Hanna Tsepesh: Hello there Jessica and Hugo! Thanks so much for accepting this interview and Welcome to THE GATES OF METAL! First of all: how are you guys?
Hugo: Thanks Hanna, pleasure to be here! Busy, busy with lots of promotion now to promote our album and videos, so, really cool.
Hanna Tsepesh: What inspired you the most to create the lyrics for this album?
Hugo: The need to exercise my brain started it all. I wanted to push my imagination to certain levels you know, and try and convey into music and lyrics these Strange Utopian Worlds that I had in my mind. Apart from this main drive, my inspirations usually come from watching movies and TV and some sci-fi reading, so, everything contributed to the final lyrics and concept.
Hanna Tsepesh: I would like to know if in this album you had any singing lessons? Your voice is much better! Congratulation Jessica!
Jessica: Thanks, I'm glad you think so! I did not have any singing lessons, but on the other hand I had some problems with my voice a year ago. Since then I've been trying to polish my technique as much as possible in case the problems were due to wrong techniques. I did go see a voice teacher but only once and just to see if he noticed something wrong about the way I use my voice, which he didn't. I had loved to take frequent singing lessons though. The bad thing about that is that it's quite expensive.
Hanna Tsepesh: What was the highest and lowest point of your career as a musician?
Hugo: I don’t have a lowest one, making music is what I enjoy doing, so, it’s all just highs for now.
Jessica: The lowest was definitely my voice problems. The highest must have been all these previous cd releases that I'm a part of, plus the music videos with Factory of Dreams, all these things have been awesome and something I've never even imagined I would at some point do.
Hanna Tsepesh: Let’s talk about the “A Strange Utopia” album. Is fantastic how you can surprise me with another album Hugo! Your albums is really surprising and a free air for me! This album is little bit fast, don’t you think? This album is really fantastic because we also have fast music’s and a calm/relaxing sound… is really nice. For people who don’t listen yet can you tell to us about this album?
Hugo: Thanks Hanna. Well, It’s a faster album then Poles, definitely, much more diverse, more complex than the first work… I basically grabbed the previous album’s main style and decided to provide more progressiveness and heaviness to it, so it’s more complex in terms of performances and structures. You will still find the Poles’ sound there, but with a much more open and epic feel to the music. But, you’ll also find that atmospheric sound, such as in Slow Motion World or Sonic Sensations’ tracks. This album was also a good opportunity to work with a few people that I wanted to work or a long time.
About the album’s concept, "A Strange Utopia" is a collection of those bizarre worlds I mentioned. Call them Utopias or sci-fi essays, some of these worlds are indeed good but some are very dark, so, pretty strange utopias.
Hanna Tsepesh: On this new album you have some cool guest like Zara from your other band! Why you decided to include her and the other guests? Also, what you think about Zara work, Jessica?
Hugo: Because the scope of this album was bigger, wider. It has many different layers of sound that required more diversity, so, on a few sections, additional musicians were invited to provide that diversity. Poles has 47 mn of music, A Strange Utopia has 74 mn! There are several long instrumental passages, so, a real violin was incorporated with big performances by David Ragsdale from legendary band Kansas.
I also invited Tadashi Goto. He’s amazing on the keyboards and he performed some absolutely mad solos there. Shawn Gordon also did a killer solo on "Dark Utopia".
Gaby Koss was also invited, did many parts of "E-motions", plus Cheryl Childs on Inner Station with her warm voice for operatic choirs. Antonella is very powerful, Zara-like, but high up there and did a nice work on "Dark Utopia".
Zara appears in "Chaotic Order" and Inner Station, and the idea was for her to provide stronger backing vocals on specific parts, and we got the job done quick and easy.
Jessica: I definitely think Zara did a brilliant job, the parts she recorded adds so much to the tracks. She has a very lovely voice and it fits very well along with the music Hugo writes. And I definitely like all the guests on this cd a lot.
Hanna Tsepesh: at recording studio, you guys faced with difficulties? If yes, tell which was and how as the whole process?
Hugo: The usual I’d say. Not that many difficulties. Starting by the composition process, It all started with some ideas I was playing on the keys. These first melodies kind of clicked. That was a good indication, so, began developing those ideas, structuring the songs. Then the whole guitar and bass recording process began, and once I had quite a cohesive structure I started sending the songs to Jessica so she could start thinking of vocal melodies. The difficult part was to create a really steady rhythmic section, so, the bass and the guitar had to be rehearsed a lot before any recordings. Also, the drums…I took great care of those, so, I spent lots of time refining drums.
Main recordings, of keyboards, guitars, acoustic guitars, drums and bass were all done at my personal studio and vocals were recorded at Jessica’s, and then guest musician’s all recorded in their private studios too.
Jessica: I did not face any difficulties as far as I can remember. This time around it was easier to work with Hugo because we have gotten to know each other a lot better since the last album. I had also gotten to know his music better and was more prepared for what kind of vocals this project required.
Hanna Tsepesh: The cover album is very cool! And you Jessica look very pretty in the pictures! Who was the person to make this art cover?
Hugo: It was handled by Artist Paul Gerrard. Paul has some incredible and nightmarish yet beautiful work, and he is also very detailed while creating the images. For "A Strange Utopia", he had to abandon a bit his usual style, since the whole album concept demanded that, even though the art depicts a blend of all his styles. Wonderful imagery really.
Hanna Tsepesh: Also you guys have 2 news videos that I really LOVE! How was the shooting process for you guys and what is your favorite video and why?
Hugo: It was a great experience. Everything was just so cool, I’d do it again and again. Director is exceptional and I like his style very much. He implemented a very dream-like imagery on both videos.
I love cinema and video, and making this type of art along with the music is just a way of complimenting everything, so definitely adds a whole new dimension. Since Jessica worked more on the first one, she can reveal a bit more.
Jessica: It was definitely one of the nicest experiences so far. Before the first video I was very very nervous, because I don't like video cameras at all and even still cameras make me very uncomfortable. As soon as we began shooting though all nerves were gone, I didn't feel shy in front of the camera at all and everything just felt very natural. The director did a great job, definitely. I felt very comfortable with him. It was great to work with him again for the second video. Of course I was nervous before that shot too, but I felt I would be able to handle it which I wasn't so sure of before the first video ;)
I can't really pick a favorite video, I like them both in different ways and I probably like them equally much.
Hanna Tsepesh: How has the response been to the album by the fans and media?
Hugo: Hard to tell just now, since it’s pretty early, but Fans seem to like the new cd, media is also promoting the album and the videos, so, really cool for now, but it’s still early.
Hanna Tsepesh: If one of our readers wants to buy your album, what they can do?
Hugo: Go to any store look for it, and if he doesn’t find it order it. Or, they can go to most online stores and buy it. Examples:
Hanna Tsepesh: what is your favorite song in this album and why?
Jessica: Garden of all Seasons because of the chorus that kind of hits you in the face, and I do like the ending parts of that track. Inner Station because of the atmosphere there in general, and the beautiful violin should be mentioned too, just like in Slow Motion World. And of course I have a special relationship to Broken, that I've written the music for back in 2006 and that Hugo made a new arrangement of for this cd.
Hugo: Voyage to Utopia, Inner Station and Slow Motion World are my favorite songs, because they are very strong and very cohesive. Slow Motion is truly progressive, starts off with a beautiful Violin melody and slowly adds vocals, and ends with frantic synth solo and bombastic features, plus a reprise of the first cd’s Factory of Dreams’ song!
Inner is really a prog metal driven song, full power on the guitar and bass interaction and catchy choruses. Voyage is a killer track that really starts off the engines of the album.
Hanna Tsepesh: I have a little curiosity (laughs): What is your family opinion about your work in Factory Of Dreams? They support you guys and liked the album so much as we like?
Jessica: My family supports me a lot in all aspects when it comes to music, although not all of them really enjoy this music style. They still bought the album though because they want to support me/us, and my father liked the music very much and so does my brother.
Hugo: Yeah they’re mildly interested in the music, they’re not big fans of symphonic prog metal, but they’re interested and some ordered the album or asked for it as a Christmas gift.
Hanna Tsepesh: What is your big advice for a young musician?
Hugo: Runaway from music as fast as he can lol… unless he (the aspiring musician) is really really REALLY in love with music, purely for the fun and feeling and prepared to spend some bucks making it unless he’s such a lucky bastard, that he could immediately find funding. Ok, ok I’m being nasty…or maybe realistic, why? Because nowadays even though you have easier means to do music, there’s loads of stuff out there, so either you’re really talented and make something original or there are little opportunities…Plus, piracy, that’s a big big issue. Internet is great, oh yeah, couldn’t have done half of what I’ve done without it, but piracy must stop, it’s killing the music, truly killing it.
Advices? Be true to yourself, try do be original, use your resources to the fullest, don’t copy or try to do what others already do.
Jessica: Do your thing, and don't care what people tell you or don't tell you about your music, keep doing it if it makes you happy. You don't have to sell a lot of - or any, for that matter - albums in order for the music to make you happy, right. So just keep the music up and see what may happen along the road, and if nothing happens, well, what should matter most is keeping that passion for music up. No money could, or should, ever affect the way you feel when creating music.
Hanna Tsepesh: Do you want to send any message for the people who going to read this interview?
Hugo: If you enjoy our music, buy our albums, it’s the only way to help us and music in general. Don’t download it, besides being illegal, it’s unfair for someone that spent more than a year producing the cd, producing music videos, etc… Hope everyone and the Portuguese audience will like the album! So, come on and grab one!
Jessica: Keep listening, and Happy New 2010!
Hanna Tsepesh: Thanks o much for your answers and time. THE GATES OF METAL wishes the entire band a big success and a great 2010 for the both of you!
Hugo: Thanks Hanna, always a pleasure!
Jessica: Thanks a lot, definitely a pleasure!
Hanna Tsepesh: Thanks so much!
By: Hanna Tsepesh
To listen to some FACTORY OF DREAMS music’s and for future information’s go at: