Interview with Melissa Bonny (vocals, lyrics) of Ad Infinitum
Interview by Kira Levine
We had a chat with frontwoman Melissa Bonny to discuss Ad Infinitum’s new acoustic album, collaborating with other bands, and more.
Hello! Thank you for your time, hope that you’re keeping safe and well. Ad Infinitum formed only a couple of years ago, starting as a solo effort but now has evolved into a band. How did you all meet?
Nik and I toured several times together and we have been friends for years now. It was somehow obvious that he was the first person I would contact for this project. He then contacted Adrian whom he knew since childhood. He knew he would be the perfect guitar player. Regarding the bass position, I met Jonas on tour in 2019 and we became friends instantly. Unfortunately, he had to step down further to health issues. Adrian recently introduced us to our new bass master Korbi who is now writing the second album with us.
What inspired using the name “Ad Infinitum” for this project?
Choosing the name took me almost as long as the songwriting of the first album, haha! The name was inspired by the lyrics of the intro of “March Of Mephisto” by Kamelot. It’s this powerful Latin line that stayed in my mind ever since I heard it.
When did you realise that you wanted to be a singer, fronting metal bands in particular?
I never realised I wanted it, it just happened. A friend of mine was searching for a new singer for his band, I was at that time in a rock/metal cover band. I auditioned, they hired me and that’s how it all started!
You often combine growls with clean melodic singing. What prompted you to marry these two vocal styles together?
I like to use every vocal technique that I can in order to make my vocal lines colourful. And I think, especially in metal, the music sometimes requires both softness and roughness, depending on the emotion you want to transmit.
Was there ever a plan B or alternate field you would have worked in if you did not choose music?
Either acting or sport, maybe dance or volleyball. Hard to say for sure because I am interested in many things. But performing is definitely something I love.
As well as being the vocalist in Ad Infinitum, you are also a lyricist. What tends to come first, the music, or the lyrics? Do Adrian, Korbi, and Niklas contribute lyrics also, or do they just handle instrumental side of songwriting?
Most of the time, the music comes first. My bandmates are of course involved in the songwriting process, especially with the creation of the second album. It’s very nice to work this way. We have a good workflow and a good understanding of each other’s ideas.
Do you have any advice you would like to give to those wanting to begin creating music? Were you given any words of wisdom yourself?
Yes. Take the time to listen to your songs as if you were the audience. Every melody, every detail has to serve the song. I learned a lot from the creation of our first album, from the advice given by Oliver Philipps who helped me transform my demos into finished products when I was still alone in the project.
How would you describe Ad Infinitum to prospective listeners?
I try to avoid saying “it’s symphonic metal” because you can clearly hear influences from other genres. You will hear some power metal riffs, some heavy breakdowns, some growls. Maybe Hybrid Metal? Haha!
You got guitarist Timo Somers from Delain onboard for 2018’s I Am The Storm. How did this collaboration come about?
At that time, I didn’t have any bandmates yet. Oliver recommended me to work with Timo who is an amazing guitar player, for the recordings of the first single that would introduce the band to the world.
In 2019, Ad Infinitum signed to Napalm Records. What do you think is more important for a band’s success nowadays – the exposure a label provides or the support gained through crowdfunding campaigns?
Nothing would have been possible without the people who participated in the crowdfunding campaign. Creating this album had a financial cost that I couldn’t afford by myself. Napalm Records played an important role later. I don’t know if our music would have been heard by so many people if we would have done the promotion all by ourselves. I don’t think so. I am grateful for both!
Ad Infinitum is quite a different brand of metal compared to Rage Of Light, a band you joined in 2015. What inspired you to start a symphonic metal project?
I enjoy singing in Rage Of Light but I wanted to create a project with my vision, something where I could be 100% me, whether it is regarding the songwriting or visual identity.
Debut record Chapter I – Monarchy was released back in April. Plague masks are worn by the guys in the band in the visual promotional material, referencing Great Plague of Marseille from the 1700s, which coincidentally relates to the current Coronavirus situation. One photograph was even used in a meme about hand-sanitising! Do you think these links helped generate positive interest in the album?
I honestly don’t know. I was very nervous when the Coronavirus arrived because I was afraid some people would think we “used” it through the masks for our own promotion. Thankfully, people just made a few jokes about it and realised it was just a coincidence.
1. Infected Monarchy
2. Marching in Versailles
4. See You in Hell
5. I Am the Storm
6. Fire and Ice
7. Live Before You Die
10. Tell Me Why
What made you want to write about French royalty, particularly during Louis XIV’s long reign (1643-1715)?
Louis XIV is a character that I find fascinating. I learned about him at school and after school through documentaries, readings, even movies and series (in a more romanced way of course).
Fans were also treated to an acoustic version of the album, Chapter I Revisited, which dropped on the 4th of December. What a fantastic work ethic you all have! Is this something you expect to do with future albums, or is this re-imagining likely to be a one-off?
At the moment we don’t want to promise anything or to create expectations. This is something we enjoyed doing and something we thought was nice to do since we couldn’t go on tour. Let’s see if we will have the time to do it again for the albums to come!
One of the beauties of the acoustic version of Chapter I is that one can actually imagine the songs being played in a similar fashion during the Baroque period in Europe, where the original album is set. Was this intentional at all?
That’s Adrian’s beautiful vision. He did an amazing job at transforming the songs into acoustic songs, replacing all the orchestrations with guitars while keeping as much as possible the details and colours of each track. However, the intention was to make people rediscover those songs they knew with a brand new atmosphere. He didn’t target one single particular type of sound.
What are your favourite songs from Chapter I and the re-imagined version and why?
Hard to say… I think it is “I Am The Storm” and “Fire And Ice”. I love their atmosphere and I enjoyed re-recording the vocals and modifying them here and there.
You have featured in many music videos this year, with Ad Infinitum as well as guesting with other bands, most of which have surfaced post- the global lockdown in March. What was it like shooting in the midst of a pandemic? Did you experience any delays or have to change any plans in terms of direction and production?
It was definitely complicated and uncertain. In order to travel, we had to obtain some documents proving that we were traveling for work and even with this, I always told myself “I’ll believe it’s happening only when we are all in the same room”. The planes were uncertain, so were the trains. The borders were closed and the police were checking authorisations of every single person traveling by train. I am really happy it all worked out in the end.
2020 has not been the best year for tours, with cancellations and postponements due to the ongoing pandemic. Aside from the re-scheduled European tour dates, does Ad Infinitum have their sights set on anywhere else in the world next year?
Nothing is certain now but we are of course discussing with our booking agency. We would love to travel everywhere where people would like to see us!
Back in October, we had the pleasure of enjoying a live-streamed show from Cologne. Do you have any plans to organise more online concerts ahead of or in-between the re-scheduled tour dates in 2021?
Right now we are working on our second album and our agenda is pretty full from now until June with studio recordings, video and photo shootings, and all the work that goes with the preparation of a new album so it is not very likely that we will do it again in the near future.
Despite all the disruptions globally, you’ve still managed to collaborate with bands such as Feuerschwanz, providing vocal contributions as well as starring in their music video for “Ding”. Did you have to learn the words for the Seeed cover, or were you already familiar with its German lyrics?
This collaboration was a real pleasure! The part I am singing is in English. I haven’t had the chance so far to record in another language. I’d love to sing in Spanish for example.
“Odin’s Son” sees you feature once again as The Queen Of The Damned for Warkings. You look like you had a lot of fun in that video! What was it like working with the international band once again?
It was nice to have the opportunity to shoot that kind of CGI video. It was a first for me.
Would you like to tell us about any other projects you have been involved with?
I had the chance to be part of Rock Meets Classic which unfortunately had to stop after five shows. But it was a beautiful experience with wonderful people. Such a great experience to sing with the Mat Sinner Band, the RMC orchestra, and all these legendary guests!
Do you have any interests outside of making music that you would like to talk about?
I love sport, especially in teams like beach volleyball. I like to draw and I recently discovered how peaceful it is to paint. I also like to cook and to bake. Since I moved to Denmark, I’ve been biking a lot. To the forest and to the beach. And I love to travel and discover new landscapes!
In Switzerland, what is the metal currently scene like? Are there any Swiss vocalists or musicians that you identify with?
I think Switzerland is full of talents but that the scene and the demand are not the best to expose them. Especially in the French speaking part. When you say Swiss vocalist I immediately think about my friend Fabienne from Eluveitie and Illumishades. She’s an amazing musician and she is the sweetest person ever.
Are there any bands or individuals that have inspired you as a recording artist?
There are many bands that inspired me. Bands like Kamelot or Delain definitely influenced the sound of Ad Infinitum.
Apart from metal, what genres do you enjoy listening to?
Pretty much everything. As long as it’s well made, I can enjoy pop, rock, folk, jazz, electro… you name it. Irish music makes me very happy haha!
Imagine you are marooned on a desert island. What three records would you like to be stranded with?
I would take the best of the High Kings, the best of Queen and Harry Potter movies’ soundtracks.
Are there any moments that you are particularly proud of during your career in music?
The release of Chapter I: Monarchy is so far the highlight of my career. Because of the record itself but also because of the warm welcome it received. Such a wonderful feeling.
What does 2021 look like for Ad Infinitum?
We are going back to the studio to record our second album and prepare everything for its release. We will then hopefully go on tour after the summer if the global situation allows.
Thank you so much for this interview, Melissa! Happy holidays and all the best for the new year! Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Thank you very much for having me, Happy New Year, and hopefully see you soon on the road!
“Chapter I – Monarchy” and the acoustic version “Chapter I Revisited” are out now via Napalm Records, available from Ad Infinitum’s Bandcamp.