Fans of Nightwish and Epica have a date with destiny once they encounter the wondrous symphonic metal compositions of Xandria. Based out of Germany, Xandria has just unleashed their Napalm Records debut Neverworld’s End, a grand magnum opus featuring new lead vocalist Manuela Kraller. Sweeping and dramatic in scope, Neverworld’s End is sure to enchant and devastate music aficionados the world over. We recently checked in with the divine Ms. Kraller to find out about how she joined up with the mighty Xandria, her own musical background, their stunning new album, and other epic topics. Read on…
How did initially become involved with Xandria and were you a fan of the band prior to becoming their singer?
The first time I got in touch with Xandria´s music was when I bought their CD Ravenheart. I really liked it, but at this time I haven´t spent a single thought on the possibility that I could be once singer of this band. It makes me smile when I think about this and I am always surprised which unusual and unexpected ways life offers to us.
Where was the first show you did with Xandria and what was going through your mind just right before you went onstage?
The first show was in Xandria´s hometown Bielefeld and I was extremely nervous just right before the concert, because of two reasons: It was my very first gig with Xandria and I wanted to give my best and hoped the people will like my voice and our performance. Second, I had a very bad cold at this time, so I had been a bit scared if my voice works. Right before I went on stage allI thought was: “Now I´ll give my best and just have fun on stage” …and in the end all went well : )
Prior to Xandria, what other bands or musical projects were you involved with?
Before Xandria I have been part in 2 bands. In one band called Forty Shades, in which I am still involved as a singer. I still love to be with them and I try to handle it next to Xandria. The other band is called Haggard, where I have been singer from 2008 till the end of 2010 until I joined Xandria. It has been a great experience for me to be for the first time on tour and get to know the real music life. I had a lot of fun and met wonderful people. I don´t wanna miss this time.
Your voice is absolutely stunning! What kind of vocal training have you had in the past?
Thank you for this compliment : ) As you might know I started singing extremely late in the age of 23. Not late for singing in general, but very late for the wish to become a professional singer. I always thought I cannot sing and was kind of a typical “bathroom singer” (laugh). Finally everything changed in a choir in Finland where I discovered my voice and wanted to learn more. Back home I began to take classical singing lessons at a private teacher (opera singer). But I consider myself not being an opera singer, that would be pretentious. I am singing with classical technique, but I vary it. I change my voice in the way the song or the content (lyrics) needs it. Every song needs a different voice: Powerful, dramatic, soft, fragile….and I try to express this with changing styles, f.e. in the song Soulcrusher – in the refrain I use an aggressive rock voice, because it fits to the song.
Have you met Lisa Middelhauve and what do you think of her vocal talent?
I have met her a few times, of course, because she is the wife of our bassist Nils, not only the Ex-singer of Xandria ; ) I think everybody has its own unique voice and singing style. Voices are as different as the personality behind, so you cannot compare her voice with mine. Everybody has his strengths and weaknesses, so do I. Lisa brought her unique style into Xandria´s past and it was really perfect for the old songs. And now I try to bring in my own unique style into Xandria and the new songs.
Is there any story or concept behind the title Neverworld’s End?
It´s not a concept album if you mean this. We recognized that many songs belong to the same topic, so we tried to find a title for the album, that represents it in the best way. Neverworld is the world of your fantasy and your dreams, especially the ones, that you had as a child. The more we grew older the more we realized that not all dreams can become true. We began to be more serious, to forget what we once wished for our lives, what we really wanted to be deep in our heart and which dreams we wanted to have fulfilled. The boy on our cover sits in front of his sinking and destroyed fantasy world, but he still has got the key in his hands, to save this world at least in himself. And so do we : )
What are two of your favorite Xandria songs to perform live and why? Select one new and one older song.
Older song: India. New song: That´s difficult, ’cause until now we have only performed Valentine and Euphoria live. I´ll tell you after we had our first shows with our new material ; ) Now I cannot decide, ’cause I really love to sing every single song on our album : )
What could one expect from a live Xandria show?
We don´t have a fire show or something like this ; ) But you can expect an energetic show, because everybody of us gives 100% on stage and I think you can feel and hear the passion we have for our music.
Is there any chance that Xandria might do a tour here in the States and have you ever been to the States before?
Of course we´d love to give concerts in the US, but it is nothing planned yet. Hopefully in the future we have the possibilty to go there. I have been once with Haggard to South America, which has been a wonderful experience. And I know that Xandria has been to South America with Kerstin and gave some concerts there, which have been great. I know that especially Nils is a fan of this country since then and would immediately fly there if there was the possibility to ; )
How has it been to tour with a bunch of metal guys? Does that take some getting used to?
Haha, well, I´d say just one word: Crazy : ) We really had a lot of fun on tour: You have to imagine we have been THREE bands in ONE tourbus. That means 15 crazy men and 3 lovely women (Heidi from Amberian Dwan, Clementine from Whyzdom and me), hehe; ) ) But as me and the other women were on the same wavelength with the guys it took no time getting used to. Making jokes and talking shit started immediately ; )
How long did it take to shoot the Valentine video and what was that overall experience like?
It took just one day, we managed to do it quite fast. For me it was a very new experience and my first video shoot at all, so I have been very nervous before. But the film team was very professional and kind to us. So after one take it felt already very natural for me and I had a lot of fun singing in front of the camera. The only really hard thing was that it was so damn cold on this day while I was wearing a kind of summer dress (haha). I got a big cold afterwards, but it has been worth ; )
With your singing being so dramatic, would you ever want to do a musical or rock opera such as Phantom Of The Opera or Mamma Mia? Do you have any acting aspirations?
I´d really love to sing once Christine in Phantom of the opera. I love these songs and sometimes I sing them at weddings, but it´s not the same as singing them on a real musical stage. That would be awesome! I don´t have experiences in acting, but I think it could be something, that I want to learn once.
What do you think of Tarja Turunen? Is she a musical influence at all for you? Who are some of the other singers that influence you?
I really adore her and her voice, she is a wonderful singer! When I began to sing she has been one of my idols, so I am sure she had influences on me at the very beginning. I sang Nightwish songs up and down ; ) But the more I made my own experiences in music the more I tried to find my own voice and style. And I still try to find it. I think it´s a longlife process that never ends and always motivates me to move a step forward.
What’s up next for Xandria? Any tours coming up?
At the end of March we are going to have three concerts with Epica. I am really looking forward to enter the stage and to perform our new songs! Perhaps there´ll be a spring tour, but it´s not sure yet. As soon as something is confirmed you´ll get informed on our facebook page and homepage…
Any final words of wisdom?
It would be veeeeeery wise, if you go to the music store at 24th of February and buy our new album!! (laugh)
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Congrats on the fantastic new album!
You´re welcome, it was a pleasure for me : )
Vocals: Manuela Kraller
Guitar & keys: Marco Heubaum
Guitar: Philip Restemeier
Bass: Nils Middelhauve
Drums: Gerit Lamm
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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