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Interview with Adrienne Cowan (Seven Spires)
Shannon Wilk | February 21, 2021
You may know Adrienne Cowan as the vocalist and composer of her band Seven Spires, or from her work with Tobias Sammett’s Avantasia, or perhaps Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony, or you may recognize her as the keyboardist and backing vocalist of Winds of Plague. No matter what band she is playing with, she is an absolute powerhouse both onstage and in the studio. We had the chance to talk to Adrienne about the upcoming Seven Spires album, her writing process, where she gets inspirate-tion for her fashion, and other topics. Hope you enjoy this interview!
Hello Adrienne! How are you doing today?
Doing great here, thank you! Hope you’re also fine 🙂
Good to hear! Before we talk about your bands, I wanted to talk about your personal musical journey. You attended Berklee College of Music with your bandmates in Seven Spires. How do you feel attending music school changed you as a musician?
Music school gave me the tools to express the things I didn’t know how to express, and helped me harness what I naturally had. I mean, I was already a loud singer and wrote some basic music, but music school taught me finer intricacies and how to artfully break rules to express emotion further. More importantly, Berklee exposed me to a network of great and like-minded musicians. I may not have met my current creative partners, had I not attended!
You released your latest album with Seven Spires, “Emerald Seas”, about two years after the first release, “Solveig”. What is the story behind each of those records and how do the two stories connect?
“Emerald Seas” is the story of a lone captain sailing in search of eternal life. The source of eternal life is said to be guarded by an ancient beast that hunts sailors who have lost all hope. “Solveig” follows the journey of a lost soul who arrives in a state of limbo called The Cabaret of Dreams, a sort of sunless, Neo-victorian underworld ruled by an old, immortal demon. The demon is known to offer a deal to every new arrival: eternal bliss in the Cabaret of Dreams in exchange for their soul. “Emerald Seas” is the prequel to “Solveig” and is the backstory of the demon character, but to say any more than that would spoil some story aspects of our next release 😀
That’s really interesting. How do you take the concept for an album and make it reality?
It kind of writes itself. The Spires universe has been with us since our inception in 2013, so we always had the vibe and certain characters. Each character, location, vessel, etc has its own set of musical characteristics/phrases and melodies, and each album has its own set of mood boards for characters and locations. The visual and melodic motifs really help to set the scene for a song in my mind’s eye 🙂 Once we have the main emotional content of a song and can see the “scene”, the process is somewhere between songwriting and film scoring. And once the flagship songs are written, usually the scenes in between present themselves in some way, either as plot points or musical seeds. It’s an extremely emotional process and usually leaves me a bit of a wreck 😀 But, in the end, it’s worth it 🙂
Cool! You mentioned earlier that Seven Spires is working on new music right now. How would you say the new music differs from your last album?
It’s darker than our last album. We always incorporate a balance of darkness and hope in our sound, lyrics, and aesthetic, but where “Emerald Seas” is a portrait of the darkness that lurks quietly within a hopeful facade, the new album is the inverse, dealing much more with deafening darkness and those tiny shreds of hope that may feel impossible to find. There are more elements of melodic death metal and black metal than we’ve ever used before, more elements of film scoring and cinematic sound design, more storytelling, and some surprises that I won’t spoil yet 🙂 But, there are still the same aspects that make us who we are artistically, and Jack would probably say, “If you like Seven Spires, you’ll love this album!” It’s also significantly longer in running time, haha.
I look forward to hearing it! I’ve always loved your gothic/pirate-like style. What drew you to that look?
Oh, thanks a lot! Honestly, I just dress like characters I like, and put a dark spin on it. Most of my “style icons” (lol) are dapper-yet-troubled or mischievous princely types, or chaotic mad/drunk/lucky geniuses. I’m a bit of a nerd and love fantasy, video games, dark stuff, Pirates (that soundtrack is one of my major influences as well), Ghibli movies, Castlevania, Labyrinth, and I suppose it all just melted together.
Awesome! Throughout 2020 and now 2021, you’ve been posting a lot of practice videos on your social media. In what ways do you feel you benefit from that? In what ways do you feel others benefit from that?
For me, it’s an easy way to keep creating content and it keeps me accountable, so I continue to practice even though there are no shows and few recording projects. For others, I hope the practice cams help normalise the fact that not every singer is just born with a perfect voice, that it’s fine to work hard at something to get the results you want… And if nothing else, I hope they’re entertaining for others to watch :’D I’ve even seen a few others start posting more practice cams of their own! This is great because I know I’ve landed some musical opportunities by posting them myself, so I hope it’s the same for others 🙂
Totally! What is your biggest goal for 2021?
To have a successful release with Spires, and to stick to the path of bettering my physical and mental health!
You sing both extreme vocals and more operatic, clean vocals. If you could only sing one style, which would you choose?
Really hard question! Extreme vocals might get me more work in the short term, but for my own long-term mental health, I think I’d choose the role of clean singer over angry screamer. I’d be rather sad to see the screams go though, and definitely would need to find a different outlet for all this energy!
What is coming up for you musically?
Aside from the obvious Spires album, I’m on a new project called Heart Healer which will be released on 12 March via Frontiers Music. I sing a few songs, including duets with vocalists including Noora Louhimo and Anette Olzon 🙂 I’m also working on some metal arrangements of not-metal songs for YouTube, and just started a patreon! Beyond that, well, Jack and I are always working on songs or concepts for future albums 🙂
Is there anything else you’d like to include?
Just want to say thanks for thinking of me, and a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me and my endeavors with Spires and others through the years, especially the Seventh Brigade! <3