Monday, November 25, 2013

... poets of tragedy : an Interview with LORELEI

The name “Lorelei” is associated in German folk culture with Greek sirens, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Though the Rhine is not the Strait of Messina, the river kept its danger as well. The legend inspired Heinrich Heine, List and some other poets and composers. Theatre of Tragedy devoted a song to this legend and now a Russian band took the name of Lorelei. The name is chosen well enough, since it describes everything the legend tells us about: death and tragedy with the enchanting female voice. Lorelei is playing a very quality death-doom, enriched by soprano and growl vocals. If you didn’t manage to come across with this band, this interview will be a fine opportunity to get acquainted with it. Moreover, I (Aleksey) never advised you anything which is not worth your attention…. except one case, perhaps… Anyway, today our guests are Alexei Ignatovich (guitar), Marina Ignatovich (keyboards), Ksenia Mikhailova (soprano) and Alexander Grischenko (bass).

Hi everybody! Since Lorelei has existed since 2003, I can’t help but ask you about the main facts of the band’s  history. Where have you been all this time? What inspired you to start the project?
Alexei: Hi, Alexei! That’s right, formally the band was founded in 2003. That time we lived in a small Siberian town (Chita, Zabaikalsky Region). But even before that we made some attempts to start the project and gathered a band in 1999, but we succeeded in this only four years later when Marina joined the band. The line-up changed from time to time: from duet to several people. But in the course of all this time only Marina and I have been in the band and continued our project.   In 2002, inspired by H. Heine’s poem “Lorelei” we chose it as a name for our band. The same year we wrote a song “Lorelei”.
Since that time we’ve continued with the music. But earlier the band was more of a hobby and we even didn’t think to offer our music to listeners. But sometimes when the line-up was full we took part in concerts and small festivals. In 2007 we were invited to take part in a festival in Irkutsk and after it recorded a demo, consisting of 4 songs.
But after it something went wrong and the band broke up. We tried form a new line-up several times but our attempts were not successful. In 2008 we moved to Moscow.
Marina: In Moscow we formed a new line-up. It has changed a little and now the line-up is almost formed.
Now Lorelei is:
Ksenia Mikhailova – soprano vocal
Marina Ignatovich – keyboards
Alexei Ignatovich – guitar
Andrei Osokin – guitar
Alexander Grischenko – bass
In 2011 we recorded EP album “Ston Razbitoy Dushy” (“Mourn of the Torn Soul”) in recording studio “Primordial Studio”. We included in the album songs of different periods of the band’s history, that’s why a definite genre of it can hardly be defined. It was our first experience of a studio recording.
Alexei: During that time me and Marina started to work on new material, which differed greatly from what we did before. We wanted our music to be heavier, deeper and more melodic. We saw it as a fine combination of heavy guitar section, melodic keyboards parts and contrasting duet of low growls and tender soprano.
Finally, we managed to bring our idea into life 2 years later in the album “Ugrumye Volny Studenogo Morya” (“Gloomy Waves of the Cold Sea”)…

But, as far as I understand, you didn’t plan to use a female vocal in your music, didn’t you? Do you have any sketches that were not used in the album?
Marina: In fact, we always saw our music with a female vocal and considered it, as well as growls, as an important part of it. Before Ksenia joined us we had an experience of implementing female vocal in our music. We were amazed by the beauty of Ksenia’s voice at once, and it fitted the music greatly. We are glad to feel her devotion and see development of her skills. As for sketches, we have included in the album everything we planned to. By all means we have some sketches, but they have a little to do with the album.

I know, that besides Lorelei’s line-up some guest musicians from well-known doom-metal bands took parts in the recording of the album. The album mixing was done in Sweden. Will you tell us some words about it?
Alexei: That’s true, among the invited musicians are E.S. (Who Dies in Siberian Slush, Decay of Reality) who performed parts for growls and Vladimir Lyashkov (Beheaded Zombie, Decay of Reality) who performed the drum parts. In 2011 on one of the doom-metal gigs in Moscow we heard E.S. growls live and we thought it a fine idea to invite E.S. for the recording of the album, since his growls is exactly the one we wanted to hear in our music. We are glad that his vocals fitted the music extremely well.
Thanks to Vladimir Lyashkov’s efforts the music became rich and deep in sound. He perfectly performed the drum parties I spent so much time on, while composing them. This album was also recorded at Primordial Studio. But for Hater’s (the owner of the studio) experience in recording and his friendly attitude to us, the process of the recording of the albums wouldn’t have been so nice. We overcame all the difficulties with utmost ease.
Then we sent the recorded song to Sweden for mixing. It was a new experience for us. We chose among several studios. Finally we decided to work with Dead Dog Farm Studio represented by Jerry Torstensson from Draconian. He did a really great job and we are extremely satisfied with the results.

How do you like the term “gothic” in connection with your music? Some time ago this term conveyed negative meaning like this music is only for girls and “please will you spare me this My Dying Bride”.
Alexei: I wouldn’t like to judge about music genres in terms how good or bad they are. I believe that both the so called “music for girls” and My Dying Bride have their own fans. It’s up to everybody to decide what music to listen to.  As for us, we try not to fit our music in some particular genre. There was time when we were interested in gothic, our demo-album of 2007 is a good example of that. Perhaps, now we are a bit tired of it. For the present moment we make no connection with gothic, even though there is growls-soprano duet in it. We try to make music our own and reflect in it  what we feel is important, though sometimes it contradicts some features of the genre.

On the website of Solitude Productions it’s pointed that the tracks are filled with professional soprano.  And that’s true, if you listen to any of the tracks where Ksenia sings you’ll hear her fine voice. Where did you study? Did you want to sing in a metal band?
Ksenia: I did want to sing in a metal band. More than that, I wanted to sing in a band whose music doesn’t leave cold. I fancied it to be not only technically well but harmonious, beautiful  and inspiring as well. We got acquainted with guys in the internet, though we lived and studied in one and the same town. I joined the band. I was glad that they needed  soprano and I couldn’t help but admired the way they worked. It looked as if they were professionals though they were not, in fact.
I remember I’ve been singing all my life. I finished music school and the teachers encouraged me to apply to music college, but I chose the career of a dentist.  But being a student of the medical academy I couldn’t  give up music and singing, and for this reason I joined the Academy’s chorus. Then I realized that I wanted to sing solo and began to take music lessons with a teacher. Then I left Chita and even dreamed to enter the Academy of music. Now I continue with music lessons with Maria Belokurskaya.

Did you tell your teacher about your work with Lorelei? What did she tell you about it? And what’s the attitude of your relatives towards your occupation?
Ksenia: I told Maria (my teacher) that I sing in a metal band. And to my big surprise, she supported me greatly in it. Almost all teachers of vocal are against such hobbies of their students, especially if it’s heavy music. Of course it’s a great responsibility  due to the peculiarities of opera vocal. But we work hard and I do my best not to bring harm to my voice.  I showed Maria Lorelei’s tracks and moreover we work on the vocal parties at the lessons, especially at complicated ones. This is a great experience for me. Everything I can do is but for my teacher, she is a true professional. I must say that the parties wouldn’t have been performed so well if it were not for her, for her efforts. Unfortunately, we had little time to prepare for the recording, but still when listening the album my teacher said that everything sounded rather professional, as if we were professionals, not amateurs. As for my relatives I can say that my mom has never shared my hobby and didn’t understand why I still go on with singing if I can’t sing like Anna Netrebko. J But when she heard “Gloomy Waves…” she changed her attitude towards what I’m doing. Of course, like every mother she didn’t like growls and even asked if growls participation is necessary… J
Alexander: Since I am not a professional my relatives are absolutely calm, and treat it as a hobby.

As far as I understand Romanticism and Renaissance literature form the basis of your lyrics and band’s concept on in general. How important is to reflect these elements in your music and lyrics?
Alexei: In fact there are no elements of Renaissance literature in our music or lyrics, except for Petrarch’s sonnet which we took for one of our tracks since it reflected perfectly the concept and the mood of the album. It unites all the tracks, making them an indivisible whole. “The Gloomy Waves…” shows the insignificance of a man’s life in a cruel world, which pulls the strings of his life, leading him to destruction. It’s compared to   the raging sea destroying a frail boat, which cannot resist its might.
The basis of the lyrics roots in Russian literature, Romanticism and Silver Age of Russian poetry, which inspired me greatly. We tried not to use elements of this or that literary genre deliberately, not to make it sound like cliché. Lyrics and music cannot exist apart; they are in a fine proportion where music reflects the lyrics building a particular mood.

Do these features of classical art are reflected somehow in your music or you rather continue the tradition of death doom with gothic elements whereas all the Renaissance elements remains only in your lyrics.
Alexei: We are trying to combine classical music with death-doom. Though we deeply respect the founders of the genre we try to find our own way, we understand that repeating someone’s ideas in music would be odd, since you it will never be unique. We reflect theideas, features of classical art, Romanticism  both in music and lyrics.

You mean some subjective Romanticism? To what degree is “Gloomy Waves…” autobiographical? It’s not an accidental question. You know different genres demand different approaches to express feelings and emotions. For instance, it’s enough to say “life is shit, there is no money” for the representatives of so-called Russian Rock movement, but here lyrics are full of stylistic devices… I think I’ve brought myself to dead-lock
Alexei: I believe that poetry as it is, is subjective, because it reflects the inner world of a person. This is characteristic not only for Romanticism but for any other genre as well. “Gloomy Waves…” is autobiographical to some degree.
As for lyrics, I can say that the way the author expresses his thoughts depends on him. Some people like realism and express their ideas and emotions straight, the others like symbolism, based on the author’s sufferings.  The ideas here are often implicit here.

The most unique band of this genre is Theatre of Tragedy, their approach to their music was always integrated, though the genre of the music changed several times. Are there any bands of this genre that are perfect examples to you? Would you ever change the genre of you music so radically as Theatre of tragedy?
Marina: I totally agree, that Theatre of Tragedy is a fine band with perfect ideas and wonderful lyrics, especially of the early period. There are also many other good bands. However we don’t stick to a particular genre and listen to music of different styles and genres. In my opinion, this strict conformity to traditions, this orthodoxy, if I may say so, kills the creativity. You cannot follow one and the same canon all the time. In the final and the music will be exhausted. The changes are inevitable but I don’t think that in our music they will be as radical as in Theatre of Tragedy music.

Ok. Thank you for the interview! I wish you success in everything you do.
And thank you for interesting questions and I wish you all the best back. There are lot of talented people in Russia, but due to different reasons they give up. We would like to wish them to be more confident, since all difficulties and obstacles exist to be overcome!
Wishing all the listeners all the best!

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