FLOWERLEAF Interview + “STRONGER” Album Review
By John Paul Romero
FLOWERLEAF is a symphonic power metal band from Brazil, home of Angra, Seputlura and lots of other quality metal groups. They have gained their popularity over youtube with their first single “Firesoul”, but stepped into the spotlight upon the release of their second single, “Girl in Pearls”. Last month, they finally released their debut effort “Stronger” – which is a solid and well-received album. This interview will revolve around their story as a band, and of course we talked about their debut album “STRONGER”.
MHF: First things first: is FlowerLeaf a project or a band?
Vivs: It’s a band. Well, it’s actually a duo, since Marcelo and I are the only official members of FlowerLeaf.
MHF: Can you tell us a little bit about FlowerLeaf? How did it all begin?
Marcelo: It all began in April, 2017. Vivs and I were part of a Nightwish cover band but we wanted to start composing our own music. So we quit the band and thought: can we really do this? So we started writing our songs and we liked what was coming out.
MHF: How did you come up with your name? Is there a story behind it?
Vivs: We were thinking of many names of high impact, that was inspiring and strong at the same time but all of them were taken by other bands. Until one day (April 10th to be more precise) I came up with the name FlowerLeaf, that represents both of us, the flower and the leaf, part of the same being.
MHF: Before you started, what are your favorite bands?
Vivs: When I was 14, I was introduced to some bands that opened a new world in music for me. These were Nightwish, Within Temptation and After Forever. I’ve been following their careers (including Floor and Tarja, of course) since then.
Marcelo: Since I can remember I was listening to rock bands with my father, like Creedence Clearwater revival and Rush. When I was about 13 or 14 years old, some friends of my older brother introduced me to Helloween and Blind Guardian. These are of course my favorite bands… Ah! And I can’t let Mr Big out of the list.
MHF: You have been together for quite some time already, playing in your own bands. When did you realize or when did you get the idea of starting a band together?
Vivs: We’ve played in some bands together and the idea of having our own band is quite young. Our music preferences are a little different but we managed to make it work into our songs.
Marcelo: Even with the different music preferences, we had no doubt the way we wanted FlowerLeaf to sound like.
MHF: What are your visions for the band back when you just formed?
Marcelo: We wanted to be rockstars! Just kidding, we wanted to create a band with songs that people can relate to, that they can listen to, and see that they are not alone in their thoughts.
MHF: And how has it been going so far? Do you believe you are walking on the right path?
Marcelo: We are getting great response from the audience and press. There are even fans saying that they want to get a tattoo with a verse of our song, and that’s really amazing.
Vivs: Things are happening in a way that’s faster and bigger than we imagined would happen. We’re really happy about that.
MHF: Your first single and first youtube video was “Firesoul”, which kicked off the beginning of your career. Can you tell us a bit about that single? What were the inspirations behind that song?
Vivs: I was playing with some notes on the piano and singing some random lyrics (I do this a lot!) when the word “firesoul” came out. As a Sailor Moon fan I found it very interesting and I challenged myself to write one part of the song for each Sailor. When we sent the song to our producer Raphael Gazal, he immediately said that the song was too long and that we had to cut some parts and create a bridge. We did cut 4 strophes of the song and then I created a bridge that made reference to Tuxedo Kamen. It was very fun to work on this song.
MHF: Still talking about your youtube activity,”Firesoul” really got the things started but what really pushed you into the spotlight was the second single “Girl in Pearls”. I heard there was an interesting backstory in it, can you tell us about that?
Vivs: Marcelo and I went to a registry office, where people often get married in full bridal and long dresses. On this day there was a wedding going on and there was this little girl who was very pretty in her dress but no one was giving her any attention, as if she was not part of the party. I felt sorry for her and later that day, when I was playing some random chords on the piano, I came out with a story for her.
MHF: What exact message do you want to point out in that song?
Vivs: That no matter who you are, you are not alone or forgotten. [We want to point out] that you can dream high and reach for your goals.
MHF: Now, since I’ve already mentioned your two singles, let’s talk about the album as a whole. Traditional question: How has it been back at the studio?
Marcelo: It was a really nice experience, because it was our first time in the studio recording our own songs, so it was very nice to be able to create things. The recording sessions were great because Raphael is a really great producer and very, very, very patient.
MHF: How do you share the load in writing songs?
Marcelo: We don’t exactly have work division on that matter. Vivs has a very creative mind, so most of songs she composed by herself and I just helped with some rhymes or verses. The only two songs that we wrote together were “Not my Fault” and “Grain of sand”, that basically came out when I was playing some random chords with the guitar.
MHF: What were your inspirations upon writing your songs?
Vivs: Usually I like to write about things that happen in my life or things that are going around in my head. Maybe I think too much about things and a way to relieve my head is to put them into lyrics. I also like to imagine stories and situations like Girl in Pearls.
MHF: Are there any specific bands that had direct influences on the album?
Vivs: There are actually three bands that influenced maybe not the songs but to push the band forward and make it happen. These were Delain, Amberian Dawn and Vandroya. We related to them in a way that I couldn’t relate to Nightwish, for example. And listening to these bands, following their stories and development inspired us to make FlowerLeaf the way it is today.
MHF: Aside for the excellent instrumentalists you have selected, there are also two uniquely outstanding guest vocalists, Mylena Monaco and Marina La Torraca. But I’m mostly interested with Mylena’s contribution in the song “Not my Fault” which is simply unique from the rest of the songs. Whose idea was it?
Vivs: Not My Fault is a song of self-sabotage, when you have voices in your head saying that you’re not good enough. It’s funny to realize that these voices get stronger when some people also have this kind of behaviour, treating you as if you were less than them.
So I wanted a voice that was strong and powerful to be this voice in my head. When I saw Mylena performing live with her band Sinaya, I loved her! And so I invited her to make this duo with me and I was so happy when she accepted.
MHF: What are your personal favorites from the album?
Vivs: That’s a tough question. But I could say that Grain of Sand is very special because it was the first song we wrote together. And We Will Stand, I get chills everytime I listen to that final chorus when Marina and I go high in the vocals.
Marcelo: I must agree… that’s a tough question. But I think that my favorites are Tupana, Not my fault and The Flower and the Leaf.
MHF: How has been the feedback you are getting from the fans and the press?
Vivs: It has been amazing! We’re getting so many positive feedbacks from the fans and the press. This makes me really happy and proud of my work. On the weekend that we released the album we couldn’t even answer all the messages that we received from fans and press, it was kind of overwhelming but it was very satisfying at the same time.
MHF: Are you already touring in support for this album? (if not yet, please include future shows if any)
Marcelo: We are not touring yet. But we are planning some shows in Brazil for 2019 so we have really big plans for the band for the next year.
MHF: But is touring part of your plans for this band?
Marcelo: Sure. Besides the shows in Brazil, we are also planning a tour in Europe for the second semester, but we can’t promise anything yet.
MHF: Tell our readers where and how to avail your album! Also tell us where to follow you on social media.
Marcelo: Stronger is already available on all main streaming services (Spotify, Amazon, Deezer, iTunes) and you can also buy the physical copy (with a bonus track) on our website www.flowerleafband.com
Vivs: And you can find us on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube always using /flowerleafofficial.
MHF: If you have any further messages, shout outs, or if you want to promote your album further, here’s your chance!
Vivs: We want to thank all the fans that are supporting us in this journey. It’s not easy and sometimes it’s really stressful but the feedback has been so gratifying that makes us want to keep working harder and harder! Thanks a lot!
Vivs Takahashi – Vocals
Marcelo Kaczorowski – Bass
FLOWERLEAF- STRONGER ALBUM REVIEW
When talking about symphonic metal, you could always imagine grand symphonic arrangements, elegant orchestrations and a theatric atmosphere – while in power metal, it’s all about magic and surrealism. These elements are what FLOWERLEAF’s debut album “Stronger” brings.
Having only two official band members did not turn out to be a disadvantage to them as they wrote, played and recorded every single part of the songs with great precision and mastery. There are two tracks where which they had guest vocalists, first is “Not my Fault” which feature’s Mylena Monaco of the band SINAYA, and the second one was the last entry to the album, “We Will Stand” featuring Marina La Torraca. To give you a little bit of an impression of how their vocalist sound, imagine combinig Tarja’s operatic approach witht combined voices of Amy Lee (Evanescence), Ailyn (ex-Sirenia) and Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation).
The ten-track album (being symphonic power metal), as you would expect has lots of high notes, full of energy, magical and simply over the top. They open it big time with sleep paralysis inspired song “Paralysis”, a fast-paced song with a catchy tune followed up by the shifty song “Firesoul” with lots of awesome guitar passages and solos. “Grain of Sand” then comes in with a ballady approach hence changing up the pace by little after the overall energetic vibe delivered by the first two songs. Talking about changing the pace, that’s what “Not My Fault” brings. Right from the chuggy guitar intro, you know something explosive is coming. And then you’ll hear Mylena’s deep growls doing a duet with Vivs’ operatic singing.
Of all the songs, “Girl in Pearls” is the most fascinating one. It tells an interesting (although a bit heartbreaking) story behind it which actually took place in real life. The narration of the story is perfectly delivered with Vivs’ emotional singing and the dramatic approach of the instrumentals. No wonder why this song brought this band into popularity. To complete the package, “Desert Winds” and “The Flower and the Leaf” comes in. These tracks are acoustic and semi-acoustic power ballads with a very gentle and catchy tune, with the former being a pure lullaby. While lying on the closing end of the album, “Tupana” and “We Will Stand” are still likely to be fan favorites.
The album can be ordered on their website at www.flowerleafband.com . Visit their facebook page www.facebook.com/flowerleafofficial for further information. The album excellent and is worth your spending, so you better check it out!
MHF Magazine/John Paul Romero