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Interview: SERPENTYNE

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Serpentyne's Maggie-Beth Sand and Mark Powell discuss with Metal Horizons about their music, inspiration, the new album titled "The Serpent's Kiss."

What made you go for the name Serpentyne?

MAGGIE-BETH: We wanted a name that sounded mediaeval, but also somehow conveyed the notion of strength and power. We thought of “Serpent,” inspired by the medieval instrument the serpent which is a very long brass tube……but that had already been taken. Mark suggested “Serpentine,” like the lake in Hyde Park, so I then said, “Yes, but let’s spell it with a “y” making it sound more medieval as in the old word for time; tyme. We both liked it, so we went with that.

How do you usually describe your music?

MARK: One magazine editor described us as “Tarja meets Solstice,” which is a fairly good summation; a mix of Nightwish-style orchestrations with progressive rock. Although we’ve progressed from acoustic mediaeval band to rock, there is a world-mediaeval-fantasy thread running through everything that we’ve done.

What is your writing process like?

MARK Often I’ll hear a traditional tune, or be playing one myself for practice when I think; “Hmm, I could make a good song out of this.” Lyrically, a lot of my ideas come from plays or stories, like “The Dark Queen” and “The Serpent’s Kiss.” A track on “Myths and Muses,” “Alexandria,” was inspired by Homer’s Iliad. The reason we chose that as a theme was that after writing the tune, Maggie said “The chorus needs to be the name of a place or person with five syllables.” That was the only one that I could think of, but as it happened, the story goes perfectly with the song, which is based around a traditional tune from that part of the world. Our songwriting is always a joint effort- often Maggie will suggest an idea to me, I’ll write a tune, then she’ll come up with some ideas on how to improve it, so the end result may be quite different from how it started off. Or she’ll write something which gives me ideas. Looking back at all the songs, it’s impossible sometimes, to remember which one of us wrote which bits of each.

Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?

MAGGIE-BETH It comes from all sorts of sources - films, books, poems, paintings, or places we visit. We’ve played festivals in a lot of castles and mediaeval settings and they’re often very inspiring.



What is your favourite piece on the “The Serpent’s Kiss” album?

MAGGIE-BETH …I like all of them but I’d choose “Jeanne D’Arc” because the story is about a brave woman who went to fight for her people, and I think musically it’s a very strong theme.
 
MARK It’s hard to pick one. I love “Saltarello,” as it’s one of my favourite mediaeval tunes, but I also like “The Dark Queen” for the story. There again… no, I can’t say that I have a favourite; I like all of them.

What makes “The Serpent’s Kiss" different? What would you say is your biggest difference from other bands out there?

MAGGIE-BETH: The previous album, “Myths and Muses” was themed mainly around historical and mythical figures; Boudicca and the Valkyries, for instance. This one continues the legends and fantasy route, around Helen Of Troy, Jeanne D’Arc, Brigantia, the mythical; figure of the Morrighan for example - all powerful female figures. But it’s more loosely themed - one song, for example, “Spirits of the Desert” is about lost ghostly souls wandering the desert, while another, “The Dark Queen” is based on a Howard Pyle short story. There is a world-mediaeval-fantasy thread running through everything that we’ve done, which is, I suppose, what makes us different.



What should music lovers expect from “The Serpent’s Kiss”?

MARK: If you like a mix of progressive rock, metal, world and mediaeval music, you might like to give this a try! If you can’t imagine what that sounds like… well, here’s your chance to find out!

What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?

MARK: Any piece of music, of any style, can inspire different emotions in different people. They may feel excitement, joy, or pathos, depending on the song. If you can communicate any of these emotions, then your music is working.

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?

MAGGIE-BETH: Both. Studio work, for me, means focusing on creativity and developing ideas into songs, and stories into compositions. This gives me a sense of achievement; the pleasure of thinking how much I would like to share this music with my audience. Being on tour gives me the opportunity to share directly with our audiences and it is always a pleasure to get this immediate feedback.

Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

MAGGIE-BETH: Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti. Within Temptation - The Silent Force. Carl Orff's Carmina Burana; the version recorded by the Choir and Orchestra of the  Deutschen Oper Berlin, with Eugen Jochum.

Visit http://www.serpentyne.com for more news from Serpentyne.

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