Elize Ryd, Amaranthe interview – London – 12th November 2018

I spoke to Elize Ryd from Amaranthe shortly after their performance at Koko in London on their tour with Powerwolf.

First of all, how do you think the show went tonight?

I think it went really good – I loved it.

It’s ten years since Amaranthe formed, and seven since the first album. Does it feel that long?

Some days when you look back it seems like we’ve been doing this for 20 years, it’s like “oh my god, we’ve been doing this for so long”, but if you’re here and now it feels like it was only a few months ago that I was playing this venue with Kamelot. Time has gone very fast.

On the new album, Helix, you’ve worked with Jacob Hansen again.

We know he knows our sound and we know that we changed a bit in the way we write the songs, and felt that if we also changed the producer it might be too big a change, even though I’m curious how it could sound if we worked with someone else. The grass is not always greener on the other side, and the thing is you cannot gamble with these things because once we book the studio you cannot go back and change it afterwards – we could not afford that. I think it’s also a loyalty thing, we built a career together.

Your sound is so different to anyone else out there that particularly early on it must have been hard to find someone who understood what you wanted.

That’s the thing. I remember Olof said he had to fight quite a lot with Jacob to get the sound that we wanted. If you work with a lot of other metal bands you’ve got an idea of how it should sound – “the keyboards should be more in the background”, and we’re like “No, no no, not in our music, they should be loud, and the harmonies should be loud. Bring them up, take that down…”. If we were to work with someone else, we’re scared we’d have to go through the process all over again.
We tried recording the drums in a different studio on the previous album and we weren’t very satisfied with that as we didn’t think they came out the same way as when Jacob recorded them, so we were like “ok lets stay with Jacob”. I don’t think we dared to make that big a change yet.

If I were to do a solo album, maybe I could work with someone else just to see what it’s like.

I have to say, Jacob Hansen is such a relaxed kind of guy, so you feel very comfortable and it feels like being at home when you go to the studio. It’s a nice environment and you already have a lot of pressure on you, so working with someone youre not familiar with would put more pressure on you, or it might take some energy from you. WIth Jacob we can get started straight away, it’s like “here we are, and boom”. I know Morten doesn’t want to work with any other producer. Even if I were to record my vocals with a different producer in the UK or in New York or something for a change, I know Morten would stil record the drums with Jacob.  Jacob will probably always do the mixing too. He’s got all the old mixes from the previous albums saved, so he can refer back.

Jacob has his own personal taste, which came through from the beginning. I remember I was always very shocked by the takes he used – I thought others were better, but in the end it’s one of those things that is his style and I got used to it – “this is how I sound when I sing on an Amaranthe album”. I know that when I record for other artists people pay a lot of attention to the fact that I sound different. When I do guest vocals with Arion for example it’s a different producer, different mix, different microphone, different everything, and they choose the takes in a different way.

I think that’s where there’s a real skill – to listen to the different takes and pick the right one.

Usually you want to be there as a singer – you want to sit there and make the choices yourself, but when it comes to Jacob, I trust him, so I record then I leave the room. I don’t want to hear my own takes or I will automatically say something. I let him do the work and I’m happy with it and the fans like them, so you can sit back and enjoy his work.

This is the first album with the new band lineup.

That’s true, so in that way there was already a change, and who knows how to mix the clean vocals for Amaranthe better than Jacob Hansen, so we felt very comfortable that he’d make the vocals sound like Amaranthe and not some other band.

How much input do the band have into the videos?

From the beginning of the band, we decided the themes because we know what the songs are about, so we say what we think the video should present, then Patrick Ullaeus in this case (who we work with mostly), he listens and he knows what looks good and what doesnt so he might say “lets not do this one in a hospital because it won’t look good”, so he’ll suggest an alternative that gets the same emotion across. So he finds the locations then he has his own style of editing and makes the videos look awesome. For “369”, we said we wanted to be all together playing as a band this time because we havent done it in that way before, so we thought it was time to do that. He had three locations but in the end chose only one of them because he said they could do it all in that place and save the others for later.
So we say what we want to represent and he finds the locations, and if we have any ideas we can tell him those too, so we have a big input.

I imagine it’s hard work sometimes making the videos.

Oh yes, it was so warm when we did “369”. It’s always either extreme heat or extreme cold when we film. We said maybe we should film some videos at a spa so we can be in be a nice environment.

You need to write a suitable song first so you can set the video with you relaxing in a spa.

Exactly, all there in the steam. Maybe I could lay in a massage chair.

When we did the outdoor scenes we could never have expected the warm weather. In Sweden it’s been the warmest summer in a hundred years.

You’ve also recorded a Powerwolf song which appeared on the special edition of their latest album.

The record label they have is the same as their management and they knew we were doing the tour together so they asked us and other bands they have a connection with – they’ve toured with Epica and Battle beast for example, so it was a little family almost.
So we were invited which was nice and it was a very fun experience and I love the song. We got a couple to choose from and I immediately liked “Army of the night” the most. It turned out that it’s one of their biggest hits.

It must have been quite different to recording an Amaranthe song.

Yeah we were taking the Amaranthe ingredients and trying to apply them to that song. So obviously the tempo went up and the key went up and there was some more harmony. That vocal melody is very different to what I do myself, it’s very straight singing but it was fun because I used to sing in choirs and it reminded me of when I used to sing in church. So it was a fun experience – I hope we can do some more covers in future.

You’ve got more shows in early 2019 with Powerwolf. What happens after that tour?

I think we’re going to play the United States, Canada, Japan, and hopefully Australia. If we can’t do it in 2019 then 2020 – we’re trying to cover all territories. We have a great manager now who can help us out with that – Angela Gossow, she’s very professional in the business. It’s nice to have people to work with who know who to contact and what shows to play, what tours to go on.

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.