The Anatomy of Wild Card with Floor Jansen of ReVamp

“I think you should listen to Wild Card if you have ideas about how bands with female singers sound like. It brings something new to the table. It's more modern, it's heavier than most people would think, and I think that is something refreshing.”

In symphonic metal, the soaring soprano vocals of Floor Jansen are well known, increasingly so since she began to work with industry heavyweights Nightwish. The Dutch singer entered the scene at sixteen with After Forever. After the dissolution of this band in 2009, Jansen started her own group ReVamp. Since taking over live singing duties for Nightwish in 2012, Jansen’s world has become very busy, but she’s still finding fun in making the music she loves.

Wild Card is the second album for ReVamp, and packs a lot of punch. When I caught up with Floor, she had just had just performed songs from Wild Card for the first time live with a trial show. “We want to play the entire album [live]. The record is so intense, to play the whole thing would be…'woah!'. I think it's going to be great,” Jansen divulges over the phone, “It's definitely a huge challenge for all of us and I'm really looking forward to go and do the real shows.”

The creative mind behind the lyrics and soaring vocal lines, Jansen split the writing of this new album with guitarist Arjan Rijnen and keyboardist Ruben Wijga. Jansen explained a little about her own creative process, “I can't really say with melodies, because I just start listening to the music and then that just comes. I don't know how that works. For lyrics, I usually start writing down ideas, bit by bit. Every time something comes to mind I think I should write about, I write it down. When I have a melody to a song I think fits to that subject, and to that feel, I start to write about it and work out the idea.”

Jansen draws inspiration from her own life, and the things that surround her, noting them down to write into songs later. “I can write down something about something that I read in the news, like I did a couple of years ago. There are unfortunately some things in the news that are really gruesome. That one in particular was something I felt I should, and I wanted to write about, so I did. This time, this album was more personal because there were more things in my own life that I wanted to write about directly. So it's whatever the period in my life reflects, that comes out in my lyrics.  

The lyrics in Wild Card go in a very personal direction, including three songs which cover Jansen’s burnout in 2011. “I had it, I didn't make it a secret. It happened to me, and I wrote about it in my lyrics because it was something that inspired, it was something that needed to get out. Because I wrote more than one lyric about it, I connected these three songs to one theme and called it Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown. “

“We started trying to sit down in a rehearsal room and in an old-fashioned way try to jam some ideas. That didn't work,” Jansen admits of the creative process behind Wild Card. “So the two guys who wrote most of the parts started working together and got down some ideas. They would send that to me and I'd work on the vocal lines. This is how we started to work, especially after my burn out. We included Joost van den Broek, who became the producer of the album who was also the co-writer and producer of the first one, to help with getting better organisation in our work. We would come to his place, and sit down and work on it. Until I was on tour with Nightwish, then they would send me my parts to work on when I was on the road.”

With Jansen on a hectic touring schedule for Nightwish, the other members of ReVamp lead the recording process, keeping her in the loop as she travelled. “This was the first album recorded by the guys, and also written by the guys, so the whole process was new. I was on tour so I could not physically attend any of the recordings, but we did decide to continue because Joost was on top of it and the guys knew exactly what they wanted. We talked about it, we had a vision, and the guys just went ahead and did it while I was touring. When I came back from Australia I recorded my vocals…” Jansen pauses and laughs, “which was great to do after all the touring. I was in great shape!”

Mid-world tour last year, Nightwish found themselves without a singer. Floor Jansen received the call, and found herself on stage taking over duties on some of the best known songs in symphonic metal. How has stepping up to this role been for the soprano? “It starts with saying that I was absolutely flattered that of all people in the world they called me, and they thought that of all the people in the world that could do it they thought I could do it. That in itself is a huge compliment, and at the same time puts a lot of pressure on my shoulders, Jansen admits. “Ok, they think you can do it… now do it! It just worked really really nicely. We've been getting along really good which makes things easier, but it's not just 'Ok you've got to perform now, you have to be at your best' without having the feeling that there are people backing you up. You do it together. That feeling especially made it so much nicer for me. We've genuinely had an amazing time.”

Having seen Australia now with Nightwish in late 2012, Jansen would love to return with ReVamp, but is well aware of the limitations of distance. “The world is a very big place and with our first album we barely had the time to tour Europe, let alone other continents. Australia is not around the corner, to say the least, which makes it difficult to say that is one of the first countries to go to. On the other hand, I've been noticing a lot of positive response from Australia, and now that I've been there I've seen how active the scene is. So I definitely hope so. I think it would be great. For now we're starting with the European tour. We're working on more dates in Europe, the States and South America. If there is time and budget I would love to come back down under.”

We talk for a little longer about her time in Australia, and Jansen tells her favourite memory from her short visit, “We were in… shit I don't remember what city, but it doesn't matter for the story. I went to this Indian place and I wanted to pay but my card didn't work. There was someone behind me in line waiting, and he was like 'Hey you know, no worries. Let me pay for the food so you don't have to run out and get money from a cash machine. It's faster and then you don't have the trouble.' He just paid for my dinner. Out of friendliness. Just like that. He didn't want anything back. That was very special. I've never seen anyone do that anywhere else.” 

And the Australian audience? “The appreciation was definitely there. You, as Australian people, realise that Australia is not around the corner from everywhere else. It's always quite an effort to make it down under, so because of that the appreciation is a little more.”