Midnight Eternal – Beauty Within HarmonyMonday, 18th April 2016
Dead Rhetoric: How important do you believe band chemistry and friendships are in the long term development of building Midnight Eternal’s following? And what are your thoughts on using social media tools to build relationships with your fans versus the face to face interaction that occurs at live shows?
Hilai: Yes, absolutely. I think it’s very important. Obviously in our band Boris and Rich knew each other and had worked together before, Boris knew Dan from Rivera Bomma and Dan knew Greg from Spider Rockets so they all already knew each other. I knew Dan from meeting him six years previously, it was just sort of a random meeting but I came in and I love all the guys. We really have great chemistry- and I know everybody says that, but we do, we get along and we strive for the same things. We are very driven and dedicated, we have a lot of fun together. I think it’s important because if a band is performing on stage and they are not having a good time, the fans can sense it. That’s the beauty of a live show, when you are in an audience and watching a band and you can tell they are having a blast, communicating with each other and the audience- that’s where the magic happens.
Social media is really cool- I actually run the social media for the band. I didn’t have as much experience doing it before I started doing it for the band, I had Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, but it’s really cool. We have gained a fair amount of followers, people have found us who would not have otherwise found us anywhere else. We have fans from Japan, Greece, all over the world- they would not have had a chance to see us live. We can communicate with people from all over the world, show our stuff and people can keep in touch online. I’m a fan… fans really appreciate it as well. I use social media personally to communicate with people from other bands as colleagues.
Dead Rhetoric: In previous interviews you mention the impact Nightwish has had on wanting to play and perform symphonic metal. Which specific albums or shows have had the biggest impact on your views for this band?
Hilai: Oh man. The first Nightwish album I heard was Century Child. The first song I heard was their version of Gary Moore’s “Over the Hills and Far Away”. I saw the music video and I was like ‘woah – what is this, where did it come from, how did I not know about this?’ For me it was just like a metal band with a female singer who is classically trained – I could so do this. I was totally blown away by this. I heard Century Child and it’s one of my favorite albums. Once is also a perfect album – and Wishmaster too. Honestly I love all their albums, but those are my top three.
I saw Nightwish in 2005 at B.B. King’s on 42nd Street in New York City, I had just moved here to NYC from Israel like literally 10 days before. I was such a huge Nightwish fan, they never did a show in Israel so moving here there was a show, I was so going. I was in the front row, it was a crazy show- they overbooked the venue, it was so crowded that people were pushing from the back and the barriers broke down in front of the stage- it was insane. I ended up sitting on the side of the stage the entire show- that was the only place I could feel safe. I’m tiny and I either had to get out, the security people were on stage helping little girls out of the audience for the crazy crush of people, but there was no way I was leaving. That’s a typical thing for me to do. I was in heaven. I have seen them every other opportunity- I saw them in Israel the one show that they did there later. I saw them at what is now called the Playstation Theater in Times Square, at the time it was either called the Nokia Theater or the Best Buy Theater, they keep changing the name. I recently saw them at Hammerstein Ballroom as well.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you think Floor Jansen is the perfect singer to do all eras of Nightwish now?
Hilai: I really do. This is so funny, I saw After Forever perform at B.B. King’s and I remember seeing them, didn’t know anything about the band at the time. I just happened to be there because I used to go to shows all the time, I saw her perform and I was completely blown away by her vocals. Her vocals are even more impressive live than when she records in the studio. I said to my friends who was there with ‘if she ever sings for Nightwish, that would be the most amazing combination ever!’ She is the best singer I’ve heard in this genre, and they are the best band I’ve heard in this genre. And then they hired her. She’s awesome, she can do the poppy stuff, the operatic stuff, and it’s perfect.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the biggest misconception family or friends may have about your work in the music industry?
Hilai: (laughs) Well, you said it- I’m here in the US and people have no idea what in the heck symphonic metal is. When I say I’m in a symphonic metal band, they say ‘what is that?’. Well… have you heard of Evanescence? Because that’s probably the closest thing that they might have heard. If they say yes, I tell them it’s kind of like that. If they say no, I have to explain what it is and people over here who don’t know metal they think it’s death growls or whatever. People see me and I’m in a metal band- they don’t get it. It’s having to explain to people what it is. As far as my friends and family, they’ve always been really supportive of my dreams of wanting to do this. I got my whole family into Nightwish and other metal bands as well. Obviously I’m pretty sure my parents wish that I would have a steady job and things like that- they are very supportive and always have been and I feel very grateful for it.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about special shows like the Women of Metal festival you played in Pittsburgh, PA in 2014? Do you find it strange in 2016 that many people like to put a special tag or category on ‘female-fronted’ outfits in the metal genre – or pre-judge before even hearing a note?
Hilai: I loved playing the Women of Metal festival – I thought that was really great. Female-fronted metal just means that it’s metal with a girl singer – but some bands like Amaranthe, how would you classify that? They have two male singers and a female singer. I think it’s pretty stupid. Part of me gets it in a way because and only because typically these bands that are considered the female fronted bands have a particular sound. Usually melodic, symphonic metal bands with like a classical type female singer- and when people hear female-fronted metal, that’s what they usually think. They think Within Temptation or Nightwish- so I sort of get where that’s coming from. But then you have other bands that don’t sound anything like that, and I don’t think it should be female-fronted metal. That shouldn’t really matter- but it’s funny that even in 2016 it’s still a pretty new thing. I think we are making a breakthrough and people are starting to appreciate it. As long as they are into it, and not being prejudice right away. I’m the first person to say change can happen, and it can happen slowly. Trying to fight against the industry, it doesn’t always work- you have to go with the way sometimes things are, advocate for change and then change will happen.
Dead Rhetoric: Has work begun on the follow up to your debut full-length? Do you think other members will have more of an active role in the songwriting or is it best to allow Boris to continue to be the primary creative force?
Hilai: We’re already working on the second album. This is Boris’ baby – he’s such an amazing composer, I really haven’t met anybody like him who hasn’t already made it. The man is so talented. Rich comes up with some riffs as well, I don’t think though that the formula will change anytime soon. I will be handling more of the lyrics for the second album- the first was more 50/50 between Boris and myself. Besides that, the formula will probably be the same.
Dead Rhetoric: What hobbies or activities do you like to pursue outside of Midnight Eternal to unwind and recharge your collective batteries? Also, how do the band members balance out the dreaded day gigs/job workload with the band activities, as I’d imagine you are realistic in the chances of developing this into a full-time career?
Hilai: Hobbies – I like to read, I cook, I do yoga. I love to travel, nature, hiking, all kinds of that good stuff. Besides that, I don’t really have time for hobbies – I love to sing and write. We all obviously have day jobs, and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon until we hit it big. We are not teenagers, we have been doing this for a while and we’ve all been pursuing this- supporting ourselves throughout. No one is quitting our day jobs just yet- but we make the time that we need to do what we need to do with Midnight Eternal.
Dead Rhetoric: Does the band set particular short term and long term goals – and if so where would you like to see things develop over the course of the next 12 to 18 months?
Hilai: One thing I can say is we definitely hit our primary goal of what we wanted to do when we first started out. We made an album, and release it with a record label. Long-term, we are waiting to see what sort of happens. We definitely hit our goals, I don’t want to say surprised by it- but we made this happen. How people react to the album when it comes out- a definite goal is to be touring once the album comes out, hopefully with a US and European tour. Our management and booking agent are thinking about that as well. The second album is not going to be too far behind the first one – in 18 months we would like to be on a tour, even if it’s a mini-tour, would be nice to play a festival or two.
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