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One of the most exciting metal bands out there today has to be Shadowside. They are simply an incredible metal band fronted by the charismatic Dani Nolden. You can read our review of their new album “Shades Of Humanity” here. I had the chance to sit down and do an interview with Dani and she was a blast to talk with. She filled us in on their latest album, life in rock n’roll and how she almost wound up in a completely different career.
XS ROCK: Hi Dani! So tell me about the latest news with Shadowside? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Dani Nolden: We have a brand-new album out, it’s called “Shades of Humanity” and it was released worldwide by EMP Label Group, Spiritual Beast, and Furia Music Records. It’s our 4th studio album, and the first one we recorded with our new bassist Magnus Rosén, who used to be in the Swedish band Hammerfall. The album was produced and mixed by Fredrik Nordström and Henrik Udd and I honestly believe this is our best album up to date! It’s definitely the heaviest, and it’s aggressive, intense, but at the same time very melodic, as we were looking for the balance between the best of both worlds: the heavy guitar riffs and straightforward, in-the-face metal, and beautiful melodies.
XS ROCK:What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Dani Nolden: It was the fact that I just couldn’t stay away from music. My “plan A” was never music, I had everything set up to be a professional soccer player and everything was going well, I even ended up playing for the youth team of Santos FC, but I got injured during pre-season and had to stay away from trainings for a few weeks. It was nothing major, but it was enough to give me a taste of what life would be like if I had time to dedicate to music. And it was enough to make me realize I loved music more than I loved sports, so I quit soccer entirely in order to focus on starting my first band.
XS ROCK:What image do you think your music conveys?
Dani Nolden: A very realistic one… I think people who dislike songs about the reality of the world should definitely stay away from us! Lots of people who like lyrics about fantasy do like Shadowside as well, because they like both, but our music is definitely NOT for people who DON’T like anything other than fantasy. We have a few songs that speak about the world out there in abstract ways, such as Beast Inside, which is basically a talk from God to us human beings that I obviously made up (laughs), because that is what I imagine God would have to say to us. Anyone who doesn’t believe in God or anything supernatural may just as well listen to that song and enjoy it, because it is basically talking about how we are all born innocent, but mankind as a whole has turned into a time bomb. I would say we convey a very realistic image, in a very dark way, but at the same time we show the positive side of that chaotic nature we have within ourselves. Our music is very much about the dark thoughts we all have, that we can always turn to something good.
XS ROCK:What are your immediate music career goals?
Dani Nolden: Touring, definitely! With our previous album, “Inner Monster Out”, we toured a lot, and now that we have “Shades of Humanity” out, with a brand new video for the song “Alive”, which can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF9Tv5USAYg , we hope we’ll be able to play live a lot in order to support and promote this album.
XS ROCK:What are your long-term career goals?
Dani Nolden: That’s a very complicated question, because there’s no way to answer something like this without sounding extremely arrogant (laughs). My long-term career goals are as ambitious as possible, but I keep the short-term ones in mind to keep things achievable. Never in a million years I expected to be where we are now when I had my first band rehearsal, so I learned to never doubt things are possible, as long as I keep my feet on the ground. So, for that reason, I just keep my long-term career goals to myself (laughs). We do have a lot of dreams, but we’ll take it one step at a time, and for the time being, just focus on hitting the road.
XS ROCK:Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Dani Nolden: Both, it depends a lot on what the moment is inside the band. After a tour, I become really interested in writing new stuff, but after I finish recording the new stuff, I feel less creative and more interested in playing live what we just recorded… so both are things I love doing, but what I love the most is cyclical. Since we just released “Shades of Humanity”, what I want to do now is play live.
XS ROCK:What are your songs about? What specific themes do they cover?
Dani Nolden: On “Shades of Humanity”, they are mostly about the moral values we have, about how we are all made of different shades of grey and how nothing is pure black and white. There are songs about several things we must face, not necessarily in a direct way, but we do face in one way or another. Songs about abortion, greed, doing questionable things with good intentions or doing great things with selfish intentions… but also, about hope that there is a way to fix it, and that there are good things we can do.
XS ROCK:Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
Dani Nolden: We’re a pretty “square” band, so our stories aren’t crazy, they’re just scary. They don’t involve party, so I don’t know how many people would be interested in that (laughs). Most of the crazy things we lived on the road are due to accidents or near-accidents, such as an almost crash between our bus and a truck in Poland, a 300km unpaved road in Albania that took us almost 8 hours to cross, being stuck in snow right outside the venue, also in Poland, because us stupid Brazilians had no idea at the time how to deal with snow, since we don’t have it here (laughs). Most of the stuff we go through are just the things all bands go through when they tour… but it all pays off in the end!
XS ROCK:What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Dani Nolden: There was a fan, I think it was in Germany, he absolutely REFUSED to accept a discount. He got mad… seriously mad because we offered him a discount for buying one of the combos we were offering. If the CD was $15 and the t-shirt was $20, we would offer a combo of 1 CD + 1 T-shirt for $30, for instance. And if my memory doesn’t fail me, 3 CDs was $30. And it was all written on a sign, but the guy got really, really angry, because he wanted to pay $45 for the CDs, not $30. We had to accept the money, he wouldn’t have it any other way! So that was a very supportive fan! I haven’t received any crazy requests, thankfully!
XS ROCK:Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Dani Nolden: Very much, yes.
XS ROCK:What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Dani Nolden: From the previous albums, my favorite ones are “Highlight” from “Theatre of Shadows”, our debut album, “In the Night” and “Hideaway” from Dare to Dream, “Angel with Horns”, “Gag Order”, “Habitchual” and “Waste of Life” from “Inner Monster Out”, and from the new album “Shades of Humanity”, I have yet to find out, as I love them all (laughs). But I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy “The Fall”, “Alive”, “Stream of Shame”, “What If” and “Make My Fate”.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Dani Nolden: That’s another tricky question… I think it would be really cool to team up with other female fronted bands, like Arch Enemy and Nightwish, but I would also add other bands that I like, such as Disturbed, and solo singers like Sebastian Bach. I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s my dream tour, right? (laughs)
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Dani Nolden: Playing in so many countries… that is what made me realize how far we had come. We were doing soundcheck in Helsinki, Finland, and suddenly it hit me: “damn, I’m REALLY far from home right now!”.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Dani Nolden: Probably something to do with business and finances, as that is my major and it turns out I enjoy very much the business and management side of music. Combining both being an artist and the business side of things is awesome for me!
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Dani Nolden: We use ENGL amplifiers nowadays. That’s the amp we used to record “Shades of Humanity”, and we’ll be using it on the tour as well.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Dani Nolden: Depending on what song they hear, they may think it’s a male singer, or that we have a male and a female singer, but it’s just me, a female. It’s very funny when people get confused, especially because I’m not a growler, but my voice is low, so some people think it’s a guy and it always amuses me (laughs). Regarding the music, some new fans mention that they enjoy how we are straightforward, but still pay a lot of attention to the arrangements. Some arrangements are intricate but they sound very simple… easy to listen, but not THAT easy to play, you know? They’re not overly complicated and nothing incredibly technical as we do like to keep things simple, but they’re not as simple as they sound sometimes.
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Dani Nolden: Melodic, catchy, yet very heavy and intense. It’s a mix of the energy of extreme metal with the musicality of hard rock and more traditional heavy metal, with a little touch of the 80’s, played in a current, modern way.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Dani Nolden: I just hope you guys will enjoy “Shades of Humanity” as much as we enjoyed writing and recording it! It’s available now worldwide in CD and digital versions, so you can get it on iTunes, Spotify, Deezer or your favorite physical store and our own website www.shadowside.net
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
Dani Nolden: My pleasure! Thank you so much for the support!