Feline Melinda: „Music has unfortunately turned into a consumer item“
Six years have passed by since the release of their last album called „Morning Dew“. Now, the South Tyrolean Feline Melinda have released their new work „Dance of Fire and Rain“. They´re looking back onto a 30 year-history in music and have put all efforts into this record. They travelled even to Finland to record parts of their album. Drummer Chris is telling us more about the long break and the recording process, morevoer, he explains why they had made their way for all this to the land of thousand lakes.
Your latest album „Dance of Fire and Rain“ is available since September 2014, how was the feedback so far? What are the critics saying? Are you happy with it?
For a start – every kind of music is a matter of taste, and thus it is just normal that you cannot make everyone happy. In the case of Feline Melinda it is not any different: we are having our sound and pull it through and are very happy when we see hat our songs are appreciated. The release of the latest album isn´t that long ago, but there has been a lot of feedback already and those have had very different contents. In Italy the feedback by fans and reviews have been very good or even partially euphoric. We already realized with our 2008-album “Morning Dew” that our music is well received in countries where people enjoy melodic and catchy tunes. This is not everywhere the case and this is why there have been a few reviews that have been less charming in regards of the latest album, such as in Germany. We think that a musician – generally every artist – should always be open for constructive criticism; yet there have been a few reviews on “Dance Of Fire And Rain” that were going below the belt. If someone doesn´t like it, the person should simply zap on, as they do with TV; we do not force anyone to listen to Feline Melinda or even like us. We are making our music for us and for all those who haven an open ear for it and are happy when we can wake emotions or touch people with our songs.
In between this album and the last one, „Morning Dew“, 6 years have passed by; how come it took that long for a new album to be released?
When we decide to record a new album, then the only thing we know for certain is the start of the production. We don´t set an end date for when it has to be finished on purpose. We invest the time that we need for it! Making music is a passion for us; the unfolding of creativity that you need to let flow, so that it can carry itself on the wings of emotions. Songs aren´t created on every day, they aren´t knowingly composed in order to have enough for a full album. Whenever we feel like it is the right time for a production, we tackle it precisely. Also, our constant search for details in the arrangements of each and every song is another reason why the production time might be prolonged.
You have recorded parts of the latest album at the Finnvox studios in Helsinki, Finland. Why exactly there and how did you like it in Finland?
For “Dance Of Fire And Rain” we wanted a full and a dominating drum sound for the entire production. And to achieve this, we decided to record the drums in Studio B of Finnvox. This room is a very big rehearsal room that has the best conditions – width, depth and acoustics – to produce the sound we wanted to have. Also for the final mastering we worked together with Finnvox. Mastering engineer Mika Jussila already had mastered „Morning Dew“ in 2008 and we were really happy with the result, this is why we put our trust in him with the latest album. During the recordings, we had a really good time in Helsinki. We were really pleased by the silence, considerateness and friendliness of the Finns and especially the professionalism and the cooperation of people from Finnvox Studios impressed us in a positive manner. Helsinki is interesting for every musician due to its music clubs and its general flair. You hear rock music on many radio channels and you simply feel it: Helsinki has Metal in its blood.
Would you recommend Finnvox Studios to non-Finns or is it something where only Finns feel comfortable?
Finnvox Studios are the oldest and biggest sound studio in Finland. You find everything under the same roof there, from many recording studios for production purposes to mixing, mastering and film production. The employees at Finnvox are always very obliging; amongst them you find names that have brought success to many top acts of the Hard´n Heavy scene. And this is pictured in those many gold and platin vinyls that are put up in the rooms and hallways of Finnvox: HIM, Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius – just to list a few!
At Finnvox Studios you really feel comfortable, because you literally breathe or feel the atmosphere of big music productions. This special flair, this diving into the world of music, is something that Finnvox turn into a special experience for every musician. Therefore it is no surprise that not only Scandinavian bands decide to produce there.
Which song off the latest album is especially close to your heart?
As it had been with the CD we released in 2008, the song „Skydiver“ had been very popular – the studio version as well as the video clip and at concerts, it surely is „Angel Eyes“ off our latest album that stands out. This song you get on the CD not only in the standard version, but also a specially arranged piano-version with piano and Rob´s vocals. Also, the title track of the album, “Dance Of Fire And Rain”, is very dear to our hearts, and this is not only the case because of its statement. As a bonus track (orchestral version) you can find the song also twice on the album. And there is even a third version of the song, that was mixed and mastered by Ex-Stratovarius mastermind and guitarist Timo Tolkki. This version is ,however, yet unreleased; eventually it will be offered by download portals at a later point. A heartbreaking ballad that all of the four band members enjoy a lot and for which there us a video clip being produced right now is “Luna (My Love)”.
How are your songs developed, starting with the inspiration and ending in the final product?
As I mentioned before already, they don´t develop when they have to or with the plan of creating a new repertoire within a certain and set time span. Rob writes most of our songs. Then follow first demo recordings in Chris´ home studio, and this is where we build in the first arrangements – at least those, that are taken care of by Chris. The demo version of the songs is the played in the rehearsal room to see if and how the song works, or if it needs improvements or changes. Bass player Gschnell always happens to have little but essential ideas that give the songs some more plus points. K-Boardtracks are then again pre-produced at Chris´ studio; these audio files will then be exported for the final studio production. Some songs are also put into the live setlist to check how the audience reacts on them. HeadMatt can freely work on his guitar solos and records several tracks based on the accord-series, and then we sit down together and listen to them and choose the best parts. Once the material is finally done and our guts tell us that it is time for a new album production, then the main phase finally starts – and this phase again consists of recording phases in different studios, editing, pre-mixing and then the final mixing and final editing.
You´ve been in the business with the band already since the 80s – what has improved or gotten worse in this time, from then to now?
The digitalization of the music clearly has been the biggest revolution during the past decades in the music business. This introduction has brought not only improve recording possibilities, but also more chances how to edit sound and music. Nowadays only the real top acts and world stars earn well in regards of their income arising from royalties. And with those acts, it is mostly those from the pop mainstream genre whose songs are being played on the radio. The physical sound carrier – the CD – is not marketable anymore for the majority of artists or bands, since technology such as computer, smartphones, music players, clouds and such make it possible to have the own music collection available everywhere. And somehow it is crazy when you keep in mind that the era of digital recording brings so many possibilities in the recording process of a song, the quality then nevertheless gets totally compressed and reduced to very few megabites and frequent-wise is cut down, and thus the quality suffers! Music is oft not lived and internalized as intensively as before, but it has become a pure consumer item. Yet there are luckily still also the music lovers who are still searching for CDs and vinyls by interesting artists and those then also buy those.
The music business has been on its sickbed for a while already. What should be changed in the music business, in your opinion, so that it is becoming more attractive again for musicians but also for the listeners?
In these fast moving times, we need to learn to stop and rest, and that we should enjoy all the improvements more and more consciously. It is not self-evident and it is the same with every kind of music: every genre, no matter if Hardrock or Metal, classical music or every other music genre: the conflict with the makings of the artist, his musical development and his message should be should be deepened. With this background you can understand music better, and you can as well enjoy and appreciate it much better. When it comes to the musicians, those should focus less on “becoming famous” and “marketing”, but rather be aware of it that music is made out of passion, heartbleed, effort and endurance and that it is not necessary to change in order to be successful and to run after success all the time or to jump on the musical bandwagon just because it is “in” at that time. Making it short: it is important to stay faithful to yourself, to keep your very own identity and to keep on going your own way, because it feels good and you will be rewarded for this with true and wholehearted appreciation.
You are a part of the Italian Metal cult. As you´re from South Tyrol and I do have little knowledge about the music scene there, I need to ask you about the situation for a metal band in your area? Do you have the chances to play gigs, do you receive any kind of support, or rather not?
On local and regional basis we can count on good support by many media players, also when it comes to daily papers or magazines, but also when it comes to radio channels and TV. And this is everything but not something you can take for granted and we´re really thankful for everyone who is helping us out! On national basis we do have a good reputation and all Hard’n Heavy online magazines already have reviewed “Dance of Fire and Rain” and also published interviews. Possibilities for playing concerts do exist; nevertheless it is not that simple, as every trip to a concert already means expenses for the drive, the accommodation and such, which needs to be paid beforehand. In many cases, club owners and concert organizers are not willing to or it is not possible for them to pay us a salary – also due to the still ongoing crisis and recession – so that we can cover the mentioned costs. But there is also a lot of competition driven thinking, which leads to bands underpricing each other and then concert organizers often book those that play for very little or no money at all. Or it is the total opposite: pay to play, which is like it is common practice in the field of car racing where drivers with the best financial situation buy themselves into teams or cockpits... Additionally, there are many cover bands in Italy, covering songs by very popular bands or the repertoire of a certain artist/band. This is also a way how to always lure a few people into going to the show, whereas a band with original music is rather connected with a risk of losing money. This is the reason why bands with their own music often draw the short straw and it is hard to find suiting possibilities to present yourself in front of an audience.
Which things should met - do you have any special tips?
There are quite a few annual known open airs happening in South Tyrol, and over the borders, but we prefer not to do any advertisement for those right here. Unfortunately there are few or even hardly any possibilities to play gigs, meaning there are hardly any clubs where one can regularly see live music. For underground and newcomer bands there are the chances to be playing smaller concerts at youth centers, but those are mostly not well-visited.
Are there any plans regarding a tour for the new album or do you prefer to be playing only in your area?
Generally we happily play wherever there is a suitable frame for our music. When we are offered the possibility of a concert, we choose those that seem most interesting to us. Our main focus is not on the amount of concerts we are playing or on the money, rather on promoting and spreading our music in places where the preconditions are give and there is a positive outcome for the band, the audience and the organizer.
Last but not Least: What are your New Year resolutions like?
Let´s see... It is pretty sure that we will keep on promoting our latest album as much as we can, as in being present in media but also as in playing live shows whenever there are possibilities that also match our own concept. Another and important point is songwriting: since we´ve grown from a trio to a quartet since the last album, we want to build our new songs more onto the chance of actually using two guitars. This change, or rather the expansion of the band, is something that we perceive as a chance for the band to experiment and also to develop musically.
Thank you very much for your time and all the best!
Thanks goes out to Stalker magazine – and, last but not least – to all readers and especially the music fans in Switzerland!