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Iris and Oganalp (Dreamtone & Iris Mavraki's Neverland)

Interview with Iris and Oganalp from Dreamtone & Iris Mavraki's Neverland
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 06 April 2008, 7:53 PM

DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI'S NEVERLAND have just released their debut album Reversing Time that made quite an impression to the Metal Temple crew that was fortunate to contact Iris and Oganalp who were kind to answer to some questions.

Hail from the Metal Temple webzine. Please take some time and give a short biography of DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND. How did you all come together?

Iris: Well a great and warm greeting from us too, from the Greek part of DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND to Metal Temple webzine.

Oganalp:Ahoy! How did we end up as DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND? Well, it’s all because of an e-zine called Metal Temple haha! Our manager, Orpheus Spiliotopoulos, was the chief editor of Metal Temple at the time when we first sent him a copy of our demo, Unforeseen Reflections. He said he very much liked the compositions and made his mother, Iris to listen some of the tunes. After that, in a year’s time or so, we became friends with Iris and decided on forming a full time band, which is what you are seeing and listening to right now…

How long did it take to write/record Reversing Time?

Iris: During the era when Orpheus Spiliotopoulos my son, he he he he was with you people in Metal Temple. I was staying with him in Athens. It so happened at that time I was touring Turkey, with State Symphony Orchestras from Turkey.

I had begun an important Cultural bridge from my beloved island Rhodes in the Aegean Sea to build this bridge between Greece and Turkey. We were giving concerts on both sides at the time. Orpheus gave me a cd of a band called DREAMTONE to listen to. My first reaction was, who are they? Were do they come from? Orpheus laughed and said: Turkey! I was a so impressed by their compositions which were powerful and melodic. There was something that amazed me. I wrote to them and asked them if they could arrange some of my songs I had started writing on Orpheus’s lyrics. I then went to Ankara to meet them. At first we thought of giving concerts with a symphony orchestra but very soon we realized that our meeting was going to be sealed with a more concrete result, an album with our songs and a new band named DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND.

Oganalp: After that, we started working on the songs for Reversing Time, which took about a year and a half to complete and worked on their orchestrations and interpretations. In the end, in September 2006, we started rehearsing the compositions and entered to the studio in December 2006.

How difficult is to combine classic music orchestration and Heavy Metal?

Iris: As far as the interpretation part I mean the vocals in not difficult in fact it’s very intriguing but the orchestration part is more difficult. However it is not something unusual in the metal scene, although rarely do they use live recordings with a full Orchestra. In any case the result is beautiful.

Oganalp: The hardest part is not about composing but about forming a proper dialogue with the conductor(s) and classical artists as you are coming from a completely different understanding. It certainly takes some time for both of the sides to get accustomed to each other and understand each other’s needs and expectations. Other than that, it is a very fun thing to do and very refreshing!

Will the album be released in Turkey because I read in your forum that who have got a license yet.

Oganalp: Yes, it will be released in Turkey, probably in April or in May. We are working on the licensing details right now. More news will be available soon and we will announce them through our website.

The album has been out for some time; what is the feedback so far? Are you satisfied?

Iris:  So far the reviews we are getting are mostly 9/10. Most of the critics are really amazingly good which is  a great reward for us  as it is our debut album together as DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND.  Yes we are very very happy!

Oganalp: They are overwhelming! Almost 90% of the reviews we had are either superb or even better! We had our fears at first, when we were done with the recordings of Reversing Time, as we knew that it was a different blend and not everyone gets used to something new immediately. But surely, the critics did!

I think you get this question all the time but I have to ask you; I think this is the first Greek-Turkish collaboration in the Metal scene. How do you feel about it? Do you really believe that music can unite the two nations?

Iris: I am glad that you ask this question. Yes we are getting this question more and more from different countries. It seems that others are wondering also. That’s very interesting as it means there is a need for people around the world to feel that there is someone, somewhere still trying to reverse things, still believing in peace.

From my recent experiences throughout my concerts in Greece and Turkey I always am at tears when I see sometimes hundreds sometimes thousands of people who come and light their lighters and sing with us. It means that people need this and support it. In the Metal scene I also believe it’s the first time this is happening and yes I do believe in the power of Music. I do believe Art, Music can unite nations. What have politicians done all these years?

Oganalp: I believe it is something new in metal. What we feel is that we are hoping to reach some people and show them about the true nature of life, which should be and, for us, is peace. Music is a language that everyone can understand and feel through it. We hope to show people that what media, politicans, armies, multinational organizations, fascists say are total nonsense and each and every person is equal in any means in a life cycle. Why can’t we live together and enjoy the music, beer, a sunny day, love and so, instead of fighting for someone else’s profit?

If you were asked to describe the music in Reversing Time how will you do it?

Iris: First of all there are many influences some powerful parts, melodic ones, progressive and even ethnic ones. It could be described as a symphonic, power, progressive, and fantasy metal album. What I really know is that it’s an album you have to listen to a few times only to discover there is more and more behind it. Even a non Metal listener can listen to it.

Oganalp: Hard question as we tried to implement our musical behavior to it completely, which is inspired by many many different types of music, from ethnical to pop, from grind to classical. The most feasible description would be symphonic power progressive rock/metal I believe, which is not a complete description for the genre in my humble opinion.

Who had the idea of inviting Hansi Kursch, Tom Englund, Mike Baker and Gary Wehrkamp to appear in your album? What was like working with them?

Iris:  DREAMTONE already knew Gary Wehrkamp and Orpheus and I spoke to Hansi Kursch. Then DREAMTONE contacted Mike Baker and Tom Englund.

Oganalp: All these names are our favorite artists as DREAMTONE and when we heard about Hansi’s positive answer, we decided to give it a try and ask for their appearances. As we already knew Gary from our Sojourn album with DREAMTONE, it was relatively easy to reach him and through him, we reached Mike Baker. Tom Englund has also shown an interest to the project and he ended up being another guest for our album.

Working with them was perhaps the best thing as it meant working with our top favorite artists on a CD that we composed. I mean, we listen to these artists’ albums almost on a daily basis and then suddenly, we end up being on the same CD. You imagine the excitement!

You say that DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND is not a project but a full time band. How difficult is to get this band on tour with all the orchestrations?

Iris:  Ha ha, right. That is something we will have to face very soon about touring with an orchestra and how we will have to handle this. DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND is a full time band; it’s not just a project.

Oganalp: Well, life is hard. We will see how we will end up on tour and how the songs will sound live but as touring is mainly based on promoters’ interest and investments, we cannot tell you about an exact appearance setting. But surely, we will try to give our best both as DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND and as a live production. It will be hard, and it will be fun! DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND is a full time band and touring is a part of being DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND. So, we accept it with great pleasure.

Is there a main theme behind the lyrics of the album? What are lyrics about?

Iris:  There isn’t directly a main theme behind the lyrics, but most of the songs do talk about reversing time and how you can succeed to accomplish this if only you want to, or to go back in time and reverse things, about mankind and all the disasters, pain, fighting, everlasting tranquility! Love.

Oganalp: Each song has its own subplot and each subplot wanders around the idea of being able to reverse the time. How would things differ if we had the chance to re-experience the things we had in the past. The choices we made and so…

What comes first the lyrics or the music?

Iris: You cannot separate those two things. One completes the other. It depends which way you look at it from. Sometimes lyrics and sometimes music touch you more.

Oganalp: Technically speaking, music. Speaking as an artist, both. While composing, we usually have the idea of a song but not the lyrics. Then we complete the song and start on working with vocal melodies and rhymes and stuff. Without the lyrics, music is missing a vital part of it and no lyric sounds complete without a music to accompany it.

What was your composing process in Reversing Time?

Iris: I composed the two songs everlasting tranquility and mountain of judgment. DREAMTONE composed all the others, Orpheus wrote the lyrics for 3 songs.

Oganalp: The two initial songs that Iris sent us was re-arranged for some orchestration. Other than that, we composed the music, rehearsed them, recorded some demo tapes and talked about some ideas to finalize the tracks. Then we sent the tapes to Iris and got her idea about the stuff. After that, it was all about recording the things. This took about a year and a half though.

Who had the idea of bringing some traditional instruments in DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND’s music?

Iris: DREAMTONE did and I found it exceptional.

Oganalp: We are very fond of ethnical and traditional sounds. I bought a baglama and started experimenting with it about some melody ideas of mine. One turned out to be Black Water and another one was Reversing Time. Burak and Emrecan thought about having a sax solo on Transcending Miracle while Onur tried to implement some blues and ethnical ideas on Mankind Is A Lie or World Beyond These Walls. We also tried to have some folk sound on our bonus track, Who Asked You to Fight, which turned out to be brilliant I think.

What are your personal musical influences (metal and non-metal)?

Iris: That s a loooonnnggg story starting back to Bach and Mozart, Dvorak and Beethoven to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, Mike Oldfield and PINK FLOYD, BLIND GUARDIAN, NIGHTWISH, LED ZEPPELIN, Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hatzidakis, Zulfi Livaneli, film soundtracks and many others

Oganalp: Each of the members have very different influences, coming from millions of names. Personally, BLIND GUARDIAN, SHADOW GALLERY, Inon Zur, EVERGREY, Michael Hoenig, Harry Gregson-Williams, Antonin Dvorak and game soundtracks like Might & Magic VII or Daggerfall were the names that I very much listened to while working on the compositions.

Can you describe the situation in the Metal scene in Turkey?

Oganalp: Not much to talk about really. Some mags, some bands, some small and medium scale events and that is all. It’s a very premature and a virgin market yet, which needs another 20 years to become professionally sufficient I believe, both for bands and media, as well as for shops or promoters or venues.

What is next on DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND’s calendar and what can we expect from this band in the future?

Iris: To start preparing for concerts and our next album.

Oganalp: Some touring and then some composing, some demo recording and perhaps some more touring. In the end, we believe that we will be back in studio before Spring 2009.

Thank you for your time, feel free to add anything you’d like.

Iris: Well we thank you for the interview and my best wishes and warmest greetings to everyone in Greece, hm, hm, especially Metal Temple. Metal will conquer the world, keep on going as we have a lot to give still and spread our messages and beliefs. Especially to the young generations to come.

Oganalp: Uzo is great! Perhaps we will have the chance to visit Greece and enjoy some Uzo together with our Greek friends and fans! Take care and be well, and thanks a lot for your interest in DREAMTONE & IRIS MAVRAKI’S NEVERLAND!


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