CLÉMENTINE DELAUNEY (VISIONS OF ATLANTIS): “Embracing The Darkness Is Absolutely Essential To Be At Peace”

Visions Of Atlantis, live at Plane'R Fest, Colombier-Saugnieu, July 8, 2023
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

Just after their show at Plane’R Fest in France, Metal Express Radio sat down with French vocalist, Clémentine Delauney from Visions Of Atlantis to have a lovely chat about the band’s latest album Pirates, embracing a new visual identity, and so much more. Check it out!

Hello Clémentine, you’ve just stepped down from the stage of the Plane’R Fest. So how do you feel? How was the show for you? For us, it was really, really hot!

It was extremely hot for us as well, as you can imagine. But it was absolutely wonderful to finally play a festival in France because this was the very first one, ever. So thank you again, Plane’R Fest and Mediatone, which I know is behind this. Thank you for having invited us to be part of this edition this year! It’s been a wonderful show! We could feel the crowd was suffering from the heat, because it was in the middle of the afternoon, 35 degrees out there at least. So at some point, I felt bad because I could see their faces. I was like, oh my God, we’re going to ask them to cheer and to jump and to roar and to do all kinds of things that pirates do. But I also thought and saw that they really enjoyed being there and that they wanted to be having a good time with us. So even us, even if at some point your body is full of adrenaline, but you can also already feel like, oh my God, the heat is overwhelming! You’re like, we’re here to all have a good time. And we did and I hope the audience did. But I think from what I saw and from the stories I’ve checked already, I think people were still in the mood for a party despite the heat. Metalheads, you know…

Last year you released Pirates, the eighth studio album of the band and the third with this lineup, a sort of Visions Of Atlantis 2.0. You have been touring a lot since then. How has this tour been going? How has been the fans response so far to the new songs?

I think we really made a step with Pirates. But this is just, I think, the consequence of having put better music out there. Our songs are just better. We knew it when we were writing them. We could feel it: Okay, this is better material. It’s getting more mature. It’s getting more to the point. The melodies are more thought-through. So we put a lot of effort. I think the COVID period that gave us so much time to write and to fine-tune our songs also is a reason why we managed to have this result as a record. So we were very confident! This is just another level that we produced so far. We wanted the imagery to follow this dynamic and we put a lot of effort into reinventing ourselves from the Deep and the Dark and Wanderers. And then, okay, I always wanted this band to be a pirate band. And finally, yes! So now, you know, unleashing a bit of the dark pirates that I knew would serve the band so well because this is also who we are as people. It’s been an incredible year since the release of the first single. The response from the crowd, how many people got to know us, got to finally believe in us, changed their minds about us, we gained credibility and a lot of doors opened. We finally could return to South America, which we’re going to do in the fall. We conquered the US. We could headline in the US, which not every band can have the chance to do. So we could feel there is a response on this record that is so beautiful, that makes so much sense. And yeah, we can’t wait to continue to surf that wave and hopefully deliver new material that will keep convincing our sailors that they should ship on board with us.

What are your best memories so far from the tour?

Oh, wow! I think when we started to come back to some of the venues in the US that we played with Dragonforce before, but as a headline, it started to feel like something is happening. Like we’re a real band, we do our real headline tours. And I think the feeling of being a headline and having your own audience coming just for you, you know, you can do whatever you want on the show. It’s like it’s yours. It’s your moment and it’s amazing! It’s really what I’ve always wanted to achieve with music, to share it with people who love it. So when you’re headlining, you have people who came for you and who already enjoy your music, most of the time. And this is that communion that is so beautiful. I would need to think about it, but I don’t know if I have just one memory. I feel this year was full of amazing communion with the audience because we managed to get out there as a real headline act and that was absolutely beautiful to experience. So yes, it’s every time we are playing some of the new songs and seeing the crowd respond to them, jumping around, that’s absolutely amazing. Having seen the fans getting more and more into the Pirates theme, coming dressed up as pirates, following us on tour. It feels like we’re doing something right and that we have people with us and this is just beautiful!

During this year you also recorded a live album with an orchestra at Masters Of Rock, you also played Wacken, how did that happen?

Playing Wacken for instance with the Pirates era, that was amazing! Those big festivals with those new songs, we felt really empowered by our own music and so confident to reach those stages with that material we believe in so much. It was very intense for us to feel like the crowd was with us at every event!

With the last album, you have embraced new aesthetics, a mix of Fantasy and Piracy. How did you come up with the idea?

As I said earlier, I always thought when I joined Visions of Atlantis almost 10 years ago now, that this should become a pirate band. Because when I joined the band, I told Thomas, the founding member, right away, I was very happy with joining your band. My only request is that I sing my own words. Because a singer is meant to tell a story, to give messages. And I’m not comfortable with singing someone else’s ideas. I want to sing mine. And he gave me the full freedom to do that. And then I told myself, OK, this is a new band. It has its own history, its own universe. I don’t want to destroy everything, who I am, to just take and change completely what Visions was. So I saw there was a very redundant connection to the sea and the ocean, whether it was in the cover artwork, the names or the aesthetics. So I was like, OK, let’s keep that ocean thing. It’s amazing. You can say so much with metaphors when it comes to the ocean. It’s very inspiring. Or if you take history or monsters, there are a lot of ways of having the ocean as a theme. And then I thought, OK, ocean stuff, nice, but we’re a Metal band. Metalheads are rebels. Who are the rebels of the sea? We should become pirates! But back then, Thomas didn’t click for this. So I was like, damn! But I still wanted to bring that piracy thingy inside the band’s theme. So if you watch the video of “The Deep in the Dark” that we released back then, there are the band members of Ye’Banished Privateers from Sweden who appear. There is one song that is called “The Silent Mutiny.” It was definitely referring to some pirates revolting. So it was always there because I always wanted to get there. And then with Wanderers, I knew I couldn’t talk about pirates. Still, I wanted to have an explorer vibe. So I found different concepts around the wanderers, those who can be lost and find themselves in our journey. Because everything that I say through the pirate theme is a metaphor for inner work, most of the time. And then, when we started to write songs for this new record, our producer was like:”You talk about pirates all the time in your lyrics. And these arrangements and all this is very pirate-ish. Why don’t you just become a pirate band?” I was like “yo, please talk to our band leader!” And he did. And this time, the band leader was like “Oh, this is a great idea!” Okay, thank you finally! And this is where it came from! So it was coherent with the new music we were writing. It was coherent with the evolution of the band visually. And also because I always had this little pirate stuff along the way. So it didn’t come out of nowhere. And I was very happy when I had the “go” and I could imagine this whole universe.

The artwork of Pirates was made by Zofia Dankova. And it looks a lot like a historical painting. How did you choose this artwork?

Thomas and I worked on the idea. We wanted a front figure that was strong, and feminine because we’re a female-fronted band. I mean, we’re two, but we still want to convey the femininity within Visions of Atlantis. That’s why the pirate is not a man on the cover. So we wanted to convey that, the strength of just assuming who we are, because the title was Pirates, so it’s like, this is what we are, period. We wanted a strong front figure. And then I also think that there is a history connected to the pirate world, because it used to exist. Of course, it’s romanticized in the movies, in the stories and all, but pirates did exist. So having something that looks like an old painting, that kind of makes sense. I love the aesthetics of old paintings from the 19th century, especially William Turner’s. I love this painter and I love the Clair-obscure because our music is made of darkness and light. We have a lot of different moods going on, which matches the fact that when you sail an ocean, you get through sunlight and darkness and storms and still water. So we wanted to bring that idea into the cover artwork and have a bit of a Clair-obscure thing going on with very dark clouds and just the light going through above the character so that there is contrast, which to me presents our music best.

As you said, you have a strong female figure in the artwork. Have you been inspired by historical female pirates?

To be very honest, as much as I really like history and I know it’s full of pirate stories, I also didn’t want to… As you said very well, we are a mixture of Fantasy and pirates. I never wanted our pirate approach to be history-based, because it’s too much restrictive because then you have to be accurate, always. It’s an absolute lot of work and it’s not always exactly helping what I just want to say as a musician. So I always told myself, I’m not going to go for the historical background. That’s why I know there are some female pirates, but when it was that first time approaching this universe, I wanted to create, to feel like I could create out of something new, that I was not influenced too much. Of course, I’m influenced by what I’ve watched that has this pirate universe in it. But I just wanted to keep what is my own vision of pirates for Visions of Atlantis. But now that I feel like I’ve grasped it a little bit more and I know it’s personal now, I feel like OK, now I can take some influence to make it to the next step, to make it go deeper or just different. But at first, no, I was like, let’s do it our way.

Also the historical female figures, the story did not end very well for most of them…

Exactly! Exactly! So it was like, I’d rather just imagine something completely out of the blue.

In the music video of the latest album “Master of the Hurricane” or “Legions of the Seas,” we follow a story, a sort of Pirates of the Caribbean Symphonic Metal version. Will we have the next episodes in the next album? Will you keep the theme of pirates?

We’ll definitely keep the theme of pirates! And this is something we love, that we found in our music first, that kind of cinematic approach. There’s really a lot of storytelling. This is due to the fact that being two singers, it’s easier to sometimes create dialogues or create a situation with two people just confronting positions or on the other side being two against another entity. This gives so much room to create any kind of pirate-ish situations. I want to keep doing that for the next songs because I’ve always loved cinema, I’ve always loved music videos that completely go along with the meaning of the song, that illustrate the song and the lyrics. Because it’s coherent, and to me, it’s just stronger. Sometimes when someone is like, what is your band? I don’t send a Spotify link, I send YouTube, because then you have a complete idea of what we are. It’s not just a metal band, we create a visual story around us too. I definitely want to keep that going for the next record. It’s just that right now we don’t even know yet which singles are going to be the ones from the songs we wrote so far. So it’s too early.

Since you have this strong visual identity, would you consider transcribing this identity in other media?

That would be amazing! The moment when we find an illustrator or a writer who would love to collaborate on a story, and we would be co-writers of the story. Because writing the story ourselves, is amazing, but right now I feel it’s not in my skills to write a proper story like that. It’s different compared to writing a song that has only this amount of text. But absolutely, it would make sense to have a board game, to have a comic series, to even make a movie. Of course, definitely.

If we look back at Visions of Atlantis discography, it seems there’s a leading thread, like a common theme of travelling, and adventures, and there are these characters that are never fixed in one place, these wanderers. In German, we have this concept of Wanderlust. Pirates could be a variation of this. Is this something that you have in mind when you compose the song?

So, the songwriting is very pure, in the sense that it’s Michele who writes most of the songs now, and he’s just a songwriting machine. So he’s like, “Oh, I have a new idea.” And in one day it’s out, and we can put vocals on, and of course, we fine-tune things, and then afterwards we’re like, does it fit, or does it not fit the band or the record we’re writing so far. Sometimes we give him inputs, of course, we write stuff together too, but he’s so prolific that sometimes we’re just like, we need a song that has a bit of that thing going on. Sometimes we just give him the theme. That would be great if we could think of… Imagine just a storm coming, and you have to deal with it. Just hints, and sometimes things just are channelled for him, and he’s putting out the song that goes for that. But otherwise, the songwriting is on its own, and it’s me with the lyrics and the visual universe who creates the thread. And there, to me, is a real thread from The Deep and the Dark to Pirates. It’s like the origins, the getting lost, the finding yourself. Because it’s also like going in parallel with my own inner self-work. And I think The Deep and the Dark was a very young, rebellious period where I was criticizing governments and politics and stuff, and tried to just escape the Deep in the Dark of whatever I was. And then when you start, the next step is sometimes you don’t even know where you’re going, but you still need to go, so it’s a “Journey to remember.” And you get to lose yourself a little bit. And then we found ourselves with Pirates. We decided to join forces, we decided to be free of our previous definition of ourselves and establish ourselves as those fighters for freedom and all. And I think that the next step, for me, is to embrace the darkness. Because once you search for light, when you see where the light is, where it comes from, you feel this healing, and it’s all about just being more light. But the entire part, actually the entire work, and the hardest part, is to embrace the darkness. You cannot be one and be in unity and be wholesome and be complete as a person if you reject the darkness and think that you will always just be on the light side. We’re humans, we have this polarity, and embracing the darkness is absolutely essential to be at peace. And so Melancholy Angel has this sentence “I will kill my Melancholy Angel.” The next record will say “No, you will embrace it.” That’s kind of deep, in a way. But this is my view, I know how I make the connections from one record to another. And of course, it reaches people with different depths, because you can only understand something with the depths that you’ve understood yourself with before.

So maybe a heavier album for next time?


Last year you announced on your YouTube Channel that you were moving to Italy to facilitate the logistics of the band. How has this been working so far?

Amazingly. I love France, don’t get me wrong. I love so many things about the country, the people, the art of France, the cosmopolitanism of France. But as an artist, when you’re touring so much and you need to rest in between or just find quiet and peace, because it’s part of the balance, going back to that beautiful little city of Udine is the best experience. It’s a human-sized city, it’s beautiful, and it’s not full of tourists, because it’s unknown. And we’re so close to the sea, but also close to the mountains. Life there is just a little bit more relaxed. Italians have this friendliness and this easiness of just going with what they enjoy doing, eating, drinking with friends and good things. I just love that culture. When I need to come to something that is relaxing. It’s absolutely beautiful, it’s very inspiring as well. I can’t wait to discover more of the country when I have more time. Italy has been doing me a lot of good so far.

You have also been working on this project Exit Eden. Any new plans for the future of this project?

Absolutely. We’re going to release new music this fall. And the new album is coming out in early 2024. So it’s just a matter of a couple of months to wait. We already shot the promo pictures, we’re currently discussing the cover artwork. Everything is recorded for a year and a half. But new material is definitely dropping. And I can’t wait to release this one either, because it’s been awaited. Everyone talks to me about Exit Eden, even if it’s been seven years. And we haven’t posted anything on social media for four years. I’m so happy to see people don’t forget when they like something. It kind of goes against the whole overwhelming speed of the Internet, where you have the feeling you have to release the best you can do every five days, otherwise, people forget about you. The constant questions about Exit Eden ever coming back, though we didn’t do anything for such a long time, brings back to the table what is important, and tells you social media are as superficial as they are. And the real thing people remember.

Photo and interview by Séverine Peraldino, July 8, 2023.


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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1 Comment

  1. Great story, Séverine! Your article asked all the great questions, from the painting artwork to the pirate themes and the tour experience! I even finally learned why VOA prefers YouTube links over Spotify—indeed they are very visual! In the U.S., we loved being conquered by VOA, and can’t wait to see them again!

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