Bio: Märchenbilder is German for Images of Fairy Tales
Julie Bélanger Roy (mezzo-soprano, violist, violinist) and I, James Slainmann (composer, orchestrator, guitarist, Keys & Effects), met during our studies at the Montréal Conservatory of Music. We worked on creating a Symphonic Metal ensemble, a modern blend between heavy metal and orchestral music inspired by the German composers of the 19th century and their great creations.
In 2010, Yanic Bercier, internationally renowned drummer, joined the band and brought his own energy with his technical drumming.
A few months later, we started the recording of our first album, Flickering Truth, at WaveTransform Studios in Knoxville (USA). It was released a few weeks ago, on May 30th.
Genre: Being brought up as classical musicians with a taste for head banging, we found a way to blend our love of metal and classical music together. Both genres can get pretty epic so we set up to capture the best of both worlds.
Initial musical and thematic elements: At first, we had the regular rock/metal intrumentation in mind: guitar, bass, drums, voice and keyboard. Julie played the violin so I wrote a few melodies for her, but that was it. Then we got the idea of adding a little bit of viola and cello, until one day, it just became clear that we wanted the big and epic sound of an orchestra so I started composing accordingly. All the strings were recorded by Julie (violin and viola) and Chris Gratton (cello).The orchestra now plays a leading role in Märchenbilder’s sound.
Lyrics and themes: As mentioned, the band name Märchenbilder is German for Images of Fairy Tales. From this idea, we wrote lyrics that tell a story, somewhat inspired by old fairy tales: the ones that don’t end well! So the lyrics tend to be a mix between prose and storytelling. It is always really important that the music reflects the mood and the meaning of the lyrics, like a soundtrack in a movie.
Ideas about the album: We are more than happy with Flickering Truth. The project went through so many different phases and it evolved tremendously. When Julie and I first discussed the album concept, it was clear that each song wouldn’t be just a song: it would have it’s own world while being part of a whole. Flickering Truth is a concept album that also leaves freedom of interpretation to the listener. We want the lyrics and the music to speak for themselve. The album was recorded and mixed in TN-USA at Wave Transform Studios by Yanic Bercier and mastered by Alan Douches (who mastered Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Despised Icon, Holy Grail) at West West Side Music NY-USA. It was a real pleasure to work with these two, recording and mixing with Yanic at Wavetransform studio was a sweet ride and Alan Douches being one of the top 5 Mastering professionals in the industry, we felt pretty lucky to have him working on the project. The artwork of the album was created by Alexandra V Bach of Ravendusk design and we simply love it, she did an amazing job.
Reception: We have a lot of positive reactions coming from the symphonic metal community, from Europe, North America and South America. They like the big orchestra sound and the operatic vocals as well as the energetic drumming. So far, we had great reviews of the album and we realize that Märchenbilder’s music appeals to people who listen to all types of music.
Preference; live or studio: We’ve been in the studio for quite a while and cannot wait hit the road again. We just had our release show in Tennessee and it was a blast! After the hard work that was put into the album, we are definitely looking forward to bring Märchenbilder live to the fans.
Next step; live or studio: Märchenbilder’s next steps include international live performances to support the debut album, Flickering Truth, that was released on May 30th 2013. We are now planning for shows in North America within the coming year, and possibly Europe.
Composers: Julie and I worked together on the concept of the album. Julie wrote the lyrics and I composed the music. Yanic then joined us and composed the drums. I then orchestrated every song.
Inspirations: Soundtrack: Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Danny Elfman, John Williams
Metal: Dimmu Borgir, Nightwish, Rhapsody of Fire, Black Sabbath
Classical music: Wagner, Beethoven, Schubert, R. Strauss, Malher
We decided to dedicate the album to the work of Richard Wagner and Robert Jordan. Wagner’s compositions and his conception of music were a great inspiration for me in Märchenbilder, but also as a film composer. For her lyrics, Julie was inspired by some of the concepts of the Wheel of Time, a series by Robert Jordan.
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: In the beginning, we really focused on music. The goal was and will always be to create songs that combine the different elements of who we are and what we want the express as musicians. Now that the music is written and recorded, we want to share it, with everyone who wishes to discover our music and step in our world.
Greatest Accomplishment: Our album, Flickering Truth, is probably one our greatest accomplishment yet as a band, it is a massive milestone for Märchenbilder. We worked really hard on this album; it was a long journey… Everyone in Märchenbilder is really busy with other projects, Julie with her opera studies, Yanic with his drum sessions and his engineering work in the studio, and I with my work on different film scoring and projects. We took the best of our personal backgrounds and experiences and summed it all into Märchenbilder – Flickering Truth.
These guys are inspired by the beautiful mythology created by the late and irreplaceable Robert Jordan. Of course you want to read more about them! Right?
As a side note, if you are wondering who Robert Jordan is, here is a little something about him…