INTERVIEW: Charlotte Wessels – Delain

DELAIN are a band themselves as a band with great power in their performances, as a tight group of very talented musicians. Now, after four albums, several EPs and countless tours, and ten years into their success, we spoke to vocalist and writer Charlotte Wessels about how things are going for the band, and the great journey they have been on over the last decade.

Well before we start, congratulations on the ten-year anniversary.

Charlotte: Thank you very much!

How are you feeling about the whole thing, that much time gone?

Charlotte: Pretty sentimental, it’s really unbelievable that we’re there to be honest. I always feel like were quite a young band and then to see that it’s been ten years is pretty crazy. It’s actually really a cool experience, a lot of bands come and go and we’re still going strong and growing, and that’s really cool, so that’s why we’ve chosen to celebrate really.

Definitely. And in terms of looking at where you came from with the first album to now, how do you think that you’ve developed your sound and as a band?

Charlotte: We I think we’ve matured a bit which is a bit of a cliché, but I mean we as a band ten years later have learned a lot of things, and a lot on a personal level it’s very different being a twenty-nine-year-old to a nineteen-year-old and I worked on those first songs as a sort of seventeen-year-old so that is also a very different and adult place to be. And also with the music, we have a pretty distinctive sound, so while we weren’t experimenting, but we’ve been exploring within that thing that we really like, within the genre. So I’m really happy about that.

Awesome, and having listened to the album all morning, which is really fantastic, have there been any particular songs from this latest release that have been a highlight for you to write or in recording?

Charlotte: It’s been a very different experience all of them, my recording process has been interesting because a third of them were done studio, then a third in another, then a third at home myself, so it was a really different experience. I think the ballad, the last track Chrysalis the last breath really stood out to me because it’s always very different to do that kind of track compared to where you’re really belting to get that aggressive energy out, and we haven’t done a realty ballad for a while, so that was nice to do that again. And the QUEEN cover, oh my god!

Delain 2016
Photo Credit: Sandra Ludewig

Yeah that really was something special, loved that!

Charlotte: It was a real challenge, to get the right key, the right speed and the right interpretation, you know, I’m really happy that it’s one of the lesser known tracks, I wouldn’t even dare to touch any of the others. And I mean in general I’ve enjoyed recording these new tracks, but they are a little bit different to what we normally do, they really stood out to me.

Just on the theme of the EP, Lunar Prelude, and then the album Moonbathers, what was the inspiration for this night-time theme, what inspired that concept?

Charlotte: So even before we thought of the EP Lunar Prelude we already knew the full album was going to be called Moonbathers, so for the EP we derived it out of that, as we knew we were going to do a selection of songs that are from the full album, and since we knew it was going to be called Moonbathers, that was the easy one. As for Moonbathers itself, we had a lot of tracks on this record that were very dark, depressing, and even morbid on some tracks, and I always told myself as a lyricist…I always get really inspired to write songs when I’m really sad. If you listen to the tracks, it might sound like I’m a very depressed person, but that’s not even true, I get inspired when I’m in a bad mood. When I’m happy I’ll go outside or run out workout, you know? Different moods inspire me to do different things, but my general attitude to lyrics is that even when I’m writing about things that inspire me most, your darkest emotions, my approach has always been that if people listen to that, and have the same kind of emotions, they can relate to that. I want the lyrics to be a reflection of how that feels. However, I don’t want to strengthen that negative emotion. So, for me I’ve always told myself it’s fine to write about difficult things and sad things, but there should always be a light at the end of the tunnel, a resolution or a way out, and to not make it hopeless. And the thing for myself is whenever I feel bad and I listen to music of artists I really like, listening to sad tracks actually makes me feel better, you know? It’s a very funny thing, that you can find such comfort in such a dark place. I was kind of looking for a metaphor for that, and I was hesitant about Moonbathers, as the moon has been used so much for so many cultural outlets but for me the moon kind of remains the ultimate symbol of finding the light in the dark, the comfort in the night. So for me, thinking about the themes of the songs being dark and morbid, I thought that Moonbathers was a good title for that. Yes, that’s where it comes from. But, on the other hand, it’s also about that comfort in the darkness. Sorry that was a really long story!

No, no not at all, that was a really interesting insight into, and nice to hear. The artwork is beautiful for this album, you must obviously collaborate to come up with this, how did you convey the themes of what you wanted?

Charlotte: We’ve worked with Glenn Arthur a lot, I love his art and his style. It’s always the presumption that it’s easy, with a theme like the moon, people have so many images. [Things like] the human contradiction is much harder to envision than the moon, but with this it took quite some tries to get to where we are now. We’ve had Glenn do some commissions and while there were different once there that we really liked, but not necessarily for the cover. In the end we found something we really liked, and we worked together with him to adjust that to get the work we have now, so it’s a combination of commissions and existing work and we put that together to make this cover, which to me is a very nice visual representation of what we have been working on on Moonbathers. And actually, there’s loads of his artwork in the album booklet as well, which I guess is the good part about having a few tries before we got to the cover because he created some awesome artwork in the process.

Awesome, so there’s a lot to bulk that out there. And obviously, with this being the tenth anniversary, you’ve got the big gig coming up, and it’s going to be a big event for the fans, how are you feeling about that?

Charlotte: I’m very much looking forward to it but at the same time I’m pretty nervous for it. We’ve never done a live DVD before, and you only get one shot to do it right. I’m really excited for it, and I’m really looking forward to the day, and I’m into the zone of how I’m going to plan it, what we’re going to do, in top focus and condition for the night, but equally still be in that very festive mood because this is a very great thing that we are celebrating. I’m really looking forward to celebrating that moment with a lot of fans from the very first hour and then making into a DVD so everyone who can’t be there can experience it too.

That’s very cool and I suppose that’s why you’ve picked to do Pledge, so people get that closeness?

Charlotte: We wanted that feeling of togetherness, we’ve been contemplating if we should do something like this on a crowdfunding platform for a while now, because we really like the idea of involving people directly, and it’s just a really charming idea to me. And at the same time, it’s a very megalomanias project, you know the costs are crazy! We reached our 100% goal in like no time, it was really really cool the see, and to be honest, the closer to get the event, the more it costs, so we’re still encouraging people to go to the pledge campaign and to pick a pledge. And additionally to the extra costs for us, what’s really cool is that everything over the 100% goal, a section of the money goes to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, and we’ve been working with them for such a long time now. The thing I really like about pledge was that you are encouraged to donate to charity. So it was such an easy decision for us! Even though we made are 100% goal, all funds are still very welcome for those two reasons.

Delain 2016 - Charlotte
Photo Credit: Sandra Ludewig

That’s probably one of the coolest thing about this campaign for sure. I really enjoyed that about the announcement. And going on from gigs and preforming, you’ve obviously played Download this year, and have other festivals lined up. How was Download for you?

Charlotte: It was amazing, it was my first time there and ours as a band, and we had an acoustic gig on the Friday, at the very beginning, so we were able to stay Saturday and experience everything and watch some bands preform, it was really cool to really get to explore. Often we try to keep our travelling schedules efficient as your away from home a lot, but at some festivals you kind of have to leave after playing and you think “I’d kind of like to spend some more time here”. So it was really cool to get the full Download experience. And they are so nice to the bands, too, you can get your hair done and they have really good catering! At some festivals, you’re as knee deep into the mud as the audience. So this was really cool place to hang on.

It was a little bit wet this year too, so hopefully that wasn’t too bad for you! What other festivals are you looking forward to?

Charlotte: MetalDays, I’ve heard some very good things about it, it’s in Slovenia, next to a river, and it’s meant to have some beautiful landscapes, so I hope we’ll get to see some of that. And Hellfest last week was really cool. But that one, I’m really looking forward to seeing if it’s as good as everyone’s been telling me.

Awesome. And just to finish, we hope that the metal community is quite open minded, but for certain people, there’s a tendency to stereotype women in metal. Over your ten years, have you seen that attitude change?

Charlotte: [pause]. No. The thing is, we’re with different people now, so I don’t experience it was much as before when we were on a major label, but there has been a lot of pressure to look a certain way and present ourselves a certain way as a band, which usually had a lot to do with how I presented myself as back then the only female in the band. I remember at certain photoshoots being asked to take off more clothes, and in some photos having my legs Photoshopped, and I tried to find out, and my management said that I would have a problem with the label if I didn’t have Photoshop. And even when people are trying to be complimentary to Merel, our second guitarist, I remember reading a raving review, saying that it was such a good show, and that Merel was so good she was almost masculine, you know, it was that good. That she was almost as good as a guy. So that’s also the bad thing. I definitely think of myself as a feminist, not like a bitter feminist, but a lot of the times people don’t mean it badly. Even with the Photoshop incident, they were so surprised, they thought that “everyone wants this, we thought you would too” and I’m like, no I don’t want to be a part of that circuit. The one I get a lot is they ask the guys how the songs are written, then ask me how I do my hair. In biographies, they will describe me was the fiery haired Charlotte Wessels, and you think, what about the rest, this is not how it should be. It’s frustrating for everyone, we as a band don’t want to push me forward, we are a band. It’s not nice for the band, no one wants to be the blurry guy in the background, and it’s not nice for me, because I want to be recognised for more than the fact sometimes my hair looks nice. So it’s really one of those things that are not good for anyone. For some people, feminism is a dirty word, but basically in the sense that not being sexist or racist, a world without sexism is better for men and women. So really, I’ve not seen much improvement. I have seen people get very vocal about it, so maybe that’s the start of it.

I see. And on the flipside of that, where do you see yourselves in another ten years’ time, where do you envision yourselves if you can think of yourselves that far ahead?

Charlotte: What I would like to do is find a balance, we are in the luxury position where we perform so much that we cut the entire writing production of this album in three pieces, because we didn’t have a stretch of time at home or off tours to write and record all of the album in one go. I think that it would be good for us to find a balance to give it the attention it needs. We’ve done that now, through our ingenious method of doing it in three parts, but I think for us, I just hope that we can keep touring, making albums with music that we love, and finding a place we can do both fully. And actually, we’re kind already on that way. There are countries we haven’t played, and music we haven’t written, and I just want to do all of it.

Cool, so still non stop for you then?

Charlotte: For sure.

Fantastic stuff. Well, thank you so much Charlotte and I’ll let you get on with the rest of your day.

Charlotte: Thank you so much, have a good rest of your day.

Delain - Moonbathers

DELAIN’s upcoming studio record, Moonbathers, is set for release on August 26th via Napalm Records.

For more information on DELAIN like their official page on Facebook.