Manora are not a very young band. But certainly not very well known. Especially outside their home country, the Netherlands. I have not yet been able to find out how long the band has existed. In 2017, the debut EP “Dreamshapes” was released. And in mid-October this year, the debut album “Brave The Storm” followed. Singer Mirte van der Ham answered my curious questions.
MHF: Hello, I’m Rainer and I’m pleased to be able to do this interview with you. How are you?
Mirte: Hi Rainer, thank you for giving us this opportunity to talk about our music! I’m doing great, although here in the Netherlands we are in lockdown again unfortunately. But I am healthy and for that i’m grateful.
MHF: Until recently, I had not heard anything from you. I think many fans feel the same way. Please introduce yourself briefly.
Mirte: We are Manora, a symphonic metal band from the Netherlands. The band started out as a collaboration between Ivo and Arthur and after several line-up changes, in our current form, we started in 2016 and released our first EP “Dreamshapes” in 2017. We have been performing ever since in the Netherlands, although we haven’t been touring since we all have full-time jobs next to the band.
MHF: How stable is your band line-up? How do you deal with changes in the line-up?
Mirte: Since 2016 we’ve had the same line-up, and we’d like to keep it that way, since we now know each other so well and we really have a connection when we are making music together. We all bring something new to the songwriting process as well. Should a line-up change occur then I think we will manage to get used to a new person again, but it would be hard for sure.
MHF: There are four years between the debut EP and the current album. What have you done during this time?
Mirte: Mainly a lot of performing and writing new music. As I said before, we all do this next to our full-time jobs, so we just have to accept that it’s a slower process.
MHF: How did the Corona pandemic influence the production of the album?
Mirte: The production of the album itself not so much, because we were able to record most of the album separately. But the recording of the music video and getting nice band pictures took some time, because we couldn’t get together for a very long time. Also, because all concerts were cancelled, we didn’t have a lot of money to fund the album. But that’s why we decided to do a crowdfunding campaign.
MHF: How do you write your songs? Is there a main songwriter or is it a team effort?
Mirte: Usually it’s Ivo (our guitar player) who comes up with the general idea for the song, and he makes a demo. Then Arthur starts thinking about synth parts and I start writing lyrics. When we had just started together as a band it was really mainly Ivo and Arthur, but now everyone’s involved in writing the songs.
MHF: How do the EP and the album differ musically?
Mirte: The EP was recorded when we were only together as a band for less than a year. Most songs were already written before I, Tijn and Tomasz had joined the band, so I would say the album is more “us” compared to the EP.
MHF: “Brave The Storm” was released a few weeks ago. How satisfied are you with the result?
Mirte: We are absolutely amazed by all the positive responses we got so far. We’re really proud of the result but it’s always a bit scary to release it for the world to listen to. I’m really happy everyone seems to like it so far.
MHF: What are the reactions of fans and press to your debut?
Mirte: As I said, we’ve received mainly positive reactions. Of course, some people compare us to bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation and Epica, but I see that as a compliment.
MHF: In your home country there are or were many well-known Metal bands. I think of Within Temptation, Epica, Delain, After Forever, Stream of Passion, Vetrar Draugurinn, Kingfisher Sky, and, and, and. What is it like for you to follow in such big footsteps?
Mirte: We feel really honoured if someone says our name in such a list of awesome bands. I’ve always been a huge fan of many of those bands so it feels a bit surreal sometimes.
MHF: There are many Symphonic Metal bands not only in the Netherlands, but also worldwide. How do you differ from other bands of this genre?
Mirte: I think lots of bands really try to put a lot of pop influences in their music nowadays. While we do try to write catchy songs, we try to always stick to the symphonic metal genre.
MHF: What are your plans for the future? Will you go on tour with your album after Corona?
Mirte: I don’t know if we’ll do a large tour, but we definitely want to play more gigs as soon as this pandemic is over. Hopefully we’ll do some festivals in the summer and maybe some gigs outside of the Netherlands. I really look forward to finally be on stage again.
MHF: Thank you again for this interview. Would you like to say something to the fans at the end?
Mirte: Thank you for this opportunity. I would like to thank our fans very much for their ongoing support, you guys are awesome!
Mirte van der Ham – Vocals
Ivo Visser – Guitar
Arthur Stok – Keyboard
Tomasz Kisielewicz – Bass Guitar
Tijn Scholtze – Drums