MaYaN : Interview with Mark Jansen

One of the most interesting releases we have heard so far this year is from Epica main-man Mark Jansen’s new project MaYan, we caught up wit Mark to get more information on the debut release Quarterpast, a “progressive symphonic death metal opera”…

How would you describe the concept behind the Quarterpast album, is it to do with the end of the Mayan calendar “great cycle ?

Mark: It has nothing to do with the end of the great cycle, or maybe just a little bit.
It’s about, corruption, abuse of power and not trustworthy governments (which are in fact almost all governments in the world).
As money is ruling the world, those few people who got most of it have a lot of influence. So much influence that their advice, or so called lobby procedures, are impossible to be ignored. Because countries are build on their economics. So in fact they rule the governments which can lead to all kinds of dramatic consequences.

How would you describe the music ? “A progressive symphonic death metal opera” seems to cover quite a few bases.

Mark: I can add words like, no compromises, brutal and sincere.

Given that things have been fairly busy with Epica lately how did you find the time to put such a large-scale project together ?

Mark: There’s no time, time is something that you create. I always dislike it when people say that they cannot follow their dreams as they ‘have no time’. It’s just an excuse, a way out to fool yourself. Time is something which is within control as long as you stay in control of your own life instead of becoming a slave of modern society.
So time was not the tissue. I had this dream for a long time and now it was about “time” to realise it. I just needed the right people around me to start this new band and I found them.

Given the array of musicians you have assembled for the project, how difficult was it to find a suitable window in everyone’s schedule to actually get the thing recorded ?

Mark: That was quite funny. We had only 1 week to record all of the vocals. Everybody (including all singers) was available during this week and came all the way to the studio in Wolfsburg. But as there was a lot of work to do, nothing should go wrong or we would fuck up the whole schedule. But we were not worried about that, we just thought: one way or the other we’ll make it!
One day we were recording grunts untill 4 am and started the next day at 10 am again haha. It was a bit crazy but we had a lot of fun and after the week everything was on tape.

How did the composition of the album work, was it a team effort or did you have most of it worked out in advance ?

Mark: Most of the songs are the result of team efforts. Jack, Frank and I were sitting together and wrote the songs spontaneously. We didn’t feel any limits or boundaries and were writing exactly the music we would like to listen to if we would buy this cd by ourselves.
But we were also very critical, we kept on working on the songs until we were fully satisfied.

How much input did the rest of the band have on the writing and recording process ?

Mark: We gave Arien the ideas for drums and he added his personal touch to it. Same for Jeroen Paul Thesseling. For the next album it’s even possible that we will write the music with all of us together.

Quarterpast has some interesting and intricate arrangements. Is this band an opportunity for you to indulge your more symphonic and technical side in the orchestration ?

Mark: This band gives me the opportunity to make music which I love but can’t be done with Epica as it’s too extreme. I also wrote the music in a completely different way to used to with Epica, which was very refreshing. Also, I think that everything is more technical compared to Epica.

How did the tie in with Italian opera singer Laura Macri come about ?

Mark: I met her some years ago and she told me she’s a singer (like basically every girl in the metal scene haha), As she said she is an opera singer I got curious and listened to some music online. Most of the time this results in a big disappointment as most girls are not as talented as they think they are. But I gotgoosebumps from Laura’s singing. When that happens I fall in love with a voice. I asked her to participate and she accepted.

Is this a one-off project before recording the next Epica album, or will the two bands run in parallel ?

Mark: Two bands at the same time. And we’ll might be able to tour together with Epica as well. That would make it easier to combine.
Epica is my priority but that doesn’t mean that I’m not involved for 100% in MaYaN as well. But I make my living with Epica and love both bands as much šŸ™‚
We have signed with Nuclear Blast for 4 albums so there’s more to come!

The upcoming album release show in Paradiso with Epica looks like being something a bit special ?

Mark: Definitely! We’ll make a big show out of it with pyro and special lighteffects for both bands. It will be the biggest show I have ever been involved in.

Finally, I have to ask you about the concept behind the impressive cover art, like the music there’s a lot going on there, but what does it all mean šŸ˜‰ ?

Mark: It’s important that everybody can give his or her own interpretation to it. But the concept I was talking about earlier in this interview is completely integrated on the cover.

The addition is that we have the mayan civilisation and the modern world coming together. We can learn a lot from the past, when people were living in much closer harmony with nature. Nowadays we are destroying nature and therefor ourselves. It’s a quarter past 12, but it’s never too late … šŸ˜‰