Most of you know that I am a member of the ‘obsessed’ crowd. I can’t get enough of the first Epysode album. I can’t!!!
The brainchild, Samuel Arkan is now working on the next album. Isn’t that amazing?! I am so proud that the man chose Lady Obscure Music Magazine to give an exclusive interview.
The great musician, who is also one of the nicest ones that I came to know, answered my questions about the new Epysode album and his life as a brilliant musician!
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Lady Obscure: Hello Sam… Well, first off, thanks for the exclusive interview with Lady Obscure Music Magazine. Being both a huge fan and a journalist, I am truly honoured. ‘Obsessions’ has quickly become one of my all-time favourite albums. I’d like to ask questions about both albums if that’s OK.
Samuel Arkan: Hi Lady, thank you. It’s a real pleasure to do it.
Lady Obscure: Let’s start from the very beginning then. How did you end up deciding to start this project in the first place?
Samuel Arkan: Well, since years I’m a huge fan of thriller & fantastic books, and the idea was to create and to tell my own stories with help of music & voices. I was just waiting the right moment to do it cause it takes a lot of your time and it’s a big work, with a very different approach comparing to a band album. So it started in 2006, I was ready to make it, free in my mind… or maybe crazy enough are the right words for it.
Lady Obscure: There isn’t one single filler track on the album. It’s clear that you’ve invested so much time and effort in it. Is any of the songs particularly special for you? In the sense that you are proud with how it turned out?
Samuel Arkan: I don’t know, all the songs are special for me cause it was my first concept album and it was hard work to build this gigantic puzzle. But if I have to remember, the songs like Gemini Syndrome with only one piano and voices, March of the Ghosts with all the classical arrangements and “theatrical” parts or The Otherside with the massive rock and slap bass elements were difficult to imagine being part of what we call Metal album. But finally it turned out well and these songs are special in that sense.
Lady Obscure: The praises you have been receiving so far, the reception… They are impressive. Did you feel that this project would be that successful?
Samuel Arkan: I’m of course very happy of that, but I never expected this. I just wanted to give a good album to the people and to share my musical world with a lot of them. It worked very well and it gives power to make a second album.
Lady Obscure: There is an impeccable compatibility between the characters and the singers’ voices. Makes me wonder – did you choose the singers to complement the particular song writing and storytelling? With the characters in mind maybe? Or did you do it the other way around – tailor the role to the singer?
Samuel Arkan: I wrote the story and created the characters with a strong idea of what kind of voices would fit the best to it. Then my work is to find all the real voices, so I listen to a lot of demos and albums to find the right ones. That’s also why you have singers you know very well and also unknown talents, my quest is “voices” only, it’s one of the most exiting moment of the job cause it gives life to the characters, I’m like a child during this process.
Lady Obscure: Epysode II is a work in progress now. You must be very busy and I can’t tell you about the anticipation. At what stage are you now?
Samuel Arkan: Music is composed right now and we enter studio end of this year. I’m very exited to work with all the artists of this next album, it will be a long and hard work journey, but with also lot’s of fun too.
Lady Obscure: First Epysode, burning like stars, made your name an in-erasable part of prog history, a masterpiece both lyrics-wise and musicianship-wise. Well it’s not a secret that it blows me away as does those on the heavier side of the prog spectrum. Is this a source of pressure for you? I mean, have you ever found yourself saying “How can I possibly top that?”
Samuel Arkan: Well I try not to think about it, first album was of course at its best with all the work we did on it. But I don’t try to copy myself or the first album of Epysode. I give the best I can and I use the same way of working, I’m not searching to top the first one, I just try to give the same quality, of course with other singers and musicians involved.
Lady Obscure: Will Epysode II have the same elements that ‘Obsessions’ does? To be more specific, all the songs on that album are technical, complex, layered, and catchy and all complement to the whole picture. As I mentioned in my review, your production on it is a perfect blend of exciting arrangements melding complex instruments with amazing melodies in a flawless formula. It mustn’t be that easy to bake complex and heavy ingredients into a catchy tune!
Can we expect catchy hooks and clever harmonies on the new one, too? Oh my, now I am putting some pressure on you I guess… 🙂
Samuel Arkan: Haha yes I will sweat my tears now ! No, there’s no pressure with it, Epysode II is a mixture between all the same elements you like, but maybe with some more energy, sharp & strong guitar riffs, lot’s of melodic parts, maybe a bit more straight in the face, Epysode II is more spontaneous ! Hope you, “Obsessed” fans and new listeners will like it ! Ok… you are right, now I’m under pressure !
Lady Obscure: What will the most notable differences between the two albums? Will the lyrical content for the new Epysode album be different from last time? Are you playing with the guitar sound for instance or anything else on the sound? What I’m really asking is, are we in for big surprises?
Samuel Arkan: Main difference are the different vocalists, new story means new characters so new voices. Epysode is a concept album and it’s so cool to work with new people, the story is closely linked with the music, so music needs new nuances and the right artists to give life to it. I decided to give more space to the guitars, even if keyboards are still there. I worked a lot with Julien Spreutels (keyboards & piano) to create the oppressive & dark ambiance surrounding Epysode’s world. … And yes ! For sure some surprises 😉
Lady Obscure: For the changes, are they the fruits of conscious decisions or do they naturally occur evolving your music to some other direction?
Samuel Arkan: I think it is a natural choice. I just try to make everything right & close to the main story, I follow the inspiration of the moment, it’s like a film, I always leave the door open to unexpected ideas.
Lady Obscure: In the same vein, do you base the story on the sound and practically let the music inspire you to paint a story? Or, do you start composing with a story in mind?
Samuel Arkan: I start with the story first, then I compose the music. That’s why the music of Epysode II is more straight and full of energy, cause the story needs it.
Lady Obscure: Everyone has their specialty – in what they do and like better… Is supernatural thrillers your “thing?”
Samuel Arkan: I have to say yes, that’s my thing, my world. But I can visit other world easily, but my music fits better to the dark ambiance of thrillers and fantastic stories.
Lady Obscure: Did you know that you would make a second album when you started doing the first? I gather it’s not a sequel/prequel album, it’s more like a stand-alone one with a completely different story to tell. Are there any connections?
Samuel Arkan: I wanted to do of course, but my first wish was to make the first one. Now it’s just cool to go for a second of course. Epysode II is a different story but you will find elements from the first one, maybe you will be able to find the kidnapped little boy “Shawn” from the first story but some years after when he is an adult… 😉
Lady Obscure: Oh, so there is an exciting concept again then? Nice 🙂
Samuel Arkan: Yes of course ! J
Lady Obscure: Nice!!! I love that Sam! Where are you drawing your inspiration from? Is it coming more from the conceptual roots or pure musical inspirations?
Samuel Arkan: I think I got it from all my musical roots and my passions out of music world. Mainly from my life experiences a lot, I like to take my guitar and improvise in front of my computer, everything depends on the mood of the day !
Lady Obscure: You proved to have a knack for picking some great singers and musicians. What can you tell us about the new team? Will you reunite the previous line-up? Or will you work with a new set of musicians and vocalists? If so, who is coming on board? *hopes to get some clues*
Samuel Arkan: I will work with some members from the previous line-up like Léo Margarit drummer of Pain of Salvation and Julien Spreutels from Ethernity, but also I will work with a new set of vocalists. About names, I can’t tell you right now, it is still a secret, but I can tell you they are awesome and they will put the fire inside Epysode II. They are coming from different horizons and the alchemy of all is just amazing ! I’m honoured to welcome them on board.
*bummer, no clues* 😛
Lady Obscure: What’s more important to you? Catering to the fans, well in your case the ‘obsessed’? Or your own inspiration and your fulfillment in music?
Samuel Arkan: If I have to choose I would say the Fans ! Because they give you the strength to do it, you are motivated and inspired like never when you know there are people waiting for your final result with impatience.
Lady Obscure: Ian Anderson told me that he likes giving interviews to female journalists as they tend to approach things differently and sometimes ask personal questions. Now, I have to live up to that fame, right? 🙂 So, is there a personal song on the album? You know the kind that has a personal story behind it?
Samuel Arkan: Well… I think each song is connected to personal emotions or a story from my life. That’s what I call, the story behind the story, but I like to keep it secret. When I was young I always found difficulties to express myself to people, difficulties for them to understand me, I was feeling like an alien, not being part of this world, feeling rejected… And one day, at the age of 14, music entered my life and gave me this privilege to express myself through it ! Music is a nice therapy don’t you think ? 😉
Lady Obscure: I sure think so Sam 🙂 And I can’t thank you enough for my treatment. Well, that’s it from my end, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Samuel Arkan: I would like to thank them all for their support and passion to share. They are part of this journey and I hope they will enjoy the next album with the same passion we have together… Music !
Lady Obscure: Thank you for taking the time. As a huge-tastic Epysode and Samuel Arkan fan-girl, I certainly wish, from the bottom of my heart, that you will keep producing more and more music.
Samuel Arkan: I thank you for your interest and support, it’s a real pleasure to read you. Stay real & Metal m/