October 11, 2018 Interview – Elize Ryd of Amaranthe Talks Helix + More
It could take a lifetime for a band to find their identity. In fact, even while having success, some never truly uncover their true self. Together now for ten years, Sweden’s Amaranthe know they are not immune to such harsh realities. Fortunately, rather than be complacent, they have pushed themselves to experiment with Rock, Metal, and Electronic styles, combining each together into one diverse ball of sound they can call their own.
Growing into their own skin – from 2011’s self-titled debut to breakout of 2014’s Massive Addictive – Amaranthe continue along their own path with their latest album, Helix, due out on October 19th. A follow-up to the powerful 2016 effort Maximalism, Helix could be one the band’s strongest efforts to date. Eager to bring it to the people, lead front-lady Elize Ryd sat down to chat the evolution of Amaranthe, the work behind Helix, the possibility of their return to the USA, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – Last we spoke in 2016 Amaranthe had recently released Maximalism. Since then you have toured consistently, added a new member, and recorded a new album. How would you describe the last couple of years for the band?
Elize Ryd – It’s been very hectic. To me, sometimes it feels less than just two years ago, some other days, even more than two years ago. A lot of things have happened: it’s hard to put perspective on it. (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – In our previous interview, you gave details of the interesting yet complex story about how the band came to be. Now a decade in, how would you describe the progression of the band’s sound?
Elize Ryd – I think we have learned a lot, especially when it comes to the songwriting. We have always done everything ourselves, we have tried to produce as much as we can ourselves. We have worked with Jacob Hansen in the studio, but have always stayed true to ourselves so to speak. It has been a long education for us – both live and in the studio. We have been very brave and tried so many different directions; I think everyone can agree that none of our albums sound the same.
The two most similar were probably our first two. We remember people said the second album sounded exactly like the first one. That is when we wanted to create a difference between the albums, that way there was something always new and fresh. That is when we first really had the breakthrough in the US with Massive Addictive (2014). We took it a little bit further on Maximalism, I think. Now, on the fifth album, Helix, we have kind of brought everything together. Since it has been so many years, it’s interesting to kind of find out what is the core sound of what we have tried so far. That is what we were focusing on when we wrote Helix: to try and bring together the best parts of everything since the first album.
CrypticRock.com – Each album has offered something different and you have not repeated yourselves yet. That in mind, you are set to return with Helix on October 19th. This album is unique to Maximalism. What was the writing and recording like this time around?
Elize Ryd – The songwriting for Helix was the same as usual after the previous album. It is always nice to go out on tour with new songs, so that was acknowledged. We picked out a few of them, which we played live, and then we started to think, “What would we like to bring live with the next album?” After each album, we live with the songs and perform them live. We agreed we missed a lot of the heavy guitars and also a little technical drums from Morten Løwe Sørensen side. We talked about what we wanted to focus on.
We came to the conclusion that everyone came together in this band because they are great musicians, so we really wanted to highlight each member’s talent. That gave us a lot of freedom to not focus too much on creating something new, but more to come together as a band again and lift each member.
It didn’t take until January until we actually started to write. Before that we had brainstormed, but we were on the road and had so many shows. Everyone was getting a bit overworked; I myself was sick for three months. We couldn’t find the time we thought we would find between the summer and winter to write something; there were so many other things that came in the way. We ended up starting to write in January, and we had to be done in March, because 1st of March, we had already booked the studio with Jacob Hansen. It took us two months to finish all the songs, but they were 80% done, and we finished everything else in the studio. That was a little bit different than how we wrote the previous album, but it was kind of good because we could think about the songs 24/7 for two months. It put it all together in a nice way.
It was also different because we had Nils Molin on vocals and he was going to present the melodies, so you had to think with his voice in mind during the process. That was also very inspiring.
CrypticRock.com – The album came out very well. As mentioned, you added a new vocalist in 2017. What has it been like working with Nils?
Elize Ryd – It went very well. I think he came down for around 1 1/2 weeks, but he was very fast. His other band is Dynasty, and he is very professional – you could really sense that. If you bring in a new singer, you don’t know what you are going to end up with. You don’t know if they would be comfortable, for example, working with Jacob Hansen, or with us. He did very well, and as a person for this band, he fits very well. We all became very close and connected; he fits very well.
CrypticRock.com – That is good to hear. You had mentioned working with two other vocalists is a lot of fun, especially when it comes to the songwriting. We are all influenced by different things as we get older and experience more. For you, what has changed as a songwriter and how you approach the music?
Elize Ryd – Actually, I worked a little bit extra on the songwriting since 2016. I have also written for other artists: I just love to write for other female vocalists. Stuff I can’t present with my own vocals, I can fulfill with other people singing. For me, it personally has made me realize I enjoy to write songs and melodies for other vocalists. To be able to have the tools of two other vocalists within the band, it became so natural to me. I realized that I have the skill to write for others, a skill thanks to the band for 10 years constantly having someone else in mind. It’s almost hard for me to imagine to write something only for myself. I try that, but I always want someone else to sing it. (Laughs)
In Amaranthe, I have 1/3 of the job to do there. It’s been very challenging, but you also realize how the spectrum has grown. I can really see myself continuing to write for other people in the future. It’s nice to know, regardless of how old I am, I will probably always write music.
CrypticRock.com – It is exciting to hear you have grown as a songwriter. You have collaborated with others in the past, offering your voice to other recordings. Is that something you would enjoy doing more?
Elize Ryd – I would actually. It is nice to be able to put your voice on someone else’s melodies. Everyone has a different style of writing. We have a language, we call it the melody language. It’s the same with other instruments as well. It’s a lot of fun to sing something else others have written. It is something I could absolutely see myself doing in the future more.
CrypticRock.com – Fantastic! It has been a couple years since the band has visited North America. Can we expect a tour across the USA in support of this new album?
Elize Ryd – It’s been too long. We really miss touring the United States, it’s always very fun. We have always had a good time hanging around all these amazing people! We think next year we can somehow make it. We have not booked anything yet though, but we are absolutely looking into it. Of course, we have to come with Helix: it would be a perfect album to bring to the States. We really want that to happen!
CrypticRock.com – That would be great to see. It can be a challenge for European bands to tour the USA because of the expenses.
Elize Ryd – That is actually very true. That is the biggest part I know why there are a lot of bands that maybe cannot afford to come to the USA; that is maybe why a lot of bands only tour Europe. That is why we realize how lucky we have been to be able to tour as much as we have in America. We wish to come back, and it would be great to come back with another band as support.
CrypticRock.com – That will be something to look out for in 2019. In our last interview, you mentioned you were in fact a fan of Horror movies as a kid, but then had nightmares and stopped watching. What are some new movies you enjoyed?
Elize Ryd – That is funny you are mentioning that. I have been watching a lot of movies this summer, because it has been so frigging warm in Sweden – we don’t have AC in the apartments, but we do in the cinema. (Laughs) I take that opportunity to go to the cinema instead of the beach. I saw a movie recently called Peppermint which was really good, that reminds me of a movie called Kill Bill (2003). I had not seen Kill Bill until this year, crazy, right? I love Quentin Tarantino’s movies. Now I am into Action movies like that, with women killing a lot of people. (Laughs)
My little sister, who is 15-years-old, became obsessed with Horror movies, so she forced me to go back to watching Horror movies. Being her bigger sister, I had to show her I am tough. (Laughs) I still have to close my eyes sometimes. I was amazed by The Conjuring (2013), I can’t say I enjoyed it, because I think it was scary, it was very well done though. I also watched It (2017) because there was a Swedish actor in it. It was less scary to know he was from Sweden. (Laughs)