Sorrowful Is the Beauty of Autumn
CoC interviews Autumn Tears
by: Pedro Azevedo
Two talented persons focused on producing high quality dark music: Ted (keyboards, arrangements, vocals) and Erika (vocals, arrangements) are just that, and high quality dark music is what Autumn Tears is all about. _Love Poems for Dying Children_, their debut, showed promise, even though it also presented some faults; their new album, _Love Poems For Dying Children Act II: The Garden of Crystalline Dreams_ is an improvement over the first in every way, and a very impressive work. By releasing the album in the USA through their own label, Dark Symphonies, Ted and Erika managed to control everything about their work, and it shows. You can see just that from the following interview, if you consider the quality of their answers. The following is my conversation with Ted and Erika, Autumn Tears. Their homepage is at http://www.borg.com/~lordxul/tears.htm.

CoC: Please tell us about the _Love Poems for Dying Children_ storyline.

Ted: The story of _Love Poems for Dying Children_ has to do with a character which I created based on some of my earlier poetry and a parallel to my personal stream of thought. She is Autumn, representing, in my opinion, the darkest season. She has slept for centuries and awakens to contemplate her existence and the turmoil which it brings her. She is alone, lost, and grasping any last emotion she can muster to try and help her realize why she is what she is and why it agonizes her so. Act II elaborates more on the continuation of her struggle and her quest for the Garden of Crystalline Dreams, which is where the other characters in the story come into play. The Garden represents a place of sanctum, as well as a realm of judgement. This is where she is forced to choose her fate, being either redemption or damnation.

CoC: Musically speaking, what changed from Act I to Act II?

Erika: The entire style of the music became much more triumphant and complex. We were very conscious the entire time as we wrote the music in regards to how we wanted it to sound in final form, since we now had experience with the studio and what types of settings they could provide us with. Our emphasis was on making the album sound as real as possible, as if we had hired an orchestra, and to stay away from some of those very annoying and fake sounding synth settings. Also, there was a lot more emotion in the vocals, which had a lot to do with our portrayal of the story that Ted had written. The album is, overall, more rounded and finished than the first. There was a lot more focus on the final result, which was not present when we created the first album. This time, we knew exactly where we wanted to go with the music and the package, and we made sure we met our goals and were completely happy with everything before we were done.

CoC: Could you describe your songwriting process?

Erika: The process is similar to writing any metal song. There will be a riff that we think is cool, and then it gets combined with other stuff that might have been hanging around, and before you know it, the base structure of the song is there. Then, Ted will write maybe one set of overdubs with that basic structure. Usually, by then, we'll know what lyrics go with the song (for _... The Garden of Crystalline Dreams_, all the lyrics had already been written, some a very long time ago). I'll go through the piece, decide on a melody that fits, and ask for Ted to add another measure here or take one out there to help fit the words. Sometimes, musical things occur to me when I'm writing the vocal melodies, and those will go into the mix. And then, we get into the studio and add more things, like percussion or effects, and you have a song at last!

CoC: _LPfDCII:TGoCDs_ must represent a big effort of yours, considering both its musical contents and the expected deluxe layout. Is your label, Dark Symphonies, the best way to take care of everything just the way you want it?

Erika: Dark Symphonies is the ONLY way for us to get what we want. This way, we control every single aspect of the creation process, from the matter of choosing a studio, to whom we have do the printing of the packaging. Both Ted and I are professionals in the field of graphic design and printing, and we just could not allow the responsibility for a project as complex and close to our hearts as this to be given to someone who might not know exactly the best way to get things done. Also, since we function as our own label, we never have to worry about deadlines or limited budgets, which removes a lot of stress from the entire process.

CoC: Are you planning to sign other bands for Dark Symphonies?

Erika: Absolutely. We look to give any other band that signs with us the same excellent treatment and care we have given Autumn Tears. Dark Symphonies will only sign first-rate bands with first-rate attitudes, and in return for that, we will produce first-rate releases with excellent packaging. We want to be known as a top-notch label that will never screw a band over or do a bad job. We have seen enough poor quality releases and great quality releases to know what we want to do.

CoC: What are your main classical music influences?

Ted: As musical influences, I can include older Dead Can Dance material, chamber music, contemporary soundtrack composers (Patrick Doyle, Jerry Goldsmith, Basil Pouldoris, and Ennio Morricone), as well as older classical composers (Bach and Wagner).

CoC: About metal bands, what are your favorite ones right now?

Erika: I love the new Emperor (_Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk_, CoC #22), although I do miss the mystical lyrics from _In the Nightside Eclipse_. It's great to see that despite all the hardships Emperor went through, they have not lost their focus. I'm also enjoying the new Diabolical Masquerade, _The Phantom Lodge_. Blackheim's talent is phenomenal, and I admire him very much. What else? I just got the Midvinter CD, which I also really like.

Ted: For myself, I feel that a lot of newer albums lack the feel and emotion of masterpieces such as Emperor's _In the Nightside Eclipse_, Immortal's _Pure Holocaust_, Katatonia's _Dance of December Souls_ [One of my three most influential albums ever -- Pedro], Dissection's _The Somberlain_, and many others from 1993/94. These I still find myself listening to all the time over newer albums.

CoC: How exactly did you create Deceit's voice (rather unusual for a black metal voice)? Was it consciously done or did it just come out that way?

Erika: I wanted to do Deceit's voice in an evil black metal style for two reasons: it fit the character, and I wanted to show everyone that a woman can do a black metal style of singing as well as any of those other guys out there. [At least Erika can, and I really liked those vocals -- Pedro] There's women in black metal, playing bass and keyboards, but there's not really any who do vocals, Netherworld's vocalist excepted. I really am a black metal person at heart, and I'm very serious about it, so Deceit's vocals were my way of saying, "See, I'm not just some clean singer who can't do anything else." I mean, I really admire Garm, because he's got all the bases covered. I think the vocals came out really good, and you can't really tell it's a woman doing them [True, you can't tell it's Erika even -after- you know it's her -- Pedro], which is what I wanted. As far as actually doing the vocals, I just let myself get into the character, with all her vileness and evil, and what you hear is the result. It was great fun. The engineer in the studio didn't really know what to make of me, snarling into the mike!

CoC: How did you two meet, and why did you decide to create Autumn Tears?

Ted: Erika and I met in college seven years ago and have remained friends ever since. We have both always been into the underground, and music has remained a big part of our lives. I had been writing the lyrics for three years, and decided one day to put them to music, which I then began composing. I knew Erika had been professionally trained as a singer, so I asked her if she would be interested in working on the project with me. The project helped us to express our emotions into music, and in turn, creating a very dark atmosphere.

CoC: What kind of vocal training does Erika have?

Erika: I had vocal training in high school. I was in the chorus and in several chamber groups, and our teacher was very tough. I hated her because she did all these things to us to make us learn breath control that would probably be considered abuse now. One time, she had us all lying on our backs on the floor with heavy dictionaries on our stomachs, making us push them up and down so we'd develop the muscle. She was a formidable woman, but her lessons stuck and I am eternally grateful. I never stopped singing once I graduated from high school, and I always am looking for singers singing challenging things that I can try to imitate. By doing that, I don't get stagnant. One moment I can be singing Celtic style, and the next, I'll switch to opera or folk. The main point is to just keep singing all the time, so the voice stays in shape.

CoC: Has Erika participated in professional projects before?

Erika: I did a little session work with the December Wolves on _Til Ten Years_. That was the first time I'd ever been in a studio situation, so it was both intimidating and fun.

CoC: How happy are you about having met Erika and creating Autumn Tears? How important is this project for you?

Ted: I am both honored and extremely proud to have Erika involved in the project with me. She is extremely talented and very creative. Her participation has been invaluable. Autumn Tears is a very big part of my life to which I am very dedicated, and I am extremely grateful that Erika has helped to make it all possible.

CoC: Please unveil some of your plans for the future of Autumn Tears.

Ted: I suppose we will just have to wait and see...

CoC: Any last words?

Ted and Erika: Thank you for the interview and for being so supportive.

(article submitted 12/8/1997)


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