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Factory of Dreams (April 2013)

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    Posted: 25 Sep 2015 at 1:12pm
This is an archival re-posting of my interview originally done for Heavy Metal Haven, transferred to Metal Music Archives due to the original site's closure. 

Factory of Dreams are a Portuguese/Swedish duo, Hugo Flores and Jessica Lehto. They will be releasing their fourth album Some Kind of Poetic Destruction in May 2013. Both Hugo and Jessica answered Adam from Heavy Metal Haven's questions.

Heavy Metal Haven: First off, allow me to congratulate you on the fourth album of Factory of Dreams, Some Kind of Poetic Destruction. Please take a moment to introduce yourself:

Hugo: Many thanks Adam and glad we could do this interview! Well, I started playing the guitar and having piano lessons when I was a little boy, around the age of seven. One thing that I always had was an ear for music, I could easily take an instrument and reproduce anything I heard. With the commodore Amiga computer, I began composing music for the demoscene and occasional games. I used the old amiga trackers and those were absolutely stellar times; I have the greatest memories of those times, and helped me to evolve a lot as a musician.

Later I moved to the pc, and with more powerful soundboards began producing more complex material, very symphonic and progressive, much influenced by artists like David Arkenstone of the new age and symphonic rock genre.

The first more professional thing I did, was released via Fossil Records, and it was my solo album Atlantis in 2000. After that came the band Sonic Pulsar that would further refine my sound and lead to the release of 2 albums, one in 2002 the second in 2005. Project Creation came next with two releases, one in 2005 (Floating World) and one in 2007 (Dawn on Pyther).

So, Back in 2008, after releasing Project Creation's Dawn on Pyther, I went to my studio, sat in front of the keyboards and for a week composed some 13 tracks, just like that, spontaneously. These series of tracks had quite a different sound from my current Project Creation and in fact that was the intention, to try and compose something different and more direct than the aforementioned project.

I had the music but no vocals, so, the search for a suitable vocalist began. I wanted a voice that was both operatic and pop/rock and someone that had potential but wasn't yet very known in the music scene; after several hearings, mostly via myspace and other internet social means, I came across this amazing musician, Jessica, that was a terrific singer but also knew how to create her own vocal melodies and record at a home studio. Factory of Dreams was born! We've been working together ever since, and she's just a force of nature and there's hardly anyone as talented as Jessica to be honest, when you see what she can do.

Jessica: Really kind words from Hugo, who by the way does an excellent job with the music he writes. ;)

Similar to Hugo I started playing the piano when I was around seven. I was never interested in learning how to read notes, I did take some piano classes when I was around ten but learned everything by ear instead so I stopped attending those classes since playing by ear was something I could do at home instead.

When I was 15 I started singing a bit, and when I was 17 I started writing and recording music. I founded my project Once There Was in 2002, and mainly recorded vocals for that project only, apart from occasional demo collaborations that I also sung on. I took singing classes for about 1-1½ years and after that I kept learning things myself, by recording myself frequently and trying to improve my voice and technique according to the flaws I could hear in the recorded material.

In 2008 Hugo got in touch with me and we’ve worked together since then which is great. It’s easy to work with him, he’s a very skilled musician and I always feel inspired by the tracks he writes.

HMH: Factory of Dreams is one of those bands that seems to divide opinion on what style of music it is you actually do. Most often I see the band called progressive metal or gothic metal, and sometimes also symphonic metal or cyber metal. How do you like to describe your music however?

Hugo: I enjoy the Cyber Metal term, because it transmits better our kind of sound that mixes the synth world with the metal world. But it has elements from the aforementioned genres too; it's prog because it doesn't follow the norm and it is, on several occasions, very technical and experimental. It is also epic and symphonic, just see the choirs on Seashore Dreams. Finally, it is definitely dark and gothic.

More than a genre, what we really strive to create are melodies and sonic textures that stay with you for a long time. To backup these textures and melodic signature, heavy guitars and a huge bass sound are required so we may have the desired sound, all converging to create something of  wall of sound with power and melody.

Jessica: I’d say it’s cyber metal yes, but just like Hugo states many other elements are mixed within the music as well. It’s usually rather complex in its structure and the more you listen to it the more you notice that there are more things to the track than you discover at first, sort of like layers of sounds building upon each other.

HMH: There does seem to be a lot of different musical aspects go into your sound, so it’s probably not surprising that different people form a different understanding of the music. Who have been the biggest influences for the two of you?

Hugo: Right now the musicians that I'm thinking of and that may have influenced me somehow, have totally different backgrounds and styles, so, probably it's the conjunction of all that. In the new age area David Arkenstone had a huge influence in terms of melody, sonic sensations and imagery through music. Vangelis is always a reference in that area too. Nowadays I mostly listen to heavier stuff, particularly Devin Townsend that I consider to be one of the most creative minds in music nowadays; Dream theater, Rush, Birthday Massacre, Gamma Ray and several female fronted metal bands are also on my listening lists.

I also listen to regular pop music on occasions, such as Marina and the Diamonds for example, and at the same time to Dimmu Borgir, so as you can see it's all very diverse and may influence everything in certain ways.

Perhaps more than music, movies may also have a huge impact, but we'll touch that aspect further on.

Jessica: Vocally I’m quite inspired by Enya. I’ve listened to her since I was a child and have always enjoyed her use of harmonies and the frailty in her voice. Anneke van Giersbergen is another big influence, she has one of the most appealing voices I’ve ever heard and her technique is admirable. I used to listen to Nightwish a lot as well, I still sometimes listen to them but maybe not as frequently anymore, so Tarja has influenced me as well. Apart from those I’m also inspired by Sarah Brightman and Sharon den Adel, among others.

Factory of Dreams

HMH: Some Kind of Poetic Destruction is due in May 2013, how are things going up to the release of the album?

Hugo: There are 2 moments until full release, that is to all online stores and physical stores. So, first step are Preorders that are accepted by several music stores, such as amazon and the label's own site; however, only our label will deliver the cds within the week starting April 1st.

Then you've got the street date release, on May 7, where the album starts shipping from other stores and is available on the other stores physically.

We’ve started promotion now, still on preorder period, but very close to the shipping date from the label, plus we're only a month away till street date.

Everything is going well, with good reviews being already published, several interviews and also lots of social networking. Today that's a privileged way to get the word out there.

We're also preparing to publish our big music video and we're still seeing when to do this, either at the exact same time as the street date release or a little after.

Some Kind of Poetic Destruction Album Trailer

HMH: You have a trio of narrators on the album, playing the characters of Kyra, Kyra’s Boyfriend, and The Child. Is there any reason why only Kyra herself was given a name opposed to a title?

Hugo: Kyra's boyfriend really is the main narrator, the one that witnesses the events, the one that knows Kyra and really wants to know her better. However, Kyra is the central most important character, so, I just wanted people to focus on her. Kyra is the name to remember.  Also, Kyra will appear on a forthcoming Project Creation album. Things will connect between my diverse projects. Kyra is the connection.

The child really was meant only as one of the children within the 'classroom'; on the track 'Travelling' children are being taught how to convey their mind's energy towards the Neutron Star and how to access its mind:

'Inside the Garden
The hidden classroom
Where the Travelling ways are taught
Is filled with children
Accessing the portal'

On Kyra's journey, our 'heroes' stumble upon this valley, with a huge garden, and a strange structure. Inside this structure are the facilities, where these classes are taught.

Although the child appears on 'Seashore Dreams', that dialogue actually is an epiphany to what happens on the Travelling song. On Seashore Dreams, Kyra is dreaming of the future, that's an important part of the story.

As we reach closer to the ending of Seashore Dreams, you enter into the Dark Season realm:

'Same dream again...
Crushed by this sound
Invading our dreamworld
and I wake up in Distress'

HMH: Hugo, your work seems to deal with science fiction a lot. Do you have any particular favourite authors, films/TV out of the genre that have inspired your work, both in general and particularly for the concept of Some Kind of Poetic Destruction?

Hugo: To me, Science fiction is the richer of all genres, be it in literature, cinema or music, because it allows you to go beyond the known barriers of the real world, expands that reality, be totally out-there and still keep a down-to-earth approach. So, it can appeal to a lot of people just depends on how the story is told and the intricacies of the scripts.

I adore movies. If it was a simpler thing to get into, I'd be definitely be producing and/or directing movies. Still, music provides me with basically all that makes movies so amazing, as I can produce music, videoclips, artwork and stories.

My favorite movies (and directors from these movies):

1.Dark City
2.2001 - A Space Odyssey
4.Star Trek I and II
5.The Thing
6.The Shining
7.Mulholland Drive
9.Lost in Translation
10.God Bless America
11.Star Wars (IV,V,VI)
12.Heavenly Creatures
13.In The Mouth Of Madness
14.Solaris (the original Russian film)
15.In the Mouth of Madness
16.Enter the Void

I'd like to talk about Dark City, which is one of my favorite pictures of all time. The movie is about escaping the chains of the greedy and fake world, seeking the truth, finding freedom.

Dark City wouldn't be the same without the beautiful score that fits the movie perfectly. The "shell beach" song is beautiful, sad and mysterious at the same time. This track is progressive, I mean, progresses along with the movie as the story unfolds.

What about sound? There are movies that instead of music, feature mostly sounds. Let me remind you of two films that I enjoy so much, and their score is basically made of sounds: Eraserhead and The Mothman Prophecies. The haunting sounds of Eraserhead makes the viewer's skin crawl and you can actually feel an organic 'thing' within the walls, blended with the industrial aspect of the film.

Another amazing film where, to me, music is probably the most important thing along with the characters' empathy is "Lost In Translation". Most songs are atmospheric, and I recall the piece when Scarlett's character is up there in the Hotel's room, looking throughout the window towards Tokyo; the music shows us an ethereal place, peaceful, and a strange melancholic feeling.

HMH: What’s your writing and recording process like? You must have a lot of freedom as a duo to do things exactly how you like...

Hugo: All freedom, what you hear is what we intended to do to the last detail.

It all starts here in my studio, usually with ideas played on my synths, and very occasionally on guitars. These ideas evolve and start taking shape. Then I choose some of those ideas, depending on their potential or, if I already have an idea for concept, of what I wanna do as a storyline; based on this I pick the appropriate tracks.

Then the story takes shape and that's when the tracks get richer and when I start sculpting the songs so to have a solid thing composed. Story and music connect and I start writing all the lyrics, having already most of the story designed in the mind.

I usually record the core guitars and bass before sending anything over to Jessica. That happens when I already have a solid demo made, so that it is possible to rehearse and/or record vocals over it.

Jess handles all vocal melodies and harmonies, and she can adapt lyrics so to have the whole thing working well; I just send her some guidelines, but it's up to Jess to follow those or to see what's best for the track.

Jessica: When Hugo sends me a track I sometimes listen through it before recording, thinking of possible melody lines etc, while I at other times make that up while recording, which usually is my process because it’s smoother somehow and then I don’t forget any of the ideas I come up with. The lyrics he sends along with the track have time indications on when to start singing a particular section, and sometimes he specifies if he wants me to sing with more power or more fragility, but apart from that I’m free to do whatever I want. I often record some sort of rough demo version of the track, just to get the ideas down and send them over to Hugo. After inputs from him I might adjust a couple of melodies or so and then I start recording much more polished vocals than the demo ones.

Some Kind of Poetic Destruction

HMH: Hugo, on Melotronical sang a lot more lead vocals than on either of your previous albums, but on Some Kind of Poetic Destruction we can only hear mostly backing vocals. What was the reasoning behind you singing so much more on Melotronical but not on Some Kind of Poetic Destruction or the first two albums?

Hugo: I just felt that the male vocals on this album wouldn't work out as well as on Melotronical, so, I do sing on some two tracks (choruses) and also do some sung narration, for example on Playing the Universe and Neutron Star. I left it mostly to Jessica since most tracks were already very full and I didn't want overflow those with too much vocals. Also, with the inclusion of two guests, there was no need for much more.

Another aspect was that on Melotronical I sang on the most aggressive tracks, and even though this new album is aggressive on several songs, they're not as brutal as, for example, 'Obsessical' or 'Subatomic Tears' from Melotronical.

HMH: Hugo you’re obviously used to working with guest vocalists because of Project Creation, but this is the first time the two of you have brought guest singers into Factory of Dreams. How did your collaborations with Raquel Schüler and Magali Luyten come about?

Hugo: No, we did the same on 'A Strange Utopia', our 2nd album; we had Gaby Koss, Zara Quiroga from Project Creation, Antonella Buosi and Cheryl Childs. Again, that album had a wider scope and a more diverse kind of sound.

HMH: Sorry, didn't actually know that, you learn something new every day!

Hugo: Before bringing in other musicians, I gotta consider the whole picture of how the album's gonna be in terms of storyline, concept and music diversity. If having guests adds something positive to the whole thing, then let's move to that direction.

Melotronical had no guests, but for this new one I felt that on specific songs a couple of different vocals, and instrumentalists, would work out well and provide a wider perspective and sound range. 'Dark Season' is a very strong song so, a voice like Magali's was well suited. I've always loved Magali's voice, and I thought of having her sing on my projects one of these days. She has tremendous strength, she's a solid and professional singer, so it was an honor to count on her.

Been following Hydra's work, they're very talented, and there's high quality in everything they do. Raquel stands out from other female vocalists, since she has a perfectly clean, shiny full of brilliance rock/pop voice that such a bright track as Angel Tears required. I listened to several vocalists on her vocal range, and she stands out.

I meticulously pick every vocalist and before contacting them, I must hear their performances several times before a decision. Also, I wanna get a feel of what they think of Factory of Dreams' music, or another of my projects, before anything. After I hear back from them, listening to their performances again, it's a matter of choosing and moving forward. 

HMH: Perhaps a question best for Jessica; Magali Luyten actually sang all the lead on Dark Season. That’s unusual for a guest vocalist in my experience. What was the reasoning behind this?

Hugo: Actually that was my call, and I don't find it unusual, considering projects like Ayreon or Beto's for example, and we did it on our 2nd album too; well, maybe not on a whole track, but still we had full lead vocals from guests.

Dark Season is... err dark(!), strong, and Magali's got that stunning powerful voice that basically hardly any other female vocalist has. It suited this song very well, so it was a pleasure to count on her for this. I really love her voice and strength and I always thought of working with Magali for a track one of these days.

Also, Dark Season is a pretty direct track, it's not too long and it's quite aggressive compared to the rest of the album, so it was sufficient to keep it simple and without too many harmonies or other backing vocals. There was little room for that.

Jessica: I think bringing guest vocalists and guest musicians in definitely gives a richer atmosphere, there are such highly skilled people out there and if they participate on the releases it’s nothing but a pleasure. Of course it has to fit the concept as well, just like Hugo has already said, and I’m glad it did on this release. I think Magali was a perfect match for the aggressive and powerful 'Dark Season', just like Raquel performs really bright and beautiful vocals on 'Angel Tears'. They fit the atmosphere on each track perfectly.

HMH: The violin solos by Lyris Hung were a nice touch, where did the inspiration for that come from?

Hugo: Electric violins are among my favorites instruments. 'A Strange Utopia' also had violins and from the start I wanted electric violin solos on this new album as well to provide a more dramatic approach. Lyris is brilliant! She manages to perform beautiful melodies and at the same time play fast, furious solos. Seashore Dreams required that touch, and, as I said previously, this album's scope is wide, epic, and a violin touch was more than welcome to provide  more tension.

HMH: Sonic Pulsar’s Playing the Universe was re-recorded for this album. Hugo, when did you first get the inspiration to bring the song back for Factory of Dreams?

Hugo: It's not the first time I brought back old songs on Factory of Dreams. I did that for 'Something calling me' on Melotronical as well. 'Playing the Universe' is such an emblematic track for me, that it had to be done. My only dilemma was either to include it as a bonus or include it as part of the storyline, and that depended on two things: Would it fit the story and end it well? Was the mixing and sound good enough to be on the same level as the whole album? Well, it did! However, the decision took a while, so, last minute it was included as the final track. You know, I was meaning to call it 'Transcendence', but in the end, what a hell, why not simply call it Playing the universe and be faithful to the original.

So, it fits the storyline and it also connects this album to the Sonic Pulsar Era. Best choice I did, and people familiar with my previous band will love it I'm sure.

The differences between this new version and the original are the piano as central melody, and the guitar, bass and drums to collaborate firmly rhythmically. These are the main difference because the original version has the lead guitar playing the main melody.

Another aspect was to improve the whole mix, have Jessica to sing harmonies, and also to include parts from 'Peaceful Mind' a track that was on my debut album Atlantis.

HMH: Are either of you able to name a personal favourite song from the album? Or from the first three albums?

Hugo: All albums have specific melodies that really touch me. 'Sight of a better universe', track 2 from Poles, is something of very immersive for me. A Strange Utopia has got the 'Sonic Sensations' song, which is also a favorite of mine along with 'Weight of the World'.  With A Strange Utopia we closed the circle of a type of sound, and started another; so Melotronical cuts the rope, as is revamped by new guitars, heavier sound, and also takes the best out of the two previous albums, such as atmospheres and melodies. 

Melotronical and this new album share a similar sound, even though the latter, is definitely more progressive and features a more defined storyline. Melotronical was much more surreal story-wise and open for interpretations.

My favorites tracks are Protonic Stream and Obsessical from Melotronical, and of course the well known Back to Sleep.

Some kind of poetic Destruction has got perhaps my favorite track ever of Factory of Dreams, which is The Neutron Star. Angel Tears is also a fantastic track, especially the combination of vocals is awesome.

Back to Sleep - Melotronical Music Video

Jessica: Seashore Dreams and Hope Garden might be my favourites from Some Kind of Poetic Destruction, because of their atmospheres. 

From Poles I’d say 'Sight of a Better Universe' will always be a bit special to me since that’s one of the first tracks, if not the first one, that I recorded vocals for when Hugo got in touch with me back in 2008. 

From A Strange Utopia the track 'The Weight of the World' has a special meaning too, since our first music video was recorded for this track. I had never done anything similar earlier, and it was a blast, I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did since I had always been really camera shy until then. 'Sonic Sensations' from that album is a favourite as well, we filmed our second video for this track and this was the first time I met Hugo which was a great experience. The bonus track 'Broken' is special as well since I originally wrote that track for my project Once There Was and Hugo recorded his take on it for Factory of Dreams, that was really nice.

From Melotronical, 'Back to Sleep' definitely holds a special meaning to me, not only because of the music video filmed for that track but also because of the beautiful atmosphere of the track and the possibility to read the lyrics in different ways, it can be both a song about love and a song about grief, or about both. 'Obsessical' is another nice track from that album.

The Weight of the World & Sonic Sensations - A Strange Utopia Music Videos

Factory of Dreams' back catalogue: Poles (2008), A Strange Utopia (2009), Melotronical (2011)

HMH: From where can the album be purchased?

Hugo: Most online stores already have it or will carry it till May the 7th.

Some stores where you can find the album:

HMH: A Factory of Dreams album always has excellent artwork. What can you tell us about the artist behind Some Kind of Poetic Destruction?

Hugo: Better known as 'Venefica Luna', actually her name's also Jessica and she did the Poles artwork as well, so, I already knew her work. She's very pleasant to work with, makes everything easy for you and she delivers and delivers, and I had the urgency to get the artwork for this album done in a few months and she did! We exchanged emails almost daily while preparing the artworks. I presented her the ideas for each part of the story/artwork, she sent her drafts; it was all done that way.

She's so very talented and very proactive. When I had an idea that was just too far out, she always gave me alternatives, and the whole package is simply amazing and is way above the standard artwork for any cd package nowadays, since it features around 12 different artworks that provide a vision to the story & music.

HMH: Factory of Dreams has the most albums out of all of Hugo’s projects. Do you think that you’ve found your niche here? Can your fans expect a future return to Sonic Pulsar or Project Creation?

Hugo: Project Creation definitely, the 3rd album is in the works. Sonic Pulsar I don't think so, but songs that were destined for an hypothetical 3rd Sonic Pulsar cd are gonna see the light of day in the form of Factory of Dreams or another future project I may start.

Factory of Dreams has worked out smoothly and that's just possible because of our love for music, because Jessica is insanely creative and, despite having so much to do besides music, delivers. That's why this band works well and in 4/5 years made 4 albums. We also have a strong connection to our videoclip director and we always work well with him for videoclips (or for cinema, but that's Jessica department ;) )

HMH: Hugo’s not the only one to be involved with multiple bands though. Jessica, do you have anything else planned at the moment? I know you had Beyond Space Without Limits with Beto Vazquez Infinity not that long ago but how about your Once There Was project?

Jessica: Hopefully, some day I’ll finish my next Once There Was demo but there’s a lot of mixing to do and I’m not interested in mixing at all, so I guess the project stands still a bit at the moment. Which is a pity really, but a couple of tracks are mixed at least, so perhaps one day I’m getting there.

I’m currently about to record more vocals for Beto, but for another project than Beto Vazquez Infinity. More regarding that project will be revealed at a later time I suppose. I’ll also record vocals for a project where the music was recorded by a guy who lives in the same city as me. And then I have one more project in the runs, with a Belgian composer, and should start recording for that one soon as well. Seems like I might be involved in the music writing part too for that project which is nice and a bit of a refreshing change from doing only vocals for many bands, which also is a lot of fun of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing what I do.

HMH: As a duo with Hugo handling all the instruments I can see that there would be difficulties to take the music of Factory of Dreams to the live stage, but have you ever considered bringing together a backing band so you could perform live or is Factory of Dreams always destined to be a studio project?

Hugo: Yes, I considered that, but it'd required a huge amount of logistics and time to faithfully reproduce these latest albums. Something like a production of this kind can't be taken lightly, it needs time and finances and honestly I'm more dedicated to the studio production now. But it's not put aside ;)

HMH: Any recent albums (2012 – 2013 releases) that you’ve been listening to a lot that you’d like to recommend to our readers?

Hugo: I'm listening a lot to Epicloud by Devin Townsend, actually I'd like to find his 'By a Thread' concerts, but they're totally out of stock so it seems.

There's a band named Gloryhammer, that will be releasing an album -  Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife – that I really wanna hear and also Paradox – Tales of the Weird. Besides that I'm listening to the new Gamma Ray EP and I'm also listening to a lot of Birthday Massacre – Hide and Seek.

Jessica: Florence and the Machine’s 'Ceremonials' holds a lot of nice tracks, and Devin Townsend Project’s release 'Epicloud' is something I’ve started listening to very recently but has been drawn into from the first moment I heard it.

HMH: Thanks a lot for answering our questions, if you’d like to add anything please do so:

Many thanks for the opportunity Adam, we had a wonderful time with the interview!

To the readers, be sure to pick up our brand new album, and visit our official sites ;)

Factory of Dreams

Edited by adg211288 - 25 Sep 2015 at 1:12pm
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