MANORA interview. Debut album, ‘Brave The Storm’ out now.

I spoke with Arthur, Ivo and Mirte from Dutch Symphonic Metal band, MANORA about their excellent debut album, ‘Brave The Storm’. Check it out.

MAL-
Talking to two and soon to be three members of MANORA about their debut album, 'Brave The Storm'. Thanks for joining us, guys. Introduce yourselves.
MIRTE-
Thank you for having us. My name is Mirte. I'm the singer of MANORA.
ARTHUR-
I'm Arthur, I'm the keyboard player.
MAL-
Excellent. Give us a bit of a background history on the band. How long you been going, where you started, how you found each other.
ARTHUR-
Yeah, so there's actually guitarist Ivo, who's on his way. Him and myself, we start writing some songs, started making music and we had some other band members at that time. Still trying to find what is the music we want to make, what's the direction we want to go to and we actually found each other online. There's these musician databases are when you're looking for bands, where you can sign up and reach out and well, that's how we met. Yeah, we started the band. But then yeah, we had some lineup changes 2016 but we actually found three other great musicians Mirte and Tijn and Tomasz. And that's how the whole band got together. And from there I think we just saw, we complement each other. And from that it really started to accelerate. And yeah, we started to make the music together and that's where I want to go as a band to really complement each other and get to the result where we are now.
MAL-
Where are you based?
ARTHUR-
Yeah, so we're in the the west of the Netherlands. I don't know. This is a small country. We're kind of found in Leiden and Zoetermeer. We all live in a different city. But in the area in the west of the Netherlands, where all the big cities are, near The Hague,
MAL-
How much have your played live and what sort of a scene have you got over there? Gone outside the country?
MIRTE-
So we all have daytime jobs so we don't play live very often but we try to play a live gig once a month. The metal scene is, well, it's not really a popular genre I would say (unfortunately) There's a lot of Symphonic Metal bands, of course, from the Netherlands, but somehow it's not a really popular genre. It's a very welcoming metal scene for new bands. There's a lot of people who are really supportive. If you go to like a concert of another band and you say you're also in a band and they're like, 'oh I'm going to check it out' and then they actually come to your live performances. So it's really really nice scene here.
MAL-
Okay. So before we get to the album, had we done any other recordings before?
MIRTE-
Yeah, we have an EP that came out in 2017. It's called 'Dreamshapes'. There's also a couple of songs from that EP on the album. We wanted it remixed and remastered for the new album, because back, when we made the EP, we did everything ourselves, which is great, but it's not the quality we wanted so we re-recorded some of the songs.
ARTHUR-
Especially the mixing and mastering that is we are musicians and we can do the tracks together, but really making it sound as it should on an album. We don't have those skills, and that's where we need to have the studio of course. Yeah. It's a great help.
MAL-
There was an opportunity, this time to make it how you wanted to do it in the first place?
ARTHUR-
Yeah and also the EP, that was our first recording, we just wanted to see how people like our music and people liked it. They enjoyed it. And yeah, from that we decided, 'Okay, let's take it more serious from here'.
MAL-
So, the album 'Brave The Storm', tell us about that. When did all this come together? When did you realize you had an album full of material you wanted to record? And how did you go about doing it?
ARTHUR-
Yeah, it was a challenging process. From the EP we first started to do a lot of concerts. Once a month at least we have a concert, and at that point, we just really wanted to get comfortable with that and get people to know our music and in the meantime started writing more songs. And at some point we were at a point where like, okay, we have 12 tracks, maybe it's time to start recording those and making an album out of it. And of course that takes quite some time writing the songs as Mirte said, with our day jobs on the side, we cannot work full time on this. But yeah, once we got those songs start thinking about the album and started recording and it's quite some time, of course, to record everything and we actually underestimated how much time it takes. We set a very ambitious release date and well, we made it.
MIRTE-
We feel like we also have to do that for ourselves, the release date, so that we actually record stuff and not think like 'I'll do that later' ...for us, I think because we're all really perfectionists, so it just keeps going like you said, we're never like really satisfied, so at one point you just have to say, I think this goes for like, almost all musicians, 'Now it's done, it's good enough, well, you can always be better, but...
MAL-
Well, look now it is done and it is very well done. So when's it coming out? Coming out very shortly, isn't it?
MIRTE-
15th of October.
MAL-
All right, tell us about some of the tracks on there. Before you answer that I will give you my favorites and that is 'System Shutdown'. (Cool) 'Endgame'. (All right),  and 'Symphony Of Lies'. That's probably my favorite, that one. So, tell us about some of the tracks on that who came up with them all? Have we got like a main songwriter?
Doorbell rings, Ivo arrives.
All right, we're up to the songwriting question for the album. So you came in just at the right time, so who's doing most of the songwriting? You sharing it? How's it going?
IVO-
Well, most of time starts with me. I just always have music in my head and I just started recording some basics, like guitar and some keys, I'm not the best keyboard player, so I try to record some really basic stuff and then I hand it over to Arthur and he always understands what we need to do, and in the past I was always also trying to write all the vocal lines which are already in my head and nowadays I leave it completely to Mirte. (Mirte-He trusts me now), something completely different than what is in my mind. So it's really nice that at the end the song turns out completely different from the first idea.
MAL-
Is that mainly the way it goes with all the songs? You'll come up with like a basic idea, get together as a band, write the song. And then in the meantime, I'm guessing Mirte is writing lyrics or do you wait for the song to be finished and then figure out what's going to fit in?
MIRTE-
Well, most of the times there is already a basis. So not all the, for example, the orchestra parts are not ready, but then I already start thinking about lyrics and vocal lines. So it doesn't need to be a hundred percent finished, but there needs to be a strong basis for me to write lyrics to. I need to be able to get the feeling of the song before I can actually add the lyrics.
ARTHUR-
We also haven't we haven't written any songs that start with the lyrics. Sometimes I know songwriters, they start with the lyrics, they have a lyrical feeling and they write the music around that. To us that has not happened yet, so we always start with the music.
MAL-
I would have thought that other way would be pretty difficult to do actually.
IVO-
Actually, it's something we want to try for the next album. Yeah. So we start with the lyrics and a feeling, and build music around it.
MAL-
Yeah, better get writing, Mirte.
IVO-
New for us as well. So, let's see how that works out.
MAL-
Okay, now being a debut album, I'm guessing most of these songs have been in the live set for a while.
ARTHUR-
Some of them.
MIRTE-
I think we played 'Symphony Of Lies'. We've played 'Wired to Obey', we've played 'Break Your Fall'.
ARTHUR-
like four or five tracks on the album that we have here lately. Yeah,
IVO-
'Symphony Of Lies' was even just finished after the EP. And the second song 'The Traveler', the music is even a lot older already, wrote it years ago. And now, finally, we could use it, the vocal lines were finished, as well as I think on this one, Arthur did the lyrics. It was the only one that Mirte did not do.
MAL-
Okay. Are you able to play live shows over there at the moment?
MIRTE-
Yeah, we actually have a release show on the 30th of October so that's all starting up again here, we don't have like a big tour already planned but we play our release show and then in November we play at a festival in the Netherlands as well.
MAL-
Excellent. It's a strange time isn't it?
ARTHUR-
Yeah. It's all starting up again and thinking that seems our timing is spot on because the venues are opening again, so it allows us to play concerts again.
IVO-
We experienced some difficulties for booking venues because a lot of bands were doing this for a living and they want to try to get a spot as well.
MAL-
Yeah, every man and his dog is trying to get a gig again. Good luck with that, good luck with the album too. You must be really excited. So tell us about this release gig. Is it just you? Are you taking some support bands with you? How's it going?
IVO-
Yeah, there's support. We actually played with them the last show before the lockdown, it was one and a half years ago. The band's called DANCE WITH DRAGONS, really nice people. Actually we were looking for support bands, but they contacted us, if they could step in and they're more than welcome.
MAL-
Whereabouts is this show?
IVO-
It's Halloween. It's October 30.
MAL-
Whereabouts Feel free to give it a plug.
ARTHUR-
Yeah, in Leiden.
MAL-
I unfortunately won't be in attendance, I'm a little bit far away.... // I've got the artwork available here. I got to say it looks pretty good. Yeah.
IVO-
Yeah, the funny thing was we did Mirte did a complete photo shoot because the original idea was quite different. We were really enthusiastic about it. It's in the original artworks. You see how this dress was going through the floor and she was standing on some kind of (pedestal) the statue. We liked that but then we sent the pictures because he used just a random picture of a lady in a dress. So, she bought a dress for that. We didn't see that photo shoot and we sent it and 'Nice, but now I have a different idea'.
MAL-
Yeah, the one I'm looking at you sort of disappearing into the cloud, is that the one?
MIRTE-
So yeah, it was a nice photo shoot as well. Because the original idea was to have a photo shoot at a photo shoot location, but they weren't open because of covid. So in the end, we did it at a garage or something, at a car dealer. They had a large white wall, so I could stand in front, in between the cars.
IVO-
And they even moved some cars out.
MAL-
That's rock and roll. The title of the album Brave. The storm had, we come up with that. What sort of story is behind that.
MIRTE-
I was thinking about the title of the album. A lot of the songs are about my own experiences, but also hardships.
MAL-
I was just about to interrupt and say struggle.
MIRTE-
Yeah, struggles in life. But also not all of it is about me. It's also about what series I watch, games I play. So the inspiration comes from a lot of sources, but they're all about these struggles in life. And then I was like, well, I wanted it to be a bit more positive, the title. So that's how we came up with 'Brave The Storm', like brave, all the struggles in life.
MAL-
Good answer.
IVO-
Let's see what will come. I think it's end of October, beginning of November, we have the release show and this little Festival. I think for this year it's going to then be difficult to get more of those gigs because they're planning it a few months before normally. So I think November, December is going to be quite quiet for us. I know from January's going to start, hopefully could step in in this Festival season for next year. Probably there will be one Festival, a small one, which is close to our home towns. We played it before. It's SurfRock. That's been shifted this for two years now during covid, so for sure they're going to ask us again, so this will be in June somewhere, hopefully.
MAL-
There's so many festivals over there in Europe, isn't there? To watch all these bands get announced from like the other side of the world, it's pretty frustrating. ...//...All these bands, I mean, come on.
IVO-
Well, the thing is with this, metal, it's not really big at the moment. 10 years ago. It was a really big, then there was NIGHTWISH, WITHIN TEMPTATION. If you just start a band with a female singer, it was already perfect, you already get some invitations for big festivals, but nowadays, it's not big that there were more people making this music than people listening to it. I stole that one from a guy who wrote that, the story's true, we played once, remember that one? There was 3 bands. There was more people from bands and crew than audience.
MAL-
Thanks so much guys for having a chat to me about your new album, 'Brave The Storm', which I have heard many times now, and I really enjoy it. So good luck with that. Good luck with your release of it. Good luck with your release show coming up Halloween time. And thanks so much for talking to me.
IVO-
Thanks to you too.
MAL-
Good luck. All right, stay safe and well done. Good luck with it.
IVO-
Thanks for your time.

Manora is a symphonic metal band from the Netherlands.
Their sound is characterized by clean vocals and catchy melodies while maintaining a metal foundation.
The combination of the typical symphonic metal ingredients and their own sound allows the band to claim their space in the symphonic metal spectrum.

Manora was founded several years ago when guitarist Ivo Visser and keyboard player Arthur Stok starting writing their own songs.
After several line up changes, Manora was complemented in 2016 with Tijn Scholtze on drums, Tomas Kisielewicz on bass, and vocalist Mirte van der Ham.

This accelerated the music composing process and led to the release of Manora's first EP 'Dreamshapes'. The EP was released on September 1st, 2017 and was received very well nationally and internationally.
Evidently, the band did not sit still during the COVID-19 pandemic as they released a music video of their new single 'Wired to Obey' earlier this year.
This song will be featured on their first full length album 'Brave the Storm', which will be released this year on October 15th.