After enlisting the help of Grammy award-winning producer Neil Kernon, (Hall and Oats Queensryche, Nevermore), Minnesota based Aesma Daeva released their fourth album, titled Dawn of the New Athens. World instruments such as the bawu, a Chinese flute-like instrument, are blended with a symphonic rock backdrop bringing a wealth of musical cultures together. I just love their music, and the interview below gives an insight into the band, their past and their hopes for the future.
Firstly, I understand that Aesma Daeva has been around for a while now. I am a little uncertain what stone I have been living under during that time for me not to have caught up with you before. I also understand that there has been many personel changes. Can you give me a little history about the band and tell me more about your singer Lori Lewis?
*I started creating music similar to this in 1996 at that time I lived in a small city called “LaCrosse” which is where I met NCopernicus. He taught me a lot about production and in general we both enjoyed listening to and working on music.
Soon after I moved up to the Minneapolis Area for College. While up there I met Melissa Ferlaak and Rebecca Cords and I asked them to sing some songs I had written.
The first A.D. release was put out in 1999 on Accession Records Germany. Adrian really gave us a good start. The music started to change part way through this record though. In LaCrosse I did not know many musicians so Nick and I focused on creating music with that had more synthesis that acoustic instruments. It turned out great for us, but upon moving to Minneapolis I met a lot of talented musicians. So I soon started to focus on bringing more acoustic instruments into the picture. Also when we were on Accession we were asked to tour Europe and play Wacken (which we were unable to do) . So that really pushed me to start focusing on a live line up.
I suppose you could say 2001 to 2006 was spent sorting out the band. A good bit of time was wasted but you live and learn. After Melissa left I found Lori through a friend of our bass player Chris. It went from their.
I am very curious about the band's name. It has an hypnoptic ring to it. Can you tell me more?
* Aesma Daeva is a member of The Nephalim. When Nick and I found the band name we liked the way it looked and enjoyed the history of the name.
Your 2007 release 'Dawn Of The New Athens' is an awesome album. I call it thinking persons music. Can you explain the history behind the release and the music that features on the record?
* When we asked Neil Kernon to come on board for this release. The decision had been made to make this an album that would have the sound quality of “Major label release” I wanted to have the best material possible so some of our songs were songs that had been released in the past “Hymn to the Sun and Artemis”.
The music on Dawn is probably the first album of Aesma Daeva that did not have a concept that clung all of the songs together instead it is just an album with what we felt were our strongest songs at the time.
Also, do you have any fave tracks on your new record?
* Artemis is my favorite track, I guess it depends on my mood. I really like Loon and Tisza – but I like the symphonic remixes I did of them on “The Thalassa Mixes” more than the originals. Probably because I have listened to the originals more than anyone else.
Can you fill us in as to your past releases prior to this one, as I am sure like myself, visitors to this site will be curious?
* Here Lies One - was our fist release. Introit II is one of my favorite tracks on that one.
* The Eros of Frigid Beauty – a very ambitious album for me. A lot of guest musicians and only 1–2 microphones to record them. This album is one that I am hoping to rework and release with much better production and real drums. The opening trumpet melody in Lysander is a melody a lot of people feel we will go down in history for.
The New Athens Ethos – A very contemplative album. My favorite tracks are “Dawn of the New Athens, and Sirens” The album is currently out of print but I have some samples of it up on our web page.
After this we recorded our last show with Melissa “last rites” and then we met Lori and released “Dawn of the New Athens”
In the beginning of 2008 I started working on “The Thalassa Mixes”. I feel weird indulging in my own music but I love listening to this EP. For Aesma Daeva I feel it has some of the best Symphonic and mystical elements of any prior release. Also it is some of our best production since a lot of it was recorded by Neil Kernon.
Have you or any other members of the band been involved with any other musical projects, that you would care to perhaps let us here at Ravenheart Music know about?
* Lori has been singing with Therion when on tour. I am not sure if she will be on their next album though or not. Just about everyone that I am working with currently has another project they are a part of. However that keeps changing so I am going to say stop by our myspace page where you can click on every ones profile and read about them.
Neil Kernon you already mention. He in my eyes is an awesome guy to have involved in the recording process. Amongst other things (Queensryche etc), he in the late 80's was at the production helm of UK melodic rockers FM's album 'Tough It Out'. FM being one of my fave bands. Bearing in mind that 'Dawn Of The New Athens' has been recorded without label support, was the recording process simple, or did it give you any major headaches of any description?
* I spent about 90% of what I make in a year on that album. So it was a lot of sacrifice, saving and sitting at home rather than going out to a concert, or a movie etc. Otherwise it was all worth it. I just wish I could have looked into the future to see that things would turn out just fine. I was one of the only headaches because I was not going to just sit back and relax about the $ being spent and hope things turn out ok. I wanted to go into the studio with a specific vision of how the album would turn out.
Presumably Neil's help was immense? How did he become involved?
Yes he was very helpful. The main thing I learned from Neil is what details to focus on and what ones to not focus on. I guess the main thing I learned is that “Vibe is everything”
Neil mainly became involved when I asked him if he would be interested. I expected a “No” and got a “Yes”
And talking about my mention of label support in a previous question, do you actually have any label interest?
*yes – but I have been licensing with foreign labels which works out nicely for now.
The female fronted rock/metal scene here in the UK could be stronger although it is ok and is growing. What are your expectations of the rock/metal scene as a whole in Europe and indeed in your homeland, the USA ?
* Hard to say – Some of the really popular Metal bands are really good and the jump metal thing is slowly disappearing. So I am curious to see how some of the new metal bands will influence kids. If it does not get out of hand I think metal can stay strong, otherwise it will have to go back to its roots and figure out what it is all about.
Musically and spiritually who/what are your inspirations?
This changes all of the time currently I have been reading and listening to. Lincoln Hall – )the man who died on Mt Everest and woke up). Ayn Raynd is someone I have a love / hate relationship with but overall I enjoy a lot of what she has to say.
Spiritually – nature, I spent most of my youth living in the country side. As I get older I have started to really enjoy silence
What sort of music do you and your bandmates listen too in your/their spare time?
* This changes all of the time. There is a lot of music out their.
Peteris Vasks, Styx, Cordona, Mike Oldfield, Vangelis, Old Mans Child, - is what I have been listening to lately.
What are your plans for the longer term future for the band either in the USA or in Europe, and would you like to tour over here in Europe ?
* would love to tour Europe . It will happen, just need to keep working towards that goal.
All I can say is good luck in all what you do, and we at Ravenheart wish the band all the very best. Finally is there anything that you would like to say to anybody across the world via this website?
* Please stop by our web site and sign up for the mailing list members of our mailing list get discounts on merchandise and free mp3’s. Also our web site has a lot of other cool things – video’s and audio files for you to remix, Free mp3’s, interviews, etc.
Dave Smith (Nov 29, 2008)