Selene is a metal band from Northern Ireland, mixing powerful operatic vocals with Heavy Atmospheric music, they create a unique brand of hard hitting Symphonic Metal. In October they released their EP Paradise Over and guitar and keyboard player John Connor kindly agreed to answer some questions about the band, the EP and what the band are up to in the not too distant future.
Can you introduce us to Selene and tell us a little about each member?Selene is a Symphonic Metal band from Northern Ireland, we started in 2013 with myself (John) and Shonagh recording our first EP "Among the Frozen" we ended up recruiting Thomas Alford who I knew from school and we were contacted by Cameron Ashlund-Glass around December 2013 and he joined soon after.
Our singer Shonagh is classically trained and we met each other in university, we had recorded a track a few years ago for fun called "'Til the Shadows" which was rerecorded for the first EP, then we decided to put Selene together to function as a live band. She has actually travelled quite a bit for her classical performances including a few concerts performed in Chinese over in China.
Thomas has been a bass player for as long as I've known him so he was the first choice we went to when putting together the live band, he was actually part of Tim "Ripper" Owen's live band for his european tour last year which led to him having a small section in "Bass Magazine" here in the UK last month which was pretty cool.
Cameron was the last member to join, he heard the EP online and saw us advertising the need for the drummer so he got in contact and we met up for a jam and asked him to join shortly after.
I play Guitar and Keyboard in the band and I generally handle the main song writing.
Where did the name Selene come from?Myself and Shonagh were trying to think of names so we ended up texting each other these huge texts full of possible names, I saw the song "My Selene" by Sonata Arctica and I thought that would fit and since it was the first name we were both really happy with, we decided not to overthink it.
How would you describe your sound? What makes you stand out as a band?We play Symphonic Power Metal which as a genre can lack variety, however I like to think that we stand out due to the fact the songs are written around strong melodic hooks rather than over the top orchestration. The songs are written around the guitar/vocal parts rather than orchestration/keyboards so songs like Still Dreaming and Blood actually have very few symphonic elements in them.
You released your new 6 track EP in October 2014. Can you tell us more about the EP?All the tracks on the EP lyrically are written around the topics of Self Doubt, Loss and insecurity. It was written over a number of months in 2014 with the process generally consisting of me recording demos of the songs with the vocal lines etc written out then sending it to everybody else. Shonagh would then come in and record the vocal parts and we would rewrite any lyrics/melodies as needed to fit the song better, this is especially crucial in faster songs like Paradise Over. Once we have these done the feel of the song is generally set so Cameron takes a version without the demo drums and writes his drum parts to the guitar parts. The original version of Not Enough actually featured a rock beat throughout and was a much more straight forward song, then Cameron took it and added the almost marching beat which took it to the next level and gave it a sound I wouldn't have imagined at the demo stage.
Overall the media reaction has been much better than we expected. Being a small band from Northern Ireland we sent out the review copies expecting maybe 6 or 7 websites to review it like the last EP but I think its now up to around 26 reviews with a few more on the way which is crazy especially when they are all so positive. The fan reaction has also been great, we ended up being the 3rd highest selling metal release worldwide on Bandcamp the week of release which we didn't expect at all, we also got emails from fans buying it thanking us because they liked it so much which has been rather bizarre. It's been a real eye opener from the reviews and the fan reaction to see what people think of us, since we don't play live often and Symphonic Metal isn't really a thing in Ireland we can get caught up in our own little bubble so it truly is shocking to see so many people from all over the world buying the EP and emailing us to say they like us. When a reviewer from the other side of the world takes the time to write about the release and tell his audience that he thinks our release is good enough to compete on a worldwide scale, it is really something under appreciated and special.
Paradise Over is a great EP - I love the title track. Do you have a favourite track on the EP and if so why that song?I have spent so much time with the songs and heard them so many times its really hard to pick a favourite. I think my favourite song would have to be either Paradise Over or Still Dreaming, surprisingly the former almost didn't make it on to the EP, there were a lot of discussion about if it would make the cut, however we went back and rerecorded some parts and decided to put it on, thankfully we did as most reviewers considered it to be the standout track. Still Dreaming is also in the running as I think everybody in the band finds it to be the most fun to play.
How do you think your sound has developed since your previous EP - Among The Frozen?I think Paradise Over is a much more mature and focused release than Among the Frozen, it is more cohesive and solid throughout. Among the Frozen was very experimental and more diverse than Paradise Over, but it was a bit all over the place as some parts definitely worked better than others. Having a full line up definitely helped the writing on Paradise Over as we aren't afraid to say what we like and don't like adding an extra level of critique to the whole process.
What have been your major influences or styles?Sonata Arctica and Nightwish are definitely the two biggest influences on our sound, some of the newer material we are working on is a step heavier though with one song in particular having a sound that is strongly influenced by Devin Townsend.
There is some great music coming out of Northern Ireland at the moment - what is your experience of the metal scene there?The Metal Scene in Northern Ireland is very strange at the minute, as a country metal is very much under appreciated here, in fact in our hometown there are no regular metal nights and basically one rock bar, whereas in Belfast and the areas surrounding it the metal scene is very much alive. For such a small country there are a surprisingly large number of metal bands with record deals releasing world class music, we have bands like Stormzone, Sandstone, Darkest Era and Maverick all putting out great CDs through labels and playing gigs over Europe which unfortunately get overlooked by our local media who would do a 2 page write up if an indie band get a gig in London. Thankfully in general there is a great supportive community between the bands here.
We are actually playing Blazefest V in March up in Belfast which is a big deal for us as it's typically considered every year to be a collection of the best/biggest bands the country has to offer coming together to raise money for the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children so we are going to have some big shoes to fill with a line up that intimidating.
If you could tour with anyone who would that be and why?The dream tour for me would be with Sonata Arctica, they were such an influential band for me to share the stage with them would be unbelievable.
What’s next for Selene?We are currently taking a few months and booking as many live shows as we can get, we are also writing some new material but it's currently on the back burner to focus on the live shows and let the creative batteries recharge. I'd say at this point our next release will be a full length debut album, after Among the Frozen we got a few contracts through from various labels for a full release, however we ended up turning them down as we weren't completely happy with the terms and we would rather wait for something we would back 100% so now that Paradise Over has seen so much success we will probably try to explore those avenues again soon and see what comes out of it.
Massive thanks to John for taking the time to talk to Femetalism about Selene. We have followed the band for a while now and have loved the EP's released to date. You can grab a copy of all of their music on Bandcamp.
Selene released the single Blood in January 2015.
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Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.