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The name of Lucie Roche may be unfamiliar to most of our readers, save those interested in classical music. However what is of interest to us, Doom Metal fans, is her work as female singer on the last My Dying Bride album 'Evinta', released in May 2011.

Interview with My Dying Bride.
The name of Lucie Roche may be unfamiliar to most of our readers, save those interested in classical music. Born in Marseille in 1979, the young singer has sung such different pieces as Haendel's 'Messiah', Pergolese's 'Stabat Mater' and 'Missa Romana', Mozart's 'Requiem', as well as performing Grimgerde in Wagner's 'Die Walküre' and a flower-girl in 'Parsifal', Mercedes in Bizet's 'Carmen', and many more. She has been a guest on such opera houses as those of Marseille, Metz, and Nantes-Angers. She has played with the orchestras of Chamber Music of Toulouse and Toulon. However what is of interest to us today is her work as female singer on the last My Dying Bride album 'Evinta', released in May 2011. We've managed to get in touch and ask her a few questions that will shed a new light on a rather unusual album from the Yorkshire bards.

Hello Lucie. Let's start with the usual presentation.
Hello there. Well, my career as an opera singer has started around six years ago. I am a mezzo-soprano, which is one of the lower, heavier and darker vocal range in opera-singing. Before that, I used to play in a band named Cortege (http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Cortege/16043) during my high-school years. Nowadays, I play mostly in French opera houses, and sometimes elsewhere in Europe. I mostly sings operas, then usually oratorios and sacred music (requiems and such).

How did you came in contact with My Dying Bride?
In fact, I originally come from a Metal background. I've been a Metal fan since I was a teen, and My Dying Bride used to be one of my favourite bands during my Metal years. When I started to study classical music, I've stopped to follow what was happening in the Metal scene because I needed to have some basics in classical music. I had to read and listen to a lot of different things so to have a 'classical music culture', so to speak. Many years later, I've dusted off some of my old CDs and I've started to rediscover some of the bands I used to like, most notably My Dying Bride. I was a bit surprised because it was one of the rare bands that I did find enjoyable and listenable after having been through a classical education. So I've started to listen to their more recent works also, and I was pleased with everything they had released and I became a fan again. Two years ago, I've felt the urge to play some Metal again. But I didn't want to experience again the bad venues, playing in awful conditions when opening for other bands, etc...Well, all the things you can live with when you're 17/18 years old and singing in your first band, but that become hard to live with when you have experienced more professional stuff in the meantime. Not mentioning that my voice has also changed a lot since I was in Cortege, it's not my young girl voice anymore!! So I was kind of 'I want to play Metal again but not in these conditions', and I've decided to simply contact My Dying Bride. I like other Metal bands, but an opera singer wouldn't necessaraly have been good on their music as I thought it would be with My Dying Bride. Basically, it was a classic fan mail: 'Hello, I've been fan for years, I'm a classical singer, if someday you want to do something like this, just let me know'...and I got an answer: 'Well yes, we'll be interested but we have to hear you first. We really would like to work with an opera singer, if it was possible'. So I've sent them a DVD in which there was videos of me performing on stage, and they answered me with a very thankful and gratifying mail, I was very happy and it was like being 15 years old again, and you're a fan and you favourite band write to you, you know hahaha!!

Right, but how did you came to play on 'Evinta' next?
Aaron told me that they had something they had been thinking about for years and would I've been interested to try it? Well, of course I was!! But it took some months to really take shape, as I was touring and them also, but they finally started to talk to me about the concept of 'Evinta'. They sent me some demo versions of the songs, so that I could immerse myself in the mood they were trying to get, and they asked me to try and sing on it, to see how it would sound with my voice on their music. So I've done some very rough recordings using my computer, and I've send it to them. They answered in sending me back ALL the tracks featured on 'Evinta', so I could train myself to sing on it.

You've recorded all your vocal parts in France?
No, no! Only the demos. For the final recording of the album, what you hear when you play it, I've been with them in studio in Manchester. What I've done in France was working with all my parts. This was the first time that My Dying Bride has written something for a female singer, so they've asked me if I could write and propose my own parts to them. But what I've found great with them is that they've left me a lot of freedom, they do that with everyone working with them in fact. So they just told me: 'Write every part you want, we'll do the same on our side, we'll compare both works and see what we can do with it when we'll meet'. I had just to record myself on the demo tracks, so they could get a better idea on how to arrange everything.

So this was a real collaboration, you were not a session musician?
Yes, there was some bit of writing work from me. Actually, I've written most of my parts. It's very different than the opera, when you're given a partition and you must do it exactly like it is written and nothing else. And at first, that was how I thought it would also be for 'Evinta' : Andrew playing some melody on the guitar then telling me: 'Now you go like this'. And it was not. So the first work for me was to listen to all the demo songs, then to go listen to every album released by the band so I could find the original songs and see what was corresponding to what, so as to choose the melodies for my voice. It was a bit difficult at first, yet funny like a paper chase game, because the songs on 'Evinta' are sometimes completely different from the original ones, but for a small melody hidden in the background. But at first, I didn't want to touch to the songs, because I thought it would be somewhat...you know, kinda direspectful to the band. Me, taking their songs to do something else, quite different. So I just took the melodies and wrote some things, some of them were improvised.

OK. Then, there was the recording sessions in Manchester.
Right, but before that there was the whole preparation. As soon as I was in Manchester, Aaron and I have been working on the partition the whole day. I was pretty much tired, so I sung him some parts that he hadn't heard yet, so he could get a first impression. And it happened that it was what he has planned to do all along : him just recitating and me singing. We've realized that a lot of things he had written were corresponding to things I had written myself, and so we started to put all this together. But then, he started to say to me 'So, there I would like you to sing in Latin and there could you sing in French those lyrics I've written in English'. So I had to do also a bit of translation for these parts, because they think that the French language is very beautiful. They're very admirative of the French litterature and arts also. I was a bit nervous about the translation, and Aaron just told me 'you know, you could actually sings to me the recipe for the pasta alla bolognese instead of my lyrics and I wouldn't understand, nor would I mind for I love the musicality of the French language', so it motivated me to do the best translation I could do. And right on the next day, we were entering the studio to record everything.

Were you alone in the studios with just the band members, or were there also the other musicians featured on 'Evinta'?
In fact, there was just Aaron, Jonny Maudling (NB : producer or 'Evinta' and also keyboardist for Bal-Sagoth) and me. All the rest had already been recorded before I came to Manchester.

How did you work your parts in this recording session?
We had the music completed, so we've done a track-by-track recording. I've sung everything I had written and composed, then everything Aaron had written. There was some parts where Aaron was unsure about what I should sing, so we've done a few improvisations also and we've kept some of those parts in the final result. I really enjoyed this freedom that was given to me there; this is something you can’t enjoy too often in classical music, as you're expected to sing your part exactly how it was written in the first place. It's funny, really : I was proposing some things, Aaron was proposing some others... It was like 'you should sing other parts from different and more recent songs there, I've written some new things, wouldn't it sound weird?' and finally Aaron just said: 'We can do what we want : we're artists'. It made me laugh, because in classical music, they say you are an artist : you sing what and how you're told to hahaha!! This is because there's a lot of differences, in term of interpretation, between each type of classical music : you don't sing a French opera the same way you sing a German one, you don't sing Rossini the same way you sing Puccini, and so on...The rules are rather strict, which isn't something that happened to me there. In fact, every part that I had written for 'Evinta' were kept in the final result what I'm very proud of .

How long did you stay in the studio to record your parts?
This was done in a single day, from very early in the morning to rather late in the night. Jonny was also giving some advice, it was very interesting because he has nearly the same background as me (you know, being stuck between Metal and classical music). He's a real 'connoisseur' when it comes to classical music, and therefore he is very demanding and professional.

How would you compare the work you've done on 'Evinta' with what you do when working on classical music?
Well, in classical music you don't have to deal with the writing aspect. You sing something that have been written by someone else, in many case someone who is now dead (albeit it's not always the case, as I sing some contemporary classical music also), and so the most important part is interpretation. When it comes to the vocal work strictly speaking, what I do on 'Evinta' is something that isn't very difficult for me because there's not a lot of vocal technique involved. Which is exactly what the band wanted, in fact. They didn't want something heroic or virtuoso. They wanted something that was moving. For me, the hard part was more the recording sessions. I mean, as an opera singer, I'm accustomed to sing live without using a microphone. And there, I had the microphone that was just inches from my mouth, and so when I first sang, I was doing it the way I am doing it live...which created some kind of problems in term of sound, so I had to 'reduce' my voice, so to speak, for it to be more 'clean' and less spontaneous.

Did your experiences with sacred and Baroque music helped you in any way to step more easily into the very Gothic lyrical and musical universe of My Dying Bride?
In fact, it's more the opposite way. Like I've told you, I knew My Dying Bride before becoming a professional opera singer, and in some way the music of My Dying Bride has 'prepared' my ears, helped me to get accustomed to this very sort of classical music. I have done also some medieval and Baroque chant, but the way I see it My Dying Bride goes far beyond just music. It's a very pictural (I had some discussions about painting also with Aaron) and literary universe, something that draws on a lot of cultural elements from the same period of time.

Is working on ‘Evinta’ brought you a kind of 'recognition' from Metal fans and/or bands? Maybe a band contacting you to work for them, something like that.
Well, mostly fans :) Right now, no band has got in touch with me, but who knows? It was fun to be contacted by fans, with all the new stuff like Facebook, it's kinda easy.

Therefore, is it something you'd like to do again, maybe with another band?
Yes, of course. However I must be first interested in the music of the band. With My Dying Bride, it was easy since I am a fan. But I don't like Metal bands putting opera-like singing just because they need a chick on stage, or because it's a trend. In the late 90's, every single Black Metal band had a girl in their line-up trying to sing, and sometimes it just wasn't good. I've been talking with Aaron, and who knows? Maybe we'll work together again in the future, at least I hope so.

Visit the My Dying Bride bandpage.

Interviewed on 2011-09-09 by Laurent Lignon.
Hate Your Guts Records
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