Musical Discoveries: When did the moment arrive that you knew you wanted to become involved with making music?
Manda Ophuis: I started playing the recorder when I was seven years old. At the age of nine I changed it for a flute. I already knew I wanted to have a career in music, then. I started singing when I was eighteen. After one year of singing lessons I was admitted at the conservatory where I would meet HJ [Guitarist Hendrik Jan de Jong] a couple of years later.
My biggest inspiration is Anneke van Giersbergen, ex-singer of The Gathering. I heard her sing in 1996 with an orchestra instead of her band and I was overwhelmed by the sound of her voice. I still think that she's one of the greatest singers ever.
My mum and grandmother always have been enormously supporting. They both told me to never give up and work hard. So that's what I'm doing!
Nemesea formed in September of 2002. How did the formation come about?
I met HJ at the conservatory where we studied together. After playing a Linkin Park song with him, I knew it would be great if I could play in a band with him. So I came up with a plan and he liked the idea. He already knew Sonny, the bass player (also from the conservatory).
We also know Steven from the conservatory, so when we were looking for a new drummer a year ago, he was the right person.
Where did the band's name Nemesea come from?
Nemesea is the name of the day the ancient Greek dedicated to the goddess Nemesis.
What sort of approach did you take when writing debut album Mana?
Only six months after starting with Nemesea we were already asked to support After Forever, a well known female fronted metal band from Holland. We didn't have a lot of songs then so we had to write very fast. We didn't have the time to think about what we really want, which style would fit us best. So Mana was written very fast and we went with the same directions as most female fronted bands at that time.
That's why I think we do not really have a very original style on that album. It's a mixture of a lot of other female fronted bands, of course with the Nemesea sound still. We are very proud of the album. We did a good job making that one, but our taste in music changed, our band lin up changed and we wanted to do something new and fresh. All very good and obvious reasons for why we changed our musical direction.
What is Sellaband and how Nemesea came to be involved with the In Control album?
Sellaband is a very new concept. Every artist can make a profile page on sellaband.com. There you can upload a maximum of three songs, your bio, some pictures, videos, write weblogs etc.
Then the audience/ music fans/ listeners from all over the world, called believers, can invest in the artists they like. Believers can buy one or more parts in a band they like. Each part costs $10,and represents one CD. For every part you buy, you'll receive an album as soon as it is finished.
When a band or an artist has sold 5000 parts, they have $50.000 with which they can record a professional album.
Sellaband's slogan is 'Your music, your choice'. The artist chooses which songs will be on the album, in which studio they will record and with whom they want to work but Sellaband sets it up. They are a sort of a record company for a short amount of time.
When the album is finished and is ready to sell, believers and artists make money together. For every CD that's sold both will receive some money. You also earn money on advertisement revenues.
So if an artist sells a lot of albums, it is possible that you, as a believer, can earn your investment back. That's the idea.
You were the first band to raise more than $50,000 from your fans. Did you ever expect to receive such a response and how did you feel when the target had been reached?
WOW!!! That's the first thing I yelled when we reached $50K. It was amazing! We never thought we would reach it within just three months. That was just great. Now we could make a second album and show everybody what Nemesea is musically all about.
So, through Sellaband, would you say you were granted the opportunity to make your ambitions, indeed you dreams come true as to how you wished your second album to sound?
Because of Sellaband we had the chance to try out our new sound, work on our new sound and the conditions/ budget were much better then during our first album.
So a big advantage for us, we had demos of new stuff but now we could make it sound the way we wanted. Professional! Dreams came true.
How, musically, would you say second and latest album In Control differs to debut Mana?
I'd say that Mana is a typical gothic metal album. Classical vocals, a choir, strings etc. In Control is a rock album with trance/electro elements. The whole bombastic sound we tried to make on Mana through choir and strings is replaced on In Control with trance/key sounds. It's no longer gothic metal, although the gothic aspect is not completely gone. The songs are shorter and better, the lyrics are totally different and the classical way of singing is totally gone.
Did you approach In Control differently than Mana?
Yes, absolutely. When we played the songs from Mana live we felt that neither of us felt really comfortable with the music from Mana to be honest. Don't get me wrong, we are very proud of that album and we think it is a good album, but we all have such a broad taste when it comes down to music.
Sonny and Steven, for example, are very much into funk and soul music. HJ loves pop/ fusion/ trance/ dance and some kinds of jazz music. I, myself love pop/ rock and R&B etc.
We wanted to find a style that fits everybody in the band. It still had to be rock, heavy music, but with elements from other styles. That's when HJ came up with the idea of making rock songs with bombastic trance sounds. Still dark though, we all like that very much.
The album is brimming with dark, pulsing electronics. Do you enjoy genre's such as electronica/dance/trance and what inspired the inclusion of such influences?
We do indeed. Most of the famous trance/ dance DJ's are from the Netherlands--just like most of the gothic rock bands. Maybe there's something in our water--like DJ TiŽsto and Armin van Buuren. Those guys make very good music, very rhythmic and sometimes dark and the sounds are fantastic. But it's also bombastic and we think that the combination with heavy music is possible.
Musically, would you compare Nemesea to any other band/artist or do you feel you have a more 'unique' sound?
All artists like to say that they have their own unique sound, of course, but in this case I really think we do have our own unique sound. We've done something with the whole rock and trance combination that hasn't been done before. At least, not that we know about.
Of course often people compare us to bands like Evanescence and Linkin Park and even Lacuna Coil. That's a big compliment, but I still think we have a different sound compared to these bands.
What's the music scene like in The Netherlands?
It's very diverse in a way. Of course we have our own traditional music here. You know, sang in the Dutch language. It's not my cup of tea because it's often pretty boring although some bands in Holland are making really good music and still sing in Dutch so there's some good stuff. A lot of pop music on the radio, music you'll hear everywhere.
The jazz scene is not really big here in Holland but metal is. Lot's of rock bands in Holland and especially gothic related. Within Temptation/ After Forever/ The Gathering/ Epica/ Delain etc. Talented bands that have a international career as well.
With the development between albums Mana and In Control, and their notable differences in sound, how do you expect the third Nemesea album to shape up?
Well, this will be sort of "In Control like'' but better. Always improve yourself, that's our motto! We believe we made the right choice in music style/ direction. There are always things to work on, sound/ playing/ writing etc. The songs will get better and the same counts for sound etc.
What lyrically, inspires or has inspired you?
First of all my own life. Writing lyrics is like therapy for me. I can write about things that I've been through, or memories. But also the things I see on the news or books/ stories I read can be an inspiration for writing a lyric.
You were set to perform a series of dates over here in the U.K, a tour which has recently been canceled, no doubt hard for yourselves to take. Could you give an insight into what happened?
In December I was ill. I had a major flu with a throat infection. We had a show on the second day of Christmas that I really wanted to do but I had a fever and a sore throat. Anyway, I did perform and it went okay, but I had to stay in bed for three day afterwards. After that flu I never totally recovered. So after a show or rehearsal I was feeling really weak and that had its effect on my voice. Every time we played it took me a couple of days before I was feeling a bit better. After playing the last show on January 25th, I talked to the guys and told them that if we would do this tour I was afraid that I would damage my voice.
A week after we decided to cancel the tour I got really sick. It took me more that two weeks to recover from this flu. Just a 'simple' flu, but it really hit me hard. It took me some time to get over it but right now I'm feeling so much better. My body needed some time off to totally recover, which is difficult if you're busy 24/7 like me.
How do you approach a Nemesea live performance? What sort of an atmosphere do you seek to create?
I think having fun with each other is very important. The band is really close and have lot's of fun. We just try to get as relaxed as possible before gigs. I like to drink some tea, read a bit, listen to some music etc. Basic things.
At some point I'll do a vocal warm up and then it's show time. This is what we do it for, to play live, on stage!
What is it that drives you creatively, keeps you pushing onwards?
The fact that we love to play and make music. It's as simple as that. We really love performing, sharing our music with other people all around the world. There's always something to write about, HJ always has ideas for songs. We are inspired by music/ art and our dream, having a music career fulltime!
Your highest and lowest points since Nemesea formed?
The lowest was saying goodbye to Berto (keys) and Martijn (guitar) a couple of months ago. Both have been with Nemesea from the very beginning. Those are really special friendships and it is really hard to say goodbye.
The highest, well, there are a couple. Reaching $50K and making the In Control album.
Who has inspired you in your life?
I'm inspired by a lot of artists. As mentioned before Anneke van Giersbergen (ex- The Gathering ) but also Tori Amos, Christina Aquilera, Kelly Clarkson.
Your proudest moment since this journey began?
The moment I heard In Control in the studio! After being away from HJ for more than a week because he mixed the album together with Ronald Prent I went to Belgium to pick him up (finally!) and of course to listen to the album. Wow it was great! Right in your face! I was so amazingly proud of HJ and this album!
What are the future plans for the band?
Getting a good record deal, making more albums and traveling all over the world to share our music with everyone!