In December 2014 Nemetona spoke with Elvya about her music and inspiration. This interview first appeared in Wyldspirit Issue 4 (December edition of the Wyldwood Radio e-zine).
Nemetona: You recently released your first single, Ann’Vatu. How has the reception been from that?
Elvya: We recorded the single mainly to let the public get in touch with my music. Since it’s the first officially recorded Elvya track, people didn’t really have an idea yet of how the sound and feel is. Now they do, and me and the whole team will make sure the cd is as epic (maybe even more, who knows? 😉 ) as Ann’Vatu has become.
The reactions for the single were overwhelmingly good, and it seems everyone that heard it enjoyed it. That is, of course, very pleasing, because the whole Elvya team has put such effort and a lot of money and dedication in the creation of the first song. But we also feel that it’s going to be big. That’s the goal after all, touching the people in their hearts with the music we make.
Nemetona: We are looking forward to hearing more from you in Spring 2015 when your album is due for release. Can you tell us more about the ideas and inspiration that’s gone into the production?
Elvya: The main idea for the album is to tell a musical story of my past life. Over the years I have recorded over 500 songs and ‘sketches’ of music that I encountered in my dreams (yes, I do dream a lot of the music I make. Sometimes, when I’m lucky enough to remember them when I wake up in the middle of the night, and start up my recording software, the most beautiful things come out! J Poor neighbors of mine….)
Not all of the songs are about my own personal life, but a lot of them are. The songs are sometimes a way of writing my journal. A way of dealing with emotions, good ones and bad ones. Sometimes it’s very hard to let them listen or read the lyrics by someone else because of that reason. Especially when I haven’t emotionally digested them yet. It’s a way to crawl into my soul, and that is also a very good thing to put into your music, I think. Emotion. The cd will be about my emotions, most of all my emotions about nature, how it is my life, and how hard I find it to see people destroying it.
I do not have the money to buy all the forests out there, but I DO have the voice to change the way people see nature, and maybe, even if it is only one person, make them reclaim their true connection with it again.
Nemetona: When did you begin playing music and singing?
Elvya: I started when I was very young. The first thing that I can remember is me and my dad playing on his organ. This was when I was about two years old. Later on the organ moved to my room and it was the inspiration for many songs to come. My whole family is musical. My dad for example plays in a Celtic band for as long as I can remember.
I guess you could say that it isn’t that big of a coincidence then that I also started making Celtic and folky music from a very early age on. I just grew up with it.
My parents also made me go to music school, which I didn’t really like. It felt like it was not pure, and I did not really get the notes and the theory. Later on I also wrote music from the heart, and not from the head. I don’t really read notes anymore, but not a lot of folkies do, so it’s not a real problem in my genre. I do have a great hearing though, and improvising is my strongest point.
Singing started as early as my parents brought me in contact with music, but I never really had any singing lessons.
Nemetona: What drew you to the hammered dulcimer? Did you play any other instruments before that?
Elvya: Some years ago, I think it is about 6 years ago from now, I was watching some youtube video’s to find new music, when I stumbled across this lady who played a very weird and awesome looking and sounding instrument. She played… you will never guess it…. The Hammered Dulcimer!! Her name is Dizzi Dulcimer, and from the moment I saw this video, I ran of to my parents, who were sitting in the room next to me, and showed them the video. Right after that I begged them if I could order it right away, without really knowing anything more of the instrument, and crazy enough… they said yes! Apparently they had the same gut feeling about it as I did, so we purchased it right away, the same day. And yeah, a few days later, this big Fed-ex box arrived at my front door. There she was, my very own Hammered Dulcimer. What a feeling that was! So I started to teach it to myself, since there weren’t any teachers around that played it. A few months later the Dulcimer became my trademark, and people started asking me to play the instrument on their cd’s or live. It was the beginning of my new life.
I did play the guitar before that, and a bit of piano (and organ 😉 ) but not much. The Dulcimer really is my thing.
Nemetona: Who, or what, inspires you musically?
Elvya: I’ve been inspired by a number of things for my music. The biggest inspiration is, of course, nature. Nature is my home, it’s where I belong, and it is my dream to be able to live in a little hobbit house in a forest, miles away from the nearest city, with a bunch of cats, other animals and who knows a future husband.
Other things that inspire me are things I encounter on the street, movies I watch or things that have happened. You can say things that have an emotional impact on me in general, and since I am an incredibly emotional person there is a LOT to make songs about!
The last main inspiration in my music are my dreams, which I’ve told you about earlier. Sometimes I am in this beautiful forest, and there is this magical song…. It’s like in a movie, really. If it were a movie, I’m sure people would watch it. But sometimes it happens that I realise that I’m dreaming, and I can almost ‘catch’ the music in my head when I wake up. It usually stays there for a few minutes, just about right to ‘sketch’ it on my computer or record it while humming. Sometimes the music already has lyrics, so basically the only thing I have to do is to write it down so it can be worked out. J Fun fact: Ann’Vatu was also created in a dream.
Nemetona: You’ve been recording in the Orchus studio for the upcoming album. How did you find the experience of recording?
Elvya: Working with Fieke van den Hurk has already been an amazing experience. She does such great work! I’ve known her for a very long time already, but not on the same level as I do now. We really became good friends, and with her on my side, I’m sure the cd will be absolutely mesmerising! It’s like she can crawl into my head and feel what I feel, drag the music out of me, but then with the technical knowledge I don’t yet have. She’s the best producer I have worked with in a while. Having Fieke as a producer in combination with all the amazing, experienced musicians and the people who are putting their time, money, skills and effort in the project, it cannot become anything less than epic. I’d like to thank everyone who is helping Elvya getting big, whether it is promoting, recording, making music, supporting financially or anything else. Without you it wouldn’t be near as big as it is getting now!
Nemetona: You’ve guested on Leaves’ Eyes song Nightshade, as well as performing on the Eurosong Contest. Has this helped your experiences in the studio and on stage?
Elvya: All the chances I’ve had gave me the opportunity to evolve into the person I am now. The first person who gave me the chance to prove myself was my music dad Arjen Lucassen, the mastermind behind lots of big projects like Ayreon, Star One, Lost in the new Real, Guilt Machine and many, many others. He discovered me and asked me to play on his solo project called ‘Lost in the New Real’ with my Dulcimer and voice. At the time we got in touch, the cd was already almost finished, but after hearing the Dulcimer, he changed his mind, and we recorded a bonus track for the cd. It was a cover of the Led Zeppelin song ‘Battle of Evermore’.
Since that moment I’ve played with a lot of big bands and got to know so many great people which were my idols for many years. To call them friends now is still weird sometimes, but oh so amazing!
After projects like Lost in the New real and working with Leaves Eyes I tried something else indeed. It was Eurosong. At first I was reluctant to participate in something as big as Eurosong, but my friends convinced me to send an audition video anyway. To my surprise it got selected round after round, and in the end… I ended up on television! There I stood, this little, barefoot Elven girl with the unknown Hammerd Dulcimer, on one of the biggest stages of Belgium, ready for television! Sadly the judges thought it was too unknown to send to Eurovision, but they all said they really liked it. This also gave me a lot of exposure, and some new connections in the big jungle that is still a bit new to me called the music business.
Of course this all helped me grow, both in the studio as live. We plan to go live with Elvya once the cd is finished, and the band is fully formed. In the meantime, expect some big names on the cd, and a lot of updates. We are all trying to make the best of it, and as it goes how it is going now, the best doesn’t even describe it! 😉
Nemetona: Our silly question: What is your favourite book?
Elvya: I really like sketching books 😉
You can find out more about Elvya on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Elvyamusic/