In early 2002, Mark Jansen was fired from After Forever due to creative differences. He then began looking for musicians who would work towards a more classical/symphonic type of music project; this was initially named "Sahara Dust". In late 2002, the band courted Helena Michaelsen (from Trail of Tears) as its frontwoman, but shortly after she was replaced by the then unknown mezzo-soprano Simone Simons, Jansen's girlfriend at the time. The band's line-up was completed by guitarist Ad Sluijter, drummer Jeroen Simons, bassist Yves Huts, and keyboard player Coen Janssen. The name was later changed to Epica, inspired by Kamelot's eponymous album.