crime” with Mark Jansen from EPICA and MAYAN. Whereat I do all the growls on the rest of the album, this song had so much growling that I felt it could be typical for EPICA. Of course it’s a REVAMP song but it kind of grew like that, and besides, I always wanted Mark to be part of something that I was doing since I’ve been singing on his works so often lately.
The other guests came from different angles. On bass we had Johan van Stratum from STREAM OF PASSION, since our bass player [Jaap Melman] left quite suddenly soon before the recording process. Johan is a very good friend of Joost [van den Broek], our producer, and I’ve known him for years too. We needed someone good and professional, and he came on a short notice. We both trusted him to do great – and he did, he really nailed it!
For the choir we usually work with classically trained singers who are hired to come to the studio and sing whatever we write for them. This time we didn’t really require that much of the typical classical stuff so instead we worked with Metal singers who had experience in recording vocal harmonies. During the pre-production, we went through each song separately and said “Ok, this song needs that kind of approach, and that song needs that.” It was much more of a creative process between the 3 of us – Myself, Marcela Bovio [STREAM OF PASSION] and Daniel de Jongh [TEXTURES] – together with Joost who gave us ideas during the recordings. At the end, all of a sudden, we had a big list of guests [Laughs]…
MB: As mentioned, you had ex-AFTER FOREVER keyboardist, Joost van den Broek, as a producer and songwriter on “Wild Card”. How was working with him once again?
F: It was great! He was already involved with the first REVAMP album as one of the writers and one of the co-producers. I know him for over ten years and he has always been such great talent and such great person to work with. I would trust him with my life! It was really great to have him on board and guide this relatively new band into the next step. Since we only started working together on “Wild Card” just a couple of months before I joined NIGHTWISH, it was very important that someone with his experience – which is similar to mine – was on board to keep everything going while I was away.
Luckily the songs were 80%-90% written, so with the planning we could continue as it is, only that I had to record vocals one month later. It did mean, though, that I wasn’t able to physically attend the last writing process and the instrumental recording sessions, which is what I usually do. I got all the results and the recordings via email, so I could work on my vocals while traveling or at home. All of this meant that I really had to put my faith in the rest of the band and in Joost. I knew it was going to be great, but I just didn’t know how awesome it would be. Everyone did such great job.
MB: Mark Jansen and yourself have a long history together, from the days of AFTER FOREVER to more recent collaborations with MAYAN and even with EPICA. I was wondering, what brought you two to collaborate once again, after he left AFTER FOREVER all those years ago?
F: Ehm… It’s just how things go. You run into each other again and yeah… the time was right. There was no specific or special reason behind it – was just the course of things.
MB: Since AFTER FOREVER is one of the first bands who introduced me to the Symphonic Metal genre more than a decade ago, I must ask: even with all that is happening with REVAMP, EPICA and NIGHTWISH, have you thought or talked about doing a final tour (or a show) as AFTER FOREVER with Mark and Joost? Do you think it can happen or the chapter on that band is completely closed?
F: As far as I’m concerned it’s closed. I’m super busy juggling my time between REVAMP and NIGHTWISH. That’s plenty [Laughs]…
MB: Will you ever consider performing some of the AFTER FOREVER songs in your own shows?
F: We did that on our first tour because it was the first moment after AFTER FOREVER and practically speaking we didn’t have a full set-list with just one album. Now with the new album I don’t see any reason to keep doing that. The time of AFTER FOREVER is definitely over.
MB: You said earlier that other than on “Misery’s No Crime”, you did the growls in all the other songs on “Wild Card”. How did it feel to use this kind of technique? Have you tried it before?
F: Never in an album before. That was one of my ambitions – working and seeing if I can do it – and it was a lot of fun! Yeah it was a bit harder because I’ve never done it before. I’ve been singing for so long but I’ve always been trying to improve my technique and try out different stuff so the growling element was a whole new thing for me. It’s going to be a challenge to do it live [Laughs]…
MB: You are well versed in both classical and modern singing techniques, but what came first for you – the classical or the modern styles? Has one technique helped the other or you treat each individually?
F: Modern singing came first. I studied in a Rock Academy for 4 years and then 1 year in Music Theatre, and then 1 more year of Opera. I’ve been always mixing styles. A lot of the basic technics are quite the same but the biggest difference between all these vocal styles is the feel. Like if you sing classical in a classic Opera or an Aria, the whole feel is so different than what you apply into pop music. That is the biggest difference and the toughest to learn as far as I’m concerned.
MB: I have seen a clip from Dutch TV where you perform an Aria from the Opera Gianni Cicci by Puccini (“O Mio Babbino Caro”). Have you ever considered performing a proper lyrical set sometime, perhaps even as part of an Opera?
F: No, not really, I’m a real rocker [Laughs]… I like the element and I like to flirt with it a little bit but I rather stay in a band.
MB: Do you like listening to certain Arias?
F: Very rarely. It usually misses something. I like when it used in Metal if it’s done well, but mostly I don’t have a special liking towards it.
MB: Is singing for NIGHTWISH any different than what you used to do with your other bands or it was more like a familiar ground?
F: It was more of the familiar. Even though I was asked and directed a little bit, I do have the freedom to give my own ideas. When you start doing it you have to give a part of yourself, so I couldn’t do it differently. I can’t just imitate the previous singers. It was wonderful to see that the songs really grew on me. I don’t feel like I’m singing someone else’s music anymore. It really feels natural for me.
MB: By the way, how was the show and filming you did with NIGHTWISH at Germany’s Wacken Open Air festival at the beginning of the month?
F: Oh that was so amazing! That was the biggest show for all of us, and with the DVD filming, it was also very exciting. It was such a perfect night. The weather was crazy, but the band was great… We’ve been playing well before, and I don’t want to sound arrogant or something like that, but I mean, there are times like this when you just know that the band has a good vibe, you know that your sound is locked and you all have this feeling of YES… So that was all there. Add to that the massive sound of a 70,000+ audience and it makes you… Wooh, it took me days to come down to earth after that show [Laughs]…
MB: I understand it’s too early to reflect on your time with NIGHTWISH, but how was the ride and experience so far?
F: It has been magical and really amazing. I mean, we know each other for ten years, but you never figure when you start working more intensively if it would work or not… Especially since I stepped in a very weird moment, no one knew how things would be, but to see that there’s such a personal and musical connection, that everything is smooth without us trying to force it, it’s just… No one had the time to make any expectations, it just started abruptly and roughly and BOOM there we are! We were all in the same situation, we had to make it work – and we did! I don’t know if it’s because we started like that or if god knows why, but it has been working really well ever since. I don’t know how the future looks like – none of us do – but I can tell you that whatever happens I’ll be super proud and happy and still very privileged that I’ve been able to work with such wonderful and intelligent people.
MB: When approached about joining NIGHTWISH, were you hesitant or afraid of jumping into this big machine, especially after a Burnout?
F: Yes, absolutely! I was terrified [Laughs Hard]… Terrified but happy as well! It was a weird mixture of emotions but it was a once in a lifetime chance, so I had to take it.
MB: REVAMP of course is your main musical focus, but hypothetically, if NIGHTWISH called you to be their permanent singer, what would have become of your band?
F: I hypothetically don’t know because I don’t want to put any attention to that. I’m into here and now. So much is happening and if by chance I have the time to focus and put my energy on hypothetical situations then I choose not to.
MB: This coming November REVAMP will join KAMELOT on tour in Europe. Do you take on different preparations before each tour?
F: Every tour is different of course, it’s with a different band, and this time we’re also going to have a different album so we’re going to do our best to make a kickass live show. I already toured with KAMELOT in the States when I was there with NIGHTWISH so I know the guys are great, and I think the musical combination of both bands will be very nice. I’m looking forward to that!
MB: After so many years, has there been any place in the world that you haven’t visited yet and would like to?
F: How about Israel?
MB: [Laughs]… I might have tricked you into saying that…
F: [Laughs]… That would be wonderful. Actually, I’m doing some vocal lessons every now and then (though I haven’t had so much time for it lately), and I have this very talented singer from Israel who started a project. Because of her I got a little more familiar with the Israeli scene and the possibilities there so… yeah, it would be nice!
MB: Besides REVAMP and NIGHTWISH, do you have time to work on other projects? I know Russell Allen [SYMPHONY X, ADRENALINE MOB] is a long-time collaborator of yours, so maybe something with him?
F: Yeah we’ve been talking about it forever [Laughs]… We’ve been friends for years and every time we meet, we say that we should really do it and we should clear our schedule, but that’s been impossible [Laughs]… You never know what the future would bring. There is a collaboration that is very likely to happen but unfortunately I can’t say anything about it yet.
MB: Do you enjoy singing alone or you rather make duets and collaborations with singers such as Mark, Devin or Russell?
F: I like both. I like singing in a lot of different styles and I like to challenge myself. It’s always challenging to sing with another singer and it feels like… For example, the way I sing with Simone [Simons, EPICA] – who is a completely different singer than I am – it’s a whole different experience than when I stand next to a power singer such as Russell. Every time it’s something else and that keeps the whole music thing interesting.
MB: Are there other singers you would like to work with?
F: Amm… Yeah I would love to do something with the ARCH ENEMY singer, Angela [Gossow], who’s also a friend. That would be great, because if you see us physically next to each other – I’m the tall dark girl, she’s the tiny blonde girl, I sing loud and she can just growl like she comes straight from hell. That would be so cool… [Laughs]! That would be wonderful!
MB: How would you say the Symphonic Metal genre has changed from the time you started, when it was still called Gothic Metal? Do you think there’s still place for darker and less-orchestrated bands in the genre today?
F: I think so… I don’t really consider REVAMP to be that Symphonic. Especially on this new album, we don’t even have an orchestra, there’s barely any quire. It’s just a name, same as “Female Fronted Metal”, or worse – “Gothic Metal”. I never understood where Gothic came from because true Gothic has nothing to do with Metal as far as I’m concerned or with what we did in the past. I always found that the names were limiting us. For example, a typical SLAYER fan came to a show, saw us by accident and said “Yeah, I thought you are one of those whining girl bands but apparently you are much heavier and I thought you were really cool!”… Just because of the name people put us in the wrong place. I’ve always fought against that. I still do [Laughs]…
MB: Since a lot of things are happening with you these days, how do you keep track with what you have to do with NIGHTWISH and your band, and everything else? Do you have time to… eh… I forgot the word… [Floor: "worry?"]… Digest everything?
F: Not much, but after this weekend the NIGHTWISH shows stop and I’ll have only one band to focus on, which makes me sad but at the same time it’s also going to be good. It’s been a wild run for a year now and I think it’s going to be nice to reflect on everything – I have a very rich year to look back on… The biggest emotion and feeling I have is that I’m blessed with everything, I feel overwhelmed as well… what a privileged person I am.
MB: Is there anything else you’d like to mention about yourself and REVAMP’s upcoming endeavors?
F: I think the first thing I want to say is that I’m happy people have been waiting for us. I’m really hoping that “Wild Card” is going to be an album worth waiting for. I also personally want to thank everyone who stood behind me while I was sick, I had so much warm support from people wishing me the best and giving me all the time in the world that I needed to get back on my feet. That’s been a huge help… Ever since I’ve been back I got so much positive feedback from everybody. I feel there are a lot of possibilities for REVAMP to tour a lot, thanks to all of that and thanks to everything that has happened. I really hope that we can come out to the States, to Israel, to everywhere on the planet. In particular, we’re likely to be doing an extensive North American tour in 2014, so I really hope to see the people there! It would be wonderful to play in Israel someday as well. Thank you very much for spreading the word on REVAMP and for this nice interview, good night and take care!
- Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. [↩]