After Dutch symphonic metal band Dim Crimson fell apart, with only one EP “The Prey” to their name, singer Tamara Bouwhuis still had another band to fall back on named WHITEABBEY. Tamara, Steve Moore (guitar), Graham McNulty (bass) and Badger Duncan (drums) will release WHITEABBEY’s third album “Words That Form The Key” through Metalapolis Records on February 23rd . We already had a chat with Tamara about the new album that didn’t get the title “Volume Three” for a good reason.
Interview by: Henk van Nieuwenhoven
Hello and welcome Tamara. As said in the intro, Dim Crimson released just one excellent EP “The Prey”. Anyone who has listened to the four songs on the EP must have thought “that tastes like more!”, but their yearn remained unanswered.
Hey! Thank you so much for having me. Starting off with a tough one! Dim Crimson was my first band ever. I have always been very serious about making music but for most of the bandmembers of Dim Crimson it was just a hobby. For me things went way too slow and they just wanted to have a good time and enjoy themselves. Then Corona came around, no rehearsals or shows, and I started to think. Realizing that if I stayed in this band, I would never get where I wanted to be. So I made the hardest decision and stepped out. I absolutely love the music that we made and I wish we made more of it, but I learned from working with Steve Moore that with the right people and the right amount of passion for something you can do great things that don’t take years to accomplish. And who knows, maybe someday we might pick up where we left off.
The same group of people and those who have heard WHITEABBEY’s two previous albums, “Volume One” (2020) and “Volume Two” (2022), also want to know what your background as a singer in the symphonic metal world is.
It’s a very typical story, honestly. I was a ten-year-old goth girl discovering Within Temptation. The first song I heard was “Ice Queen”. They blew me away! They were my absolute favourite band for a very long time. When I heard and saw what Sharon den Adel did I instantly knew what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve always been a bit of a shy person so it took me four or five years to get courage to take vocal lessons. Then another three years to get into a band (which was Dim Crimson). I learned a lot from observing singers like Sharon den Adel, Simone Simons, Floor Jansen, Amy Lee and Charlotte Wessels.
All the song titles on WHITEABBEY’s first two albums and the EP “Trilogy” (2022) consist of only one word. That’s a little odd, isn’t it?
It’s got to do something with Steve’s OCD I think… Haha, joking. I think he liked the fact that it was all very cohesive, which I agree upon. It’s probably something you don’t think of if you’re not a musician or if you haven’t released music before. But when you do, and you have to come up with an order for the songs, you do not only want the songs to be in balance when you listen to the whole album. You also want the titles to look in balance when you look at the track list. At least, to me.
For your new album “Words That Form The Key” you signed with Metalapolis Records, but they couldn’t live with just “Volume Three” as the album title.
Yep. The label did not agree on that title. Honestly, I’m not mad about it. Even though I hate coming up with titles and therefore totally understand why Steve decided on “Volume One” and “Volume Two”, titles like that don’t really trigger much. A title can make you curious. It’s the first thing people see and it can trigger someone to press play. I think the title Steve picked, “Words That Form The Key”, is perfect. It’s mysterious and magical.
On the cover art of the new album we see a bird in an open cage. Tell us something about that.
I actually designed the artwork myself with the help of Artificial Intelligence. Great tool if you’re doing things on a budget. I learned graphic design in school but I can’t draw, so this is a perfect solution for me. The album title is a lyric from the song “Reality”. The song is about a romance that turned out not to be a fairy tale. The girl is described as a beautiful nightingale and the one she’s in love with betrayed her and put her in a cage. In the bridge she finds out that all she has to do to break the spell is speak some magical words. So she speaks the words that form the key and peaks into the world of her dreams. It’s up to the listener to think about what words she must’ve spoken. I think the vibe of the artwork fits the song and the overall album perfectly.
I was a ten-year-old goth girl discovering Within Temptation. The first song I heard was “Ice Queen”. They blew me away!”
WHITEABBEY released two singles from the album so far, the first one “Reality” on January 12th. But it’s not the same bird on the cover, this one also holds a key. And you’re whispering something at the beginning of the song.
You are looking very closely! AI is not as developed as I’d wish. I was simply looking for an image that would look cohesive with the album art. The idea behind it was that the bird on the cover got free because it found the key. The words that I’m whispering are: “Every door will unlock with the key”.
On “Dragonfire” your vocals are lower than on “Reality”. As if they were written in two different time periods.
They’re not! I’m good at singing high in my head voice and mix and singing low in my speaking voice. Head voice sounds very delicate and feminine, but sometimes misses a bit of power. That’s why I try to do some powerful vocals too. I think it keeps the songs refreshing and interesting.
While listening to the Maria Mena cover “Just Hold Me”, the second single off the album released on February 2nd, and the beautifully sung “All In The Past”, the question arises: did Martijn Westerholt ever contact you for DELAIN after Charlotte Wessels had left the band?
I wish! But honestly, I don’t think I am ready for such a big band. Diana is an extremely good singer. In my honest opinion, she’s sometimes even beating Charlotte in the old songs. I will try, but I don’t think I’ll ever nail the things she can do with her voice. She’s currently one of my biggest inspirations.
A lot of songs on “Words That Form The Key”, for example “You Should Be Running”, have background vocals or choirs. That’s going to be tough to realize on stage.
We’re working with backing tracks, just like most symphonic metal bands do. As much as I’d love to have a choir on stage every show, we don’t really have the budget, haha!
“Ireland’s Final Witch” and “Celtic Curse” are no doubt the result of the two Northern Ireland band members in WHITEABBEY. Who was Ireland’s final witch and what happened to her?
I asked Steve to answer this question, since he wrote those lyrics and is the one from Northern Ireland!
STEVE: Bridget Cleary is known as “The Last Witch of Ireland”. She was a young woman who was burned by her husband and some local townsfolk who suspected she was a witch or a changeling. It happened in 1895 – which really isn’t that long ago! There’s an Irish nursery rhyme that goes “Are you a witch, or are you a fairy / Or are you the wife of Michael Cleary?” In our version of the story, we made it more about Bridget than her husband, and also have her coming back to take revenge on those who did this to her, which is a nice thought. There’s a huge wealth of Irish myths and legends we can draw on for inspiration, much of it has already been done to death of course, given that the Irish are world-renowned poets and songwriters. But I think we managed to squeeze a new angle out of it, and coupled with a Celtic-themed banger of a track, came up with something people will enjoy.
The beautiful acoustic album closer “Think Of Me Sometimes” is quite a surprise. As if it was written for someone special.
“Think of me sometimes, but don’t grief too long” are the words one of Steve‘s family members wrote down before they passed. That’s what inspired him to write the song. My grandmother passed away and then Steve send me this song. She was in my mind when I recorded the vocals. The words weren’t hers, but I feel like it can apply to anyone. If I die I hope people will remember me, but I don’t want them to feel sad. I hope this song gives comfort to people that are in grief. It certainly did for me.
A Dutch/Northern Ireland club tour after the release of “Words That Form The Key” sounds very logical.
We hope so! Because of the distance between me and the guys we need to figure out how to handle things. And how to finance it! So definitely go check out our two singles “Reality” and “Just Hold Me” and if you like what you hear, support us by pre-ordering your copy of “Words That Form The Key”. This album is full of little gems if I may say so myself!