Take a Voyage with Martin and Nabil of Now, Voyager in this Wavy Interview

Brussels, Belgium just got heavier thanks to the stylings of Now, Voyager! While they began under the name of Nebra with drummer Ben, bassist Thomas, guitarist Antoine, and second guitarist Martin, things just weren't going the right way and after going through a series of changes there was no telling what was going to happen. Not until 2010 when vocalist Nabil came into the picture he decided to join in and since his arrivial and formation of the band it has given them the chance to grow and further expand as a band. Since they have gone on to tour and perform with such acts as The Devil Wears Prada, Memphis May Fire, and Dream On Dreamer among others. Also having recorded their first EP entitled “Seas”, this band is indeed roaring to go and do what they do when it comes to music. Guitarist Martin and vocalist Nabil discusses with me about the band the EP and what they want to achieve when all of this is said and done.

1. Tell us about the band?

Now, Voyager is a band from Brussels, Belgium. The band basically started 4 years ago with Ben (drums), Thomas (bass), Antoine (guitar), and Martin (guitar) under the name Nebra. There were a lot of different vocalists during those 4 years each with their own style, and because of that the band went through a lot of musical changes. It wasn't until 2010 when Nabil (vocals) joined the band that Now, Voyager came to be, with the sound they felt suited them most. Since the band's formation we've had the opportunity to grow as a band, and develop our sound. We've gotten to share the stage with bands such as The Devil Wears Prada (US) during their last tour through Europe, as well as the tour package of Memphis May Fire (US), The Color Morale (US), and Dream On, Dreamer (OZ). Most recently the band opened for While She Sleeps (UK), and Bury Tomorrow (UK), The band also recorded its first EP in England at Outhouse Studios, reputed for having produced bands such as Architects (UK), Enter Shikari (UK), You Me At Six (UK), and Your Demise (UK) among many others. The EP is now available at shows or online, and is entitled “Seas”.

2. Voyager, what does it mean and why did you want to call your band that?

Nabil: Voyager is basically the same as an explorer, or someone who wants to explore the world around them, and its various facets. The band's name is actually based on Walt Whitman's poem which goes as follows: "The untold want by life and land ne'er granted,
Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find."

We just basically felt it captured the essence and spirit not only of the band and the music we wanted to create, but as well of its members personally. As far as our music goes, we're always looking for new elements to work with and integrate into our music, and as people we purposely set off to England to record because it represented this idea and this journey we had to take, to make this happen, even though it meant leaving everything we knew behind and isolating ourselves to do it. So that's basically why the band's called Now, Voyager, in a nutshell.

3. Why do you want to record and release your own music? (Be very honest.)

Martin: This is a hard question... Before anything else, we write music for ourselves as it's the best way to get out of the everyday routines, and allows us the gift of voyage (no pun intended). So our songs tend to be extremely personal, and end up being to and for us, before anyone else. The most beautiful gift, based on that, is that something so personal can actually end up speaking to a crowd, and connecting with a person other than ourselves. Personally, it's what makes me want to create because seeing our songs, which are in a way our babies, has the capacity to appeal to other people; it's something that has no price. I hope that answers the question.

4. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Nabil: There's no main focus as far as themes go within the lyrics, I mean every song is based primarily on an idea or a feeling, or a state of mind, or an event that takes place. I mean some songs we have written based on a pre-determined theme, such as 'Astrophoria: The Weight of a Dream' which talks about the idea that sometimes a dream can be the end of us, because we become so obsessive with it, that we lose touch with reality, and in the end letting go of that dream is the best thing to do. Some songs like 'To Every Beginning' just question life and its purpose, and seeks to force the listener to ask himself whether he/she is really living their life, or idly sitting in the backseat and watching everything happen. And some songs like 'Tabula Rasa' are a little more optimistic and talk about acceptance and trying to appreciate all the little things in life we have. Overall, the only real 'theme' we have is actually just life and anything that happens in it.

5. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)

Nabil: That's a rather funny question, I feel. Any real band should write their own songs, shouldn't they? I mean there's nothing wrong with doing a cover once in a while, but being a band is about finding out who you are as a musician and as a person within that band. The songwriting process is somewhat similar to those long belts you see in factories where every step is a necessary step to an items production. At first, before there are any riffs, words, or drum beats composed, we talk about an idea, or a theme. Based on that, Martin begins composing a rough draft which he brings over to Ben and Antoine who review it and send it back to Martin. That happens a few times until everything's perfect. Ben and Antoine then take the music, and add on all the finishing touches and everything that makes all the difference to the song. When that's over and done with, it basically goes over to me for the lyrics. That's what happens most of the time, but it can happen that sometimes Martin will feel inspired and start composing something, or that I'll be going through something, or thinking about something a lot, and just start writing lyrics, and then send them over to Martin and he composes around that. That's how 'Tabula Rasa' started off. I just wrote down the lyrics and sent them to Martin, and he was going through a hard time personally, and just began composing the music around the words, and it all worked out. The starting point can vary, but the rest of the process remains the same. The most important part for us is to keep the songs very honest, and make sure it carries over the feeling we originally had for it, over to the listener.

6. So tell me about your debut EP, when did you begin to write it, record it, and finish it all up and how long did it take?

Martin: Actually, two songs (Foundations and To Every Beginning) were already composed before even considering the idea of going into a studio. Two other songs (Tabula Rasa and The Surface) were composed, worked on and reworked on in pre-production, a few weeks before heading off to the studio. We left for the studio sometime in April, and we recorded the entire EP in 7 days. It was our first experience in a studio, and we keep an amazing memory of the whole thing that will never fade.

We opted for the name “Seas” for the EP mainly because we've always been inspired by sea-based elements, such as the ocean, boats, etc... On top of that, it kind of just brought up a number of other things such as the idea of voyage (which is quite dear to the band), and the distance between our hometown and the studio in England, and having to travel the sea to achieve that dream.

7. Who are your musical influences?

Nabil: That's a hard question to answer, because to be honest we all listen to a wide variety of music, and I think our individual preferences all differ greatly. I know for myself I tend to listen to a lot of pop rock, indie, and anything really chill and mellow. My favorite band of all time's Lifehouse so I guess that probably says it all. Overall, not a whole lot of metal since I feel like a lot of it is recycled these days, so you've got to find your inspiration elsewhere.

Martin: I listen to everything, as long as it's got a rock'n'roll spirit to it. That could be anything from metal, to indie rock, to experimental, to hip-hop, etc. The most important part is that it's got to have a bit of craziness to it and a lot of feeling. To give a few artists that particularly have an influence on me, I'd say Korn, The End, Foals, The Arcade Fire, Thrice, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Nine Inch Nails.

8. How do you describe your music to people?

Nabil: I think the best description I could find for our music is a mixture between Thrice, Architects, Norma Jean, and a touch of Oh, Sleeper. We tend to mix in a lot of ambient atmospherical parts, with more technical parts and odd time signatures, and then some more straight up in your face parts. Overall I think there's something for everyone in what we do.

Martin: I'd say we do a mixture between rock and hardcore, with a little touch of “post-randomsomethingcore”.

9. What image do you think your music conveys?

Nabil: We've never really been asked that before... to be honest, I don't really think it's even something we even think about. We just know that we play something that is very honest to us, and that we firmly believe in, and we think that transpires over into our live performances and anything else we do that's band related. We don't try to give a specific image, we just create music we connect with, and try to relay that feeling over to the listener. We try to give something more than a big heavy breakdown, or a few catchy lines, that's all I know.

10. Have you ever cried while listening to music? If so what were you listening too?

Nabil: I think I've cried to music twice... One time was when I was a teenager and going through a tough break up, and for some inexplicable reason I decided to put the most depressing song ever (Everything by Lifehouse) and at some point it just hit me, and I started balling my eyes out. Looking back on it, I kind of laugh at myself since it's such a cliché movie type moment, but it was definitely the music that set me off. The second time was while we were in the studio on the last night after all the recording was done, and we all sat together to listen to the raw recordings, and I ended up tearing up on 'Tabula Rasa' just cause we saw all our hard work finally pay off, and all the risks we took to go record in the UK were somehow justified. It was a dream come true to succeed in that endeavor, when the odds were stacked up against us.

Martin: I've cried a number of time while listening to music, and I wouldn't be able to say the number of times it's happened though, but I started tearing up while listening to the outro of “The Canyon Behind Her” by Dredg, Jeff Buckley's “Hallelujah” cover, or even “Wake Up” by The Arcade Fire. It happens often when there's a moment where I listen to a band and I feel as though I begin to vibrate in the same way, as though the artist was speaking to me personally, and it's a very unique feeling to have.

11. What do you guys have planned for the future?

Nabil: As of right now, we've got our first official video clip scheduled to be released end of January, as it's currently being edited by our amazing friend, Sam Velghe. We're also working on brand new songs, of which is an acoustic track. We've just signed a deal with a booking agency here in Belgium called Noize Agency, which we hope will open a lot of doors for us as well. And we can only hope touring is somewhere in there for 2012.

12. What music do you listen to when you are having a bad day?

Nabil: It all matters what kind of bad day! If it's a sad kind of bad day, then something more mellow. Probably Lifehouse, The Appleseed Cast, Say Anything, or Deaf Havana. If it's an angry kind of bad day, then probably something along the lines of The Plot In You, Like Moth To Flames, The Chariot, or Underoath.

Martin: At the end of a long, tiring day and I end up in the metro, I love blasting some Meshuggah, The Chariot, or anything else that's just really loud. If I feel a little down, or in need of optimism, I'll play through the albums of Biffy Clyro, Chevelle, or even Florence & The Machine.

13. If you had your life to live over again, what one thing would you change?

Nabil: I don't think there's a whole lot I would change, to be perfectly honest. I am who I am today because of everything I've gone through, and I am extremely proud of the way I've turned out considering all of that. Maybe the only thing I would change is perhaps to have taken the piano lessons I took when I was 12-13 a little more seriously instead of just not caring at all. That's about it though!

Martin: With regards to our music, I think I would've started on the artwork for “Seas” way, WAY before having gone to the studio, which would've allowed us to bring the EP out a lot faster.

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