October 24, 2016 Interview – Elize Ryd of Amaranthe
Sweden has been a hotbed for talented Metal/Rock bands for some time now. Acts such as Amon Amarth, Opeth, In Flames, and Arch Enemy are just a few who have blazed a path of success directly across the Atlantic in the past two decades. Joining the list some eight years ago, hybrid Metal band Amaranthe came together in Gothenburg. Once thought of as just an experiment, the musicians involved soon grabbed the attention of many with their unique combined of Electronic, Death Metal, and Pop elements. Open to experimenting with different styles, Amaranthe is further set apart from similar bands with their lineup completed with three Lead Vocalists – Elize Ryd, Jake E Lundberg, and Henrik Englund Wilhemsson. Still riding high off the success of 2014’s Massive Addictive, two years later, Amaranthe look to push the envelope even further with their new album Maximalism. Bigger, bolder, and more diverse than ever, it is bound to make a splash on the international scene. Recently we caught up with Elize Ryd to talk the story behind Amaranthe, the work behind Maximalism, her hopes for the future, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Amaranthe came together nearly a decade ago, and in that time the band has built a strong international following. First, tell us, what has the ride been like thus far?
Elize Ryd – It has been very up down, interesting, challenging, and everything has kind of happened along the road. It has also been the best experience because it encouraged us to continue to do what we do, and love doing. Where we are now, releasing the fourth album, and actually having a chance to tour around the world, that is extremely fun. We appreciate it, especially because of the harder times. We are super grateful. I love where we are at now and I hope people are going to enjoy this upcoming album as well as can keep building our fan base so we can continue for another decade!
CrypticRock.com – That would be wonderful to see. The members of Amaranthe all come from other established Metal bands in the European scene from Nightrage to Dream Evil. How did all of you get together to start this collaborative project?
Elize Ryd – That is a very interesting question. You mentioned a few bands there. Olof was part of Nightrage, Jake had Dreamland, and I had done a few guest vocals for a band I usually do not mention in interviews, but this is a good opportunity. They are a band called Falconer, they are a Power Metal band. I sang on their second album on their 2003 album, The Sceptre of Deception, and 2005’s Grime vs. Grandeur. That was the beginning, then I became friends with people in the Gothenburg Metal scene.
I auditioned for Nightwish, I did not get the job, but I started a band with Olof and the keyboard player from his band. Olof was very good friends with Jake and I collaborated with them in their band Dreamland for the ballad “Fade Away.” We started to collaborate with that, and that was something I wanted to continue with. We always spent time together and we became best friends. I had ideas for myself, and Jake had an idea to do something with his friends. He came up with the idea and asked Olof to join. He wrote the songs and they wanted me to be part of the songwriting and the demo recording. We started to write the songs together, then Andy Solveström came and put on the first demos.
Then we did other demos, like a project, and we put it up on Myspace. There was a manager who wrote us and thought it was cool. Even though we didn’t even start to have a band, we still had songs. We received such a good response and the manager said he wanted to work with us. That is when we realized maybe we shouldn’t do the other things we were planning, and we should just create a band. Then Olfo asked Morton he if wanted to played drums. Then joined Johan Andreassen on bass, he was in a band called Engel. Then we call came together for a meeting in Gothenburg and started to see ourselves as a band. We then got a record deal with Spinefarm Records and that is it. It is very complicated and a very long story (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – Wow, it is a very interesting story. Now here we are today.
Elize Ryd – Yea, exactly. That is the fun part about it. It is always a hard question to answer, because it is complicated. No one planned that we should start a band, it just kind of happened. Also, because the response was so good. I loved the sound we created together, I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, so I thought, let’s go for it.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely. The band certainly has created a unique sound mixing Electronic Rock with Symphonic Metal, Pop, and Death Metal. Your big break in the US mainstream came with 2014’s Massive Addictive anchored by “Drop Dead Cynical.” Were you surprised to see the surge the band received in the North American market after the release of this album?
Elize Ryd – Yes, I was very surprised. I could not believe it almost. It was a very clear change. It is so cool when had the opportunity to start touring, and we were extremely excited for that. It is amazing.
CrypticRock.com – You have built a name in North America, you have toured here and gotten airplay on stations such as SiriusXM’s Octane. Now you are set to return with the highly anticipated Maximalism. This new album is quite a diverse mix of songs. You have Classic Rock leaning tracks, more Electronic tracks, and others being extremely heavy. What was the writing and recording process like?
Elize Ryd – The process was a little different from the previous ones because we actually had time to sit down and think a lot about how we could make some changes in the sound without changing too much of course. We were playing around a lot with new keyboards and worked on a list of things that we like that we had not used yet on the previous albums. This was an opportunity for us to get a little bit more diverse. I think that is exactly what this album represents. We wanted to maximize our sound and ourselves as human beings. It is also a little bit more organic.
CrypticRock.com – The album title seems to fit the record very well in that case.
Elize Ryd – Exactly. That was the whole idea actually. We thought, if we are going to do a song, we should represent the Electronic influences, why not just maximize that and do it as much as we can? The philosophy was to maximize instead of minimize. Maximalism is when we started to think of this philosophy of maximizing.
CrypticRock.com – The album has a little something for everyone. Songs like “That Song” is quite catchy and is currently a single. Seeing that the album is so diverse, what are some others which hold extra special meaning for you?
Elize Ryd – If I had to say one, I would say “Endless.” It is the only song I sing by myself, and it is very personal. It is very revealing to write a song like that on an Amaranthe record. We also used real strings, which we never had done before, by Mattias Bylund, who is a Grammy Award winning arranger. I have known him for 10 years and I wanted him to someday play on our record, but we didn’t know how to get him in the sound. This time it worked, and for me, I was very happy to bring someone I know in whom you speak about ideas a lot with.
CrypticRock.com – It is great you had a chance to work with him. The track certainly closes out the record nicely. Speaking of diversity, the band does in fact have 3 vocalists. That is not very common. What is it like for you to work with two other vocalists in that way?
Elize Ryd – I think it is really fun, especially when it comes to the songwriting. That is why it was a challenge to write “Endlessly.” We did not decide that before writing the song of course, but in the end, it ended up only having my vocals. It is usually the most fun thing, to write songs for all 3 vocals. It is extremely unlimited. Most of all, it is nice to get to represent different kinds of emotions within yourself. If I want to represent something, and I cannot do that, but with Henrik’s growls, that is something I would like to express, but I cannot because I do not have that kind of voice. Then you have Jake who brings a different kind of vibe to all the songs. You can never get tired or bored with this creatively.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it works exceptionally well. Perhaps when someone hears about 3 vocalists in a Metal band, they would think it would come across cluttered. Amaranthe does not though. Everything takes its place nicely.
Elize Ryd – That is nice to hear. I used to do a lot of musicals. I have a musical background, but I did not start to work within because I had the band. When you have a musical, it wouldn’t be an interesting story if you had one vocalists, so I think that way. I think it is a very lucky combination that we found that.
CrypticRock.com – It does set the band apart from others. It seems some people like to lump all Metal bands fronted by women as female fronted Metal bands. This is rather absurd because we do not say all male bands are male fronted Metal bands. What is your opinion on this generalization?
Elize Ryd – I have been asked this question before. I understand why it has happened, it was a way for people to label these kind of bands, because it was not so common. I think some people like Metal bands with females because there are so few of them, and an easy way to find them, is to have a name for it. I have spoken to a lot of fans about it too. They will tell me they do not like to listen to Metal with male vocalists, but they like women’s voices together with Metal.
So, if they Google or search somehow for that name, they can find a lot of bands they probably would not find if there was not a word for it (laughs). So I kind of understand it. Although, it would also be very nice it would be a natural thing, instead of focusing on the gender within the genre. In Pop music, you don’t have that. You don’t have female fronted Pop bands. Hopefully there will eventually be one genre called Metal. We are kind of our own genre, because it is a mixture of things. It is good and bad, it depends on what view you are looking at it from.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, those are some valid points; something to think about. Bands such as Amaranthe are different than say Lacuna Coil, Halestorm, or Arch Enemy. That is where the generalization gets foggy.
Elize Ryd – Exactly, yes. We are very different, but we all fall under female fronted things (laughs). It doesn’t mean anything, no one came up with it as a genre, it is just a way for people to find things. I think some people misunderstand, maybe they think it is a genre, but it is not a genre.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, very true. Sometimes it is best not to over analyze these things.
Elize Ryd – Yes, you do not have to analyze. It is nice that people do that though. I think it is cute that people care a lot about these things, and if you want to change them, of course it is necessary to talk about it. What I mean though is, if there were more Metal bands with female singers, guitar players, bass players, drummers, then it would not be necessary. Hopefully there will soon be more females in Metal.
CrypticRock.com – It does seem there is a rising number of females in Rock.
Elize Ryd – Yes, there has been a big change from just a few years back and I find that really cool.
CrypticRock.com – My last question is pertaining to films. CrypticRock.com covers music, but also Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of these genres, do you have any favorites.
Elize Ryd – I was a big fan of Horror movies when I was a kid. I have very young parents and they thought I was allowed to watch Horror movies. So I watched the old classics like The Shining (1980) and The Exorcist (1973). Then I saw The Ring (2002), and after that, I had to stop. I had nightmares, I couldn’t sleep for a year (laughs). That was the limit, so now I cannot watch Horror movies. I cannot even see a commercial for it, I freak out.
I like the old ones like I mentioned, because those are the most scary ones. They are the reason I cannot watch scary movies anymore. I have heard so much about new movies that are probably even more scary, but I cannot watch them because I will get mentally ill and have to go to the hospital probably (laughs). As far as Science Fiction, I would have to say The Matrix (1999).
CrypticRock.com – Very interesting. Thanks to mom and dad for showing you these films too young, right? (laughs)
Elize Ryd – Exactly! A lot of parents did not think that was very good for me. I was so cool, because I did not get scared when I was little. Then I thought I heard people walking in the attic, so maybe it was because I watched movies like that (laughs).