We at RMP had a chat with Stefan Schimdt and Bastian Emig from Van Canto right before their show at Biebob. For those who don’t know Van Canto, they are an a-cappela band with a drummer and a bunch of singers that produce the instrumental parts with their voices. We talked about their new album, how they create their songs the way they do and much more!
- Hi, welcome to Belgium. How are you guys doing because you’re touring from one city to another.
Stefan: Thank you. We’ve been in the Netherlands yesterday so…
- You just released a new album called “Voices Of Fire”, how did the crowd react to it until now? Were they positive?
Stefan: Very positive. It’s the first output from our project ‘metal vocal musical’. The stuff on the album is a little bit different but it’s still Van Canto. Van Canto fans love it and I think it’s quite well received.
- The previous album “Dawn Of the Brave” had a hero theme. Is there also storyline in the new album that connects the songs together?
Stefan: No, “Voices Of Fire” has its own concept. It’s more of a fantasy theme from novels and other books. “Dawn Of The Brave” was the first time we wanted to have one theme throughout a complete album, but now for “Voices Of Fire” the concept was not as big or as straight as for “Dawn Of The Brave” because we used different novels and books.
- There is also a special edition of the album with a media book, which contains illustrations made by Osmar Arroyo. Do these images visualise the story on the album?
Stefan: Yes, our lead singer Sly had the basic idea of the basic world and the main part of the story. Then he sat together with the fantasy author and they developed a complete story and after that Bastian started writing the album and Christoph (Hardebusch, writer) wrote the novel. It was a really hand-in-hand production.
- How did you come by Christoph Hardebusch? Why did you choose him?
Stefan: We just asked him. I had a book in my bookshelf when looking for German fantasy authors that I knew. And he knew Van Canto and loves what we do.
- You introduced the new album with a mash-up video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGOkzA-3XB4) inspired on different fantasy theme songs. Are there any plans to release a complete album with only soundtracks for fantasy films?
Stefan: The medley was actually more of a fun thing for us to do and we wanted something for the fans so they could find out the motives of the original movies but compared to the album: this was just something we did half a day and on the album we worked for about two years.
- I really liked the intro with the Hunger Games song –
Bastian: Did you catch all the things?
- I think so, yes, I heard Harry Potter and Game Of Thrones.
Bastian:The question is whether you got How To Train Your Dragon?
- Yes, I did! It’s one of my favourite movies!
Bastian: You got it? Nice! Many people don’t find it.
- If I am correct, the only instruments you use are voices and drums. But if you listen you don’t really notice that there are only two instruments. Is it difficult to combine the drums with so many vocals?
Stefan: I think the drums reminds us that we’re doing a heavy metal band. In this part we have so many voices. We even used a choir that in some songs took the lead singer’s role. We were experimenting with all these choirs, even a children’s choir, and we were looking how many voices we could fit in and how many voices we could invite in next time.
- Is it difficult to play the drums and keep measure while the rest sings?
Bastian: No, on stage it goes even better because we’re more in touch. With a singer you can actually see he’s really working because there’s so much energy on stage. Guitar players on the other hand could look a bit bored or the bass player, I don’t even know what they’re thinking. With five singers we found that we could create some really great energy on stage and in the studio I think the most fun part is to think about what sort of syllables you’re trying to use because actually it does affect the drumming but in the end it’s no big deal compared to other metal productions. On stage I prefer to have so many singers because it gives so much more energy.
Stefan: And on this album we wrote all the songs together so the drums are even more connected to the compositions and the vocal parts as well so I think it should not really be discussed so separate because it’s a main part of the Van Canto sound to have these powerful drums where voices can be added. The other way around wouldn’t work, or only when you do ballads but as soon as we do this powerful stuff it all starts with powerful drums.
- Stefan, you also play the real guitar. What do you do first when you make new songs?
Stefan: 90% of the time it’s songs written on piano or guitar and then translated but this time we really had jam sessions in the rehearsal room with the guitar player and drummer and then we were working out the songs; perhaps playing an idea of a lead melody on a piano and then we’d go back to the drums and the guitar. So it’s actually very comparable to other bands.
- Bastian, why did you choose only drums to use with the voices? Why not another instrument?
Bastian: Because it really works with the concept. It just fits without any doubt.
Stefan: On the other hand, we already worked with an orchestra and an acoustic guitar. We had Bastian also play piano on one of our tracks so it’s that we do not like instruments, it’s just interesting what you can do with only voices. There are so many things to discover.
- Do you have some last words for our readers?
Bastian: Thanks for the interest in metal acapella and join us on tour the next time we pass Belgium! And check out what we’re doing!
Thanks for the interview and good luck tonight!