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Ravenheart Music: Interviews


A NEW DAWN fronted by Alysia van Horik and Jamila Ifzaren is another band from the mecca of metal that so happens to be Holland. This small nation seems to have a habit of producing some top acts. A NEW DAWN has been going for around 13 years, and I thought to be honest that it was time to finally catch up with them, as they have just released their new EP, the appropriately titled 'Finally…'. So here goes:-

Can we firstly be introduced to the band members, and can you tell us how A NEW DAWN came together?
Elbert: A New Dawn really started as a project with various people collaborating. In 2005, A New Dawn released an e.p. that would form the basis for the band in its current form. The band experienced many line-up changes ever since, but on the way, found new band members that would quickly become very important to the sound and vision of the band. On lead vocals we have Jamila Ifzaren and Alysia van Horik. On grunts we have Mike van den Heuvel. The rhythm section consists of Rik Bruineman on drums and Peter Groen on bass guitar. With me on guitar is Michiel Glas. All are very talented musicians who are really great to work with.
Michiel: A New Dawn, as it is now, has come together through various ways. Elbert has been there from the start and is at the heart of A New Dawn. Jamila joined the band not late after the band started playing live shows. Rik and myself joined the band after two members decided to leave the band. We were originally only short term replacements, but it went so well the band decided us to ask to stay. Which of course we could not refuse. After us Alysia joined. We found her after a long search for a second great vocalist that could keep up with Jamila. The two girls immediately had a musical ‘click’. It took us a while to realize that too, but after Alysia proved herself on the EP Finally it was a done deal! As I moved to the US for 6 months, I had to leave the band. We knew Mike to be a very good growler as his band “Bleed for Mercy” did a support act for us some time before that. After I returned we all decided that it was a good idea to keep Mike. He’s a very good musician, in more than just growling, he plays some mean riffs on the bass and guitar aswel, and he’s an all round great guy. So, enter Mike! Peter was soon to join after this. We were in search of a new bassplayer and we happened to know Peter to be a very accomplished musician. He also started as a replacement, but again, he is such a contribution to the band, we just couldn’t let him go ;)
Alysia: My name is Alysia. I have been studying Pedagogy and now I’m expanding my life with music, making music and living it. Loving it.
For me, the adventure of A New Dawn started when Jamila called me to ask me how I’d feel if I would join the band for the recordings for the new EP. I was flabbergasted and very eager to help. When I heard on our Queens day (April) that I was welcome to join the band as a full member, I was grinning for a month. Something like a stuck expression on my face.
Rik: I’m Rik, I play drums in AND. Before I joined the band in November 2008, I was the drummer for another band and was (and still am) founder of my own project. When I heard drummer Peter van Toren was no longer part of AND, I contacted my then bandmate and longtime friend (Joop) that I wanted to audition and he encouraged me to do so. I auditioned to replace Peter on the drum-throne and was asked to fill in for a couple of shows, after those shows I was asked to become a permanent member and, naturally I said yes.
Jamila: My name is Jamila and I’ve been singing in A New Dawn since 2007. I’ve been singing in a coverband for 10 years and I’ve always wanted to sing in a band which made their own music and lyrics. After I graduated I searched the internet for a band in need of a singer, this is how I found A New Dawn. I immediately loved their music and I still do. I really think that A New Dawn has it’s own unique sound.

Can you tell our readers a little about your music, and what albums you have recorded in the past?
In 2005, A New Dawn released the ‘The Wisdom Of Hindsight’ E.P. This was basically the start of the A New Dawn as it is know by now. Before, a demo tape was released in 1997 under the name A New Dawn, but this was a completely different chapter. ‘The Wisdom Of Hindsight’ was initially recorded as a project, but later A New Dawn turned into a real band. Already with the recordings of the E.P., we experimented with two female lead vocalists and grunts. In 2006, we recorded a promotional CD with some new songs. One of these songs was a track called Ascension, which featured a more progressive and heavy sound for the band. The song also featured a counterpoint vocal part, that would become a bit of a trademark for the band. Our real debut album was recorded in 2008 in Excess studios and featured a solid band with again a more heavy sound than its predecessors. In the year following the release of the album, the band experienced many line-up changes, which of course reflected in the sound of the new songs. Three new songs were recorded in 2010 as the ‘Finally…’-E.P. This E.P. really showed a more progressive sound to the band, combined with it’s trademark vocal harmony parts. Now we are working hard on the pre-production for a new full-length. How that one will sound, you’ll hear after its release in 2011.

And the name A New Dawn, can you tell us more about the name, that has this kind of atmospheric feel about it?
The name A New Dawn initially stands for ‘a new beginning’. When Elbert first used the name ‘A New Dawn’, the band he played in had just split up and he thought it was time for a new and fresh start. Further, the name has a very positive feel to it and it does not really sound like the ordinary heavy metal band name.

Can you talk about your new EP? As to my ears it is a very good effort.
Elbert: We released our debut album ‘Falling From Grace’ in May 2008. Since that release, the band had undergone various line-up changes. From our current line-up, only Jamila and myself played on ‘Falling From Grace’. We figured it was time, that we released new material to show what the band sounds like at this moment. The ‘Finally…’ e.p. is a bit of a rough teaser of what the upcoming full-length album will be like.
Alysia: The EP! Yes! I love the songs on the EP, mostly, because the tracks on it are more fit for me than the tracks of ‘Fallen From Grace’. Even so, the EP was not written for me; Jamila and I adjusted a lot of the harmonies in order to make it sound more natural and beautiful. For me, the songs of the EP are /our/ songs. Which makes them so much fun to play. It gives me adrenaline and keeps me bouncin’.
Rik: Recording “Finally…” was a lot of fun. Elbert and I created the clicktracks and I recorded the drumparts on a rainy Sunday. After that it was everybody else’s turn. I remember being in the studio listening to the vocal recordings…goosebumps all over… (those girls can sing!!!). It was a lot of fun and a nice warmup exercise to our full length album we’re writing now.
Jamila: All I can say about this EP is what my fellow bandmembers already told you, it’s a teaser for our upcoming album. We’ve had some radio silence because we were very busy writing new material and because we’ve had some line-up changes. If you like our EP, you should really listen to our new album.

A taster of what is to come?
That’s what it’s meant for, indeed. By the end of the year, we want to start recording our second full-length album and ‘Finally…’ shows the direction the band is going to, which is probably more progressive and more heavy than the debut.

Amongst what you have recorded so far (since 1997), what would you class as your favourite songs?
Elbert: Every release has it’s favourites for me. At this moment, my favourite songs are Masque Of The Red Death and Final Verdict (from ‘Finally…’) and Ascension and Winter (from ‘Falling From Grace’). It’s really difficult to pick one favourite song. Basically, I like all music that we wrote, otherwise there would not be a good reason to have recorded them, right?
Michiel: For me it’s Final Verdict, for the simple reason that it’s a joy to play. It’s by far not the easiest song we have. It’s a challenge (for me anyway!) to pull off live. It has that eighties metal feel to it that I love so much.
Alysia: Masque of the Red Death is definitely my favourite. There is one upcoming song we call ‘TOF’, which is probably going to be my next favourite, but I’m not telling anything about that song yet!
Rik: For me the tracks Final Verdict and Masque of the Red Death are the ones I’m particularly fond of. I had no part in recording older releases so therefore can’t say anything about those, I like to play the older songs but my preference goes out to Final Verdict and Masque
Jamila: That would be a very difficult one to answer, because I like a lot of songs. The way I’m feeling now … Final Verdict. Why? Because it has everything.

How has your music progressed and developed since the early days?
The ‘The Wisdom Of Hindsight’ E.P. was purely written as a studio project. When we started recording, there was really no intention of bringing the songs live. Therefore, the music sounds a bit laid back. When we started playing live, the songs from the E.P. got a bit heavier. Three of them were re-recorded for the ‘Falling From Grace’ album and I think you can tell, that they sound more heavy than on the E.P. All in all, ‘Falling From Grace’ was more heavy than it’s predecessors. As is the case now, where ‘Finally…’ is not only heavier than ‘Falling From Grace’ but also more progressive. This, of course, has everything to do with the new musicians in the band. Everybody has his or her own style of playing and this reflects in the music. Since the first recordings the band has grown more technical, progressive, heavier and as far as we’re concerned the music has a lot more soul than it had in the beginning.

With the likes of Within Temptation, Delain and Stream Of Passion, just to name a limited few, why is it that Holland seems to produce such awesome bands?
Elbert: I really wouldn’t know, to tell you the truth. I think it may have something to do with being original. When The Gathering released Mandylion in 1995 it was something fresh – and great sounding. In it’s wake quickly came more female fronted metal bands like Within Temptation and After Forever and it seemed that a new, mainly Dutch, genre was born.
Michiel: If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much!!! :p Seriously though, I have no definite answer, but I do have some thoughts. Holland seems to have a very active female fronted metal scene. The style, arguably, originates in Holland with as starting point The Gathering. We just took it from there and there have been female fronted bands here ever since. This inspires new musicians to take what’s there to a new level.
Alysia: I think it’s because we eat so much cheese…
Rik:There are a lot of countries with a lot of really good bands, in every underground scene there’s lots of talent and inspiration to be found. The bands you mention are like us, metal with female vocals, that’s not a common thing outside of the Netherlands, well, not as common as it is here. I think it’s the broad musical interest of the Dutch and a love for theatrical metal that does the trick.
Jamila: I really couldn’t tell you why. Because I don’t believe that Holland is the only country that produces such awesome bands. But for me it’s great to see that Holland does have (had) bands like After Forever, The Gathering, Within Temptation, Epica and Delain who are great and big names in our genre.

And if you could become a minister of music for the day, what would you do to make the music scene even better?
Elbert: Ouch, that’s a tough one. Maybe I would try to find a way to make people start buying records again instead of illegally downloading them. And then to reduce the prices for concert tickets. More people can go see the bands and when they like the music they should be able to buy the music at a reasonable price.
Michiel: I am inclined to write a huge technical answer as I have my own theories why Holland is such a difficult country to play music in. I won’t bother you with that, but I will say this. It has to become easier for bands to play in the larger venues. Also, live, national, metal music needs more attention.
Alysia: Ha! I’d ban talent shows on tv for vocalists, where people get nagged at for trying to live their dream. Plus, there would be no brainless music on the radio for a whole day. I’d arrange festivals throughout the entire world, where people could rock eachothers socks off and have fun and make music all day.
Rik: Since there are so many different tastes in music it would be wrong to make the metalgenre the only thing on the radio and mtv, however I would start a huge marketing campain promoting metal and try to broaden peoples horizons. From my experience, it’s mainly the rock and metal audience that listens to other styles of music as well and generally people that listen to jazz, pop, trance or classical music (to name but a few) are less interested in different styles… a shame really since everything connects and metal generally is a combination of all styles, that’s what makes it interesting… never limit yourself to just one style/genre.
Jamila: I’d make sure that every radio or television station gave every genre of music an equal amount of airplay. All the radio or television stations now only play the music they think people want to hear or see, but there are a lot of beautiful and good bands out there in the ‘underground’ scene. Every band/musician should have the chance to be on the radio or television.

Who or what are your musical inspirations at the moment and what is your favourite band/artist?
Elbert: I have always been a big fan of the heavy metal bands from the mid-80’s. Bands like Iron Maiden, Savatage and Queensrÿche are my favourites. But I’m also a big Queen fan. Brian May is a big inspiration when it comes to guitar playing. As are Randy Rhoads and Criss Oliva.
Michiel: Mainly eighties, new wave of British heavy metal music. It’s music that puts a smile on my face. What more inspiration does a man need? Also the atmosphere are festivals and gigs is very inspiring. After an evening of hearing bands play my brain just seems to put it all together into new music. I’ll drive home, without the radio on, with riffs flying though my head! I’ll grab my guitar back home and try to get out what’s in the depths of my brain. Usually I fail, sometimes I hit something worth while and I share it with the band. Writing music for me is about throwing away about 90% of what I produce. It takes some guts to delete that one riff you’ve been working on for ages but sometimes focussing too much will hold you back. My guitar teacher once burned an entire pile of unfinished music in his backyard for just that reason!
Alysia: My musical inspirations come mostly from artists that play in musicals. Older artists, from a time where great vocals were actually needed to be famous. I love seeing quality skills on artists. To clear up misunderstandings; I do not count low cut dresses and a big cleavage as a great skill (that’s just a plus on Jamila’s and my list :P).
Names: Barbara Streisand, Simone Kleinsma, Idina Menzel, Heather Headly. I love listening to Loreena McKennitt… But in my list there’s also Chopin and Sonata Arctica.
Rik: I really love Gene Harris, Pat Metheny and the more relaxed versions of jazz, have a craving for bands like Symphony X, Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Blind Guardian and can seriously enjoy classical pieces by Mozart, Brahms, Bach and Puccini. Offcourse there’s a lot more I liste to and more that I like, however, this sort of sums up the biggest parts of it.
Jamila: There are a lot of musicians I like (in random order): P!nk, Tina Turner, Nightwish, Nikka Costa, System of a Down, K’s Choice, Bob Marley, Lady Gaga, Bette Midler, Aerosmith and many many more.

And what music have you been listening to during the lazy hazy days of the Summer?
Elbert: I’ve been listening to music on my iPod in shuffle mode. So, I heard everything from metal to pop to progressive and so on, and so on.
Michiel: I wish they were lazy! I’ve been keeping very busy, with classical music in the background! I have found a very interesting performer called Peter Fox, a rapper from Germany that mixes a symphonic sound with rap-like style vocals. I shy away from no style! Any music made with love and some brains is welcome in my ears and will, maybe, hopefully inspire me.
Alysia: I’ve been listening to the plucking of strings from a guitar, missing one string. To crickets and running water. My summer was awesome; the music was totally random… but even more happy and beautiful those days.
Rik: Reggae! Lucky Dube, Seeed, Bob Marley and a lot of P!nk, Limp Bizkit, System of a Down as well… even Lady Gaga … hahahaha
Jamila: A lot of Lady Gaga, 90-ties music, Seeed, System of a Down, P!nk and Limp Bizkit.

And do any of you have any hobbies when not making music?
Elbert: I like to watch the occasional movie or TV show (mostly with a guitar within reach) or do a bit of designing on the computer. Still, most of my spare time is consumed by making music.
Michiel: My other hobby is linguistics. I love studying languages for various reasons, the main one being in that a language can tell you a great deal about the culture and history of a people. If one studies it closely it’s almost like the language tells the story of its people. It’s very inspiring work.
Alysia: I love to write poetry, I play role-play games and watch role-play related humor on the net. Reading and creating beautiful pictures on wood. Yes. I’m crazy about sports, skating, doing Salsa and swimming.
Rik: Ah, yes. I like to go powerkiting, wish I had more time for Capoeira, enjoy a game of chess or Guild Wars every now and then but mostly, I spend time with my son and my girlfriend.
Jamila: I love to facepaint, bodypaint and bellypaint. Next to that I love watching movies, draw tattoos for people who want one, play piano and read books.

We understand that you will be over here on 31st October at the Femme Metal 'Beauty and Brutality' release gig. Are there any further dates planned, either here or in Europe?
Right now we are focussing on the new album. The coming months we will not be playing too much shows, but after the release we will be back on as many stages as possible. We’d love to play in the UK more often, the 31st is our first in the UK and hopefully not the last. For other gigs, check our website. As soon as the new cd is out the list will grow.

Well I must really thank you so much for your time. Finally, is there anything you would like to say to anybody via this website?
Elbert: I would like to thank you for interviewing us and everybody for reading the interview and showing interest in the band. If you want to know more about us, please visit our website Michiel: Thank you for taking the time to read this interview and hopefully see you at a venue in the future!
Alysia: I’m eager to play for the British and I hope to have an awesome night with you all. Stay Bouncin’ and see you soon!
Rik: feel, listen, taste and enjoy everything you can about everything you love. Especially music since music is the language of the soul as words are for the mind.
Jamila: I’m really looking forward to play for you guys in the UK.

Thanks so much for this interview and I hope we will see each other again real soon.
Dave Smith (Oct 25, 2010)