This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Please consider supporting this website by disabling your ad-blocker. This website does not use audio ads, pop-ups, or other annoyances. And please support Terra Relicta by giving a little donation if you can! Thank you!!!

Random album

The Dreamside - Interview

Interview with: Kemi Vita, Roman Schoensee
Conducted by: T.V.

Those who follow female fronted rock and metal, but as well those who listen and search for everything related to dark, ethereal and gothic in music have for sure at some point come across the name The Dreamside. This exceptional Dutch band was formed back in 1993 by vocalist Kemi Vita who was or still is involved in several bands since her 16th birthday, where she sang, played guitar or even bass. Some better known acts where Kemi was active beside The Dreamside are Danse Macabre, The Bloodline and Satyrian. Beside Kemi, the rest of the line-up consists of bassist/producer Roman Schoensee, best known from the pioneers of gothic/doom metal Pyogenesis, but also from The Bloodline, 18Summers and Satyrian, guitarist Cees Viset, who was a session musician in diverse projects, guitarist Louis Buurman, also active in Mira Armatha and In Articulo Mortis, and drummer Merijn Mol, who is known as well from Satyrian, Boobytrap and Dance Macabre. In the same year of its inception The Dreamside debuted with album Pale Blue Lights which was released through Nuclear Blast Records and years later re-released by Dancing Ferret Disc. The rest is history. Now, the band released their sixth studio album, an amazing ethereal gothic metal journey that must leave a mark on every lover of captivating, yet dark and powerful soundscapes. The Dreamside are a band still considered to be an underground act and it's weird that they didn't make an apparent breakthrough with their amazing and unique two previous albums, Lunar Nature and Spin Moon Magic. Now it's time for their strongest work to date, Sorrow Bearing Tree, an album that shouldn't be missed by any fan of the genre (read a review over HERE). Kemi and Roman kindly answered my questions and gave us an insight into everything you should know about The Dreamside and even more.

T.V.: Hi Kemi and Roman! It's really nice to see The Dreamside back on the trail after all these years. So, how do you feel about the new album?
Kemi: It took quite long but we did really work on it all this years. I can honestly say I am damn proud of Sorrow Bearing Tree!
Roman: I can also speak from my heart that I am very proud of our new album. We have put a lot of effort into Sorrow Bearing Tree. Since it is the first official album on our own label we set our personal standards as high as somehow possible. Often it led us back to scratch which was a reason that it took quite long to get the album out. Nevertheless I can honestly say that every minute was worth it when I listen back to the album.
T.V.: It's pretty natural that I must ask you what were you doing since 2009 when you released your last album Lunar Nature?
Roman: At one point it seemed that the release of Sorrow Bearing Tree would come together with our 20th anniversary and would also be our opening release for our label Spin Moon. We thought it would be great to have it as a double album. The 2nd album would be a best of album on which we recorded acoustic versions with a small orchestration of our favorite The Dreamside songs and we asked other bands to cover our music. The productions to Sorrow Bearing Tree and the jubilee album went parallel. Obviously we didn’t make it in time for the 20th anniversary and we set our focus on finishing Sorrow Bearing Tree and release the jubilee album at some point later. All this and setting up our label Spin Moon took a lot of time.
Kemi: Besides all this we were, and still are always busy with several collaborations and exchanges with other artist, our main project  is  with  Eva de Winkel, the artist who did our "Sternenkind" video and author John Tucker on an illustrated book about our song "Sternenkind". John wrote the story whereas Eva is doing incredibly beautiful art for each page of the book. The book will come together with an audio play and a soundtrack by The Dreamside. Also this project will be released on Spin Moon, however also with this production we did let go of any deadline. When you want to do things authentic it might take time! Privately I was working on my “sanity”, getting married and bearing and raising and loving my two kids and loads more.
T.V.: I was positively surprised while listening to your new opus Sorrow Bearing Tree, it holds more power than anything you did before and at the same time it's still very atmospheric like each thing from your past...
Kemi: And what is your question dear?! I totally agree.
Roman: Since I am involved with The Dreamside at all previous productions it felt to me like we have spent a lot of time in searching for our sound. The writing process of Sorrow Bearing Tree was very natural and all pieces fell into the right places. When starting up our label we re-released our back catalogue (which is still an ongoing process) and we listened intensively to our old albums with an open mind. With every track I heard I started to realized that the new album needs to be the linking pin that combines the strongest points of them all without loosing its own identity.
T.V: It seems obvious that the things on the new album are carefully thought over and that there's no coincidence in anything. Tell me more about the album title and thematics used on the album.
Kemi: As a matter of fact I use a lot of intuition and improvise while writing the lyrics and there is even a lot of “magical coincidence” in it. Most songs have their initial start like this and then reasoning follows up. The Sorrow Bearing Tree is the tree of life, it grows and gets stronger roots and wider branches, it reaches higher and higher and the bark tells a lot of stories. However in its endless beauty and joy lays also a lot of sadness..., sorrow never stops..., it grows too, although it changes form and shape. We write a lot about personal things that are very close to us and most of them are about life, love, death, birth, loss, nature, love, the supernatural, faith, dreams, nightmares, etc.
T.V.: Interesting. And another intriguing thing is that on almost each past albums cover artwork there was a picture of you Kemi, why not now? Still,  Sorrow Bearing Tree comes with a very nice and insightful artwork, I believe that there must be some kind of a deeper meaning behind it?
Kemi: Well the graphic-artist and Roman and me put our heads together and decided that for this booklet/album it was better to do it this way. You never know what will happen next time, the music leads.
T.V: You talked before it, but still, please explain how came that you decided to form your own label (Spin Moon Media) for this release. Were you tired of waiting for any good offer or contract from any other label or are there other reasons?
Roman: No, we have a quite adventures history with the labels we worked with and taking the step into independency was the logical way to go. The main reason why we haven’t done that in the past was that we wanted to focus on our music, which we understand the best, and let the label to be responsible for selling our music. It doesn’t work like this anymore and we like the fact that we don’t have any discussions about what to release, what an A&R manager thinks what we should sound like and how The Dreamside should be promoted.
Kemi: We were and are a band that considers music as art, we always have been our own directors in many ways, so this was the natural next step for us to take. However I am always looking for people who understand what we are doing and can “join the Dreamside forces”, so I can keep my focus on our sound.
T.V.: Do you have plans to sign on Spin Moon Media also other bands/artists or it will be strictly reserved for The Dreamside?
Roman: It was the intention of founding Spin Moon and is a possibility for the future. However if we do so, we want to give signed bands our full attention and at this moment we are not prepared to do so since all our efforts and work goes into The Dreamside. There are still a lot of projects and cooperations we want to focus on. Nevertheless artist Afello is part of the Spin Moon cooperation and so far the only other artist who will be working with Spin Moon. Afello creates very artistic electronic, experimental music with a very melancholic and spooky touch.
T.V.: You two also produced the album, so it's completely self made. Still how are you satisfied with the sound you achived?
Roman: Absolutely. We produced all previous albums ourselves, too, but with Sorrow Bearing Tree we even mastered it in our own studio. We took the liberty to try out a lot of different things. The drum, guitar and bass section went through various try out recordings and mixes before we made a decision. It needed to be in line with Lunar Nature and Spin Moon Magic and still have its own sound and being very open and easy to listen to. Kemi did choirs of sometimes up to 16 voices. With a band and full orchestration in the music it is quite a challenge to keep a mix appealing and easy to listen to. Personally I believe we did a good job on this.
T.V.: I like the production very much, really good job! Another subject... You did some very interesting video clips before, thus can we expect something alike also for any of the tracks from the new album?
Roman: RoboMG is a Rotterdam video company who are usually doing video trailers for various companies. Their focus is motion graphic video’s. I worked with them together on another project and asked if they’d be interested in trying out to create a motion graphic video for "Sorrow Bearing Tree" (the result is below - Ed.). The clip for the song "Sternenkind" took almost 2,5 years to finish. Everything you see in the clip is handmade by Eva de Winkel. The Dreamside is an underground band. The good side of this is that we can basically do as we please as long as there are fans who want to hear and see what we are doing. Downside is that we have to do everything ourselves or if we can’t do it, do exchange deals or appeal to the “I always wanted to do something like this!” sense of other artists. To make it short: We’re making plans for creating another video but all must connect in place and time.

T.V.: If I'm not mistaken the line-up of the band remained quite the same for all this time. It seems that the chemistry between you is still working out?
Kemi: Lets say we are like music family over the years. The Dreamside has overcome an incredible lot of setbacks and hardship and we have all overcome this. We are truly in it for the love of music on the long run. And we can all set our ego’s on the side if necessary for the creation.
T.V.: That's good to hear! And like on almost every album you had some guests on Sorrow Bearing Tree, Flo Schwarz (Pyogenesis) and Ralf Mastwijk (Face Tomorrow). How those collaborations started and how are you satisfied with the results?
Roman: For me it is the first time in 17 years that I worked together with Flo on an album and having his voice on the fader under my fingers brought up a lot of memories. Flo and I never lost contact and when I asked him to listen to the mix of Sorrow Bearing Tree he offered to do guest vocals on a song. Ralf is a very good friend of mine. I produced the last album of Face Tomorrow and when I helped them out on a show we had the idea of making a band mash up. Both bands would contribute parts to a song, both would feature each other on the recordings, both bands would perform the song on their own albums. Unfortunately Face Tomorrow stopped however we realized this idea together with Ralf. For me "Breathe With Me" is a highlight on the album and the song lives from the interaction between Ralf and Kemi.
T.V.: It's always difficult to make a good cover of any of Depeche Mode's songs, many have tried but just a few of them did something good. In my opinion you succeeded really well with "Walking In My Shoes"...
Roman: That’s good to hear. Personally I believe the best covers are serving both bands well: the one who covers and the band who is covered. If one aspect is not well the cover fails and shouldn’t have been done. "Walking In My Shoes" is our tribute to Depeche Mode. This band was and still are heroes to Kemi and me. We wanted to cover them for a long time and it needed to be on Sorrow Bearing Tree. Kemi decided for "Walking In My Shoes" because this song means a lot to her. I know Flo for almost 30 years now and I knew that he liked Depeche Mode in his youth, too. Therefore one thing led to another.
T.V.: You were not really known for covering other bands in the past, but can we expect more covers like that in the future. And beside Depeche Mode which bands could be on the list?
Kemi: Type O Negative and Depeche Mode have been the bands we absolutely wanted to cover. The Type O Negative's cover is on a tribute album by several bands released by the Orkus Magazine in Germany and our tribute was very well received! In the past we had the idea to work on a cover album but we never really started on that other than thinking about the songs that would need to be on this album. Personally I would really love to cover a song from the Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album. Maybe even something from London Grammar or Thirty Seconds To Mars, something for the future?!
T.V.: I always admired your unique style of singing Kemi. Still, who are the vocalist that inspired you the most?
Kemi: Thanks for your kind words. I am half Italian, half Dutch and my early-childhood inspirations where tunes from Italian singers, very cliche, dramatic love songs with a lot of voice! I am pretty sure they made a huge impact..., then I discovered (and lived by) the album Rumours from Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks made a lot of sense to me with her dreamy voice and lyrics, she was my first big inspiration! Later many followed, Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins), Siouxy, Ian Astbury (The Cult), Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance), David Gahan (Depeche Mode), Carl McCoy (Fields Of The Nephilim), Bjork. I listened a lot to Arabo-Andalusian and pre-classical music that inspired me also a great deal. Anthony (and the Johnsons), Jared Leto (Thirty Seconds To Mars), Sivert Hoyem (Madrugada) and last but not least the grand Hannah Reid (London Grammar) are more recent inspirations.
T.V.: The Dreamside started as a band in 1993. So, more than 20 years on the scene, still how do you feel all the differences between then and now? 
Kemi: Yes, 20 years ahead now. One thing is for sure it was way easier then. Nowadays everyone is a “musician” and it’s common that your music is stolen after it’s just  released. Everyone can download your "years work" for free. I know I have to live with this fact but just for one second imagine you create something, it’s really hard work, you do it with love and dedication but it cost you a lot of energy and sacrifices and then someone just comes and steals it away or makes a lot of money with your work and beside that everybody is perfectly fine with it. I will never get used to this feeling. Listen, I am a musician, I was born this way, this is my destiny, I am not more or less than a dedicated baker of bread…, we all would find it strange when we all go into a shop and steal all his bread! My first album was at Nuclear Blast and you could find it in every record shop. Well those record-shops also don’t exist anymore. It's a universe gone. But of course there are more sides to every story. I do like it that I can reach my listeners directly, that's also why we started our own label Spin Moon, The Dreamside fans are very spread all over the planet and it’s great that we can get close with just one click through the net. I am looking forward with a positive outlook for all goes in spirals and something new will develop.
T.V.: But also your music changed a lot. In your beginning there were no heavy guitars and everything was more based on ethereal, folk and dark wave sounds. Is this gradual change in your sound connected with your musical tastes or was there something else that lead to that?
Kemi: After the release of Apaika I went on a German tour. Here I found out that I really loved to “pump it up” live, our guitar section already played a greater part then. We got great feedback from the audience about this and I wanted to grab that live rock feeling and add it more into my next album. My Belgium tour manager hooked me up with with Roman in Germany and I booked his studio. Another factor is that when I was signed by Nuclear Blast they sent me their new releases and this way I was confronted with metal. This music never caught my attention before, however I really learned to appreciate bands like Amorphis or In Flames. And it happen to be that Roman was also signed to Nuclear Blast with his former band Pyogenesis. This was basically the point where we slowly introduced harder elements but we always tried to keep the essential musical elements from our beginnings on all our albums.
T.V.: You mentioned that The Dreamside were signed to many labels in the past, starting with now very big Nuclear Blast Records. What were the problems that you've experienced with them?
Kemi: In the 90s Nuclear Blast was growing rapidly and made a transition from a small two-man hobby label to a major-like record company. The Dreamside was signed at the verge of this transition and very soon Nuclear Blast decided to focus on metal only. During our time at NB we felt this coming somehow since we never really got the attention from our label we needed and deserved. How this should work we experienced later with DFD (Dancing Ferret Disc - Ed.)  who gave us their full attention and really cooperated with us.
T.V.: I see. Both of you were also members of the band/project that I liked very much back then, Satyrian. After the beautiful album Eternitas and compilation The Dark Gift there was silence around it. But still the facebook profile of the band is active and I wonder if we can expect something to happen also on that side?
Roman: Thing is that the band is spread across Germany, Finland and the Netherlands. To get together isn’t that easy. Nevertheless I know from all of us that the will is there to work on another album. If it will really happen some day I can’t say for sure.
T.V.: Roman, you took part of the band Pyogenesis in its best days. Tell me, why this act changed so drastically after the great album Twinaleblood and how do you remember those days?
Roman: What most don’t know is that I started together with Flo in 1992 as guitarist at Pyogenesis. Tim had his arm broken when there was a tour planned with Sinister and Fleshcrawl, so Flo and I were asked to learn the material within two days and go on a tour. Flo played the first part of the show and I the second part. After that Flo stayed as a second guitarist in the band and I accompanied Pyogenesis live as keyboard player until Joe left the band and I took over as a bass player. So I was involved from the point that Pyogenesis turned from a death metal band to one of the first gothic metal bands in Germany until we switched radically our sound. Thing with Pyogenesis was that we tried so hard to be different and innovative. The result were some pretty cool albums and although I still like the music we did with Unpop, it was a turning point I was no longer willing to follow. My personal aftermath is that Pyogenesis 3.0, let’s say after Twinaleblood, should have continued under a different name, and keep focussing on the style we created with Unpop under the name Pyogenesis. I guess this pretty much sums it up why some of us went on later with other bands, like Liquido, The Dreamside and others.
T.V.: Ok, back to The Dreamside. Any plans for live gigs in the near or not so near future?
Roman: We are looking into playing festival season 2015. Out of personal reasons there won’t be any shows in the very near future.
T.V.: Huh, that's a pity. I know it's too early to ask, but are you already thinking about the successor to Sorrow Bearing Tree, if yes when can we expect it?
Roman: After an album is before the next album. We are currently working on an album where we asked befriended bands to cover our music and we covered our own music in a very different style. This album is due to be released by the end of this year and besides that we are already preparing material for the next studio album. 
T.V.: Tell me, The Netherlands is known for bands with great female singers and I'm not talking only about you or The Gathering and Within Temptation, there's a lot of them... So is there something special in the air or what?
Roman: I lived a long time in Germany and now in the Netherlands. I believe it has to do with a certain state of mind women have in The Netherlands. Women in The Netherlands are very determined and besides that The Netherlands cherish the arts. Compared to other countries here in the Netherlands they have a lot of conservatories and students usually are very young when they start.
T.V.: Thank you very much for your time with answering my questions. I wish you a lot of luck in the future and hopefully to hear more music from you soon. Is there anything that you would like to say to our readers at the end?
Roman: Thank you very much for the interview and I hope we will see you at a show soon.
Kemi: Love for all you Dreamers!!!

The Dreamside links: Official website, Facebook, Spin Moon Media