The first time I met the Swedish metal band Amaranthe was late in the summer of 2011. Everyone in the band except for the female front woman Elize greeted me with open arms. She preferred to stay a little more anonymously in the background. So who is this mystical lady whom not only has an outstanding vocal talent, but also has a great ability to mesmerize her audience?
(Elize Ryd, Photo: Amalie Stepperud Antonsen)
The Heavy Metal World is by far dominated by men. Luckily, there are some exceptions and Elize is one of them. She is a person who loves to get involved with many things at the same time. Elize is the female front woman who is also the singer of the Swedish POP-Metal band Amaranthe, but also the background singer and dancer of the American band KAMELOT. Beside these two major things she also writes material for her own future album, she has participated in musicals and she has been involved in many other projects.
I have often asked myself the question, "How glamorous is it to be the only woman in such a mythical and male-dominated world?" In the majority of phone calls we’ve had I admired her passion for life, music and love. There's no end of her positivity. I almost got the feeling that it was a bit too good to be true. In this exclusive story, you will be getting to know Elize a little better, not just on a personal level but also on a professional level. We’ll take everything from the beginning.
JONAS: Your musical interest started early. Can you tell us a little about that?
ELIZE: My whole family has been involved with music in one way or another. I guess it made an impact on me already when my mum was carrying me in her womb. It began early with me and my older sister putting up plays and singing performances at home. We sang and performed all the time. Mom encouraged us a lot. She sewed clothes, rigged the stage and got us the props we needed. She herself was about to succeed as an artist, which seemed natural, since both her parents were also artists. My grandmother was a singer and a ballerina, and my grandfather was a known jazz guitarist. If she hadn’t had her first child at an early age, she’d worked as an artist today for sure. Instead her three children made the dream come true. I did my first public appearance when I was 4 years old. I began composing my own music and writing poems when I was in first grade. When I was 12, I participated in a talent show, which I won. On that talent show, there was an agent who gave me my first real job in a musical that was played several times on the Exercishuset in Gothenburg. In high school I got into a musical program, and then I worked during a summer as an entertainer before I got into Dance Forums Performing Arts School. Like I said, I’ve been striving throughout my whole childhood and young adult life to get where I am today.
(Elize Ryd / Amaranthe / Metallsvenskan 2012, Photo: Micke Andersson / Rockbladet)
JONAS: Has it always been obvious for you to get involved with music? Can you describe what it means to you?
ELIZE: Creating music has always been natural to me. I'm a genuine esthete. The music has meant a lot. Listening to and writing my own music is incredibly stimulating. It has always been my way of expressing myself and to pass my thoughts and feelings forward to others. Music and aesthetics is my greatest source of inspiration and motivation in life.
JONAS: What were your musical dreams in your teens?
ELIZE: I got a lot of support and praise for my talent both at home and at school, but I was extremely self-critical and often doubted myself. The joy of singing made me continue. In my teens, I was not the “classical” teenager. Instead of moving with my mother to the northern parts of Sweden, I chose to stay in Gothenburg to start in a High School musical program in order to be able to do what I loved the most. I had to take a completely different responsibility than the other kids of my age. Me and my sister who also chose a musical education at Hvitfeldtska instead of going to Åre, sang together a lot at home. In my spare time I worked as a busboy, waitress, maid, etc. I had a classmate who was very energetic. She took me out on various gigs. We sang together at events, clubs and weddings. That gave me a little taste of the dream, which therefore always has been to work with music in one way or another.
(Elize Ryd, Photo: Johan Carlén)
JONAS: What influences do you have, both personally and musically?
ELIZE: I have many different musical influences, but perhaps most of Disney and Broadway. Freddie Mercury from Queen has the best voice. I really wish I could sing like he did. ABBA was my absolute idols as a child. They have a great influence on me. Incidentally, I am influenced by such music I think is good and important for me, regardless of genre. Right now my personal influences consist of the female part of the metal industry. They are Alissa White-Gluz, Amanda Somerville, Anette Olzon and Simone Simons. I really look up to these girls' strength and wonderful personalities.
JONAS: You are a trained musical performer, tell me about it?
ELIZE: I did go a three-year artistic training in Gothenburg at a school named Performing Arts School. It was a really good but tough school. There are not many things that is harder in this profession after that kind of training if you say so (Elize is laughing). If you can do that, you can handle everything. We studied stage language, theater, singing and choral singing. I also received training in anatomy and training theory where we worked with the body at the elite level. I studied psychology, such as how to deal with adversity, nervousness, working in teams and achieve their highest goals, alone or together. I studied ballet, modern, jazz and tap-dance. Overall I worked sixteen hours a week, 19 hours at most. During training, we also got help with how to apply for jobs, so called audition training. I got the job at Cabaret Lorensberg immediately after training, a renowned springboard for artists who want to break into the industry. My plan then was to gather experience to look for jobs in musicals in Germany, England and in the US. But life took a different turn when I chose a different track.
(Elize Ryd, Photo: Amalie Stepperud Antonsen)
JONAS: Do you still manage to combine these two things, musical career playing in bands?
ELIZE: Absolutely, I'm doing my best. I work with the band Kamelot for the fourth year in a row now, and their music is very inspired by musicals. Each album is based on a unique story, and my job is to illustrate the different characters in it. I stand for the theatricals and visuals in their show. It feels really great to have an outlet for my theater, and sometimes even dancing skills there. I work to the extent that I have time to show different projects where I sing, do back-up singing and dancing behind both Swedish and international artists. (You can find more details about this matter on my website: Kamelot.com/elizeryd).
JONAS: Your amazing voice might as well have been paving the way for a solo career with great pop ballads, but you seem to be more attracted to Hardrock and Heavy Metal. What is your relationship to the heavier genre?
ELIZE: Thank you so much! (Elize is smiling) My brother, Johan Carlzon, started his first Sludge / Hardcore band when he was 18. He was one of Sweden's best “growler” and has inspired many other people within that genre. Later he started the band Abandon, where he became the most successful, but also through their participation in Relevant Few. As many know, he went away for 3 years ago. One reason I chose Heavy Metal is that I wanted to honor him and the music he believed in. Both my brother and father were big fans of bands like Kiss, AC / DC, Dio, Metallica and Iron Maiden, so I have been listening to this music during my childhood and know it basically by heart. Because they both played and liked the music so much, it has always felt special, genuine and more important to me than other kinds of music. My sister, Elina Ryd, is an extremely talented Jazz musician, jazz is also a style of music I have a big passion for and respect in a similar manner.
(Elize Ryd, Interview April 2012, Photo: Micke Andersson / Rockbladet)
JONAS: Do you have some great Heavy Metal role models?
ELIZE: Kiss is one of my great role models, they dared to be different.
JONAS: Do you get compared to other female singers, if so why / who?
ELIZE: I've been told that my voice sounds similar to Celine Dion’s and Sharon den Adel’s (Within Temptation), and that is a really great compliment, isn’t it?
JONAS: If we go into your relations with Jake o Olaf, when and how did you meet each other for the first time?
ELIZE: As many other occasions in life, we met by chance or was it fate? (Smiles). I met Jake at a club in Gothenburg. He was there with a mutual friend that I had played with before. We talked about music, of course, and I told him, among other things, that I had just put on vocals on Falconer's new album. He asked me if I had the time to guest star on a track on Dreamland’s new album. It turned out to be a fantastic song that he had written it actually is still one of my favorite ballads. Of course I said yes, and a week later I was at Joacim Cans studio and recorded the song "Fade Away". Via Jake I came in contact with Olof that writes the music and plays the guitar in the band Dragonland. He called and asked if I wanted to add my voice to two songs ("Cassiopeia" and "Too late for sorrow"), which I wanted to, of course. Before I knew it I was in Studio Fredman and took part in the recording a third Heavy Metal album. Me and Olof became great friends and met frequently after the recording session to write music together for fun. That is how our strong friendship and cooperation started.
JONAS: I've read that you were one of the candidates to replace Tarja Turunen in Nightwish, what happened?
ELIZE: Yes, it went pretty well for me during that tryout. It was Jake and Olof who did send in the application on behalf of me. I had no idea who Nightwish were when I wasn’t a part of the industry (Elize is laughing). I was way too young and because of my lack of experience, they did choose Anette Olzon instead. Olof promised me that he would start a new band and that I could be the lead singer, and that made me really happy of course (she says and laughing). About a month ago, I did perform with the band in Denver during the support tour with Kamelot in the US, when the singer got acutely ill.
JONAS: What other bands have you worked with?
ELIZE: Besides Falconer, Dragonland, Dreamland and Kamelot, I’ve done things together with Takida, Renegade 5, Houston and a newly started project that I’m involved in, created by Chris and Tomas in Takida, called Dreamstate. The first single is called Revolution, it's already out, but a proper release and a video will come out eventually.
(Elize Ryd, Photo: Johan Carlén)
JONAS: How are you as a person?
ELIZE: I am a spontaneous, joyful, lively and loving person. I’m dedicated and serious and do not like to leave anything to destiny. I am also a person who is guided by emotions.
JONAS: Do you have any other interests apart from music?
ELIZE: Except for dancing and theater, I have a great interest in animals and nature. I care a lot about the environment and animal rights. I do what I can, mainly by supporting various organizations. World Wildlife Found (WWF), Green Peace, and Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) are some of them, but by talking about it, I can hopefully inspire others to help too. My mother works for an organization that takes care of, and relocates neglected animals all over the world. Had I not been constantly on tour, I would have adopted many dogs. Other interests include fitness, fashion, health and art.
JONAS: Do you have any other hidden talents that you dare tell Rockbladet’s readers?
ELIZE: (smiles). I paint a lot, and people have asked me if they can buy some of my paintings, so I guess they think they have some kind of special charisma. I definitely plan to develop this when I have time for it. It's not totally different from writing music, rather than to describe the feeling in words and melody you can put lines and color on a piece of paper.
Here we finish the first of two parts about Elize Ryd. The second and final part, which will be published Wednesday next week, Elize will describe her thoughts about the success she has had with both bands Amaranthe and Kamelot.
She will also tell you what it's like to tour as an only woman. Right now she is on a world tour with Kamelot, where they have done a number of gigs in the U.S. and now pulls out into Europe. They will be doing two concerts here in Sweden, 22/11 at Göta Källare in Stockholm and 23/11 at Brewhouse in Gothenburg. Don’t miss that!!
Read about all Tour Dates on www.kamelot.com/site/tour/.
You can follow everything that Elize do on Facebook www.facebook.com/ElizeRydOfficial
You will more info about Amaranthe at www.amaranthe.se
You will more info about KAMELOT at kamelot.com
Author: Jonas Lööw (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photo: Micke Andersson (email@example.com), Amalie Stepperud Antonsen, Johan Carlén
(Elize Ryd, Jonas Lööw / Rockbladet, Photo: Micke Andersson / Rockbladet)