Interview Jack Driessen - MaYan

This is my first interview for Lyrical Spell Magazine, and I was a bit nervous to do it. But then the big day came, everything went so fast, and it was a splendid experience. I really liked and felt honoured to do this interview! I spoke to Jack Driessen from MaYaN about the new album, what he does to prepare before a show and what has inspired him to make his own, unique sound.

Hello Jack, great to have you here for Lyrical Spell Magazine!

Jack: ''Thank you! Likewise.''


So, the last big MaYaN show was at Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium October last year. That’s been a little while. How did you think the last two club shows at ‘De Volt’ and P60 went?

 Jack: ''It was great fun! I mean, we did two new tracks, one of them is a classical song sung by Laura Macri (“Stabat Mater”), and another one is actually one of the new tracks which we’ve worked on for the third album. We got great responses from the crowd and we had a great time, as we always do, I guess!''


Can you tell us more about these new songs?

Jack: ''Sure! It’s really funny, we have worked on many tracks and the nice thing is this time that many other musicians also contributed to a few songs. Merel Bechtold from Delain composed together with us, George Oosthoek also composed two new tracks, Roel… that was actually on the track that we played during the last two shows and will also play tonight (“Hate Me as I Am”).


So, there is great contribution from everybody and lots of energy going on currently, that’s just great! Our previous album “Antagonise” has been, well, three years ago, so it is great to have this vibe going on and now we are really on fire to deliver new tracks and get another album out! ''


So, people get to hear new music!

Jack: ''We hope as soon as possible.''


Besides soundchecking, how do you usually prepare before a show?

Jack: ''How do I usually prepare? Well, there is a lot of waiting! Sounds boring, isn’t it? (Jack laughed)''


Are there any warming-ups or exercises that you do? Or is it just… waiting?

Jack: ''No, it’s just going. I mean, for vocals it is really different. They’re warming-up their voice, but for me it is just, well you know, feeling the vibe, sometimes screaming a bit with Ariën because he can also scream very well. and we just like to have a bit of fun beforehand and we get loose and that’s how we prepare! So, not really like playing anything on keyboards. Just looking forward to the show and having a good time.''


What is your personal favourite song to play live and why?

Jack: ''Ohh.. What’s my personal favourite song? That’s a very good question.. I think my personal favourite song will still be “Faceless Spies”, because I think it is the strongest track we have and it’s a lot of fun to play live and it’s always that song that makes a lot of energy going on in the crowd, and also with us! It’s a special song for me. ''


What bands or artists have influenced or inspired your sound and why?

Jack: ''For sound I actually grew up with After Forever and, when Mark Jansen was on vacation one time, I borrowed some of his albums, he didn’t know it but I still did, and there were many tracks from many albums that actually shaped my metal preferences.. I was 16/17 or something and that was one of the first times that I listened to metal! Around that time I listened to Orphanage, Within Temptation, The Gathering, but also Ayreon! And I know that “The Final Experiment” is one of my all-time favourites. So, that is what has influenced me so much, because Arjen Lucassen is just amazing with everything on keyboards! It’s really special, that’s actually a big example for me.''


That is great to hear! How do you think MaYaN differs from other bands on the metal scene nowadays? What does MaYaN offer that other multi vocalist metal bands or ensembles like Ayreon or Tristania do not offer?

Jack: ''I think we try to find our own sound as most bands will, and everybody is free to join and write new songs. Next to it, we have a great variety of people, that has always been the strength of MaYaN.''


So everyone has his own influences in music and the sound of MaYaN?

Jack: ''Yeah! I think it is.. In the past Mark, Frank and me wrote most of the songs and nowadays it’s, well, as I said, a much larger group that is contributing. This is the driving force - that is still the three of us, Mark, Frank, and me, as we started with MaYaN a few years ago.''


On social media we have seen signs that you are writing and recording a new MaYaN album, can you tell us more about that?

Jack:'' I can tell you that we have many more composers, and many more people writing the music. Personally, I worked more on the symphonic arrangements, I want to have the goal to step up, make the theme sound more dramatic. Yeah, that’s personally for me the main thing. Next to that, sometimes something nice happens, for instance when Roel wrote this track (“Hate Me as I Am”), he just wrote it out of nowhere. He just came up with it and now we have already played it live ☺. That’s the nice thing, it’s so spontaneous and I think we try to put that into our music, so it sounds new and refreshing and everybody's ideas are welcome. We do our best of course to make it sound like one album, as we did before. ''

Will the theme of the next album be politics, like on the last two albums or is it something different?

Jack: ''Well, I can answer, yes absolutely! It was a hot topic a few years ago, and now you see the things that Donald Trump does, calling everything fake news while many people are not aware of what is really going on. But it is definitely political, as I already explained by using Donald Trump as an example. (Jack laughed)''


Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it, I can’t wait!

 Jack: Thanks! (Jack laughed)


How do you think your life has changed after you stepped into the spotlight with After Forever? Any particular stories you can tell us?

 Jack: ''Yeah, sure. Well, After Forever was a very different time in my life. I was a teenager. We started playing with a few people in this band, a band which became very huge. I joined the band when it was only consisting of Mark Jansen and Sander Gommans, and the special thing is, after playing some cover songs from Iron Maiden and The Cult, we started making our own music. Floor Jansen came into the picture just two years later and everything went very fast. I came upon a choice that I had to make between continuing my studies or music, which was very hard for me because I didn’t study music. I chose the safe path and actually as we speak I’m changing that. I’m shifting towards more music, I’m stopping my full-time job, so the special story with After Forever is that it grew so big and everybody knows what happened to Floor Jansen, and I think it’s really special what she is doing with Nightwish.


The nice thing is how it all comes together again. I didn’t speak to Mark Jansen for many years after I quit After Forever, he also quit one year later, in 2001. After so many years we met each other and we just started writing something new! It started with Epica, with the track “Resign to Surrender”, on the album “Design Your Universe”. We liked so much to work together again, and that was the beginning of MaYaN. The funny thing is we never thought even about stopping. It has been challenging with Epica, but we can be more flexible now, with friends who are replacing Mark. And we want to promote the new album more than we did with “Antagonise”, cause we didn’t really have the chance to promote it the way we wanted to. After great reviews it’s actually a shame that we couldn’t , but we can do that now.''


Three shows this week in April, Schollenpop and FemME in August and September, three shows with Epica in October. All on Dutch ground. But can we expect even more MaYaN shows also internationally for the fans abroad?

Jack: ''Of course we have been to South-America a few years ago, we love to go back there and for me personally the plan would absolutely be to go back there and have a tour again to play the new album. But also maybe USA, or different festivals in Europe. I definitely would love to go more international.''


It’s been quite a while since you’ve left the country, haha.

Jack: ''Absolutely!''


Are there any albums from 2016 or 2017 that you were really impressed with? Or can you maybe give us some recommendations?

Jack: ''Well, I think as many of your readers also are huge fans of Devin Townsend, I’m not sure if “Transendence” was in 2016, but that is just a killer album for me! Of course, I am also looking out to the new Ayreon, I didn’t hear it yet. I heard it came out just some time ago, so that’s the next one for me to hear. As it’s obvious, since it’s a big example for me.''


Yeah, I already heard the new Ayreon album, and it’s awesome!

Jack: ''Cool! Waiting to hear it!''


Can you tell us something about your own projects?

Jack: ''Own projects? Hahaha! Well I’m assigned to work on symphonic music for metal bands and I have a project now which I cannot you tell about currently, but there will be more news about it in the future. There are nice things coming up in the future!''


So, for the final question, is there anything that you want to tell us?

Jack: ''What I would like to share with you is, we have three shows with Epica, that are going to be special for us. Expect more new songs in the next few concerts, and we will do more for the fans. Just a clear message: MaYaN is more alive than ever!''


That’s really cool, thank you for your time and see you next time! Have fun at the show!

Jack: ''Thank you very much, and you too!''


Interview by Pascal
Edited by Andreea
Pictures by Laili / LLS Film and Photography