After the success of their first collaboration, 2020’s Worlds Apart, Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Anette Olzon (The Dark Element, ex-Nightwish) are teaming up again for Army Of Dreamers. We caught up with Olzon, whose band Ultima Grace is getting a worldwide release on the same day as the new Allen/Olzon album.
Chad Bowar: How did the creation of Army Of Dreamers compare with Worlds Apart?
Anette Olzon: For Worlds Apart I got in the production late when all songs and all of Russell’s vocals were done already so I couldn’t have any input; for example, what key I prefer to sing in and so on. But for this album I could tell Magnus how I wanted them to be so it would suit the tone of my voice and also have input in that I wanted the songs to be sung as duets and shared instead of like in the first album where we sang some songs on our own. I believe it’s much more suitable for this project to have shared vocals and our voices sound so good together and I’m happy with the new album.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I loved to sing all the songs. They’re so much the melodic vibe that I come from and even if some songs have a bit more of metal in the music it’s a lot of melodic rock and that’s where my roots are. Singing the songs like “So Quiet Here,” “All Alone” and “Carved Into Stone” where I felt I got goosebumps from our voices were a thrill. Russell’s voice is amazing and I love to sing with him, even if we never record in the same studio. He’s there in my ears and I love it!
How was the video shoot for “All Alone”? Do you enjoy making videos or are they a necessary evil?
It’s both for me. I am not so keen on standing in front of a camera. I kinda feel a bit awkward (laughs) but it’s just something we need to do because YouTube is what people want to watch and the younger generations like my kids are there, so that’s this times’ MTV videos.
Give us a preview of the Ultima Grace album that’s also being released in North America on September 9th.
This was a very interesting, sometimes hard and exciting album to record for me. The style of the music is much faster than I’ve done before most of the time and it’s almost like a musical at times. It’s an album with many different elements in it and the songs vary a lot from more fast jazzy vibes to fast more progressive styles and then soft ballads. The style is a lot of Japanese music and when YUHKI mixed the album I wanted more the style of the modern sound like in Allen/Olzon and The Dark Element when it comes to the mixing of the vocals. But he wanted the more raw, harder edge to my vocals and well it’s different than what fans are used to hearing me sing. But I also kinda like it cause it’s more back to the days I started recording in bands. So I like it a lot!
Were you satisfied with the response to last year’s Strong solo album, and was its heavier direction inspired at all by the first Allen/Olzon album?
I’m very happy with the response and feel very honored that I also got a prize for it from the Swedish SKAP Academy. The heavier direction wasn’t due to Allen/Olzon; it’s a thing I felt I wanted to explore more and have always wanted to explore that style and with adding harsh vocals.
What is the status of the next The Dark Element album?
I hope Jani has time and lust for another album, but he’s quite busy with Insomnium so I actually don’t know if or when there will be another album. We have to see.
How do you balance your career as a nurse with your musical endeavors and a family?
It’s a bit tricky because I had to choose between continuing to work as a full time singer or be a nurse and since my kids are still younger and I didn’t want to travel anymore it had to be this way. Working full time as a nurse and then record albums on the weekends. It’s a bit stressful at times and also the interviews, videos and such but it’s as I say: I’m a nurse and music is nowadays my hobby and therefore I can’t do everything because then I’ll burn my candle at both ends.
Do you have upcoming live show/tour plans with any of your projects?
No. As I said, I don’t want to tour or play live and it’s very hard to make that happen when I’m working as much as I do as a nurse.
What are some of your non-musical hobbies and interests?
I love to be with my family, I like to workout with my kettlebells and I love watching TV series.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Just listen to both Allen/Olzon and Ultima Grace – very different albums but both much enjoyable.
(interview published September 8, 2022)
Watch Allen/Olzon – “All Alone” Video
Listen To Ultima Grace – “Cry For The Rain”