song titles like Fuck Off And Die its hard to say
how the band Crimson Chrysalis will be accepted in progressive
rock circles. The track is actually a powerful, hook-laden prog-rocker
of a song and one of the many highlights from the 2013 CD release
of Crimson Passion Crya wide ranging and excellent
album featuring the talents of Crimson Chrysalis leader and vocalist
René van den Berg, who shares song writing credits with
the bands lyricist Esther Slabbert. Not only does Ms.
van den Berg possess tremendous vocal skills in the spirit of Ann
Wilson of the group Heart, but (after enjoying their Fuck Off
And Die video on you tube), shes also clearly a competent
guitarist as well. In addition to Renes and Esthers memorable
songs, the Crimson Passion Cry album also benefits thanks to
the stellar guitar and bass work of Cobus Schutte, drummer
Franschois Lessing and a host of other backing vocaliststhe
sum total of which is brought further into focus, thanks to the ultra
tight arrangements, keyboards and strings of Elben Schutte.
Crimson Chrysalis come from South Africa and you can sense theres
also some unique and exotic elements in their sound. Singing in English,
the band possesses the ability to attain a comprehensive global musical
appeal. Crimson Chrysalis has a solid rock edge and their orchestral
arrangements place them quite rightly in world of 21st century hard
rock meets progressive orchestral rock. www.RavenHeartmusic.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
René van den Berg and Esther Slabbert of
Tell us something about where you live now in South Africa and how
it affects you musically. Crimson Chrysalis seems like a pretty exotic
progressive rock sound to come out of South Africa. How did the band
start and how did that lead to the release of the Crimson Passion
René van den Berg: It started very naturally. I was
rehearsing for a show and included a Meatloaf rock cover. Esther commented
that the rock genre fits me like a glove... At the time I wrote and
performed my own Afrikaans songs. I told her that she must write me
English rock lyrics. Our first attempt was Lost and the
rest just followed naturally! The sound is very exotic, even for South
Africa, where the symphonic rock and metal scene are limited to the
select few who import their music.
mwe3: For those who dont know anything about it, is there
a way to reflect on the history of pop, rock and progressive rock
in South Africa?
René van den Berg: South Africa has a rich and diverse
musical history. Although South Africa rock is less known overseas,
other genres do get international recognition. Grammys were
awarded to great bands and musician like Ladysmith Black Mambazo &
The Sowetan Gospel Choir. Well known in the US is Johnny Clegg and
Savuka, and the most recent export is The Parlotones.
Esther Slabbert: Currently the rock scene is in transition
with a lot of folk influences and mostly strong male vocals. But our
genre is not prominent in SA. As far as we are aware we are the only
band to release a symphonic rock album in South Africa that was picked
up by overseas labels.
What were your early musical studies like and what artists, bands
and musicians and favorite albums inspired you while growing up in
Esther Slabbert: Rene studied piano and guitar. I dabbled in
some guitar and flute. But Rene is the truly musically gifted one
that composes all the music for CC. Believe it or not, she is a diehard
ABBA fanatic but we both like various artists and bands. Our tastes
are eclectic at best! We both had some classical training as children...
I hated every theory session and thought my teacher was a witch!...
but I think our love for Bach, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and
the great composers are evident in our work.
mwe3: How would you describe the chemistry between the both
of you and how and when did you meet and decide to work together?
Whats the synergy like between lyricist and songwriter / musician
in Crimson Chrysalis? How do you spark each other to come up with
a great song and where do you get the ideas for your songs? News,
politics, art, culture?
René van den Berg: As mentioned before we started writing
by accident. Through the years our respect for each other and our
friendship molded us into a song writing team that inspires and challenges
each other constantly. Esther is inspired by politics and current
events. She is a conceptual writer, we decide what we want on the
album and then we create that. We push each other quite hard to improve
on previous songs. We strongly believe that good structure both musically
and lyrically will provide a good quality album.
mwe3: Is there a single from the Crimson Passion Cry
album and what are some of your favorite tracks from the CD? I love
the way Epilogue, which is so majestic and full of remorse,
perfectly segues into the fist-pumping track Fuck Off And Die
its a brilliant idea! Can you say something about those two
tracks? They seem so opposite yet complimentary... Does Crimson Chrysalis
thrive on sonic extremes?
van den Berg: There was not a single, but we released an online
EP with the first 6 songs. We liked creating something as diverse
as the Crimson Passion Cry album. It is simply impossible for
either of us to choose a favorite. We wanted to create an album that
consists of music that can be played from beginning to end. It is
important to us to place the songs in such an order that we create
a natural rise and fall on the album, while listening, to answer your
question about "Epilogue" and "Fuck Off And Die".
mwe3: Anything to add on the songwriting process in Crimson
René van den Berg: Esther usually conceptualizes a song
and work from an idea... this can be a line, a word or a musical inspiration.
I will then write a lyric... Rene will compose from there. This is
usually a process of mutual exchange between us. In my opinion, Rene
has a singular ability to create very catchy and hauntingly beautiful
other musicians, arrangers and producers were involved in helping
Crimson Chrysalis attain such a great sound in the studio and on record?
van den Berg:
We are blessed with a uniquely gifted arranger, Elben Schutte, who
takes the basics and transforms it into a masterful end product.
Renes vocal coach, Ruan Zen, became a vocal inspiration to us
both . After hearing a live performance by him, I wrote "Epilogue"
for him and René. He is a core member of Crimson Chrysalis
delivers the best vocals on all the songs, together with Rene. He
also partners with René vocally on "Fatal Lie". We
are blessed in having excellent musicians who lend their talents to
the studio sessions and on stage.
van den Berg:
I worked with Jurgen von Wechmar on a previous South African folk
album. His studio is in the picturesque Banhoek Valley, near Stellenbosch
in the fairest Cape. He is one of the most acclaimed producers and
engineers in the South African music industry.
Where do you see Crimson Chrysalis fitting in the world of 21st century
prog rock and also symphonic metal music? Do you differentiate between
music genres or do you break down walls to create something new?
van den Berg & Esther Slabbert: Although we love and listen
to different music genres, we are both rockers at heart. We do not
box our sound into one genre. We create in isolation at the southern
tip of Africa, and we would like to think that our roots gives us
a unique take on the symphonic metal and rock genre.
mwe3: With such a great album design that really seems to capture
the mood of the music, can you tell us something about how the Crimson
Passion Cry album artwork enhances the listening experience?
Slabbert: Sometimes one gets blessed with gifted people along
the way. Rene is the musically gifted but usually I must think out
the visual aspects of our product. I love fantasy music and books,
and Coenie van Staden, photographer and the brilliant video director
of the Crimson Passion Cry vid project, created exactly
what we wanted.
mwe3: Now that progressive rock has proven to be a truly worldwide
musical phenomenon, especially in the internet age, how are you planning
to get the word out about Crimson Chrysalis and how are you planning
to take your next music and lyrics one step further in 2014 and beyond?
René van den Berg & Esther Slabbert: We have just
finished the first four new songs of the new album due for release
2015. The overall sound will be the same as the Crimson Passion
Cry album, as that is the Crimson Chrysalis sound. We brought
in more live strings than with the previous album, and it sounds amazing.
We plan to start performing abroad as soon as possible, as that is
crucial to get the Crimson Chrysalis name out and the music heard.
We will also prerelease a few of the new tracks, to start creating
a buzz and make the people curious.
Thanks to René van den Berg & Esther Slabbert @ www.CrimsonChrysalis.com