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Vorige maand verscheen het nieuwe album van het Nederlandse Lesoir, ‘Latitude’. Een album waar ik danig van onder de indruk ben. Lesoir bleek namelijk uitgegroeid tot een volwassen band met een volwassen geluid en met een groot talent voor het schrijven van pakkende nummers. Ja, ik beken, ik ben enthousiast. Lesoir is een band die durft, die stappen zet en die mede daardoor flink aan de weg timmert. Tijd om met zangeres Maartje Meessen contact op te nemen om wat meer te weten te komen over Lesoir.

Door: Wim S. | Archiveer onder prog / sympho metal

Hello, how are you? I always start with the same question: where are you right now and what are you doing?
I’m fine thank you! It’s (another manic) Monday morning right now, and I don’t really want to get started with my daily work and activities yet, therefor I decided that this is a good moment to answer the questions for LOM ;-)

You just released your 4th studio album ‘Latitude’. How is the response so far by both press and audience?
We have a quite unexpected press response from Germany and other European prog-minded countries such as France and Norway; this is really great and proves that getting signed by the German label Gentle Art of Music was such a good thing for us to happen. Responses are overall very pleasing; we have the feeling that reviewers understand and embrace our music more than before, so we are sort of realizing now that we’ve made an album of significance for Lesoir.

To promote the release of the albums, you did three shows in Holland. Where you satisfied, for example about the official CD release on November 17th, the show in Zoetermeer?
On ‘Latitude’ there is an orchestra, with arrangements from composer and conductor Manuel Speth, and we had in mind that we also wanted to play live with this orchestra. For the release of Latitude in particular, we did a project with the province of Limburg (NL) and the conservatory of Maastricht, and together we realized three shows: two try-outs in Maastricht and Sittard and eventually the album release, an XL show with extra guest musicians in de Boerderij in Zoetermeer. First of all playing with an orchestra was a dream come true, but also the response from the audience regarding the impact of the shows and the musical content was overwhelming, so we were more than satisfied!

I did the review of your debut release in 2011 (‘Lesoir’) and 6 years later I was asked to do the review for ‘Latitude’. In between, I do not really know what the band did all these years. Can you tell us a bit more about the start of the band and the years that have led to ‘Latitude’?
Between our debut album and Latitude we’ve released another two albums: ‘Transience’ in 2013 and ‘Luctor et Emergo’ in 2015. We played shows together with great bands like Karnivool, Delain, Within Temptation and toured with Evergrey and, our favourite Dutch band, The Gathering. In between we built an audience in China, we have been touring this country four times already between 2012 and 2016 with highlights on several MIDI-festivals, the biggest traveling rock festival in China. A turning point for Lesoir was the release of ‘Luctor et Emergo’; with this album we introduced ourselves in the niche we really wanted to be in, by playing on the Night of The Prog festival 2015, supporting Anneke’s The Gentle Storm and the Pineapple Thief and playing the IO pages festival in 2016. We fact that we met producer John Cornfield (Supergrass, Muse, Stone Roses e.o.) in the UK in 2012 and work with him ever since, helped a lot in creating the sound of Latitude during the years. For Latitude also Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief) was involved which was the perfect recipe for creating this new Lesoir product.

band imageI think it is unbelievable how the band has grown. From a grunge band in 2011, to a mature prog band nowadays. You have grown as musicians but even more as songwriters. The songs are very spherical, very visual as well. Is that something that has grown organically through the years or is it something you worked on?
Thank you for the compliment. The musical changes we’ve made on ‘Latitude’ relative to our former albums came naturally and were not very thought trough as people might think. I think you evolve in making and performing music, whether you do this on purpose or not; we are a band that makes music ‘as it comes’ and therefore our music is very dependent on how we feel, what we like and what keeps us busy on the moment of making it. On Latitude the factor ‘what kept us busy’ was very strongly present though: our engagement in everything that happened in the world at the time of writing it resulted eventually in a concept album where all songs are about world-changing topics that happened in the past two years. You might say that lyrically it was a deliberate choice to do what we did on Latitude (making a concept album), but musically that’s not really the fact. We wanted to make a dynamic album in the first place, but we also wanted our other albums to be dynamic: I think on Latitude, together with John and Bruce, we really achieved this goal properly this time!

Your vocals are also a lot better than in the early days. In my review I wrote that she sometimes sounds like a combination of Anneke van Giersbergen (‘Gone And Forgotten’) and Anathema’s Lee Douglas (‘Comforting Rain’). Something you recognize?
I have great respect for both Anneke and Lee, they are in their own way amazing vocalists I personally really admire in the genre. Especially Anneke, although I don’t think I really sound like her, for me she makes all the difference in the way that she cleared way for female singers in the prog scene by everything that she’s achieved, and divides it from the big female fronted metal scene which is highly represented in the Netherlands. Anathema is an inspiring band for Lesoir, and it’s always a joy to hear Lee singing.

Tell us a bit more about some of the songs. For instance about the little piece at the end, ‘Cradle Song’ and my favourite song of the album, ‘In Their Eyes’?
The cradle song is a lullaby, sung by a parent to its child in a war zone. Although it is a lovely song to listen to, the lyrics are not so lovely at all. It’s the hard realization that children have to grow up in war zones, sung to and going to sleep while war is going on outside. ‘In their eyes’ is also inspired by children in war zones: it’s about refugee children who have no say at all. They have to grow up in an environment where they don’t even have the opportunity to be child, let alone a safe haven. No home, no education, that is just not fair. They are surrendered to the hands, actions and beliefs of adults who stick horrible images and experiences in their heads they’ll never ever forget. We can do better, we have to be better to help these children, this generation that has to represents our fragile future.

The album sounds absolutely great. John Cornfield – with whom you worked before – deserves the credits for that, right?
It’s all about capturing the groove; the fundament – drums and bass – has to be the best as it possibly can be on the record. Creating a massive and fat sound, and where possible apply the factor ‘more = more’. That is John. The album sounds very dynamic though; there is also room for quiet and soft passages. This works so well because of John’s direct and conventional approach. Every session can only be done as if it were a live session. With John you’ll never record individually but always together as a band, which works very well for Lesoir. It always results in a product with a new and fresh ‘live’ sound, which became a kind of trademark for our albums so far, and again for Latitude.

Is it difficult for a band like Lesoir to find venues to play in your home country? Is it difficult to put together a tour schedule in Europe? Are you satisfied about the promotional help you get? Do you think you receive enough attention and/or recognition in Holland?
It’s always a long way to the top, especially when you make music like we do. It’s not radiofriendly enough and you need mayor media if you want to get the short cut to the big audience. The promotional help we get we appreciate, of course it can always be more and sometimes it frustrates that you have more success in, for instance, China then back home. But if it takes a detour through Germany, France and UK to get recognition in The Netherlands, we are happy to make it. We just want to be on the road, make music en meet people.

What is next for Lesoir?
We got a nightliner tour coming up in January as special guest of Blind Ego, and we are looking in to possibilities to do more shows with the String Orchestra. This was so special and it felt so good, that we are eager to do more!

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