Sea of Tranquility's Mark Johnson has been a fan of Stream of Passion since its inception. He interviewed Marcela Bovio a couple of years ago and thought with the release of Darker Days, that it was time to find out what the band has been up to lately. Their first album, Embrace the Storm was an incredible experience with the team of Arjen Lucasson and Lori Linstruth. They took the stage by storm with their follow up The Flame Within, and then did some extensive touring, including Canada, before they slowed down and returned to the studio. Now with confidence unmeasured they take to the stage again with a new album full of power and grace.
SoT- Welcome to the Sea of Tranquility Marcela. Hope you like the home of music for the new intellectual. Thank you for taking time out to discuss the new release from Stream of Passion, 'Darker Days'.
Marcela Bovio - My pleasure!
SoT Before we get started on the album, I was watching some of your new You Tube videos and they reminded me of your multilingualism. I know in Europe it's a survival skill, but here in the USA we need more 'evangelists'. Explain how important learning a new language is to gaining a perspective on more of the world. How many languages do you speak?
Marcela Bovio - I speak Spanish, English, Dutch and some French which I forget more and more due to lack of practice!
Now that I've been living in Holland for a while I'm absolutely convinced that you cannot fully understand another culture and how the people are unless you speak the language. The origin of the words, the grammar, how the people structure sentences; these things all reveal a huge amount of interesting details over the local culture. There's way more getting lost in translation than we could think!
SoT The opening line of my 'Darker Days review is going to read, "The music rushes towards you like a tsunami wave, as if they've had to wait too long to unleash this!" Tell us about the feeling of waiting to release a new album, as you hear it come together and are ready to release, but must wait for all the marketing to get organized behind it.
Marcela Bovio - Its torture! For the musician's feeling it takes FOREVER for the album to be in stores after recording. After months and months of writing, rehearsing and recording, we first have to wait for the mix and master to be ready; that's already hard. And then you have it, the final master... You get over excited with the final product, but then you still have to wait for a good four, five months until you can start hearing some reactions from the fans and critics. When you're so proud of what you made you wish you could just share it with the world right away! I certainly can't wait.
SoT Napalm Records does an impressive job supporting all of the artists they host. I've learned that from working with Visions of Atlantis and Edenbridge. How much free reign to create do they give Stream of Passion?
Marcela Bovio - We have complete artistic freedom when we're writing music, which is a must for us. We wouldn't settle for anything less. The great thing about Napalm is that they also know how to bring it out to their public; they know the fans and handle the marketing part really well.
SoT Your studio clips of the making of this album and the last were very good. Thanks for sharing them, from all of your fans. Now please describe what it's really like. It looks like you guys are having so much fun. What is an average day in the studio like?
Marcela Bovio - It is lots of fun, and also hard work of course! We record everything separately but I think the studio days are for all of us pretty much the same: you get there early, have a little coffee and get settled. Then it's nonstop laying down tracks until the afternoon, having some lunch, doing some more recording and then having dinner. It's rather intense, but the fact of being in the studio is already cool; chatting about music and sound engineering with the people from the studio and the producer on the food/drink breaks is lots of fun, and just hanging out with the band is also great. I try to be on all the recordings if I can, and it's fantastic to see all the pieces coming together.
SoT 'Lost', it doesn't sound like you were. It sounds like you knew where you were going with this one from the start. This album has really expanded the sound and dynamics of Stream of Passion. The power is still there, but with more of the passion to my ears. Tell us about the concept or driving theme behind the album?
Marcela Bovio - I think you've described it really well. The drive behind this album has to expand our musical horizons and incorporate new influences and ideas into our writing. We also wanted to go for a more organic sound; instead of layering all instruments on top of each other we tried to give each instrument its own moment in the songs. So make the heavy, guitar riff parts entirely about the guitars; and on the soft parts let the piano, the strings and the vocals take over.
SoT With 'Lost' there seems to be more strings. You are adding more dimensions to your sound with each album. The piano work throughout this album is also very intense and welcomed. Tell us about the evolution you have gone through as a band over the three albums.
Marcela Bovio - For starters I think we made a huge step from "Embrace the Storm" to "The Flame Within". On "Embrace the Storm" Arjen Lucassen (who was still in the band back then) had the absolute lead on songwriting, with me doing the vocal lines and melodies. For "The Flame Within" I had to face the challenge of writing songs from scratch, instead of writing on top of what someone else already had done; so in a lot of ways our second album was also our first.
Now with "Darker Days" we've taken our "real" second step as a band. And I think it was clear from the start that our goal was to keep refining our sound, to keep incorporating unique qualities to the music.
SoT 'Reborn' is about your hometown Monterrey, Mexico. Do you often get homesick? Probably every spring or summer for the ocean, right? When was the last time you were back? Has it changed there for the better since you wrote this passionate song?
Marcela Bovio - I do get homesick, yes. Especially in the winter, which is way longer and colder here in Holland! I still have to get used to the long, winter nights; when I haven't seen the sun shine for a couple of weeks I really wish I was in Mexico... But it's getting better, of course; Holland is fantastic, I really like it here. And thanks to the effects of global warming the summers are getting quite warm, something I also appreciate ha, ha.
SoT 'Collide' really does capture the feeling of the live sound, even though I've not been fortunate enough to see the band live yet. I've watched the videos. What is it like to finally get on stage and fire this music through amps and speakers?
Marcela Bovio - Oh, it's fantastic. Before we started recording we got together and rehearsed all the songs for a couple of months, to make sure that by the time we got into the studio the live band feel would be there. But then the wait between recording the songs and finally being able to perform for a live audience gets even more difficult; so it's truly delightful to be able to play these new songs live, we really enjoy it!
SoT I remember reading 'The Scarlet Letter' in high school. Tell those who have not read it yet how it relates to the track, 'The Scarlet Mark' and remind us how important it is for everyone to consider the implications of their actions.
Marcela Bovio - I wrote the lyrics of this track not only inspired by the book, but also by the countless situations where people (and particularly) women are judged and condemned in horrific ways for following their passions. So while I understand the importance of moral values and have nothing but respect for people who follow their beliefs, it still amazes and saddens me to know that to this day women are being humiliated, tortured and even murdered at even the slightest doubt of being unfaithful/adulterous.
SoT As a fan of Tori Amos I'm sure you'd like to cover one of her songs. The song 'Spark', follows the title, but sets its own course with original music and lyrics. It would be cool to hear your interpretation of Muse's 'Exogenesis', 'United States of Eurasia' or 'I Belong to You'. I remember you saying you were a fan of theirs.
Marcela Bovio - I do love Tori! And I certainly love "Spark", but our "Spark" is actually a new song. A ballad with piano and bandoneon, inspired on platonic love. But I would certainly love to cover one of her songs; I've sung "Hey Jupiter" live in Mexico City a few years ago in a show I did with some friends, it's such a lovely and intense song! Muse is still on my list as well! We have some fun on our sound checks and rehearsals with a couple of old Muse tracks; who knows, maybe one day we'll actually record them =)
SoT Ok, what is "Our Cause", for the band Stream of Passion? How about Marcela Bovio personally?
Marcela Bovio - Our cause, my cause, is to be able to find our voice as artists. To be able to hold on to it and share our emotions with the world.
SoT Are we all heading towards 'Darker Days', or will the world save itself in time?
Marcela Bovio - I hope so! But then again I'm too much of a dreamer...
SoT Dealing with the same concept, what is 'Broken' in the world and needs fixing, from your perspective?
Marcela Bovio - Boy, that's a very complicated question... But for the sake of simplicity, I think we can start fixing a lot of things by being less selfish and keep in mind the well-being of those around us a bit more.
SoT Tell us more about the inspiration you had from Daniel Kahneman's speech on the 'Riddle of Experience', for the song 'This Moment'.
Marcela Bovio - I loved that speech. As someone who constantly lives in the past or longing for something in the future it made me think a lot about how I evaluate my own level of happiness; it drove me to think about living in the moment and enjoying it more. Although I barely manage to keep my head in the current moment I wrote this song trying to convince myself to do some from time to time.
SoT With 'Closer', on the 'track by track' discussion you posted on your website, you discuss Van Gogh's struggle to have his work recognized. You guys are big stars in Europe. Is there an area of the world where your music has not been recognized enough and that you would like to reach?
Marcela Bovio - We would definitely like to do a tour through America, both North and South. We get a lot of beautiful messages from fans over there through the Internet; it would be great to be able to pay a visit!
SoT Let's follow that one up with the obvious question. Tell us about your tour plans. Any chance of a US tour this year or next?
Marcela Bovio - We have no plans yet, but I sure hope we get the chance!
SoT With the 'The Mirror', you wrote a song about one of your favorite stories. Tell those who haven't heard why Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' is such an inspirational/instructional story for all.
Marcela Bovio - I love "The Picture of Dorian Gray". To this day I can remember feeling those shivers down my spine as I read the description on how Dorian slowly realizes his evil doings are being reflected on his portrait... I wanted to write a song about it for a while now, and the music of this track just brought it out of me with those wicked chromatic melodies. It's just a great story, it really makes you rethink the way you feel about art and beauty, what their true meaning are and how much value we put in them.
SoT The ballad, 'Nadie lo Ve' brings your Spanish lyrics to the forefront again. You also have sprinkled more Spanish lyrics throughout the album. Thank you from all of your fans for bringing Spanish back into the Stream of Passion. This song is deeply personal and emotional. In the past you have said you choose the language which expresses the most passion in your lyrics. Is that what inspired you with this and the other tracks?
Marcela Bovio - Yes, there are things that for my feeling I can only say in Spanish if I want to bring them out properly. But I basically just let the song guide me into choosing the right language for the lyrics. In comparison with "The Flame Within", this time I had many more moments when I really felt the need to write in Spanish; I guess also as a way to stay close to my old home somehow.
SoT 'The World is Ours' captures some of the power, emotion, and passion of the act of revolution being felt during the 'Arab Spring' which we have all been experiencing on TV. Have you ever been close to the action for a huge moment of change during your lifetime?
Marcela Bovio - No, I feel very blessed as I have never gone through such things or experienced them up close and personal. The closest I've been to a feeling of revolution is the feeling I think is currently rising in the minds of the people in Mexico: a change is needed, otherwise the whole country will continue plummeting down.
SoT In the 'The Hunt' synopsis you wrote on the 'track by track' summary you mention the Bond theme feeling going on. Did you draw any inspiration from Rush's famous song 'Witch Hunt' as well?
Marcela Bovio - Not really. I drew most of my inspiration on texts about scapegoating, and how it seems rather easy for us humans to blame a group of people for all our problems; to put all that is wrong and evil on someone else, so we don't have to see it in ourselves.
SoT This album is so new it's difficult to ask, what's next, but ok, there, I did it anyway.
Marcela Bovio - Right now we're just really looking forward to getting back on stage. We have some dates in Holland and Belgium and hopefully we can start planning some tours soon. We can't wait!
SoT Is there anything else you would like to discuss that I did not cover?
Marcela Bovio - I think we've covered everything!
SoT Ok, before we go, just one of your favorite jokes
but not in Spanish, ok?
Marcela Bovio - Ha! Ok but it's really lame! Though it makes me laugh every time (laughs)
It's green and it's sliding down the mountain.... a skiwi!
SoT- (laughs) Thank you again for your willingness to answer these interview questions. I enjoyed the last interview we did and thank you for the opportunity to chat again. Keep up the great work and rock 'em hard!
Marcela Bovio - Thank you, Mark!
(Click here to read our review of Darker Days)