Thursday, January 22, 2015

Caelestia Interview

1. For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
We are a female-fronted progressive melodic death band from Athens, Greece. The band was initially formed in April 2012, by founding members Nick Palyvos (bass / vocals) and Dimitra Vintsou (lead vocals). The band is about to release its second studio album “Beneath Abyss”, on February 16th, 2015 under Finnish label “Inverse Records”. The album was recorded and mixed at “Basement Studios” (with sound engineer Michalis Meleteas) in Athens, and mastered at the renowned “Fascination Street Studios” in Sweden, by Tony Lindgren. A first studio album titled “Last Wish” was released in the end of 2012, under independent label IKK Productions (the band was still called “Me And Myself” then). The title song “Last Wish” became our first official video, which was directed by Christos Tsoukalas (Basement Studios), and released in September 2013. We have just finished shooting our first official video for the new album, thus the title track “Beneath Abyss” with renowned German director Matthias Kollek. The video shooting was conducted in various locations in the Schwarzwald region in southern Germany, and our video is about to be released at the same time of the album release.

2. Recently you have recorded a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
In our new album, we have strived to achieve a well-balanced combination of the styles, that each of the band members favors, thus melodic death metal, symphonic / gothic metal, visible elements of progressive metal, but also black metal passages. The goal was head on to achieve a unique style of our own, and not try to sound like an impression of any other band, which is quite difficult nowadays. Our music is greatly based on diversity, large amounts of guitar riffing and phrasing (it is quite indicative that each of our songs contains at least 7-8 different guitar riffs), changing time signatures and varying tempos, that range from 130 to 210 bpm. We tried hard to break the so called “conventional” form of songwriting (intro / verse / chorus / verse / chorus / solo / chorus / outro etc), and introduce various and altering parts and bridges in our songs, so that the listener is constantly left curious of what’s going to come next. That is quite a big turn compared to our previous album, which could easily be characterized as alternative / gothic metal, with more “conventionally” written songs, and not so many complicated passages, bridges and altering time signatures.

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
Our music and lyrics explore a wide variety of subjects, with the main focus being in the eternal war between good and evil, light and darkness, either taking place internally, thus within an individual’s soul and thoughts, either externally, in the outside world, not leaving aside subjects, such as disrupted states of mind, occult etc. We also tried to give a certain theatrical sense in our song lyrics, introducing dialogues (e.g. in the track “Mi Ultima Vida”) between characters, and lyrics written in Spanish and Latin, besides English. That is a key element in our lyrics and music, which we plan to continue and expand in our future work.

4. Originally the band was known as “Me And Myself”, what was the decision behind the name change and also the meaning and inspiration behind the name “Caelestia”?
The first band name (“Me And Myself”) was more “provisional”, so to speak, and it depicted an emotional state, a state of loneliness (like someone trying to find their pace and identity, and experiencing this feeling of solitude and not-belonging). The decision to change the band name came more or less naturally, after the line-up was finalized, and –most important- after the musical direction and genre was changed to melodic / progressive death metal with female vocals (not to mention the fact that the new name was far better sounding!!). The word “Caelestia” comes from Latin and means “heavenly” or “of the heavens”, and the inspiration came from the lead singer of our group, Dimi.

5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Despite being a recently formed band, we’ve had quite a few live appearances under our belt, but the most stand-out live performances of the band, were: a) at Katatonia concert in Athens Gagarin 205 Club, as a supporting act, along with “Maplerun” and “Scar Of The Sun” on February 22nd, 2013, and as b) a sole supporting act to German horror metallers “The Vision Bleak”, in Athens Club Kyttaro, on February 15th, 2014. When the band opened the Katatonia concert in Athens, it was the band’s first major live performance, and it was well welcomed by a crowd of 700-800 people below stage, so it was a very good starting point. As the band finalized its new musical identity, more live shows came along (spring & summer 2013), which served as a means for the band to get a “tighter” sound. Our best live show so far was definitely the opening for “The Vision Bleak” in February 2014, where we presented a significant number of the new songs (that are contained in “Beneath Abyss”) and unveiled the new musical direction of the band, and this performance received many positive reviews. As a band, we try not to be too static on stage, and we try to transmit our songs’ energy to the crowd, and that seems to work. Of course, there always are things to improve, and we tend to judge ourselves quite harshly, so that every live performance of ours gets better and better.

6. Do you have any touring or show plans once the new album is released?
Of course we do, we have engaged a management agency for that means, and the plan is to start touring sometime in April-May 2015 (not a very large number of shows for starters), mainly in northern & central Europe. Our next tour slots will be planned for October-November 2015 (including appearances in Greece), whereas we have an open invitation to participate in the “Heavy X-Mas Festival” in Grafenhausen, southern Germany, in December 2015. An appearance in this year’s “Metal Female Voices Fest” in Brussels, Belgium is also included in our plans.

7. On the new album, you have some very well known guests on a couple of the songs, can you tell us a little bit more about their contributions?
We had always thought of having some renowned metal musicians contribute to our album, it renders an additional artistic aspect to the songs, and it enriches the whole outcome. Having assigned the mastering of our album to a Swedish studio, we always wanted to have a metal musician from Sweden to participate in one of our songs. After making a few contacts, Bjorn “Speed” Strid (of Soilwork) showed his interest, and agreed to sing “Blessing Of Tragedy”, which suited him best in his vocal abilities and style. We sent him the track by mail, and he immediately started working on the vocals, and the outcome is the amazing singing that you hear in the album. Regarding Markus Freiwald’s (of Sodom) contribution, we sent him the track “Secret Rite”, which we had already recorded with a session drummer, and he agreed to re-record the drums, rendering his unique teutonic thrash drumming style to the song. When Sodom came to Athens for a live show in May 2014, Markus heard the re-recorded song, and was truly thrilled.

8. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of melodic death metal?
Since the album has not yet officially been released, we have relied on reviews regarding our live stage performances in Greece (in the past months). However, in the last few days we have already begun receiving feedback by metal sites, which have reviewed our new record as a whole (thanks to Inverse Records very good network and promoting actions). Our average “grading” in all reviews so far has been well above average (between 7/10 and 8,5/10), which motivates us, as well as boosts our confidence, to work harder and make our music better and better.

9. Where do you see the band heading into musically in the future?
We definitely see ourselves pushing and evolving our melodic / progressive death style, by writing both faster and more aggressive songs in the future, but at the same time not setting the melodic elements aside. It is hard to strike a perfect balance between these two, but it’s surely is worth the effort and time.

10. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Our band’s sound contains influences by many styles of metal, such as death, symphonic, gothic, progressive, black and thrash. One can easily distinguish such passages in our album’s songs, and this is something we cherish a lot, not to mention that it gives us a unique sound. There are many bands that we can name as influences; needless to say that each contributing band member has his/her own influences. If we were asked to name a few, we ‘d say Death, Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, Cradle Of Filth, Katatonia, Hypocrisy, Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ, Nightwish, Epica, Moonspell, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Morbid Angel.

11. What are some of your non musical interests?
We’d mention simple every-day things, such as sports, relaxing with friends, going out, travelling, reading and watching films and series.

12. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
We’d like to thank you very much for this opportunity to speak our minds in public through this interview. As far as our life motto is concerned, that would be summed up in the following words: “never give up on your hopes and dreams, no matter the hardships”.


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