Floor Jansen already has a distinguished career as a singer for After Forever and ReVamp, but things went to another level after a text message from a certain Mr. Holopainen called for her services as replacement for Annette Olzon, who left Nightwish mid-tour. This may all seem like a fairytale, but not too long ago Floor suffered from a burn out. This had profound consequences for Wild Card, the latest ReVamp album. Her adventures with Nightwish proved to be another major, albeit more satisfying, distraction from finishing the record. It’s all about finding the right balance as Floor candidly points out to Ghost Cult.
Wild Card is an intensely personal album – talk us through it.
I went through a very turbulent period in my life and that’s reflected in both the music and the lyrics. I suffered from a burn-out which really affected my music career and my life in general. I really had to come to terms with that. It felt really good to use the lyrics for the album as an outlet for my frustrations. Not all the songs on Wild Card are about that period though, but it’s a recurring theme. The rest of the lyrics are inspired by events from my life as well. It was our ambition to create a really aggressive album. It was meant to be very guitar oriented. The vocals needed to be more extreme and we really needed to rethink on how to use the keyboard elements to enhance the music. We really felt the need to give the overall ReVamp sound a fresh spin. We worked with an actual mood board, so everyone involved had the opportunity to write down his ideas and emotions about a particular song. It was like painting a picture in a way. It was a new way of approaching things, but it worked very well. We also wanted to bring some fresh ideas within the symphonic metal genre and try out some new methods of working.
Keyboardist and producer Joost van den Broek acted as the director for the overall writing and recording process. How did he come into view?
He became involved after I got sick. As a band we already started to work on what would be the second ReVamp album. Everyone involved are great players, but we didn’t know for certain if we could write great music as a unit. We spent quite some time on finding our creative groove, but before we had the chance to find that out I became gravely ill. At the time it was already clear that Ruben (keyboards) and Jord (guitar) could work really well together. They traded musical ideas back and forth via internet, but the whole process wasn’t really streamlined or anything. The effects of my burn out progressively worsened, so by the time I was completely knocked out, the whole creative process was stopped dead in its tracks. One of the things I learned during my recovery process is to acknowledge that I’m not good at leading a band of musicians and that I needed to find someone else to take that role. The other ReVamp members are solid musicians but they didn’t have much experience. At the same time there’s lot of pressure, because of pending expectations. It’s our second album and the seventh studio album I’m involved with. That’s when Joost came into view. Every band member was involved in the creative process, but the actual writing for Wild Card was done by me, Joost, Ruben and Jord. We made some good headway, but then I was suddenly approached by Nightwish whether I was interested in helping them out on the after Annette Olzon left the band mid-tour. Luckily we already made a planning on how to proceed, so the rest of the band could work on new material whilst I was touring with Nightwish. Thanks to the internet I was able to stay involved with the creative process, so by the time I got back after the Australian tour with Nightwish all the music was pretty much written under the direction of Joost. I only needed to record my vocals in the studio.
Devin Townsend and Epica’s Mark Jansen contributed some guest vocals on Wild Card. How did you manage to get them involved?
Mark and I go back a long time ago. We were both in After Forever. I recorded some vocals for his Mayan album and I was also a part of the live entourage. I was also involved with Epica’s Retrospective live show. I really wanted to have Mark on the new ReVamp album, so he returned the favour by recording some grunts and screams. With Devin it was pretty much the same story. On one of his own records he was working with a choir and he wanted one of the soprano singers to record some lead vocals, but it didn’t work out as he intended. Someone at the studio recommended me to Devin, so before I knew what was going on he called me with the question about whether I could record some vocals for him. I’m a big Devy fan, so this was a no brainer for me. I have my own little home studio, so I was able to lay down some vocals for him quickly. He was really pleased with the results. By the time I was working on Wild Card Devin was one of the first people I thought about approaching for my own album. I’m a really big fan of the diversity and expressive nature of his vocals. The end result is just magical. I’m really proud of having him on my album, because he is not so keen on doing guest performances. Mark really managed to give his grunts a really aggressive spin and that’s exactly what I was looking for. I handled the rest of the grunts on the album myself.
How do you look back on your experiences as a stand in singer for Nightwish?
It’s still too early for me to really reflect on the whole Nightwish adventure, because there are still a couple of tour dates pending, including some summer festivals. What can I say? It’s an incredible ride and it feels really good. Things went really well from day one. The timing was really awkward, because Annette Olzon just left the band and there wasn’t really time to rehearse with the other Nightwish members. Anxiety levels were running high, because replacing a female singer mid tour is a hazardous experience to say the least. They were running the gauntlet to make sure that none of the remaining tour dates had to be cancelled. They were scared and so was I. Things went surprisingly well. It doesn’t matter where you perform, Youtube will be plastered with movies of the gig the next day, so I really gave it my all. Everyone in the band and crew were really supportive and all the positive reactions and the warm acceptance by the Nightwish fanbase was beyond my wildest dreams. Some people would rather see someone else fronting the band, but you can’t please everyone.
Would you be willing to sing for Nightwish permanently if they asked you?
I’ve been asked to fill in for the current world tour and for a couple of festival dates, but what will happen after that is still unclear. Nightwish will take a break after the current touring cycle and they’ll make a decision next year. Until then everything is still up in the air. If they would ask me I would be very flattered and I would love to do it. It will be a major overhaul in my life and my career as a singer, but then again we’re not rushing things. Both the guys in Nightwish and I have experiences with previous band break ups and all emotions that come with it. It’s almost like dating. Things feel good and it’s going well, but we’re not in a rush to tie the knot so to speak.