Floor Jansen – Living the (Ever) Dream

Wednesday, 11th September 2013

“Crazy!” She said it herself, but that seems to be the proper adjective to describe the last 12 months for Netherlands-based vocalist Floor Jansen of ReVamp, who went from being sidelined due to illness and exhaustion to symphonic metal’s top pedestal by joining (and bailing out) Nightwish at the last-minute during their 2012 fall North American tour. Previously known for her work in early 00’s symphonic metal sensations After Forever, Jansen has made a name for herself for guest work with such big names as Ayreon, Devin Townsend, and Mayan, all the while cementing herself as one of the premier female metal vocalists in the world.

Jansen’s considerable vocal talents aside, it was her professionalism and dependability (two things that might have been lacking with now-ex Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon) that made her the obvious choice for one of metal’s most high-profile gigs. “I think so,” she begins when asked. “Then again, there’s never any guarantee things like this will happen. To prepare me for this whirlwind, I brought certain things over to the Nightwish that made it work.”

More on Nightwish in a bit. The point of our discussion was ReVamp’s sophomore album, Wild Card. The follow-up to the band’s self-titled 2010 effort, Wild Card finds Jansen and crew in a much more comfortable place with each other, and it shows – cuts like “I Can Become” and the three-part “The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown” are all progressive workouts that eschew traditional symphonic metal bounds.

“The goal was to write with the band, but you don’t know if members that can integrate themselves into the writing because the first album wasn’t written with them,” lends Jansen. “But, the guitar player [Jord Otto) and keyboard player [Ruben Wijga] proved to have very cool ideas, which made this music different. We had a short list of ingredients: the songs should be heavy, louder, versatile and we wanted to have more vocal diversity and then you start to work, but it came out really cool.”

Speaking of cool, one Devin Townsend pops up on “The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: Neurasthenia,” lending his imitable and quirky vocal skills to the proceedings. “I sang on his album [2011’s Deconstruction], so that is why we got in touch,” offers Jansen. “I was bold enough to pop the question: ‘Would you like to sing on our album?’ But he wanted to work on his own vocal lines. Unfortunately his schedule was so busy that he wasn’t able to work on them, so I sent him some finished vocal lines and asked if they were okay and if he has time to record, if not, I understood. He liked it in the style I wrote, but gave it the typical Devin Townsend treatment. Our vocals are much more together – I was thinking that it could be very cool – he has a versatile, powerful voice. I was super-happy when I got the track back.”

Juggling professional and personal life has taken on greater focus for Jansen after suffering burnout prior to starting the writing process for Wild Card, hence the “The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown” trilogy. Now that Jansen has a new album from ReVamp to contend with, but also some band called Nightwish, we wondered how she was managing.

“Personal life is very important to me,” she relays. “Actually the song ‘Wolf and Dog’ is about my career and the price of life and the delicate balance, especially when you’re a busy and ambitious person, regardless of what you do. The world moves very slowly, but you should always have a life next to this one; I’ve lost time for it at some points, but after this album, the shift will move over to more personal time. You have to communicate with the people around [you]…it’s do-able and important.”

We caught Jansen a few days removed from a Nightwish Wacken performance, where the band performed in front of over 70,000 people. The touring cycle for the band’s Imaginaerum album has been completed, but the lasting memories of the Wacken gig and previous dates remain fresh in Jansen’s mind.

“It was a high of a moment as there ever was,” she enthuses. “I got some positive feedback from the guys already…I was super, super nervous. It was the biggest show ever [laughs]. The vibe we’ve been having for all summer festivals and throughout the months together really shone in the night. We played well, I sung well, and the energy was totally there. To stand in front of a crowd 70,000 people is incomprehensible…hard to grasp it. People stayed throughout the whole show; it was one big magical…great experience. It took me a couple days to come back down from earth. I haven’t even been able to sleep properly [laughs].”

Nightwish ringleader Tuomas Holopainen has been very vocal about what the band’s plans are in terms of selecting a long-term vocalist: They’ll take some time off, then reconvene in mid-2014, where upon a decision will be made. Based on live and video reports, all signs point to Jansen being the pick, but she’s not counting her chickens before they hatch. In fact, she’s gearing up for a full 2013-2014 workload focusing primarily on ReVamp.

“I’m planning things for ReVamp in 2014, also in the States,” she concludes. “It’s not something official, but it looks really good. I’m 80 or 90 percent sure. There’s this unforeseen moment that I have to integrate into the planning, but I’d love to be onboard, but I don’t want to have any expectations. I have a great band of my own that has a lot of possibilities, so I’m going to let it comes as it comes, so let’s see.”

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