Islamic Dissent: An Interview with Janaza

26/02/2012 § Leave a comment

“The government always check the CDs, and if they got me they would kill me.” It’s an extreme statement, but then Janaza, lead vocalist of black metal band Seeds Of Iblis, is in an extreme position. To say her situation is delicate would be an understatement, since Seeds Of Iblis’ lyrics are heavily anti-Islamic in content. For a female vocalist based in Iraq, things could hardly be more risky.

It took a few months to track Janaza down properly. Every person who she discusses her music with has to be able to guarantee their support. In order to operate in the underground of Iraq, explicit trust is necessary in her peer group. Janaza started listening to black metal back in 1998 with innovators such as Marduk and Mayhem taking the majority of her time, but since then her circle of friends has only widened minutely. Now, some fourteen years later, those she knows in Iraq who share her interests hardly reach double figures: “we are one group, two girls and eight guys, we share the same musical and thinking passion”. This would make most of us concerned for what her immediate family think of her pursuits, but she tells me candidly, “I lost my parents in the war”. Her musical peers now seem to form the bulk of her brotherhood.

‘Janaza’ is Arabic for ‘funeral’, a pseudonym which the vocalist has adopted for years. The word is a respectful term not just for the funeral ceremony though, but for the cadaver itself. Death is not only a heavy theme in Janaza’s lyrics, but a cold reality. If the authorities were ever to discover her true identity or her whereabouts, she admits she would do whatever’s necessary: “I will kill myself” is her frank reaction to the hypothesis.

Janaza first started playing music in the now defunct heavy/thrash metal project Desertor. The band came to an end in 2008, a tragic year in her family, but it was also the year that things started to make a creative leap forward in her life. “I’ve been always anti-Islamic, but my work [in] anti-Islamic black metal [started] in 2008 when I moved on with my life without my parents and when I had some help from my old heavy metal band”. After the tragedy of losing her parents in an explosion, her musical output became blacker and more vitriolic in tone. “After I lost my parents I knew some good friends, and they introduced me [to] black metal music in a very expressive way, so we did that and we express all of our emotions and hatred in it”.

By 2010 Janaza had abandoned thrash altogether and released her first demo EP “Burning Quran Ceremony” on the Columbian label Black Metal Rituals, taking care of all the instrumentation herself. Predictably the lyrics were hatred-fuelled, spiteful attacks on Islam, a religion which she constantly refers to as spouting “stupidity” and “lies”:

Arise… and fall… with fake… history
Rage… the wars… will start… soon
Scream… the truth… of gods… and fables
Remove… the thoughts… of religions… and lies

I shall peel your god!
With a middle finger in his eyes!
I shall fuck his mind!
And burn the Mosques of Islam!

Janaza certainly pulls no punches. If anything her dislike of Islam only seems to have intensified over time. “Burning Quran Ceremony” is replete with examples of her acidic dislike of Iraq, with burning mosques, the Holy Book and chants of “Islamic lies” being the staple of the lyrics. Soon it was time for things to expand, and merely a year later she had formed Seeds Of Iblis with Epona, one of her closest friends from Desertor, drummer Younes and guitarist Yousef, who also runs the Saudi Arabian black metal project Tadness [تدنيس]. Seeds Of Iblis set straight to work and in no time had released their first EP, “Jihad Against Islam” through the French label Legion of Death in 2011. I notice the impressive photos of the physical edition and wonder how the hell she managed to get them pressed or imported to Baghdad, to which she replies, “the label made the CDs and sold them around the world, but for me I can’t get my copies because it’s too hard… the borders won’t let them get inside”. Of course, she hasn’t even seen a copy of her own record.

All this underground networking doesn’t mean that Seeds Of Iblis hide their light [or darkness] under a bushel though. The band do play the occasional live gig, but of course, entry is exclusive. Up till this point I didn’t even know there was an Iraqi metal underground, but Janaza assures me that lashings of corpse paint guarantee her idenity isn’t exposed. According to her, Iraq is no less strict than Iran when it comes to dealing with the heterodox, or as she puts it, “the same shit is everywhere here”. I mention that it’s nigh on impossible to get unbiased news coverage of the Middle Eastern situation in the West and ask what it’s actually like in Iraq at the moment: how much have things really improved since the toppling of Saddam? Her reply is much as I expected – “everything here is fucked up, no safety and no money, and we always look at [the] West as the people [who] want our oil and people [who] always like to capture our land.” I posit, with total neutrality, if there’s a feeling of dislike to each country in the West: “for me I am in love with Westerners because I think they love freedom of thinking and living, but for Iraqi people, they dislike and mistrust the Westerners.” Once again, Janaza shows herself as being in the independent, strong-thinking minority

So what now for these ambassadors of Middle-Eastern resistance? It’s still very early days, but at the time of writing, Janaza has just completed vocals for Seeds Of Iblis’ second EP, “Anti Quran Ritual”. She’s been trying to secure a label deal but doing so seems difficult, for as she says, “no-one seems to be interested in it because it’s from Iraq”.

I’m sure it won’t be long until somebody picks it up though. What’s most important – and most lacking – in the underground is a sense of genuineness. Whether you agree or disagree with the anti-political and irreligious message that Seeds Of Iblis are putting across, as a listener you could hardly ask for a project born from greater sincerity. The bile in their sound is irrefutable, their motivation unignorable. As black metal becomes ever more an affectation, Seeds Of Iblis represent the true underground in a country which would damn them – and greater – if they were discovered. The inner voice of dark music is anger and repression, and no-one holds the right to these more than the Anti-Islamic Legion. As long as they can continue their legacy of secrecy, this has the potential to be one of the most interesting projects black metal has seen for quite some time.


Compulsive Shopping Disorder Interview; Attraction of Pain

01/05/2009 § Leave a comment

Heathen Harvest: Why did you choose the name Compulsive Shopping Disorder for the band? It’s quite an unusual name, especially with regard to industrial music.

Compuslive Shopping Disorder: It’s just a name and for us it’s not unusual, although there is a hidden meaning behind it. It reflects our mutinous natures and ultimately our disappointment with the psychological changes in Polish society during recent years. We and you are at the same point of multi-corporate capitalism now, but when the Communist system collapsed Polish society went this way, and not like your country in some decades. It was a shocking thing for people because it completely revalued life here. The Communist system concentrated on the ideological indoctrination and strengthening of the Communist party’s power. The methods were reminiscent of Orwell’s “1984” sometimes. Now we have a different system and another kind of control by the banks. When we listened to the early Swans’ records like “Greed ” or Holy Money” we didn’t understand them several years ago. The Western style of life, which they attacked, was our dream of the better life. Now we understand their message and the pure aggression in their music.

The conclusion of our times is that Compulsive Shopping Disorder is not only a disease, but it’s also moral damage to the public, and it’s more traumatic for us in Eastern Europe .

HH: The first thing to take my notice about the album was the artwork which was really quite striking and original in its execution. What does it signify and who is responsible for it?

CSD: We found the front cover photo on the internet. The second we saw it we knew we were looking at the perfect addition to our music. We paid the fee to the artist Eamonn Harnett for the right to use it.
The rest of artwork was made with our suggestion by the polish young designer Michal Karcz.

HH: What is the idea and main theme of the album In The Cube and what were the inspirations for it?

CSD: The main theme of our message is the isolation of the human being. The lyrics, music and our experiences are strictly connected. The most important theme is also love and the wish to be important for someone. We are still naive romantics and we still believe in pure feelings and emotions. Certainly it’s in opposition to the present world with its domination through sexual culture and violent behaviour in all aspects of activity. Everything becomes so trivial or has a profit-concealed meaning. This is the reason why the lyrics contain a lot of helplessness and despair.

HH: What was your writing and development process for creating the album and how many reworkings did the songs generally get before you were content with them?

CSD: The sounds are always the beginning. We create our original sounds on the synthesizers. We don’t work with PC applications. Then we arrange the drum and bass lines in appropriate tempo according to the atmosphere of the sounds. The lyrics are formed simultaneously. The sounds are created specially for one song and are not used in the other ones. It’s very hard working that way and achieving the coherence of the whole album but it’s the reason the songs are reworked many times. Besides this all the songs still grow together with us and our sensitivity. Please listen to the new versions of the two songs on Myspace and notice how they changed in just one year.

HH: Your stagewear is certainly quite different and unsettling when related to a lot of other similar acts in the genre. Why did you choose to depict yourselves in this way?

CSD: Yes we know, the current trend is showing visualizations on the stage. It’s too static for us. Video could be another performance medium for us. Now we play by our figures, the moves, the gestures, the mimes, the props and the interaction with the audience. We don’t want to treat the audience just only as passive listeners. Our main intention is to prepare a kind of ritual, the common attendance and participation. The situation you can watch on Myspace was not directed by us in our live video clip. It was pure improvisation and there was the man who became a part of the show by accident.

HH: Apparently you had little to no experience in making synth music before you started CSD. What made you want to get involved in the industrial scene and how were you able to pick it up so quickly?

CSD: It wasn’t that quickly. It lasted two years when we started to create something like what you can find on our first cdr. It was a very raw industrial act but we are still proud of it. Our first dark revelations. The samples you can find on our website

HH: I notice that you have a big appreciation for Kirlian Camera. Which other bands and artists do you admire in the industrial scene and outside it?

CSD: Yes, they are very friendly people. We like them for their musical intelligence and for who they are. We admire the bands who follow their own way like Clock DVA, Coil, Dive, Swans, Attrition, Current 93, Cindytalk, Clair Obscure, Test Department, Skinny Puppy and many others. We feel the same emotions in their music. Their music gives us the strength and inspiration to find our own unique way .

HH: I notice that you guys are from Glubczyce in Poland. How hard is it to get recognition and notoriety in the industrial scene in a country like Poland?

CSD: There is no industrial scene in Poland, there is no Gothic scene in Poland and there is no electro scene in Poland. There are only some people who organize the concerts, and some bands and listeners divided into the hermetic group.

HH: I’ve been to Poland and was made aware of how popular bands like Closterkeller are, though others in the Gothic and Industrial scenes are really struggling. What’s the main kind of popular music in Poland and what are your views on it?

CSD: The most important thing is that you must sing in the Polish language. This is the first step to be known in Poland. The second is that you need to play on guitars and with a real drum set. And the best thing would be to add something with solo guitars and heavy metal riffs into your compositions.

HH: There seems to be a strong essence on the album relating to confinement and internal struggles in life. Which songs best represent this most effectively for you on the album?

CSD: “Mind-soul” is the essence of the album. It’s very specific and private for the author.

HH: A lot of the album revolves around the concept of mental entrapment. Is this something that you have found yourself subject to, and if so, what’s the best way that you find to break out from it?

CSD: In our opinion the world is not going a good way. There are more and more people frustrated and not satisfied with their life now. We think it will intensify and people will be searching for the way out of this situation. We described only the one possible aspect of it, and the isolation and confinement in ones’ own life, own cube.

HH: Of course everyone is aware of the problems artists are facing with piracy, peer to peer networks and music downloading these days. What do you think the future of the music industry is and what’s the best way to help overcome these problems?

CSD: The problem has two faces. The situation killed many good record labels and distributors and discouraged many people to so something on the scene, but the internet is also a chance for new bands. There is no chance to change it because things went too far. We must decide it in our souls.

HH: I imagine CSD is not your full-time work. What do you all do outside the band and what other interests do you have apart from music?

CSD: We struggle with everyday adversity.

HH: What future plans do you have from here with regard to writing new material? What future developments can we expect in the CSD camp?

CSD: The new material is almost ready. Now we must complete it and then record and produce it. Our dream is to release it at the end of this year, but….

HH: Before you go, do you have a final message for the discriminate, dedicated faithful of HH?

CSD: The antidote for this world is real love and friendship. Thank you

To-Mera interview

17/08/2006 § Leave a comment

Band Interviews – Band Interviews
Written by Sam Grant
Thursday, 17 August 2006

Present – Sam Grant, Julie Kiss, Lee Barrett, Tom Maclean, Hugo Sheppard, Paul Westwood

Sam: Why did you choose the name To-Mera?

Julie: Well, I was reading a book about Egypt and I just saw this name and I thought it sounds pretty good. So I thought that will do!

Sam: It’s as good a reason as any. Does it have a meaning?

Julie: Yes, the Ancient Egyptians used to call Egypt To-Mera. I always liked Egypt and all the mysticism, the whole idea.

Sam: After you left Without Face did you immediately want to start another band or was it an idea that marinated over an amount of time?

Julie: No, I wanted to start another band immediately. I dunno, I suppose I was quite angry as well, I felt like I had to do something right now and that’s when the idea came. I wanted to do something heavier and more technical, maybe. Originally we wanted to do something with some Eastern influences but that idea was dropped, but I’m glad it turned out as it did.

Sam: I’ve noticed that so far some people are describing your sound as Symphony X-ish, Dillinger Escape Plan-ish – we’ll forget the Nightwish comparisons for the moment, because you’ll get a lot of those, – but do you think that’s an accurate representation of your sound?

Lee: Yeah, I think we’re more happy with being described next to them rather than Lacuna Coil or Nightwish – nothing against those bands at all…

Tom: The fact is that I don’t own a Lacuna Coil album and I have a few Nightwish mp3s. Obviously everybody knows the Evanescence song that was number one a couple of years ago but Without Face was the only ‘female-fronted metal’ that I was exposed to and I thought ‘I like the sound of this’. I discovered the whole female-fronted universe was dictated to by ‘the Triad‘, but I wouldn’t say that they had the slightest influence whatsoever because we don’t listen to their music. They might be the kind of anti-movement inasmuch as we know what they sound like so we know what to avoid.

Lee: I don’t know, that’s possibly a good analogy, it’s not on purpose that we don’t want to sound like any of these guys but –

Tom: We just had no direct exposure to them.

Sam: But what you’re saying about moving away from them – the anti-movement – is a relevant thing because your sound is very complex and the sound of those bands is very basic. But what other bands would you describe your sound as?

Tom: A bit of Dream Theater, the unavoidable classic ones…

Lee: Dream Theater, Symphony X

Julie: Pain of Salvation…

Tom: And the more technical bands like Meshuggah and SikTh, but that’s only a more recent influence, really.

Sam: The thing I noticed most about the CD was the whole Meshuggah, Ephel Duath, Carnival In Coal thing. Though Pain Of Salvation and Symphony X may be influential it was the technicality behind those. You’ve got a lot of jazzy sections as well.

Tom: Yeah, the odd handle. I personally – I don’t about the other guys – I kind of inflicted it upon them I suppose – I always wanted to fuse jazz and metal in terms of rhythm and harmony, not in the sense of the likes of Ephel Duath, which is a lot more avant-garde. It was basically the drummer that defined their jazz sound to be honest, what was playing on top of it wasn’t really jazz but more avant-garde. I’ve been studying jazz and thinking maybe we can take this a little further make it a little less ’out there’, make it a little but more melodic maybe, and just see if those principles fly. And I think there’s a long long way to go to exploit it to the fullest but… haha, our keyboardist is nodding in agreement – he’s our jazz-master.

Sam: I might be wrong about this, but how long did it take to get the whole To-Mera band line-up. Was it eighteen months? From the moment you started looking for people – which was the beginning of 2004 – till Hugo’s inclusion.

Julie: We started the band when I went back to Hungary for the summer. Originally it was Akos, the drummer who plays on the album, and the guitarist from Without Face. We tried to get the whole thing together but it just failed miserably. So I came back to England and started looking for other people like Stu.

Lee: The guitar player from Desolation. And Jay who used to be in Mindfield and… was it Vacant Stare? Yeah, Vacant Stare was his other band. He was decent enough at the stuff – it’s just that he’d turn up for a rehearsal like this and nothing would happen, we’d just be playing one riff over and over again and everyone would just be like ‘ahhh just forget it’. It wasn’t really till Tom was found – well, he found us – he picked up the ball and ran with it, really.

Sam: Was it frustrating waiting for long a final line-up to take shape?

Lee: We’d almost given up, to a point.

Sam: Yeah, I was trawling through some of your old posts on PM:X from a couple of years ago. Was there a time when you thought “this isn’t going to happen“?

Lee: Basically. We were looking for a keyboard player for bloody ages

Julie: I nearly never contacted Tom!

Tom: It took her about two months to get back to me. I gave her my number and I thought ‘this is just never going to happen’ or email address or something, and just out of the blue I got an email from her.

Sam: Now that Akos is no longer in the band and that Tom is in, how easily did his style and personality fit in with yours? Was it an easy and swift gelling?

Tom: His personality is pretty tough, know what I mean?! Since he’s been taking the vitamins he’s much better! All credit to Akos, he was a very imaginative drummer, very skilful drummer, but obviously when it came to finding a replacement we needed to find someone who could just do the job and we didn’t want to pick up someone and just train them through the motions. We found Paul and he could pick the stuff up, that’s what we wanted, someone who could just listen to it and play it, so we gave him a swift audition on the demo, ran through the tracks a couple of times and figured he was the man for the job.

Sam: [to Paul] You have seemed to have picked it up extremely quickly.

Paul: Yeah, I think they were sort of feeding the tracks to me one by one and I was just playing through them. A lot of hard work, really.

Sam: It would take some people a lot longer, they’re very difficult songs to do, especially the instrumental to Obscure Oblivion.

Paul: I have a bit of experience of progressive metal so it’s quite easy to get back into that way of thinking, to see how things are done, to see the shapes.

Sam: You’ve all got different musical background in a sense. Hugo’s is more classical…

Hugo: Not really….

Sam: Not really?

Hugo: Not at all, I’m not classically trained, I’m not jazz trained. I have interest in those things and I enjoy playing them…

Sam: So what kind of stuff were you listening to a few years ago?

Hugo: A variety of things, I wasn’t big into metal before. It always seemed a world unto itself to me. I always admired the metal scene, but it was a whole secret garden that I wasn’t involved in. So I met Tom through a friend and he played me some stuff – and played me some To-Mera stuff – and I got really into it.

Sam: So you didn’t find it hard – musically – adapting to some of the parts.

Hugo: It took some practise. It’s not easy, but I find a lot of it quite intuitive. It has a lot of very strong melodies in it. It’s never intellectual at the expense of being something you can’t understand. You get a feel for it, you understand it, and then it makes sense and that’s important with music, you have to be able to understand it. Once you can feel where the rhythm is and where the melody is you’re much better off.

Lee: It also helps that Hugo came from an outside perspective so he’s not influenced by all the guys out of say, Stratovarius. If we’d found anyone else on keyboards, especially if they were well into their metal, they’d just run up and down the scales as quickly as possible .

Tom: We were looking for someone who didn’t sound like bloody…. What’s his name… thingy… Jens Johansson from Stratovarius or the guy from Nightwish.

Sam: Oh, Tuomas Halopainen.

Tom: There’s a very generic sound among keyboard players.

Sam: A lot of it’s just fudging out the background sound, filling in the spaces.

Tom: We wanted someone who had started from the outside.

Sam: You’ve got five live dates coming up so far, haven’t you. How are you feeling about playing Bloodstock?

Lee: I’m excited, I think it’s going to be good!

Sam: A bit apprehensive at all?

Lee: The one I’m most nervous about is The Peel. Particularly because it’s quite a small stage and the sound isn’t always the best.

Julie: It’s terrible…

Lee: And the fact that there are a couple of competent support bands as well.

Sam: Who’s supporting?

Lee: The drummer from Threshold’s band.

Sam: Oh f***, Kyrb Grinder. He’s good.

Lee: Yeah I know…

Tom: We’ve got Paul so we’re not worried!

Sam: He’s a total nutcase, that guy. He played at the West Kensington thing – the unsigned regionals – Adastreia were doing it.

Tom: West One Four.

Lee: I saw him with Threshold at their Prog Power thing, he was really fucking battering them.

Sam: So what other songs can we expect to hear live apart from the album tracks?

Julie: We can tell you that, but after that we have to kill you…

Tom: This is off the record…

Sam: Will you be playing the Dream Theater cover?

Lee: Under A Glass Moon.. And then…. [mumbles intentionally]

Tom: And then possibly that other tune…

Lee: Vince DiCola.

Sam: And then the Richard Clayderman cover as well.

Lee: Bobby Crush. Some Chaz & Dave. I think we’re doing Gercher. Sweaty Betty by The Macc Lads.

Sam: The artwork on the album. Eliran Kantor. A good friend of Miri’s [Distorted]. How did you come into contact with him?

Lee: We came into contact with him by sending out a bulletin on MySpace and saying ’can anyone program websites and do it for cheap?’ And he wrote back – he was one of about thirty people who wrote back. Some of them were just appalling. Like Geocities, some nonsense that some 15-year old had put together. He put this thing together that was obviously very good. I had to pay him a little more than I was hoping, I was being a bit stingy but it was still damn cheap when you think about it, and it just came to it that he was a very good designer. I think we were um-ing and ah-ing about the artwork for a little while, weren’t we. And thought ‘fuck it let’s just go with the website design’.

Sam: How do you feel the style of the artwork reflects your sound? Or do you feel it reflects your sound?

Lee: Well, it’s kind of abstract, isn’t it. I don’t think anyone could pick up the CD and tell what kind of music is going to be inside it.

Sam: No, it’s not clichéd.

Lee: There are no naked women with wings.

Julie: Actually there is one inside the cover.

Tom: Is that you?!

Lee: No, it’s me. With man breasts.

Sam: [looking at the next question] Oh right…. Yeah..

Tom: You’re so surprised with all these questions, you’re like ‘ooh!!’

Sam: No no, because I wrote this like, three of four weeks ago…

Lee: Oh right, I thought you wrote it on the tube on the way here.

Sam: Might as well have done. There are a lot of inaccurate comparisons made between other female-fronted bands like Lacuna Coil, Evanescence. What other female-fronted bands do you like and do you think these are unfair comparison?

Tom: Elfonia I like, they’ve got the whole jazz/prog thing, they’ve done it really well actually. They’ve fused the two quite seamlessly. But they’re not a metal band, really.

Sam: Yes, they’re almost ethereal in a sense.

Lee: I like Madder Mortem. Atrox. I like some of the Stream Of Passion songs, I think they’re quite good.

Sam: You weren’t sure about them at first, were you.

Lee: No no, it didn’t hit me, and then all of a sudden I heard that song, I think it’s called Passion. It’s got such a great chorus.

Sam: Bearing in mind that at the moment metal seems to be very much divided into ‘male-fronted’ and ‘female fronted’ do you think there’s ever a time when the term ‘female-fronted’ will disappear or do you think there‘s always going to be this ridiculous segregation?

Lee: I think so, because things have got more and more pigeonholed over the years rather than less. You’ve got fucking forest metal, tree metal, it’s just another journalist’s excuse – lazy journalists I suppose – to pigeonhole metal into whatever they see fit. They don’t actually think about trying to describe something.

Sam: Julie – growing up in Hungary – what got you interested in metal in the first place? I imagine there isn’t a huge metal scene in Hungary.

Julie: Um, there is actually.

Sam: What bands are there?

Julie: There are lots of thrashy bands, rock and roll, actually the most famous bands in Hungary which are really big are rock bands, and then there are others like old-fashioned rock and roll. There are lots of different styles, there are loads of interesting ones coming up, like some Hungarian folk ones. To answer your question, I think when I was about ten I got an Iron Maiden album and I’d never heard anything like it in my life and I thought it was great, but for a couple of years after I didn’t hear anything like that, and then I had this friend who was a really big Metallica fan and that’s when I really got into this whole metal thing.

Sam: Is there anything about Hungary that you miss and what’s better about the UK than Hungary?

Julie: Obviously I miss my family…

Sam: I imagine the UK is far better for metal, for a start.

Julie: Yeah, yeah definitely.

Sam: And you’ll play a lot more gigs. I can’t think of many other female-fronted progressive metal bands from the UK at all.

Tom: Female-fronted Progressive metal. See, this is a label now.

Sam: Is progressive metal a label? It’s your own label as well though. Well, I think that’s about it. How you got any final words for anyone who will read this interview?

Lee: Um.. Buy our CD!

Sam: Which is out on –

Lee: 11th September and 3rd October in America.

Distorted Interview

16/06/2006 § Leave a comment

Distorted Interview
By: Sam Grant

Interview Info
By: Sam Grant
With: Miri Milman of Distorted
June 2006

Miri: Before answering all questions, I would like to introduce myself and Distorted to the readers. Hi everyone my name is Miri Milman – I’m the female vocalist of Distorted.

Raffael Mor – vocals, Guitars
Guy Shalom – bass
Benny Zohar – lead guitars
Matan Shmueli – drums

We are an oriental melodic death/doom metal band from Israel.

Sam: First of all, congratulations on the new album. How are you finding being in the metal scene and what have you seen the general response to the album to be?

Miri: Thank you, it is very exciting for us to finally release the debut album Memorial, a moment that we have been waiting for too long. Still it is very hard to know about all the responses of the album because it had just been released lately in Europe and only three months ago in Israel. So far there are some pretty good responses from people all over the world saying that they really love our music, that it is very unique and they really got into the album’s atmosphere but of course there are some people that saying that it is not their “cup of tea”, so it is all about musical preferences. There will always be some people that will love it or some that won’t. We appreciate all kinds of responses and we just happy that people can finally listen to it. Every day more and more people hear about us so I guess that in a few years or even less we would be able to say that we truly feel a part of the world wide metal scene.

Sam: What other names did the band have before Distorted and what made you settle on this as a final name?

Miri: This question always brings out funny memories. In 1998 we started as “Distorted Minds” and had no reason or ideal behind that name we just felt like distorted minded people but after our first show that year, when this name appeared in Hebrew on the poster we decided that it was too funny so we kicked out the “minds”. After that, we thought to add something more “interesting” to the name so we tried to add 3 dots “Distorted…” It is very unnecessary to say that it didn’t worked out, so since 1999 we are just Distorted with no other decorations. We just feel that this name suits us and our music.

Sam: Seven songs were released on demos between 1998 and 2002, which is quite a long time. Why did it take the band this time to get started, was it not such a serious enterprise at this stage?

Miri: To tell you the truth, we had worked together for many years before Memorial and recorded many songs but we felt truly ready for real recordings just on the last two years. We thought it would be best for us to record this album when the materials are more mature and professional, And to know that we are ready for it with no regrets or doubts about anything we have written so far. Now a year after the recordings, we feel that we have made the right decision about doing things in our own pace and with no pressure.

Sam: What change took place in 2002 which made you want to take playing live more seriously? What was it that made the band become more committed at this point?

Miri: Well, before 2002 we could say that the metal scene in Israel was quite dead. There were no metal events no festivals or nothing that could have indicated that this scene will ever become alive again. After 4 years of partnership we understood that we have to start having more live concerts. It wasn’t so easy because that time no one wanted to take a young band to perform, particularly a young metal band! It is important to say that nowadays People in Israel are just starting to accept the metal scene but not as embracing as it is in other states. Then we came up with this idea to start doing our own concerts – If no one will provide us a stage we will provide it to ourselves! So we started organizing metal events just so we will have a place to perform. Along the way we gave other young bands the chance to perform on stages in big clubs when no one else gave them the opportunity. We gave the name “Metal Till Dawn” to our main production line, and it became pretty famous here… people from all over the country came to see young metal bands. The scene had started to awake from its long sleep and people became more aware to us as a band and as supporters of the Israeli metal scene. Today, After 4 years of hard work on MTD people still really appreciate the change that it has brought to our small scene. I can say that since that point we really started to focus on our music and getting closer to achieve our goals as a band.

Sam: Distorted is, as far as I’m aware, the only female-fronted metal band in Israel. What is it like being in such a position?

Miri: As for today we aren’t the only female fronted anymore. There are several bands with female-fronted and some of them are very nice, but they are still in the same phase that we were a couple of years ago, I mean they are still trying to figure their music style and still has no serious recordings so far. Of course I wish them all the best of luck and I am trying to be supportive as much as I can. When we first started doing live concerts I was the only girl among a bunch of guys and the crowd wasn’t so open minded about a female vocalist banging her head the same as a male vocalist does on stage (but only with sexier clothings). In the beginning, it was very hard for me to become acceptable among metal heads here and I really had to fight for my existence as a female singer (Just like a true metal girl J) but on the last two years the crowd is really supportive and loving and I really appreciate this change!

Sam: I notice that you have sung for Orphaned Land in their live shows. How did get in contact with the band and what is it like to work with them?

Miri: It was very natural for me to sing with OL because we consider them to be good friends of ours. We kind of grew up in the same city and we know them for a long time. OL are great people and we really love them as a family.

Sam: I’ve heard some people describe the music that Distorted play as doom metal [though I have no idea why] whereas others describe it as death metal. Do you think that people overcomplicate matters and are too concerned with labelling things rather than just enjoying music for what it is?

Miri: I think that our music is very hard to describe. It combines a lot of music styles such as: doom, death, dark, gothic, oriental, heavy and more… so I can understand why the responses can be so different sometimes. Sometimes I do think that people are more into labelling bands rather than enjoying their music but it is how human nature works. People need certain definitions so they will be able to know and define what they like or dislike about music or other matters in life. Labelling create distinctions. There is no way to escape from it and I really understand how it works. In my opinion listening to Music is all about judging and exploring yourself and defining the music as you hear it and not based on what other people’s think of it. For me, music is all about moments and moods. We are not trying to categorize our music, We go with our hearts and minds and create the thing we all do best. If you insist, we like to call it “Distorted Metal”.

Sam: What bands and artists do you think have shaped your sound from the inception of Distorted and are there any other Israeli metal acts that you admire and that are particularly dear to you?

Miri: There are lots of good bands in this world! But the ones that had influenced us the most are: Metallica, Nevermore, Opeth, Dark Tranquillity, The Gathering, Tool and more… About Israeli influences, I can say that we really appreciate OL’s and Salem’s work and music, but I think that our oriental sound that everyone is mistaking with comparing it to OL comes from home and not related directly to OL. Israel is known with its mid-eastern culture and it is very hard to ignore it if you are born here, so I can say that the mid-eastern oriental music has a part that always influences our sound and music along with all of our favourite bands.

Sam: I love the artwork for the Memorial CD. Who was responsible for the cover of the album and what does it represent?

Miri: Thank you! We are very pleased about it as well. Memorial main theme is pain and personal loss. The best way to express your feelings is through pictures (a picture worth more than a thousand words). We tried to describe an image of pain the best way we could, so we chose to show a real person but a person that had lost his human image because he sank too deep into pain and forgot how to live his life due for the pain and sadness. He is all wrapped around old photos from the past trying to feel some human emotions once more. When we sat down together and talked about the future cover of Memorial everyone agreed immediately on the photos elements. I came up with the main idea but this was a hard work of all the members. Adam (Nishma) from Israel is the talented guy that had designed the cover with my help (I’m a graphics designer myself) and I designed the booklet.

Sam: What is the general feeling towards metal in Israel? How is it perceived among the masses and what kind of music is the most popular there?

Miri: I think that the last year for OL and Betzefer was really a great success and it really promoted the Israel metal scene in a good way. I think that till then people all over the world didn’t know that Israel even had a metal scene or metal listeners, and thanks to OL and Betzefer’s success it is more easy for people to open their mind to other Israeli musicians. There is a greater enthusiasm to know more bands from Israel. As far as I have seen so far people here like mostly death metal but also like other genres such as: thrash, old school, gothic, doom and bands like Distorted that combines all genres.

Sam: Tell us more about you as a person – from what age have you been interested in singing and what made you interested in metal in the first place?

Miri: Ok then, I am almost 24 years old. I’m a musician since I was 5 years old – I started as a pianist. Then 9 years later I started playing the guitar as well. That time I was more and more into singing as well, it goes along pretty good with playing the guitar, so I started to sing more often. In a high school bands, and in different ceremonies until I met the Distorted brothers in High school. Back in 1998, Raffael Mor (vocals, Guitars) had asked me to come to audition as a keyboard player for his band, back then Raffael and Ori Eshel (our former drummer) had established the band. I auditioned as a keyboard player but became a singer because they really liked my voice and they thought that a female vocalist would add something special to the band and to the music… My love for metal is far too deep since I was a child… my father was a guitar player so I grew up listening to rock and started to listen to metal at the age of 11. It is actually a bit weird that in the beginning of all this I didn’t like female-fronted metal bands at all, but later on I got familiar with style and fell in love. I usually listen to all kinds of music but in the last three years I listen mostly to death metal bands, depends on my mood.

Sam: I see you are from the town of Bat-Yam. Not having been to Israel itself, tell us more about your hometown. Is there anything there that inspires you to write music and what other inspirations do you have?

Miri: Bat-yam is located 10 kilometers south to Tel Aviv. It is a small city and not that interesting except for the beautiful beach strip. The Hebrew translation for the name Bat-Yam is actually “daughter of the sea” or a mermaid. We all live 5 minutes from each other (except our new drummer Matan that lives in the north of Israel). I guess that in some way our city did influenced our music, perhaps in a more oriental way or maybe it is responsible for our need to play extreme music, but it ends there. There is nothing inspiring in this city except the beach.

Sam: What else are you doing with your time at the moment apart from being in a band? What other interests do you hold?

Miri: Besides doing the Distorted singer role I have also a day time job as a graphics designer. I love to listen to music, to write new lyrics, to hang out with friends on the weekends, to watch TV and to cook. After work I’m doing a lot of vocal training and I’m also doing all the band’s management for now, besides that I’m trying all the time to answer all the mails we get from fans, because this is the one of the most important things for us – to be in contact with our fans and these things takes lots of time so my weeks are very busy.

Sam: I’ve heard that you are already writing material for your next album. Is this material in the same vein as Memorial and what other developments can we expect to hear?

Miri: Yes, we already started to write some new materials for our next album that will be a concept album again. I can’t talk about the concept yet but I promise to inform you when I can. We will try to do some things that we haven’t tried before like adding more of Raffael’s clean vocals, I will try some new vocals techniques, and start recording with our new drummer so things definitely will sound different. We will just continue writing music that can really express how we truly feel and what is really comes out of us.

Sam: Before you go, what further message do you have for the knowledgeable and fanatical readers of Sonic Cathedral?

Miri: First of all I would like to thank everyone for their patience and for reading this article. I hope that people will be able to feel that they got to know me better and the band after reading this article. I truly hope that people will listen to our music and find the album as exciting as other people have found. Also would like to offer you an invitation to Israel, it’s an amazing place! Sam, thank you for a great interview! And for your support!

Lucid Fly Interview

20/04/2006 § Leave a comment

Band Interviews – Band Interviews
Written by Sam Grant
Thursday, 20 April 2006

Lucid Fly Interview By: Sam Grant
With: Nikki Layne of Lucid Fly

Interview Info
By: Sam Grant
With: Nikki Layne of Lucid Fly
April 2006

Sam: Maybe I’m not the first person to ask this but it has to be done. Why the name Lucid Fly? I imagine it doesn’t relate to the insect but more to the sensation of movement, as the album title hints at.

Nikki: Lucid Flies into the Record Book…The name “Lucid Fly” came from this newspaper headline about America’s most experienced astronaut, female pioneer Dr. Shannon Lucid. We felt we had exhausted all the names and got tired of pulling randomly out of the dictionary, so when a friend saw the headline, the name just kind of stuck!

Sam: My favourite song by far on the album is Center Of Your Space – it’s certainly the most progressive. Artists generally don’t like to reveal the meanings behind their songs – care to break the mould?

Nikki: The song “Center Of Your Space” is one of our earlier songs, and it basically envelopes the thoughts about relationships and people coming in & out of your life and what lessons you might learn from these experiences.

Sam: I would describe Lucid Fly very much as progressive rock – what other genres of music do you have an interest in and you think might have influenced you sound?

Nikki: To me our style has been very difficult to categorize because we all have such diverse influences. I would definitely describe the music as progressive hard rock. My favorite types of genres would have to include Rock (of all types), Metal, Ambient, Pop, Folk, Trip Hop, Soul, Jazz. I draw from anything that moves me.

Sam: Adapting To Gravity has been out for about a year now – what was the response of the album in the media and what expectations did you have of the album’s reception prior to its release?

Nikki: The response of ATG has been awesome, we most often get that people can’t take it out of their cd player…which is great! I have always felt like our music is edgy and has an unexpectedness to it that grows on you. We have been lucky enough to sell cds all over the world! Prior to its release, we really had no expectations – we just wanted to have great recordings of our songs and something to sell to our fans…we feel very lucky that we were able to accomplish that and that people are listening and buying it!

Sam: In Collide there is a philosophical hint of inevitability in the desires for two people to get romantically involved. Do you believe in the pull of fate or do you think that everything is indeterminate and we all have the sole power to decide our own courses?

Nikki: From my own experience, I feel that everyone we meet and everything that happens is for a reason. I feel we choose our fate based on the experiences that are beyond our control. I don’t feel there are coincidences…life is about choices-its all in the mindset.

Sam: The rock that Lucid Fly makes is certainly very assured and skilful but are there any other avenues of composition you would like to explore or is rock an undying passion for you?

Nikki: Well, my first passion is definitely rock, but I am really not limiting myself to just one genre. I really feed off all types of music…like I love drum n bass grooves, I love soulful music, so I guess I will just continue to play from the heart, and whatever comes out will come out!

Sam: The singing on the album is very adept. What training and experience have you had vocally over the year? When did you first start singing?

Nikki: Lucid Fly is the first band I have ever been in, I grew up in a very creative environment full of musicians, painters, artists etc. so I was destined to become an artist myself. I have never really had any formal vocal training but I have been singing my whole life (but I kept it to myself until about 8 years ago). My main influences (vocally) are: Maynard James Keenan, Imogen Heap, Ann Wilson, Chris Cornell, Pat Benatar…just to name a few!

Sam: I notice you have quite an intense gigging schedule – what kind of reaction do you generally get at gigs and what have been the most memorable gigs so far and the ones you’d least like to remember?

Nikki: Yes, we have been keeping a steady gig schedule. We get a great response at every show, building a solid fan base all over. I think our best, most memorable show was the most recent tour we played. We travelled to Austin, TX for the SXSW Music Conference. We played at the infamous “Coyote Ugly” for a Music Gorilla Showcase. The crowd was very responsive, the venue was fun and intimate (and quirky J) We played tight and the sound was huge!!! Any time we travel is a great band bonding experience, but when we play well and get great feedback it just motivates us that much more to keep doing what we love…

Sam: You have only played inside the US, it seems. What is the best country you have been to on a personal level and which country which you most like to play in as a band?

Nikki: Yes, so far we have played mostly in the Southeast & Midwest Regions of the US: FL, GA, KY, LA, TX, OH, PA. On a personal level, I have been to the tropical regions: Aruba, Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Mexico, but my passport is here and ready for use, lol!!! As a band we would love to play in Europe, Australia, Japan. We are ready for world domination, haha..

Sam: I think that Lucid Fly definitely has the ability to be signed to a label. Is this something that you’re geared towards and are interested in making a commitment to?

Nikki: We are very committed as a band, and work very hard to write good music, be professional and put on the best live performance possible. We absolutely would love to get signed to a major/indie label..but “making it” to us is pushing our personal limits as musicians, being as creative as possible, and also playing our music for as many people as possible, everything else is icing on the cake!

Sam: Has Lucid Fly been through various incarnations? Can you tell us a little about the band’s history?

Nikki: The band originated with Nikki (vocals) and Doug (guitarist) in 1998 and after a few member changes we came across Derrick (drummer) in 2002 and Justin (bass)…we got together and worked on some ideas and at that point we knew we hit on a winning combination…we’ve been collaborating ever since J

Sam: Tell us more about your personal formative years. Would you say you had a normal upbringing? What elements of your youth do you think have influenced and become integrated in your music?

Nikki: Well, I would say I turned out pretty normal, lol but growing up it was never a dull moment. I was immersed in music (mostly southern rock, classic rock, gospel & country) My father was in a southern rock band…he played guitar, harmonica, and sang, and my grandparents, my aunt and my uncle were in several country bands. They played everything from banjo, guitar, piano, and of course sang. I was very fortunate to be surrounded with such talent. I was very shy and although I knew I had a voice, I never revealed it until about 8 years ago…sure glad I did! I think the fact that my family was so open to all music is what gave me the courage, and the power to be to create my own music.

Sam: I imagine music is not your full-time job. What do you do when you’re not spending your time in a band? What are your interests, day activities and obsessions?

Nikki: I do work at an entertainment industry related media arts college, but Lucid Fly is pretty much 2 full time jobs wrapped into 1 for me. In addition to rehearsing and writing at least 3x’s a week, I manage and book all the shows which keeps me very busy. When I do find time for R&R, I listen to new music, I love to travel, I love fashion/makeup, I like reading and hanging out with friends. Oh, and I can always go for some good sushi or Mexican food!

Sam: Have you started working on any new material and what future enhancements can we expect from Lucid Fly’s sounds in the future?

Nikki: Yes, we have been working on lots of new material…that is our focus for the time being, we also gearing up for a video shoot for the song No Sleep, and looking forward to that.

Sam: Before you go, do you have any word for the devoted and obsessed Sonic Cathedral faithful?

Nikki: Well, be sure to check out our music on the upcoming Sonic Cathedral compilation series called “Sirens”. Also, thanks for being such great fans who support our music…keep spreading the word…hope to see you at a show in the near future! Keep rockin’.

Midnattsol Interview

23/02/2006 § Leave a comment

Midnattsol Interview 2006
Band Interviews – Band Interviews
Written by Sam Grant
Thursday, 23 February 2006

Midnattsol Interview 2006
By: Sam Grant
With: Carmen Elise Espanaes of Midnattsol

Interview Info
By: Sam Grant
With: Carmen Elise Espanaes of Midnattsol
January 2006

Sam: Carmen, congratulations on the new album, it’s a fantastic debut. How are you finding working in the metal scene in general at the moment?

Carmen: Thank you very much, very kind of you to tell me this! First of all I have to say that I can’t believe all the things that are happening, it is really amazing. I never expected to have the opportunity to do this, so as you can imagine, I am very, very happy and thankful to be in the metal scene. Just to see the response from the fans, the look in their eyes, to read their nice words, that alone is enough to make me a happy person. Still, there are things that I don’t like, e.g. the falseness of the music business, especially from the journalists. I am an honest person, and I can’t stand people pretending liking me and the band, just because they haven’t the guts to say what they mean face to face. But the good thing about it is that I learned a lot about human being in general! The other thing that I don’t like is how the music business is running in some ways. Money, money, money! It just does not fit to the things that I think is important. But I think this is a general problem in the world, not only for the music business.

Sam: Do you find, having Liv as an older sister, that the two of you are always compared and do you mind the frequent comparisons, not only between you as vocalists, but between Leaves’ Eyes and Midnattsol?

Carmen: The fact is that we get compared all the time, so if I should worry about it, I would be a depressive person I think, hehe. At the very beginning I thought it was a bit annoying not being seen as Carmen and Midnattsol as the individual as we are. But the fact is that I can’t change who I am, and I and the people who know me, know that I/we don’t make music because of Liv and that she doesn’t have any influences of the music that we make, so it has no use to worry. Then I have to say that this comparison is most of all beneficial for us, we get automatically promotion, so we can’t complain about that!

Sam: How did you come to be in Midnattsol, and now that you’re in the band, do you see it as a big part of your future?

Carmen: The funny thing is that Midnattsol did not exist before I came to Germany in 2002. Christian Hector contacted me only a couple of weeks after I moved here, and we met and talked about founding a band together. Music was and is such a great part of my life, and I came to a point where I wanted to make music together with other people, to make songs out of my melodies. So we two wanted the same thing and we founded Midnattsol, and we were a complete band shortly after that. I knew from the first rehearsals that it would be a big part of my life, we are like a little family. But the main thing was not the musical career for me, it was the great possibility to make the music that I wanted to together with 5 other great people. Record deal or not, music is my life, nobody can change that. So I don’t make many plans for the future, what comes comes!

Sam: Midnattsol obviously has a heavy folk element to its sound. What was it that made you decide to create music with a folkish vibe? Has folk music always been an interest of yours?

Carmen: I would not call it a decision, during the first rehearsals, the type of music was getting more and more clear. The musical direction is a mix from all the different influences that the sixth of us are bringing into the music, and by the way, we all have a very different kind of musical influences. And this is the result. But yes, folk music has always interested me, I was always very interested in the history, culture, traditions and songs of my country. I often heard and sang typical folk songs at home or in school, and I think that influenced me in my musical direction. But when it comes to metal, I hear a lot of other stuff to, especially melodic metal, I love melancholic melodies, especially from Antathema, Opeth and Amorphis.

Sam: What ideas did you want to explore in Where Twilight Dwells before you wrote it and when it was finished, was it the debut album that you wanted it to be?

Carmen: To be honest, I didn’t have many expectations or plans what do to. The only wish I had was to let the music be real, to let the emotions into melodies and texts. I wanted to this for a long time, and it was kind of burning inside me to let my ideas inside out. After the record was finished I couldn’t (and still can’t) believe or realize what happened, because beside the music, what I was more than satisfied with, I didn’t only let a part of me in it, I grew a lot with is as well, personally and musically. So I have to say that the musical process and the music itself gave me so much more than I expected. And I think the other ones think so as well. What I didn’t expect was the less time that I had to sing. It all went so fast, and we all felt a bit stressed at times. So that’s the thing what I definitely want next time: to have enough time to record.

Sam: One of my favourite songs on the album is the wonderful Tårefall. Could you explain to us what this song is about?

Carmen: It is the most personal song for me on the album, I cry inside when I hear or sing it. I have many times experienced that I think that now is the storm over, now you are going to be fine and so on. But every time something is happening again and I have to fight strongly to find solutions. And the frustration and helplessness in these situations is what I sing about. Don’t get me wrong, I love and values my life, that’s why I most of the time smile, hehe, but I sometimes ask myself how much I have to experience before it is enough? But in fact that makes me to a better person and not at least to a fighter 😉

Sam: What are your interests outside of Midnattsol? What do you choose to spend your spare time doing?

Carmen: Spare time, what is that? hehe! I use my time on music and interviews, studying, working and teaching, so after that there is nearly more time left. That is the reason why I answer these questions on Sunday morning 2 weeks later, it was the first possibility, sorry for that by the way! My biggest interests are nature and languages, I love them both. But I also like to do exercises like yoga, dancing, all kind of winter sports and I read a lot.

Sam: What other paths would you take in life if you weren’t a musician?

Carmen: Okay, this is perhaps a bit pathetic to say, but I really mean it. First of all, I don’t think that I would be the same person without music, to make and to hear music was always was a great part of my life. But if I was forced not to make music I would give all my power to try to help animals and protect the nature, I have very strong opinions about this, and I many times I can’t stand to think about what shit is happening to this world. The people are so egoistic, I can’t believe it! The only thing what matters are money, power and materialistic things. So often I think that I don’t fit in in this modern world, I try so much to understand what is going around in people’s heads, but…I can’t understand. And when you have such strong different opinions about general things, the possibility to feel different and un-understood is very high, hehe.

Sam: It’s becoming more and more common these days to have female-fronted metal bands. Are you pleased with the way the metal scene is developing and how do you think the greater inclusion of women will change the scene in the next few years?

Carmen: To be honest, I don’t care much about if the bands are having female or male voice, I like the music or not. But of course, I think it is good that also women take part in the metal scene- with success as we can observe! Women belong to metal equal much as the men do!! What the future brings- we have to wait and see.

Sam: We haven’t seen a lot of you on the scene so far, so tell us what other bands you like at the moment and what other musicians you would like to work with.

Carmen: My absolute biggest inspiration is Anathema, they give me so much. And like I said as well, Amorphis, Opeth and bands like Paradise Lost, My dying Bride. At the moment I listen all day long the Spanish band Savia, I love the Spanish language and the voice of the singer. Non-metal bands like Dead can Dance is also so amazing, the emotions in the music is unbelievable. But hehe, I don’t think that we have the possibility to work with these bands, but hoping is allowed, hehe.

Sam: Have you started work on a new album and what can we expect from Midnattsol in the future?

Carmen: Yes, we have started and we have quite a few ideas and songs. it is so great to make music again, wow! The only thing is that the process is going a bit slowly, because of the fact that all the band members (besides Christian Hector) are having the final exam in 2006 at different point of time. What you can expect? At least a new album that is a bit more heavier, hopefully with some folky instruments and some few parts with clean male vocal. I also think that we are going to make a video for the next album and of course some concerts!

Sam: Thank you very much for the interview and do you have any last words for your dedicated fan following?

Carmen: I have to thank you, it was a pleasure to me! Thank you so much for your support, you give me and the band so much! Take good care of yourself, I hope that all your dreams come true in 2006!

Nemesea Interview

31/03/2005 § Leave a comment

Nemesea Interview
Band Interviews – Band Interviews
Written by Sam Grant
Thursday, 31 March 2005

Nemesea Interview
By: Sam Grant
With: Manda Ophuis of Nemesea

Interview Info
By: Sam Grant
With: Manda Ophuis of Nemesea

Sam: Nemesea deserve to be the next big thing on the Gothic metal scene. Are you surprised by how quickly you’ve attained a notoriety and following?

Manda: Yes and no. We work very hard and we are very ambitious but It went quite fast thanx to for instance After Forever and our label Ebony Tears.

Sam: Nemesea was founded in September 2002. Give us a brief rundown of what got you to where you are today since the inception of the band.

Manda: We started this band in September 2002. In April 2003 Ebony tears offered us a record deal and we got a call from a venue in the Netherlands. They heard the demo we recorded in November 2002. He asked us if we would like to play as support act for After Forever. After Forever liked our music and performance so they asked us to tour with them. This was great and we thank them BIG time!!!

Sam: Mana has been out for nearly a month now and it is a startlingly good debut, one of the best I’ve heard. Was it a lot of work to put together and did your personal lives suffer at all in making it?

Manda: Well, It was a lot of work and the fact that we had no experience at all made It even harder. We give 100/150% in everything we do and we are very demanding If It comes to creating something. All these things made It hard to get something done but when we got the hang of It and the locomotive got on speed the things went quite well. And we had to because we had a deadline that was approaching fast.

Sam: My favourite songs on Mana at the moment are Empress and Disclosure. The latter in particular seems to be quite a personal song. Can you tell us what these two songs are about?

Manda: Empress is about a female character that takes advantage of people, men in particular. Basically she pretends to be someone/something while she isn’t. And that’s a situation that’s quite common these days. Lies and betrayal to get what you want. Disclosure is indeed very personal. I would like to keep It that way. The idea and reason why we put the song on the album is that people can interpretate in their own way.

Sam: What is the story behind Mortalitas?

Manda: The story behind Mortalitas is the struggle with death and how we all, sooner or later, will find out what happens in the afterlife. Or .. If there is an afterlife. We wrote It like a short story. It’s about a boy/young man who wakes up one morning and has to confront death. Part 1, The Taker, is about the confrontation with death/The taker telling the boy his time has come. Part 2, Dies Irae , are the Taker’s words going thru the boys head and he almost has accepted is faith. Part3, Moriendum Tibi Est, is the fight that follows. The one last breath you could say played in an instrumental form. Part 4, From Beneath You It Devours, is about defeat and the fact that mankind is mortal.

Sam: Some of Nemesea’s lyrics concentrate on the occult and the supernatural. There is also clearly a strong interest in Mythology. What drew you to these subjects and what interests you about them?

Manda: I’m writing most of the lyrics. I write about things that bother me or interest me very much. Wicca is my religion, I have written a lot of lyrics about that. A couple of them are found on Mana. But also things in life that you hear from the media can be used to write about.

Sam: Caretaker Creations are responsible for your album’s artwork. What does the cover of Mana represent?

Manda: This is a face of the goddess “Nemesis” as we see her. Her face is made out of the wings of a butterfly that stands for her judgmental side, but there’s also the dark side/environment present. You could say it is Nemesis looking over the remains after her revenge. Caretaker Creations did a great job, we are very satisfied.

Sam: After Forever have always been keen to say they don’t make Gothic Metal, whereas Epica say they do. Bearing in mind that people will always wants to label music, what is the definition of Gothic Metal and are you happy being described in this way?

Manda: The definition…..hmmmm that’s a mean one. I think people label a band with gothic/metal If It has female fronted vocals, combined with classical vocal elements and heavy music combined with classical/symphonic orientated orchestrations. We don’t mind If people label our music, we hope they like It, that’s more important.

Sam: Tell us a little about your personal history. Where did you grow up and what kind of music were you into when you were younger?

Manda: I started to play the recorder when I was 7 years old. When I was 9 my parents bought me a flute and I played it for 9 years. I even took pre-education at the conservatory for two years. When I was 18 I found out that I liked singing very much and took singing lessons. After a year I took an entre exam for the conservatory again, but this time it was for singing. I was admitted. Only two years ago I started classical singinglessons.

Sam: When you were at the Noord Nederlands Conservatory you were one of the only ones who was into metal. I myself also found this in the past, which is unusual since my education focussed on classical music. What first got you interested in metal and why do you think it has a reputation in the music world for being a slightly unusual music format?

Manda: The first metal band I ever heard was Metallica. I also listened a lot to classical music as a child. But I found out that the emotion I Found in classical music, was also used in metal ( Fade to black – METALLICA). I loved it immediately.

Sam: Holland is one of the most successful countries for Gothic Metal. What do you think it is about Holland that produces this sort of music so well, while other European countries are struggling by comparison?

Manda: I really don’t know , maybe because of the fact that when there is a great band other/new bands try to get better but … maybe It is just that there is a lot of talent in this country. Not only in metal or even music but in a lot of things.

Sam: What other bands do you think are up and coming on the scene, and which aren’t as good as they used to be?

Manda: Up in the scene I think are After Forever, Within Temptation, Epica and they deserve It. Upcoming are (hopefully) Nemesea and Autumn. There are a lot of other bands in the scene but lack (this is my opinion) the talent or devotion to reach top level. All bands I’ve mentioned get better and better each time they write a new album. I think Nemesea and Epica will too so…. Great isn’t it?

Sam: I hear you will be writing new material soon. Can you tell us anything about the musical direction you want to go in? What other elements, themes and sounds would you like your music to employ?

Manda: The music will become tighter and more compact. We learned a lot about our strong and weak sides in our music and playing so we expect to make a better album. The songs will be shorter but stronger in melody, rhythm and harmony. And of course, how could I forget, the band plays a lot better now so we have a lot of faith in the future. We will use choir and string arrangements even more, and of course more beautiful. Samples will be an element we will expand.

Sam: What albums have you been listening to and enjoying recently?

Manda: I’m still enjoying Fallen/Evenescene and I play it quite often. I’m a DVD freak and recently bought Linkin Park’ live in Texas’ and it’s great. I listen to Invisible Circles/After Forever a lot, it’s a great album!

Sam: Finally, thank you very much for the interview! Do you have any final words for the dedicated [and slightly obsessive] Sonic Cathedral readers?

Manda: Stay tuned and let us know what you think of our debut album ‘MANA’. We hope to see you during our gigs and go and have a visit at our web site
Enjoy the music!!!

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