Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel Shares the Bands That Inspired Them While Making ‘Bleed Out’ Album
Sharon delved into how the war in Ukraine impacted them while writing their latest effort and she gave us some of the modern bands that have been influencing the group as they worked on their new music.
In addition, she explains the complexities of working with artificial intelligence to create their recent video for the "Bleed Out" title track. She also speaks with Jackie about defining her onstage look, making sure to always have fun on the road and gives us her thoughts on one of her favorite bands, Nirvana, as their In Utero album turns 30. Check out the chat in full below.
On the show with us this weekend is the amazing Sharon Den Adel from Within Temptation. There's plenty to talk about with the new song and album Bleed Out, and a very cool AI-infused animated video as well. Sharon, artificial intelligence is becoming more prominent in the music world. How was your experience figuring out how you could put AI to its best use? And what were some of the positives and negatives from the experience?
I found this very difficult actually, because it took us a month and a half to get it exactly how we wanted. It's not like you just add some words to something and say, “Okay, make a video out of this.” What we did actually was a lot of work. We did the video in a normal way, shooting it with the whole band, the whole crew that normally is there, the director, and everybody else who's normally there. Then there's one more person who’s the AI expert in the room. Everything that we shot went through AI, which is just a tool like an add-on, to add a certain atmosphere, and it was very cool because you can do something in a different style very quickly.
You can change very quickly to a different style to see what best suits you, and most of the time AI doesn't make something that's already there. It combines a lot of styles, which I think is cool, because it becomes something new as well. So, it's a nice way to bring a different kind of atmosphere to the standard kind of video and when we heard about these tools it was like oh my god, this is cool.
Everybody was talking about this all of a sudden, like, in one week everybody was talking about this technology. We hadn't even noticed that it was happening, but a video turned up on TikTok and it just blew everybody away. We were saying, "Okay, we can't do a traditional video anymore, because everybody's working with AI and you don't want to stay behind." Every creative person we've worked with so far is working with AI so for us it was a very logical thing to try it. The negative thing is, it's very difficult to make the lips sync. That's why it took so long for us to get it right and that it was a lot of searching of what kind of atmosphere do you want to have for a certain video? And yeah, so that was our journey with AI actually.
Within Temptation, "Bleed Out"
Within Temptation’s powerful new album Bleed Out definitely pulls from world events. Sharon, the war in Ukraine in particular had a big impact on this record. It's hard not to have a sense of empathy, watching this play out. Can you speak to how you felt impacted by what you were seeing and the importance you place on getting it right, while using your platform for something of a more political nature?
Well, the thing is, we played a lot of times in Ukraine, and one particular occasion was really special for us. That was in 2008, quite some time ago, when we played in Kherson, which was one of the first cities or even the first city to fall while being invaded by the Russians. We had like five days in Ukraine in Kherson and we were invited by the Mayor to plant a tree for peace of all things, and I remember there was one big show in Kherson. We played on the river and we had a guided tour. They gave us traditional clothing, took pictures with us, and showed us around. They're very proud of their city and to see it go to ruin was really like, oh my God, we felt so sorry for them because they are such nice people that we met during that trip.
Of course, we also played in Russia many times and also met so many really nice people and to see these two countries in conflict with each other, the Russians invaded Ukraine and yeah, it felt so not justified this war and we could follow it from the beginning up till now what every movement that's been happening now over there, we felt very close because it's Europe. It's two and a half hours of flying from Amsterdam to Kyiv, which is the heart of the Ukraine and now some people don't understand it, but it's like me flying to Barcelona from Amsterdam. It's also two and a half hours. It's very close by.
It's strange to think of the wars going on in a country you love so much because we've been there several times, I've really had only positive experiences. So, we felt like it's such a clear war. You're being invaded. It's not like if we would say that Belgium used to be a part of Netherlands and many 100 years ago and we would say today you know what, we want to have a piece of Belgium. That's not going to happen, nobody wants that.
It's a crazy thing to think that the Russians want to have a piece of the Ukraine which they're not entitled to and yeah for us it was very clear. Therefore we felt very sorry for them and it comes out in the music. It wasn't even intentionally, but it was just a made such an impression.
While working on the new Within Temptation album you spoke of being inspired by new bands that had been creating a new more technical sound. How important is it to continually be a student of new music and can you speak on some of the new bands that have been inspiring you with what they're doing?
It's always been the fuel to make new music is like being inspired by new things, new sounds, new technology, new everything and not to do the same thing over and over again. Using the same sounds is a bit boring for so we try to reinvent ourselves every time with a new sound which sounds this time of course very 2023 in our opinion, and then you listen to bands who are upcoming and look differently at music. We've been around for such a long time. It's really nice to be inspired by bands that maybe also have been around a certain time but not with the kind of music that I've been making with the band.
So, bands like Annisokay, which we had on this album with "Shed My Skin," but also Bad Omens, there's so many bands that are really inspirational at the moment. Spiritbox ... it's not like we sound like any of these bands but it's more like small things that you're like, 'Oh wow, that's really cool," and then all those bands that inspire you. You just get inspired, and you combine it with your own kind of music because we will always be Within Temptation but we just implement new sounds that we hear in combination with our own sound. Then it becomes new again or sounds refreshing or new however you want to call it.
Within Temptation (featuring Annisokay), "Shed My Skin"
I love the mantra of the band when it comes to live performances. You said it in the past that the band typically expresses “What are we going to do tonight? We're going to have fun!” It's simple, but in the grind of touring sometimes you need to remember that. Do you see enough bands having fun in the touring world these days? And what else do you do to keep things fresh at over 25 years in?
Well, for us, sometimes after a few shows we do like have a break with the whole band and crew with paintball for instance, we get to shoot each other. Get everything out. We meet other bands that come from the same country or maybe we have toured in the past with and we just have fun together have a night out have some drinks and for me personally, you know, it's not just the band that I hang out with. I hang out also with the crew because for me it's like one big family. Everybody's on one bus most of the time or two buses. Then it mixes all together and it's just for us.
There's not much of like a hierarchy or anything. Everybody just, yeah, it's just having fun onstage but it's especially also on the days off. It's nice to have a great dinner or have a nice museum or whatever, check out the band that's playing around the corner that you really enjoy.
We were actually in Russia quite some time ago, actually five years or something and there was an Iron Maiden cover band actually playing in Russia and all of a sudden, all the band members were onstage playing our main song. Eventually they ended up drinking with each other and having a long time talking about Iron Maiden and having drinks after that and getting very drunk. But it was fun. It was something crazy that happened, and I said these kinds of funny things happen sometimes.
I know you studied fashion prior to music and created a lot of your own clothing and merch. Who has been inspiring you of late with their looks in terms of how they present themselves to audiences and what have you found is inspiring your own look these days within the band?
Well, it's always a combination. It's not like one thing inspires you, at least not for me. I think it's a bit strange this look that I took upon myself I was working with this designer from Poland actually and she made that really nice metal arm for me. It's almost like soldiers and knights you know, and shining armor on one side, and it's all chains and everything it's really cool. I felt like I can't do a normal clothing with that. So, it needs to have a nice golden corset of course and then from the quarantine I was just thinking of how the rest of the clothing should look like, shoes and everything and then yeah, obviously I ended up even wearing a Tiara which I never do, but I felt a little bit like it, yeah.
That's great. Every girl should wear a Tiara at least once in their life.
I totally agree. You know when I stopped? When I was 10 actually or maybe even younger but you know, and then you are like my age still like wearing a Tiara on certain occasions.
I know you're a big Nirvana fan and with this being the 30th anniversary of In Utero and a massive reissue on the way I wanted to get your thoughts on Nirvana's In Utero album. Did you have a favorite song? How did that album impact you growing up? And how much credit do you give Nirvana in what had to be immense pressure to follow up Nevermind?
Well, there's so many songs. I find it hard to choose from this album as well. For me, it's like a band that really made an impression especially because of how they were onstage. They ended up eventually smashing everything up, which I've never done with my band. But what I loved about them was they were so honest in their emotion, so it's simply a bit of rebellion and I love the fact that they didn't care about a lot of things and just did their thing and wanted to be pure in a certain way, I guess. Like most punk bands do. I love that album, but there's hardly any song that I don't like. I'm really a big fan. So, a difficult question for me.
Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation with us. Sharon always such a pleasure to speak to you. Good luck with this new record and hope to see you out again really soon. Thanks for your time.
Thanks to Within Temptation's Sharon den Adel for the interview. The 'Bleed Out' album is available to order here. You can stay up to date with the band through their website, Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify platforms. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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Gallery Credit: by Jordan Blum