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METAL MAIDEN OF THE MONTH---December 2015

Julie Bélanger Roy

Julie is vocalist and violionist for 2 bands. Märchenbilder and Gone In April

julie1 (2)

THE METAL PIT:  Hi Julie. Your the vocalist for 2 bands. Märchenbilder and Gone in April. How did you become to be a part of both bands?

Julie Bélanger Roy:  Hi Blake! Thanks for having me at The Metal Pit! James Slainman, the composer/guitarist of Märchenbilder and I met while studying at Montreal Conservatory of Music. We both loved the  mix between majestic orchestrations and heavy riffs. We built Märchenbilder together and found talented musicians to complete the line-up. Gone in April contacted me a little bit later when they started looking for a singer. Yanic Bercier, who was drumming for both Märchenbilder and Gone in April, suggested that I write some vocal lines to some of the riffs. They liked what I brought to the songs so I was officially in!  

What would be the biggest differences in the 2 bands?

When writing the songs for Märchenbilder, we have a classical approach: one composer writes the majority or entirety of the work.  James writes for a full symphony orchestra, for the guitars and for the voice. Yanic then composes drums, Chicco Parisi composes the bass. The orchestra is very present and at the forefront of most songs. With Gone In April, each musician writes his/her own instrument.The songs are more traditional in form, we have death vocals on many of them and the guitars are technical and melodic.   julie5 (2)Your a classical musical trained violinist and vocalist. How did you become to put your talents into Heavy Metal and not just stick with Classical music? I literally grew up with classical music as I started playing the  violin at 8 years old. After practicing symphonies, concertos,  operas, and chamber music for hours, at the end of the day, I want to listen to something completely different! Metal has a crazy energy to it, and, as a metal musician, there is a lot of freedom  that is not often found in classical music. It allows to step out of  the heels and long dress and go headbang on the stage!   Your originally from Montreal, QC.  Why did you make the move to the USA? I got a great assistantship at the University of Tennessee to study  viola with a fantastic teacher, and also found a great voice  teacher. Yanic was in Tennessee working as a physicist designing   nuclear medicine scanners, so I decided to join him and make the move.   Going back. Why did you have a interest in classical music? I think it started with chocolate haha! My father was taking violin  lessons when I was five. I would sit in the lesson and, if I was  quiet for the full lesson, he would buy me chocolate. He would let me pluck the strings of his violin and would make me listen to his favorite pieces on the radio. When I decided I wanted to take lessons as well, he stopped his lessons to pay for mine. I always valued his gift. When the time to make a career choice arrived,  music is what I knew the best and I felt like I could not part from it without losing a part of myself.   Who are your biggest musical influences? It is pretty mixed. I listen mainly to early music, folk, celtic,  classical music and metal. So in my melodies you can find elements of all of these. My top influences are probably a mixture of     Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, Nightwish, Epica, Kamelot, Loreena  McKennit, Schubert, Philip Glass.   julie7 (2) Gone in April is releasing a new cd in early 2016. Can you tell us more information on that? We are actually pretty excited about it! For this album, I first came up with vocal melodies and strings, Yanic Bercier added drums  and death vocal patterns later recorded by Aaron Rogers, and we sent the mixdowns to Marc-André Gingras for him to compose guitar riffs. Steve DiGiorgio then joined us in the studio to record the bass.  What makes this album very exciting is that it is aggressive,  technical, but yet very melodic. We described the first album as a blend of power and melody. The second album will be even more powerful, aggressive and melodic.   And what is happening with your other band Marchenbilder? James has done an amazing job at composing majestic pieces for the second album. The drums are also composed and we started some of the strings recording. I am now working on writing lyrics. Since our last album,  James graduated with a Master's degree in film scoring and I  graduated with my Master's degree in vocal performance. I think we  both gained a lot of experience and the second album will be a real     treat! Chicco, who is also a crossover classical/metal musician, is presently writing bass lines.   You have also did some acting in plays mostly while at the University of Tennessee. Do you miss doing that? How did that help with performing on stage in bands? In addition to singing and playing with Märchenbilder and Gone in April, I frequently perform with  symphony orchestras and opera     companies. What I love about opera is that I get paid to sing, dress  up and act. That's a pretty good life! The acting experience does help for band performances. Opera is a little bit like metal in the sense that it is very extreme. You have to be able to reach for a huge scale of emotions and let yourself feel all of it, otherwise nobody buys your story. At a concert, people want to feel something, to feel the energy of the music and forget all the daily struggles.  The only way to achieve this result is by giving it your all. julie8 (2) You have won awards for many things and have a Master Degrees in Viola and Vocals. Is there any awards or achievements you have       made that stand above everything else? I think for me the biggest achievement is when my music is appreciated. As a musician, you pour your heart out in a composition     or a performance, and there is nothing more rewarding than having somebody tell you it made a difference.   What advice would you have for young people who are maybe taking music in school right now? If you want to make a living out of it, you need to love it more than anything. Music is not an easy field. It requires a lot of sacrifices and work. BUT, the reward is worth it. Those moments on the stage where you feel like you are so vividly alive, when somebody tells you how you changed their life or made their day better is priceless.    julie2 (2)Music is definitely a big part of your life. So outside of music  what other interests do you have? I love nature. Whenever I have a chance, I escape in the mountains in a trail or camping. I recently picked up crossfit and I love how it keeps me in shape. I am not great at it yet, but it will come!  I also like to read and, once a year, meet with my fellow geek  friends and play a game of Call of Chtulu.   What other female vocalists do you admire? I would say Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil, she is fierce and an excellent vocalist. I also like Simone Simons' voice a lot, it is quite a unique instrument. As a classical vocalist, I admire the work of Ewa Podles, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Jessye Norman and Tarja Turunen to name just a few.    Why are you a part of 2 bands and not just concentrate solely on one? Both bands are quite dear to me. Märchenbilder is the perfect blend of classical and heavy I always wanted to achieve, and Gone in April     is where I can compose my own melodies.          Does either of your bands have any touring plans at the moment?julie4 (2) We are discussing shows in Canada with both bands, and shows in India with Gone in April. Gone in April will also have an album release show in the USA in January 2016.    If you had to pick just one. Playing violin or singing. Which would you choose and why? You know, I ask myself the same question everyday! It is actually a very different hat. Some days I feel like a string player, and some days I feel like a singer. I think both are so much a part of me that I refuse to choose.      Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with THE METAL PIT. I wish you all the best with each of your bands and in       everything you do. Thank you for having me at The Metal Pit, Blake, and for your time!  A big thank you also to all the readers! ___________________________________________________________________________ Märchenbilder  Facebook Gone In April    Facebook ****Photos used by permission of Julie Bélanger Roy****