Singer-songwriter with a razorblade edge.
Whatever your initial expectations might be for an album called Windows by an artist that’s made a name for herself in heavy metal music, you’re in for some pleasant surprises. Michigan native Amanda Somerville has been described as a singer-songwriter with a razorblade edge, and she certainly delivers sharpness with her soon-to-be-released sophomore solo album, but also some featherbed coziness. From soaring alternative power pop tunes like “Mayday” to the metal-tinged “Inner Whore” to the world music-flavored ballad “All That I Am,” Windows is an album that is as diverse as the genre-jumping, continent-hopping songbird that created it and is winning people over regardless of their musical taste or age.
Since 2000, Amanda has divided her time between the US and Europe, working primarily in Germany and the Netherlands. Since then, she has been engaged in studio and live work, both solo and with several bands in the European metal and gothic scene. If you missed her during her tours throughout the world with Epica and then Avantasia in 2008, no worries; chances are you’ll be able to see her somewhere soon.
Come along for a roller coaster ride in the Amanda Somerville carnival. Oh, and by the way; no lines and you won’t lose your sunglasses.
Self-descriptions / personal statements:
-“I was born in Flint, Michigan, a city just north of Detroit, which has been featured in Michael Moore’s films as the last dirty corner of the USA anyone would want to find themselves in and raised in a town on its outskirts called Flushing. Since ’99, I’ve had a double home base in Michigan and in Germany. When I play in a band setting, it’s with Sascha Paeth on guitar, Miro on keys, Olaf Reitmeier on bass and Robert Hunecke-Rizzo on drums, who are all from Wolfsburg, Germany and part of the Gate Studio team where I do a lot of work.”
-“By reputation I'm a metal-diva, but not at all by definition. I've had a pretty diverse range of influences, which definitely comes out in the music I make. If names are what you're after, then perhaps a bit like Fiona Apple, Dido, Feist, Cat Power, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Evanescence, Moloko, Annie Lennox, Kelly Clarkson & Sade thrown into the blender and whipped into a frothy and eclectic concoction. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, but I’ve sanded and stained it, carved scrollwork into it and added glitter here and there. Voilà! I hope you enjoy peeking into my soul, reading my diary and tapping your foot to the beat. Thanks for listening!”
Random Facts, Current Status & Quotes:
- The past 9 years, Amanda has divided her time living in both Germany and the US, and speaks fluent German.
- Has worked at the Gate Studios, owned by producers Sascha Paeth and Miro, as songwriter, vocalist, keyboarder, vocal coach, producer, and engineer with many prominent bands in the metal scene since 2001.
- Has her own label, Hya! Records, through which she’s released 2 solo albums and 2 solo EPs.
- Wrote the concept, story and lyrics for the rock opera, Aina: Days of Rising Doom, released in 2003 by Dutch record label Transmission Records, which sold over 40,000 copies world wide.
- Produced a benefit CD for victims of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Never Alone, 2003) and the VFL Wolfsburg joint organization, the Krzysztof Nowak-Foundation, and is engaged in organizations such as KIVA, ORBIS and Playing For Change.
- Was a top 5 winner in the category “Pop / Rock” in the 2006 USA Songwriting Competition with her song, “All That I Am.”
- Performed numerous concerts in 17 different countries on 5 continents in 2008.
- Played to a sell-out crowd of over 75,000 screaming metal fans at the 2008 Wacken Open air Festival.
- Has 2 songs, “Carnival” and “Point of Safe Return,” on the compilation Bad Girls Don’t Cry (Nov.’08) released by Universal alongside Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Ayo.
- Has been the featured artist twice (Dec.‘08, Jan.’09) on the Commercial Hit Radio Station bigFM based in Stuttgart, Germany, as well as having rotation on many other radio and internet stations throughout the world.
- Her latest release, project HDK (System Overload; Season of Mist, 2009), together with After Forever Guitarist Sander Gommans, has received rave reviews by the European metal press.
- Her song, “Point of Safe Return” will be featured in the German cosmetics company, ARTDECO’s newest advertising campaign via television, internet and conventions in over 60 countries.
- Is currently organizing live and virtual tours for Windows in Europe and the US as well as working on the latest Epica album in the Gate Studios.
“Google me and you’re most likely to come up with some pretty hefty, head banging sites. Personally, I hair flip, but in any case, the music on my latest album, Windows, doesn’t necessarily fit into the heavy metal scene that most people know me from.”
“Being a musician, you get to experience some pretty wild things on the road, in the studio and in life, in general. Lately, the things that have me grinning at night are a feature of 2 of my songs on a compilation alongside Amy Winehouse and Duffy, as well as having 2 more of my songs featured in an Indie Film out of California called “Porndogs.” Yep, “Porndogs.” Well, you’ve got to have a sense of humor in this industry!!”
“I keep getting asked if I’m worried about getting sued by Bill Gates and his Microsoft crew for naming my album Windows. I’m not at all. When I wrote the title song, I’d already thought about naming the whole album “Windows” and what the implications in doing so might be. So, I got a hold of Microsoft’s legal department and asked if that would be a problem. They said, “Nope!” so I’m free and clear!”
“I’ve made a name for myself over the years in the European symphonic metal scene, which is kind of hilarious to me because before I started working in that genre, I’d never, ever had anything to do with it, nor had I ever dreamed I would! I’ve toured the world performing and writing rock / metal music and coaching metal singers, yet the music I’ve written and released thus far is a lot more red, purple and blue velvet than black leather. ”
“Living abroad the past almost 10 years has given me an incredible insight to and appreciation for my homeland. It’s also brought a bit of unrest to my soul. Since bouncing back and forth for so long, I think I’ve become a spoiled gypsy to the point that I could no longer imagine living in one place forever and always. The “grass is always greener” syndrome sets in when I’m in one place for too long. When I was younger, I dreamed about running away to join the circus! I guess I was a born nomad.”
“Being in this biz is not always glamour and glitz (the heavy metal scene I’ve worked in for years tends to avoid bling like a black leather plague ;-), but it was never a choice for me as to whether I should make music or do something else in my life. This IS my life. It’s the air filling my lungs, my sustenance, the reason that I wake up. So here I am. Again. And still.”
“No, Windows has nothing to do with, nor is in any reference to anything Microsoft. (I even checked with their legal department to make sure I wouldn’t be compromising myself legally by naming my album “Windows!” They assured me that it was ok, as long as I didn’t make any references to any of their products.) The album concept and the inspiration for the title track is that, just as the old saying goes, “The eyes are the windows to the soul,” my songs are the windows to my soul. I’m a Pisces, so I’m quite variegated and that’s definitely reflected in my songs.”
Amanda Somerville (lead vocals & keys)
Sascha Paeth (guitar & backing vocals)
Miro (keys & backing vocals)
Olaf Reitmeier (bass & backing vocals)
Robert Hunecke-Rizzo (drums & backing vocals)
-In the Beginning there was... (Debut Album, 2000)
-Blue Nothing (EP, 2000)
-Never Alone (EP, 2003)
-Aina: Days of Rising Doom (2003)
-Bad Girls Don’t Cry (2 songs on Compilation from Universal, 2008)
Other bands & projects:
-HDK - System Overload (2009); co-writer, vocalist, co-producer, engineer
-Avantasia - Lost In Space I & II (2007), The Scarecrow (2008); vocalist
-Andre Matos - Time To Be Free (2007); vocalist, engineer
-Epica - The Phantom Agony (2003), We Will Take You With Us (2004), Consign To Oblivion (2005), The Divine Conspiracy (2007), The Road to Paradiso (due in 2009), New Album *Untitled (due in 2009); vocal coach, vocalist, co-writer, engineer, producer
-After Forever - Invisible Circles (2004), Remagine (2005); lyric editor, co-writer, vocal coach, vocalist, producer; After Forever (2007); worked as lyric editor and vocalist.
-Asrai - Touch in the Dark (2004): lyrical editor; Pearls In Dirt (2007); worked as songwriter, vocalist
-Ebony Ark - Decoder (2006); vocalist, producer
-Kamelot - Black Halo (2005), Ghost Opera (2007); vocalist, lyrical editor
-Phaeno Science Center (2005); commissioned to write and perform song about and for the grand opening of science center by Zaha Hadid, Frank Oppenheimer and Joe Ansel
-Boehringer Ingelheim (2005); commissioned to write 2 jingles for new swine vaccine :-)
-Edguy - Hellfire Club (2003), Rocket Ride (2005); worked as vocalist, lyrical editor; Tinnitus Sanctus (2008); lyrical editor
-Shaman - Ritual (2002), Reason (2005); vocalist, lyrical editor
-Mob Rules - Hallowed Be Thy Name (2002), Ethnolution A.D. (2006); vocalist
-Luca Turilli (Rhapsody) - Prophet of the Last Eclipse (2002); vocalist
-Virgo - Virgo (2001); vocalist, lyrical editor
-Various other bands (Felony, Reverend Right Time and the First Cousins of Funk, Lunatica, Brainstorm, etc.)