Epica, ReVamp, Kells

Interview date

28 Octobre 2010




Interview Simone Simons, Floor Jansen, Virginie Goncalves (face to face)

What are your best and worse memories from that tour?

(Hesitant) Simone: Good one! (Laughs) There are no worse memories... Just one show we did in Italy was really hot. For some people, it's an advantage, they love when it's hot, but I get very slow and I was exhausted. I lost also a lot of energy so for me it's hard to perform when it's like that because I sweat a lot and I lose a lot of energy and it's hard for me to keep going. The rest were just great shows and we are especially looking for tonight in Paris again. But it's been really well, excepting this sweat part, but it's my own thing.

Floor : Yeah, I don't see big things either. Maybe... No! (Laughs). I try to think to complicated situations, very dirty showers, or scream things, but it has always been very good.

Simone: No accidents with the bus yet!

Floor: Nobody get injured, nobody get really sick. I guess for me, the only bad thing that happened was one night, when they change the air conditioning in the bus and changed it in a way that it make me sick all the night.

Virginie : My best memory on stage, was my first stage diving in Poland (laughs) !

Simone : You want to go back ?!

Viginie : It was just crazy !

Simone : I don't ! (Laughs) I think they would eat me alive! (Laughs)

Virginie: But they did not. I was afraid about that, but I tried and I just want to do it again! (Laughs).

Floor : They didn't touch your boobs or something ?

Virginie : Oh no!

Floor: Oh, very respectful!

Virginie: Yeah, but maybe it depends on the country! (Laughs).

Simone: Yeah ! Mark did it in Venezuela or somewhere in the south of America. He came back with many scratches all over, his shirt was torn... I thought he was going to be eaten. (Laughs). Because they were all grabbing for him, as soon as he was pulling back, the people were pulling him in. But here in Europe, stuffs like that don't happen. I never jump from the stage, that is also because I'm afraid I'm gonna hurt somebody or break somebodys' neck. It can happen unfortunately. If you warn the crowd "I'm coming", I mean, when you are still on stage, (Laughs), they can prepare themselves, but if you don't and you throw yourself in there, you can get fingers in the eye... Once we were throwing a water bottle to the audience and a fan get it in the eye, and I didn't mean that to happen. So now, I'm always like warn them and I throw it from the low.

After the shows, do you talk together about what you've done on stage, giving some advices or you never talk about your performances?

Virginie: Most of the time, we don't have time to talk with Epica, because when they go out of stage, they come to see the audience and then we go to the tour bus so... But sometimes, Floor advised me about some techniques.

Simone: Floor is our teacher! (Laughs). Yeah... Floor and I talk about make up and clothes... We are Dutch so I guess it's easier, we know each other for many years already and we have history together. But I enjoy the tour very much, I like some Kells songs, some ReVamp songs and for a change, it's also nice to not be the only one woman!

Yeah, sometimes, it must be weird to be only three women with all these guys...

Floor: Sometimes! But I'm used to evolve in a dominating environment, but it's definitely nice sometimes to not have only guys. With girls, you can have different conversations about different subjects. They understand things easier, some small things that really matters to us. You won't have a guy you would say "hey nice make up" or "nice shoes". (Laughs). Guys won't say that!

Simone: Isaac does! He gives me some compliments! (Laughs). That's nice, "hey, I have noticed, you have a new dress all the day!". And I'm so happy and proud! (Laughs).

Floor : That's nice, truly!

Simone : Sometimes, they are also metrosexual. (Laughs).

Are you sometimes inspired by an attitude of another singer, for example when you see someone jumping and you're not use to do it, you think "hey, I should try to do this" or you have your own personality and you don't want to change it?

Floor : I think you get inspired by what you see from others. Always. But you create your own way to be on stage. Indeed, you have your own personality. If I see a move that the other ladies make, I can think it's cool for that show, but not necessarily feel like I should copy it, because maybe it looks me when I do that, but it's not me. But I think more subconsciously you do pick up things.

Virginie: I agree! (Laughs). But I must admit that my main inspiration was Skin from Skunk Anansie on stage, moving everywhere in a rock'n roll attitude! (Laughs).

Simone: And me, I don't look how do the other singers on stage. For me, it's important to find the balance between a good show and a vocal performance. And in the past, I was thinking too much of running around so I couldn't do both. So now, I prefer to have a little bit more focussed shows, a smaller gesture, and not running everywhere and being out of breath. I do sports a lot, but I cannot run around and sing at the same time. That's crazy, I mean it is at last for me. I like to stay cool, give good vocal performances and when I feel I have more energy I move around. But I do what I feel good and not what the others do and I think it's good. I couldn't do like Virginie does on stage, even if it looks good! (Laughs). After a couple of year, you develop your own style. Before a show you are still searching and shy and you don't what to do, but when the show starts and the music is there, you just go!

Are you really you on stage or do you play a role? Did you notice some differences on the behaviours of each of you when you are on stage and off stage?

Simone (talking about Virginie): She doesn't jump around and I neither headbangue! (Laughs).

Virginie : I do it only when the music starts!

What are the best singer qualities of each of you?

Simone: (talking about Virginie), she has a great stage performance. She is an animal on stage! (Laughs). And Floor has more the best voice around!

This is what Arjen Lucassen told me about you Floor!

Floor : Oh really ? That's cool! (laughs). For Virginie, I really like her power and also stage presence, her energy. And for Simone, I also like her presence on stage which is different of course. I think you are very you.

Simone: Yeah, I'm not playing a role, I'm still myself goofy but classy.

Floor: Yeah, that's exactly the word I was looking for!

Simone: Goofy ?!

Floor: No, no, no! Classy! (Laughs). I also like her voice, the dark side of your opera sound, it's really full.

Simone: Somebody once told me: "when you sing, I expect some bad women backstage who are fighting". It has a dark sound, full-bodied sound. But I'm not like that, even if somebody thought it.

Virginie: Is it my turn? (Laughs). (Talking about Simone), her best quality is her head voice which is very clear. And for Floor, she can sing everything! She is a great singer!

And do you still feel the same emotion when you go on stage than when you begin, or now, you are use to it and you don't feel so happy or excited when you see and hear all these people screaming and applauding you?

Floor: No, I don't think you can really truly get use to that. But you have your daily differences. You know, everyday is different. Sometimes it's like "today, I'm totally happy, and tomorrow I'm not gonna be happy or have different emotions". But you don't feel the same every time you go on stage. That's curious how you begin your show. But I usually get in it as soon as it starts and I hear people, even if I feel bad, when I'm sick or something bad happen to me. It really helps if people start to make sounds, make noise and show that they are so happy that you are here. That the whole idea that people who are here are happy to see you, they like you, they actually know you music... That's... Woow! Even if they don't know your music but if they appreciate what you do, that's the best thing of being an artist. That always give energy to me at least.

Simone: I'm never nervous before a show! I'm only nervous if we have something new, new songs to play. Because there is always a certain part, when you know the songs there are there (she shows her head), but when there are new songs, your brain is too much focussing on what are the lyrics, when do I sing... And when you play them a couple of time, you can let go that, it comes out naturally and you can focus on so many things than just the lyrics: emotions, the technique, the show... And it goes by itself even if sometimes I start thinking "what are the lyrics of "Cry To The Moon"?" that I sing for eight years now... That's the only thing I have. The interaction I have with the crowd is also great. If you gave a hundred percent to the audience and it stays cold, it's hard to keep going. So then I think "ok, I'm just gonna have a party for myself and maybe something will happen in the audience." But if you play for example in Latin America, you can't even hear you anymore because they are screaming so loud. And I'm "how people can like me so much?!" I'm just a Dutch girl and I don't understand it. It's all about interaction with the crowd and professionalism as well.

Virginie: I'm always very, very, very nervous! For every shows... Sometimes, it makes me sick. (Laughs).

Simone: That's shitty ! The only time when I get nervous is when I don't have enough time to prepare. I'm not nervous, but stressed. You have your individual preparation for a show and suddenly realise how I miscalculated time, the tour manager came and said "Are you ready?" "Noooo" "The show begin in ten minutes" "But it's not what my watch says!". And I have to change my plans, think about what I have to do. There is always things less important to do but I prefer to go on stage and be prepared. That was in Sweden that was actually my worse memory if I can still go back to your fist question. I miscalculated the last ten minutes. And I was like: "sh**! Ok, what can I do?" I didn't want to look like a monkey on stage. I remember Floor was also standing in the room and was very fast to help me. Because there is always eight songs playing between the stage changing between Kells and Epica. The last song is always the same and after it, it's over. It's a little bit a curtain call, you hear the song and you know you have just a few minutes left. And I didn't hear it because the backstage was far away from the stage. And the sound engineer didn't knew that I wasn't ready yet so he started the show. And I realise I had two minutes to be ready and go on stage. I had to fly you know!

Virginie: This is what happened to us in Switzerland! Our drummer launch the back tracks but we were all in the backstage. So when we heard the music, we had to run !! (Laughs).

Simone: A lot of people ignore what happen in backstage. We should write a book about it! (Laughs).

Floor: Yeah! I always dream about a situation like that. It never truly happened that we actually really came too late in my two bands.

Simone: It happened once!

Floor: Oh yeah, I didn't even remember that! It was with After Forever. There was a huge traffic and the time got there, the show had already started. So when we arrived, we had to go on stage, and I had to put on my stage clothes on stage and that was horrible!

Simone: And I had to give a sugar because you were shacking because you didn't eat during all the day.

Floor: That's true! I was exhausted and right after the show, I went to the hospital. I was in total dehydration... and I don't remember anything.

Simone : That's that to be a rockstar! (Laughs). It was five years ago I think.

Floor: Yeah, we were in the studio for your third album I think... In 2004, 2005...

Sometimes, the metalheads can be really harsh with female singers. I remember when Within Temptation was supporting Metallica, some men were saying to Sharon den Adel "naked !".

Floor: Oh I'm always hearing that!

How do you live that?

Virginie: In Switzerland again, a man told me "A poil!", so "naked" in English and I answered: "Please, first, you show me your dick and then we discuss". (Laughs).

Floor: Yeah I think it's the best way to deal with it, either ignores it. The best is probably to ignore it and if you think about something funny to say about it... Most of people don't like these comments easier so, if you make fun off the person, you make him ridiculous you get your honour back. There are always guys, and still in the Netherlands that scream this kind of things... Few months ago, we were playing with ReVamp and a man was really saying something I never ear before. It was really rude! But other people in the audience were getting upset with him. Sometimes, there are screaming "hey show us you boobs!" and I say "yes, I got two of them!" (Laughs). Jesus!

Simone: I always try to make a joke about it when I hear it, but sometimes I don't even hear it. I try to not ignore it because some do an overreaction, so I say "sorry, I already have a boyfriend!" (laughs). I think some rock singers have showed their tits in their band but... This in their way to deal with it, but... Those guys are drunk and they probably didn't have sex for a while (laughs) and when they saw you on stage, they scream it out loud and they said "Did I really mean that?" They are thinking with the wrong part of their body and not with their brain! (Laughs).

What is the weirdest thing that happened to you with a fan?

Floor: I guess for me it was when somebody came to the backstage asking if he could lick my hair! (Laughs)

Simone : I get a lick in my face one day! I went down the stage, that was in a festival. I wanted to hug two girls who were "Simooooooooone" and they were singing all the songs. I wanted to give them a hug, but there was that guy who licked me. I didn't take a shower after that, I didn't want to clean that! (Laughs). That's the worse for me. Some people are really dirty, wet, or have really dirty hands and they give you a hug and after that you are disgusted... (Laughs). For me, I don't find it right to shake hands anymore, I prefer to give hugs. You never know where the hand has been. Sometimes, it looks like they didn't shower for a long time! So far, I haven't been grabbed... Oh, once, I have this guy give me a hug so hard and he wasn't cool. He was standing at the merchandising stand and he came and watching at me and was drunk and that was really not cool. I wish that my boyfriend wasn't there because he could have smacked him; I probably broke my own hand trying to smack him. That's not cool because as you are a woman and a public person, they think you they can do everything with you. Sometimes stuffs like that happen, but nothing like life frightening.

Virginie: Nothing so curious happened to me!

Simone: You are too fast, you run away! (Laughs)

Virginie: Follow me if you can! (Laughs)

Have you already been hurt by some fans word about your behaviour on stage or your behaviour with them? I think for example about the Epica fans who say that Simone go out after shows to meet them...

Floor: You can't please everybody. Everybody is always thinking about themselves, very much. When it comes to not be able to see everybody or not being able to please everybody with what you wear, it's too bad... Sometimes they are really too rude on the internet, it's really easy to type in a negative comment. Some people think have a certain way to be offensive, kick against everything. But I try to not read it too much, because it does affect me. It affects me, it makes me sad, but I can't change it and won't change it either.

 Virginie: I took exactly the same decision.

Simone: But the fans see it from their perspective. They are a group and we are an only one person, so we have to divide a lot of time and attention to a lot of people. And you are constantly among a lot of people and you need to retire once in a while to get peace, to rest for the show. Because the show is the most important thing, fans come to see the show. If the show is not good or if I don't do a good show, I'm not happy. Our first goal is to do a good show and I try to meet the fans as much as I can. But mostly after a show, I go straight to the hotel or sleep. Because if I don't sleep, I do a shitty work. Some people can party, the guys like to party, they hang out with the fans, but if they have a cold they can still go on stage, but I cannot do that. No matter how well I try to eat, no matter how much sport I do, sleeping is the most important thing to me. I've been ill lot of time in the past, so I have to take care of myself. If there is ten people asking for an autograph, or one maybe, and you say yes, and then suddenly a lot of people come. And you have one hour left to take a quick rest after the show... Sometimes you have to say no. That hurts my feelings because I really want to please everybody... For example, mathematically, fourteen hundred people, they all want ten second with them, you can measure out how much time you need to please everybody. They want to have a lot of photos... What I mostly do is wait a little bit and go into the audience if I fit enough, and meet a small group of people. It's overwhelming sometimes and I had a couple of bad experiences in the past, for example in South America where there was no security and too many people and it was very scarifying. So I have to be careful and watch out for myself. I'm just very professional. But we have a lot signing sessions, a lot of meet and greet. In America we have this special deal, they can buy a VIP ticket and we spend a hour with them, we sign autographs, they can ask us questions, have a photo. And I also like that more because it's before the show, you take time for it, you do the sound check afterwards you have the meet and greet, and everything is relax and quiet. There is no music playing, there is no people who are smoking and then you can hang out with them. It's really cool. You can actually really talk, then you have dinner, then you go to the bus and just relax and you are right for the show. And after the show, if I had energy I go to sign or I go to bed because I want to do a good show. That's my main thing. A lot of people don't understand it, and I understand it as well because when I was younger and I liked other bands, they didn't want to talk to me or whatever... but now, I understand, because there are always people who want to talk to you, having autographs...

So it's going to be the end of the tour, what are your plans?

Virginie: November the 1st we are entering the studio to record the third album, for one month.

Simone: One month in the studio, that's long!

Virginie: Yeah, we just come back from that tour, and recording! Great! (Laughs).

Floor: We have only two shows in November, so we will spend more time writing for a second album. There are a lot of plans actually that I hope to announce very soon because there are some cool shows which are coming out and we want to record the second album. So as we won't play, we will write for it.

Simone: A US tour from the middle of November to the middle of December, after that we have the 70000 Tons of Metal Cruise, then we go to South America again. Then we have a little break and Mark will tour with his new band, MaYan. These are the things which are set. And we will also enter in the studio after the summer to record our new record.

Simone, it makes a year that you are talking a DVD of Epica. How is it going? Will it be release or have you give up this idea?

Simone: No, we definitely want to release a DVD, next year. We have collected a lot of lives footages so far, but I have not been updated on a release date yet or how many version of the DVD it will have. I think it will be release next year but I don't really know. It's a thing we have to discuss during a band meeting.

Virginie, you will play with Tarja Turunen in less than a month, how do you apprehend this?

Virginie: Well, just the same as this tour. Like another. (Laughs). It's been announced for a long time now. But really, it's not because Simone is just near me (laughs), but the conditions were not be the same as on this tour. Epica has been really cool with us!

Simone: We try to treat our support act with respect and give them as much as we can. Because we've also be mistreated in the past and if you are in a position of being a headline, you want to keep everybody friendly. There are certain rules, but if you are a support, there is a professional respect and so far we heard only good things. This is also the best thing to have on a tour, you have happy faces. And it's important because big bands which treat badly their support won't have support acts anymore.

Floor, you have played with Arjen Lucassen on his Ayreon project but also on Star One. How is it to work with this guy?

Floor: He is great! I guess I do know him now for many years now. We went on the Star One tour together; we spent a lot of time together. He is really relaxed, and he is great musician. When you come in, he knows what he wants to hear from you and you know what you want to do. But he gives you enough space to really be yourself. He is very cool and he just get out the best in you and you sound you but on his music. And I was really happy that Arjen asked me again to sing on the new Star One album. I think it turned out very cool! (Laughs).

The concept of my last question is easy. You will have to tell me the first association you do when I will say some words. Touring ?

Virginie: Rock on!

Simone: Tour Bus! (Laughs)

Floor: Anytime!


Virginie: Symphonic

Floor (singing Epica song, "Resign To Surrender" so we laugh): show time!


Simone: Sweet Curse!

Virginie: Yeah I was about to say the same thing! (Laughs).

Simone: Sweet Floor! (Laughs).

Floor: For me, it's my new baby.

Simone: When you said "new baby" I thought, are you pregnant, did I miss something? (Laughs).


Simone: I like her corsets! I don't understand how you can sing in these kind of really tight corsets. I have a couple of new ones that are arriving, but I ask to adjusted it so I can still breath!

Virginie: Let it say, I'm just cheating because it's not that tight! It's because it's really big on the hip, so it gives the illusion! (Laughs)

Simone: You are tricking us! (Laughs)

Floor: The first thing I think about Kells is French! (Laughs).


Simone: Oh I love Paris. I made a trip there with friends of mine, a nice trip. I love Paris, food, I actually know a nice brasserie, and when I have time I go there, but today I couldn't. And going there before a show is not a good idea! (Laughs).

Floor: When I think about Paris, I think about baguettes. I always see people running around with these baguettes. (Laughs).

Virginie: Do you really want me to say what I think about Paris?! A very stressful city. In this city, everybody is running everywhere...

Simone: And you don't have to drive there! I'm lucky that I don't have to drive in Paris yet!

Virginie: And it's the only place you have to leave the venue before ten and a half!

And last but not least, what about Mark Jansen?

(Laughs) Simone: That's probably your point of interests that you are asking this question! He is single! (Laughs). Mark Jansen... Well, if he wasn't here, I wouldn't be in Epica and Epica wouldn't exist as well! He was my boyfriend for four years, but that was twelve years ago, but we are still working together. Even though our relation ship didn't work, Epica is something beautiful, and Epica is our baby. (Laughs). Mark and I have a strong connexion in Epica.

Yeah because when we saw you at Metal Female Voices Festival last week-end, I heard people who were asking if you were back together with Mark because you seemed to be so close !

Simone: No, but I'm close to all the guys in the band because I'm a person who like to hug. And after all these years, we know each other so well. I'm a little bit the mummy of all the guys, and I have a lot of love to give. Some people still think that I'm together with Mark. Some people post video with "Mark and Simone" and then at the end of the videos, there are just photos and it was me with Oliver and then me with Arien, and then we saw Mark with his actually ex-girlfriend and it was written "I wish they were together again". We broke up already many years ago! But we are still in the band together and it works. It's not a good idea to have a relationship in a band, with that temptation at work! (Laughs)

Virginie: In my band it work, for the moment.


Simone: Yeah but it's different, you have a baby together! The same with Within Temptation! I prefer to not have a relation with someone from the band because it's also a business. When you are at home and you are private, you always take that part with you. It's good to take a distance with that.


Virginie: That's right, because we are always at work, even at home, because we live together.


Floor: It's really hard to draw the limit. Sometimes you have to say "ok, now we don't talk about the band, this is our time, just you and me. We do what we want in our spare time, but not discuss about our band.". But then, someone is coming in or calls and you go back into it and can't really let it go, because it's your baby. The more time you spend on it, the harder it is to let it go.


Simone: It's different with a man that comes from another band because you can discuss about your different experiences, but it's not the same band.


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