INTERVIEW with DELAIN’s Charlotte Wessels – “We empty the Dirty Dancing VHS and use it to smuggle acorns for the squirrel.”

INTERVIEW with DELAIN’s Charlotte Wessels – “We empty the Dirty Dancing VHS and use it to smuggle acorns for the squirrel.”

Dutch symphonic metallers Delain were formed in 2002 in their first incarnation, but it wasn’t until 2005 when the stable and current Delain line up really came into being. Formed by ex Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt the band have since taken the world by storm, releasing four albums in that time.

Metalmouth caught up with lead singer Charlotte Wessels and had a chat about The Human Contradiction, Kate Bush and angry squirrels. Watch your nuts!

Delain - Charlotte Wessels

Hi, how are you today?

Fine, thunder outside and I’m on the couch with coffee 🙂

It’s been almost two months since the release of ‘The Human Contradiction’, how have you found the response to your latest work?

Very positive, people have responded extremely well to the record which is a great recognition for our efforts.

What themes can be found lyrically in the album?

 The album title ‘The Human Contradiction’ functions as an overarching concept for the lyrical themes and was directly borrowed from the Sci-Fi trilogy ‘Lilith’s Brood’ (Author: Octavia E. Butler). Within the books, the Human Contradiction is described as the fact that we are as a species both intelligent and hierarchic. This human contradiction causes an ‘us versus the others’ mentality; an attitude which makes humans randomly select qualities in others and use those qualities to justify ranking them higher or lower on the socially constructed ladder; this is exactly the kind of behaviour that allows for systems of oppressions such as racism, (hetero)sexism, species-ism etc. to exist.

It creates dualisms, and basically it is an attitude, which in the book – as well as one could argue, in reality – proves to be most self-destructive. In that way, The Human Contradiction presents a broadening and deepening of the lyrical concept of our previous record We Are The Others: ‘otherness’ and how people relate to this, is a topic that I has indeed become very personal to me and that I have been obsessing over both artistically and academically for the last couple of years; it has become a recurring theme in Delain’s lyrics.

Whether it is otherness within our species, so towards people who are perceived as ‘different’ by other people (which was ‘We Are The Others’ main focus) or in our attitudes towards nonhuman ‘others’, which is the lyrical addition made by our new record.

So about this release, did the recording take you anywhere different from previous Delain releases?

It did and it should always do this, otherwise what’s the sense of making new releases?

Bringing in Marco Heitala, Alyssa White-Gluz and George Oosthoek on to the album added extra textures and dimensions to your sound. Were the tracks written with these guys in mind?

It worked different with each artist. Marco for example has been such a prominent sound on our first records, that often when we imagine male vocals on a part, we end up automatically imagining his vocals there. Whenever we ask him to collaborate we’re certain to have an awesome outcome, and his guest vocals for The Human Contradiction are no exception.

The reunion with George is also a very fortunate one! He’s been joining us for years on stage at various occasions performing the older Delain songs which feature grunts, but on our records it’s been a while since we’ve had prominent grunts featuring in a song. ‘Tell me, Mechanist’ is the first song in a long time to have such a big role for grunts so it was only fitting to have George perform those again, just like he originally did on our debut ‘Lucidity’.

‘The Tragedy Of The Commons’, the song on which Alissa White-Gluz performs, was actually one of the last songs to be finalized, and Alissa’s vocals consequently were some of the very finishing touches on the record. We are very excited about the collaboration: we love her great, versatile and powerful vocal style and after spending time on the road with Alissa on our tour with Kamelot last fall, we simply needed her awesomeness 🙂

The album is full of infectious ear worm tracks, ‘Stardust’ being one of them. Delain have an affinity with writing almost pop sounding catchy as hell metal tracks. Do you believe this is a key to your success as a band?

For us it’s what comes naturally, and I am sure fans have become fond of it. It is definitely something that is typical for us and it might not be a ‘key to success’ (I don’t believe in ‘keys to success’ as it implies that when one would find out what it is, everybody would be successful :)) but I think there is a certain strength to it. Although a crossover sound can also be complicated. At the beginning of our career we have occasionally found ourselves in the situation of being ‘too loud’ for mainstream festivals and not ‘true’ enough for the brutal metal fests, haha. Fortunately we haven’t encountered this recently, maybe because we’ve kind of carved our niche in the field by now.

The album art is fantastic, bright and vibrant. How does this relate to the themes within the album?

I really enjoy the process of finding a visual world to match the music of the record, and a good artwork can do just that. For The Human Contradiction, I had a very extensive list of what I wanted the artwork to include both visually/aesthetically as symbolically. From including the cosmic elements to pay tribute to the book the album borrows its title from, to visualizing the dualisms that are caused by this human contradiction (human vs non-human nature in this case).

I have to totally credit both our go-to photographer Sandra Ludwig and the designers at DasBuro for creating out of all those wishes one striking image!


Moving away from the album, you’ve just done a tour in the UK with Within Temptation. What is next for Delain?

Festivals, club shows, a six week US tour with Sonata Arctica and Xandria, and we have several more tours lined up that we haven’t announced yet. We’re keeping busy!

So some personal questions…what album got you into heavy metal?

Lunarstrain/Subterranean by In Flames and Toxicity by System of a Down.

Vocal inspirations? What was it about these vocalists that just struck you? 

Kate Bush, because duh! 🙂 Because of the explosiveness of her voice and her amaaazing songwriting.

You can put Delain on tour with any bands past or present, who is on the line up?

Actually I just had this dream a few nights ago where Within Temptation and ourselves were opening for the gigs that Kate Bush is doing in the UK this summer. Waking up has rarely been more disappointing.

Metalmouth is all about new music and emerging bands, have you come across any new bands that are worthy of a mention?

Not really new but I love The Charm The Fury, definitely worth the mention!

And finally – Delain are stuck on a tour bus with the following – an angry squirrel, a bottle of rum, some strawberries and a copy of Dirty Dancing on VHS (video cassette) – what happens next.

We befriend the squirrel by offering it the strawberries and drink the bottle of rum together. We empty the dirty dancing VHS and use it to smuggle acorns for the squirrel. We live happily ever-fucking-after 🙂

delain - intie thanks Charlotte for her time and wishes Delain the best of luck for their upcoming tours.

Check out the band on FACEBOOK and purchase THE HUMAN CONTRADICTION here

Alan Hicks caught Delain performing with Within Temptation in May – see what he thought of the gig here.