Interview with vocalist / guitarist Ryanne van Dorst
By Marika Zorzi
“This is the best album I’ve ever had a part in,” Ryanne van Dorst says. The singer and guitarist certainly has no doubts about the new Dool album, Summerland. Founded in 2015 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, dark rockers Dool embarked on an ongoing spiritual and musical journey. They discovered more about themselves as a band through this new record than they would have ever thought.
“Playing live as much as we did over the past two-and-a-half years has helped tremendously in our way of communicating with one another, and in the decision making as well,” van Dorst explains. “We only got to know what Dool is capable of and what Dool actually is after releasing our debut album, which was basically just an experiment.”
“The songs started growing only when we started touring the album, and with it came some sort of sense of identity, which we can now call upon whenever we need it,” she continues. “At this point we almost don’t need words to describe to each other what we mean, musically. Everything is really organic and natural, and we feel like we have the basis covered, which means that we can now actually choose what we want to experiment with. It is great being part of something that is growing and evolving this way.”
If the band took an experimental approach to their debut Here Now, There Then, Summerland is a more expansive and more varied effort on all fronts, and it well represents the band’s constant evolution.
“I think that every album, even every song one writes, should come from an irresistible urge to create,” van Dorst says. “Whether that is a powerful surge of inspiration, or the need to ventilate a certain emotion or something like that. This is exactly what this album is. It is also the reason why we didn’t release anything any sooner, since it wouldn’t have been sincere. This is exactly the album that we wanted to make after Here Now, There Then.”
Each track displays its own identity within a loose thematic framework,as summarized in the climactic title track.
“Summerland is a form of afterlife that is tailored to each’s own desires and sense of beauty,” van Dorst says. “A customized life after death, rather than an afterlife designed by a god, a state, or an institute such as a church. In the lyrics, I try to define what this would look like for me, and why I would have to wait until after dying to indulge in such pleasures.”
“The lyrics of the album have a red thread in this, since I’m singing about the things that make me feel like I’m touching a piece of heaven on Earth, so to speak. We also want to challenge the listener a bit, and have them think of what ‘Summerland’ would be to them. In order to give them this space, I used a lot of metaphors in the lyrics, as not to be too defined, without losing my personal meaning to songs.”
The group recorded Summerland at DAFT Studios in Malmédy, Belgium, and Studio Cobra in Stockholm, Sweden, with Martin Ehrencrona (Tribulation, In Solitude). Mixingand mastering were handled by Cult Of Luna drummer Magnus Lindberg,in Redmount Studio,Stockholm.
“Martin did a great job on the production,” van Dorst says. “He had that genuine, vintage feel that we wanted, mainly in the guitar sounds and vocals. His approach to recording music is way different from what we were used to, and this is exactly what we were looking for, since it reflects the way you work as a band as well. He’s done a great job in creating tension in the overall sound of the record. Having it mixed and mastered by Magnus Lindberg was the icing on the cake after that, making the vintage sound very modern and wide. It was kind of an experiment, but we feel like it turned out even better than we could’ve ever thought of.”
As guests, Dool invited Per Wiberg (Opeth, Spiritual Beggars, Candlemass) on Hammond organ, backing vocalist Farida Lemouchi (The Devil’s Blood),and Okoi Jones (Bölzer), who contributed spoken words to “The Well’s Run Dry.”
“We’re so grateful to have these three guest appearances on our record,” van Dorst confirms. “Singing choirs and harmonies in the studio together with Farida has almost become some sort of tradition. We love doing this as friends, and is just something that was born out of passion for music and singing. Sometimes it’s in a karaoke bar, and sometimes it’s in the studio. I hope we can keep on doing this for a long time. As for Okoi, we wanted someone to do a spoken word in ‘Well’s Run Dry,’ through the voice of some ancient, all-knowing figure. I wanted a deep, scary voice, so we had to think of Okoi and his characteristic, primordial sound. He did a great job there. And so did Per, who we met a couple of times while touring the last album. We really wanted a Hammond solo on ‘Be Your Sins,’ and Per was exactly the right person to do that. With the little suggestions I had, he made something both haunting as well progressive as catchy. He’s an absolutely amazing musician.”
Summerland unfortunately drops in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, certainly not the best time to promote a new record.
“Unfortunately, we had to cancel both our E.U. tour and our Dutch club run,” van Dorst says. “Also, the whole of Roadburn got cancelled, where we were supposed to have our album release show. We’re in the middle of this shit storm, and it obviously is a very bitter pill to swallow. However, the album will still be released, and the music will be around for life. I hope, in a way, it can be a salvation to people in these dark times. We, as a band, are only getting more and more eager to perform live. We just have to wait a little longer.”