Illumishade – Lighting Up A New Side

Tuesday, 12th March 2024

Bursting onto the scene with some launching power due to vocalist Fabienne Erni and guitarist Jonas Wolf’s presence in the band Eluveitie, Illumishade stayed in the public ear due to their ability to make modern symphonic metal sound unique in a genre that can often feel a bit cookie-cutter in execution. Their first album, Eclyptic, was a powerful statement to open with, in going into full conceptual material and ideas that were larger than the music itself. Fans caught on quickly, and since that debut, they landed on the Napalm label for their sophomore effort, the recently released Another Side of You. We talked to both Erni and Wolf the day after their European tour concluded to get some details on their new material, upcoming tours, cinematic approach to music and videos, and more.

Dead Rhetoric: You just finished your first tour with Delain. How did it go?

Jonas Wolf: We are already experienced with touring, but with this band it was a first. I would say that it was a great team effort.

Fabienne Erni: Absolutely. There’s too many things that you just learn by doing with this new constellation and I think we really all held it together well, with everyone. We had a great bus driver, a great manager, and a great crew and Delain was awesome. They are super nice people. We couldn’t have had a better first tour. Also, the crowds – it was really smooth. It was really cool, I have to say.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel that you’ve changed things up since Eclyptic?

Wolf: A lot has changed actually [laughs]. I guess we really branched out as a band. It’s way more of a band than it used to be for the first album. This album is even more diverse than the the first one was.

Erni: The first album was released in the COVID times, so we couldn’t play many shows. Since we signed with Napalm and do this new album, I think we all grew together as a band and I think we have more of a goal to go to in the future. It’s definitely changed a lot.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel like you were a bit more experimental with this album? In terms of trying different soundscapes out.

Erni: Yeah, I would totally agree with that. I think a very important part of this band is that we just want this creative output, and we aren’t thinking in these boxes too much of categorizing or putting borders on the music. I think this is really where we could just have fun and put all of our influences from the different band members into the songs. If someone comes up with an idea, we have an open ear and try it out.

Dead Rhetoric: Discuss the cinematic aspects of Illumishade. What’s important in building that atmosphere?

Wolf: I guess that’s mostly Mirjam [Skal]’s influence to everything. The overtures and interludes – those are her sounds. She’s very influenced by modern film scores. I think that’s her main influence that she brings to the table.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you like to express those aspects when it comes to making music videos?

Erni: We have a really cool team that works on the videos. Mirko Witzki, who is from Germany, and Kami Zero, who is an amazing make-up artist and stylist. It’s kind of like we come with the song, and if we have an idea we throw it in and tell them what its about. We let them work their magic, because they are great artists with great ideas. Then that’s where the magic happens, because we let them do what they are best at. We go there and just create these videos together. We are so happy we got to know these guys and work with them. I don’t know how they do it, but Kami always creates these looks that seem so cool.

Dead Rhetoric: Starting off independently, why did you end up choosing to align with Napalm Records?

Wolf: At some point we just couldn’t do it anymore by ourselves. The workload was just too much. We started getting offers and it just made sense for the band.

Erni: There are so many different aspects to being a band. Music is one part of it, but everything around it, it’s nice to get some help and support. This interview, for example, we have thanks to Napalm. It really helps. Also, financially, it takes some pressure out of the band and all of the stuff that makes money that we create. I didn’t see the band moving on, just by ourselves with the five of us, because there was just so much more than just music. Like Jonas said, the workload was just too much. I wouldn’t say that we now have much less work after all [laughs], but it’s in a good way because some fields that we didn’t even touch are now being done by the label. Napalm has been a cool partner so far.

Dead Rhetoric: The band came into being right around COVID – how has your thoughts around the band shifted since things have opened back up? Is it more of a challenge to split time with Eluveitie?

Wolf: We will have to see how things go in the future. This year we seemed to get lucky in that sense. We are still of course committed to Eluveitie, but we will have to balance that. It will be tricky for sure but it’s looking manageable for this year at least.

Erni: It’s all about good communication. We are not the only side project from Eluveitie. We just need to balance this, like Jonas said, and so far it’s all been good. Next year we will just take it from there and make it work somehow!

Dead Rhetoric: So do you see a difference between Illumishade and Eluveitie in terms of the rewards you reap from being a part of them?

Wolf: Yeah, in a way it’s very different. This is just completely our own band. It feels different when you are playing it live and viewing people’s reactions. It’s a different thing for sure.

Erni: I agree – especially me. I have very different roles in the two bands, which I love. In Eluveitie, I see myself more as an interpreter and a singer that gives voice to Chrigel’s [Glanzmann] words and melodies. In Illumishade we started this out as our own. We can shape it to the way we want. I can contribute a lot to songwriting – I have very different roles. I really love that, and I’m happy to have both. It’s great. I love diving into the celtic world with Eluveitie, but also having more power in Illumishade and creating everything as well.

Dead Rhetoric: Being experienced musicians, what are the shifts in the rock/metal scene that you are seeing/experiencing that may have changed since you joined the overall community?

Wolf: If you are in the middle of it, it’s not always easy to see that, but compared to the rock scene, the metal scene is very much alive and well, in that there’s always new bands surfacing. Right now, we are in the age of bands like Sleep Token and Bad Omens. The genre is brought to new shores in interesting ways in that they combine it with very interesting styles. It’s nothing new, but there’s just so much to explore in the metal scene. Although there is still a lot of gatekeeping, I guess that will never change. That’s how it is, and I guess that’s fine – at the same time, everyone can find something to their liking because there’s so many different things going on. That’s what I personally really like about the scene.

Dead Rhetoric: If you were to teach a class on something that wasn’t music, what would you teach?

Wolf: Drawing maybe? I do a bit of drawing, but I would like to dive into that more.

Erni: I think something like meditating would be good for me, and the whole world. I’m sure about it [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: What are your plans for 2024? You have a US tour in the spring.

Erni: We are very excited about [the US tour]! It’s the first time across the ocean for the band, so it’s going to be cool. We also have shows in Switzerland in March, playing some new songs. We also have some festivals coming up. We also have plans for the autumn that we cannot say yet, but I guess we will announce them soon. It’s really cool! It’s a very busy year for us. We are also already thinking about new stuff, and I think it’s already starting to roll.

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