|Posted on March 5, 2015 at 7:25 PM|
In 2010, Norwegian singer Issa Oversveen burst onto the melodic hard rock scene with her stunning debut album Sign Of Angels. Unfortunately, more times than not, when an artist releases a first-up effort of this quality the next lot of future releases tend to fall a bit flat. And the artist in question can spend the rest of their career trying to regain that one-off glory. This however is one of those rare occasions where that is not the case; in fact Issa has gone from strength to strength with each release and shows no signs of stopping. On her new album Crossfire she delivers a performance that once again raises the bar of excellence and sets a new standard for other albums to be judged. We caught up to talk about her new album, the development of her career and working with FM frontman Steve Overland.
Rock Man: Firstly, let me start by congratulating you on the release of your new album Crossfire. This is an outstanding effort; you must be very pleased with the final result.
Issa: Yeah, I am very pleased. It has been a long process getting the album done but we got there in the end. So I am happy about that.
RM: This record sounds like it came together easily. Is that the case or did it present some challenges for you?
I: Well, I worked very closely with James and Tom Martin (Vega), but over the years we have written a lot of songs, we have done a lot of things together. So I think when we decided to kind of like get this album done we basically sat down with a bottle of wine and went through some back catalogue and thought “Do we have any songs to start with?” in the beginning, before we started writing new songs. So we sat down and went through a lot of songs and talked about what we could do to change some of them that were five years old. It did come together quite quickly actually, so once we had the songs you can start on the production, so yeah it was fairly easy it was fun to go back and listen to a lot of things that you did in the past and things like that. So yeah, it was a good time actually.
RM: When it comes to writing a song, what type of topics or subject matter inspires you the most?
I: Well, that is a good question. Usually Tom or James start with the backing, probably my biggest strength is the melodies more than anything and they are better with the lyrics than I am. You know, we just share the tasks and usually it can be something that comes up from three different angles really and we create a story together. But then again, we do have songs like Only You. That was a song that was almost based on a love letter, so that one is probably a very real song. So it is usually a lot of songs about love or break ups, anything like that.
RM: You have had the pleasure of teaming up with FM frontman and guitarist Steve Overland on the track Raintown. This is a powerful track and you compliment each other’s vocal style brilliantly. What was it like to work with someone of Steve Overland’s calibre?
I: Oh my gosh, it was amazing. I am a big fan of Steve Overland and FM. I think his voice is just amazing. So I think when we had all the songs for the album, originally, we actually looked at Fight Fire With Rain as going to be a duet song so we thought “Oh that is a great duet song”, you cannot have, well you can, but we did not want two ballads really on an album. So we thought “We’ll do one as a duet” and my first thought was like “Oh, wouldn’t it be good to get Steve Overland” but you never know though, “Is he too busy?”, “Will he do this?”, “Will he like the song?”. So we thought we should try and get in touch with him and obviously we have been on tour with FM so we know him a little bit from that tour, but still we could not get a hold of him. I do not know how much he is on the internet so it ended up us getting in touch with Steve Price from ARfm, it is like a radio channel in England, and we just mentioned it to him and he was like “I’ll call him right now and see if he’s interested” and we were like “Okay, cheers” [laughs]. He came back and said he would love to hear the song and he loves the writing of Tom and James, so we sent Fight Fire With Rain over, he loved the song and I think Steve was a bit busy so we could not really record a song until a few months later on. And in that period I got Raintown back and instantly when I got the mix back, which I did the full song, I thought “Oh no, we need to change the song, it has got to be Raintown”. I just felt like that was the right song, it just hit me so I had to go back and change it all, you know, I spent some time on who is going to do what part and how can we make this work into the duet I hear in my head really. And so we did, we sent the new song to Steve and he loved it and it was amazing.
RM: So are there any other artists that you would like to do a duet with?
I: Well, there are always people. Oh my God if you talk about realistically, I do have, I am not sure if I am allowed to say this yet, but I do have a duet coming up actually which is very exciting as well. So you know what, Mark Free (King Kobra/Unruly Child), obviously it is Marcie Free now but that would have been really funny, maybe like a Diva’s jest [laughs]. Other than that, do a song with Ted Poley (Danger Danger) would be really great, I think he is such a great performer and yeah, there is a lot of people to chose from but you have to go realistically. You can go Def Leppard and all this stuff, that would be a great one.
RM: For me there are a couple of standout tracks on the album such as New Horizon and Ghost Inside My Heart. Can you give me your thoughts on those songs?
I: Yeah. New Horizon, funny that you mention that, it is coming out on video actually. New Horizon is a little bit of a different video actually to what I have done before so it is going to be interesting to see what you think about that. But New Horizon I think is a great, kind of like, it is a feel good track really, it is not all over the place and it is one of those songs that gets in your head. You know, it is kind of like, I do not know it just really gets to me, the song and the lyrics, it is kind of like written about how my life has really gone on, recently I have moved countries and it has been quite difficult. So the song really reflects a little bit about that I think, so it is a great track I think and I love the video that is coming for it, as I said it is a little bit different. And Ghost Inside My Heart, yeah people like that song. It came out great, it is mid-tempo it is a cool rock tune and it was written maybe three years ago. So they are both great songs.
RM: Do you have any personal favourites on the record?
I: Personal favourites? Oh my gosh, obviously Only You is very special to me. I think it is one of those songs that is written about a love affair of mine, written about my love life and, you know, that song just means the world to me and is just very special. And of course Raintown, I think because I had a chance to work with Steve Overland as well as being an amazing song. There are so many good songs, I mean Fight Fire With Rain is another good ballad I remember writing that in Oslo maybe about five years ago. But all the songs are great. Every single one of them has some meaning, some part of your life but if it were to stick out some of the songs I would say those songs as well as New Horizon actually.
RM: Vocally I think you have an exceptional and very versatile voice. You could have easily travelled down the “Pop Diva” road but instead you have chosen to focus your talents on melodic rock. What is it about that style of edgy melodic rock that appeals to you?
I: Well I think when I was younger, obviously, I listened to a lot of pop music, all sorts of music really to be honest. But I think as I got older I started to do a lot of cover band work so I think at that point I realised that that was the kind of music I loved to sing. I kind of loved the high pitch and the powerful, you know, it kind of just happened in a weird way so I kept on doing songs like that. I was in a band and it was everything from AC/DC, T.N.T -10,000 Lovers, all these kind of songs and I think as well as that I did a lot of performances in different metal bands and stuff like that. In Norway it is a big scene with the metal bands really so I think a mixture of that, a mixture of, I have always liked big singers like Heart and Robin Beck and my dad use to listen to rock music all the time as well. But it was not until I got older that I realised that is the music I like to sing and I like the attitude and I like that feel to it
RM: If you look back on the albums that you have recorded so far, can you identify a lesson that you learnt from the previous album that you took into the next recording?
I: That is the thing you learn from every album that you do. And I think what I really enjoyed on this album is that we had a lot more time doing the album and not only that but the song writing as well. I have been part of every single step of the way. While sometimes maybe when you do an album you have a producer in a different country and then you send your vocals and you lose that idea you might have when you are in the studio. You have a vision about how it is going to sound and somebody else might get it and have a different vision and then it ends up not exactly like you wanted it. So I really enjoyed that we had time and I think for the future that is something I will focus on more because I have had albums where I had so little time and been so stressful and I sit back later on and think “I wish we could have changed that” or “Should have done this” and I think the product just gets better as well when you spend more time on it. It is really nobody’s fault, it is just that these things normally take; it might take a year to do an album. You know, from the day you get an agreement with the label and you say “We are going to do this album”, then you have an engineer and producer that is going to get all the songs, you have to pick the songs and then they start recording it and then at the end you have the singing part and by that time you might have three weeks to have it all finished and they need the vocals in a week. So that is a big lesson, a big lesson to learn I think.
RM: So further to that, can you see a level of development or something musically unique about each of your albums that makes one different from the other?
I: Sign Of Angels was definitely a bit harder, a bit harder of an album. And what I think is still cool is every album really is not the same and I do not want to be a kind of artist that does the same album over and over again. So it is always nice to do a bit of a different thing and I think Sign Of Angels was definitely a bit of a harder album, and I remember back at that point as well I was so busy and had voice problems as well. I lost my voice for a year previous to this and I remember I went to rehearsal one day and it just cracked and it kept on cracking and cracking, and I went to the doctors, so at the point when I did Sign Of Angels I was just about getting better. So that is a little bit of a side track to the story but that album is definitely like, lower in key and a bit darker and it was my first album and everything was new. And I think my next one, The Storm is more similar to this one, it is a little bit lighter again but it still has some songs that keep in from the first album. And it is a great production and things like that but I got the chance at that point to write some songs for that album so progressively I have written more and more. So that was a great opportunity and that is a great album as well, then we did Can’t Stop, and Can’t Stop is basically a covers album.
RM: And finally, as a performer from a younger generation, how important has modern technology like the internet and social media been to the development of your career?
I: I think nowadays it is amazing really because you do not really need to be in the same room as each other even to do an album. When we have guest performances we cannot bring people over from all sorts of countries and get the album done, so in that way it is amazing. You can do all sorts; you can get an album done and you can be in one studio, you can send over the files to this one and so on. So production wise it is amazing, but there is also a down side when it comes to selling records. Obviously it is harder these days because you have got the internet, you can go on YouTube or you can go on Spotify and you do not really necessarily need to buy an album. And that is the down side of it because nowadays there is very little money in the industry and I think that also shows when people do not buy albums it is going to cost less money for an artist, let’s say, on the next album. Because the sales numbers will not be that big so you do not get that money to make the album with. So I always think there is a down side but I think nowadays it is great in the fact that you are getting it more instantly out there. Facebook is great as well, you can get a song out and people will see it straight away. So there are good sides and there are bad sides, as for my career, we are the same as everybody else. You have the advantage of getting out there more but with sales and downloads and stuff it is a bit frustrating. I have had albums that have leaked before, that have been out before the release date and it is so frustrating, because you kind of like sit there and go “Oh my God, if everybody is downloading this then how is my next album going to go because there will not be any money in it”. So yeah, it is good and bad I guess.
RM: Once again, congratulations on the release of the new album Crossfire. On behalf of everyone here at Full Throttle Rock I would like to wish you the best of luck for the album and your future.
I: Oh, thank you. That is lovely.
For more information about Issa, visit her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/issa.oversveen
Issa – Crossfire is available on Frontiers Records.