Helena Michaelsen


Helena Michaelsen is known to most of the fans of atmospheric Metal through Imperia. Her debut solo attempt under the moniker of Angel brought her to Greece for promotional purposes. Yiannis and I were expecting her. By the hotel's swimming pool, Helena proved to be not only a really nice person to talk to but also a great metalhead!
By Michael Dalakos
July 7, 2005
Helena Michaelsen (Angel) interview
Michael: Helena first of all congratulations on your debut solo attempt. Can you tell us the reasons you formed Angel?

Well, I've always been a fan of the Gothic scene and for the last several years I had ideas in my mind about songs balancing between Gothic and Metal. Imperia is a Metal band and I didn't want to cause any problems with the fans of the band. With Angel I have all the freedom in the world to experiment in any kind of music. I had more emotional songs, simple songs, some weird ones [Laughs]... all these just didn't fit into Imperia.

Michael: The fact that Angel consists of the same musicians as Imperia. How does that work? How difficult was it for you to make them understand how different Angel is from Imperia?

Basically for Angel I worked with Jan [Yrlund, Guitar & Programming] and not the whole band. It was easier this way since we manage to keep a more personal feeling to the whole creation. The rest of the guys are great musicians, don't get me wrong, but if they had intervened then the outcome would have been much different. These are my own songs? I'm willing to work with some people on them but I like to have full control over them.

Michael: Have you ever considered working with female musicians? I'm saying this because your album has a heavy feminine vibe floating...

[Laughs] I don't think it would be easier. I know these guys many years now and I totally trust them, you know. What can I say? I love the men in my band and I wouldn't change them for the world [Laughs]. They are all nice people. Steve [Wolz, Drums] is the shy one. He's the one that doesn't speak, he's always smiling. Gerry [Verstreken, Bass], he's the one who's always hunting the girls. He brings the girls for the rest of the guys. He's also the one drinking and eating the most! He's a very funny guy, he sends all the time urgent mails when he talks about the smallest, minor thing.

They spend a lot of time doing funny things to me. When we do studio rehearsals they like to grab their balls and try to imitate my singing... that doesn't work all the time [Laughs].

Michael: Can you give us a glimpse of the composing process?

The songs used in this album are ideas I've had through several years now. Most of the songs are written in a simple process: I sing and play some guitar, I'm not really a good guitar player but I manage to write down the ideas I like to work on.

Yiannis: Since these songs are written through the years, will you manage to compose many songs for a new album in a short period of time?

Yes, I think so. I have many ideas. I have many ideas all the time, it just needs some time to write down those ideas and put them in a line that actually makes them a song. For me it's essential that all songs have a special feel in them. My lyrics are based on personal experience so I can't use music that simply doesn't fit.

Michael: Most artists follow a solo career using their name as the band's moniker. You have chosen Angel. Why is that?

Yes there is a certain reason. I got a drawing from a fan back in 1999 where it depicted me as an angel. It was something amazing, I still have it in a safe place, well protected. From there on the image stuck in my head.

Yiannis: But you are depicted as a she-devil on the front cover... apart from the visible contrast with the band's name is there a deeper message?

Yes... I think it's because I am quite a sarcastic person [Laughs]. I just didn't want to have a really lame front cover. It would have fitted perfectly with the title but... I don't know, there are tons of front covers with women dressed like angels. But a woman devil is not something so common.

Michael: The CD single released prior to the album was only available through your site and your company's site. Why was that?

It was an experiment. We decided to try something like this with the company. I think it sold quite well. Maybe not that good if it was released in the stores but again it reached a really interesting number. So this was the reason. We still sell a few... [at that point there was a lenghthy interruption when I tried to convince the Black Lotus representative to sell Yiannis through their online shop, Helena was laughing all the time]

Michael: There is a lot of diversity between the songs on the album. Does this have something to do with the shifting of your emotions?

Yes. But it also has to do with the things the songs talk about. For example Darkest talks about emotional violence a person can use on another person. It speaks about the inability a person can suffer when facing such kind of violence. Emotional violence can be much worse than physical violence. If you read the lyrics you will realize that I actually love the person that I hate at the same time. This is why it says I hate you for loving me, I hate you for obsessing me...

Michael: Does this song refer to your childhood years?

Yes but also about the problems I faced in a relationship. I think this stuff follows me [Helena laughed at that point but had a bittersweet touch on her voice].

Yiannis: Speaking of emotions, the majority of the Metal audience consists of men. Do you think they will understand your songs?

I think so. I believe that men react in a tough way when they are together. But alone a man is as fragile as a woman, maybe more than a woman because men are not so in touch with their emotions so they feel really weird when certain emotions surface.

Michael: Modern society has established several stereotypes on how a man or a woman should look, speak, react. Do you think there is room for an individual to go against this wave?

I do. I think each human being is an individual and he/she must be treated as an individual. Each of us has his/her own differences. I will give you an example. When you go to a mental institution you see people treated like animals most of the times. Doctors saying you have this disease so they give you a medicine and you must take it no mater what. But some times people say I don't have this, please listen to me but doctors never do and this only makes things worse. Sometimes people just need a human touch, another person to talk to. Somebody to put time on them.

I'm telling you all this out of personal experience. My mother was instituted for a period of her life. I knew what she needed but nobody listened me. That made me really angry.

Yiannis: What do you do in your free time?

I like horse riding and spending as much time as possible in the garden. I like to stay outside at night, sitting by a fire. I really like country's countryside. I like traveling...

Michael: Will there be any touring for Angel?

I hope so. It's too early for me to say so. Maybe we will play some shows in my country at first. I can't really say... what I would not do is to play songs of Angel in shows of Imperia or vise versa.

Yiannis: Do you think that these songs belong to different audiences?

Absolutely not. I believe that the Metal audience is one of the most open minded out there. You know, a lot of people have a really wrong idea about the Metal audience. They believe we are Satanists and bad people... this is so not true. I think that metalheads are the most kind hearted people in the world. They know about good and evil and they can separate this.

When you listen to Pop music you only see a good plastic side of life when everything is so nice, girls are pretty, they sky shines all the time. When you listen to Metal you know about bad things that happen, you learn about bad people, about politicians... so yes, I think that a metalhead can understand and appreciate most of all the good things in life.

Michael: Women in Metal were like a taboo a few years ago. How did this change?

I think it was time? There always were some good women present in Metal like Doro. A different kind of Metal now is on top of sales, atmospheric Metal and this works better I guess with female vocals. I don't think that women will ever take over the Metal industry. After all you already see many bands simply recycle or copy / paste the two – three first female fronted bands.

For me there is only one The Gathering, only one Theater Of Tragedy. You can try to imitate them but I don't think you will ever become bigger than them. Maybe it sells better now because it's something new but in time only the best bands will survive.

Michael: You have collaborated in the past with Black Lotus for the Dead Can Dance tribute. Was this the beginning of your collaboration?

Yes. I didn't know them. They contacted me, one thing led to another and when I got the final product at hand I realized that this was a great label to work with. I am very confident about their work. When I started looking for a label they were the first who came in mind.

Yiannis: Did you like Dead Can Dance back then?

To be honest with you I had many of their songs and I liked much more I didn't knew it belonged to them.

Michael: How difficult do you think it is to sound original today?

Very difficult. There are thousands of band out there. What do I do? I don't really listen to anything specific when I write music. I like many bands but I try to keep my head clean from other bands' ideas when it comes to song writing. It's very easy to recreate a riff when you listen to it all the time. It's not an egoistic thing. I don't even like knowing the image or vision of other bands...

Yiannis: Why is that?

You know, I have seen that most women in Metal do the windmill headbanging with their hair. I don't like it. They all do it. Epica, After forever, Nightwish, they all do it. It's alright but for me it's too cliche you know. I mean what the fuck is this? Rock on man! This is Metal! When you start headbanging you must not think if your hair looks good. Sometimes friends videotape my shows. Most of the times I get to see myself on stage and I go that's not me!

Yiannis: A lot of people today suffer violence in their home. You happen to know a lot about this. What would you like to tell them?

No mater what I tell them - and trust me I can speak for hours on this matter - it is up to them to say no more. They must find the strength within themselves to take matters into their own hands.

Michael: Helena, thanks for your time. Close this interview with a message to all our readers...

Thank you for supporting me all these years. I hope you like my new album. Keep reading Metal Temple because it's the best!

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