6th June 2020
Elizabeth Andrews (v)
Mio Jäger (g) Milla Olsen (g)
Madeleine Gullberg Husberg (b)
Q: When you started, how was the Metal scene in Sweden and particularly, how was the Metal scene for women who wanted to be in bands?
EA: It was in 2010 when the band was officially formed and there were not a lot of girl bands in Metal. It was very hard to start because in the beginning when you are in a new band trying to figure out the sound and what you’re doing, we were met with a lot of hate. There were comments and we were not very popular or welcome, it was a kind of either love or hate. Some would love it and some would hate it so it was quite extreme to start out as a new band and be met with both love and hatred at the same time so we focused on the good stuff – the people that loved it – and that inspired us to keep going. We put out an EP in 2010 of five songs just to kick us off and get us on stage as soon as possible. We definitely made some ripples in the Metal scene when we began.
Q: Back when I was growing up in the seventies we only had Fanny followed by The Runaways and then Girlschool came along and took everybody’s heads off. You’re a couple of generations along from there; who were your inspirations both in your music and learning your instruments? Not necessarily female.
MH: For me it was Cliff Burton. I saw a video of Anesthesia when I was 12 years old and I just thought ‘Well, I need to play the bass’. I told my dad that I wanted to play bass and two weeks later he surprised me with a bass and a little combo in my room! Other big influences for me are Steve Harris and Alex Webster.
MD: I’ve played in most genres of Metal over the years. I started off with Classic Rock and then onto Metal in the 80’s and 90’s followed by heavier stuff such as Death.
MJ: The first time I heard a female Rock artist was Joan Jett and the song I love rock n roll. For me she was the first serious girl that played Rock and inspired me to play guitar and sing like her. Other female bands who inspired me were Vixen and a Japanese band called Show-Ya. They were the first all-female band I heard playing faster music, close to Power Metal with double-bass kicks and the with a very competent guitar player. Other inspirations were singers like Ronnie James Dio (especially with Rainbow and Black Sabbath); Guitar players like Van Halen, Steve Vai, Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Mike Stern and Robben Ford; Progressive Metal like Dream Theater. When I had my soul/funk/R&B/jazz/disco period I got very inspired by singers like Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer and my favorite funk rock band is still Mother’s Finest. Singers like Maria Callas (opera) and Ella Fritzgerald (jazz). I saw a Swedish TV program were they showed bands like Nightwish, Dimmu Borgir and Kamelot though my heart was still in hardrock and metal I started to listen to it again. Following with bands like Killswitch Engage, Arch Enemy, Dead by April. When I started Frantic Amber and did sessions with a thrash band called Ice Age I started to listen to more harder stuff. And one of my favorites are, Suffocation for brutal metal and Testament for thrash metal.
MO: When I started playing guitar it was Nirvana songs and then shortly after Metallica and Iron Maiden and then onto Slipknot, Cannibal Corpse.
EA: I started with Korn. I was a big fan of Jonathan Davis and a French band called Eths who had a front-woman called Candice Clot and she was a huge inspiration to me. Singing, screaming, whispering, growling…she did all that and mixed it. It was mostly NU Metal that got me into metal in the first place. It was a bit softer and then from there I got more into extreme metal like Death Metal and Black Metal.
Q: You describe your music on your website as ‘melodic death metal with thrash, black, progressive, classic heavy metal and symphonic elements.’ That’s quite a cocktail…
MJ: Yes as I described earlier, I have a wide taste and that is influencing Frantic Ambers music too.
Q: …so I’m interested to know what you all listen to at home when not writing or recording?
MD: It’s true. We listen to almost every kind of music. I really like the 50s and 60s music and a lot of World music, early Jazz and Blues and Classic Rock, Rap...right now I’m listening to Oceans Of Slumber and Thank you Scientist.
MJ: It depends on the mood and what I am doing. Reggae and Cool jazz or new age, and world music. Marcus D played for me a band called Igorr and Oceans Of Slumber, which are really cool. Gojira is also good. I am a music teacher and kind of forced to learn the songs my students wish to learn (Spotify latest pop artists)or music they have to learn at school (traditional Swedish songs) Or I am to fed up with music and noise all day so I just want silence or I just put on a lot of brutal metal.
MO: I listen to mostly black and death metal. At the moment bands like Vomitory, Torture Division and Avslut. But when I'm driving home from work it happens that I listen to what's on the radio as well.
EA: I listen to everything from pop to black metal, it all really depends on the artist and music, if it speaks to me, I listen. - Just that my favorites are mostly in the metal genres. The last album that made me say ‘Wow!’ was from Symphony X called Underworld. I saw them play in Copenhagen last year and it was an amazing concert! The singer is amazing; Russell Allen sang everything perfectly and he’s totally cool on stage. That’s not what I usually listen to necessarily but now I do!
Q: Speaking of cocktails, you have a cocktail of nationalities in the band; Danish, Swedish, Colombian and Japanese. Do those backgrounds come through in your music in anyway?
EA: I don’t think so…
MD: I don’t play Colombian music but it diversifies us in a way.
EA: I would say more our personalities and our backgrounds as people more than our ethnicity because we all grew up in the north in the neighboring countries. I guess it depends how you look at it.
MJ: For me, the song Jōshitai is about being a Japanese female samurai and when I wrote the melody I was inspired by a children’s song because I was a small child when I left Japan.
Q: Bellatrix is a concept or theme album – a tribute even - to some unsung female warriors that have existed in history. Did you have the music there first and wrote the lyrics to the music or did you write the music to the characters?
MJ: Both, we have songs we started with music but we have also songs were the lyrics were written before the music.
MD: We wrote it so it fitted the character.
EA: Some of the songs were already decided; the samurai song music for example we already knew and so it was ‘Ok, which warrioress do we have from Japan? It was sometimes the music first and sometimes the first lyrics, even in parallel also.
Q: I like the way on your songwriting credits that you credit the band as writers and not individuals. What’s your writing process for the actual music?
EA: Over to you guys!
MJ: I write most of the parts but then the others might come up with riffs and ideas. I usually arrange it to a final song and If it is needed we will make some adjustments until we are all happy with the result.
MD: You have a lot done but then sometimes we turn things around, switch the riff etc. Then other times the lyrics were already done so we knew which character the song would be about and we wrote riffs to capture that.
Q: I must say as well that along with the music or within the music, you have captured the era of each woman.
EA: Thank you. That was what we were trying to do, both with the lyrics as well as the music!
Q: When researching the warriors for Bellatrix, where there any that you discovered and tried to write about but couldn’t get the music or lyrics right?
EA: No, actually not. I researched and read about so many warrioresses so the ones I picked to write about were already considered to be the most fitting stories among the many. We did discuss back and forth together in the band of course in order to choose the best ones both for the music but also for diversity. I wanted to make sure we had women from all over the world and not only from Scandinavia for example. So sometimes we would be discussing a few warrioresses but there were a lot of Vikings for example and we only wanted one, that also influences how our final choices were made.
Q: Have you discovered more since the album and are we likely to see a Vol II at some point in the future?
EA: Yes, we have definitely discussed it further! The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly warm and people seem to think that it’s a really cool concept and are interested in hearing more, so maybe we will make a volume 2, but we don’t know exactly when. The future will show all!
Q: That’s a beautiful piece of artwork on the cover of Bellatrix as well as is Burning Insight. It looks like you put a lot of thought into them
EA: Yes we put a lot of thought into everything. All of us do which is why sometimes things take longer than if we just slap something on there. It’s important for us to finish the whole product in a way that we are proud of it and like it. If we are not there yet, we will keep working on it until we are there.
Q: Incidentally, I read in another interview where the name Frantic Amber came from but it does rather uncannily describe your music.
EA: It’s kind of what it has grown into anyway (laughs). The founder of the band, Maria, already had the name in place when we joined and it was important that it was a unique name and feel good to say. It was randomly generated at the time, but has grown into having more meaning being “Frantic” for the brutal side and “Amber” for the softer side.
Q: We are all just itching to get back to normal life once Covid 19 has died down and it’s difficult to make plans but what do you have lined up for the rest of 2020? Gigs, videos, etc…
EA: No concert plans now...We had a lot of plans but then we didn’t because of the pandemic. All were cancelled but in the meantime we have been working on videos for youtube and writing some new material. We already released two playthrough videos of Jōshitai: one with Madeleine playing the bass and another with Mio on guitar including moving tabs at the bottom as well! Now we are working on another surprise that will come out soon.
Q: So you have a video planned for the new album?
EA: Yes we have an official music video in the works but we can’t record it because we are in different countries and the borders are closed so we have to wait until it’s calmed down a bit, so that’s postponed until further notice. The video is for the song Lagertha and we have worked on it for almost a year with planning, writing, finding the right materials to wear, make up and the whole shebang, because we want to do a bigger production.
Q: I like the classic horror film references in the Burning Insight video. Are we going to see more of that?
EA: (laughs) Hopefully at some point yes! It was really fun to do it on that music shoot.
Q: I’ll look forward to it. Thanks very much to you all for taking the time to do this and we’ll see you in Japan, hopefully soon.
EA: We can’t wait to go to Japan some day! You’re welcome, our pleasure.
Copyright © 2020 Upp-tone music Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.