Michael Kiske, Amanda Somerville, Mat Sinner Interview 2010
|Here is the interview with Amanda Somerville, Michael Kiske and Mat Sinner talking about the first Kiske/Somerville album. The album was released on September 24th via Frontiers Records (in the U.S. on October 12). Before the release of the album, the digital single “Silence” was out on August 20th.Kiske Fanclub: Mat, how was the first contacts with Frontiers when they told you about to the project? Did they tell you the kind of music you had to write or did you have complete freedom?
Mat Sinner: Serafino (the president of Frontiers Records) contaced me 18 months ago, if I am interested in producing and writing an album for Michael with a female singer. We need to find the perfect duet combination. Of course it was a great challenge for me and Amanda was on my shortlist for the job and Serafino & Michael liked the idea and her voice.
Indeed, we had a meeting about the musical direction and as we’ve started the songwriting, Serafino was always very anxious that the songs are fitting into his and Michael‘s vision. But it was always a very friendly and creative conversation. As the songs for the recordings were finally chosen, I had my complete creative freedom for the recordings and the mix.
Kiske Fanclub: How did the songwriting and recording process work? Did everyone just write their track and then Amanda, Michael, and the other musicians do their parts in their own studios?
Mat Sinner: I wrote 14 tracks together with Magnus Karlsson for this project and 4 songs in the more orchestral & epic direction with Jimmy Kresic. With both guys I have a great creative connection and they are incredible musicians.
Then Amanda and Sander Gommans wrote 3 more songs with a little different vibe and these songs gave a little extra to the overall concept. Finally we’ve chosen 12 songs to record. Drums & Bass were recorded in Stuttgart, guitars in Sweden, some lead guitars in the Netherlands and keyboards in Augsburg. Michael recorded his vocals as always in Hamburg and Amanda‘s vocals were recorded in Stuttgart, where we mixed and mastered the album too.
Kiske Fanclub: Amanda, you’re in the composition credits for a few songs, also made with Sander Gommans, how did the songwriting work?
Amanda Somerville: When Mat contacted me to ask me to be a part in this project, I told him that I’m just as much a songwriter as I am a singer, so it would mean a lot to me if I could write some songs for the album, as well. He was very open to that idea, so I asked Sander if he’d like to co-write some things with me, since we’d had such a great time writing together for HDK. He was happy to do that, so we got down to work and came up with “Arise“, “A Thousand Suns” and “Set Afire” of which I’m all very proud!
Kiske Fanclub: What are your favorite songs of the ones you composed and what are your favorites from other composers?
Mat Sinner: Please forgive me, but I don’t divide the songs into mine and others, but my favorites are “Silence” and “The End Of The Road” because both songs have a ambitious arrangement and the work to get these little puzzle stones together to produce a great song, was a big challenge. But I like the fast songs like “Nothing Left To Say“, “If I Had A Wish” and “Arise” very much!
Amanda Somerville: I have very personal connections with “A Thousand Suns” and “Set Afire“, since I wrote those during an extremely difficult time in my life. They were very cathartic to write and sing, so I’d say those are my favorites on a highly emotional level. Of the songs I didn’t write, I think that “Second Chance” is probably my favorite. What can I say – I’m a sap! 😉
Michael Kiske: “A Thousand Suns” (by Amanda and Sander). On this song Amanda talks about her life in a very sincere way and she speaks about her experience with her current husband well ex-husband soon. She sings with real passion.
Should have been a videoclip too.
Kiske Fanclub: Was the songs more difficult to combine the two vocals? Especially in songs like “Silence” or “Devil In Her Heart”, seems like an operatic MEAT LOAF duel between two singers.
Amanda Somerville: Actually, it all came very natural to me. I feel very much at home behind a microphone in pretty much any circumstance and this was a lot of fun to do.
I’m actually a huge fan of diversity within an album. My tastes have a huge range and also the different bands I’ve worked with and projects I’ve been a part of reflect that.
Michael Kiske: In the beginning I was trying to sing together with her rhythmically, but I couldn’t, because we are so different. Then I stop trying and just did my own thing and then it really worked nicely. Our voices are matching great and I love her personality a lot.
Amanda is really good! I love her CD-Windows. There she shows what else she is capable of. She’s very sweet and great to work with.
Mat Sinner: “Devil In Her Heart” is one of the more epic track I wrote together with Jimmy. I think it fits perfect to the combination of the two voices and the drama, like you said – Meat Loaf did a some of these kind of songs in a great way. Most difficult to combine the vocals was to find the right spots for both singers. When they sing alone, which spot, which voice, harmonies and even in chorus we need to divide the lead vocals & choirs.
Well, I was lucky to have two outstanding singers with me and the work and creative discussions was always a pleasure. Both singers were open minded and were always ready to try out different options to get the best result.
Kiske Fanclub: About the production and the mix, the vocals were treated like another instruments with even more focus on them than the music sometimes. Was that done to highlight the vocal work on the album?
Mat Sinner: It’s a singer’s project and of course the main focus is on the vocals, but every little detail is important for a strong album. You need a strong foundation to make the vocals sound good. Overall I like the vibe of the vocal combination in “Silence“. sounding so authentic. Michael‘s voice in “Don’t Walk Away” sound killer and it’s in a high range. Just great! Just to mention one great moment of Amanda‘s skills are the adlips on “A Thousand Suns“. To be honest – I love each second of the vocals on the entire album!
Kiske Fanclub: Mat, what’s your opinion of Kiske’s performance on the album?
Mat Sinner: It was a pleasure to work with him and I love his performance. We’ve learnt each other a lot of better during the recordings and shooting the video clips and it will be a pleasure to work with Michael in the future again. Even our interviews at the listening session were terrific complementary after a while. That’s a great sign 🙂
Kiske Fanclub: Amanda, how was the experience of working with Mat Sinner and Michael Kiske? What’s your opinion on Kiske’s performance on the album?
Amanda Somerville: Mat‘s a great guy and a very cool songwriter and musician, so it was wonderful working with him. Getting to work with Michael was a complete honor and I was really excited about finally getting to work up close and personal with him, since I’d worked with him on a few things in the past, but always around the corner and through third parties.
The color of Michael‘s voice stands out for me because it shines. He has a very distinctive, clear quality to his voice and I like how our voices blend. It’s a good mix, if I may say so!
Kiske Fanclub: Are there any plans to do some live performances or live collaborations?
Mat Sinner: This album has a certain kind of quality level and a demand. If the album will receive a great feedback from the fans, we will sit together and discuss how we can this project on the stage and in our view how to present this album. That project is more like an opera, It’s too big for small clubs. We would need a stage where everyone would fit!
Michael Kiske: A tour for this project depends on the record’s response. We have to have the right feed back for it. We would want to do it right. It needs a great supporting to keep it going, live or on a new record. But I think it’s a success, no matter what it’s going to happen. If it’s a success personally, that’s the most important thing.
Kiske Fanclub: The negative thing of doing this kind of project is if they’re not a band to play the stuff live, a lot of great songs with the time disappear. Did you think you will play any of these songs in the future with Sinner (or another project/band) or would you like to play them with Amanda and Sander in HDK?
Mat Sinner: No, I will not perform these songs with any other band, but I’m sure that all players on the album would be extremely happy about touring together and playing these songs live. But only, if the circumstances are cool!
Amanda Somerville: Touring and playing live is something that totally gets me going. I love it. So I would totally be game to play anything I’ve ever worked on live. Bring it on!! Now, if only the record companies would provide tour support… 🙂
Kiske Fanclub: Michael, sometimes the collaborations that you do, they ask you about singing songs that reminds the old times. As fans it is always exciting to hear you singing in other genres on songs like “Devil In Her Heart” or “Arise” or “Silence” or “Set Afire” for example. Do you feel the same excitement singing differents styles?
Michael Kiske: Yes totally! It is very excited singing stuff I wouldn’t write myself. There you learn a lot!
I don’t think that I have done stuff like on the Duet before, but people hear things different anyway, and that’s OK.
Kiske Fanclub: Is there a possibility for a second album?
Mat Sinner: The entire future of this projects depends on the feedback of the fans – if the fans like this album, I’m sure there will be a huge chance for a second album, because all of the people who created this album had a great time and I can say – like each other, that there will be no problem to wotk together in the future !
Amanda Somerville: We have talked about it and we’d love to. It all depends on what happens with this album.
Kiske Fanclub: Michael, I’ve noticed that you enforce a “very fast vibrato” (which is more evident on the second Place Vendome and on Unisonic’s concerts). Do you use this fast vibrato because you want to sound just in that way or because it’s more easier than using a less evident vibrato?
Michael Kiske: I like it a bit faster these days, but on the warm up shows I wasn’t always in the best shape, so I went much too fast sometimes, especially near the end when I was almost dead. I don’t like it too slow, but I was a bit too fast sometimes. That happens when you can’t control it enough.
On the two main shows in Sweden and in Czech Republic my voice was good again, and my vibrato was the way I wanted it.
Kiske Fanclub: Amanda, what about your plans for the future?
Amanda Somerville: Well, the Kiske-Somerville release is coming up in early autumn, so I have some promo events going on for that and then I have some live events planned this fall and winter, though I can’t go into detail about that just yet! Basically, I’m just going to keep on doing what I do, try to do it as much as I can and that makes me happy. 🙂
Kiske Fanclub: Mat, how was the final outcome in comparison to your initial expectations?
Mat Sinner: I’m 100% satisfied and I’m feeling good to be part of the team, that created this wonderful positive album! And in the Japanese edition there is an acoustic version of the ballad “One Night Burning” – very close, very quiet – just nice!
Kiske Fanclub: Michael, you toured with Ronnie James Dio in 1987 during your HELLOWEEN days and also did another dates then. What can tell us about him now he’s passed away?
Michael Kiske: Ronnie Dio was the best Metal-Voice ever! When he sang as high as many others, it didn’t sound that high because his voice was so freaking full!
He was born to sing. A very unique vocalist. I was just listening to Holy Diver gain and was moved by how good this record and his singing is. He was never as successful as he should have been. He was always very nice and friendly to us and NEVER sang one wrong tone! It made me really sad when I heard about his death, because he played a big role in my youth.