VISIONS OF ATLANTIS :  interview with Melissa Ferlaak 


phoner by Matthew "Newbreed99" Haumschild___May 2007


organized by Melissa Ferlaak and Matthew Haumschild 


visions of atlantis    

Cast Away







MH: Now, I’ve known you for sometime now, and I have a question I’ve been meaning to ask you…so, how exactly did you get into metal?

MF:  (laughing) You don’t know?

MH: (laughing) I don’t.

MF: Well, you suck! John Prassas (guitar player for Aesma Daeva) and I went to college together at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls and that’s when I started doing studio recordings for Aesma Daeva. Then after I graduated there I went on to the New England Conservatory and John called me up and said, “Hey, would you like to start a band?” (laughing) I thought, “Okay great” because we got invited to do a festival in Mexico City and so that’s how all that started. Then Earl (Root, the other guitar player for Aesma Daeva) infected me with the metal virus then I became obsessed.


MH: I knew it had something to do with Earl…

MF: yeah of course, my metal brother, yeah that’s how it happened. 

MH: And a good job he did too! I know you’ve probably been asked this a million times, but I gotta ask…How did you become the singer of Visions of Atlantis anyway?

MF: Actually, I am really good friends with Ashmedi of Melechesh, we had played at a festival together in Canada. He knew that I was looking for a change from Aesma Daeva, to be nice, as a musician and needed to grow. And I had contacts with him cause he was in the A&R business and he had worked with a conglomerate of Universal Music and so I knew he was well connected and so I told him that I was looking for something in Europe because symphonic-metal was really big there. So, he threw my name to Napalm (record label) and they contacted me right away and said that Visions of Atlantis is looking for a singer and the rest is history.


MH: How is it different being in VOA than being in Aesma Daeva?

MF:  Well, the first thing is that I have a creative role with VOA and I didn’t have that with Aesma Daeva. And that was a big big key factor that came to me right away. The other thing I wanted to be apart of songs that were human, that weren’t ten minutes worth of artistic, totally experimental…wildness. I needed more human engagement.

MH: This leads up to another question of mine, were you involved in the writing process at all with VOA?

MF: (smiling) Yes I was! I wrote two songs, I wrote, “The Secret” and “Return To You”

MH: Really? I had “Return To You” in my car on my way over.

MF: Did you?

MH: Yes, it’s one of my favourite ones actually.

MF: It’s kind of a roughly sung song but I was choking down emotions during that song so it was hard for me to sing “pretty pretty.” But I wrote the melody and the lyrics primarily then Mario…well what’s great about this band is that with every song, the guys or someone would record something and send it over to me and ask if I wanted to change anything or add anything. Which is amazing! Especially in symphonic-metal to do that. You don’t see that everyday, so I was taken aback but in a very good way. So I would record my ideas on top of it and Mario would sometimes say, “Hey Melissa, try singing this.” Then I would sing it and if it didn’t feel quite right I would change it up. So there is lot of editing.


MH: Was it kind of a culture shock playing with a band from Europe?

MF:  Ya know what, with any other band, I would say yes, but with these guys, and here’s the creepy part, from day one it felt like we have known and worked with each other for many many years. We just had an automatic click.


MH: Was there ever a language barrier?

MF: Well, the guys know really good English, but sometimes they slip into their Deutsch  and I get completely lost so I start zone out. 


MH: Now, you went to China sometime ago and not too many bands do this, but I am curious, how are the crowds different over there than they are in the US or the EU?

MF: Well first of all, the crowds were a little bit smaller because we were the first symphonic-metal band ever to tour China. It was very cool. There was the same amount of passion as the European audiences. European and American audiences are different in that Americans are a little more guarded at show in that they are not as wild and free like  European fans. But it could be the difference of bands because Aesma Daeva music isn’t like (cookie monster vocals) stuff. But the Chinese were very into it, they were so nice to talk to afterwards they just had tons of questions.


MH: I do not have a lyric book for “Trinity” I am curious if this is a concept album.

MF: No, well…no, the albums in the past were concept albums in that they were built around this mythology of Atlantis. This one, well, you tell me. Is this a concept album?

MH: Some parts of it sounded like it.

MF: Okay

MH: Like “The Poem” did.

MF: Right, because it’s a bit “storyish”

MH: And then the rest of it…well…no I just don’t have a lyric book so I have no idea. But the poem sounded like it could have been.

<both laughing>

MF: Honestly it’s not a concept album it’s really not. Each song stands out as it’s own in that it’s based on truth, emotion, and real experiences. It’s not mythologically based, if anything, we took the symbol of Atlantis and wrote songs about hope which is what Atlantis kind of represents.

MH: Basically this is much different from the other albums.

MF: Yes, I cannot stress that enough. <laughing> We changed, but we hadn’t changed to the point were we alienated our fanbase, because now we are almost a completely different band as you mentioned in your review which is true. The writing has significantly changed hands. But at the same time we have to give people who love our music already something they recognize.


MH: Who wrote most of the vocal parts?

MF:  Mario wrote most of them, but it was collaboration, I would say that Mario wrote about 60-70%. A lot of them were already started before I joined, then I came in and wrote some melodies and harmonies and they worked together.  It’s hard to tell now actually, it was just so working together as a unit it seemed homogenized.


MH: When you were touring with Xandria last year, I was curious if you had any special moments you would like to share.

MF:  <laughing> Lisa (singer from Xandria) and I made out!

<both laughing>

MF: No no just kidding!!  No, I wish I made out with Lisa!


MH: I would have paid to see that!

MF: I would have too! Honestly, we made some really great friends from that band, like Lisa and I are really tight we are all really good friends I think she would really laugh at that comment. Yeah, we had such a great time, it was my first time out with the guys so there was this great virginal energy. 


MH: Here’s an optional question whether I could print or not print, it’s all up to you. What do you think when I say, “Nightwish Clone?”

MF: Fuck you.

<both laughing>

MF: So, the whole Nightwish clone thing, do you really want me to be honest about that?

MH: Absolutely!

MF: When people  compare us it really pisses me off,  I don’t sound like her and don’t want to. The whole “Nightwish clone” thing okay with “Castaway”, maybe, but with this new album, hell no.  The comparison is funny because those of us who did most of the writing loathe Nightwish. <laughing> <laughing>

MH: Really?

  MF: Don’t really like them, yeah okay I get the whole, “we sound like Nightwish” thing but we’re taking it like baby steps. We can’t just change direction completely because it might piss off some of our fans and thus alienate them. It’s a double edge sword that’s really what it comes down to. 

  MH: Now, could you compare VOA to any other band?

MF: It’s a symphonic-metal band a standard symphonic-metal band, we could be compared to them all in one form or another because it’s all driving off the main inspiration of Metal music meets Classical music. So I am not going to say that we’re the most cutting edge band, we certainly don’t aim to be the most cutting edge band, we aren’t trying to be the most experimental with 7 minutes worth of egoistical music. It’s not our style. We are writing songs that are human and that tell a real story.

MH: Ah ha ha ha ha! Our final question. Since this is the first time that has interviewed you, you draw “The Game of the Tower.”

MF: Oh no.

<both laughing>

MH: There is this tower. At the top of this tower, it could only fit two bands. And your goal is to be on top of this tower. However, miraculously, on your way up, you discover that there’s a problem, there’s three bands on top, and in order for you to fit, you have to push down two of the three bands. The bands that are up there are: Xandria, Epica, and Leaves’ Eyes.

MF: <laughing> Ah… Leaves’ Eyes would be first to go because there’s no personal connection. Oh shit you suck! <laughing> I love them, they are labelmates, but good bye.

MH: I couldn’t think of any other band.

MF: You really suck!

MH: <laughing>

MF: Ah…geez…who do I piss off? Someone who I am friends with or somebody that I’ll have future ties with? I would say Epica because they are a given. They’ll climb back up later so it’s okay to push them off now.


MH: thank you Melissa it has been a pleasure!


Matthew Haumschild   19.05.2007 


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