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Delain Singer Charlotte Wessels Talks New Album ‘The Human Contradiction’ + More

Photo by Sandra Ludewig

Dutch symphonic metal band Delain recently released their new album ‘The Human Contradiction,’ which is filled with deep lyrics, melodic vocals and heavy riffs. We caught up with singer Charlotte Wessels, who spoke about the concepts and themes of the disc. Wessels also dished about the collaborations on ‘The Human Contradiction’ as well as other musicians she finds to be inspiring. Check out our interview with Charlotte Wessels of Delain below:

‘The Human Contradiction’ — what does the title mean to you?

The album title ‘The Human Contradiction’ is a concept 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. It’s 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 behavior that allows for systems of oppressions such as racism, (hetero)sexism, speciesism 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 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 reoccurring theme in Delain’s lyrics. Whether it is otherness within our species, 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.

How was the overall recording and creative process for you on this album?

We basically took matters into our own hands. With our previous record ‘We Are the Others,’ many people were involved. Much of that, like our producers and team, were really positive. But we were also involved with many people from many different labels and managements, and so a lot of different opinions.

Now we are stubborn enough not to let anyone steer us away from what we want to do musically, but we did notice that a lot of energy went into dealing with “politics” instead of the creative process. The inward turn we have taken with ‘The Human Contradiction,’ which includes having Martijn [Westerholt] back in the producer seat, allowed us to focus on the music. This created a very free creative process, that made the writing and production of ‘The Human Contradiction’ rather smooth, even considering the crazy time pressure.

What about who you are as a vocalist and person today can we hear on ‘The Human Contradiction’?

I guess for me as a vocalist, I have tried to focus mainly on the delivery of the emotions and topics the songs deal with, so there’s little vocal gymnastics so to speak, but it’s all heartfelt. As for me as a person I guess it does not say everything, but the lyrics do mostly speak about things that have puzzled me, or still puzzle me in one way or another. This does not define me, but it is a part of me I guess.

Were there specific songs that were challenging or interesting for you to record on this new album as a singer?

Every song has its challenges. Whether it is finding the right feel for the low doomy vocals of ‘Lullaby’ or deciding which one of many ideas for the chorus we had for ‘The Tragedy of the Commons.’

There were a few collaborations on the record with Marco Hietala, Alissa White-Gluz and George Oosthoek. How was it working with these artists?

It was great to have them aboard for the record! Both the reunion with Marco and George, as well as the new collaboration with Alissa White-Gluz worked really smoothly. They are great artists to work with and we love their contributions to our record!

Are there any newer vocalists, male or female, that you find inspiring? If so who are they and why?

I am completely and utterly in love with Australian pop singer and songwriter Sia Furler. She has the most amazing voice, and writes the most beautiful songs. Even the songs she writes for artists that I usually have no interest in at all totally rock (for example David Guetta’s ‘Titanium’). Plus she is very charming and funny and totally human in her way of dealing with the pressures of the music industry.

Our thanks to Delain’s Charlotte Wessels for taking the time to speak with us. Pick up the band’s new album ‘The Human Contradiction’ at iTunes.

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