About Me

Interview with Beyond the Black

Beyond the Black are a rising band that have already conquered a good spot in the metal world. They appeared in 2014 and automatically became popular in Germany and throughout Europe. They split up in 2016 and returned shortly afterwards with new members. They are known for their power metal / symphonic metal style and, this year, they bring us a new album entitled “Hørizøns”. Metal Imperium was in conversation with the singer, Jennifer Haben.

M.I. - What best describes your band and your sound?

I would describe it as more melodic metal more now than symphonic metal because we changed a bit of the sound for this album, so it’s less symphonic, a bit more electronic, a bit more modern, I would say it’s a rock voice with metal guitars and drums.

M.I. - What inspired the title of the album “Hørizøns”?

I think that, first of all, when we thought of a new album, there was the thought that we wanted to change something, because we felt like it would fit a bit more to what we are now.
For us we knew that we would change a bit of the sound, so when we were starting to write songs for this album the concern was more what we are now and I think the main thing was to find a word to describe this change of us. 
So this is the reason that we called it “Hørizøns”… there are new horizons for us, we’ll be showing new faces and this is the main reason why we took that word.

M.I. - Can you tell us a little about the album? What are the songs about?

The main thing that we are talking about in this album is change! What I mean with that is that we are personally changing and that we understand more and more that no one can ever tell us what to do and what not to do. So, we are breaking out these chains in our heads that we have to represent something that maybe some people want to put us into. 
I think that that was one thing that we wanted to break free and this is what we are talking about a lot in this album, to break free out of chains that you feel and also about understanding that no one could ever tell you what to do because, in the end, we all die and we all have to decide what we do in our lives because it’s not the one that tells you what to do that will die for you… So that is the reason why you have to decide every single day for yourself what you wanna do and what not to do, nobody else can tell you that.

M.I. - So the album is sort of a message?

Yeah! And of course, as well, what we felt for ourselves in our lives. About what we were going through the last two, three years together. Because we could feel that in our band as well, first of all, we wanted to make things right. Because of the history of Beyond the Black, of course, we did things wrong and stuff, or we felt we did things wrong, but in the end we understood that “ok, we are good, we tried to make things right, now let’s see what we can do to make things for us,” you know? This was the main thing behind writing this album, that changed what we felt inside of us.

M.I. - When did you start working on this new album?

We started working in summer, last year. So we had like six months of just writing songs, just getting ideas of what sound we wanted to have and trying things out. This was super important. We had more time to write songs. Before we did all of this stuff in six months for “Heart of the Hurricane”, our previous album, but this time we had just for songwriting and trying things out for six months and then we went to our label and said “ok these are the songs we would put on the album, do you like it or not?” and they loved it, so, we were lucky with that. That was also a sign that this could be good and we recorded it till the middle of March. In the end of March we were final with everything.

M.I. - What were the biggest challenges in the composition of the album?

For me, I think the biggest challenge was writing the first song, because we had a completely different situation and because we also tried something we never did before, as a whole band. Normally, I would write with Chris, or Stefan in groups of two or three.
But now we decided to do all band sessions as well. 
You have to have time to try such things out that you don’t know if it would work or not. We also say that, in German, “too many cooks make a bad meal”, so, we were afraid of doing something like that. But, like I said before, we had enough time to do these things and to see what happened and it was good that we had that for the first song that we’ve finished, because we said “ok, let’s change a song, but it was not like snap your fingers and you’re changing a song”. We had to find a new sound and it was good to have the whole band inside to write a song that would break us free of the sound we had before, to just look from another perspective to what we could sound like. And that was ”Misery”, the song that was created. And it is definitely super different to what we did before. 
But it did the job! It is a good song and people could tell, they were open enough to just listen to the song and to understand that they cannot tell before a song comes out what it would sound like. That is what I really love, when I’m listening to a song that I don’t know, what the song would sound like and I think we’ve got that with this one. For us it was a great progress, it was really experimental and it was a super interesting time.

M.I. - Do you consider it your best work so far?

Yeah! I would say yes because… I’m not sure if it is more emotional for me, but this is the album that I’m prouder of, because we did so much, we’ve worked so much, we’ve put so much emotion into this album that I’d say that people have to feel how much more of us is inside of this album. 
You can see that. When you think about “Lost in Forever”, the second album, there are really good songs, but we had like three months to write this album and recording everything and I think you can hear something like that when you don’t have the time to really progress, to go into details, to change something one day before we finish the album, that happened this time as well… (laughs). 
Sometimes you have to decide like that to have the perfect album. We did these things, even if we were nervous doing them, but we knew that in the end we would be proud of that. 
That’s the reason why I’m prouder of this album.

M.I. - Why did you choose the song “Misery” for your first single? Was it because it was the first song that you wrote?

Not really.  I think it was because of what I said before, about what it meant for us, that it freed our mind. And one of the things that I was thinking about picking the first single was “would this speak to our fans as well?” and I think that was the reason why we took it. 
We took a risk with that because we know that there are a lot of people outside that say “ok, it’s a bit too pop what you do” so we took that song with the most “poppy” verse to show everyone we don´t give a f***, we do what we love and we hope that our fans are open enough to understand or that they are free after listening to that song and see that Beyond the Black will always have different kinds of styles in their sound. And this is something important for me because I don't wanna be in a cage and not trying things out. I really love to make various things and to show, with every single, a face that I have inside of me.

M.I. - How was it to do a duet with Elize Ryd? How did you choose her? Did you consider it because of the joint tour with the Amaranthe that you are planning?

We didn’t know each other before we had the idea to tour together and we just got to know each other in the last year when we did a part show with them in Finland so I didn’t know her personally before. 
But that was an important point for us, to get to know each other and to understand “Ok, do we like each other? And would it be fun to tour together?” and we decided “yes, it would be fun” and that was good after I saw how funny she is. I said “ok, let’s do something together”. It’s always important for me to have people on the album that I actually met once or that I find that is good to work with them. And I think Elize is a super funny person and she sleeps so much longer than I, and I thought I was a sleepy person. 
But I love all that about her and, of course, I really love her voice. I was really impressed that she could perform live so well. That was really amazing and it made that I wanted, even more, to have her on the album. It was fun to work with her!

M.I. - How has the album feedback been?

I’d say positive and negative, but nothing that I didn’t expect because, like I said before, “Misery” was one song that you had to be open for. So, I was sure that there would be a lot of people that wouldn’t understand it for the first time, but I knew there were some people that didn’t like it in the beginning and love it now! 
I know that there are a lot of songs that they can relate to and our fans that knew us and didn’t like the sound so much before, can relate to a lot of songs on the album actually, so I think this was one way to show the fans another side of us and to show them that we have different faces. I don’t know if that sounds negative but I mean it in a positive way. But this album I think they will enjoy, in the end, and this is also why I’m so excited to finally release the whole album because we are showing so many different faces and I know that every single one that likes Beyond the Black, will find at least one song that he loves.

M.I. - Who created the concept of the album cover?

We had, of course, somebody that was doing the graphic stuff. So, we told him what we wanted to show in “Hørizøns”. When you look at the artwork you can see that I’m on the left looking to the right, that’s like the past, in the middle is the present and on the right it’s me looking to the future.
It’s also about facing all this stuff that we are talking about in this album and to show these different horizons in colors, that was what we told him to do. We had this thing with all of the band, of course, it makes sense to not take one of the boys under the cover (laughs). All of us agreed to that.

M.I. - What have you been listening to lately?

The last months? A lot of Disney! (laughs)
For me, it was super important to stay positive and I think that, in general, it was important to everybody to stay positive at times when you don’t have the possibility to get to meet people, or to talk to when you’re sad. So, keep your mind positive. Every time I listen to Disney, it lightens up my heart and I really love it, so, I listened to a lot of Disney.

M.I. - What are your biggest inspirations, besides Disney of course?

(laughs) I have a lot of women’s voices that were inspirations for me when I was young. But someone that was a big inspiration for me was Whitney Houston. All the powerful women. I was not into heavy metal when I was super young so, of course, it was pop women. Nowadays it is Paramore, Hayley Williams, I think Floor Jansen has an amazing singing voice and one that I’ve just realized I was really inspired by how he sings is Freddie Mercury, of course. I didn’t understand it because I just was wondering what female vocalist inspired me, but he is definitely one that inspires me the most because he could just sing one note and he had the ability to put so much passion and so much meaning into it, that I believe he was so special.

M.I. - Do you think it is important to launch video clips to promote your albums? Do you like doing them?

I think that, nowadays, it is not so important to have whole music videos in general for every song, but I think that some small clips are super important to have for social media. This is the main place where you promote your stuff. But also, of course, we have a lot of TV spots in Germany so we have to have some really good pictures. We created that for our first single but then came Corona, so we had, for the second and third, just a lyric video. We wanted to make some short clips for this too but we decided not to meet during this time and now we did one again for the release of our main single, so we would have some stuff to post and for the TV spots. You have to have that when you have these spots so people can really see all the members.

M.I. - Do you consider the work and exposure on social media very important?

Yeah, of course! The younger generation is really a lot on social media. I have to be honest, I really have problems in getting to post things… I was thinking about why it was like that and I think that one of the things was, that I was super afraid to post something too personal, because people could maybe come to my house. (laughs) 
When I was young I was on TV spots for the first time when I was eleven and there were some boys stalking me and this is something that really is on your mind when you’re posting things. So, I think that was one of the things that really got me a hard time getting to post myself, but I think I’ve started because I know it’s super important for the band and for somebody who wants to promote himself without paying so much money for a TV spot or something like that. It’s just... not all of the people need it anymore, to get these big TV spots, you know? So, this is also a reason why we decided to create your own promotion tool.

M.I. - What do you do on tour?

Party a lot! (laughs) 
Last time we’ve toured we did sports every day. That was something that we never did before… before we just did like three days or something and everybody was skipping. But we always try to stay healthy, do sports, because it is super important not to get sick. Even though it happens anyway, but we try.

M.I. - What was the best moment for you on stage?

Hum...hard question.
I have to say in general, for me, the best moments on stage are when I can hear through my in-ears that everyone is singing so loud that my heart gets “ah... my God”! It is the most beautiful thing when people are singing out loud your songs with you. That, in general, is the moment that I enjoy the most.

M.I. - Who would you like to share the stage with and why?

Humm, of course I have to say Metallica or somebody super big! (laughs)
What I actually love is to cross over, so it would be amazing for me to make a show with Paramore, with all the people that inspired me. It’s not possible anymore to do that with Freddy Mercury but maybe Phil Collins, that would be something super interesting, to be honest. But Metallica would, of course, be awesome as well!

M.I. - Has Covid influenced your professional life?

Of course, I mean, I’ve been sitting at home for months but I think we just changed how we were working. I had almost more work than normally. I was at home doing something for social media or having to think about a plan B for a tour which you normally don’t have once you finalize something. We thought about live streams at home and all that stuff that we normally aren’t doing and that needs a bit more time when you are doing it for the first time. Personally, I’m normally going from place to place and I have some kind of chaos in my head and I don’t get the time to really separate all of that stuff that I’m thinking about and really get into deep details if I’m not disciplined, you know what I mean? So this is something that came to me during this time very easily, to get into super deep thoughts and to think about bigger things than just music, as well. Because normally, music is the whole thing in my whole life and in my family and there are a lot of things happening during these days that feel more important for me than doing music at the moment. I don’t know, you can say it like that because music is always my number one and in my family as well, but I know that there are thoughts that I normally wouldn’t give so much space.

M.I. - Do you have plans for the upcoming months?

Yes. We’ve just released two shows, a car cinema release shows. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that, it’s like going to a car cinema and there we are playing a show on stage and there’s a big screen where you can see all of us as well. The people are going to that concert with their car and listening to it on their car radios to what is happening on that stage.

M.I.- It sounds fun!

Yeah! Really fun! Because I think one thing that is super different from a normal concert is that you decide in your car, what sound you have. If you have good sound in your car, this could be the best thing ever because normally when you’re in a concert in a venue, it can be that the sound on that point is much worse than another point and here you decide yourself how loud it is and all of that stuff! It could be really nice!

M.I. - Any last words for your fans in Portugal?

Oh yeah! Of course!
First of all, I wanna say thank you so much for your interest in reading this interview and the interest into our music, into our band in general and thank you, of course as well for the interest. Yeah, I’m super looking forward and we all are looking forward to, hopefully, very soon go on tour again and see all of you there!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Tatiana Andersen