During the fall, Aesma Daeva will be on tour as one of the opening acts for Therion and their latest CD Dawn of the New Athens. With a mixture of symphonic and metal sounds, Aesma Daeva is crafting a sound that is shared by few. Aesma Daeva has a similar sound to the band that they are opening for. Clearly, Therion chose this band with care as the sound is an appropriate match.
Aesma Daeva has the reputation of being one of the first symphonic metal bands in the United States. Understandably, Aesma Daeva would be difficult to catch in the states. Fortunately, through their busy schedule, I got a chance to catch founder, writer and guitar player John Prassas via email to get an inside scoop on the bands next move.
Gothic Angst Webzine (GAW): How did the name "Aesma Daeva" come about?
John: My friend Nick and I were reading about the nephalim I then read about Aesma Daeva.
GAW: I know that Aesma Daeva has had a couple different lead singers and was I wondering how this change affected the music.
John: Well everyone has different strengths. I feel that a good composer is able to make use of who and what is available. So to answer your question every singer has a different strength which is going to affect how the song is going to be written or arranged or rearranged etc. your job is NOT to make you the composer sound and look cool if you have a band.
Gothic Angst Webzine (GAW): When I recieved the CD, I noticed that the cover had a Ancient Roman/Greek feel to it and so did the music, is Ancient Rome/Greece your main inspiration for this particular album?
John: The title is in reference to a book by Arthur C Clarke called Childhoods End In the book there is an artist colony called The New Athens people The band is basically a completely new band now so Dawn of the New Athens is in reference to that.
Gothic Angst Webzine (GAW): Where do you get your inspiration to write from?
John: Well this is not an easy question to answer because I do not just say I am going to write a song today. Instead I usually sit down and work on the craft and the details of an idea that I had previously written down. I try to be sensitive to ideas when they are there and never to block them. This way when there is a creative impulse I am aware of it. Inspiration ends up coming from books, discussions with people, or maybe myself ;) or maybe just a feeling from a certain picture, or time of day or year. What is important is to be sensitive. For instance the song The Loon started out as me creating music that I felt was a reflection of the month of November here in the Midwest. I am not the type of composer who sees color when I write music but certain textures and chords give me the sense of a color. The colors I was going for musically in that song were Blue,Red, and White. After I finished The Loon I then typed in blue red white on the internet just to see what would come up and after some searching came across the poem The Camp of Souls Which pretty much turned into music right when I read it.
Gothic Angst Webzine (GAW): To the band: who are your favorite bands/musicans and your favorite genre of music?
TK: My favorite musicians have been a huge influence on my playing. From Stewart Copeland and John Bonham to Nick Menza and maybe even a little Lars in there. I feel my style represents the drummers I admire. So now I'm working on adding a little Danny Carrey with a splash of Gene Hoglan. It's been challenging but I'm hoping to try and make Aesma Daeva even weirder than they are now. I don't tend to stick to any one genre. I feel that if it is a well-written song, many people can appreciate it. Although some of my band mates don't agree with some of my choices (maybe call them guilty pleasures) I can't turn off a Journey album. Same with Iron Maiden or Helmet or Cyprus Hill. I'm pretty easy to please, unless there is twangy guitars or an accordion or yodeling.
Lori: I listen to quite a few local bands from around Minneapolis, most of them live... some groups who come to mind: The Deaths, All the Pretty Horses (RIP), The Belles of Skin City, Halo Effect (RIP), Coach Said Not To, and Planes for Spaces. I also enjoy listening to Porcupine Tree, Bjork (I love that she's a performance artist,) Ani Difranco (her acoustic guitar work and lyrics inspire me,) Cibo Matto, Mogwai, Gillian Welch, Dawn Upshaw, and Ella Fitzgerald. You might say I have slightly schizophrenic tastes... My desert composer is Brahms (you know, if you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only take one composer with you?). I love both his symphonies and his chamber works. He was not the most prolific composer, but I like that he was thoughtful in his approach to composition. I believe that's the very reason he is still performed today.
JP: I really enjoy a lot of the wind music of Joseph Schwantner. I love world music, Suzy, Natasha Atlas, I hate 70% of most film music without the movie going along with it, but I really like the score John Morris did for the elephant man with or without the movie. There are not to many performers that I admire I do enjoy Daniel Barenboim I really feel he brings Beethoven to life for me. I have always enjoy Diamanda Gallas Otherwise As far as metal goes I have listened to so much metal that I can not even begin to tell you what is an influence its almost second nature now. Kind of like head banging you just do it naturally at some point.
Gothic Angst Webzine (GAW): Out of all the performances Aesma Daeva has played at, which is your favorite and why?
Lori: I've only played local stages; I really enjoyed performing on the large stage at Star Central (RIP). They had surprisingly good sound and the sound engineer was great.
TK: My favorite Aesma Daeva performance would be when we were in Mexico City a few years ago. I don't recall the name but it was an amazing club where the walls were made of grated steel. The stage was on a third floor balcony that looked down on the entire crowd. It was wild with these crazy catwalks that shot out over everyone's heads. Our sound tech made the club shut down after sound-check so he could have them rewire the main power coming into the building so all of our gear would stop buzzing. After that, the room sounded just amazing. And the club owners were very generous with their Mezcal Tequila. I actually carried the violinist back to the hotel at the end of that show (and now she's my fiancé, heh).
John: Meeting Tristania in Mexico was something I will always remember.
Gothic Angst Webzine (GAW): To the band: what are your guys favorite type of foods and why? whats your favorite type of food (assuming you have a favorite ethnic food preference)?
Lori: I love Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese; pretty much, if it's Asian, I'm game. In general, I like my food hot and spicy! In fact, my favorite dish to create at home is Shrimp Curry. I'm vegetarian these days, though, so I spend plenty of time searching out the best place to get mock duck stir fry. Mmm, now I'm hungry. My favorite dish of all time: lemongrass coconut soup with fresh tofu.
TK: My favorite food would have to be Redbull. And Jagermeister. Unless I'm at home, then I'm not allowed either. So I guess pasta? Or seafood? and Jagermeister.
John: I love hot food mainly east Indian and Mexican.
Gothic Angst Webzine (GAW): To Lori Lewis: What made you interested in being Aesma Daeva's lead vocalist? and can you tell me a little bit about your musical background.
Lori: For several years, going all the way back to college, I've wanted to be a part of a band, making music on a stage in some smoky bar. However, I'm classically trained and have been plenty busy with that genre. I've sung as a professional ensemble singer and soloist for ten years; my first experience as a professional singer was with Kansas City Chorale. Of course, my first time on stage performing solo was when I was four years old; I was hooked on performing from that moment, no kidding! I moved to the Twin Cities in 1998 and soon was very busy as a performer and as daytime office worker. After several years of doing both, the opportunity to put all my energy into music came in 2005. Not too long before I met John Prassas (through my friend and fellow musician Kris Kautzmann,) I had been discussing this old dream of being in a band with a friend. But I couldn't quite figure out how a classically trained soprano could make it work... then, voila! The opportunity to work with Aesma Daeva came in late 2005. I was intrigued by the idea of combining my classical singing style with the sounds of a metal band, which is a genre of music I loved when I was in high school, but had moved away from since. I've been with Aesma Daeva for a year and a half, and it's been an amazing opportunity and time of growth, musically. My singing style has taken on many new dimensions; I get to use a "new" voice with AD. I've absolutely become a more accomplished and confident performer thanks to joining this band. And, ultimately, I feel that personal growth is paramount. Additionally, as a result of being with this band, even more opportunities have been presenting themselves; I'm currently one of four lead singers on a world tour with Therion, which is another story in itself.
Gothic Angst Webzine (GAW): Looking at retrospect,whats in store for the next album?
John: One new album of songs based off of the book 1984, Also an album or EP of covers, as well as some acoustic music. Hopefully some DVD footage will be thrown in there as well.