Monday, April 30, 2007

Interview With Aesma Daeva

Earl Root and John Prassas of Aesma Daeva took time to do an interview, where we discuss the band and its future, the Podsafe Music Network, plus the pros and cons of being an Indie.

What's the concept for Dawn of the New Athens and how did you come up with it?

Earl Root: I thought of the idea because at the time when we actually got to record the album...we were basically a brand new band.....with a newfound clarity and energy. I also pondered on our past releases and their direction, title, and ideas. It seemed like a logical continuation in the progress of the band. A natural progression forward with new ideas while still maintaining the adding of the 'old' that is still a core essence for Aesma Daeva.

"Since the Machine" has a touch of Orwell to it. How often have ideas in stories influenced ideas for songs?

John Prassas: Lately I have been more influenced by stories and the world around me rather than what is happening in my personal life. On this album there are only a few songs that are influenced by a story in one way or another. "Bluish Shade" has some reflections from the book The Last Temptation of Christ Also “Hymn to the Sun” has the odvious paetheon references in it. Otherwise Michael and I adapted a lot of his own poems for songs. "D’Oreste" - has a story behind it as well but I did not write that one. ;)

Aesma Daeva went through a few female vocalists before Lori Lewis. How has that affected the band's sound over the years?

JP: Well in the past I did not really get to work with the singers. So I had to write in a somewhat conservative manner. If I was going to do something experimental I needed to have things set up in the song so that I could remove the section if it did not work because that singer may be busy with something else for a long time etc. As I started to find singers to work with I think the songs improved because I was able to write for the strengths of that individual singer. Also someone to bounce ideas off of is nice. I think it is important to write for what/who is available. No use in bitching that the right singer was never available, etc. Anyways to sum things up the addition of a singer who is more involved with the music from the beginning has made A.D. more of a band than say a project.

Now that Classical and Symphonic Goth Metal is becoming so vast and diversified, where do you think this style of music will be in the next 5-10 years? What do you think future bands in the same genre will need in order to compete?

JP: The future - There is always a chance this music could be like grunge. I have no idea what bands will need in the future. I have never really thought in terms of style when it comes to writing music. I am always searching for new ways of creating music. So I think the band will always be going as long as the members are interested. When it comes to popularity. I feel a good bit of that depends on having the right marketing machine behind you etc.

What's the biggest challenge for Indie labels, and what are their perks?

ER : The perks are easy...if you make a sale you get more of the money. Your flexibility is also a perk...for you make the rules and you call the shots. The challenges are numerous....from paying for your own studio time to the near impossibility of putting together a 'real tour' of your own to just getting the artwork together. If you look at any "bigger" labels now in the underground scene....many of those were very tiny indies when they started...they got lucky (or smart) and
signed some bands with real selling power. It takes money to make money and it all works together, from magazine ads to tours to distribution. That is probably the key deciding factor is getting your product out to the masses.....and the more money you have...the easier it is to make that visible. Having distribution that gets your music to more people is definetly a perk for being on a bigger label and a challenge for an Indie.

Speaking of getting products out to the masses, have you looked into contributing songs to the Podsafe Music Network for podcasters to play them on their shows?

JP: Yes - just am waiting to get a confirmation e-mail from them, I believe. In the last month or so I have been listening to podcasts often. I am a bit scared at the postings I have been reading from labels--that people are not buying cd's....

I guess we will see.

What's in the near future for Aesma Daeva?

JP: Writing a lot of acoustic music at the moment. Also working on more arrangements of cover songs and finishing up an album of songs all based on 1984. We have been asked to go on tour with Therion and also to go on a seperate tour with Virgin Black and Trail of Tears as well. Hopefully all of that will work out.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Aesma Daeva - Bio

In addition to the interview that will get posted tomorrow (of course I'm making you wait! My Evil Twin is in ascendence! MWAHAHAHA!), here's a little bio the band sent me to share with all of you:

Aesma Daeva formed out of the early collaboration of N Copernicus (production) and John Prassas (guitars, composition) in LaCrosse Wisconsin circa 1988. Their original projects saw them working together on a remix of "Darkness" for COP International compilation disc Diva-X-Machina II. As their project began taking a new shape, a second new track "Stay," caught the eye of Adrian Hates (Diary Of Dreams) at Accession records Germany, who published their first full length album "Here Lies One Whose Name Is Written In Water." At this point, Aesma Daeva, the operatic, symphonic, metal band, took official shape. The original female operatic vocals were performed by Rebecca Cords all composition and guitar was performed by John Prassas, with production and other work done by N Copernicus.

After the release of their first album, Rebecca Cords departed from the band and Melissa Ferlaak (along with two other temporary vocalists) began recording with Aesma Daeva for their second album "The Eros of Frigid Beauty." After the release of Aesma Daeva's second album "The Eros of Frigid Beauty" in 2002, demand for live music soon drove John Prassas to find musicians capable of portraying the complex music best on a stage.

In January of 2002, John Prassas asked Earl Root to play guitar at his side, Craig Ohren to offer drum assistance (while also tweaking some older songs' drum pieces), and Melissa Ferlaak to sing for live performances. The new album “The Eros of Frigid Beauty” was released on Root of all Evil records. Things quickly increased when Aesma Daeva played Metalfest in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Such popular metal magazines such as Unrestrained!, Terrorizer, and Metal Maniacs deemed Aesma Daeva "One of the Highlights of Metalfest 2002." Later, in August of 2002, Aesma Daeva journeyed to Mexico for Festival Obscuro IV (presented by Dilemma Entertainment) to play along such acts as Tristania, Maldorar, and HIM.

In 2003 John decided it was time for the band to move to a new level. Writing began for a new album to be produced by Grammy award winning producer Neil Kernon. Many set backs and line up changes happened during this period. The last line up change which may have spelled the end for aesma daeva was on October 11, 2005 when singer Melissa Ferlaak announced she was leaving to join the Austrian band Visions of Atlantis. Her final show with Aesma Daeva was in December 2005 at the Star Central club in Minnesota. The concert was filmed for the DVD, Last Rites, which is currently set for 2006/2007 release.

After the Departure of Melissa Ferlaak the search for vocalists began. With previous songs being written specifically for Melissa's voice. Time was needed to find a new soprano and learn the strengths of the new soprano's voice. Within a few months new found vocalist Lori Lewis proved to be the best compliment to the band. With her knowledge of many different styles of music and much thicker voice which cut through the guitars aesma daeva quickly rose to their highest level in ages.

Aesma Daeva's new album is scheduled to be released in march 2007. With mixing and recording being handled by grammy award winning producer Neil Kernon ( Nevermore, Hall and Oats, Queenreich). The album will mark a new era for Aesma Daeva in their quest for high quality original material.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Adventures in Scifi Publishing and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore Podcast Together

Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, the only specialty bookstore of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery literature in San Diego, has joined forces with the Adventures in Scifi Publishing podcast.

San Diego, CA April 25, 2007— Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, the only specialty bookstore of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery literature in San Diego, has joined forces with the Adventures in Scifi Publishing podcast to bring listeners worldwide interviews with bestselling authors and publishing experts.

Mysterious Galaxy bookseller Samantha Wynns will join producer Shaun Farrell as co-host of the podcast, adding her expertise in these genres to his own. Together they will examine the publishing industry, discuss genre literature, interview bestselling authors, introduce listeners to new authors, and broadcast Mysterious Galaxy Author Signings with some of the most famous and prolific authors in the business.

In October 2006, Shaun Farrell began the Adventures in Scifi Publishing podcast to share his passion for writing, publishing, and science fiction/fantasy literature. Having previously conducted interviews for Far Sector SFFH, Shaun secured interviews with some of the most respected authors in the field, including R.A. Salvatore, Kim Harrison, Timothy Zahn and Robert J. Sawyer.

Shaun says that "Mysterious Galaxy has always supported my podcast and my writing. It's wonderful to officially solidify our relationship in this way. It will make it that much easier for us to share our love for great story telling."

Maryelizabeth Hart, owner and Publicity Manager of Mysterious Galaxy, adds that "We always enjoy our author's great discussions and readings, and are thrilled that through these podcasts, readers who had a conflict and could not attend the event will still be able to enjoy them as well."

For more information about the partnership between Mysterious Galaxy and Adventures in Scifi Publishing , please contact Shaun Farrell.

About Adventures in Scifi Publishing:

Adventures in Scifi Publishing is a free weekly podcast covering science fiction and fantasy literature. The show features interviews with bestselling authors, new writers and publishing experts.

About Mysterious Galaxy:

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore specializes in science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery titles and has served San Diego since 1993. Learn more about their services at


Shaun Farrell, Producer and Co-host
Adventures in Scifi Publishing

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Aesma Daeva - Dawn of the New Athens

The first song opens with a voice as beautiful as a Tolkien Elf, then heavy guitar riffs follow that makes you want to headbang out in an open glade, with a mood and atmosphere that makes you feel like you're living in Ancient Greece. And the first song on Aesma Daeva's Dawn of the New Athens, "Tisza's Child," is only the beginning. There are only nine songs, but with each one running an average of five to six minutes, you still get your money's worth. I will warn you however, you may be left wanting more.

Lisa Lewis's soprano vocals fit perfectly with the meaningful lyrics ("Artemis" is a song about struggling with living a spiritual and artistic life in a material world, and "Since The Machine" is Orwellian in its warnings of where today's society is heading) and musicial stylings of the electrical, percussion, and wind instruments. Easily the best CD I've listened to this year, Aesma Daeva, is a band to watch for. Like Epica and Nightwish, Aesma Davea's music will not only please Metalheads like me who also appreciate a little Classical but also please anyone who appreciates brilliant music regardless of personal musical preferences.

Coolest Part: Hands down the first two lines in "Ancient Verse" (right along with the rest of the song). And no, I'm Not telling you what they are. You'll just have to get the CD and find out for yourself. Yes I'm being evil again. What did you expect? Okay fine, I'll entice you with the first line: "Once there was myth and mystery...."

Gripe: I want more, dammit! MORE!!! A double-CD set with DVD concert footage might satisfy my hunger. Might.

Best to Listen to While Reading: 1984 - seriously. Or any heroic, epic Fantasy/SF. Tell you what: break out your dusty copies of Homer's Iliad and Odessy while you listen. And Paul Levinson's The Plot to Save Socrates works fine, too.*

Format: Audio CD

Release Date: 2007

Label: pnevma

Price: $14.99

*I fervently deny any knowledge of Paul Levinson owning a time-machine and dragging Homer and Orwell to the present time-line to help him bribe me with chocolate chip cookies to plug their fiction. Nor do I know anything about so-called "witnesses" getting disintigrated by an anti-matter rifle. Lee S. King's space monkeys did it--they're guilty of all of it. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Interview With Melinda S. Reynolds

I first encountered Melinda S. Reynolds's artwork at The Sword Review and quickly became a fan. Among her other talents is writing and being a hotty redhead. Her artwork, "Black Sheep Dragon" is currently on the cover of SR's 25th Issue.

An artist and a writer. How did so much talent end up in one package?

lol, don't know; just luck, I guess. There were no art classes offered when I went to school (elementary and high school); and I really, really hated writing stuff in English classes (I made all A's just to be certain I would never have to do that again ;-) ) I started sketching first in my early 20's; then I tried my hand at editing, which led to writing.

In what ways does illustration and writing influence each other?

For me, quite a bit. When writing, I find that sketching out scenes or characters aids in my narratives and decriptions (esp. action scenes); with art, the ability to tell a story transfers easily to drawing the 'story' -- so I hope my art relays more than something 'interesting to look at'.

How much, if any, influence does music have with your artwork and writing?

With art, music has no influence on me (sorry); however, with writing, I've recently found myself matching action scenes to certain types of music and it helps in the pacing quite a bit. Music also helps me keep the pace in check, and leave the strongest for last.

What would be one of the first things you would tell an artist just starting out? A writer?

O boy, that's a toughie... Well, for artists, I'd say don't be discouraged. Art is very subjective, SOMEONE out there will love what you do; you just have to wait until they find you :-) For writing: You have to enjoy writing for yourself first; discouragement will always be around the corner, but if you like your work then others will see that and hopefully understand what you're trying to do.

Anything new in the works?

I always have new art projects waiting at the sidelines. I'm part of an artists' group that will have their work displayed at the Audubon State Park Museum (Henderson, KY) for two months. I have a few stories and a bookcover to illustrate. As for writing, just polishing up my Angel Warriors trilogy.

*artwork Copyright 2007 Melinda S. Reynolds

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Interview With Paul Levinson

PaI had the honor of interviewing Paul Levinson, author of The Plot to Save Socrates, President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) from 1998-2001, and who was a guest on my favorite show, The O'Reilly Factor. So yeah. Stoked? Psyched? Words can't even describe it.

How did you come up with a time-travelling tale about Socrates?

I've been bothered about why Socrates didn't take Crito up on his escape offer since I first read the Crito in a freshman philosophy class at the City College of New York in 1963. As soon as I began writing and publishing science fiction in the early 1990s, I knew I wanted to write a time travel story in which someone went back in time to try and save Socrates. (Incidentally, I had this idea well before Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - in fact, I've yet to see the movie. I really should.) Since time travel provokes profound philosophic paradoxes (more on this below), it seemed natural to me write a time travel story about a philosopher.

What struck me most about the novel was the whole Free Will vs. Fate conflict that seemed to be going on in it. Was that idea intentional?

Yes. One of the prime paradoxes about travel to the future is that, if you see someone wearing a red shirt tomorrow, for example, does that mean the person has no choice but to wear that shirt? The truth is, if time travel existed, none of us would have any real control over our lives, because we'd be locked into everything the time traveler sees.

So in The Plot to Save Socrates, the problem the characters have to solve is: how can they know if what they are doing is the result of their free will, or of a pre-ordained fate. And, of course, it's very hard to know this, certainly hard to prove what's really going on ... and that, to me, was a big part of the fun of writing this novel.

Sierra Waters is a very interesting character. She seems to be in conflict against her own interests at times.

Yes, because Sierra is torn in many ways (like the piece of paper she tears up in the very first paragraph of the novel). First, affection for and then guilt over Max. Love of some kind for Thomas. Passionate, romantic love for Alcibiades. Love of history, and getting things right. So she is in deep conflict, because she knows she can't have all of these things. About the most clear-cut thrill for her, historically, is Plato's life. And, of course, we find out at the end that her guilt about Thomas when she was with Alcibiades was ... ironic, to say the least.

What type of music do you think is best to listen to while reading and/or writing time-travel stories?

I don't listen to music while reading or writing - I love music too much, so it's way too distracting for me. But to see what music I love, and listen to all the time, whenever I can (except when I'm reading or writing), just look at the Music part of my Profile page here on MySpace.

How much of an advantage can podcasts give writers?

Podcasts are wonderful if you have the voice and technical savvy to do them. I love them. They've really helped my book sales. You're talking to your readers - what more can you ask for? So I really recommend doing them to any writer who can.

What other things is your billiant madness cooking up in the near future?

Well, thanks - I'm definitely mad, that's for sure...I'm writing the sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates right now. When that's done, I'll be writing another Phil D'Amato novel (he appeared in my previous novels, The Silk Code, The Consciousness Plague, and The Pixel Eye). And then maybe a sequel to Borrowed Tides.

I now have four podcasts - I may add one or two more. I've also greatly expanded my blogging from just MySpace to now and - and I'll be doing more of that.

I've been writing 2-3 television reviews per week - of 24, Rome, and Lost - and I'll be reviewing The Sopranos when it resumes (and concludes) next month.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Plot to Save Socrates by Paul Levinson

An ancient manuscript is found that hints at a time traveler from the future going back in time to save the great philosopher, Socrates, from his death at the hands of the democratic Athenian government. When Thomas O'Leary shows his student, Sierra Waters, the manuscript, she finds herself in a time-traveling adventure in search of Socrates's mysterious savior - who could be anyone from any time, even her. Of course, when historical figures like the warrior-philosopher, Alcibiades and the inventor, Heron of Alexandria, get involved, the threat of a time paradox becomes more and more dire.

Paul Levinson handles a complicated plot and a multitude of characters in a manner that can only be described as masterful. Certainly not something the average writer would even wish to attempt. And to top it off, he leaves you with a great tale both entertaining and meaningful. It also comes complete with discussion group questions for the philosopher in every reader.
I highly recommend this book, and I won't be surprised if it wins several awards.

Best to read while listening to: anything from Classical to Gaelic to Electronica/Industrial.

Publisher: TOR
Price: $14.95
Trade Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0-765-31197-9
ISBN-10: 0-765-31197-6
Genre: Science Fiction