Sahara Dust is a new band from Holland that was formed by former members of prominent gothic metal bands such as Trail Of Tears and After Forever. This interview with the band members Mark Jansen and Ad Sluijter was done through e-mail in July 2002.
Hello, how are you doing?
Ad: I'm doing fine thank you.
First off the boring obvious question, why did you leave After Forever?
Mark: The beginning of the relation within After Forever was for me the beginning of the end. The contacts within the band were becoming colder and colder, I became more and more isolated, though I was the one who put most effort into the band before we got more known. For the rest, I think my story has a lot in common with the one of Morten Veland. I was also basically fired from the band.
Did you form Sahara Dust right when you left or was the band active even before?
Ad: Before Mark left After Forever we were allready writing some music together just as a sideproject besides After Forever. We are both very fond of orchestral filmmusic and I think the music that we were writing could be best described as just that. When Mark was fired from After Forever he immedeatly had plans to form a new band and since we were allready working together it was an obvious choice join forces in this new band. The sideproject has now moved to the background so we can fully concentrate on the new band. Maybe in the future when we'll have some time left we are going to write some music for it again.
I understand that your drummer Iwan Hendrikx has already left the band to be replaced by Dennis Leeflang (ex-Within Temptation), could you tell us a little about this early change of line-up?
Ad: Well we agreed not to wash one's dirty linnen in public, what I can say is that despite the fact that we had written some great music together the collaberation between us and Helena didn't seemed to work. She has now returned to Norway and since Iwan was in love with her he went a long with her. The last few weeks we were very busy auditioning for replacements. Dennis was kind enough to helping us out, he is going to assist us writing the music for the cd we are planning to record in the beginning of next year on which he is also going to do the drumparts and he will also be joining us on a minitour we are planning in the end of this year. As for the auditions for female vocalist I can say that we'll have the band complete in no time:)
Just to check so that I have got everything right, the current line-up consists of Helena Iren Michaelsen, Mark Jansen, Ad Sluijter, Coen Janssen and Dennis Leeflang, am I right?
Ad:Well without Helena then and with bassplayer Yves Huts from Belgium, he is a very talented musician, besides bassguitar he also plays guitar and piano in the Belgium band Axamenta.
The only one of your members that I don't know anything about is the keyboard player Coen Janssen, who is he and what has he done in the past?
Ad: Coen is a very gifted piano player and we are very happy to have him. He has now studied classical piano for two years at the conservatory and next year he is going studie at the pop department of an other conservatory. He also substituted Jack Driessen one gig with After Forever just after he had left the band.
I am a little curious about the band name. Sahara Dust seems appropriate for a band with oriental or arabic influences, why did you choose this name for the band?
Ad: Mark came up with this name and we all thought it was appropriate for the same reason as you allready mentioned:)
How come Helena Iren Michaelsen moved from Norway to Holland?
Ad: The reason she gave us was to that she wanted to sing in a band. A little bit akward since there are a lot of very good bands from Norway.
How did you get in touch with her? If I'm not wrong she had joined some kind of techno band not very long ago?
Ad: Well at that moment she was singing in the band Black Horizon who also has a record deal with Transmission, so when Mark contacted the labelcompany they mentioned her name and we got in touch wich each other. But I wouldn't describe Black Horzion as a techno band, but more as a gothic band.
Was it important for you to have a female vocalist in the band?
Ad: Yes very important, the dynamics between a female vocalist and a grunter / screamer are tremendous especially in music that combines metal and orchestral fimmusic.
Don't take this the wrong way but don't you agree with me that looks sell even in metal today? I mean, the girls still have to be able to sing but I don't doubt that bands like Theatre Of Tragedy, Tristania and others have been given some extra attention because of the beauty and beast theme, not only musically but also visually.
Ad: I would be fooling myself if I say that it wouldn't matter, because it does. Although I don't think that's because of the visual beauty and the best contrast, but more due to the fact that good looks just sell better.
I know that you have already written some material of your own but since I haven't heard any of it yet you will have to tell me what Sahara Dust sounds like? Is the music similar to any of the previous bands you have all been in?
Ad: Mark comes up with most of the ideas for our music, since he had written a lot of the After Forever songs our music will contain a lot of the same aspects as After Forever had.
Have you been in touch with any labels or is it still too early to reach out to the world with your music?
Ad: We will probably sign a record deal with Transmission, Mark has built a good relationship with them and they have a lot of confidence in us.
Holland has become a very strong nation both when it comes to death metal on one hand and gothic / symphonic metal on the other. What are your thoughts on this?
Ad: I think Holland has(had) a lot of very good bands in different metal genres: Gorefest, Ayreon, After Forever, The Gathering, Orphanage to name a few, but there are a lot more.
What do you think of the future of metal in general? Do you think that the enormous diversity of today's metal scene will help make it more mainstream friendly once again?
Ad: Just by looking at the popularity of band like Rammstein, Limp Bizkit, Within Temptaion, System of A Down etc I think it is not awkward to say the metal scene is gaining popularity. Not every genre of course, but in general. My theory is when people like a certain metal band they will easier explore other metbands.
What kind of music do you listen to these days? What are your top five albums ever (does not necessarily have to be metal)?
Ad: I listen to a lot of different music, it just depends on my mood
In no particular order my top 5:
Soundtrack of the movie gladiator(musis written by Hans Zimmer)
Dream theater's Scenes from a memory:
Depeche Mode's Ultra
Meshuggah's destroy erase and improve
What goals and plans do you have for Sahara Dust in the near future?
If there wasn't for the departure of Helena and Iwan we would have recorded a demo last week, the demo has been delayed for a yet unknown time(depends on how fast we have the band compleet again). As for the rest of the plans: We are hoping to do a minitour at the end of this year. We are planning to record the debut cd (accompanied by orchestra and choir) in the beginning of next year and after the release their will follow a clubtour. We are all very excited and can hardly wait!!!!
Any final words to illuminate the lives of our readers?
You should really listen to the soundtrack of gladiator sometimes;)