Raymond Westland of Ghost Cult Magazine recently conducted an interview with keyboardist Coen Janssen of Dutch female-fronted symphonic metallers EPICA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ghost Cult Magazine: Can you start by telling us how the whole "Retrospect" project came to life?
Coen: It all started with the notion that we wanted to do something special because of our 10th anniversary as a band. We always celebrated special occasions with EPICA, so this was another good excuse to do something special. [laughs] The idea was to come up with our most elaborate stage show to date in order to celebrate our 10th anniversary with our fans. We had a lot of things going on, so it took quite some time to actually get the whole "Retrospect" project off the ground. We finally made it happen in March this year.
Ghost Cult Magazine: From what I've heard it was basically Isaac [Delahaye, guitar] and yourself who did most of the work. Can you elaborate on this?
Coen: Well, EPICA is a band consisting of six persons who all have their own specific roles to play. With the "Retrospect" project, I kind of took the role as project manager, if you will. It may sound a little pretentious, but I coordinated and oversaw the whole process. I acted as the nexus between the band, the technicians, management and everyone else who were involved. Isaac took care of the PR and he did a lot of the design work for the stage props we used during the show. Everyone involved worked incredibly hard to turn "Retrospect" into a stunning experience for our fans. Putting the setlist together was a true group effort and it came together relatively easy. We were pretty much on the same page as far as the picking the songs we wanted to play went.
Ghost Cult Magazine: You've been a member of the band since its inception. What are the things you really witness changing, be it for better or for worse?
Coen: The music industry has changed completely and not always for the better. The rising importance of social media is another poignant development. Sometimes I jokingly say that EPICA is one of the last Dutch metal bands that can actually pull off a spectacle like "Retrospect". It's sad, really. The general appreciation of music as an art form has decreased as well. Because of the Internet, people can discover new music much faster. That's a great thing, but it does take a lot of the mysticism away. It seems that people's attention span has grown shorter and they don't value new music as much anymore, not as they used to. It's becoming harder and harder for new bands to reach a certain level so that they can sustain themselves. As a band we've been very fortunate in that regard.
Ghost Cult Magazine: EPICA are one of the most successful Dutch metal bands, especially abroad. What are your thoughts on that?
Coen: I see it as a form of recognition for a decade of hard work and dedication. It's very fulfilling to see a band you've built growing. At the same time I realise that we're a relatively small player, especially compared to some of the major Dutch acts, like KANE, BLOF and MARCO BORSATO. WITHIN TEMPTATION is a big deal in the Netherlands and abroad. But then again, a lot of the bands I just mentioned are only big in the Netherlands and nobody has heard of them once you're past the Dutch border. Popularity is a very relative and fleeting thing. [laughs] I count myself lucky that we can play all over the world. It's quite surreal when you're leaving a plane after a long flight and you find yourself in China. It's those things that make me love my job.
Read the entire interview at Ghost Cult Magazine.