“We didn’t guide the music, but the music guided us” – exclusive interview with Fabienne Erni about Illumishade’s debut album, Eclyptic: Wake of Shadows

When I first heard of Illumishade… It was love at first listen without even realizing that this band has been created by  Fabienne Erni & Jonas Wolf (Eluveitie). And what exactly is Illumishade? Well, I don’t have a proper answer, but it’s something magical and mysterious. But we were given an opportunity to gain inside into the enigmatic world of Illumishade.

-First of all, thank you very much for the opportunity! Only a few days are left until the debut album of Illumishade. How do you feel?

Fabienne Erni: First of all, thank you so much for having me! (smiles) We are all super excited! We put so much heart, soul, work, time and sweat into this, we can not wait to show it to the people! And we are super curious to see how people will react to it!

-Actually, how did Illumishade happen?

Fabienne Erni: Actually, it all started because of my master’s at university. I studied to become a singing teacher and to finish my studies, I had to create a project and music for it. So I basically was forced to do it – which in my case was the best thing that could have happened! I am not sure if I would have had the courage to „just” start it. So it was good with some pressure from outside! (smiles) Somehow we all got stuck with the project and definitely wanted to continue! And I am so happy that we took it further and now releasing our first album together!

Photo: facebook.com/illumishade

-How much was it challenging to manage your schedule having enough time for both bands?

Fabienne Erni: 2019 was very intense! Finishing my studies and with that creating Illumishade and being on the road with Eluveitie – it was a bit crazy! But somehow we made everything work! I just didn’t sleep, haha!

-How do you see, will you have enough time to go on tour with Illumishade after the pandemic? Or is it “just” a side project and Eluveitie comes first?

Fabienne Erni: It is basically very simple: when we have a gap with Eluveitie, we try everything to play shows with Illumishade! (smiles) We definitely would love to play live shows with our new project!

-How much was the songwriting process going? How much was it challenging to separate your mind from Eluveitie and concentrate only on Illumishade?

Fabienne Erni: I had many ideas that I collected over the years but never worked on or finished them. So I selected some of them and worked with Jonas on a few. We spent a weekend on our first ideas and started with pre-production. Jonas gave my piano, melody-ideas the right „clothes“ to it. Later we had some rehearsals with the band and we all together even went a week to the mountains for a songwriting week. During this week, many songs changed with all the inputs from the musicians. Jonas also composed two songs right there. He is very good at being creative with pressure, I always say it’s his superpower! (smiles)

-Was it tough to find the own voice of Illumishade or it was something that was in your mind and ears quite a long time?

Fabienne Erni: We actually just let everything flow. It feels a little bit as if we didn’t guide the music, but the music guided us. We just created a playground for ourselves where creativity can flow without any borders.

-What was the most challenging song to write?

Fabienne Erni: Hmm… every song has its own challenges. I struggled a lot with the verse of „Muse of unknown forces”. I had another melody and different harmonies in mind, but we changed the chords in the songwriting week (definitely to the better!), and just a few days before the actual recordings I came up with a melody. That was pretty tight!

Photo: Eighty7Visions

-Do you have a favorite song from the album?

Fabienne Erni: Ah, I guess you hear it often: songs are like kids. I can not pick a favorite one. Each song has its own journey and story, struggles and flows.

-I have to mention that I really adore the band’s visuals and style, it’s just amazing and magical! Can I ask who designed the whole image?

Fabienne Erni: Here comes Tamara (the manager – editor’s note) into the game. She is our hidden 6th bandmember in the background. She takes the role of management, label, designer, and life-helper, haha! Since we are a do-it-yourself-project we have to face everything by our own. But it has many great sides as well of course! We face challenges that we never had to face before! Most of the graphics we used so far she did. Also when we were looking for costumes for our photo shooting she kept everything in order and saw what outfit fits to who. I am not that good with clothes, looks and makeup. So I am glad we have Tamara. (smiles)

-I also saw that the band has created their own cocktail! How did that idea and recipe come up?

Fabienne Erni: Tamara had the idea actually. We planed a live-stream and to make it cozy for us and all the people watching and to feel more connected we decided to invent this ILLUMI-Fusion. Luckily Yannick, our bass player, our Sage, he was working for years as a bartender, he knows every cocktail there is in this world, so he created it!

Photo: facebook.com/illumishade

-How much does the teamwork work in the band? Did you work together on the songs or everybody had their own separate tasks?

Fabienne Erni: Everybody knows where their responsible fields are and everybody does that where he is best at. Of course, we all get to know each other now better and better as people that create something together.

-Actually, it’s not a question, just I have to mention: while I was listening to your upcoming album, I had this feeling like all the heroes of Marvel Universe and the Disney princesses met secretly and they created an own band. It’s just fabulous!

Fabienne Erni: Oh, wow! This is such a wonderful description! And in my opinion, it fits very well! Jonas is a huge Marvel fan and I love Disney!

-And here comes my last question: I was thinking so hard that what kind of metal is this… Could you categorize it or is it impossible? I feel like it could bring the new wave of symphonic metal.

Fabienne Erni: Hmm… We don’t want to put ourselves into any specific genre. We want to have fun and be creative without any borders. We let people decide if they want to! 

“Thank you for having me! It was lovely. And thanks to everyone that read until the end! I hope you will enjoy our first album as much as we do!”

Eclyptic: Wake of Shadows release date: 15 May 2020

Click on the photo below to pre-order your copy:

illumishade ECLYPTIC

Interview by Afrodite Szeleczky
Cover photo: Jens de Vos

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"I associate heavy metal with fantasy because of the tremendous power that the music delivers." - Christopher Lee

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