Exclusive interview with Simone Simons from Epica

Most of all I would like to inspire other people to be themselves, find their own identity”

Wikimetal (Daniel Dystyler): Hi, may I speak to Simone Simons, please?

Simone Simons: Yes, this is her speaking.

W (DD): Hey, Simone, how are how? This is Daniel, from Wikimetal in Brazil, how are you?

SS: Very good, “obrigada”, thank you. How are you?

W (DD): Very good, thanks. Thanks for the “obrigada” as well. It’s an honor and a pleasure to have you here on our show. Thanks so much for spending time with us.

SS: Thank you too.

W (DD): In order to start, can you talk a little bit about Epica’s last album “Requiem for the Indifferent”? How has the repercussion and the reception of the album by the fans been? It’s a great album, so can you talk a little bit about that?

SS: Yes, it’s the fifth studio album, and “Requiem for the Indifferent” had a concept behind the CD, it’s about the people who are indifferent to the problems nowadays in our society… The ones that don’t care are going to change their minds, everybody is going to unite together and work for a better future. And the music is, overall, if I listen to the CD myself, I find it one of the heaviest, but also one of the most melancholic records that we’ve written. For example, “Design your Universe” was really bombastic and epic. “Requiem for the Indifferent” is a little bit darker in a way. It has some really melancholic, doomy parts, and certain songs have… Especially the last one on the record, “Serenade of Self Destruction” has kind of a sad message, and besides from that, I think one of our best songs that we’ve written to date is on there, “Storm the Sorrow”. It’s a huge hit, and we’ve recorded a video for it, and the fans have loved it. During our live shows, we play “Storm the Sorrow”, we always open with “Monopoly on Truth”. “Delirium” is almost acoustic and acapella, it’s very intimate. So yeah, we’re already working on the sixth record. For me, “Requiem” is an old record already.

W (DD): It is, it is, so you guys are already working on the new record… Anything you can tell us about that?

SS: Well, they are more like basic songs, and we have one new song that we are going to play during our show in Eindhoven, on the 23rd of March, so we wrote one new song especially for this occasion, so that’s kind of big news. And once we’ve played this show, we can focus more on working on songs and giving them some more detail, and doing some demos in the studio. Right now we are so busy, we are preparing a big show, so the songs that we have written before are kind of put away in a box, and they will be picked up later on, so we can continue working on them. But so far Isaac has written a whole lot of songs, and Mark. They are the main composers on the new record. Our new bass player has also started writing songs, he has very nice style, very different, so we are going to see which songs we can use from which composer, so we’re going to try to make an amazing album.

W (DD): Excellent, I’m sure you guys will. Let’s talk a little bit about the beginning of your career, what came first, your interest in singing, say more in a classical style or rock N’ roll? And who were your main influences back then?

SS: My main influences when I started, when I was little, was more little Whitney Houston, because when I was twelve I sang in a school musical, and the music teacher told me that I had a good voice and that I should take singing lessons and do more with my voice, so I started taking pop and jazz singing lessons, I didn’t like it so much, I did it only for one year, I played the flute, and then I slowly started getting into rock music, punk, alternative, and then turned to metal, because my first boyfriend was like a metal head, and that’s where I got to know the metal bands like Lacuna Coil, Nightwish… Particularly Nightwish, I love their classical female voices combined with metal. So I got in contact with Mark, and he started the band Epica, and I joined Epica and that’s how it all started. So in the beginning of Epica I was singing a little bit more classical, and through the years, I developed a little bit more into a variety of classical pop and rock, to be more versatile, and you know, not all the songs need the classical singing, I think if we do too much, than it might become a little bit overkill. It’s not always needed. Classical singing is, in a way, always beautiful, and sometimes you need it to be rougher and rockier… That’s better.

Recording a solo record is definately on my agenda. Metal music, but I’m also going to record a jazz CD, and maybe even classical”

W (DD): And when you joined Epica you were really, really young. And since you mentioned Nightwish, Tarja Turunen, I think she was probably a big influence. How do you feel today, now that you are one of these big influences for teenagers that are starting to learn singing because of you?

SS: I think it’s really amazing. I love to listen to other bands, they are a source of inspiration, they motivate you to go out there and see what you can do with your talent. To think I’m an example for them is a huge honor, but also very unrealistic for me, because I think I’m not perfect, and if other people think you are really great and want to be like you… I just don’t see myself as a role model, I’m just doing what I like, and we are writing lyrics to inspire people, but I would, most of all, like to inspire other people to be themselves, find their own identity, instead of…

W (DD): Excellent, well, everybody has flaws, and I’m sure you are a really great role model for all these teenagers that are starting their careers. We have a classic question on our show that we ask every single guest, which is, imagine you’re listening to your iPod on shuffle mode, and there are tons of heavy meta songs, or you’re listening to a rock station while driving your car and all of a sudden a song starts that makes you lose your mind and you feel you need to start head banging immediately, regardless of where you are you can’t stop, you can’t refrain yourself. What song is that so we can listen to it one on our show right now?

SS: I recently was listening to Rammstein again, I loved Rammstein when I was younger, and I still love them now, they give me that feeling of having a good time, and moving in an uncontrollable manner. It’s easy to go crazy with them. Maybe from their new record, I really like “Haifisch”, it’s from “Liebe ist für alle da”.

W (DD): You are always asked to make contributions in albums for other bands, such as Kamelot or Primal Fear. How was it to participate in these recordings and can we ever hope to hear a Simone Simmons solo album?

SS: All the contributions are a big enrichment to my voice, myself as an artist. With Kamelot I have a special relationship, because when Epica was still called Sahara Dust, we went to the studio to record “The Phantom Agony”, and we were searching for a new band name, and Kamelot was in the same studio, and they were recording the record called “Epica”.  And we really loved the name, we loved Kamelot as a band, and also the meaning of the name. So that’s where we started. And we wanted Roy to sing on our record, they wanted to have a female vocalist, so I sang on “The Haunting”, on “The Black Halo”, and Roy sang for us. And from there on, we did tours together, and in total, I think I sang on five Kamelot songs, on three different records. I’ve toured with them many times, I’ve been together with the keyboardist from Kamelot for seven years, and every time I hear “The Haunting” I get nervous. With the Epica stuff, I never get nervous, but somehow with “The Haunting”… I have a special connection with it, I love that song, I love it when we recorded the video, and Kamelot is like my second band, my family. And the second question was…? Can you repeat that?

W (DD): If we can expect to see a Simone Simons solo album in the future.

SS: Yes, definitely. When I have free time, I’m going to write like crazy. Since Epica’s touring so much, I will probably record my solo record and do a couple of shows, but I won’t do a whole tour, because Epica is my priority, and we are already touring a lot. But that will definitely be something on my agenda: to record a solo record. Metal music, but I’m also going to record a jazz CD, and maybe even classical, I don’t know. A solo record takes years of preparation, and so far Epica’s been my full time job, so not much free time in between.

W (DD): Excellent, I look forward to your new future projects, solo projects. Are there any specific artists that you would like to work with in a project in the future?

SS: I love Opeth, I always have, and I still love them very much. Non-metal people would be Imogen Heap, she’s a solo artist, singer/songwriter, who plays all her instruments, and is a little bit funky. I don’t know if she writes her own music, but I just love her voice, it gives me goose bumps, so singing with her would be amazing. Rammstein sometimes has female vocals on their records, so maybe, since I’m living in Germany now, maybe I should get the right connections, but that’s probably never going to happen, but you never know. Back in the day, I never thought that I would be recording with Kamelot, and now I’ve sung on three of their records. So that’s another thing that I want to tell everybody: never think that your dreams are never going to come true, always believe in them, and when you get an unique chance, you should just go for it, don’t think too much about it, just do it.

W (DD): Excellent, it will be so cool to se you singing with Rammstein, it will be great.

SS: Yeah… That will be cool.

W (DD): Could you choose a song that you are really proud of being a part of or maybe recording, so we can listen to it right now on Wikimetal?

SS: Yeah, let’s hear “The Haunting”, from Kamelot.

Back in the day, I never thought that I would be recording with Kamelot, and now I’ve sung on three of their records”

W (DD): What is it like to work with Sascha Paeth again and what is his importance in Epica’s music?

SS: Sascha is like the seventh band member, he has been involved with Epica since day one. He’s been working with me on my vocals, and he’s been readjusting certain songs, like bringing more structure in them, making a selection of which have potential and which need more work… So he’s a wonderful guy, has a great sense of humor, great energy, he’s very creative, talented, and we consider him another band member. We work with him over and over again, he knows us so well, it’s also a little bit like family when we go there and work with him. He’s a really great guy, has a heart of gold!

W (DD): He produced great legendary Brazilian heavy metal bands as well.

SS: Yeah, with André Mattos. They are like good friends.

W (DD): I think you sang on “Consign to Oblivion” with André, right?

SS: He sang in the choir, yeah. He’s also a funny guy. He’s got those big lashes, and such big eyes. He speaks perfect German.

W (DD): He’s a very good friend of mine. He’s a very nice guy.

SS: Say “hi” to him

W (DD): I will, we grew up together. He’s a very nice guy, I’ll say “hi” to him.

SS: OK, cool.

W (DD): How is the heavy metal Dutch scene like compared to other countries of Northern Europe like Sweden and Germany? Is heavy metal still really popular over there?

SS: Yeah, we definitely have a lot of metal festivals as well. But I would say when you walk the streets you see a lot of metal heads, and in the Netherlands, it’s still a kind of underground scene.

W (DD): It sounds awesome. How’s your health after that serious treatment in 2008? Are you completely healed?

SS: Yes, thank you for asking. I’m doing much better now, that is all left behind. I am luckily totally clear of that disease.

W (DD): I am happy to hear that. Before finishing the interview, can you choose now an Epica song, so we can hear it on the show?

SS: “Storm the Sorrow”.

W (DD): Could you please leave a final message to the Brazilian head bangers that are listening to you?

SS: Obrigada, my sweet Brazilian fans. Epica loves you, I love you, I cant wait for you to check in on our live streams. I hope we can tour there again, one day. Live heavy metal lifestyle.

W (DD): Simone Simons on Wikimetal, thanks so much for your time, it was very nice talking to you, and count on Wikimetal whenever you guys need to promote anything that you’re doing on your solo careers, or projects with other bands, or with Epica.

SS: Thank you very much. Obrigada.

W (DD): Thanks, bye, bye, Simone.

SS: Bye.

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