Bio: I’m John Connor the Guitarist/Keyboard player for Selene and the primary songwriter. Selene was formed in 2013 by me and the singer Shonagh Lyons who I met in university. I and Shonagh previously recorded together in my Studio project Gate XIII. I released an EP with Gate XIII last November, however things weren’t working out with the main singer in that band at the time so Shonagh filled in for the live shows. We got talking in April 2013 and decided to form a new band that would be designed from the start to be better suited for live performances and so Selene was born. On our first EP “Among the Frozen” I played all the instruments however now with live shows kicking off in September we have recruited a full line up with the addition of Thomas Alford on bass who I have known for many years and also a new drummer, however we haven’t announced any details about that at this time.
Genre: Symphonic Metal is a tough genre to get into as a performer, and oddly enough when I first heard bands like Nightwish I really didn’t get the appeal however it really started to grow on me. I had done a bit of work doing orchestral movie soundtracks before so I had that kind of background, then I was always a fan of power metal bands such as Sonata Arctica and Kamelot so it was a natural evolution. Shonagh is also a classically trained soprano singer so from the outset that pretty much sets the tone.
Evolution of the initial musical and thematic elements: Again it was the merging of Power metal with my background in soundtracks and also Shonagh’s voice. During the writing process of “Among the Frozen” I feel like we approached the genre from a number of different angles however we found the bigger sound was the most beneficial.
Ideas about the album: Overall I am extremely pleased, there are a few things I feel we could be improving on, however writing has started for our next release and we are taking on those issues head on. The primary problem I feel we had on Among the Frozen was we tried a bit too many things, we have a big Nightwish styled opening track with a lot of orchestra, then the instrumental had very few orchestral elements, things like that. We may have lost some cohesion for the sake of diversity, but the new songs we are writing mix everything together in a tighter way I think.
Reception: Fantastic, we are constantly high on the charts on bandcamp at the minute from the release, we did a short run of physical copies and we nearly sold out in under a month, at one point we were the 3rd highest selling overall metal CD that week on bandcamp. It has been really great. We have been receiving some really good reviews from all over the world and were talked about in a fair amount of magazines and everything, it’s been rather unbelievable considering how little time we have been around for.
Preference; live or studio:
Next step; live or studio: We haven’t done any live shows yet, however in September we are doing a show called “Worlds Apart” at the Culture Tech Festival alongside a string quartet. The Culture tech festival is this great big event in our hometown that will basically take over the city for the week so it’s amazing we will get to be a part of that. We have a great big set list planned out for that, covering tracks from “Among the Frozen”, songs from Gate XIII and also songs we haven’t released yet from our upcoming new CD.
We plan on doing more and more live shows when our schedules clear up, but we aren’t sure when or where, but we are currently talking to some important people about important things which could lead to a big increase in live shows.
Future plans: Extremely positive, I haven’t been involved with a project/band before that has received so much praise in such a short time. We have got the attention of some people in powerful places so hopefully we will be able to make something work and make the most of it, but from my perspective, things are only looking up. Every time I think things are dying down, we get some new opportunity.
Lyrics, themes and concepts: Lyrically the songs develop through events in my life or people around me, all the songs are written with the music first, so sometimes it can take a while to get the lyrics to match the feel and tone of the song. Overall though I feel like they don’t tell an overall story so much as represent the emotions from those situations. If I’m to pull back the curtain a bit, Peace of mind is pretty much the “Anti-Love song” It’s my way of saying ‘So Long, I will be fine without you’ but in a way that only Symphonic Metal can do. ‘End of it All’ was written when things died down from the last Gate XIII Release, we ended up with a bunch of issues with the singer on the release which affected the distribution and I had a moment of thinking Music wasn’t worth it and it wasn’t going anywhere so I wrote that and it ended up being the first single for Selene which introduced everyone to the band and started our run of radio play… Ironic that.
Composers: So far I have wrote all the songs and lyrics, however if anybody else in the group has suggestions I’m always open to them.
Inspirations: I think the primary influences are Nightwish, Evanescence and Sonata Arctica, but we aren’t afraid to wear our influences on our sleeves, Some of the newer tracks we are working on have a bit of a progressive edge to them which comes from listening to bands like Dream Theater and bands like that.
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: For the most part it’s the music for its own sake, but audience consideration is always a factor. Personally I strive to make the songs as layered as possible so the audience can instantly pick up on something, even just a strong sense of melody, but we also need to have something else under that for repeat listeners. We could do a 12 minute long free form progressive instrumental jam if we wanted, however I feel as musicians we need to step back and look at it objectively. Every song I write I need to step back and think “Ok, If I heard this song, would I like it” and “Would this song have potential to be someone’s favourite song” Its hard at times to be that critical of your own work, but I think it’s needed, with such a crowded music scene these days, your songs need to be able to get stuck in someone’s head as first impressions are a huge factor.
Greatest Accomplishment: I think being at the point we are at now in such a short time is a great accomplishment, we have been talking to a lot of people now who are showing an interest in the future of the band which is really great. There have been a few times where we announced something we didn’t think would be a big deal, then we found websites were translating it to other languages and posting It for their audience. It’s bizarre but a great feeling