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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

This interview with Roy Khan of Kamelot was done by phone by Alexa Kasparek on February 17th, 2005.

Just coming up with their Seventh studio album, Kamelot's vocalist Roy Khan took some minutes to talk about their latest output, even though he hardly had time due to a tight schedule. Nevertheless he offers us some interesting insights to the world of Goethe's Faust, Kamelot's new masterpiece The Black Halo and also to its predecessor Epica.

Hi, how are you?
Fine, thanx! What about you?

I'm pretty okay… your new album is about to be released next month here in Europe – some days ago I listened to it for the first time and it's great!
Really?! That's fine!

How are the other reactions so far?
Absolutely fantastic, we get highest rankings everywhere. For the first time, I think there are so few things that I feel which could have been better in a way, so I can say this is my best album today, whatever that means coming from one of the writers, as a member of the band!

So you are really proud of it!
Absolutely!

Comparing The Black Halo to Epica – what are the main differences?
I'd say the production is more crisp and heavy, the overall atmosphere is darker, the structure of the album is slightly different compared to how we normally open an album – this album unfolds with a slightly strange mid-tempoish, yet heavy song, thinking of March Of Mephisto, of course, which shows off with one of our most prominent guest artists right on the first track, so it is a bit of an overload in a way, was far as that goes. Maybe some of the songs have a slightly unusual structure, maybe a little bit more progressive even than the previous one, but I feel that we keep the tight, compact, catchy style without a cheesy sound. Well, let's just hope that our fans manage to keep up with this.

The concept of the album is to continue the idea of Goethe's Faust story from Epica: Could you please explain the plot?
The concept of the album is to continue the idea of Goethe's Faust story from Epica: Could you please explain the plot? Yes. If Epica was based on the first part of Faust, I have to say that the second part is even more loosely based on the second part. This one is such a wild mixture of symbols and metaphors, different kinds of religion, mythology and politics before, after and at the time of Goethe that there is not really a very clear red line within the story… There is a reason why this second part of Faust has never been staged, I mean there has never been a theatre play or anything and the reason is that it's extremely hard to set it up as a play. I can't say that we used too much of the story but we used the same techniques as Goethe used in making the two parts. Part one and part two sort of mirror each other and also invert each other like the second part is like an inversion of the first part and for the listener. He who really wants to go deep to analyze will find a lot of similarities between The Black Halo and Epica; little things that are here and there for example double tempo, half tempo, even scores that are just upside down so of course nobody will hear that, but at least that makes the process of making the music a little bit more amusing for me and Tom, you know, hehe… And in the story Ariel, our main character, is still struggling with these forces that live within him; Mephisto for representing the evil; and Helena – now dead – as the good force. And he's still searching and travelling geographically what we tried to portrait musically. Faust is presented as a tragedy in the sense that he never manages to fulfil or accept love in his life, but at least he understands that at the end of his life some of the moves he made were not the best. And in that sense it has a slightly positive touch, too. Well, we've been working on this production now for 7 months and there's just so much to say and I just have to warn you - I just say this because based on the experience the last days were I've been talking and talking and in the end the journalists were just halfway with their questions…

Hehe, no Problem! Did you plan to come up with a second part of this concept when you created Epica?
Yeah, it's been planned out to be a two part concept in the beginning. I mean it all started with me picking up this Faust book and this idea of dividing the concept in two to refer to this Yin Young kind of thinking with black and white and good and evil which is also a very present in our lyrics in general - it has always been a big part in them and it just was the perfect thing to do - to divide it up in two.

What does the Faust story mean to you personally – if I may ask?
The themes that Goethe deals with are universal things that we all can relate to somehow one way or the other. I have to say that the second part of Faust is so complex and so confusing that I'm not even sure that I understand half of it and to think that we could manage to capture everything he wanted to say in this 60minute CD would be pathetic - even with these big universal questions that everybody has to encounter somehow one way or the other in their lives if not all through their lives. I think a lot of people really think about these things all their lives: where do we come from, the universe, eternity, the meaning of live, love and death…

How does the cover artwork fit in the concept?
The cover artwork is the reference to Helena, who died in the first part, and in portraying her lying in the river but with her eyes open as a symbol of being a still visibly alive force and good spirit within Ariel, or main character.

I noticed that your other cover artworks are mainly purple, but this one is the first that is quite red…
Yeah, we have been talking about that, and you know, hehehehe… It was almost like we in a jokey way said: "Do we really dare to leave out the purple totally?" but I'm really happy with everything on this album and it really looks sweet. You probably have the promo version, right? I finally got the digipak limited edition today and it's really really sweet and we're extremely happy with everything – the music, the packaging and obviously also the cover.

Another strange question, but I'm not sure if you're the right person to answer this one: why do you spell Kamelot with a K instead of a C?
Originally that was done both to make it stand out and because I think Tom had this amulet with a K in it which actually the logo is partially based on. Where this amulet was from I don't know but I think that was the case… and of course obviously the K instead of the C makes it more unique as a search word on the internet.

There are famous guest-musicians on The Black Halo and at least one of them is quite unusual for a melodic metal album – how did you get in contact with all of them?
To take Jens first: Jens was part of this Aina project with Sascha Paeth, Miro and Cinzia Rizzo and… I think originally we were talking about a violin solo on March Of Mephisto, because the violin in many cultures is looked upon as the devil's instrument, but then we thought about Jens, who is the probably most virtuoso and famous keyboard player in the genre and a fantastic musician, so we thought maybe we could do a keyboard solo which has a violin sort of approach and he did that task with such brilliance that I'm really happy that we asked him. It's also a cool thing for me that his father, Jan Johansson, had a record out in the beginning of the 70ies that I've been listening to my whole life and it's a really cool point for me that his son now is on this record. Of course his father died before I was born, but my mother had this record and it's been a part of my life. Then there is Simone Simons from Epica: she's playing the part of Margarete on The Haunting, and that started actually with Epica wanting me to do a piece on their album, but I was hesitating because at that time we were in the middle of the preparations for The Black Halo and I didn't want to spend time on anything else right then. But then we came down to Germany and Epica happened to be in the studio when we started our production and we needed a girl to do the part of Margarete so it just was convenient and practical, and Simone as an artist and also her voice fitted perfectly to this character that we wanted to portrait in our story. And then of course there is Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir, and that was a pretty obvious one. We wanted somebody to portrait someone as the true face of evil, the true face of Mephisto and what can be better than the lead singer of the number one black metal act on the planet right now? And the fact that he lives 10 minutes from me in Norway is of course also a point!

One of the songs is sung in Italian – why did you decide to do this and what do the lyrics mean?
The lyrics are based on a little poem that I wrote. The title actually has five parts and it originally was meant to be in English, but it just didn't feel right with this kind of music. We thought that it was asking for a language that was a bit more exotic - if Italian can be considered as being exotic, but at least it's different to English. And we had Cinzia Rizzo who has been working with us before - she is Italian by the way - to translate at least some parts of my poem and we're just extremely happy with how that came out, it sounds very different and the title, just to take that, means "A very silent murder".

You also shot videos for two songs; those are your first clips, right?
Yes, we chose March Of Mephisto and The Haunting and Simone and Shagrath are participating in each their video. Those are the first clips we made with Kamelot and that was a complete blast, really a great experience and we were absolutely happy with the choice of the director, Patrick Ullaeus.

So is there anything left you'd like our readers to know?
A last thing maybe will be that I really hope that… we're a band that always tries to develop and have a certain progress from album to album and I just hope that our fans you know follow us in that development and join us on our musical journey!

So thanx very much for the interview and see you on tour!


Links of interest:

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