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InterviewsWinter In Eden's Vicky Johnson talks to Sea of Tranquility

Posted on Sunday, September 09 2012 @ 01:15:53 CDT by Dean Pedley
Progressive Metal Symphonic rockers Winter In Eden are currently receiving much acclaim for second album Echoes of Betrayal, that Sea of Tranquility described as being a " a real step up in quality and class". Based in the North East of England, WiE formed in 2009 and this was followed by the release of debut album Awakening. With a focus on quality songwriting, muscular riffs, sharp arrangements and the soaring vocals of Vicky Johnson, there is much here that will appeal to Sea of Tranquility readers. Staff writer Dean Pedley interviewed Vicky to find out more...

Hi Vicky and welcome to Sea of Tranquillity; can you tell us a little about the history of Winter In Eden as an introduction for our readers?

"Hi there! Winter In Eden was born around the beginning of 2009, out of the ashes of a previous prog. original/covers band, in the North East of the UK. We then wrote 3 tracks and released an EP called "At The Edge Of The World", before we started to gig; in the Summer of 2009. We have since released two albums, "Awakening" and "Echoes of Betrayal", the second of which was released just earlier this year."

The new album, "Echoes of Betrayal", is getting some great reviews; have you been pleased with the response so far?

"It's interesting how people have responded to the new album and it's always lovely to receive positive reviews. But it's also important not to take too much notice of reviews positive or otherwise, because they are usually expressing a personal opinion, which the next review could completely contradict."

"The Awakening" saga concludes on this album with the final three chapters. Can you give us some insight into the story and the background behind it?

""The Awakening" is about a woman who has been abused in the past and who finds it difficult to deal with the psychological scars that the abuse has left behind. At the end of Chapter 1 she learns to escape to a daydream, which starts to help her move back into reality; she meets someone new and wants to start a relationship with them. Chapter 2 describes how she finds a new love. How she feels he understands without having to say a word and the hope for the future. Chapter 3 jumps forward as something has happened which is the fault of the woman and she regrets her actions deeply. She wants to resolve the situation but her hands are tied. Chapter 4 describes her complete desperation and how she hates herself so much for what has happened. She feels there is no way out other than to commit suicide. Chapter 5 is a sombre but hopeful contemplation after her death."

Presumably you will look to incorporate the entire song cycle into the live set as a continuous piece?

"I would love to but there are so many stops and starts that it would have to be the right gig. At the moment we are playing some of the songs but not necessarily in the right order just so that the songs flow better in the set."

What are some of the other themes and concepts that the lyrics have been inspired by this time around…

"Possession" – I had many ideas in mind when writing this, so it fits all of them. They include lust, the music industry and "The Lost Boys" movie, which is one of my favourite films. In essence it is about succumbing to temptation!" "Lies" – I guess this is self-explanatory. Really, it is not just about someone telling lies but how clever they are in doing it. I don't profess to be a Shakespeare expert, but I remember learning "Othello" at school, and the character of Iago really intriguing me; the guy who you think is your best friend but is really planting ideas in your head that grow until you are the one that reacts irrationally ie, "you light the fireworks and quickly walk away". Also, I had in mind the idea of the boy that cries "Wolf"?!"

"The Secret Room" – It's the last track... I have always loved the idea of having a secret room in a house or secret garden that only you know about and can escape to. It's loosely based around this, but it is really about your dreams and the fact that you can dream about anything and no one can stop you. There are no laws on your dreams and no one knows about them!"

Aside from the aforementioned, there are moments on the album where the bands sound is really evolving, particularly with some of the arrangements; how would say you have developed since the first album?

"Steve has spent so much time developing the orchestration using real samples.... I think this has helped the sound evolve particularly, as well as everyone feeling more comfortable and us not being worried about seeing what develops naturally."

Can you explain a little about the song writing process and how each of you contributes to the end result?

"Generally, someone will bring an idea such as a chord structure, guitar riff, piano motif or tune and we will get together as a band and jam it out until we have an idea of a structure. We will all work on the parts and come up with ideas, but generally people are responsible for their own instruments."

"At this stage, Steve will go away to develop the orchestration, Sam will work out any solos and I will develop the tunes and lyrics. However, sometimes someone will come back with an idea that can completely change the structure, so the songs are never set in stone. We also like to "gig" the songs too, as you generally get a feel from the audience as to what works and what needs tweeking!"

With five band members is there an obvious band-leader or do you have a very democratic process?

"There is no band leader, no. We all have different roles to play in the band and it is very much a democratic "majority rules" situation."

Reviewers name check obvious choices such as Nightwish but which bands and artists have provided some of your musical influences and inspiration?

"For me personally, the list is endless and from one extreme to the other. Growing up, I was very much influenced by 80s rock and pop, like Madonna, Level 42, Roxette, Heart, Spandau Ballet, Billy Joel, and Sting. However, I listen to anything. I love bands like Jamiroquai, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pendulum, Muse, Scorpions, Kamelot and Maroon 5 but also Clannad and real chill out / eastern influenced tunes."

"That's not to say I don't love Nightwish, but I wouldn't say we are trying to be like them. For example, I couldn't see Nightwish ever doing a song like "Lies"."

Artwork remains an important factor in many genres of rock and metal; how involved were you with the artist on "Echoes of Betrayal" and do you think it is effective in conveying what the album is all about?

"We actually had quite a detailed brief as to the type of feel we wanted; with the idea of the masculine and feminine in the band, the lyrics and title of the album. However, we left the rest to the artist and we are over the moon with the results. I think it is perfect in conveying what the album is about."

Female fronted symphonic metal bands traditionally hail from the Scandinavian countries, what are the challenges you face being based in the North East of the UK?

"I think it's a struggle for all bands in the UK doing original material, particularly in this genre. It is very much an underground scene."

As a band that performs its own music as opposed to being a "tribute" act, how does this impact on the number of gigs you can play?

"This has a huge impact. We even joke about becoming a "Winter In Eden" tribute band!"

What would your ambitions be for the band over the next few years, I am guessing that Winter In Eden is not a full time concern – is this something you would like to see happen over time?

"We would love to make it a full time concern. That has always certainly been the aim. In the meantime, we simply want to keep making music, playing as many gigs, to as wide an audience as possible (hopefully including overseas), and progressing as far as we can."

Outside of Winter In Eden what other activities (musical or otherwise!) are the band members involved with?

"For me, outside of work, family and music, I have no time left to do anything else! When I do have time to chill out, apart from getting some sleep, I like to go out for walks, go to the cinema and play badminton!"

Was there anything else you wanted to highlight about the band or the new album?

"That it's available to buy now!"

And finally, a message to your fans….

"As always, a huge thanks for all your support!"

Echoes of Betrayal is available now; for more on Winter In Eden check out www.winterineden.com/

Dean Pedley
September 2012


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