Chatting with Fabienne of Illumishade

Illumishade released their second full-length album “Another Side Of You” a few weeks ago. Over the years, when we met from time to time, we had a brief chat, but this time I finally had the honour and pleasure of a full length interview with vocalist Fabienne “Fabi” Erni the day before the release.

Album cover

At the beginning we had some technical difficulties with Fabi’s I-phone camera and my laptop not really connecting. Suddenly it was solved after “1,000 clicks”, haha. She looks great, no make-up, just the natural look.


Hi Fabi, we finally made it! You look great with no make-up, how are you?

She smiles, “Thank you! I’m fine, although I’m very busy at the moment. We just released the next single and tomorrow is the album release. So it’s a lot, but it’s cool”.

Ah, yes, this is also the reason why I brought forward our album review, I added the video of your single “Riptide” and published it on the same day. It was a good and the perfect reason.

“Oh, I have to check your review too. I hope you liked our album”.

Sure, I had to order the physical CD right away. Now I can’t wait until autumn when you’ll be touring Europe again.

“Oh yes, supporting Visions Of Atlantis“.

The First Tour

Coming back to the little tour with Delain, how happy are you with it?

“Yes, it was short, twelve shows in total. We all would have liked to play more shows, including Delain. We had just warmed up and were in the mood for the tour. It was cool for us even though it was short because it was our first real tour and we could try things out. It was not too heavy at the beginning, it was a month or more, so everything was very human”.

Indeed, I met a band last year who played about 60 gigs in a row, but halfway through the tour they said they were struggling and were quite tired, although they were enjoying every day.

“This is a lot, even with Eluveitie we might have done 43 shows on one tour, but not more.

How happy were you with the merch sales and pre-orders on the tour?

“It was great. For us it was perfect to have the tour as promotion before the new album. A lot of new people discovered us.”

It seems that you share a part of the fanbase with Delain, although you are a bit more progressive.

“Sure, we have that progy style in some of our songs. Partly…, maybe even more. And more. I don’t know what will come. It all fits very well. We already had this feeling last April when we played some gigs with Delain and Xandria. The vibe between the bands was cool and it was also transferred to the audience, really cool, good vibes!”

Even more tours

You’re about to tour North America in support of Korpiklaani with Visions Of Atlantis, and you’ll support them again in Europe in October, what about an own headline tour after two full-length albums?

“Well, I don’t really know to be honest. We haven’t played many shows so far. We released our debut album during Corona and couldn’t present it properly. In our whole band history from 2019, before this tour, we only had eleven shows and two of them were just streaming shows, so nine times in front of an audience. It’s just like that, we just have to speed up and play a lot of gigs now. But you never know, maybe early next year…. It would be nice for sure!”

Do you have a favourite track from the new album? I found one for myself where I thought this is THE Fabienne and Mirjam song, “Hummingbird”

“Ah, yes, really? I usually answer this question with the same answer, “Hummingbird”. But I have to admit, I don’t have a special song, every song is very special with a different background and a different development. “Hummingbird” is special because we didn’t want to put it on the album as an earlier version. We had written a lot of songs all the time, “Elegy” and “Hymn” for example, not with an album in mind or anything, just as a piece of music. When we signed to Napalm Records, we knew that a new album would be made. So we concentrated on newer and additional songs, but “Hummingbird” was never included during our songwriting camp in the mountains…”


Hans the Cat on Bass guitar

That’s where the picture of the cat came from? The one on  your profile picture?

Fabi thinks about it and smiles: “Yes, that’s him, Hans! Yes, right there! I had the idea with the slow humming part. I played it to the guys and Jonas added the rest of the heavy parts and the song was there. Just like it was, it was just there. It was created in the mountains. In retrospect, the album would not be complete without that particular song.”

True, but that goes for “Verliebt”, the German track on the album too. It’s a great puristic song! How did it come about that you let Koen from Epica play the piano?

“We know the musicians from Epica through Eluveitie. The demo version of “Verliebt” is quite old, from 2017. I wrote it without lyrics, just some ‘cuddly’ as I say, I always do cuddly demos. Then I played it in the mountains, ‘I still have something…’. WE all thought it would be cool to feature a piano player who adds his own vibes and arrangement. Koen was of course our first thought. He is a cool guy, such an excellent musician. He had such a short time to arrange and record it, but it all worked out so well!”

For me it is a perfect song and a perfect closer. It is funny because on “Hedonia” it immediately reminded me of Cellar Darling, also sung in Swiss German and also the closer of their album.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“It is so hard to say. All I know is that we are all fully motivated and having a lot of fun. We want to go full speed ahead. For sure we need a bit of luck, good connections and a good team. We will see where the road takes us, hopefully up! The whole project, the band is so much fun and joy, the music, the writing, the responsibility is very fulfilling.”

Progressive Musical Metal

When I listened to your debut album I thought it was a kind of ‘Musical Metal’, now I think the songs of the new album must have been written in a period of five to seven years, as you already confirmed, because they are so complex, different and very progressive. How did that happen?

“Hm, we didn’t sit down and think about becoming more progressive. It was an evolution. The music lead us and there were more influences from the other band members, like a real ‘Misch-Masch’. I really like the progressive parts of the songs and the album. I think the whole band likes it, it sounds fresh! When it fit and felt right, we just let it flow.”

I have a question about Eluveitie… When you toured the US last year, Chrigel had to drop out and Adrienne Cowan from Seven Spires stepped in. How did it feel to be on stage with her as another outstanding vocalist?

“That was mega,… awesome.  The whole tour was chaotic at the beginning but we sorted it out very quickly. It was like a hammer, her energy on stage, her know-how about screaming AND clean vocals; even though she didn’t do it with us; what Adrienne did with Seven Spires is just outstanding”.

Is there any vanity or envy between such two outstanding performers like you and her, like ‘Oops, she did it better than me’ or something like that?

“No, not at all. It is the other way round, ‘Great that it worked out well’. We were happy to support each other on this tour. More talent on stage is more talent, nothing more, nothing less.”

More talent than both of you together is difficult anyway. One just has to say that.

Two homes

You travel a lot, especially between Switzerland and Moldavia. Are you still the Swiss girl or more of a cosmopolitan?

“It depends on the time, what is going on. During the studio time I’m in Switzerland, during the tour I’m travelling anyway, sometimes I’m in Moldova or in Switzerland for a whole month. It is always different. It can even be different from year to year.”

So you really have two homes now?

“Yes, exactly, that’s how it is, between the tours for sure”.

While you are in Moldova, your friends from Infected Rain did the 70.000 tons of metal cruise this year. How did they like it?

“Ah, well… it was an interesting experience for them, very cool. I think it is very impressive for everybody who comes on board for the first time. They liked it.”

Would it be something for you, from the mountains to the sea?

“We would certainly be interested, either again with Eluveitie or for the first time with Illumishade, or both bands together, absolutely”.

Role Models

Let’s talk about Sea Sheppard, when I first met you you were wearing their hoody, do you still support them?

“Exactly. I’ve never been active. But I like to support them from time to time. I remember, I bought the particular hoody when they had a stall at Komplex in Zurich. They could set up there and sell their stuff. I wasn’t the only one, Raffi, Kai and I all bought one.”

Do you have any role models you admire, as musicians or as people?

“I admire anyone who is disciplined.” Fabi laughs. “As a singer, my role models were or are, for example, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, all those great singers. They have fascinated me ever since. And then there is Eva Cassidy, do you know her? She was so good, unfortunately she died in the 90s at the age of about 30. Look at her, she was great. I discovered her in my early 20s, she had a big influence on me. The way she tells stories, the way she sings. All those little details she has in her voice were so outstanding. Other than that, it is hard to name one person. I have a lot of respect for people from different professions.” I checked out Eva Cassidy later that evening and I totally understand what Fabienne meant!

Do you remember a special moment on this tour or a tour with Eluveitie in the past?

“Ah, yes, I remember, we were playing in Argentina, Michalina and I went out, a lot of fans were already there. Suddenly a young woman, maybe 20 years old, stood in front of us and sang “Epona”, it was so good, it was perfect! Everyone was clapping, we were hugging her. It was just so beautiful and so cool.”


By the way, voice, vocals, do you want to growl one day or is that not an issue for you?

Once again Fabi smiles as if I had caught her. “Oh yes, I am currently taking growling lessons from Britta [Görtz]. It is not a ‘must’ for me. I see myself mainly as a clean singer. So there’s no pressure, I don’t put myself under pressure, it’s just fun and exciting. Of course it’s cool because you can vary a lot more on stage and sing both parts, show and explore a different musical world. At the moment it is definitely a lot of fun.”

Being Vegan

You’re on a vegan diet, do you have a favourite dish? Is that a problem on tour?

“With Eluveitie it is not a problem at all, because half of the band is vegan, half of the travelling party, some of the crew. On the Illumishade tour I always found something to eat and I was the only one on a vegan diet. It is also written in the tour-rider, allergies, vegan, vegetarian, gluten, etc., you just have to mention it, so it is not a problem at all”.

Do you have a favourite drink on tour apart from mineral water?

“Tea. These Throat Coat teas, which are an American brand, or the ‘throat warmer’ Yogi teas. I combine them with gin and lemon.

Does the band have any rituals before the show apart from warming up?

“Nothing special, we just stand together for a moment, but it’s different every day. I warm up with my voice tool. I stretch my neck to get ready for headbanging, otherwise nothing special. I just have to find myself and then I go on stage”.

… Headbanging







Two bands, two labels, no problems

Eluveitie are signed with Nuclear Blast, Illumishade are signed with Napalm Records, is that a conflict, does that cause problems, what were the reasons?

“I don’t think it’s a conflict or a problem. I like that it is separate. You should not put all your money in one bank account”.

 We laugh because it is so true. IF you have money when you’re an artist… and we can’t stop laughing, but it’s actually the sad truth for a lot of musicians. Too many people think that art is free.

“To come back to it, it is better this way because we can plan album or single releases in advance anyway and Illumishade is seen as an independent band, not as the little sister. There is also no problem between Napalm and Nuclear”.

Last question, do you have a favourite chocolate?

“Favourite chocolate, oh!” She laughs, I laugh back. Every Swiss girl has to have one!

“I don’t know if you know this shop, but my favourite chocolate is from Läderach. They have the best chocolate and a brand new vegan brown chocolate!”

So brown, not white?

“White is very good too, but not black!”

I must try it and will try to find it somewhere nearby!

That was indeed the last question, the next interviewer was already waiting for Fabienne.

A lovely interview partner

So this is just a “goodbye” from both sides for now. I interviewed one of the most outstanding vocalists and personalities in the metal scene today, it was indeed a real pleasure to share these 30 minutes with Fabienne Erni of Illumishade and Eluveitie. I hope you, our dear readers, like the result and the interview. Stay tuned and get ready for the upcoming tours of Illumishade.

Save the dates of the forthcoming tours





Fabienne Erni Patreon

Another Side Of You, album review

Colos-Saal Aschaffenburg, concert review

Please buy merch and physical music or downloads from the bands official sources and don’t stream it for free because it steals your artists’ income.

Live pics taken the show at Colos-Saal Aschaffenburg by FriendX

All other pics screenshots during the interview with the exception of “Hans the Cat”, © Fabienne Erni

Proofreading by DerminBoad

A note to our visitors

This website has updated its privacy policy in compliance with changes to European Union data protection law, for all members globally. We’ve also updated our Privacy Policy to give you more information about your rights and responsibilities with respect to your privacy and personal information. Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our updated privacy policy.