Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Band Interview: ANCKORA

INTERVIEW WITH KATRIN ANTARES AND EUGENIY JONPRIEST OF ANCKORA

Describe the origins of the band and explain why you wanted to work with a female singer. How does having a female singer enhance your sound?
Katrin Antares (vocals): It happened when I met with Eugeniy during a tour of our bands (we played in different bands).
Eugeniy JonPriest (guitar): When I saw Katrin on stage for the first time, I immediately thought her potential was much bigger and it was only needed to allow her to open up. The circumstances happened after I moved from my home town to Moscow. I decided to invite Katrin to create a common project with me. Of course, it wasn’t so easy; we had a lot of work about our new material and we searched for other members and our individual sound. We spent a lot of time creating and designing our costumes and the whole concept of the show became bright and recognizable! The past years have left many pleasant memories, then began our first shows and tours; it was a real rock 'n' roll gap! The atmosphere and drive were positive; we always strive to convey that to our audience. People appreciate it!
Katrin Antares: Of course, with such vigorous activity we have had some quarrels with each other and other musicians because not everyone will be able to stand such a long busy schedule. But in the last year we have organized everything so only three of the six members of the band can make shows happen! This allows us to reduce the load on musicians and at the same time maintain constant activity.

Where in Russia is the band from and how would you describe the local scene? How long have you been metal fans?
Eugeniy: Usually we do not name our city because the band members are from different regions or even different countries. At this moment we have two members from the Ukraine. In general, our guys are from central Russia/Moscow, and I personally am from north Russia. I grew up in Kirov (the historical name is Vyatka); we have three very cold months, and the rest of the months are the winter. Metal in Kirov is quite big and some of the bands are really strong. Those bands are known not only in Kirov but all over Russia. Moscow is a very complicated city; everything is ambiguous. On the one hand, because it’s a big city there’s a lot of underground youth but on the other hand, they’re not as united as we are in Kirov. I am still a metal fan! It seems to be impossible to play metal not being a metal fan! I have great respect for bands like Primal Fear, Rammstein, Hatebreed and Judas Priest.

Which members of the band are able to perform on a regular basis?
Katrin: The main members of the group are Eugeniy and I. But in general a second guitarist, Maxim, is almost always playing with us, so the three of us can be called the main members of Anckora. We also have a permanent bassist, drummer and dancer/backing vocalist, but we realize that all of them can be busy sometimes so they perform at concerts when they have the opportunity.

Which bands were Katrin and Eugeniy playing in before Anckora? Did those bands break up before Anckora was formed?
Katrin: My band was from Moscow originally and broke up almost at the time Anckora was formed. It was an almost completely female band and Anckora was formed at the time when disagreements started in the band. I keep in touch with some of girls from the band but all of us are leading our lives.
Evgeniy: I played in a band from Kirov called HMR but at the time when I joined the band had the name Mystery. They changed the name but they did it mostly for advertising. This band still performs now and they play heavy metal. Sometimes we share the stage and I even join them to play a couple of old songs!

What was the name of the band Katrin was worked before Anckora? How active were they when Katrin was a member, and why did she leave?

Katrin: The band was called Hysterica. We played a few concerts and released some demos, which probably can be found nowhere now. Time passed and then we found one more band with the same name Hysterica from Sweden. This Swedish band was more active and members of our band thought about changing our name and style, but around this time I joined Anckora, where I felt much more interesting and creative.

How long was Eugeniy a member of HMR and how much input did he have into their material? What were the reasons he parted ways with them?
Eugeniy: I was a guitarist in HMR for four years. Because of some problems in the band I started to play bass. It’s difficult to evaluate my contribution to the band but I think it was a lot. I left the band for musical reasons. I was the guitarist, but the members enjoyed my bass playing, and didn’t wanted to listen to my opinion about this matter, so this was the main reason I left.

How long has Anckora existed until now? How many musicians did you work with until you established your own sound?
Eugeniy: We got an idea to create a band in 2006 when I moved from Kirov to Moscow. But we regard the date of our first show, which took place in the summer of 2007, to be the “official date” of creating our band. Since getting an idea about the band till the time of our first show we completely replaced all the band members. Only Katrin and I stayed. As I said before this happened not just once; we changed band members a few times and we got accustomed to it. There’s no moving forward without changes. Our guys from the very first staff gathered their own band and named it Equilibris. Sometimes we visit their shows to express our support!

How actively does Equilbris play live these days? Do they have any material out? How often do you get to attend their shows?
Eugeniy: The guys don’t play very often. Mainly they play in Moscow, and we try to visit every show.
Katrin: Their guitarist is my brother, and their drummer is his wife. So we always support them because this is our loved ones and good friends!

The band’s sound is industrial metal, with lots of keyboards. How did the band develop this style?
Katrin: It happened by itself. When we played heavy metal before, we had keyboards. Later they turned into samples. About our industrial sound, we definitely were inspired by Rammstein!

Katrin’s vocals remind me a little of Otep’s vocalist Shamaya. Would she cite Shamaya as an influence or are there other vocalists she would cite?

Katrin: Hmmm… I haven’t heard Otep before, unfortunately. But I surely will listen! I like Simone Simons the lead singer from Epica very much! But I can’t say she influenced my vocal style. Mostly I am influenced by male vocalists. Maybe it sounds a bit strange but I think it doesn’t really matter whether a man or a woman sings. When I sing, people hear and recognize me.

Does the band write all their lyrics in Russian? Who writes the lyrics and what is the subject matter?
Eugeniy: Katrin writes the lyrics. My participation is, I sometimes tell her my wishes only about the subject which comes to my mind when I'm writing music.

Katrin: It so happened that all the songs from our EP "Extreme" are dedicated to extreme sports and how people overcome their own fears and doubts. And this is the reason the EP got its name. For example, the song "Midnight" is about extreme racers, it is equally addressed to both kinds of street racing, motorcyclists and motorists. "Bluehole" is the name of the underwater cave in Egypt, not far from Dahab. This cave is infamous because of numerous deaths of divers. According to the legend one Persian princess drowned her lovers there and when her father discovered it, he drowned her there too. Since then she continues to search for new victims. The lyrics were always written in Russian but now we’re thinking about issuing some special releases which targets foreign audiences. For this purpose we plan to translate some texts in English.

What inspired you to write about extreme sports? What research did you do on the haunted cave that Bluehole is based on?
Katrin: Eugeniy and I fell in love with extreme sports. Not in a very serious degree of course, because it does require a lot of effort, but we’re trying our best. For example we studied paragliding. It's very exciting!
Eugeniy: I am a diver and the dream of any diver is to pass the arch in Bluehole. They talk a lot about this cave in the diving community. But unfortunately I had no possibility to visit Bluehole yet and even just to dive in the Red Sea. But I think that someday I certainly will go there.

Where was Extreme recorded? Has there been a response to it solely in Russia or have people from other countries heard it?
Eugeniy: Extreme was recorded at our own studio. I also worked as sound engineer and recorded our own tracks and mastered too. Our friend, the frontman of the band Xe-None helped us with mixing of the album, because with our concert schedule we just had not enough time and effort to do it. Extreme played not only for Russian audiences and we have even seen a lot of positive reviews from foreign reporters!

How long has Eugeniy had his own recording studio? Want equipment is available to record with? What differences are there between working at your own studio and renting time at a studio?
Eugeniy: My first home studio I organized about three years ago. It was not easy. I picked up the equipment very carefully and gradually. Basically, this was due to the financial side of the matter but in the end I got everything I needed to be able to work with our material effectively. Of course when we want to record with a really good quality we will still have to rent a large studio which has equipment of more high level. It happens sometimes in the final phase of editing, but it happens not often. All other things I can do quietly in my own studio, where I don’t need to watch time and can work on quality calmly and safely. Of course it’s easier to work in our own studio because I have familiar instruments and equipment. But in my home studio I don’t have the possibility to put the same amount of equipment as at rented studios.

What equipment would you most want to own in your studio, given you had the finances?
Eugeniy: If I had enough money, I would like to have a high-quality acoustic room first. Then I would like to buy near-field, far-field and mid-field monitors. At the moment, I have only near-field monitors. Of course, I would like the top tube compressors and some Neumann microphones. Perhaps that’s all. I am quite happy with the rest of my equipment.

Has Katrin started to write lyrics in English? How is she handling the transition between languages?

Katrin: I hope very much that in this delicate matter as the literal translation of our text I will get help from my friend who is a professional translator! But in the meantime the first attempts of translation are by me. Once upon a time I wrote lyrics in English, but then we decided if we sing mostly for Russian speaking audiences then we should to sing in Russian. But now the situation has changed, so we came to the conclusion that it makes sense to make the lyrics understandable for foreign audiences. We are looking for our fans around the world because the language of music is international!

Is it easier to convey your ideas in Russian or English?
Katrin: Of course it is far easier to express my thoughts in my own language; it’s logical. When I think about music and lyrics for the new song, I have different images in my mind and of course it’s easier to me to ‘translate’ those images and thoughts into my own language to make it sound beautiful and clear for people. When I try to write in English I need to search for words and can’t express all the variants and synonyms, because I am not a native English speaker. So I prefer to write in Russian.

In what countries outside Russia is the band starting to become known?
Eugeniy: I think that in our time of high technology there are no limits for the music anymore, so we can say that all over the world! We performed live in Finland, the Ukraine and Belarus, but we plan to expand the geography of our tours in the future.
Katrin: Because in this world there are so many places where we have never been!

The band has several performance videos at their Youtube address. Which of your songs were chosen to record live and on what basis? Are those videos self-produced?
Katrin: We didn't choose anything especially. When someone films a good quality video we put it on Youtube, so others see it too. There are also a couple of advertisements of our tours by a friend of the band. She montaged it from videos that already existed.

Which of your songs were recorded live for Youtube and at which venues? Were they filmed by fans or professional videographers?
Katrin: Some videos were made by our fans in different towns, some were made by professional operators. But all of the videos are filmed “live”. Professional operators were paid by organizers of different fests we were involved in, and they didn’t plan how exactly they would film us. The videos just exist as they came out. At our Youtube channel you can see videos from fests near Desnogorsk (in Smolensk), from fests in Tver’ area and of course videos from Moscow. There also two video clips. One is very old, from when we played heavy metal. The second video was filmed last summer. One operator wrote us and offered to make our videos for free. We’re not satisfied by this video but it would be rude to ask something from an operator who worked for free.

Would you consider releasing your live videos on a special edition DVD? Tell the readers about the promotional videos the band made, that can be viewed at Youtube.

Katrin: We plan to release a live DVD soon! It’s already filmed and now it’s editing. We count ourselves more as a “live” band than as a “studio” band. So this is more important for us to show to our fans how cool our live shows can be than to just do video clips. “Fear” was filmed very long time ago, when we played heavy metal. “Shadows” we filmed, as I already mentioned, at last year summer for free. In fact we filmed it in a couple hours. Sometimes we use as a promo our live video from the “Heavy Water” fest in Smolensk; it shows better us as live band. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qVuxV57yTAE.

Does the band have ideas in mind for the next full length recording? Are you in the process of writing any new material? And would the band plan to perform in the United States sometime in the future?

Katrin: We just finished our spring tour and now we are having a small vacation. But we’ve already started work on our new album. We just decided not hurry for this time. Three songs are already ready and four are in progress. So I can say that we already have half part of tracks for the album. But this is not fast process in general, because this is not only creative work but also hard and accurate work in studio too. There are so many places in this world where we have never been and the USA is among them. We’re always excited to perform at new places and see new towns and new people. So yes, if we will find possibility to play in the USA, we will do it with pleasure!

Anckora official website
Anckora on VK
Anckora on Youtube
Anckora on Facebook
Anckora on Reverbnation

-Dave Wolff