ISSA: Get used to a woman doing a ´man´s job!´ STALKER series „Women In Rock“
The Melodic Rock Scene today is still dominated by men, but this outstanding young Lady gotta teach you that also women can rock this genre. Issa Øversveen released her first record „Sign of Angels“ in 2010, now followed by „The Storm“ CD which was released a couple of weeks ago. We talked with the Norwegian beauty about her career and about females in Rock music.
Hello Issa how are you doing? I guess you are already preparing for winter in Norway?
Ha, I´m not really a Winter kind of person, but the winter clothes are ready!
So first of all, can you tell our readers a bit more about yourself and your musical history?
Well, I could go on and on here- but I`ve always loved singing and writing and started up at 17 working for a well known Norwegian artist. I used to sing on his shows, but also worked around at the office he had at his talent school. During all this I´ve worked as a demo singer recording songs for songwriters and producers all over. As I love music, I started in a coverband with big success, but after some years working on events and performing I got the chance to record my own album with
Frontiers. My first album “sign of angels” was released in 2010 and my new album “the storm” got recorded shortly after. During my time in the music business I´ve had the chance to work with so many amazing artists, helping out with backing vocals in studio and live, and I´m glad that I´ve had to work myself up with my experience as the price.
You´ve been working with many other artists but mostly only in the background, when did the idea came up first to make your solo-record, and how did you get the chance to do it?
Well, how I got in contact with Frontiers is a pretty funny story. I was the guest performer on a metal album a while before with a band called “Illusion suite” as well as taking part in their video. Since the music scene is small, I got a phone call from a band that was in contact with Frontiers, asking me if they could get some demos from me to send to Frontiers, as they were looking for a singer for a duet with one of the Frontiers acts. I sent some demos and a week later I got an email from Frontiers, asking me if I was interested in doing a solo record – ha, and here I am!
Frontiers calls you “the Rock-Diva”, so naturally now I wanna know if you also have the typical Diva-attitude, like moodiness, aloofness and so on - or do they just call you Diva because of your goddess look?
HAHAHHA- well I would look at myself as very grounded and a nice person to work with - BUT having said that I can be pretty stubborn and opinionated if I get something into my head. Ha, like any woman, you cannot exclude anything really.
Your new record „The Storm“ was released one year after your first record „Sign of Angels“ -what are the main differences between those two records, in your opinion?
I think the 2 records are very similar in terms of a melodic rock record, there´s the big chorus , huge guitar solos and stuff , and the song writing team is very similar to SOA , I would say that this album is a little more slick and even more melodic. Daniel Flores has gone huge with the keyboards and every instrument has its time to shine on this record, SOA had a little more metal shine to the overall sound. As for other differences, I would say the songs might be even stronger on this record.
I read that especially the song “Invincible” means a lot to you, could you please explain it to us, what is it about and what makes it so special to you?
Well, this song is very personal to me, it´s about a long distance love affair and the need to be together , letting that person know that one day we can be together every day, but for now we just have to do everything we can to make that happen.
You´ve been compared with singers like Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne and Amy Lee, how would describe your voice and vocal style yourself? What makes you unique?
Well, it´s an honor to be compared to such amazing singers, my singing style is maybe a little more like Robin Beck or Ann Wilson, I´ve been blessed with a voice able to get some crazy high notes, I think it´s hard to have a unique voice in this day and age, but I´d like to think I´ve got a distinctive voice, like if you turned on the radio, you would know it was me singing.
So you are compared with Rock but also Pop singers, in what genre do you feel yourself more at home?
I definitely feel most at home singing melodic rock songs, I love the power of all the instruments and to sing along over a very full backing track with cool guitars, but I also can sing dance tracks, pop songs, anything really.
Do you have some special technique or a special ritual to keep your voice in shape or to prepare for a gig?
Well, over the years I´ve got more and more conscious about taking care of my voice. I had a period in 2008-2009 where I lost my voice for a very long time being over-worked and pushed my voice to far. It took me almost a year to get back in shape, but I have learned my lesson after this. I make sure I warm up - drink water and and don´t push my voice on days you have a cold or feel ill. And when it comes to live gigs - NO alcohol.
Ok, let´s talk a little bit about Women in Rock, do you think that nowadays female singers are still less accepted than male? I think especially Melodic Rock is still a male-dominated scene.
Yes, this scene is very dominated by men - after having said that that might be a good thing, but at the same time it can be very challenging. I think you are far more likely to be in the firing line as a woman and especially if you are playing the sexy card. I think my experience in all this is, that it just takes a bit more time for some to get used to a woman doing “a man´s job”.
What kind of reactions have you got so far from people? I mean it’s always the case that some people like you and some don’t, but have you ever had a bad experience just because you are a woman?
Yeah, some like it and some don´t - I think for me, I´ll keep doing the music I love and hope it brings success on the way. So far people have been awesome and I just went to a festival in UK, not playing myself, but I was overwhelmed with the positive response I got there. I had the chance to talk to people and thank people for all the support. It´s fantastic to meet your fans face to face. When it comes to bad experience, I´ve had some but minor ones – ha, I got an e-mail from my booking agent that he had got back trying to put me on a festival- it said we don´t want female acts... I find that funny as it´s just not right, but it makes you think what year we live in.
On your promotion pictures you always present yourself in a very sexy way. I can imagine that you are for many guys the “object of desire”, did you ever have any bad experience because of that? With some fans who don’t know when to stop or who scream things like “take of your clothes” when you are on stage?
Haha - making me smile here… I would say so far it´s been great, but I think I could handle almost everything after my coverband history. I think most people are respectful, but the odd time someone is out of line, there is always a security person around to help you out. The most important thing is to not let the negative affect you. At the end of the day it´s nothing more pleasing than watching people turn from “who is this blond girl that is supposed to sing” to loving what you are there, for SINGING.
If this has ever happen to you how does it feel just to be reduced to your looks? Or what do you think in general about those things?
Well, it´s strange that your looks can have that much to say- but as I love performing and have some years on my back from this, I´m thick skinned. I think we live in a world where looks matter on the level as your talent. I think people should listen more to the music - good looks is a bonus but it shouldn´t be what matters.
So now after the record has been released, what are the plans for the upcoming months? Do you have plans for touring?
Yes, plans are being made as we speak. I´m getting my band together at the moment and I plan to do some concerts around UK as well as my touring plan is being planned for next year. It´s lots of preparing and I can´t wait to get out there after all this hard work.
Three things you would miss on tour?
My dogs , my own bed , family
Is there a special band you would like to share stage with? And is there a special country you would like to play a gig?
Aerosmith , Bon Jovi or Def Leppard would be the dream I guess , Japan would be a country I would love to play , is the Budokan (indoor arena Tokyo) still around? I would love to play there , with all its history..
Ok last but not least: What would you like to be asked in an interview that you have never been asked before?
That´s a cool question, I´m not really sure , maybe.... if you could go back and talk to yourself 10 years ago...what things would you say to look out for, without altering the future.
I thank you very much for your time and I wish you all the best in future. And hopefully see you someday on tour.
Thank you so much Sandy, it´s been a pleasure!
Author: Sandy Mahrer, photos: Issa Date: 2011-11-21