“Switzerland has a varied Metal scene”
That’s what I wrote a few years ago in the review of “Das Erbe der Welt” by the Swiss symphonic Metal band Deep Sun. Although the album itself didn’t convince me that much, you could still hear the great potential of the band. Now three years later, “Dreamland – Behind The Shades” has been released. For me a clear step forward. Or better said “Back to the roots”. Just listen to the debut “Race Against Time”. So, it was time to ask the musicians of Deep Sun.
MHF: Hi, I’m Rainer and I write for the Metalheads Forever Magazine. Thank you for letting me do this interview with you. How are you doing?
Debora: Thank you. After our album “Dreamland – Behind the Shades” directly reached the 4th place in the Swiss album charts, we are currently doing very well! It is the reward for all the years of constant and intensive work and the joy is of course huge!
MHF: First of all, please introduce yourselves briefly. How would you describe the sound of Deep Sun?
Debora: Deep Sun stands for Symphonic Metal, combined with various other influences like Rock, Power, Folk, etc. This arises automatically because of the broad musical taste of all of us. But our songs clearly reflect the Symphonic Metal style. With the new album more than ever.
Tobias: With the new album and the clearer orientation towards Symphonic Metal, we have also emphasized our strengths more: Namely the vocals and the epic key lines.
Angelo: We create a diverse dense and colourful sounding depending on the song style and compositional content. This also audibly creates the differences that sometimes give the feeling that songs seem more “striking” than others. Nice examples: Secret Garden, Midnight Dance vs. Hands In Anger, Behind The Shades…
MHF: What other bands and musicians influence you?
Angelo: I have been influenced by a few bands since my youth. These include bands like: Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Pearl Jam, Primus, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Radiohead, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Ensiferum, MoonSorrow, Black Sabbath, historical old music… As a musician in particular, I would like to mention Louis Johnson, who has significantly influenced my slap style on the bass.
Tom: I have a relatively broad musical taste as far as the metal genre is concerned.
But it all started with bands like Stratovarius, Hammerfall, Nightwish, etc..
Today’s favourites also come from Northern Europe. Amorphis, Wintersun, Ensiferum, just to name a few.
Debora: Through my parents I came into contact with bands like Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, but also ABBA, etc. at an early age. All the different music styles and influences have always fascinated me. But when I met Nightwish and Tarja Turunen, I knew exactly where I wanted to go with my voice. All the early symphonic metal bands were very groundbreaking for me.
MHF: As I mentioned at the beginning, many very different Metal bands come from Switzerland. Do you know each other? Do you have contact with other bands?
Debora: Over the years, you actually meet a lot of bands. That’s always very exciting and you also exchange information. And as it is in everyday life, friendships are made that last beyond the concert. I’m still in contact with various musicians and meet them privately for a cup of coffee.
Angelo: Yes, that is indeed the case and a good thing. Everyone goes their own way, but every now and then you also like to get in touch with each other to look for joint concerts. That promotes the connections to each other. A very successful example was our “Swiss Metal Alliances”, where we toured extensively with bands from French-speaking Switzerland and also from Germany within Switzerland.
Tobias: But what we have always noticed over the years is the “liveliness” of the business. We have seen many bands come and go. We appreciate the consistency of Deep Sun all the more and we are happy and grateful for the good atmosphere we have in our band family.
MHF: You released the first EP “Flight of the Phoenix” and the debut album “Race Against Time” independently. Since “Das Erbe der Welt” you have been signed to Massacre Records. What made you decide to sign a label deal?
Angelo: Clearly with the aim of making a big step forward, to develop further, to achieve more professionalism, especially in the overall outward appearance. To receive further support, which bands absolutely need in order to be able to take these steps forward.
Tobias: The physical but also the online distribution of an album is a “book with seven seals”. It definitely needs a lot of experience and the serenity that we now have together with Thomas Hertler from Massacre Records. For us, the step of working with a record label was not an issue for a long time, but with time and after the great success of “Race Against Time”, we realised that we are simply no longer in a position to do the same for “Das Erbe der Welt”. Let alone now with “Dreamland – Behind the Shades”.
MHF: Is the approach to album production different now compared to the first two releases?
Angelo: Absolutely. Here, the pre-production with our producer Frank Pitters was a significant and essential factor that took over a year before going into the studio. The regular Skype meetings to discuss the progress of the pre-production were also new for us. These did not happen with the albums “Race against Time” and “The Legacy of the World”.
MHF: There are nine years between the founding of the band and the first release. Why did it take so long until your EP was ready?
Debora: The band was founded under the name “One Hour” and there were constant changes in the line-up. Since 2011 we were in a fixed constellation and in 2013 the debut album “Flight of the Phoenix” was released. Therefore, it went quickly when we existed in a constant composition 🙂
Tom: Yes, the first years we met once a week in the band room to jam a bit and spend time together. We didn’t have any big ambitions until then. The ambitions came with the concerts and the first CD recording.
MHF: Since “Race Against Time” it’s been one after the other. A new album every three years. Have you found your rhythm now?
Debora: Besides music, we all have a full-time job and Angelo also has a family. All these different factors have to be taken into account in our planning, both in terms of concerts but also in terms of a whole album production. We are a hard-working and forward-looking band and are therefore constantly working on songs, planning, coordination, etc., and hope to be able to break our 3-year rhythm one day 🙂
MHF: From my point of view, your 2019 concept album was a bit of a letdown. What did you do differently on “Dreamland – Behind The Shades” than on the previous album?
Debora: Music is fortunately a matter of taste and so there are always different opinions and views on a release. In fact, however, we achieved a kind of breakthrough with “Das Erbe der Welt”, which could be clearly seen just by the 11th place in the Swiss album charts as well as the 1st place in the metal charts. This album also opened many more doors for us for cool concerts and festivals.
On “Dreamland – Behind the Shades” we also worked with producer Frank Pitters, Silverlinemusic, for the first time. He gave the songs more modernity and freshness and produced Deep Sun to a next higher level.
We have also developed further since the last album, which is also reflected on the album and is our goal with every album. So, I really enjoy the way I’ve been able to work my voice out more in the low and middle range and use that very strongly in the individual songs.
But we don’t do concept albums in the real sense. I always come to the band with different themes and ideas and then we discuss and sort out the themes a bit. We have been interested in the subject of dreams and all the different facets for a long time. It’s a very exciting topic, because there are no compositional restrictions, which then also benefited the diversity of the songs, as you’re used to from Deep Sun.
So, each band member could express himself in the theme in his own musical way, as he liked.
This happened quite impressively with the album’s opener “Behind the Shades”, where Tom and I musically realized the dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream interweaving. Tom succeeded impressively in this with the songwriting. In this song there are no repetitions of parts, you get more and more into the song and at the end there is the harmonic inversion of the previous keys to get out of the song again.
Or just on “Killer in a Dream”. Tom’s dream of realizing his own James Bond song, with which we immediately shot a video clip with the matching story in the Grand Casino Baden.
MHF: How did the Covid 19 pandemic influence the production of the album?
Angelo: It took us an insane amount of time to work intensively on songwriting and pre-production. Contrary to the deep headache of not being able to play any concerts, that was then the hand that held our heads up to look ahead.
Tobias: Exactly, and on top of that, we had to change the guitar line-up relatively spontaneously in spring 2020, so it was almost “convenient” for us that a total of 14 of our concerts were cancelled. But of course you can’t call it “convenient” when you see what this pandemic has done to the music scene. Many promoters had to take off their hats and many bands were disbanded. It was also a highly emotional time for us, but (hopefully) now a thing of the past!
Since Frank Pitters lives and works about 1000 kilometres away from us, we communicated with each other practically exclusively online, which is where the next “benefit” of the pandemic came into play: everyone was very familiar with how to use the video chats.
MHF: Who is responsible for songwriting at Deep Sun? Or are the songs the result of collective work?
Debora: The main songwriters are clearly Thomas Hiebaum and Angelo Salerno and very rarely I contribute another song. So when they present their song ideas, we go through them together, work out the details and at the end each of us records his part on Cubase, so that we can get a complete picture of the song.
MHF: Are you satisfied with the result?
Debora: Absolutely! Before every album, we demand the best from ourselves and I think we have more than achieved that with “Dreamland – Behind the Shades”.
Tom: I can only agree with that. We have sweated blood, sweat and tears for this album. To hold the good thing in our hands now makes us all extremely proud. And if the fans like it too, that’s all the better, of course.
Tobias: And with the 4th place in the Swiss charts, we also have proof that the album has exceeded all our expectations.
MHF: How were the reactions of your fans and the press to the current album?
Tobias: The feedback so far has been positive across the board. We haven’t had so much positive feedback with any album so far, and the chart position didn’t come by chance either. Fortunately, music tastes are very different. We are extremely happy with it!
MHF: What can we expect from Deep Sun in the future? Will you also perform live outside your home country?
Angelo: We can expect continuity in terms of concerts, energetic performances and our own aspirations in terms of the band’s further development. We do our utmost to achieve these goals in a constructive way. This also includes concerts abroad, which will start this autumn together with Bonfire in Germany. We are really looking forward to these.
Tobias: Exactly, we will already be able to give concerts abroad this year, and it looks like in 2023 there will be a tendency for us to come abroad more often for smaller weekend concert tours. Some contacts have already been made.
MHF: Thank you again for this interview. Would you like to say something to your fans at the end?
Debora: We can only thank from the bottom of our hearts all our fans but also friends and families for always believing in us and supporting us. That is so valuable and not to be taken for granted. Without our fans and supporters, we wouldn’t be here where we are now. Thanks to all of you out there!
Angelo: I can only agree with Debora’s words 😀
Tobias: And if you like, follow us on social media or wherever. We are always happy to receive comments or messages/feedbacks from our fans, which we are always happy to answer.
Deep Sun are:
Debora Lavagnolo – Vocals
Stephan Riner – Gitarren
Angelo Salerno – Bass
Tom Hiebaum – Keyboard
Tobias Brutschi – Drums
Flight of the Phoenix (EP) – Self released 2014
Race Against Time (Album) – Self released 2016
Das Erbe der Welt (Album) – Massacre Records 2019
Dreamland – Behind the Shades (Album) – Massacre Records 2022