The Dutch symphonic metal band DELAIN are back with new album and new line up.
RockOverdose had the chance to speak with their new singer Diana Leah on her experience being the frontwoman of Delain as well as the creation of their new album "Dark Waters" which is out via Napalm Records.!
RockOverdose: Hello Diana, how are you, how do you feel? Welcome to RockOverdose!
Diana Leah: I’m good! Thank you so much, I’m good! Thanks for having me!
RockOverdose: It’s our pleasure, of course. We all know that Delain has undergone a complete lineup change. In early August, along with their November tour dates, Delain announced that you were their new singer! -And congratulations for that!- How do you feel for being the frontwoman of a band that's so big in the symphonic metal scene, like Delain? Do you feel the responsibility on your back?
Diana Leah: Yeah, I definitely do. First of all, how does it feel? Well, it feels like a dream come true of course, because it has always been my dream to be in a band like this and especially a symphonic metal band, because I started exploring my voice through that type of music. I started in my high school years with Evanescence and Avril Lavigne and other bands that were big at the time, and then I merged into heavy metal and metalcore and then I merged again into symphonic metal and that’s where I found my place. You know, it felt like home whenever I was listening to that type of music and just it spoke to me so much. So, having the chance to be in band like this now, it’s really amazing, it’s like a full circle, so yeah. And the pressure, you always feel pressure when you do something like this and especially when you have people watching and knowing who you are and judging. Some people of course they judge, everyone judges. So, the pressure is always gonna be there but I try to stay grounded and not put too much pressure on myself and just take it easy. I’m aware that we’re all human beings and we all make mistakes, so nobody’s perfect. So that’s how I keep myself grounded.
RockOverdose: That’s very true, that’s the right way to see it, in my opinion. Take it a little bit calm and forgive yourself if you ever make a mistake, of course. How did you contact the band, did the band find you or you approached them when you saw they were in need of a new lineup?
Diana Leah: Yeah, well the thing is, I heard about the news and the split and what happened with the band and I came across a post on social media on Delain’s Instagram account. I think, if I remember well, it was Sander playing drums for the new album. So, when I saw that I was like “Ok, so if they record a new album this means they already have a singer.”. Because they weren’t very public with the whole searching-for-a-singer thing, I didn’t know what was happening at the time. But at the same time I thought “What if they don’t have a singer yet?” (laughs). So, I had all these insecurities saying “Oh, should I just go for it? I don’t really have much experience being in a band like this.”. But then I said, “You know what? Just do it. Worst case, you are not gonna get a reply back and then you’re gonna be fine.”. So, I left a comment actually, on that post, asking “Hey, can I audition as a singer?”. Like I said, I didn’t expect a reply back, but eventually, two days after that, I think it was two days, Martijn [Westerholt] contacted me and he said “This is a funny story because, you were on my list of singers to contact because I found you through your YouTube channel!”. I was making covers at the time on YouTube and that so he came across that, and I was really shocked because my YouTube channel wasn’t big at all, I had maybe a thousand subscribers or less. And, so that was a funny story I was like “Okay, now this makes sense!” (laughs).
RockOverdose: It was quite surreal!
Diana Leah: Yeah it was quite surreal to be honest! And then he told me “Of course, you can audition, I’m gonna send you some songs to sing on!”. He sent me “Burning Bridges” and “Masters of Destiny”, and then when I got home I recorded them and sent them to him right away. He immediately loved what I did, he was like “Wow, your voice fits really well, we loved how you’re singing these songs and we would actually love to hear your voice on brand new songs that we’re working on for the new album!”. He told me “You have no limits for these songs, we really wanna hear yourself. So, do whatever you feel you wanna do, sing them however you wanna sing them.”. And so I did it and he sent me “The Quest and the Curse” and “Beneath” which happened to be the first two singles of the new release. I recorded those and sent them back to him, he loved them and so he said “You know, what I think? It would be really nice if you’d come to The Netherlands to meet up with us”. So I went there, I met up with Martijn, Ronald and Sander. It was just cool to meet them, and have a chat and get to know each other a little bit better, because, of course, you need to get along with the people you’re gonna be in a band with. That’s crucial. We had dinner together, we had so many laughs and we played some acoustic songs because Ronald brought his acoustic guitar. We played “Zombie” from The Cranberries and we also played songs from Ariana Grande which is so funny to think about. We just had fun. I got back home and I think a week after Martijn called me and he told me “We would really love to work with you because we think your voice fits really well with the music” and “you have a good personality” and “we just like you so we would like to work with you”. So, that’s how it happened. (laughs)
RockOverdose: Wow, this must be completely surreal, contacting a band that you love and getting feedback from them and in the end being their member! This one would be one of the craziest dreams of any fan out there. You are really lucky having those dreams come true!
Diana Leah: Yeah, and I don’t take it for granted, any day, I don’t take it for granted.
RockOverdose: Of course, of course. As I previously mentioned, Delain is an elite band in symphonic metal. Were you a fan of their music before joining them?
Diana Leah: I was, I was. When I got into the symphonic metal genre and I discovered Nightwish and Within Temptation, of course I also discovered Delain. I was looking for all these bands on YouTube, that’s how you would find bands back in the day, in like 2009. And so, YouTube suggested me April Rain and their videο, I clicked and I was, like, in awe. I remember I was sitting on my chair, with the computer and watching this video with all these special effects and the rain, and the wind, and the song was so catchy, like, it was stuck in my head for weeks. And so I started listening to them. So, I was really familiar with their music, yeah, definitely.
RockOverdose: April Rain is indeed an amazing album, it might be the first that I ever came across from Delain and I really love it too, personally.
Diana Leah: It’s like a breakthrough album, it’s amazing.
RockOverdose: How do you see your career with Delain? Like, do you see it as a big milestone? Do you see it as a job? How do you see it?
Diana Leah: Well, this is a really good question. Of course it’s a milestone because I feel like I’ve reached this point in my life where I’m in this kind of band where I’m working with professionals and people who know what they’re doing. Τhat can only make me grow so much more! Because that’s what happens when you play, especially when you’re in a band like this, with Martijn really being a songwriter, who’s as well songwriter/partner, and I’m just in good hands when it comes to this. I just grow so much because I never had that, back in the day when I was joining local bands. I don’t wanna talk much about those bands because they did their thing and that’s ok but I never worked with such good professionals, musicians and also professionals in this industry which is not easy to navigate, especially for me. Ιf you have no connections and if you don’t know anybody it’s really hard to get in touch with people and do something with music. So, it is definitely a milestone when I look at it from this perspective and of course it’s also a job, but if I only think at it as a job then I lose passion for it. So, I never think at it as a job. I don’t do it just for the money and all that thing, no, never. I never actually thought about music that way, I always thought about it just as a liberating thing for me because it has always been a therapy, even singing covers and recording other people’s music. It was just a therapy for me and every time I sing I just feel better. It’s like when you work out when you go to a gym and you come home and you feel “Oh, I feel so much better!”, it’s just a feeling that you get in your body, so that comes first for me, and then of course there is the job as well.
RockOverdose: That’s very true and what you said that really caught my attention is the different quality of services provided by a famous band and a professional team behind it and a team behind a local band. That’s very different.
Diana Leah: Oh yeah, definitely. Well, behind a local band there is almost never a team so you just do it with your bandmates.
RockOverdose: It helps you grow and be better yourself, to become a better professional yourself.
Diana Leah: Absolutely, absolutely, yeah.
RockOverdose: Now, let’s pass to the questions that are about the new album that we are waiting with very big anticipation. Can you tell us about the songwriting process of the new album? Were you a part of it, actually?
Diana Leah: Yeah, well, the songwriting process was still the same for Martijn and Guus [Eikens], they always partner together and write the music for that and then, of course when it comes to the lyrics Robin [La Joy] joined the team for this album as well. Robin is Martijn’s wife and she also writes for Eye of Melian which is Martijn’s second project.
RockOverdose: It’s an amazing band, I’ve heard the album and I loved it!
Diana Leah: Oh, it’s just brilliant, brilliant! Beautiful music and voice, everything is just beautiful. And so she joined the team for the lyrics, because she was writing the lyrics even before I joined. She wrote the lyrics for “The Quest and the Curse”, when they sent me the demo everything was already written. I would say maybe 30% or 40% of the album was already written when I joined, at least in the demo phase of course, and then we finished the album together so I had the chance to also write some melodies for the album. I wrote the melody for “Tainted Hearts”, melody and lyrics for that song, and then I wrote the lyrics for “Moth to a Flame”, I wrote some melodies in “Invictus”. So, it was a fun process for me as well, because I didn’t just join the band and everything was just finished and I just had to sing on it, but I got the chance to be creative as well. And that always feels great to me, to just create things.
RockOverdose: It’s very important to be able to unleash your creativity in a band and also be happy with what you do, and not looking to it as a job because then you don’t enjoy it, in reality.
Diana Leah: Yeah, exactly!
RockOverdose: From where were you inspired for “Dark Waters”’s lyrical themes? Also, does its sound vary from previous albums or does it follow the signature Delain style?
Diana Leah: So, the lyrical themes for “Dark Waters” are mainly fantasy themes and I think every song has its own theme, there’s not really a connection between each song, each song stands on its own when it comes to the lyrics. If you listen to the album it does have a dark edge on it and I think that reflects, just like the title of the album reflects, “Dark Waters”, the period of time that Martijn had to deal with the split and he had to navigate these dark waters and just come to the surface, make everything make sense again and bring the whole lineup again and just rise, rise again with the new lineup and with the new songs and everything. So, “Dark Waters” I think is a very good reflection of what he went through. Um, yeah, there were definitely dark times for him, of course.
RockOverdose: Well, he was left without a lineup, that’s very sad.
Diana Leah: Exactly, yeah, and then to answer the other question, I think that the Delain DNA is there and it’s just inevitable, because Martijn and Guus [Eikens] were the main songwriters of the music since the beginning. Charlotte contributed her own way with the lyrics, melodies and all that stuff and she was brilliant, but the skeleton, structure of the music is still there. So, of course you are gonna hear Delain in there. But there’s also a new voice, which is my voice and I add my own spin on the songs, I have my own soul and my own way of singing in my own sound. So that’s gonna sound a little bit different and fresh but definitely you’re gonna hear Delain on there! (laughs)
RockOverdose: Definitely your voice sparks new life in Delain’s works and we are very thankful for it, for breathing new life into the band!
Diana Leah: Thank you so much!
RockOverdose: “Dark Waters” transmits such a mysterious energy being the title for the new album. Why did you choose to name it that way?
Diana Leah: Well, I think it’s a good reflection of the band coming back. There have been dark times in the band but also, underneath these dark waters, there’s so many things to discover, which are the new songs, my voice, the lyrics. There’s a new story that you need to discover and you need to go deep down these dark waters to navigate them. There’s this side but there’s the other side I said about when Martijn had to deal with and how dark it felt for him. So, there’s like two perspectives to look at the title.
RockOverdose: That’s such a cool concept, I approve, it’s pretty interesting. Does the cover artwork have any meaning? What’s the meaning of the cover artwork?
Diana Leah: The cover itself doesn’t really have a meaning but it does add continuity to the image of the band and of the albums because the artist that did it is the same, the one that did so many other artworks for Delain’s albums, “Moonbathers” and “We Are the Others” as well. We all thought that and Martijn came to us and he said “Guys, I really like this artist because he did so many previous artworks for us and it’s just part of Delain’s image as well, so it would be really fitting to use him again”. So, that’s how we used that cover.
RockOverdose: Yes, I agree with that because it’s important to reflect your image on the people that listen to you, in an accurate way. What’s your favorite track off “Dark Waters”?
Diana Leah: Oh, wow, that’s such a good question. I always said during the previous weeks that it was “Beneath” and it still has a special place in my heart, but it’s just hard to just pick one. So, the other one is “Mirror of Night” because it’s such and emotional song, it’s epic and it’s a song where there’s like a big chorus, especially at the end where there’s a change in the key and I just sing my heart out and it also has a bridge where it kind of slows down. It’s just such an amazing song and it’s emotional, so I really love that one. But I think it’s gonna change, it’s gonna change, like, next month I will be “Oh it’s “The Cold” now!”, because the songs are so good.
RockOverdose: Unfortunately we haven’t heard those songs yet, they’re not the singles, but we’re really looking forward to listen to them.
Diana Leah: I’m looking forward too, to hear people’s reaction, I can’t wait!
RockOverdose: Of course, you schedule many tour dates in order to promote the new album. How do you see touring with Delain? Do you enjoy it? Do you find it exhausting?
Diana Leah: Well, I’ve never done a proper tour where was 15 or 20 dates, but we’ve played a few shows together already like last year and we played a festival as well. I really had so much fun doing these shows and every time we would finish a show I was like “Wait, are we not doing this tomorrow as well? Now we have to go back home?”. We just had so much fun as people and within the band, but also with the crew, everyone just laughs, there’s such a good vibe going on in the band so it’s really good to be in that vibe and to keep it going, so I’m really looking forward to the touring part, yeah.
RockOverdose: It must be an incredible experience, a little bit exhausting but it’s an incredible experience to tour the world and see various places that you’ve never seen before. Have you ever been in Greece before?
Diana Leah: I’ve never been, no. But I would love to come, actually. Every time back in the day, years ago, when I thought about booking a vacation somewhere I would always end up south of Italy for some reason but then I thought “Why am I not going to Greece?”. I’ve never been, and I only see beautiful pictures and everyone going there having a good time, so that’s on my list.
RockOverdose: Well, Greece boasts many beautiful places that are waiting for you, you’re welcome here! We’re really looking forward to see you here!
Diana Leah: I would love to, I will definitely vote for Greece when the dates for the tour are decided! (laughs)
RockOverdose: That’s amazing!
Diana Leah: I love warmth, I love being in the sun and just every time there’s a country where there’s a good weather you know I’m gonna be there! (laughs)
RockOverdose: In the summer there is a good weather, it’s very hot though. In the other seasons we don’t have a bad weather but many places have a lot of snow, a lot of rain, it’s not so good as it seems.
Diana Leah: Well, it sounds kind of like Italy because we get snow here as well, it only lasts like two days though, because it melts right away.
RockOverdose: We are both Mediterranean so we have a climate that’s very close to each other.
Diana Leah: Yeah, exactly.
RockOverdose: If you ever came in Greece with Delain, what you would you expect from Greek fans?
Diana Leah: Ohh, good question. Well, I’m expecting them to sing along, be really loud, I love it when crowds are loud and they just scream and sing with me, that just gives me so much energy and then I give the energy back to the people and that’s amazing!
RockOverdose: Then you’ve found your crowd because the Greek crowd has this reputation that you’ve just said. We’re a crazy crowd!
Diana Leah: Oh yeah, I love crazy crowds! Especially for singers you’re there, in the middle of the stage, you just have this special connection with the audience. When they have that energy they make it so much easier for the singer to just sing and let go, and be there in the moment. So that’s awesome. (laughs)
RockOverdose: Definitely. What’s the feedback that you’re getting from Delain fans? As a fan, when I heard “The Quest and the Curse” that was the first single, I was shocked, like I said “This is an amazing piece of music! I did not expect that to be so good, the new singer rocks and her voice has a small resemblance to Charlotte’s voice. They found the perfect person to fill up that space.”. That’s what I thought.
Diana Leah: Thank you, thank you so much! To be honest, the reactions were beyond our expectations, because, of course, when you do something like this, when you change a singer and you have a single ready to put out, you always expect the worst. Because people are gonna criticize, they’re gonna hate on you, they’re gonna judge and compare and it happened many times with other bands when they changed singer. You always expect the worst, just to be prepared mentally, but then, when we released that single, to be honest, I don’t know how and why and what happened, but people were just commenting positive things, like how they loved the sound and how it sounded like Delain still and it was just amazing! We were all kind of shocked, like “What? What’s happening? Is this normal?”. Of course, you always get, maybe like a couple hateful comments and that’s just normal but I’m looking that the majority of people and their reactions, and they were just overwhelmingly positive. (laughs)
RockOverdose: That’s what I’ve seen, too. I was scared at first as a longtime fan of Delain, but when I heard it I was very shocked in a positive way, and I immediately thought like “Who’s that singer? She rocks! Where did they find her to be the substitute of Charlotte?”
Diana Leah: Thank you, yeah, I was so grateful for how people reacted and I think it was also because, we lived weird times with Covid and all that stuff, people were not allowed to go to shows and they were not allowed to see their favorite band. People were limited in so many ways when it came to music and so having the band back… I think people were just grateful to have new music and to be able to see the band back again. So, I think the gratefulness of the people took over everything else and that just made my heart so full.
RockOverdose: It’s great getting positive feedback, positive responses from the crowd, of course, from the fans. One last question for you. What are your future plans with Delain?
Diana Leah: We have this tour happening in April, it’s our first European Tour, and then we’re gonna play a bunch of festivals in the summer and that’s so exciting! Then we’re also planning other tours, a US tour, but that’s not announced yet so it’s still in the works, and then of course more shows next year. For this year we thought we should take it gradually so everybody goes into touring properly and not super fast like “let’s do a hundred shows and two hundred shows”. Let’s just take it gradually and we can work on adding more shows, just as we go, right? And I think that’s the best way to go, especially for me since I’ve never toured before. You know, it takes a little bit of time to adjust and get used to it, also vocally. And I think that’s the best choice to do.
RockOverdose: Thank you so much for accepting our interview Diana! You are amazing, thank you so much. We are waiting with anticipation, especially me personally as a symphonic metal fan, I’m really excited to see you one day. Have a good evening!
Diana Leah: Thank you so much for having me! Take care and hopefully we will see you in Greece at a show! I’m really looking forward to it! We will definitely see each other at a show!