Monday, April 22, 2019

Interview with CRYOSPHERE by Dave Wolff

Interview with CRYOSPHERE

Cryosphere’s approach to metalcore draws influence from post-hardcore, alternative metal/nu-metal, progressive metal and classical metal. Does the band combine all those subgenres to redefine metalcore? How far have these efforts come in the brief time you’ve been active?
Matias Lambropoulos (rhythm guitar): I don’t think that we are actively trying to redefine metalcore as a genre. The blend of genres you can hear in Cryosphere is probably more akin to the music that we like, and when your influences are from different genres then maybe it can affect the music we are playing. When I try to write the rhythm guitar I don’t think “alright today I want to write a nu metal guitar part in this song”; I just play what I think is the most fitting to the music. And of course there are a lot of different genres in Cryosphere’s music, but again I think it is more of a byproduct of the different music we are hearing at home.
Christopher Baklid (drums): What's fun about our band is our extremely different ideas of what our sound and style could be. We're currently in the middle of rewriting a very old song where we're playing around with djent-like tones, catchy chord progressions, odd rhythms, electronic and symphonic parts. Since we're a new band we haven't found the core of our sound yet. This is very much an experimental phase for us. The most important part is that we enjoy what we play and push skills forward for ever more interesting songwriting.

How is the band’s name mean to represent the music you write?
Sirene (vocals): All of our lyrics always have multiple meanings and our band name represents us in that same way that CRYOSPHERE means something different to everyone.

When your listeners hear your material, can they generally tell Cryosphere is musically removed from other metalcore bands?
Anders Elleskov (vocals): I think we have the unique sound that would tell us apart from other metalcore bands, because we mix so many different genres and styles. And also our mix of our two vocals, in the way we do, IS special and not very common in the scene today.
Sirene: I don’t think that we sound completely like every other metalcore band out there, but at the same time it’s not our intention to set out and try invent something completely new and progressive that will revolutionize the genre. But for us it happens naturally, due to our unique situation with our diverse backgrounds and our decision to have two primary vocalists.

What genres does each member of the band listen to most often?
Anders: Thrash, metalcore, alternative metal and pop-punk.
Sirene: Metalcore, nu-metal, doom, prog, new wave, art rock and rock.
Christopher: Prog, Death, Tech Death, Doom, Djent.
Matias: Black and Death metal but all kinds of extreme music not only in metal but dark techno and dubstep. But I like every kind of music but again mostly Black and Death.
Asger Markussen (bass): Prog, metalcore, djent
Emil Tronborg (lead guitar): metalcore, prog metal, prog rock, symphonic metal.

Does the band hear a prevalent sameness in metalcore these days? Or do you know of some bands who are taking the genre in new directions?
Anders: Sam Carter and Architects do things that distinguish themselves due to Sam’s incredible vocal techniques, and personally I think that bands like Jinjer and Infected Rain stand out with their female vocalists, which is still a minority in metal. Otherwise there is a lot of generic music that copies sound and style from the established scene without adding that much personal flavor.
Sirene: Honestly, I feel, there’s a lot of generic stuff out there. It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad music, because they can be generic AND successful, but personally I think the magic happens when musicians do their own thing regardless of genre. I know that changing up the music makes people on edge. It divides and confuses the fans, but if that’s your thing, I think it’s smart. Specifically, I’m thinking of Bring Me The Horizon and In This Moment.

Of those bands you mentioned, which of their releases would you recommend?
Anders: Architects: Holy Hell (Album), All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (album)
Jinjer: Pisces (song)
Infected Rain: Orphan Soul (song)
Bring Me The Horizon: Sempiternal (album), Throne/Avalanche/Don't Go (songs)
Sirene: I agree with most of your list, Anders. I’d like to add though In This Moment: Blood (album).

In general, what about those albums and songs have that take underground metal in new and different directions?
Sirene: Bring Me The Horizon, Architects, In This Moment, Jinjer and Infected Rain blend the melodic and harder very well. All of them try to implement things from other genres, for instance electronic effects, symphonic and etc. in their music and they have a very charismatic front figure, who has some clearly defined vocals. Today it’s important that the fans can feel that the music comes from real people, with pain, happiness and stories they want to share with the word. And it feels that way with all of these bands while they’re playing around with genres and pushing the limits of each genre. Especially BMTH are trying to push the limits of metal in general. Their newest album most wouldn’t even classify as metalcore anymore.

What do you mean by clearly defined vocals? Did you mean vocals that phrase the lyrics so that they can be understood without the need for a lyric sheet? A common complaint about harder metal genres is that the lyrics aren’t intelligible. What is Cryosphere doing to improve this?
Sirene: By clearly defined I mean that it's easy to distinguish these vocalists from everybody else. They have that special something that makes them stand out. They are not necessarily easier to understand, but they have something and together with the music they create something unique by simply being themselves. We always provide the lyrics of our songs since the lyrics are important to us and we want everyone interested to be drawn into our lyrical universe with us - even if some of it is unintelligible to most people.

On Youtube there are tutorials from trained vocalists who instruct aspiring singers in extreme metal to use the vocal cords to avoid damaging their throats while singing. These vocalists who post the videos also tell the differences between vocal styles within the genre. Do you think this is a good thing? Have you watched any of those videos?
Christopher: As a former vocalist I started out with Melissa Cross's DVDs The Zen of Screaming, they were absolutely crucial to me learning to scream correctly, especially when performing live where adrenalin runs high and you forget your proper posture and using the right muscles. So yes, the Youtube tutorials are a good place to start, just be sure to read the comments to vouch for whether the instructions lead people down the right paths.
Sirene: Well. I think it depends on who you are. If you have a basic idea on how to sing or scream they might be a good idea, because you usually just need a hint, but it can be very dangerous for your voice to just follow Youtube videos and think everything’s alright, if you have no idea about singing properly. The body has an amazing ability to remember and if you do something wrongly too much, the body will automatically go back to that even when you’re trying to learn the right techniques later. Vocal cords are very fragile and if you screw them up, they might never really recover. I would recommend getting a vocal teacher to at least get the basics in place before going into extreme vocals. I have watched a lot of videos, because screaming did not come naturally to me, but I also had a great vocal coach, who could tell me when I did something wrong, so that I wouldn’t practice the wrong thing over a longer period.

Who was Sirene’s vocal coach, and how helpful were the techniques involved in her studies?
Sirene: I have been training in the CVT (Complete Vocal Technique) style for four years now, because I wanted to learn how to scream and I liked the fact that the CVT is so structured and tries to make vocal training visual with diagrams and whatnot. It has taken me three years to be able to scream just a little bit and the last year I’ve improved exponentially due to the fact that I am finally comfortable in shifting between clean voice and screams and that I’ve been strengthening the muscles needed for loud shouting-style vocals. I’ve changed coaches a lot, since it’s important to be to be in a space that is very safe and when you come down to it CVT coaches aren’t cheap, but I’ve found one Paula Befrits who’s been vital to my progress.

What do you think is the reason bands with female vocalists are still a minority in metal? How much more do bands with frontwomen have to work to be recognized?
Christopher: This isn't just a problem in the metal music industry, this is a fundamental problem. Inequality was established before our time. It became a terrible tradition that needs to be reversed. I think women in metal are already doing everything they can, the problem is the industry as a whole is not doing enough.
Sirene: I don't think that women in music have to work harder to be recognized in general, but I do think that we have to work harder to be recognized as musicians than our male counterparts have to. Somehow there's this underline that female frontwomen are only successful because they're female and that they're just an empty shell. I don't really care about traditions and how the world is supposed to work. I do my own thing and so far people are really responding well to our music. Haters will always hate and people are more than welcome to skip to the next song, if they have issues with my gender. 
When it comes to frontwomen in metal, are looks or ability more important? Or does each have its place? Does visual appeal depend on personal taste in aesthetics and genres?
Sirene: This is exactly the issue with females in (metal) music. Visual appeal has nothing to do with the music that is made. This regards men or women alike, but somehow it’s agreed upon that females have to do the “extra” to be appealing to the masses and that is as important as the music itself. And I just want to distinguish between looks and image. Looks should never matter, when it comes to music, and especially not in metal since metal (usually) carries a higher agenda in the music than just “having a good time”. I wear what I wear for me and not to exploit the fact that I am a woman. I hope our fans like us for our music and not for the fact that I am a woman. I am a musician and I just happen to be a woman.
Christopher: Ability should always be the fundamental reason for success. We (men and women) should not make women aspire to beauty, we should inspire them to greatness.

What more would you do to change the perception of women in metal? What do you feel the underground industry should do? Is the fact that people appreciate what the band does another step in that direction?
Christopher: We hope to inspire new forming bands to include both women and men for their skill instead of their gender by showing that women are just as powerful and hardworking musicians as anyone. In fact Cryosphere wouldn't exist if Sirene didn't work tremendously long hours every day to keep everyone on their toes and pushing forward and we owe her a huge thanks for it!
The underground industry is the best place for people to take a stance against misogyny as that's where everything starts, if people can push for change at the root it'll mold the future of the industry as a whole.
Sirene: Just be a fan of the music. Female fronted is not a genre, it’s just a fact.

Does the band have a principal songwriter, or does everyone share songwriting duties equally?
Sirene: We are all a big part of the songwriting. Most of the time someone has an idea and brings it to a writing session and we all bounce off that idea and expand on it. As a lyricist, together with Anders, we either have an idea we take to the boys or we write the vocal melody afterwards. Most of the time we let the boys work on the riffs and write the vocals afterwards.

Does the band compose songs according to the mood needed for the lyrics? How different does each completed song tend to be?
Sirene: The process with writing lyrics and vocals differ from each song. Sometimes we have a vocal idea we use as a base and write the rest of the song from. Other times we have a finished song where we just need to add vocals and lyrics. In the instances where the music comes first, we listen to the music and dig deep to find out which feelings the music brings out before we write anything. Sometimes the music really tells its own story and it’s very easy to put it into words, other times we struggle a bit. In those instances it’s so great that we’re two vocalists. We never really get stuck, because we can bounce ideas off each other.

In those instances where a song seems to tell a story and it’s speaking to you, how much easier is it to write lyrics to that song? Would you prefer having more songs like that, or is digging deeper into a song helpful to the band’s thinking process?
Sirene: Both scenarios can be amazing. I love it when the lyrics just flows through me. Like the words come from a higher entity and I’m just a vessel and the tool through which they come to life. Other times I have something I want to convey but the process of finding the right words is long and nothing really sounds right, but when the lightning strikes and everything falls into place, it’s the best feeling. Both scenarios give me joy, I don’t prefer one to the other.

Quote the lyrics Sirene considers her most profound. Did they come out in the songs that told a narrative?
Sirene: That would probably be “Wolves & Kings”. This is a song that had a rough birth. I think I rewrote this song more than five times, because I just wasn’t content with the wording of it, but I am really happy with the way it turned out in the end.
I like the silence - seeing the world through dissonant eyes
I seek solitude for my words to blossom
But all I hear is a sound, a scream calling me out
Through the dark constellations that make up my dreams
I’ve managed to turn into a lesser man it seems
A broken bird cries out before it sings
when it’s trapped between the wolves & kings
We storm in with our red painted faces
while the world around us sets on fire
Only ghosts escape our madness
and so the world around us cries out: “LIARS”
My hubris told me I was someone to be prized
Instead I became what I despised
The stars above me are staring down
on the tiniest man with the biggest crown
Am I the only one who lives to see the end?
Is this worth my time? Can I free your mind?
I’ll find my way out of nothingness
and I will swallow my pride before you turn into stone before my eyes!
Voices long forgotten inside of my head,
the blood on my hands, the blood on your tongue,
a whisper in my ear

What story is the song “Wolves & Kings” intended to tell? Does Sirene often rewrite lyrics more than once?
Sirene: “Wolves & Kings” is a journey into ourselves as humans. It’s about waking up one day and realizing that there’s a big difference between who you are and who you want to be and that it is never too late to change the things you aren’t satisfied with. In a way it’s a very personal song, but I’ve tried to add some perspective as well, because I don’t believe that my story is unique in any way. I see it as all of ours story and I want everyone to really look inwards and see if they’re really doing things in a healthy way or if we’re all just stuck in traditions and in doing things the “safe” way, because that’s just the easiest. I want people to be able to think for themselves and decide their own paths and I hope that “Wolves & Kings” inspires to do so. I often rewrite my lyrics. I am perfectionistic; I will not release something that I don’t feel is right.

Name other songs rewritten by Sirene until the lyrics conveyed their intended meaning.
Sirene: I’ve rewritten Nevermore (a demo we’ve released) a few times. The new song we’re rewriting also needs some lyrics rewritten since the instrumentals have changed and that means that the way the lyrics were written before doesn’t fit this song anymore. All of our old stuff is going through a revision period now and as long as we change up the instrumentals in a big way, the lyrics will need revision as well, but “Wolves & Kings” still takes high score since that song has had so many lives before we settled on this one. 

What is the old song the band is in the process of rewriting, as you indicated in the first question? How much of an improvement is it from its original version?
Sirene: The old song we’re rewriting is an unreleased song of ours. We’ve taken the song and rewritten most of the instrumental parts while saving the vocal parts. We’ve undergone a big change in lineup and grown a lot as a band over the past year, so we thought it was a good idea to look at this song again and see if we could improve something, and it looks like it’s going to be our most upbeat song so far. We’re really excited by what we’ve done on it and can’t wait to share it with you all.

What is the name of the song you’re rewriting? Will it be part of a new full length album or released as an exclusive single?
Sirene: The song we’re rewriting is a song we’ve played live a few times and we’ve had really nice feedback on it so we decided to take it back into the studio to rework it. I can’t disclose of yet if it will be a single or a part of something bigger, but we will be releasing some new material later this year. And also the name might change as a part of our rewriting process, so I’d rather not say the working title at this moment, so you’ll have to catch us live to get the name of the song.

How much material will be released this year, and how soon do you expect to come out with it?
Sirene: I don’t want to promise something that we can’t keep, and since we’re doing everything (recording, mixing, mastering) ourselves, everything takes a long time. I can promise that we will release something in the fall, but I cannot promise what it will be yet, since we’re going to record and mix during the summer. But at the least we will release another single this year. Since we’ve reached the finals in Emergenza and got booked for a lot of shows, we haven’t had a lot of time to write and perfect our material after we’ve changed out our lineup, so that’s why everything is a bit behind our intended release schedule, but know that we’re really working hard on making something amazing and we can’t wait to share it all with you.

-Dave Wolff

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