The presentation of epic in Rock to the Park 2022 was like his name. Without a doubt, this will be one of the most remembered shows in the festival’s history due to the dazzling staging of this band from the Netherlands that came out amid fire and euphoria to show all the strength of their unique sound.
To say that Epica is just a symphonic metal band is to somewhat limit everything that this group that is celebrating its 20-year career is. The sound of this group led by the charismatic soprano Simone simons He has explored multiple edges not only of metal, but of music in general. From the classical sounds of European traditions and chamber music, to Arabic, Egyptian and East Asian compositions.
That always looking for new things has kept Epica alive, which never disappoints live and which this year was able to promote Omega their most recent album released in 2021.
During his time in Colombia, we met with Mark Jansen, guitarist, vocalist and director of the band who is also a guy whose curiosity expands to topics that go beyond the musical. Jansen has a master’s degree in psychology, is passionate about cycling and is obsessed with science and theories that seek to explain how the universe works, which was reflected in a trilogy of records made up of The Quantum Enigma (2014), The Holographic Principle (2016) and Omega.
This year they were finally able to share Omega with the public and in an interview I read that Simone Simons commented that for her this was the most spiritual album she has recorded, did Mark feel the same way?
Not quite, I think Design Your Universe (2009) was also a very spiritual album and Omega It definitely is too, but I wouldn’t say that one was more than the other, I feel they are on the same level.
There is something very interesting about this trilogy of albums and that is that they are focused on science and these complex theories. Sometimes when I analyze this I feel that it is a thing of having faith in science, it is something almost mystical, when Mark approaches this type of knowledge does he feel it in a mystical way or is it purely concrete reason?
There is certainly a spiritual touch to my approach to science because I also studied psychology. I have always been a person who questions science, so when I think that some theory is not correct, I always ask myself a lot of questions and sometimes the teachers like me and sometimes they don’t. So I have my own ideas and thoughts that always seek to take things to a higher level and I think that something that scientists should always do is never believe in a theory that already exists but always seek to improve it and take it to the next level.
How is this related to music, because of course, it can be composed with a lot of mathematical precision, but music is also vibration, it is movement, it is physical, how do these forces join Mark’s sound universe?
As you say, music is vibration, it does something to the body and mind. Throughout my career I have received very beautiful messages from people telling me how music changed their lives in some hard times and I believe that music can make a very important difference in people’s lives. For me that is the great complement that I can have as a creator and also as a creator I think that something else happens there, it is not just us doing things, that would be something of the ego, it is the universe expressing itself through us.
That’s interesting because quantum physics says that every piece of the universe is connected, which also generates a connection with nature. I know that Mark is a big fan of traveling to the open country, how is his connection with nature?
Yes, definitely everything is connected and you can’t see the things in the universe apart from themselves because everything is energy. Even though we have the impression of being separate, we are in fact connected whether we like it or not, that is a scientific fact.
And of course I also feel a very strong connection with nature and in every moment of my free time I go to nature, even if I’m on tour. On the recent tour of the United States, whenever I could, I took my bike and went as fast as I could, straight into nature, so I could see the true face of the country, because each city is the same but in nature each part of that country is different. different and I was able to enjoy it in an incredible way.
I know that Mark reads a lot and I know that Omega You finish with the trilogy of albums focused on science, now what topics are you investigating?
At this moment I am following global politics, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the situation in China with the re-election of Xi Jinping, which is very complex and there are many things happening in the world and many changes, some good others not so much and I It is curious to know how absurd everything can become, because everything is already very crazy and every day it seems that it is going to get crazier. My theory on this is that everything is going to get so absurd until at some point people realize what is real and what is an illusion. Only when it reaches such an extreme level of absurdity will we realize what is a dream and what is real and I believe that the essence of what is real is something that will always remain the truth and what is around is a nice circus .
So in my opinion we have to enjoy life as much as we can but it’s also a challenge with everything going on but we shouldn’t take it too seriously either because when people take it too seriously they get depressed. I feel that this is the lesson to be learned, there are many things that we cannot control and despite that, it is vital to always find joy in life, because even in the hardest moments there will always be something good.
Speaking of things that bring joy to life, this year Epica dropped a few new singles and a collaborative album is coming. Among the new songs there is one with Fleshgod Apocalypse that is very intense, what is coming for this album and what new explorations of the band’s sound can we expect?
After Omega We thought what we want to do, because we didn’t feel like going straight away to a new album, because it would be doing more than we’ve done before and we wanted to challenge ourselves and other musicians. So we reach out to other artists who are not only close or similar, but we think that in general we need to have more collaborations around the world in order to face all these problems and find solutions.
So we did what the world needs on a global scale on a smaller scale and the interesting thing is that we found many musicians interested in working with us, there were so many that we had to make a selection and the best thing about this is that you learn a lot from each other. , because everyone has a different method of working and our motto was to let things happen, so we did not impose our method or they theirs, but rather we learned from each other. So it was that a lot of beautiful and surprising music was created because we said anything can happen and what happens we are going to record. Because of that, there are so many songs that are so intense, even more intense than anything we would release on a normal Epica album, but that was our goal, to have no restrictions.
Epica has visited Latin America several times, in your explorations have you considered doing something with the music of this continent?
When Sepultura did rootsI really loved it, making music linked to the roots of indigenous peoples really fascinated me and that’s what I like most about Latin America. If one day we do something with Latin music, it would be with an ancestral people, because that music is very special, it is music made from the heart and it generates a beautiful resonance.
It is also music that breaks the 4/4 schemes and the rules of western composition…
Yes, and when there aren’t those rules and you’re just trying to make things fit, you learn new things, because if two things don’t come together on the first try, you try until they can work.
This year Epica celebrates 20 years of career, which also adds to the return to the stage after the quarantine, how has the celebration of these two things been?
When you think about it, 20 years feels like a long time, and turning two decades feels good but more than happiness or celebration is something to be proud of. But instead, returning to the stage after the pandemic, that was a moment of happiness because it is what we love and for two years we could not do it constantly and we finally did it since we were always patient because we knew that the time to return was coming. to get there and patience is a virtue and I know many bands had it and I’m glad they were so resilient.
Throughout 20 years, many things happen and there are many changes. What is it like for Mark to approach music at this moment after such a long journey?
That is difficult to explain because at this moment I can say that you are indeed learning a lot, but it is difficult to define what exactly you learned and at what point in your career. Now we’re still learning, so if we’re talking in ten years, in that time I’ll still be learning new things, but one of the things that comes to mind right now is when Isaac Delahaye joined Epica. He is a very different guitarist from me and when he started composing with me he also had a very different technique, so I learned a lot of new methods of playing. One member can make a big difference even technically.
Still, I don’t know if it’s necessarily a good thing to think about 20 years later because when you start, there’s a kind of freshness and that’s a feeling you can’t return to. When I listen to the first Epica and After Forever albums I also hear a feeling that we were experiencing for the first time and no matter what you do, that feeling you can’t feel again, so you gain something but you also lose, that’s why we try to make each album be a search to bring out the best in us.
To end a somewhat complex question, what do you think will be the future of metal?
I’m very curious to see what’s going to happen because all these bands that made metal big like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, in the next ten years they’ll probably retire and what’s going to happen after these big bands are gone? It will certainly be a big challenge for the other bands that will have to fill that space, or those bands will always be the biggest and metal will go backwards. It can go both ways, but I hope new bands fill the gaps and metal keeps growing and expanding but no one knows except me hahaha.