MAGION belongs to the premier league of the Dutch symphonic gothic metal scene. Their new album “A Different Shade Of Darkness” shows, that there’s more to life than just the “Fifty Shades Of Grey”. The outcome is exactly the same. Whereas the book “Fifty Shades Of Grey” sets the standard in a somewhat erotic undertone, the album “A Different Shade Of Darkness” sets the standard in the gothic metal scene. Front lady Myrthe van Beest is a name, you definitely have to remember. Not only her fabulous looks makes her the eye-catcher of the band, but especially her great voice is a wonderful treat to your ears. We took a dive into the band’s past, talked about the present and also discussed their plans in the near future. Everything, that once was covered in a different shade of darkness will suddenly get quite clear after reading the following interview. Our sincere thanks goes out to vocalist Myrthe and keyboard player Joop de Rooij, who will be your guides today…..
Note: Two weeks after completing this interview, we received the unpleased news, that MAGION has split up after several members quit the band. A pity, but life comes full with surprises…. Good news is, that vocalist Myrthe van Beest has started a new project with drummer David de Waal and they are already working on some new songs. I guess, that we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the near future…. Like Myrthe says in her statement on Facebook: “I hope to see you all very soon. This is not a farewell, but hopefully a good bye!”
Before we start this interview, I’d like to thank you ever so much for giving us the opportunity to ask you some questions and congratulate you on your marvelous new album. When did the band get together and how did you actually meet up with each other?
Joop: “Thank you for the compliment! As for me, I joined in 2011, when unfortunately the former keyboardist had to step down. I did know the band already and Myrthe and drummer David actually played in my own band GALANOR at that time also. So there was already a connection. The background and musical interest of all members was the same as mine, so it was a small step to make to join the ranks of MAGION.”
Myrthe: “I joined the band in 2006. I was in another band with our old synth player Walter Romberg. He joined MAGION and arranged an audition for me, as they were still searching for a singer. I got the job after the first audition.”
Did any of the band members play in other bands before they joined MAGION, and if yes did they record anything with this outfit?
Joop: “I played in several bands before like TRANSENTIENCE and GALANOR. TRANSENTIENCE was kind of in the same genre, whilst GALANOR was more pop-metal (does that exist?) oriented. With both bands there were some EP releases and also a full album with TRANSENTIENCE. During the recording period, I however stepped down. Higlight of GALANOR was the Japan tour we did.”
Myrthe: “When I was 19, I started with a cover band called CONNECTED HEARTS. I’ve been in that band for about half a year. After that I joined the metal band SLANDER, where I met Walter. He introduced me to Chris and David and that’s how I joined MAGION. I’ve also been the singer of GALANOR, as Joop mentioned above and SCENARIO 2. But both of those bands are not active at the moment.”
Who came up with the name MAGION and why did this become this your definite choice? Does it have any particular meaning?
Myrthe: “MAGION used to be named SPHERES, after Chris’ old band. This turned out to be quite confusing for the people, who already knew SPHERES, so we changed the name to MAGION. MAGION is actually a satellite. We wanted to stay in the atmosphere of the name SPHERES.”
You released your first full-length album in 2010. It was called “Close To Eternity”. Did you sell many copies of this album and how were the reactions of the press towards this album?
Myrthe: “I have no idea how many copies we sold of “Close To Eternity”. We’re still selling the second batch, so it’s kind of hard to tell. The reactions to this album were very positive. We got a lot of great reviews and reactions from people, who bought it. It took us some time to come up with our second album and we kept the fans waiting quite a bit.”
Did any line-up changes occur during the eight years of existence? I couldn’t think of any, which makes you the most consistent Dutch metal band ever, I guess. What’s your secret?
Joop: “Well, there have been some changes, but not too many indeed. I think the secret lies in the fact, that all band members share the same passion for music and have the realistic view on how to set goals. We all have jobs, families, mortgages to pay and have to take those into account.”
Myrthe: “We did have some line-up changes, but only in the synth and the bass department. Some of our old members just keep coming back to us. I guess, they missed us after a while. Me and Chris are the only ones, who were in the band from the beginning. All the others either joined later or left once and then rejoined again.”
Do you also get any negative criticism and if yes, how do you deal with this in general? Do you try to forget about it as soon as quickly as possible or do you try to learn from it?
Joop: “I think, that most criticism has to be taken seriously depending on how it is brought and who is giving it. We often reflect on our live performances, which we film and if necessary, we adjust. About the music, well, it is kind of subjective. There is no such thing as bad or good music in my opinion in general (okay, there are some exceptions - lol), only taste.”
Myrthe: “Of course we get negative criticism. Doesn’t everyone in the scene get that now and then? Some of it, we can use to better ourselves and learn from it. But some critics are just stating the obvious. Like the comment about originality. Of course we know we might not make the most new and inventive music, there are a lot of bands in our genre out there. I think, that we can only set ourselves apart by being good musicians and writing beautiful music.”
How would you describe your music yourself?
Joop: “Symphonic, bombastic, powerful and fragile at times.”
Can you name us the main musical influences of MAGION, and maybe you can name some of the influences of each band member here as well?
Joop: “As for me, NIGHTWISH, Arjen Lucassen (STAR ONE, AYREON) and eighties synth pop have most definitely been a huge influence on my playing style and use of certain sounds and melodies. I know for other band members, that THERION and SYMPHONY X have been the foundation for them.”
Myrthe: “I used to listen to a lot of female fronted metal bands in the past. I was a big fan of AFTER FOREVER and NIGHTWISH. Nowadays I listen to bands like OPETH and KATATONIA and also to a lot of other musicians, like FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE. When I was young, I heard a lot of GENESIS, MARILLION and TORI AMOS.”
Who did the artwork for “A Different Shade Of Darkness”?
Joop: “Our artwork was made by Jan yrlund of DARKGROVE. He has a proven track record of making artwork for some of the greatest bands and we are honoured to have have him made our artwork, too. As for the persons appearing in our artwork, this has been arranged by Myrthe.”
Myrthe: “Yep, the model we used for the artwork is a friend of my sister’s. I knew, that she does a lot of modeling jobs and I asked her to pose for me. I took the pictures myself and Jan made them into our artwork. I think it turned out pretty nice!”
In which way does “A Different Shade Of Darkness” differ from “Close To Eternity” in your opinion?
Joop: “For me, it is way more dark and richer then the first album was. I think it has a lot more symphonic layers, darker melodies and intense riffs.”
Myrthe: “Indeed, this album is way more dark than the first one. Also the lyrics are quite heavy and the overall feel is just a bit more intense.”
Why did you release this album independently instead of a record company? Wasn't there any record company good enough for you to release this album or didn't they find MAGION good enough? Do you like to keep these kind of things in your own hands preferably?
Joop: “Well, first of all I doubt that a record company nowadays has some added value, when it comes to the production of an album. I think any artistic group these days will have more benefits using a professional marketing, sales and booking agency. Of course, those are services provided by record companies as well, but so far none of them have taken the step to get in touch with us and sail the boat together. Also, having control over our own product and release is something which means a lot of work but can be done with nowadays technology, but it can always be better and bigger. To that I must agree.”
What’s your favorite track on “A Different Shade Of Darkness” and why?
Joop: “Definitely “Neverending Winter”. Its dynamics and melodies get to me every time I play it before a live audience. But most of the songs are great to play live.”
Myrthe: “I must agree with Joop on this one. That is my favourite, too. With “Bodies Betrayal” as a good second.”
Who writes the lyrics for the different songs and can you tell us what the songs are about?
Joop: “Myrthe does.”
Myrthe: “I write all the lyrics. Most of them are autobiographical. They are about moments in my life, where all I could do is to write and get rid of some negative emotions. Writing has been a good way for me to get rid of my demons.”
How does the song writing in general come about? Do you start with lyrics or does the music comes first, or do you write while jamming? Maybe you can explain a bit more here?
Joop: “Song writing is mainly done by Chris Vrij, our guitarist, who also does an excellent job in composing and producing. After he has laid down the structure, the rest of the members add some things of their own. But honestly, the way Chris composes and writes, it is almost impossible to add our own stuff. Not because it can’t be done, but because it already is good as it is!”
Myrthe: “We never really jam, while we always get complete songs to work with. The only thing missing are the vocal lines. I just listen to the tracks a few times and then they just come to me. I write the vocal lines and the lyrics almost simultaneously.”
How did the cooperation with Liesbeth Cordia (EVE’S FALL) for the song “Ever And A Day” come about and did you also think about other singers to do this song or was Liesbeth your first choice for the job?
Joop: “Ever and a Day” is not the only song on the album with a female guest vocalist and Liesbeth is not the only one participating in the new album. Credits also go to Nienke Verboom of MINDSHADE and Jessica Overdijk of SCARLET PENTA.”
Myrthe: “Liesbeth is a longtime friend of mine. I know her from playing World Of Warcraft with her and her husband (nerds!). I also did a duet with her in her former band ANNATAR. So she was a logical choice to work with on ever and day.”
MAGION already did a lot of live shows in the past. Can you update us a bit with bands that you shared the stage with already?
Joop: “SONATA ARCTICA, EPICA, JORN, REVAMP, AFTER FOREVER and during Metal Female Voices fest 2013, we shared the stage with some other great bands like LACUNA COIL, DELAIN and TARJA TURUNEN.”
Do you also play any covers during your live shows, and if yes, which covers do you crank out then?
Joop: “No, we don’t… (but we have options…..lol)”
Myrthe: “We have played “The Final Countdown” (EUROPE) once. But that will never ever happen again! (lol).”
Any interesting stories you want to share about the MAGION live shows? I can imagine, that there have been some funny or nice stories to tell that you want to share with our readers about life on the road with MAGION? Some hilarious things must have happened over the years, I guess?
Joop: “For me just one…and I will state it here politically correct…I having bowel problems with a need for frequent toilet visits, which does not match very good with a long nightly trip in a car somewhere in Belgium. Thank god however, there are hard shoulders along the highway…and trees…”
Myrthe: “I became a mother in September 2013. On the first gig after my maternity leave (MFVF!), my baby was only 5 weeks old. I could still feel the stitches while jumping up and down on stage (lol). I also had to bring my breast pump backstage to relief the boobies. So very glamorous! (lol).”
What has been your biggest gig so far?
Joop: “Definetely, the Metal Female Voices Fest… Even though we played at 10:30 in the morning, we had an audience of over seven hundred people!”
Myrthe: “Metal female voices Fest of course and also opening for EPICA, DELAIN and REVAMP.”
What do you think of the metal scene in our country and which other Dutch metal bands do you like a lot?
Joop: “The Dutch metal scene is quite big and full of bands. Not necessarily a problem, but it narrows gig opportunities. Overall, I do thin however that we are quite good in what we accomplish as Dutch metal acts. We are fairly renowned inside and outside Europe. As for pure metal, I like IZEGRIM and HAIL OF BULLETS. For the more symphonic/female fronted, I like EVE’S FFALL and REVAMP.”
Myrthe: “I really like ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN. Her voice is just mesmerizing! Of course Floor Jansen (REVAMP, NIGHTWISH) is still the queen of metal in my opinion.”
Did you play outside of Holland a lot, and if yes where was that?
Joop: “Not a lot, but we had some nice gigs in Bruxelles and Vosselaar in Belgium.”
Any future plans to play abroad on the next tour?
Joop: “We are aiming to go somewhere further and our new bookings agency Moonlight Productions will hopefully make that possible.”
Are there any plans for shooting a video for one of the tracks on “A Different Shade Of Darkness” and if yes, for which song will that be?
Joop: “Yes, there are and no, we will not tell you.. yet (lol).”
Which band would you like to support on a big tour and why? You can pick any name you like. The sky is the limit here.
Joop: “For me, I would like to go with IRON MAIDEN… For me, they have always been an example of how to get things done live. Second would be NIGHTWISH.”.
Myrthe: “TARJA TURUNEN, NIGHTWISH, EVANESCENCE or EPICA and DELAIN again.”
Do you have any hobbies or interests (besides playing music in a band) that are worth mentioning here?
Joop: “Since a few months I am into online gaming. I play Guildwars 2 a lot. It is relaxing and a lot of fun with fellow guild members online.”
Myrthe: “Well, I have a 5 month old baby, so most of my time I get to spend with her. I do like to watch movies, take pictures and play online games. My game of choice is still World Of Warcraft.”
What makes MAGION outstanding from the 795,373 other bands with female members?
Joop: “Our own pretty female singer Myrthe. She has the looks, stage presence and most of all a voice which distinguishes us from a lot of other female fronted bands out there. There is a reason a comparison is often made between Myrthe and Floor Jansen and we consider ourselves lucky to have her in front of us!”
Do you have any personal messages to our readers?
Joop: “MAGION is currently working on all kinds of new stuff . So the best thing to do is stay tuned via our website and/or facebook page.”
Myrthe: “Thank you for all the support and we hope you like our albums and to see you guys sometime at a live show!”
The famous last words are for MAGION…..
Joop: “Just when you think you had the best, MAGION will surprise you! Thanks guys for this interview opportunity. Without all of the e-zines, fans and writers we would be nowhere.”
Myrthe: “….and stay magionated!”
Visit MAGION's official website at: www.magionband.com/
or go to their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/magionband