French band Fairyland have a exciting new CD, Score To A New Beginning, and anyone who enjoys epic symphonic metal should take the time to listen to their music, it really is that good. The talented Phillipe Giordana recently took the time to answer questions about the new album and his band, from Sea Of Tranquility's Scott Jessup.
SoT: Hi there, The new album really is fantastic, how do you think Score To A New Beginning compares to Fairyland's previous releases?
Phillipe: Hi, and thanks. I think it's quite the logical continuity of the musical and conceptual venture started with Of Wars… and later developed with Fall. The music is a bit more progressive, although the song structures are more straight forward, and the overall production value is, in my opinion, on a higher step than before. I also think this is Fairyland's most achieved album vocal-wise…
SoT: The recording must have been quite an effort, especially with so many guest musicians?
Phillipe: I thought it would be a living hell, but all in all we managed to organize the planning in an efficient way. Out of 20 original guests, only 3 (Elisa, Lars and Dushan) couldn't fit their schedules with mine. I also centralized the recordings in 2 studios, one in France and one in Italy, so the guests could come to whichever was closest to them. And other guests simply recorded their own parts in their respective studios then sent the parts to be integrated in the final mix by Willdric Lievin at Harkam Studio.
SoT: Any others you would like to record with?
Phillipe: I have many artists in mind, and it would be kind of long and boring to list them here. I'm not really seeking to get famous musicians and thus potentially boost the sales. A good part of the guests on Score are unknown outside the French borders, and only Pathosray, Serenity and Heavenly are widely known among the names on the album. I'm more interested in talent than fame. But if I could have just one guest from a big band, I'd like to have Hansi Kursch from Blind Guardian…
SoT: The CDs artwork is very catching, obviously it's an important part of the whole package with the booklet etc., and something that will be lost I fear, as we move more towards downloading material in the future and lose that physical contact. What are your thoughts?
Phillipe: More or less: what you just said. At one point, we'll probably have to move to a 100% numeric distribution, with all the changes it implies. But I always find it a good argument for "classic' distribution to be able to offer a nice product, with a sweet cover, refined booklet… People like to own things. It's always been that way. So maybe the labels will limit the number of copies in the future to avoid financial losses, but I don't think they will eliminate them completely, at least not in the near future.
SoT: How long have you been playing keyboards? The keys really are a highlight on Score To A New Beginning.
Phillipe: I started keyboards when I was 14. I had played some bass for 3 years, but I wanted to play an instrument that would help me illustrate my compositions. Also, in my home town Nice, there were guitarists, bassists and drummers everywhere you looked, but not that many keyboardists, so I figured it would be original. I never took any lesson, and I can't even read sheet music correctly (or at least fast enough to find it useful), but I've got an OK musical ear, which compensates for my lacks thereof.
SoT: What's your favorite Fairyland song?
Phillipe: It would be Rise of the Giants. But if I'm confined to metal stuff, I'll go with Score to a New Beginning, with Master of the Waves as close second. But in all fairness, you should ask me that question again in a year or two, because right now the new stuff is still very fresh in my ears, so I can't really be impartial…
SoT: What attracted you to the music you play?
Phillipe: The first time I discovered a mix of metal and orchestra (with Angel's Cry from Angra) I felt there was a lot of potential for power and storytelling in this genre. Shortly after, my feelings were confirmed by Rhapsody's Legendary Tales and Symphony of the Enchanted Lands. I was blown away! At about the same time, I discovered Blind Guardian's Imagination from the Other Side and Symphony X's Divine Wings of Tragedy. It was all I needed to fall in love with the genre and try to elaborate my own style of prog-power symphonic metal.
SoT: Will you continue to release concept albums, or do something different next time?
Phillipe: For Fairyland, everything circles around the concept Osyrhia. So far I have only explored a tenth of its actual length. So as long as an album is labeled Fairyland, it will be conceptual and about Osyrhia. If I want to do something different, I'll probably create a side project.
SoT: Are there plans to form another lineup, for touring and future releases?
Phillipe: There already is a line-up for live shows and tours. It consists of Marco, Fabio, Alessio and Ivan, all from Pathosray, plus Chris Menta as second guitarist and myself on keyboards. All in all, it's pretty close to what we find on the album and I'm confident the live rendition will be faithful to Score. As for a permanent line-up, I know the fans like to have a full band to sink their teeth into, but I don't know yet if I'll go with a fixed line-up. If I have to, and the shows go well, I'll talk about it with the live line-up and see what they think…
SoT: Is it hard to duplicate your sound in a live environment?
Phillipe: Not so much musically as technically. The hardest part goes to the sound engineer, who must create the right balance between the "Metal" instruments, the keyboards and the sampler. Normally Willdric is going to be our sound engineer for the two live shows we have booked so far. Since he mixed and mastered the album, he knows what it's all about, so I'm quite sure he'll do a great job.
SoT: How widespread is Fairyland's popularity?
Phillipe: Well, the band achieved a bit of fame with the two first albums, but I think Score is the one that will expose us to a larger audience. Some Metalheads, especially in the US, tend to churn the band because of the name, but I hope the music quality will help them pass this obstacle. And I will be sure to prepare some shirts without the band's name, just in case !
SoT: Maybe I've missed them, but there just doesn't seem to be the same amount of epic concept releases, that we used to see. Instead the trend is more song by song based albums, I know the likes of Rhapsody Of Fire have other issues so they have been quite, but do you think this will change?
Phillipe: I don't know. Making concept albums doesn't make me a conceptual-bands expert. Personally, I like an album that tells a story. Others like different themes for different songs. I guess it's just a matter of tastes…
SoT: What are some of your favorite CDs, and do you listen to many styles?
Phillipe: Yes, I am quite versatile. I love Mike Oldfield, who is my favorite artist and musician. I also listen to a lot of movie soundtracks, folk music and Metal. My favorite metal album would be Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle Earth, closely followed by Bal Sagoth's Battle Magic. Oh, and I also really like System of a Down, despite whatever their critics say…
SoT: Thanks for answering these question, and for releasing more great music.
Phillipe:Thanks for the opportunity Scott!
(Click here to read our review of Score of a New Beginning)