Lyrical Spell Magazine writer Andrea caught up with Basak Ylva and Oz Khan of Dream Ocean, to discuss their debut album, “Lost Love Symphony” (read our review here), influences, tour plans, and what other projects they have lined-up. Here’s what they had to say:
Let’s start with a little presentation. Who is Dream Ocean and how was the band formed?
Basak: ''Dream Ocean is a symphonic metal band, based in Köln, Germany. The story of the band started back in Istanbul, Turkey. As I was looking for other musicians to build a symphonic metal band, Oz Khan responded my search and we started to compose together. We have played with several great musicians. During the recordings of our debut album we moved to Germany and decided to continue our path with the new line-up.''
Your band name is really interesting. I think of Nightwish and “Oceanborn” when I hear it. Who came up with it and what does it really mean?
Basak: ''I have always seen so deep and colorful dreams which were big inspiration for my lyrics and compositions. Oceans, sea, underwater mystery always impresses me very much and come with the simple beautiful impression on the surface, but full of secrets deep inside. On the other hand, as you recall, the name is also connected with the influences that we both have. Oz Khan came up with the name "Ghost Opera" and we considered about it for a time but then, since we are very influenced by the bands like Nightwish, Kamelot, Dream Theater, I wanted to take a some little piece of those influences and put them together with the water element. In the end as far as i remember we found this name together and it fitted perfectly to what we had in mind.''
What band(s) / artist(s) have inspired you to become musicians?
Basak: ''For long years, I listened to black metal in my high school years and first I was very impressed by the female vocals in Cradle of Filth’s music. I started to discover bands like Theater of Tragedy and Nightwish but especially Tarja's voice inspired me and the way how she sang, so I wanted to take classical singing education too, just to be able to sing like her. I was not planning to be an opera singer but system encouraged me to take it further and during this time I learned also piano, harmony lessons beside singing and started to compose. I am now an opera singer who is always on the road. Besides metal, I listen a lot classical music. Bands like Nightwish, Epica, Kamelot and Dream Theater are my favourites and I'm also a huge Wagner, Strauß and B.Britten fan.''
Oz: ''There are of course many musicians/bands that have inspired me. I listen to a lot of different genres from classical music to death metal, but when it comes to compose music, power metal has always been the core to reflect my feelings into compositions. I remember the early years that how much I was attracted by the distorted heavy guitars and I wanted to do more than listening. I can mention some of my biggest influences through my journey as Blind Guardian, Kamelot, Nightwish, Dream Theater, Symphony X, Steve Vai and many more.''
Do you have any musical training?
Basak: ''I have been studying classical singing since 2006. I just finished my master in opera last week.''
Oz: ''My profession is actually engineering as I didn’t study music.''
Let’s talk a bit about the album. What can you tell me about “Lost Love Symphony”? What is the inspiration behind the music?
Basak: ''For me, it's a restless ‘ghost lovers' story. A couple who lost each other in real life while their roads slowly split and they stuck into each other's imaginary world and dreams but in the end when they die, their souls meet again in the Island of Dreams...''
So far you have released two singles - “Beyond the Greed” and “Forever”. Are you pleased with the audience’s response to them?
Basak & Oz: ''Very much. We have got great responses from the listeners and it motivates us a lot to be able to reach more people.''
How did the collaborations with Jake E (Cyhra, ex-Amaranthe) and Mark Jansen (Epica, Mayan) come about? How was it working with them?
Basak & Oz: ''They are both excellent musicians and friends. Since the moment we asked them to participate in the album, they have always been very supportive and tried for best. We are very much satisfied with the outcome.''
And speaking of great musicians, you have worked on this album with Joost van den Broek, among others. I really like his work with Xandria, Epica, and Ayreon. How was it?
Oz: ''We got in contact with him with the recommendation of Jacob Hansen who has mastered the album. As we already knew Joost from After Forever days, we were very glad to agree with him. He is a great producer who puts all his efforts on the work to make best out of it. We’d like to work with him also for upcoming productions because he understands what we need very easily and shares the same route from the beginning to the end.''
I really love the backing orchestration, especially on “Wolfheart” and “Island of Dreams”. Who handled that part of the music?
Oz: ''The orchestrations in these songs are composed by Basak and partly me. Joost and Ruben [Wijga] arranged them perfectly with their brilliant ideas.''
“Song to the Aurora” features beautiful operatic vocals. When symphonic metal started I remember there were more songs to feature such operatic vocals, but in time they somehow seem to have faded away, being used here and there (Epica is a good example). As a mezzo-soprano, what is your opinion on this matter, Basak Ylva?
Basak: ''I'm always pro to use operatic vocals. Not necessarily everyone should do it, but when it's done well, I always like it very much and I wanted to compose for every album a small 2-3 minute cross-over style piece for only orchestra and voice. I also have a dream to make a solo project in this style of music.''
What is your favorite song of this album and why?
Basak: ''‘Everstorm’ :) I just started to sing the song and I even wrote the guitar solo for the first time :)''
Oz: ''Hard to say. I can say I have two. I am very proud of “Everstorm” as it is just written in 1 day by Basak with catchy melodies and all parts of the song fitted perfectly in my mind when I first listened to it. I see “Island of Dreams” as our masterpiece in this album. It consists of the feelings like sadness, joy, fear in the same song and I like the transitions of the different sections.''
Do you have any plans to tour in support of the album?
Basak: ''There are upcoming plans from our booking agency but we also don't know a lot at the moment.''
Do you have any other projects outside Dream Ocean?
Basak: ''No, I mainly sing a lot in the classical music scene and this is already taking a lot time and energy but as I said I have a dream of making my own solo cross-over projects where I compose songs like "Song to the Aurora" and even cover some classical opera arias in a modern style.''
Oz: ''No, currently I don’t.''
There is an ongoing debate on the term “female fronted metal band”, in the sense that it shouldn’t be used anymore when describing a band, because it is the music that counts not what gender the singer is. What is your opinion on this?
Basak: ''I don't know who started this and why, but I find it sexist.''
Oz: ''I definitely agree that “female fronted metal” can not be recognized as a genre or a definition for the music. I understand that in past “women in metal” was not very common and somehow this definition popped up, but it doesn’t make any sense nowadays. Besides that, it’s actually a bad way to promote a band and the singer with this term. ''
Is there anything else you would like to add? Something I might have missed?
Basak: ''I would like to mention also a bit about our band members. As you know since we continue our band career in Germany we wanted to continue with local musicians and I was very lucky to meet our bass guitarist Sebastian H. so he brought his other excellent musicians friends with himself and we are very happy with the new Dream Ocean. Sebastian H., Borna, Sebastian P. all have music educations and great musical minds and Nils is a great drummer for us. We all are very good friends who work in peace and laugh a lot together. We built our own rehearsal room and even have a lot of song ideas for the next album :D We're really very excited and working hard in harmony and dedication for this band and looking forward to hit the stage. I must say I'm very lucky and happy for this. Thanks for your interest in Dream Ocean and inviting us for an interview :) ''