Power of Metal.dk Interview

Interview with Dani Nolden - Shadowside, April 2012

Power, energy, intensity. Shadowside can be defined by their and passion for Rock and courage to take risks and pursue goals and dreams. Bringing together the four members' influences of Hard Rock, Thrash and Heavy Metal to create songs with strong hooks, heavy guitars, catchy melodies and a vigorous performance with a hint of modern. Featuring Dani Nolden, one of the most powerful and charismatic female vocalists ever heard, they leave fans totally enthralled night after night with a highly vigorous performance.

PoM.: Can You give us a short story about Shadowside's history to our readers?

Dani: Basically we started as a very naive group of kids who just wanted to have fun... and I have to say it hasn't changed much, except we aren't kids anymore (laughs). Things started happening very fast for us and in all honesty, we weren't completely prepared for it. Our youngest member when we first started was 14 years old... it's hard to say someone that age is ready for the exposure music can bring. That was in 2001, when we released a demo EP and suddenly after a few gigs we were playing with bands like Nightwish in front of 7000 people and that was a turning point for the band. We decided to give it a try at making Metal our day job and keep it fun at the same time. So after we recorded our debut album Theatre of Shadows, we started touring Brazil, our home country and then thanks to the internet and a contest we won, we toured the USA which led to four or five more tours, then our second album came, Dare to Dream, and a lot more touring followed after that. Now we have a brand new album coming out and I'm hoping we'll be on the road for an even longer time. To summon up, we have 3 albums out, played in 21 countries including our own and performed in front of a total audience of around 100000 people if not more. I'm pretty happy at this point, I think for a band that just wanted to make some noise we're doing well (laughs). 

PoM.: Inner Monster Out is your newest album, what kind of feelings does this release bring up on you?      

Dani: First of all, I finally feel like this is a real band, one that works together in every way. In our previous materials, we'd stop working on a song or consider it finished if 3 members, sometimes 2, were happy with the way it sounded. Someone would always be unhappy, with that feeling in the back of their heads saying the album could have sounded better or actually not liking a few songs and that's not very good. A band member that's not 100% proud of what they've done will just not be very convincing on stage, in my opinion. However this time we decided a song would not be finished until all 4 members were completely satisfied about it and that's a pretty big challenge for us since we all like totally different stuff. It's safe to say we embraced those known ”musical differences”. Yeah, we have musical differences and that is awesome for us. I don't think we'd sound the way we do if we all listened to the same thing.

We managed to please 4 different people who like thrash, power metal, hard rock, modern metal, old school stuff in every single song, we are all proud of it and I think it makes a huge difference when you're presenting an album like that to people because they can see you really love what you're doing. We're not pretending, we all actually really like to play this entire album live. I know all bands say that, but we mean it (laughs). So this album brings me a feeling of accomplishment and it would still be like that even if everybody hated the album, because the guys and I did exactly what we wanted to do, you know? If everybody thought it was crap, we'd still consider it the album of our lives and listen to it everyday, but thankfully people seem to really love it just as much as we do. I think that's what eventually happens when you make honest music... you'll end up finding people with tastes like your own, that will also like the music you make.

PoM: Tell us about the recording of the album and the work with Inner Wound Recordings and Fredrik Nordström?

Dani: Working with Fredrik was a blessing. He's a perfeccionist and says things straight up to your face. This is exactly what we hoped from him. We wanted a producer that wouldn't act as our number 1 fan. We wanted someone that would point out the flaws in what we were doing and that's what he did. If we came up with something that he thought wasn't good enough, he'd say it and still let us keep creative control, he wouldn't just write something else for us, he'd tell us ”go do something better”. He'd never take ”no” for an answer when we told him weren't capable of performing something he wanted... he had to put up with a lot of that especially from our drummer Fabio and myself, the two insecure bastards in the band (laughs). But that's mainly because this album tested our limits which I always find very interesting... the songs demanded more from all of us, and Fabio and myself had no idea we were capable of some of the stuff we did on this album. Fredrik wouldn't even hear it... he'd pretend we had said nothing and start recording. We arrived in Sweden with complete trust in him and we didn't want to disappoint him because he recorded with many great artists so whenever he'd tell us ”of course you can do it”, we felt the obligation to at least try and it usually turned out we really could do it. You can hear the results of that if you compare all our albums. What helped greatly was also literally living in the studio during the entire recording process. You see, we were all born and raised in Brazil. Two of us are from an island called Santos, a very warm place with temperatures that rarely go below 15 degrees Celcius in the coldest winters. Gothenburg was absolutely freezing for us and we were a bit far from the fun part of the city so we were never really interested in going out. We'd just stay in the studio and work. It wasn't rare to find one or two of us in the studio at 3, 4 in the morning, working on arrangements or on a part of the song Fredrik didn't like. We had the chance to focus on the album and nothing else, for 3 straight weeks and it didn't feel like a lot of work, it was exactly the opposite... it was a very fun and relaxed process, because we had no pressure and we had a studio available 24/7 to do whatever we had to. We ended up recording so fast that during the last week we started to intentionally delay stuff just so we'd have something to do on the last few days (laughs). We went there to create music and nothing distracted us, it was awesome.

PoM: What have the guys in Gothenburg contributed on 'IMO' that you not had on the previous albums?

A Dani: Their experience helped us greatly, of course. That gave us peace of mind just to start with. We knew that whatever we came up with, we'd have a great sound because that's what Fredrik always delivers. We knew the guitars would be heavy, the drums would sound great and we'd have top notch production. We also knew he'd never tell us something was great when it wasn't, and he'd never tell us something had to be changed just for him to be the big producer that had to say something. If we delivered a song that was great as it was, he wouldn't change a thing. And we knew he was being honest. So we were allowed to do our very best. Also the change of scene gave us a new perspective and a whole new “competition” level. We arrived there as a new band that had a lot to prove while it's not like that for us in Brazil anymore. I feel that working here in Brazil would have kept us in that comfortable position of national stars and it wouldn't have challenged us. Changes are always good to keep a band's sound fresh. Musicians should always challenge themselves and not only musically. Being in a city we don't know, with a weather we're not used to, speaking another language nearly all the time, all that kinda makes your brain work differently. For me, keeping everything the same kills inspiration.

PoM: My favourite track on the new album (besides the awesome title track) is 'My Disrupted Reality', Which song on this album does your heart beat extra for?

Dani: My Disrupted Reality is actually one of them! I have a great time singing that song, I took my time writing that piece and then we demo'ed it and worked on it while we were on tour. We ”battled” a lot about it, especially the instrumental part and then decided to leave it a bit chaotic because the song is supposed to be chaotic. It's a ghost story. Basically it's about reality being unique to each and every one of us. If I see a ghost, you can't tell me it isn't real. Maybe it isn't, but for me it is pretty damn real because I saw it, you know? For a schizophrenic who saw a legless man grow back a leg, that was real. So we thought it would be cool to keep a little bit of ”crazy” going on in there (laughs). It's really hard for me to pick a few favorites but if I really have to, they'd be Angel with Horns, Habitchual, I'm Your Mind, A Smile Upon Death and Waste of Life. Those are my favorites because they're the ones I have the most fun singing, but just to sit there and listen, I love the whole album. I don't skip any of the songs yet. Maybe after the next album I will, but I haven't gotten sick of anything on Inner Monster Out yet!

PoM: Have you any musical sources of inspiration or role models? Which bands or persons has ment anything special for you?

Dani: My role model as child/teenager was Angra, basically because that was the first Metal show my parents allowed me to go to. I thought “these guys are Brazilians... so if they can be successful, maybe someday I can be too” and whenever people told me Brazilians could not make a living out of Heavy Metal, I'd think of them. Their music didn't inspire me all that much but I'll always have a special feeling for them because of that. Then Michael Weikath of Helloween, who gave me lots of advice when I was starting out that was very important. He's also a role model. My favorite bands are many and I think all of them influence me somehow. I started out with Queen, then moved to Guns n' Roses and Skid Row, then Iron Maiden and Just Priest, nowadays I like some modern stuff like Rammstein and Disturbed. I never listen to those bands and think “I wanna sound just like them” but I'm pretty sure they all molded my musical personality somehow..

PoM: How was it to be on tour for 2 month with W.A.S.P  in 2010, can you tell us something funny or odd from these days?

Dani: Well, funny and odd at the same time was the amount of times we got stuck in snow before we figured out we needed snow tires (laughs). Everyday we'd get asked from the W.A.S.P. Crew ”so how many times did you guys get stuck in snow last night?” (laughs) It got so bad to the point of their driver asking ours to follow them at all times so he'd be able to help if something happened. But then we finally bought the damn snow tires! We had a guy in Poland trying to give us his sister. He said if we wanted, we could take her with us, no problem. I think if there wasn't a girl in the band, the guys would have said yes... (laughs). And of course, we were all terrified of Blackie before the tour started. I read somewhere that he didn't like being looked in the eye, which obviously turned out to be a silly rumour, but we were so scared of all the stories we heard about him that we'd say good morning, good evening always looking down (laughs). Until we realized that he's no monster. He wasn't mean to us at all, nor was anyone in the band or crew. Blackie is a reserved man so he isn't there bonding with everyone but he was never disrespectful and never gave us a hard time. During the tour, we always had the perfect conditions to do our thing, we had plenty of time for soundcheck and I can say nothing bad about anyone that worked on that tour. We had a blast!

PoM: Who writes the music and lyrics in the band?

Dani: We all do... well, lyrics were written by me on the past 2 albums but that's only because the guys got lazy (laughs). I never asked to be the only one to write lyrics in the band and they know that whenever they feel like, their lyrics are welcome. In the meantime, I just try to keep the topics written about stuff they wouldn't disagree or at least wouldn't strongly disagree. On Inner Monster Out, I took a dive inside my own mind and inside the minds of people I know, people I admire and people I fear. This album is about perversions, fears, personality issues, escapism, feelings, dreams. It's about how everyone has a bit of disturbed within themselves. But we all write the music. Raphael and I came up with half the songs each but none of our original demos sound like what you hear on the record. We all changed everything and that was encouraged, we brought our ideas to them expecting them to be changed so it would be a work of everyone. We all wrote guitar riffs, melodies and structures.

PoM: It's a long way from Santos, Brazil to Scandinavia, but do you have any plans for gigs or shows in Eupope this year, or what's the plans for the band?

Dani: It sure is... I know Finland is not in Scandinavia but I just mention it now as an example of how far we've been... and how crazy it felt. I remember during soundcheck in Helsinki I thought exactly that ”I'm REALLY far from home”. That said, I would absolutely love to play Scandinavia. I've been to Sweden, Denmark and briefly to Norway and it makes me quite sad that I've played everywhere around that area but haven't had the chance to play those countries yet. I really hope it will happen this year, there is nothing concrete yet but we sure have plans to tour Europe and if we have a chance to include Scandinavia, you can be sure we will! We live to play live. I wouldn't mind going on tour for 6 months non-stop at all. It would be no sacrifice for me to live in a tour bus.

PoM: As I mention in the review of Inner Monster Out, your vocal contribution lifts the album from something in the middle to a top class album on it's own. Tell us your personal history? Have you got any special vocal training or are you a self-taught talent?

Dani: I come from a very musical family, my mother and I would sing along to Queen every afternoon when I was 8, 9 and both my parents really encouraged any music interest I ever had. I've been self-taught all my life for the simple reason that I had never found to right teacher or coach. My hometown has no tradition whatsoever in Rock or Metal music and most music teachers here perceive it as being a genre dominated by idiots who know nothing about music and just know how to scream. So I got tired of her trashing Metal in every single class and left before we even got past breathing exercises. So I started studying on my own, reading about vocal technique online, trying to sing my favorite songs and just basically trying to listen to myself and improving. I started changing that just two weeks ago when began studying at Berklee Music. I believe there's always room for improvement but I also wanna study the theory behind what I do. So many people ask me for lessons and I have to tell them no because I  have no idea how to explain what to do. Teaching is something I wanna do someday... it's not even about money but because I know how useful it can be to have someone give you the shortcuts and I'd love to help develop some new talent. But maybe part of my secret is that I always sing for the song, you know? I don't try to stand out, I just do what I feel the song is asking for. And if I feel the song is asking for something I can't do, I'll practice until I learn how to do it. You have no idea how much it annoys me to not be able to perform something I want to have in a song (laughs). It disturbs me to the point that I spend a night awake thinking about it. I know it's crazy but that's me (laughs). Most people would just accept it, change it and move on, but I prefer to accept the challenge and try it. I'm my worst competition. I don't practice to be the best singer in the world or to be better than a singer I admire... my goal is always to sound better today than I sounded yesterday. That makes you improve without making you beat yourself up... I see a lot of singers sad because they don't sound like Bruce Dickinson but that's an unfair comparision because you'll never be like Bruce Dickinson. Not because you're not talented, but just because... you're not him. Just take solace in the fact that Bruce Dickinson can't be you either. Accepting your own voice is the hardest thing for a singer but it's what we all should do.

PoM: Tell us something about the artwork - who made it and is it important for you with a cool artwork?

Dani: Felipe Machado from Colombia made it and I do find artwork very important on an album, yes. It should represent your music, it gives people a visual idea of what your music is about. No Black Metal fan would buy an album with little pink hearts and flowers (laughs). I feel it's easy to make an album quite unsuccessful for simply sending the wrong message but maybe it's because I used to buy my cds because of the cover, actually. Whenever I thought an album cover was interesting, I'd buy it and rarely, very rarely I got disappointed. That was before file sharing so whenever I wanted to discover new music I'd go to the store and do that. Nowadays I feel artwork is less to get you discovered, but just to give your fans a complete experience. Sometimes when you read an awesome book you want to see it as a movie so the artwork for me is kinda like that. The Inner Monster Out is about your own mind and about all the different facets of it. It's about you taking a deep look inside your own ideas so that's why you see a man entering that head with faces showing several emotions, feelings, fears and thoughts.

PoM: Can you tell us how the Brazilian metal scene is for bands like Shadowside nowadays?

Dani: For us it's pretty good, we don't play live as much as we'd like because there isn't a touring culture in Brazil so most traveling has to be done by plane and it's insanely expensive here. But whenever we do play, the shows are packed with awesome fans that go crazy so I can't complain at all about that! There's a lot of new talent going on here but I think everything is hard and unfair for them. If it's hard for us to tour, imagine what it is like for them. They hardly are able to find a place to play in their own hometown. We always try to get a new band on board with us when we play so we can at least give them a chance to be in front of people. However it's safe to say we've played much more internationally than in our country.

PoM: Thank you for taking the time answering on my questions. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Dani: I just hope everyone likes Inner Monster Out and I'm really looking forward to seeing you all on tour showing your horns and going crazy. Cheers!

© 2012 Patrik Skoglund

Shadowside - Inner Monster Out

Label: Inner Wound Recordings

Link: www.myspace.com/shadowsideband


Dani Noldan - Vocals
Raphael Mattos - Guitars
Rocardo Piccoli - Bass
Fabio Buitvidas - Drums

2012: Inner Monster Out
: Dare To Dream
2005: Theatre Of Shadows
2001: Shadowside EP 


Interviewed by Patrik Skoglund