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Roel Van Helden (Delphian)

Interview with Roel Van Helden from Delphian
by Michael Dalakos at 18 August 2005, 11:39 PM

Progressive / Atmospheric Metal with female vocals? Now here's something you don't get to see everyday. Delphian impressed me with their demo a year ago and with this album they only changed my opinion towards a higher level. I had the chance to discuss a few things with the band's drummer, Roel Van Helden (after sending him a very spooky e-mail). Check it out!

Greetings from steamy Athens! Congratulations on your debut album! Let’s start with a short biography of the band…

Delphian is a Progressive Metal band from the south of Holland. Its history began in the summer of 2000, when Coert Bouten (guitar) and Roel van Helden (drums, also in Sun Caged) decided to form a new band. After countless musicians coming and going, the band’s lineup was completed with guitarist Marcel Volleberg, bassist Sjoerd Hoeijmakers and female vocalist/flute player Aniek Janssen. With members having played in various styles of bands like Exile (Metal), Dvplo (Death/Punk), Phlegmatic (Alternative Rock) and Sin (Poprock) we found our sound in the form of Delphian

Can you give us some information about the recordings of the album (where it was recorded, how long it took etc)?

We started recording the drums in November last year and we finished the mix in March this year. So it took us quite a while, this is because we were recording in the weekends (we all have daytime jobs or school) and because we had to redo some guitar parts which were out of tune.

The recording of the instruments took place at the Pit Studio, while the vocals were recorded and the mix was done at Joost Van Den Broek’s home studio. I even remember one morning that we (Joost, Aniek and I) were recording Aniek’s vocals, and at the same time Sjoerd was recording his bass parts in the other studio.

What does your name mean?

Delphian is a name chosen by me, the meaning of the word is something like mysterious. We like to have some mysterious moods in our music, hence the name. It refers to the Oracle of Delphi; a place in ancient Greece, where people gathered to honor the god Apollo and hoped to find answers to their most difficult questions. A priestess hanged over a cliff with deluding vapors and did confusing prophecies. People could interpret these prophecies in different ways, so they often became self-fulfilling prophecies. But, since you’re from Greece, I guess you can probably tell me more about this myth than I do.

Lots of people criticize female-fronted Metal bands for exploitation. What is your opinion on this matter and why should a fan of Metal music choose your work?

There might be some bands who have a female singer just for having one, because it is popular these days. But I can certainly say that that’s not the case for Delphian. When Coert and I were forming the band, we had music in mind like Nevermore and Opeth. We even had a male singer a couple of months. But that didn’t work out, so we were looking out for a good singer, male or female. We knew Aniek was a good singer and she was also looking for a band. Fortunately things worked out, because in my opinion a good singer is probably the hardest to find when you’re starting a new band.

Why should Metal fans choose our work? I personally am a Metal fan since I was eleven years old (24 now). Non-Metal fans always react like: Metal, that’s just loud guitars and screaming. But the truth is that of all kinds of music Metal has the best melodies, harmonies, energy, etc. And adding to that is that Metal is real music, not just some fabricated plastic Pop music.

Now, I still haven’t answered why Metal fans should choose our music, haven’t I? I think it is just those things; great melodies, harmonies and energy, that we try to create in our music. So go and see for yourselves and check the mp3 samples on our website ( and see if you like our melodies, harmonies and energy.

Do you believe that Delphian has a personal sound? What are your influences and how critical do you think it is for a band to have a personal sound…

I believe we have a little bit of uniqueness in our sound. Primarily for the fact that we play Progressive Metal combined with female vocals that you normally encounter only in Gothic Metal bands. But also for all kinds of little things that set us apart; for instance Aniek’s flute playing and Coert’s guitar solos (which are very recognizable)…and of course my fabulous and really sexy drumming. (Laughs)

I believe it’s important to have somewhat of your own sound, because there are so many bands already. If you want to reach something you better stand out musically. My personal influences come from bands like Fates Warning, Evergrey, Faith No More, Nevermore, Iced Earth, The Village People, Sentenced, Marillion and (of course) Iron Maiden. These are all bands who can write great songs with killer melodies. I’m responsible for 50% of the songwriting within Delphian, instrumentally (Coert composes the other 50 %, Aniek writes her own vocal lines and lyrics). I always try to write songs which have more emphasis on good grooves and beautiful melodies, like the aforementioned bands also have.

Can you give us a glimpse on how Delphian compose music?

When Coert or I have composed some guitar riffs, we notate it into the program Powertabs. This program plays the riffs you’ve entered in midi, so it’s very useful when composing. You let the computer play the guitar riff, while you can come up with leads, or melodies for the second guitar. Then we send the files to each other by e-mail. Everyone can study their parts at home and at the next rehearsal we start arranging the riffs into a song. Then Aniek takes a recording of this song home on Minidisc and writes her vocal lines and lyrics at home.

Are there any live dates planed for the near future?

I guess touring or at least long tours won’t be a reality for now; we don’t have any tour support, so financially it won’t be possible. Perhaps a small tour, who knows? For now nothing is planned. We do however play a lot of single gigs across the Netherlands. But if you can arrange a gig in Greece, just call me!!  

If you had the power to change one thing in the music industry, what would that be?

First of all, there are too few girls/women in the Metal scene. Sometimes when I’m at a Metal concert I wonder what the difference is with a gay bar…only guys, many wearing leather… So, I would like to trade at least half of them with good looking women! (Laughs)

But seriously; there’s so much real music made by upright musicians that is only heard by a few people. While the mass of the population gets exposed to all kinds of plastic, fabricated crap Pop music, it would be nice if real good bands would get more airplay etc. I mean, If you think of a band like Dream Theater, if they had gotten the airplay like bands such as Maroon 5 or other shit like that, they would be one of the most popular bands in the world.

The biggest ambition you have regarding your band?

For now, we’re focusing on getting live gigs and writing new songs. At this point we have 5 new songs done, so I think it will be less than a year before we enter the studio again for our second album. On the long run our ambition is to steadily build our status and I hope I can one day make a living out of my music.

The album has been released by Lion Music. Are you satisfied so far?

We’re very satisfied. The label owner, Lars Eric Mattsson, is one of the nicest and most relaxed guys I know in the industry. Most important of all is that they’re in it for the music, not just for making money.

Close this interview with a message to all our readers…

Thank you Michael, for the great review of our debut album Oracle and of our demo CD a while ago, and for this interview!!! Thanks to your readers for the interest, and check out our website and leave a message in the guestbook! Stay Metal!!!


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