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"Before going to the whole vegan thing, everybody told me : it's so hard, you're not going to be able to keep up. Actually, for 98% it's so easy."

Interview with Charlotte Wessels (DELAIN)

On that wednesday, Delain was back for a unique concert in France. This time, they were accompanying Sabaton, unfortunately still as a guest. But it wasn't going to stop from appreciating this evening while hoping they would be back to France for a headlining tour. On this occasion, we were able to enjoy half an hour with a very natural and charming Charlotte, true to her internet self, that talked to us about Delain's last album but also about the next one. We also took advantage of this occasion to learn more about her, her studies and her personal convictions.

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Interview done by Sabrina and Guillaume in Paris, the 14th of January 2015, and transcribed by Sabrina.

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Guillaume: A few weeks ago, you mentioned a "writing session" on Facebook. Does this mean you've already started working on a new album? What can you tell us about it?

Charlotte: Yes, we have already started working. The main reason for that is that we don't want to keep people waiting too long for the new record. But we have a lot of touring activity, normally we would wait until the tours are over to start writing but honestly we don't have the time for that anymore. So we really have to fill up every gap between touring with the writing sessions. We have started now, we have many ideas but so far there's not a lot of songs complete yet so you could say we are in the starting blocks for the new record. We have lots of inspiration, lots of ideas but now we have to make them into tracks.

Guillaume: "The Human Contradiction" had very strong themes about politics, society and ecology. Will you keep going in that direction for the next album?

I honestly don't pick a direction for each record, I just write about what occupies my mind at the moment. So I guess I will be writing the lyrics in the second half of 2015, so whatever will occupy my mind at the moment will probably end up in the lyrics. The thing is that when I started writing for Delain I was 17 years old and the things that bothered me back then were more personal. You know, as you get a little bit older, your world gets a little bit bigger. You start worrying more about politics, about the social and ecological world around you. Also with the age, the range of topics for lyrics has expended a bit. So I think there's a very high chance that on the next album, there will be topics like these. Unless I go to somekind of personal emotional roller coaster at the moment and then it will probably be about that! But I hope it will be about the world around me because it would mean that for me everything's fine! (laughs)

Delain in Paris (Bataclan), the 14th of january, 2015

Sabrina: Shortly after the release of the album, you passed your master of arts. It was called "eating the other", dealing with the relationship between humans and non-human animals and how it's treated in contemporary art. It's a very interesting theme you also developed on "the human contradiction" especially in "tell me, mechanist". But since you chose it for your thesis, it must be an important theme for you. Is this something you plan on writing on again in the future?

Listen to Charlotte's answer

Yes and no. Yes because I think it's very important to be empathetic with the world around us and I think animals in general are the border between humans and animals. But the difference is much much smaller than most people seem to think. All capacities that we have, wether it's language or tool use, emotional processes and social range, they are very much present in the animal world. And some of the most important which are pain and suffering are also very present. It's a very important thing to consider: the pain that we inflict on other sentient beings including animals. The reason why i'm not too sure if I am going talk about it much on the next album is that i've been aiming on having a complete vegan diet for a long time but I still cheat every now and then. Some things are very hard to get rid of even if there are plenty of good alternatives. I still cheat with cheese and I feel that I need to be completely clean about it myself before I can write about it too much. Because it would feel like preaching something that you cannot do yourself. But one thing that I must say is that before going to the whole vegan thing, everybody told me "oh it's so hard, you're not gonna be able to keep up". Actually for 98% it's so easy. So if everybody was already doing the 98% it would already be such a different world. So that's why I feel hesitant talking about it too much, because you know I myself am not free of flaws when it comes to that. But I think the consideration for many people for these things are completely absent or it's not absent and it's very much what "tell me, mechanist" is about. Years and years ago there was this philosophical stance that said that human beings were the only ones that could feel pain because they were the only ones that had the godgiven soul. This is a philosophy that's very inspired by religion. They said we are all machines, we all work the same, we all have certain springs in our body that are connected to pain, that are connected to this and that. But when it comes down to it they said, humans are the only ones who suffer from it because we're the only ones with a soul. So you can cut the animals open as much as you want because they don't have a soul, they don't feel it. And if you look at a lot of people's reasons to consume certains things now, they say they don't feel the pain "I can eat fish, fish don't feel pain". Are we going back like a few centuries now? So this is maybe worse than not thinking about it at all. It's thinking about it and make misinformed decisions. So this is really what "tell me mechanist" is about. This philosophy that i'm talking about is called mechanism, this is very cartesian and Descartes was actually the ambassador of that. And at one point, Voltaire, your philosopher, he addressed this philosophy directly. It was really the time when they were trying to find out about human biology. So what they did is that they cut open a lot of animals to see how the vessels worked because they knew that we have the same. Actually the whole song is inspired by this quote by Voltaire who wrote them a letter saying "You open up this dog and you find in him exactly the same springs of feelings as you find within yourself. Tell me mechanist, did nature implented all these springs of feelings in order for him not to feel it?" And I thought this was such a good response to it because why would they have it in order for them not to use it? And I read it and had to put it in my thesis. Actually he didn't say "tell me mechanist" he said "answer me mechanist" but "tell me mechanist" fit the lyrics better. Just casually changing Voltaire! (laughs)

Sabrina: Also since you now have your master of arts, do you plan on "using" it? Would it be compatible with Delain's full agenda to have projects in this domain?

Actually the fact that I put what I wrote my thesis about in a song, that is working in that domain. Because especially with gender studies most people end up being documentary makers or artists. There are lots of people who use that study to do whatever they want in a more informed manner. So I actually feel that I am working in that field. When it comes to art history for which I also have a bachelor's degree, this is very hard. I cannot go and work to a museum and say "i'll be your curator, i'll be gone 6 months a year!" It's just not possible. But when it comes to that gender studies master degree, you take that with you wherever you go, whatever you write, or read, however you speak. I think it's just basically implanted in you, you just can't get rid of it!

The Human Contradiction's cover art (2014)

Guillaume: Since the release of The Human Contradiction, you've been on tour with many bands and artists. Since it's one of the trademarks of Delain to invite guests on your albums, can you already imagine one of them on your next album?

Yes, there were actually a lot of past collaborations that existed because we had toured with people before or because we met them at festivals. So this is something that happens a lot. It's just that we never speak about our guests before we have recorded with them because we like to keep it a surprise. So we cannot say so much about upcoming records! (laughs) The fact is that we work on a scene with so many talented musicians. We could go on and on, we could be on the scene for 20 years and still there would be people that we would want to work with and we haven't yet.

Guillaume: So you already know that there will guests on the next album?

Basically we always aim for having guests. If we don't have any guests, it's because we would have made that decision for some reason. But our default mode is to want some guests on our albums. Because we just want to see what happens when we invite somebody to work with us and see what they make of our music. So for example on April Rain we have Marco and a violonist and I think it's the least guests we've had but it was still something!

Guillaume: On recent shows as a supporting band, you've been only performing two songs from The Human Contradiction. Why is that so?

On supporting tours we make very different decisions about what kind of setlist we play compared to what we do on headlining shows. On headlining gigs, we know most people are coming to see us, they have seen us before, they know our back catalog, they maybe have bought the new record and want to hear songs from it. On support tours like this, there's quite a big contrast between Battle Beast and Sabaton and Delain. And there's a big chance that a lot of people haven't heard a lot about us before. And that's why you do support tours, to introduce new people. So what we do is a combination of tracks that we think work best live rather than giving people the latest songs. We just want to give them a broad collection of songs from all our albums. Because we want to give them an introduction to Delain.

Sabrina: Also, we know that if it was the case, you would probably have already announced it but we have to ask because it would be the perfect show for us! So is there any chance that you will follow Nightwish in Europe at the end of the year after supporting them on their USA tour?

There haven't been word about that yet. But maybe if we have a really good time in the US, they will want to bring us to Europe but so far it's the US tour. But it would be nice of course.

Delain à Paris (Bataclan), le 14 janvier 2015

Guillaume: They should be in France around november, would you be available at that time?

I think at this time we will be very busy recording our album but who knows, we're still planning.

Guillaume: For this tour, it looks like you're beginning to do bigger headlining shows in bigger venues. Have you thought of putting together a live dvd or maybe just a live video clip for one your new songs?

No we've done quite a lot of live videos and people's response is usually "uh, give us a real video". You make the effort of recording really nice live tracks and then you put it together and end up with something kick ass. And then they say "give us a real video", it's not really motivating. A live DVD however, this is something that we haven't done before. Actually on Interlude, we have live tracks but we haven't done a full set. It's something that takes a lot of preparation, it costs a lot of money and I always rather work on new material and releasing it than perform old material, recording it and releasing that. But I know that people really like it so I do think that one day in the future we might have to consider putting together something special and taping it because there is a demand for it. And I know that a lot of people don't get to travel to see us and I want them to be able to see nice shows as well so who knows!

Charlotte singing The Power Of Love for Serious Request

Sabrina:You've recently performed on "The Power Of Love" for Serious Request. Can you tell us more about this concept and the specific charity the money goes to?

Serious Request is a charity initiative from one of the biggest dutch radio stations. They do this every year before Christmas. The DJs go to a glasshouse, they are there all week, they don't eat and they raise money for a good cause. Every year the cause is different. People call to request songs and they say how much money they're going to give to hear the song. So people will say "I give you 20 euros to listen to that song"; And this makes them a lot of money like really millions and millions of euros for good causes every year. This year the topic was "hands off our girls". All the money went for the support and medical and mental care for victims of sexual abuse in conflict territories. So with "The Power Of Love", we basically recorded a new song that people could request and put money for this charity. And people could also download the song and give as much money as they wanted and all they money went to Serious Request. I think we made close to 10000 so it's good!

Guillaume: What are the last book you read, the last record you listened to and the last movie you saw?

The last book I finished reading was "American Psycho". The movie is kinda funny when you think of it but the book is really horrific. It's very very well written but it's really horrible, I think it was even forbidden in some countries. I only knew this after I finished reading it. Some parts are very funny but the major part is very violent. Right after I finished the book, I knew that there was a movie and I said to myself "I cannot imagine how they can make a movie out of this". So I watched it right away and I think they made a good job. There's a lot in the book that you cannot make a movie out of because it's just too horrible but I think that the general atmosphere of the book came out quite well in the movie. The last movie of the movie marathon we've had with a friend last night was "Red State" and it was about religious fanatics killing people in their church with John Goodman solving it as an FBI agent. It was a very strange movie and the ending was very unsatisfactory. But the movie we watched before that was a really good one, I think it was a french movie, I can't remember the name. It was about a girl and there's this psychiatrist that has to help her because she was babysitting and she almost strangled the baby so she needs mental help. It was a really good french movie and it has one of our most famous dutch actresses in it so hehe! (Carice Van Houten who plays Melisandre in Game Of Thrones) But I have to google it to find the name because it was really good movie. It was kind of arthouse / psychological / thriller / horror kind of thing. Red state was weird but this one was really nice! (After some research on Google, Netflix and IMDb, Charlotte found the name of the movie which was "Dorothy Mills") And the last album I listened to was "Kid A" by Radiohead.

Charlotte Wessels during our interview in Paris (Bataclan), the 14th of january, 2015