#wcw - Sam Wolstenholme of Seraphic
Brisbane epic melodic piano metal band Seraphic have been making moves lately, with the release of their debut album, some fantastic support slots and, of course, their well received album launch at the New Globe Theatre. Led by the incredibly gifted frontwoman, Sam Wolstenholme, the band burst onto the scene just over two years ago, with their haunting, beautiful music and powerful live performances ensuring they earn themselves a dedicated and loyal fanbase. We had a chat to the talented vocalist/keyboardist Sam Wolstenholme about all things Seraphic, her inspirations, and how she first fell in love with metal.
How would you describe Seraphic for new listeners?
In essence, Seraphic is a female-fronted, piano-driven symphonic metal band. Our music is inherently melodic and influenced by neo-classical and power metal styles, however it has a darker edge to it that has been shaped by our heavier and more progressive metal influences. The easiest comparison to draw would be with bands like Nightwish and Epica, but there’s also flavours of Kamelot and even Opeth in our more ambitious songwriting.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album! What’s the reaction been like so far?
Thank you! We’ve had an extremely positive reaction so far – the album has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and our fans have said they’re highly impressed with the finished product. Not to mention our recent album launch show, which was an absolute blast and much more successful than we could have hoped for.
How was the process of recording ‘Journey To Illumination’?
It was great fun, a very smooth process. We recorded the entirety of the album with our good friend Kalen Austin, who is the lead guitarist in fellow Brisbane-based progressive metal band The Stranger. We’d worked with Kalen before as he’d recorded our original demo tracks, so it was a no-brainer for us. He really worked hard to get the best takes out of all of us, and his persistence and attention to detail really paid off. After Kalen then mixed the tracks, it was off to Jens Bogren from Fascination Street Studios in Sweden for mastering. Jens’s work is globally renowned, having worked extensively with bands like Opeth and Katatonia, and his work on our album was no exception – we were absolutely stoked with the finished product!
What’s your writing process like?
Our writing process is very collaborative. Traditionally, it has begun with me writing and recording a very basic demo track of a whole song featuring piano and vocals, which I then send to the guys for them to listen and jam along to at home. They then bring their ideas for their parts to our prac session, where we start jamming the track together as a band, and from there we tweak it as we establish what works and what doesn’t. Everyone is solely responsible for the creative realisation of their own parts in our music, so that’s what makes it collaborative.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
Vocally, my biggest inspirations would definitely be Floor Jansen, Simone Simons, Charlotte Wessels, Amy Lee, Myles Kennedy, Devin Townsend and Mikael Akerfeldt, as each of those vocalists has taught me something new about what I can do with my voice in the genre in which I have chosen to write and perform. In terms of overall musical inspirations – both alive and dead - I would say John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Stephen Sondheim, Michael Nyman, Frederic Chopin, Antonio Vivaldi, Henry Purcell and Tuomas Holopanien for their compositional genius.
Did you always know making music was going to be such a big part of your life?
Oh, absolutely. I started learning piano at the age of 5 and instantly fell in love with it. I knew even then that music was what truly made me happy. My love of singing was discovered early as well through singing initially in choirs during school and then later taking formal vocal lessons. In my early teens, I started to write my own music whilst tinkering around on the piano, and it gave me this sense of complete creative fulfilment. I knew from then on that no matter where I was, or what I was doing in my life, that I’d always be making music.
How did you first get in to metal and rock?
I grew up listening to iconic punk, grunge and rock bands like The Screaming Jets, Nirvana, Silverchair and Grinspoon, so that cultivated my early appreciation for distorted guitars and alternative styles. At the age of 10, I heard Evanescence, and really admired how well female vocals worked in a more alternative hard rock style of music. However, my love of metal was ignited at 15 when I first heard Nightwish and Epica, and it was just this moment when I realised that I had found the music that satisfied me the most – it was suddenly all I wanted to listen to and write. I’ve loved it ever since.
What’s your favourite thing about playing live?
Undoubtedly the interaction between yourself, the performer, and the crowd. Energetic, excited and supportive crowds take the live music experience to the next level like nothing else can. When the crowd is cheering you on and chanting, or dancing around and moshing – or all of the above at once! – it is the most electrifying feeling, and rewarding too. There’s nothing more gratifying than the knowledge that your art that you have put so much love and effort into is making people happy, and that connection formed between artist and fans is just really special.
If you could choose any 4 bands, past or present, to play a show with, who would they be?
I would absolutely love to play a show with Queen, for obvious reasons – as far as bands, and musicians in general go, they tick all the boxes: timeless music, stellar showmanship and iconic status to boot. Nightwish, of course, being the archetypal, pioneering band of my favourite metal subgenre – not to mention the emphasis on live keyboard action by Tuomas! I would love to play a show with Babymetal, as I feel that they’re one of the bands that is really revolutionising the metal genre and changing the way we think about metal, and also their live shows are aesthetically phenomenal. Last but definitely not least is Alter Bridge – I saw them live when they played in Brisbane a couple of months ago and they just blew me away with the passion and power they performed with. Playing a show with them would also give me a chance to talk nerdy vocal stuff with Myles Kennedy. A girl can dream!
Journey To Illumination is out now. You can grab it on their bandcamp here.
Check out 'Fire And Ice' below
Find them here