Interview with Oganalp Cabatan, Dreamtome & Neverland (August 1st 2007)

I am pretty sure most of you thinks, who? Oganalp Canatan is the lead singer of Dreamtone, and one the main composers for the up-coming project Neverland. We wanted to learn a bit more about his background and this up-coming album.

Hi Oganalp, I am pretty sure most of our readers do not know your background, so could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your musical background?

Oganalp – Hello there! Well, this is Oganalp from the band Dreamtone of Turkey. I am the singer of this power-prog metal band and I am singing since 2004. Before that, I was mainly a guitar player and composer, again for Dreamtone but due to the fact that we couldn’t find a singer for the band at the time, I became the lead singer and now, I am building my future musical ideas on this and getting professional singing education as it is a whole new field for me to experience.

I know you are the lead singer in Dreamtone, a band that on these shores is pretty unknown. You have been around for quite some time now, and can look back at 2 single-releases, a demo and a full-length album. I have only had the chance to listen to a few songs – so your music is almost an unknown to me – how would you describe your music to a newcomer like me?

Oganalp – Well we are a power-progressive metal band going on through a musical way similar to those bands like Blind Guardian and Symphony X in means of progressive and power metal approach. We have released 1 single, 1 demo album, 1 album so far and we are now releasing our second single, “Snowfall” in late August and we will release our debut album “Reversing Time” of our co-project with the Greek musician, Iris Mavraki, Dreamtone & Iris Mavraki’s Neverland. We are hoping to reach your side of the world with our new releases he he.

Walk us through the creation of a song, where do you get your inspiration? Who writes the music and the lyrics?

Oganalp – The creational process is actually a layered thing. First either me, or our guitarists Burak Kahraman or Onur Ozkoc create the songs with all the instruments composed and written in MIDI. Then we get the songs to our regular band listening sessions and we start talking about it. We evaluate melodies, passages, vocal lines, lyrics etc and then, when we become satisfied with the brain storming of a song, we start rehearsing it at the studio. Then the song gets its final touch and we are ready to record it. Of course, as usual, we sometimes add or remove certain things from a song while recording, as it may not sound as good or bad as it does on MIDI.

When can we expect new things from you and Dreamtone?

Oganalp – Well, our new single “Snowfall” will be here shortly, probably in late August. It is ready and we are waiting for the legal Audio CD stickers (I don’t think you this production regulation there) to put on the jewel cases. Then we will be ready to release it here in Turkey and probably in Europe and US and hopefully Japan in September and October. As it is a limited single, I don’t expect it to get that distributed due to the pressed amount but it will be a nice collector piece. After that, besides our Neverland project’s debut album, “Reversing Time”, we are planning to release a new Dreamtone album in autumn 2008.

Have you been out on the roads supporting ‘Sojourn’?

Oganalp – Well, due to the financial side of things, we only had a few local gigs for Sojourn promotion but one of them was with Blind Guardian. For Snowfall, however, we are going well with shows as we already toured with Blind Guardian in Turkey in May and we played with Dream Theater in June. As things are a bit slow paced due to summer time, we are taking some rest and then, we will go on with our Snowfall promotion gigs. You know how it is, it takes time to get on stage frequently and it seems that we started to feel that pace with Dreamtone :).

Let’s turn the attention to your new and very exiting side-project Neverland.

NEVERLAND is the side-project of female artist IRIS MAVRAKI (Greece) and DREAMTONE (Turkey). The project’s debut CD, “Reversing Time”, features guest appearances by such known metal artists as Hansi Kursch (BLIND GUARDIAN), Tom Englund (EVERGREY) and Mike Baker (SHADOW GALLERY). The mixing process took place at Division One Studios (EVERGREY, HAMMERFALL, IN FLAMES etc) in Gothenburg, Sweden. The mastering of "Reversing Time" will be handled by senior mastering engineer Leon Zervos (AVRIL LAVIGNE, SANTANA, INXS, SKID ROW, DURAN DURAN, AEROSMITH) at Sterling Sound in New York. A record deal is still in negotiations with various Record Labels.

Who came up with the idea?

Oganalp – Well, first we met with Iris (Mavraki) through the net and we learnt that she very much liked our compositions that she heard on our Unforeseen Reflections disk. One day she asked whether if we would be interested in to have a co-project with her, featuring a symphony orchestra with an idea of giving live concerts with a theme of peace in Greece and Turkey. Then, after discussing and evolving this project for about a year in 2005, we decided to make it big and have an album with the orchestra. At this point, a key event has happened and when Blind Guardian was touring Greece and Turkey in 2006, we had the chance to ask Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) whether if he would be interested in to take place in this project and he said “Yes!” Then, we asked this question to some of our other favourite idols and the project shaped as it is today.

Is there a big concept behind it all?

Oganalp – Well, we cannot talk about a real conceptual piece like “Operation: Mindcrime” or “Nightfall in Middle Earth” but there is a partly visible theme of regret and the idea of “How it would be if we could reverse this time? Would it be the same thing after all those experiences again?” etc. Songs evolve around this main idea while having very different subplots. For example, the song “To Lose the Sun” sung by Hansi Kürsch is about a father, losing his son to an irreversible and incurable sickness and he wants to reverse this time to change it while the song Mike Baker sung, “Reversing Time”, is about an old man willing to reverse the time to get young again and see his love as she is now dead, after her time passed.

Iris Mavraki

The press info values the vocalists, but who has created the music to go in hand with those rather impressive vocalists?

Oganalp – Well, mainly I, Burak and Onur created the songs of the album while Iris had two songs of her own contributed to the pool. We composed all the orchestration on our own and basically created everything ourselves. Of course, on the transcription stage and orchestration stage, we got some help from experts to have a better vision of the orchestra. We composed all the vocal lines as well for our guests but we said that they are free to do as they wish and they all stuck to the original compositions except for a few changes on lyrics and melodies. Besides Dreamtone guys and Iris, Gary Wehrkamp from Shadow Gallery composed a beautiful guitar solo for the song “Mountain of Joy”. I must admit that it is one of the best guitar solos I heard so far.

The list of special guest is pretty impressive, how did you set up those co-operations? Is it long distance relations or have the artists actually been in the studio with you?

Oganalp – Well, the communication age is the key here I guess. We already had contact with Gary Wehrkamp, as he was also a guest on our Sojourn album. So reaching to him and to Mike Baker through Gary was easier. We contacted Tom Englund (Evergrey) through the internet and our dialogue was based on e-mails and phone calls. It goes for Hansi Kürsch as well but as we toured together, we had the chance to chit chat about events as well. All artists recorded at their preferred studios with the engineers they wish to work. Inviting artists to your studio is an attractive idea but it is very hard to achieve. Not only because of its cost but mainly because of all these artists time schedules. It was almost impossible to have a fitting schedule and we had our share of hard time trying to have their recordings, especially with Hansi Kürsch’s vocals as he was constantly touring.

Who has produced and mixed the album?

Oganalp – We produced the album together with ATM Studio’s engineers Erim Arkman and Alp Turac, who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003 with Sertab Erener (Everyway That I Can). Then we sent the album to Sweden’s Division One Studios where Evergrey, Hammerfall etc works all the time and Tom Englund (Evergrey) worked on the mixing. Mastering will be handled by Sterling Sound USA.

At this moment no artwork has been revealed – any chance you could tell us a bit what we could expect?

Oganalp – Well, the main reason that we kept the artwork as a secret for so long is not because that we are trying to act mystic but because we had three different options to take. Due to different conflict on schedules, we had to abandon two artwork projects with two different artists we planned to work and probably we will do the artwork on our own. Onur has a beautiful artwork of Reversing Time that he did for fun and we will probably finish that idea. I don’t know if I can tell you how it looks but it is a bit dark, attractive and it tells the story behind these songs without difficulty.

No record deal has been struck for the side-project, when do you expect things to be settled, and when can we expect to see the finished product in the shops?

Oganalp – We are already in negotiations with different labels from all around the world but mainly due to summer time as all the A&R people are out on the field, visiting festivals or taking holidays, it takes a bit longer than it does in winter. We are hoping to release the disc in winter 2007, but you know things can change.

Not many know much about the Turkish metal scene – is it big and growing? Is there a strong solidarity among the musicians or is it everybody for them selves?

Oganalp – It is nowhere near as a scene when compared to European countries or Japan but we have our core population here, listening and performing metal. We didn’t have much to offer to metal scene, professional wise, in the past besides the band Pentagram (Mezarkabul in Europe) but now, certain bands are moving to the international arena. You know, we were never a very advanced country so the scene here is still immature but it is growing slowly. Oh, and also, except for friends, there is never any strong solidarity in business side of things. Sad, but true. Certain bands and certain people try to make this underground feeling live but I can hardly say that it is a “metal brotherhood” kind of thing that we hear on songs. 

Name an album, person or event that has had a huge influence on your life … and why?

Oganalp – I can name something or someone for all these three things. My mother’s death for she always wanted me to sing. “Somewhere in Time” of Iron Maiden as it was the first MC I bought when it was only 7 years old. My father, my band mates and my beloved Duygu for they supported me with true passion and love when I was crawling in singing.

Kicking back and relaxing back home, which kind of music does you put on?

Oganalp – A very hard question to be sincere as I listen to every darn type of music. Sometimes I put opera; sometimes I put pure metal, sometimes a tango CD to the set. Though I love Blind Guardian, Inon Zur, Harry Gregson-Williams, Michael Hoenig and I regularly turn back to these names.

I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any final words you would like to round off with?

Oganalp – The pleasure was mine, having this chance to talk to you people. We would love to visit your country sometime for gigs and for fun. To anyone who is interested in Dreamtone can check our website at Take care & be well!

Interviewed by Kenn Jensen.

Dreamtone - Snowfall

Single available shortly.

For more info on Dreamtone - click on the album cover.

For more info on Neverland - click here.