From Light Rose The Angels
FLRTA's debut EP is six songs of gooey goodness. One song in particular, "The Grey Returns" has hijacked my ears for quite a while now and I'm still waiting to get them back. The band, Janne Tamminen (guitars/keyboards as well as group founder), Andrew Faust (guitar/vocals), Arno Nurmisto (bass) and Justin Lee Dixon (drums) have all the trappings of a Nightwish or a Within Temptation except the keyboards are less obtrusive.
The band is moving quickly, having only just put out the EP and is starting to hit the road (more on that at the end of the interview). It was a pleasure to speak with VK Lynne recently to talk her involvement with this band, following her stint as vocalist for a critically-lauded record last year with stOrk. The bubbly singer was tangibly excited about FLRTA and ready to bring it to audiences across the country.
antiMusic: I guess the obvious first question is, can you please bring us up to speed on the formation of this band, I guess maybe starting from your stepping away from the stOrk situation?
VK: Umm well that was something that needed to happen after Shane passed away. It was not the same. I honestly can't imagine there being a stOrk after everything that happened, after Shane was gone and I'd left and everything. There was really only one person left (laughs). To me that's not really a band anymore.
You know it was an interesting period in time in that we kind of had lightning in a bottle there for a minute. The four of us together was a unique conglomeration of people. And I think we made a really, really good record and I'm really proud of that record. But you know things happen; the bassist joined Buckcherry which is awesome and he's out there on the road with them right now. Shane unfortunately passed away. And then I moved on. To me that's the end of the line. Like I said, it was a moment in time and I think we got a great record out of it. But it's a moment that's passed.
Once it did I decided to focus on what I had kept as a sort of a side project up to that point. And it was the record with From Light Rose the Angels. And I decided it was time for it not to be a side project anymore. It was time to be a heart project, (laughs), a "right in the centre" project. So what happened there, I had been working with Janne, he's a Finn living in Los Angeles. And he had contacted me a few months before about working on this project and I thought, well, you know, this will just be fun. But the songs started coming together in such a way that it was, wow, this is more than just fun. This is really coming together pretty nicely.
Once I did have the time to devote to it wholeheartedly, it was time to do so. So we found Arno who is our bassist and he is another Finn, because why not? Bring in all the Finns. (laughs) And we had already brought in Andy, he's our guitar player. And Andy's just great energy. He's male vocals and he's lead guitar and, it's like...you know those videos you see on Facebook of the happy little goat that's hopping around? That's Andy. He's our baby goat. (laughs) It's great to have him around. And last but not least, we brought in Justin on the drums and he fit in like he was born with us.
It's a very interesting dynamic in that in just the space of a few months it was like we'd been together for years and years and years. So when something clicks like that you know it's the right thing. We definitely have spent tons of time together, (but) we all like each other. Nobody wants to kill each other which is very rare in any band situation. We hang out, and we write songs and we practice and we are, you know a family, to a large degree. It's kind of what I've always wanted. I've always wanted that family atmosphere in a band and I've never had it. And so I finally do have it now and it's pretty exciting. So that's how From Light Rose the Angels formed.
antiMusic: What was it about Janne that made you think a collaboration would be a good fit for you?
VK: Ha ha. You know, Janne is an interesting character in of himself. He's Finnish, so if you know many Finns, they're not people of many words. On top of that, I think Janne is of fewer words than most Finns. He's a man who thinks a lot of thoughts, but he's not going to say them out loud. So on first glance you would think that we wouldn't get along because I'm very vocal---because I'm a vocalist, that makes sense----but actually it works out. It works out beautifully.
When he sent me the track that he'd been working on, he said, "I know you don't have time to do this because everyone knows you don't have time (laughs), but if there's a singer you know that would be interested in this, let me know." I listened to the track and I said, you know, "I'll take this." And he said "Really?" And I said, "Yeah." And my husband was looking at me and going, "What are you saying? You can't say yes to one more thing!" Oh, I can always say yes to one more thing. (laughs)
It was the kind of music that I love. I'm a huge, huge Nightwish fan. I love me some Nightwish. Not only did Janne come from Finland but he had that Nightwish sensibility. And so this is the kind of symphonic metal that I had been jonesing to make since Vita Nova so I was like, "AHHHHH, I can't say no to this." It was like turning down a bag of gummy bears. You can't really do THAT! (laughs) So I was, alright, we're in.
And you know, if for even a minute it had gone vaguely wrong, I probably would have bailed because I was so busy at the time, but everything fell together in such a divine intervention kind of way. There was just absolutely no reason to walk away. There was no reason to put it on hold. There was no reason to put it on the back burner because it just made sense. And sometimes it's that thing where we try to make things too complicated. If something is really, really hard to push along, if you feel like you're banging your head against a brick wall, sometimes there's a reason for that. If it's THAT hard to get it going, then maybe it shouldn't go.
And this was so easy to get going, it seemed like wow, there are forces at work that are bigger than we are because we should not have an EP done and going on tour already. Like, we should still be writing but it just came together. So we're really exciting and we're working our butts off. Now, to that end, we ARE working our butts off. All of us have really decided we're going to dive into this full steam ahead. Everyone has sacrificed for this. I quit my job. The lead guitar player signed his house over to his parents, we all have dove in 100 per cent so that we can give everything we have to this band and really just go for broke. So that's what we're doing. We're going for broke.
antiMusic: Where did the name come from?
VK: It came from Janne actually. We were talking one night back and forth on Facebook, what should we call the band. I had all these silly idea (laughs) because I can get silly. And I was like, I found the Finnish word for pink, and I thought we should use that. Then out of nowhere, Janne goes: From Light Rose the Angels. And I said, That is SO long...so ostentatious. I LOVE it. So we decided, lets do it.
I said this before, everything we did was basically stuff we wanted to do. we were like, you know what? We WANT to do this. We like the name, we're going to do that. Doesn't matter if it's what we SHOULD do, or what we shouldn't do, that's what we're going to do. We decided so many times that people go into a project, go into a band with a formula in mind, thinking, okay, we want to make this kind of music, we want to market it this way and so we're going to follow all these rules. We kind of just decided, screw that. We're going to make music that we like; we're going to make it the way we like and we're just going to hope that people enjoy it and they want to buy it. And it's seems to be that that's the case. People have really connected with "The Grey Returns". People have really connected to where we're going. And I mean technically this doesn't make any sense. We're making symphonic metal with a blues singer. (laughs) We've got the guys in mostly white outfits in pictures and Andy in a pink boa. It shouldn't make sense and yet somehow it does. And so I think that's pretty nifty.
antiMusic: Did Janne have most of the songs written prior to working with you or did it really only come to life when he wrote for your voice?
VK: Well that's the thing. I wrote all the melody and lyrics so he had all the symphonic elements at work, he had all that done. He all the symphonies written. He had all the plans for all the bridges, and chorus and where all that would go and he gave me the backing charts and what not and said, to his credit...I love this about Janne, he said, "Here, do whatever you want to do." (laughs) I said, "Outstanding". And so I took them, and I kind of did whatever I wanted to do and he listened and he said, "Hmmm, I didn't think we'd go that way but look, sure, he we go." So we did. It's good because we both respect each other's boundaries and we don't want to step on what the other ones' doing. We are cognisant of the fact that each other has a creative voice and so we just try to add our voice to it not change the other's.
antiMusic: The songs are all crunchy, moreso than some bands that could be called similar who are European. There is more of a rock feel. Was that intentional?
VK: Yes. Yes. We definitely wanted to make it more rock than traditional symphonic metal. Mostly because one, there is something to some of the symphonic metal that's a little bit alienating, that sometimes people feel like they don't understand what's happening. We don't want to alienate people because my lyrics are very "Come here! Let me give you a big hug!" (laughs) We wanted people to feel warm and welcomed. And also I have a rock voice. I mean there's no getting around it. I am not an operatic singer. I am not the traditional, conventional metal vocalist. I've got a rock voice. I've got a blues bone. So we wanted to make sure that we gave credence to all of these things. So we did.
antiMusic: There's a great sense of dynamics with all of the songs. Things thunder a long and then pull back like sunshine coming through the clouds. Did the songs undergo very much of a metamorphosis before you figured out what worked best? Cuz it sounds to me like there is such a strong melodic skeleton that the basic framework was put together first and then possibly several possibilities of things were then decided on, as witnessed by the acoustic version of "The Grey Returns".
VK: Oh right. Well, yes and no. Once Janne and I figured out what we wanted to do with the backing and the vocals, that was pretty much the song. That was the song. The guys filled in…there were a few times especially live Justin gets kind of crazy on the drums (laughs) and what not. But we definitely have an idea of how we wanted them to sound and things didn't change a heck of a lot beyond that.
There were a few things, I know in the studio once we got in there…if you let me I'll do harmony all day long until your head explodes. And so I kind of started saying, "Well what if we added this. What if we added that?" And Janne would always say, 'yes" because he likes harmony as much as I do. So the way that the song changed was in the fact that I started adding harmonies in a way that wasn't traditionally what you hear in this genre. I know when I did the harmonies for "Tear Down the Horizon", Janne said, "This is NOT metal. I love it." (laughs) "We're going to keep it." And I said, okay, great!" because I love it too. I can never have too much. I really love it. And I love singing with other people. That's why Vita Nova happened. So it was really a good process, it really was.
antiMusic: Let's talk a bit about the songs. And please pass on my apologies to all of the other songs because they're all great and I'm sure I'm going to give them their due shortly but I can't get past "The Grey Returns". What a magnificent beast this is. Lyrically, speaking, what do you mean by the grey returns?
VK: Ah, see, it's funny. What's always hilarious to me is I'll write lyrics, I'll write my little stories and poems and I'll say to my husband, "Is this too obvious? Am I hammering people over the head with this?" and he'll say "You're the only one who thinks that. Nobody else has any idea what you're talking about." So, I say, "Oh, okay. Great." (laughs) Because I never want to patronize people. I never want to make it so obvious that people say, "Okay thanks, thanks for telling me how to feel about this." I don't like that. And I don't think other people would. So I usually just write from what I'm feeling and then see if people connect with it.
And WOW did people connect with "The Grey Returns". (laughs) I get emails EVERY day about that song. Essentially it's about the bad habit we all have. The bad habits. We all have one. We all have a self-destructive bad habit, whether it's a mindset or it's an actual tangible addiction. We have some bad thing that we do and makes us feel good for a little while but we know it's going to lead to bad things. And we know that. And we still do it over and over and over. And every time we stop doing it, we promise that we'll never do it again. So we can see very clearly the black and the white of things. This is bad and this is good. But then that moment comes when you fall right back into the temptation and at that moment everything goes grey again. And so "The Grey Returns" is about that moment, when you feel the grey return and you're back in that spot and you're right in the thick of it and you know that you've got to get out but the grey returns and there you are.
antiMusic: "Selfish" kind of calls out a rather unsavoury individual. Is this about a real person or just a nice piece of fiction?
VK: No, it really is about a person. Yeah it is. (laughs) And I'll just leave it there. That's definitely about a real person who had me so elaborately furious at the time I wrote that but those lyrics came out. (laughs)
antiMusic: I love the almost kind of a swagger behind "Proud 2B" and your sassy, confident vocal. What are you trying to declare in this song?
VK: That one might be my most obvious one. There was right around the time that "Proud 2B" was written I was getting some flak from people who kinda felt like this band wasn't worth my time. (laughs) Which I don't appreciate people telling me what is and isn't worth my time, that I should be doing something else, that I shouldn't be focusing on something that I was and what not, and I wasn't going to go anywhere anyway. That basically was the attitude, that it was small potatoes and it wasn't going to go anywhere ad I really resented that because, one, that's not why I do things.
I don't do things like plotting some massive world domination strategy. I make art because I make art. If you're in this business to get rich, go do something else. But two, I fully realized that this was a band of people who had not hit yet, all of us are still in the trenches. And that we didn't have a ton of money. We didn't have a ton of cache. We didn't have a ton going for us, other than a ton of passion and some really good music. And I thought, if that's all we had, we had a lot of love between us and a lot of artistic integrity and that's what is From Light Rose the Angels, then we're proud to be that. And so from that point, is where I wrote "Proud 2B". And I threw all my blues around on that. (laughs) I did, oh, yeah, it's all coming. Yeah, all the blues, all the blues, we're throwing it all in. I love to sing that song. It's my favourite song to sing on stage.
antiMusic: "Blood Roses" is simply a beautiful song. Was it important to have a song like this in the set to give a real balance and is it safe to say that this is more of an old-school VK song coming through?
VK: Well you know that's funny. I didn't set out with either of those things in mind. Actually what happened, it was one of those positions where somebody, oh god…(laughs), you never want to ever reveal too much but, lets just say over the years there are times, and I'm sure everyone's been in that situation where you have a friend who develops feelings...and (laughs)…and you're like, oh...oh that's so sweet. And so I went from that place of that person and tried to write a song that was sympathetic to that but at the same time almost a warning tale of yeah, this is not a way that you want to go down.
And you know I added a little poetic license to it and what not but I didn't really think to myself, okay I'm writing a ballad right here or oh, this is kinda a VK song. I just wrote what I was feeling at the time and then I just started singing. And my husband really likes the pre-chorus. That's what does it for him. He's like, "Oh I love that melody". And it's funny as soon as I sang it in my little room where I do my writing...as soon as I heard it come out of my mouth, I thought, "Oh I like that. I really like this melody." So I recorded it right away. As soon as Janne heard it, he was, "Oh yeah, okay. This is the song." So he loves it. Its funny, people really seem to like "Blood Roses" and again, it connects with them in some way so that's "Blood Roses".
antiMusic: So you going on tour with your friend Mary Zimmer from White Empress. I think that's a real good pairing since you have some kind of distant symmetry with them but are different enough not to be clones with each other. Their music is a bit more aggressive than yours. What do you expect the reaction will be your to your band?
VK: Well here's the thing; it's not a bit, it's polar opposites. We've had a friend say it's like a Heaven and Hell tour. And that's okay, because Mary and I have been friends for a long time now. That's my girl. We talked about it when we were both in different bands about hey, doing this and that. And I've changed. I've been in bands with different genres up to this point and so when we finally both settled in and she was in White Empress and I was in From Light Rose the Angels, it was like well, do we still feel like this could be a tour. And we talked on the phone and it was like, yeah. (laughs)
Because here's the thing, when you go to see a tour, do you necessarily want to see two or three bands that are exactly the same? You don't. It becomes white noise. So you're going to have two vastly different bands on the same ticket and I think people are going to think it's interesting because I will say that metal fans have been some of the most open minded people that I've ever met. They are really down for whatever. It's interesting. The singer songwriter community? Not so much. But the metal community, the people who look like they should be eating your entrails, they love you. It's an interesting dynamic that I think we'll have.
There are mounds of people that we already know that are already fans that are coming out, they're excited to see this. We've got a fan from South Africa who is coming. He's so excited I think he might soil himself before the time comes. (laughs) He's like, "Oh my god seeing you and Mary on the same stage is like going to be amazing." We're pretty excited too.
antiMusic: How many dates are you doing?
VK: So far there's the four Empress - FLRTA dates and then we're booking some dates on the way there and all the way back. It's about 5 thousand miles round trek from LA.
antiMusic: Any plans past this fall tour or are you just taking it one day at a time?
VK: Oh yeah.. I've never looked one day at a time, ever, ever. I'm always planning weeks ahead, months ahead, years ahead. And Janne and I are definitely planning ahead. We want to have a full length From Light Rose the Angels out by May. We definitely want to hit the road a lot more so we want to plan on doing that. I want to get going, I have another solo record written. I just need to record it. I just want to do that. So we got plans.
antiMusic: And what kind of direction or material could you see your solo record going in?
VK: Oh, it's going to be blues.
antiMusic: Oh, really…
VK: Yeah. I've got to tap that vein somewhere. And all the songs I've written are back to blues, back to old school VK Lynne...I'm bleeding, somebody come wipe this up….(laughs). yeah, for sure.
antiMusic: I was going to say, I was listening to Black Halo the other night, it just seems like with FLRTA, it's not like you're singing really any differently because like you say it's not like a symphonic band but the material itself seems to have gone quite a distance from back then. But there's still a thread of your earlier singing. Back then could you see yourself going in any kind of direction like this? You said you never look only at one day at a time but we're you looking THAT far ahead at the time?
VK: Back in Black Halo days, I was not thinking metal that's for sure. I had always had a metal bone, that I liked metal and I liked to listen to metal but I never thought that I could actually do metal in those days. In those days I kind of thought I was going to be Melissa Etheridge and that was my plan. I was going to be Melissa Etheridge and I was going to take me and my guitar and we were going to do that thing.
But by the end of when I wrote "Sunday", I knew I was leaning towards metal and symphonic metal. I had discovered Nightwish and Nightwish had changed my whole dang life. And "Sunday" was written with a lot of Nightwish influences in mind. So by then I knew I was leaning there and so after that was over and I had put out Whiskey or Water, I had played with it, promoted it and did everything that was to be done with it, the next thing I wrote was Vita Nova. So then Vita Nova was all symphonic metal and I was just pouring all of that out.
I think if you're an artist, you do evolve and if you don't you're stagnating. And maybe not. It's so hard to say because I don't ever want to say that another artist is quote unquote doing it wrong because everyone's doing it their own way. But I know for me, I don't like to sit in one spot for very long. I like to try new things. I like being adventurous. I like to see what there is to see. I like lots of different types of music.
My iTunes is probably the most terrifying place in the world because I have music from every genre under the sun and at any given time of the day you could hear me singing Queensryche or you can hear me singing Miranda Lambert. So it's that sort of thing. (laugh) I had a friend years ago who said to me years ago she didn't listen to this other type of music because he said he felt like that would "muddy the waters". And being the shy little thing that I am, I told him that that was the stupidest thing I had ever heard because how in the world do you expect to make any unique music if you're only ever listening to one thing. That doesn't make sense to me. But then again, he does thing his way, I do things mine. (laughs) I can't promise you that down the line you won't hear something completely radically different from what you're hearing now. I try to keep my options open.
antiMusic: Well I wish you all the best with the record and tour and if people didn't know it before after hearing this record...you can SANG sista!
VK: Ah, thank you so much. (laughs) Well you know, it's what I love to do more than anything in the world. I think everyone should sing. It's good for your soul.
FLRTA is beginning its tour history with some dates supporting White Empress, the new band created by Paul Allender, former guitarist for Cradle of Filth. FLRTA is currently holding an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the tour. You can support the band by contributing here.
Morley and antiMusic thanks VK for taking the time to speak with us.
Preview and purchase the EP here.
Visit the official homepage here