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|Interviews: ||Factory of Dreams returns with Some Kind of Poetic Destruction|
Posted on Tuesday, April 02 2013 @ 19:24:06 CDT by Pete Pardo
Factory of Dreams is a project uniting multi-instrumentalist Hugo Flores and Jessica Lehto, on vocal harmonies and arrangements. The duo was brought together in 2008, when Hugo was inspired by the voice of Jessica Lehto. When they began working creatively, they found an ease and common purpose in providing a different and innovative mix of music. In 2008, the duo released Poles. It was received well critically, and they followed the success with A Strange Utopia, in 2009. In 2011, they created the lavish masterpiece, Melotronical. Now they are back with their latest creation, Some Kind of Poetic Destruction. Thankfully, they took a break from their busy schedule of creating and promoting their new release to speak with Sea of Tranquility's Mark Johnson.
Welcome Jessica Lehto and Hugo Flores of Factory of Dreams to the Sea of Tranquility. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule promoting your new album 'Some Kind of Poetic Destruction' to take some time out to answer some questions for your fans.
SoT – Tell us from each of your perspectives what inspired you to get together to create music.
Hugo – Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview Mark. Back in 2008, after releasing Project Creation's 'Dawn on Pyther', I went to my studio, sat in front of the keyboards and for a week composed what came to mind, which ended up with some 13 tracks/ideas. These series of songs had quite a different sound from my current Project Creation and in fact that was the intention, to try and compose something different and with a more direct approach than the aforementioned project.
I had the music but no vocals, so, the search for a suitable vocalist began. I wanted a voice that was both operatic and pop/rock and someone that had potential but wasn't yet very known in the music scene; after several hearings, mostly via MySpace at the time and other internet social means, I came across this amazing singer, Jessica, that was a terrific vocalist but also knew how to create her own vocal melodies and how to record at a home studio. We've been working together ever since, and she's just a force of nature and there's hardly anyone as talented as Jessica to be honest, when you see what she can deliver.
As for inspiration, I think my music and Jessica's vocals are the perfect combination. Musically, Jessica's style may be more straight forward than mine and I may give her a hard time with those mad compositions and lyrics I'm sure of it [laughs], but in the end I know the music pushed her to create some incredible harmonies and vocal lines; it's demanding, yes it is, but that's what you gotta do to create something different than the norm, shake things a bit! In the end the result is what is in front of you, and I am just so pleased we can do this together. I can't praise Jessica enough really.
Jessica – Nor can I praise Hugo's work enough; the music is really complex, diverse and has a style of its own. The more you listen to these tracks the more you discover in them, layers of sound that keep popping up, without anything sounding messy, everything fits in so well together and creates a unique sound.
When Hugo first got in touch with me I hadn't heard of his projects, and it was exciting to listen to the first two tracks that he sent. They were not as complex as some of the tracks he sent later, but still not the kind of music I had recorded vocals for up until then. It was quite a challenge, and it still is at times, since many of the tracks have a lot of lyrics to fit in on a rather short time span. Fairly often one section you've recorded lyrics for doesn't appear again in the track and that way you need to constantly invent new things, new melodies, make the vocals come together in a different way than for tracks that stick more to the basic song structures. It's a challenge, it's time consuming and it's fun. Working with Hugo is smooth and easy, and I've learned a lot about my voice since I began this collaboration.
SoT – Before we jump deep into the new album, tell us about some of your past success as independent artists, and projects you may be working on outside of Factory of Dreams.
Hugo – I realized that although the music styles do vary, my different projects, they all connect. I've come to that conclusion with this new album of Factory of Dreams. I tell about sonic pulsars, which was my first project's name and the story is driven by Kyra and a hidden star. Back on 'Out of Place', Sonic Pulsar's last album, we have the 'Solitary Star' theme that elaborates exactly on this star, now found on the new Factory of Dreams' concept story. Kyra. Who's Kyra? You'll hear about her again on the future Project Creation album, the 3rd CD, that is now beginning to be composed and that might close the trilogy. So, this basically covers my other projects, however Sonic Pulsar was put to an end, and replaced, so to speak, by Project Creation.
Jessica – My own project 'Once There Was' is something I work on at home when I have time, which I haven't really had the past years due to an increased amount of vocal work. Busy times at school, film work (I'm a screenwriter), and just life in general that's become busier. A fourth release from 'Once There Was' has been in the works for several years but it seems it's gonna take a while still due to all the mixing that remains. Which is a pity, but there's not much to be done about that.
Apart from this I'm also one of the lead vocalists of Beto Vazquez's Infinity. We released the album 'Beyond Space Without Limits' in late 2012 and at the moment I'm recording vocals for another release by Beto, under a different project name, more will be revealed about that project at a later time.
Then I have some other things going on as well. Vocals for a project where the music is written by a guy who lives in the same city as me, and vocals and some music too for a project with a composer from Belgium. A lot of stuff on the to-do-list and I'm hoping to be able to work through it before summer, but let's see about that.
SoT – Of the three previous albums you have created together, what are the highlights, favorite tracks and interesting stories in the making of those albums?
Hugo: All albums have specific melodies that really touch me. 'Sight of a Better Universe' is something very immersive for me, perhaps due to the kind of sounds used for the main melody, which was a pseudo organic/synth flute that is just mesmerizing. There's something to it that clicks inside me and later, on the next FoD albums, I reused this instrument again.
'A Strange Utopia' has got the 'Sonic Sensations' song, which is also a favorite of mine along with 'Weight of the World'. With 'A Strange Utopia' we closed the Era of a certain genre of sound, and started another; this said, 'Melotronical' is revamped by a new heavier guitar sound, and takes the better of the two previous albums - atmospheres and melodies.
'Melotronical' and 'Some Kind of Poetic Destruction' share a similar sound, because we really wanted to continue with 'Melotronical's' sound approach, even though the new album is definitely more progressive and features a much more focused and easier to get-a-hold-of storyline.
'Melotronical' was much more surreal and open for interpretations. My favorite tracks are 'Protonic Stream' and 'Obsessical' from this one.
By the way, 'Some kind of Poetic Destruction' has got perhaps my favorite track ever of 'Factory of Dreams', which is 'The Neutron Star'.
Jessica: The tracks we've recorded music videos for – 'Weight of the World', 'Sonic Sensations', 'Back to Sleep' and the currently unreleased music video for 'Seashore Dreams' – all hold a special meaning to me. By recording music videos you get a deeper connection to the tracks somehow. 'Sight of a Better Universe' is a special track too, since that was one of the first tracks Hugo sent me for demo vocals recording before we agreed on working together. 'Obsessical' is another nice track, a powerful one which I really enjoyed working on.
SoT– Ok, let's talk about 'Some Kind of Poetic Destruction'. Tell us where the inspiration and idea for Kyra and this epic sci – fi story began, and how it has evolved.
Hugo: I had the urge to make something cinematic, like a novel or film and put it on a record. This was the first basic idea that started the whole thing. What came to mind was this image of a couple running away from a collapsing city that was being destroyed by sound waves, and it was freaky! Then I realized these ideas were coming from several places; first the sonic pulsar stories, then the idea of this character that was gonna lead Earth to its final destiny, where Earth kind of fusioned with another astral entity, a hidden Star. This character [Kyra] could be a representation of this Star's personality on Earth, thus bringing an epic ending in the form of music. The other thing was that when this album was being thought-of, several creepy and strange sounds were being heard all over the world, most probably fabricated, yes, but still had an impact on the making of the album. The Prelude section is best heard with headphones and there are many hidden things there. It still scares me to picture that sequence, when the morning begins and our characters wake up. On the streets the ground shakes, the rumbling starts and the invasion begins.
Finally there was the other dimension to the story, based on my need to exercise the mind and to come up with possible situations and high tech that might exist in the future; such examples on the album is a kind of TV / radio that is felt inside one's mind, thus making the whole experience, for example, in the news, more believable and with increased emotions. Some of these small ideas were already drafted (either for short stories or other albums), so I needed to tight those to this epic journey of Kyra set in a futuristic society.
Another one, the 'Traveling' class, where children are taught how to project their minds and energy towards a specific part in space and perhaps even on another universe (assuming there is a multiverse and/or other dimensions) so to explore a planet, touch another entity, whatever is required.
Finally, on 'Sound War', one of the craziest things I may have though-of. Dark sounds waging war on Bright/good sounds, all happening in the skies. This is clearly taking a few ideas from our debut album Poles, where you always have a good and a bad side; it's obvious that one needs the other, and when the Star's emotions hit the Earth in form of sonic pulsars, it's not all an evil invasion of dark sound waves, but also of good ones. This is open for interpretation; I can't give a clear answer on this particular idea.
SoT – What are the important lessons we can learn from the experience of Kyra and the other characters in the story?
Hugo: The album is a clearly a warning; a warning regarding our behavior towards a planet that is not ours, we're just inhabiting it temporarily, and still we don't have respect for it. The hidden star, is watching us for a long time, and explodes:
Shattered by atrocities(...)
Her angers grows strong(...)'
'(…) A dense jungle of hypocrites
Never stopping to think
About their actions
The World has gone insane'
Besides the criticisms and the warnings, the album also has a bright side to it and shows that there is a purpose in the universe. Everyone is important to the history of everything. It also implies that destruction can be poetic in some ways, like the one depicted in the album. That music connects humans with other entities, either organic or astral or whatever you can imagine. All my albums end with a certain kind of ascension, to a higher level. I want to believe that, but I have no idea if that's how things work, but I really hope that after we leave this life, there'll be bigger things to attend to. I think we all have the answers to these questions, but along the way we chose to forget about them and just live a different kind of life on a planet, namely on Earth.
Returning to the album, and in the end, Kyra, Earth, the Star all join into sound.
SoT – Shawn Gordon plays some incredible keyboards on 'Strange Sounds'. Was it the story or the music that inspired him to work on this project?
Hugo: Shawn has played before on other albums, like 'A Strange Utopia' for example. He's versatile, delivers, and can play either atmospheric or eerie parts, such as the beginning of 'Strange Sounds' that completely sets the mood of the song. He uses a lot of original distorted/fx sounds, and I enjoy that. I asked him if he'd like to play, so, I'm just glad he did and it is great to have him on board. Plus, we talk very often since he runs Progrock Records and we have close collaboration for the releases.
SoT – I am always amazed at how innovative talents like you, Arjen Lucassen, and Beto Vasquez pick and choose which vocalists/instrumentalists you will bring into a project. Raquel Schüler, is a great example. She has a stunning voice and after hearing her on your album, I want to go out and listen to some Hydra very soon. These collaborations are very good for all involved. But how do you choose from the incredible amount of talent available?
Hugo: First I gotta have the whole picture of how the album's gonna be, story-wise and musically. Is it really necessary or will it bring something new or better if guests are invited? If so, we jump to that hypothesis. For example, 'Melotronical' had no guests, but for this new one, and since the scope of the story was just too wide, I felt that on specific songs some different vocals, and instrumentalists, would work out well and provide a wider perspective and sound range; 'Dark Season' is the strongest track, the most aggressive on the album, so, a voice like Magali's was best suited. Magali has been one of my favorite vocalists for quite some time. I simply love her voice, her strength, so it was an honor to count on her for a track.
Been following Hydra's work, they're so damned talented, and there's high quality in what they do. Raquel stands out from the rest of any vocalist, since she has a perfectly clean, shiny rock/pop voice that such a bright track as 'Angel Tears' requires. I listened to several vocalists in her vocal range, and she stands out.
I meticulously pick every vocalist. I hear back and forth many tracks from different singers, some of them I contacted previously so to get a feel also of what they think of my music and particularly of our Factory of Dreams sound. After I hear back from them, hearing their voices again, it's a matter of choosing and moving forward.
I have to say that in the end, these were the best vocalists I could ever have had the privilege to work with on this album.
Another important point, I only work with people who enjoy what they do, show enthusiasm about the project, and musicians that are pleasant to work with. That's mandatory for me and creates such a good mood around the project.
SoT– Mark and Nathan Ashby provide narration throughout the album. Tell us how you met them and why you decided to include them in the project.
Hugo: Mark read an interview I gave to Rocklabel.tv and noticed that, for Factory of Dreams' 4th album, I could go for a cinematic quality to it. So, Mark approach me and asked what I thought about having some narration for the album and I'm just so glad he did, because initially I wasn't thinking of doing narration. I did have some narrated parts, but for the singers to perform, not by actors or professional narrators. The end result is great and contributes just so much for the story. We did it in a way that it contributes and helps the story a whole lot, but we didn't overuse it, so it just blends smoothly with the beginning or ending of selected tracks. This is good for the story and for the flow of each track.
Mark works in audiobook narration and voiceovers, and he also proposed actress/singer Angela Merrithew to play the role of Kyra. They were amazing, and did terrific performances as you can hear ;)
By the way, check Mark's podcast @ progtopia.podomatic.com
SoT – Lyris Hung is an amazing violinist. Which is either of your favorite riffs from her on the album?
Hugo: She's fantastic indeed! 'Seashore Dreams' riff is absolutely stellar. You can feel the power as soon as it starts. What's great is that Lyris can do either very melodic sections with lots of feeling, and then furious and so well played parts like the first 'Seashore Dreams' solo. On 'Neutron Star', the violin sets the mood on that particular part of the track.
Back to 'Seashore Dreams', the version on the album is the extended version that features more violin solos and instrumental passages. There is another version of the track that will be released soon as well, but as a single.
Jessica: Definitely, Lyris performance on 'Seashore Dreams' is splendid and gives the track a big extra something. She does a terrific job also on 'Neutron Star'. Well played violins are such a pleasure to listen to and it's great that she participated on the album.
SoT – Magali Luyten is perfect as the dark vocalist on 'Dark Season'. She has that power and confidence to deliver the message of the track. How did you approach her about singing the song?
Hugo: I contacted her, presented the album and my ideas for this track. She heard our music, liked it and I sent her my demo version of 'Dark Season'. When I was confident this was moving forward, I revamped the track, just so it could get even stronger to match her voice better, and that's basically it. We were thrilled to work on the song.
The first take that she sent me was brilliant, I could just have picked that first take and mix it because it was already excellent. We simply discussed the chorus part mainly after this first take, and Magali proactively proposed and sang different versions of it, (on the first take), so we could pick up the best ones. Our collaboration was so very pleasant, fast, and professional, I'm really impressed by her and hopefully we can work on other projects that may come in the future.
SoT– Chris Brown's slicing electric lead guitar is excellent on this album. Have either of you worked with him in the past?
Hugo: Yes, we worked on other albums with Chris. 'A Strange Utopia' was one of them. The man is just amazing technically and most of all he gets into the mood of each track very well, never does the same thing, which is what an album like this requires.
You know, when you work with someone on previous albums and it all just works out so perfectly, I try to keep up the collaborations.
Also, he's the mastering engineer for most of my albums. If we listen to the raw mixed track and to the final result, the difference is abysmal. Everything stands out greatly. Each soloing by Chris is a highlight, and you always know when he's playing.
SoT – Tell us about how you found Tadashi Goto, and some of the other great artists and performers you have worked with together or apart in the past. What have been some of your best experiences as a musician/producer?
Hugo: Tadashi's solos are crazy. And by that I mean, crazy amazing! Plus, he's on the label, I know him from there. As Shawn Gordon delivers good melodies and atmospheres, Tadashi brings some of the fastest and technically insane synth solos I have ever heard.
'Join us into Sound', for example, has got a fantastic solo by Tadashi, and when the double kick drum hits you in conjunction with the edgy guitars, the synth solo gets in your face with a very distinct and fast sound. Love it! He also collaborates on some previous albums.
SoT – Hugo, you decided to re-mix 'Playing the Universe', for this album. What are some of the new sounds or adaptations you made for this version?
Hugo: 'Playing the Universe' is such a mythical track for me. My only dilemma was to choose between including it as bonus track or to make it as part of the story. I decided to include it as the final track. I was thinking of calling it 'Transcendence', but in the end the best was really to stick with the original title.
This track fits the storyline, and it is the perfect ending along with 'Join us Into Sound'. It will also connect this album to the Sonic Pulsar Era.
As for adaptations, first thing was to have the piano as central melody and instrument, and the guitar, bass and drums to collaborate firmly, sustaining the rhythmical section. This is the main difference from the original song that featured guitar leads; this was done so that this rerecording could match all the other tracks from this new album.
Then, I improved the whole mix, with Jessica singing harmonies and providing an elegant touch to the song.
Finally, I included parts from 'Peaceful Mind', a track that was on my debut album 'Atlantis'. Yes, it's there ;) These sections feature that favorite Flute sound of mine, a cross between synthesized and real flute, used first on 'Sight of a Better Universe' from the album 'Poles' and occasionally appearing on every FoD album.
SoT– Will you take the album live on tour together with some or all of the guest performers this year?
Hugo: It's not planned but we never know; we're planning the release of the new music video that will surprise people after the well-received 'Back to Sleep' video, and we're promoting the album now in the media, so, lots to do, but we'll see..
SoT – Which project will each of you start working on next?
Hugo: Project Creation's 3rd CD is a priority for me now. In parallel I'm listening to demo tracks from 3 different draft projects I had in mind, so to converge the best songs into one project/album. I still don't know if this will be another Factory of Dreams album or something new.
SoT– Jessica, what was it like working with Beto Vasquez on 'Beyond Space Without Limits'?
Jessica: Working with Beto is always a smooth and pleasant process, although this time around I've been swamped with all sorts of hectic stuff which slowed down the vocal work a bit, both for BVI and FoD, but it worked out anyway which was nice. On 'Beyond Space Without Limits' I recorded vocals for the tracks 'Goddess of the Sea' and 'Beyond Space Without Limits', I enjoyed these tracks a lot. I always prefer having freedom when it comes to shaping melodies and harmonies and with Beto, just like with Hugo, I always have that freedom. That makes the recording process even more creative and more fun.
SoT– Are there other performers you would like to include or reach out to for some of your future projects.
Hugo: I wanna stick with the ones I already have connections with, but you'll never know what the future might bring. New musicians, singers can also contact me and let me know they're interested for example. For Project Creation I got a few Portuguese musicians that I'd like to bring to the 3rd album, but I have others in mind that may come up, still it's way too early to know who.
SoT– Since you both favor sci – fi, what is each of your favorite sci – fi movies?
Hugo: Science fiction is the richest of all genres; be it in literature, cinema or music, because it allows you to go beyond the real world, expanding reality to whole new levels, and still keep a down-to-earth approach. So, it can appeal to a lot of people, just depends on how the story is told and the script quality and development.
My favorite movies are the following:
2.2001 - A Space Odyssey
4.Star Trek I and II
9.Lost in Translation
10.God Bless America
11.Star Wars (IV,V,VI)
13. In The Mouth Of Madness
14. Solaris (Original Russian picture)
15. In the Mouth of Madness
16. Enter the Void
There are obviously many others, but these are the ones that mostly come to mind.
Jessica: Sci-fi is nice, although not my absolute favorite genre. I might not even have a favorite film genre when thinking about it, since I like quite a variety of films. From sci-fi movies I really enjoy Terminator 2, Gattaca, Alien, Aliens and Matrix. Other favorite movies are Léon, American History X, Dogville, Magnolia, Spirited Away, Forrest Gump, Black Swan, Stranger than Fiction, Coraline, Kill Bill, Masquerade, Inglourious Basterds, Sixth Sense, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, 127 Hours… well, the list could go on and on.
SoT– Which songs/artists are on your favorite playlists right now?
Hugo: Right now, Devin Townsend, Birthday Massacre, Gloryhammer (wishlist, just listening to the single), Whitesnake – Live In The Still Of The Night, Gamma Ray, Rush.
Jessica: At the moment I listen a lot to Florence and the Machine, Ayreon, Devin Townsend, Lisa Miskovsky, Foo Fighters, In Flames and OMD, and I've got a playlist with music from 28 Days Later and similar film scores that I keep listening to while writing my screenplay 'The Boy in the Wardrobe' that is my final project at school.
SoT – What are your hobbies when you are not making music?
Hugo: Horror movies, and other genre movies that may be somehow original or interesting, and TV shows mostly, I'm just crazy about cinema and I can't spend one day without a movie. I also love astronomy and everything related to that, including researching the more inexplicable phenomena like UFOs and other stuff.
Jessica: Watching movies, writing screenplays, hanging out with my boyfriend and our bunny, writing stories and letters, playing board games and Warhammer, collecting My Little Ponies, reading when I have time and peace enough which hasn't been often lately. Sometimes I draw a bit too, but I'm really bad at that.
SoT: Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us. We at the Sea of Tranquility wish both of you and the Factory of Dreams much success with the launch of 'Some Kind of Poetic Destruction' and all that you do in the future.
Jessica: Thanks for the kind words and the nice interview, it's been a pleasure!
Hugo: Many thanks for the opportunity Mark! We had a great time ;)
To the readers be sure to pick up our brand new album, and visit our official sites:
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