Over the course of nine years, progressive symphonic metallers STREAM OF PASSION released four full-length albums and two live DVDs before disbanding in 2016. Much to the delight of many fans, myself included, the band announced their surprise return late last year. They will be performing at the Dynamo in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) on September 8th and 9th and they have a new EP entitled “Beautiful Warrior” releasing on September 9th. I had the opportunity to speak with vocalist Marcela Bovio about everything going on.
INTERVIEW BY: SAMANTHA SHEARS
First of all, thank you for having this interview with us today and congratulations on the EP and two sold out shows in Eindhoven!
Thank you, we’re very excited!
How did you first come back together as STREAM OF PASSION?
Well, it’s nothing extremely romantic because I think it was the pandemic, the lockdown that sparked the necessity in us. Johan (van Stratum – bass) and I are good friends and we hang out with a group of friends. At some point we were having some socially distanced wine and I said: “I wouldn’t mind maybe doing some shows with the band again”. Then he said: “You know, maybe I would like that as well”. So that is what sparked us to try to do some things.
Did you come up with the idea of making an EP at the same time as the live shows, or did that idea come later?
Once that I saw that Johan was into the idea, that immediately came into my mind. I’ve also recorded some solo material during the years. And whenever I’m writing music, there would be from time to time something very ‘STREAM OF PASSION‘. I already had some ideas that I thought would be suited to the band, so I think it was pretty much around the same time.
Let’s talk a little bit about the upcoming live shows. I could see that the first one sold out very quickly! What was that experience like for you?
It was a little bit stressful because we set up the ticket sales from our own website and we were hoping for a good response, but apparently not as good as it actually did, because our website crashed due to the amount of people that were trying to get tickets! So it was a little bit nerve-wracking, but also incredibly heartwarming and very nice to know that, after all these years, people are still waiting for it and excited to see us again.
What has it been like to come up with the setlist for the shows?
It’s going to be very long! We’re going to have a support, so we can give people an extra long set. It’s been kind of hard because you have to make some choices, but I think it’s going to be great!
The Japanese art of kintsugi was a big inspiration as we can see from the EP cover and the music video for “The End Is The Beginning”. How does that connect to the theme of the song and the EP as a whole?
I think there are a lot of those themes and that concept around all of the songs. The whole thematic arc is about growing up and experiencing things that mark you in a certain way – taking some punches in life and how those misadventures impact us. You can interpret those things as negative or as things that you can learn from. I have gone through some very challenging times, and I think we all have with the pandemic. We’ve made it through, but with the necessary scar tissue and damage. But the whole idea behind this art of kintsugi and the idea I want to transmit with the songs on this EP is that if we are able to embrace what we’ve learned, those things can make us stronger, more beautiful and more unique. At the end of the line, they can teach us a lot of things so we can become better people.
You, Johan van Stratum and Joost van den Broek, who produced the EP, share songwriting credits. What was the songwriting process like for the EP?
It’s actually how we’ve been working for the past couple of albums as well, so in that sense it was very nice to be back on the same flow. But it’s usually me coming up with a song idea and a basic arrangement and structure for a song. Then we would go to the studio and sit down with Joost, and of course Johan as well, and fine tune the details for the arrangements. I’m not a guitar player myself, but they have more insights on those kind of things. We refine things together and make it nicer.
Like some other songs in STREAM OF PASSION’s career, there is one song on this EP, “Chasing A Ghost”, with some Spanish lyrics. What goes into choosing whether to write in Spanish or English?
I always feel that a song is calling me to do one thing or another. Sometimes I write it all at the same time, the music and the lyrics, but most of the time I am coming up with the music and the vocal melodies and there is some kind of gibberish in there. The gibberish already sort of points me into the direction of one language or the other. I think while writing the melodies I hear some sounds, and then those sounds can be a little bit more towards Spanish or towards English language. It happens organically, I suppose.
You’ve released two music videos from the EP, one being “The End Is The Beginning” and the other “The Hunter”, which you worked on with Blackbriar to create. What was it like working together on the video?
It was brilliant! For some reason, I’m not a very visual person, so it was remarkable that I had this visual concept for this EP because I hear things, but I don’t see them. So it was great to have them be part of this video, because they do have this super visual way of working. They have amazing videos for their own songs. I told them the idea I had for the video and they immediately saw things. They understood the concept from the very beginning and they are super enthusiastic and professional in what they do. They totally blew us away and it came out so nice. I think it’s definitely the nicest video we’ve ever made!
You’ve always struck me as someone with a lot going on! You have been part of other bands like Dark Horse | White Horse, MaYaN and Ayreon, have a solo career ánd have appeared as a guest vocalist with other artists. Is there anything else you’re working on?
Right now, it’s entirely STREAM OF PASSION and Ayreon, because the STREAM OF PASSION shows are coming up soon and then Ayreon the week after. So life is revolving around those things now with the show production, the rehearsals and everything. So not right now, but maybe when we’re done with these things, maybe it’s time to write a little more solo material I’m thinking.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with that you’ve never had the chance to?
So many people! I’m a big fan of Leprous and Caligula’s Horse. Any chance I’d have to collaborate with them somehow, I’d be extremely happy.
How have the rehearsals you mentioned been going? What has it been like playing STREAM OF PASSION songs again?
It’s super nice! Immediately I get the vibes that we had back then, and it’s really nice to revisit the songs that I wrote so long ago and enjoy some time with the guys. We actually just had a rehearsal yesterday, and after a couple times of going through everything, it’s going a little bit more automatic and it’s like the good old vibes again. We’re having more fun and making jokes with each other, so it’s great.
You are also a vocal coach with The Metal Factory teaching the Universal Voice method, am I getting that right?
Yes! I feel very lucky and privileged to be one of the first people that graduated as a teacher from the Universal Voice Method. It was developed in Amsterdam a couple of years back by Alberto der Doest who I think is a genius. He came up with a system that is based on sound characteristics. The anatomy of the voice is very complex and we can’t see what we’re doing. If you’re playing guitar, then you can see the fingers when it’s not going right, so we have to base everything on sound. He created this very easy to understand method in which we’re talking about things like volume, pitch, is your sound breathy or clear, is it dark or is it bright? All of these parameters you can use to create all kinds of vocal sounds. It’s very easy to understand, very easy to teach and I for one think that after taking lessons with them, I’ve made major progress that I’m super happy about, because I can do way more things with my voice. I’m a big fan!
Are there any future plans for STREAM OF PASSION, or are you taking things one step at a time to see if it leads to anything else down the road?
That’s the thing, we said we’re going to do these things now and we’re leaving the door open. We know we want to do some things, so if something sparks our interest or we get a nice opportunity, then we’re going to do it. The plans are the ones that we have right now, but you never know. The door is definitely open!
Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?
I’ll just say thank you once again to all of the lovely people that have helped us release this new EP. We’re super proud of it and we hope that they enjoy it as well. It is heartwarming to know that they are still on our side after all these years.