Friday, 4 August 2017
INTERVIEW WITH INSATIA, (POWER METAL)
1. How long did it take to write Phoenix Aflame?
Zoë: It took about a year- I wrote vocal melodies and lyrics first, and then guitars/drums/bass/keys were built around those.
2. Do you all work on the writing together?
Zoë: For this one, the current lineup was not yet established. It was really a collaboration this time between myself and Fabio D’Amore (Serenity) Ivan Moni Bidin (Starsick System, Pathosray) as producers, and Christian Hermsdorfer (Serenity, Beyond The Black)
3. What inspired the title for the album?
Zoë: For me it was really a celebration of suffering- we didn’t choose to call the album “Phoenix Rising” or “Phoenix Resurrecting”. We chose the visual of the Phoenix on fire, the last moments of it’s current life. The title reflects the value of pain, because there is no growth without pain and pain is made useful when turned into art.
4. Where do you draw your influences from?
Zoë: Lots of places, some obvious and some not so much. Definitely bands like Within Temptation, Epica, Nightwish, Delain, etc., and for me as a writer I actually get a lot of inspiration from Poets of the Fall, Blutengel, Audrey Assad, The Birthday Massacre, AFI, and about a million others. I don’t limit myself to learning from just a few bands in my own genre.
5. Phoenix Aflame's cover is very striking and majestic. Who designed the cover for the album and how long did you work together to arrive at an image you were all happy with?
Zoë: The concept originated between myself and a good friend, Tony Alongi, because I didn’t want the traditional red/gold phoenix with red/gold fire. I chose a white phoenix with blue fire. We brought this concept to Gogo Melone, an incredibly talented graphic designer and vocalist for several outstanding metal projects, and she came highly recommended. She took it in a slightly more mythical/sci-fi direction, but it ended up really looking great. It’s beautiful art, and Gogo will definitely be doing more work for us in the future.
6. What are themes behind Phoenix Aflame?
Zoë: As the title explains, it’s really a celebration of suffering. I don’t like getting into specific stories behind my music, but for sure we tried to touch on a variety of emotions that are part of the spectrum of human existence. Guilt, hope, love, wonder… positives and negatives. Most importantly of all I wanted to convey the message that there is always a way forwards, a next chapter.
Dave: It’s the longest most complex metaphor for the love of Pizza ever created.
7. @ Dave. I read the following on the FB page "Will not give interviews unless socks are sent to the bassist". How would you feel about a winning an endless supply of my sweaty running socks signed by myself?
Dave: I would need a list of your accomplishments in order to appraise the resale collectors value of said socks.
If you've ever played in Metallica that would be great.
And what advice would you give me if I wish to become an avid sock collector, and are there any training courses that can help with this competitive scene?
Dave: It’s a new activity I’ve apparently pioneered, if you start doing it too we can call it a scene and discuss it on your show.
8. What has the reaction been like to Phoenix Aflame so far?
Zoë: Generally quite positive, we’ve gotten a lot of attention for being a North American band doing power metal with female vocals.
9. What are your favorite tracks from the album?
Zoë: Phoenix Aflame and Not My God, for sure.
Dan: Healer of Hatred and Captor and Captive.
Dave: Captor And Captive, Healer of Hatred, Phoenix Aflame.
Kaelen: Favs are Captor and Captive and Memory of a Sapphire
10.@ Zoe. Who are you're favorite singers from both metal and non metal music?
Zoë: Oooo boy that’s a long list. Simone Simons, Floor Jansen, Sharon Den Adel, Roy Khan, Chester Bennington, Tommy Karevik, Marko Saaresto, Diana Damrau, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Davey Havok, Chris Pohl, Zene Smith, Alissa White-Gluz, and about 50 others.
11. @ Zoe. How do you keep you're voice in good condition?
Zoë: I’m very careful with my voice, it’s a muscle basically so I stretch it and exercise it and never try to damage it with anything reckless like smoking. My background was originally classical voice studies and my professor, Dr. Michael Anders, threatened to take away our voice scholarships “If we ever inhaled *anything*” haha. He was a scary, grumpy guy from Texas, and we all listened to him!
12. @ Dave. Don't worry, no more sock questions. Who are some of you're faovrite bass players and are you a self taught bass player?
Dave: I’m a self taught bass player, and by that I mean I'm a guitar player who picked up bass to do a tour with my brother’s band and somehow landed another gig after. Favorite base player is Mike Flores of Origin.
13. @ Kaelen. Who are some of you're favorite guitar players and are you a self taught guitar player?
Self taught. Started young with guitar but got my degree in classical singing/film scoring. I am currently fanboying over Tosin (Animals As Leaders) but Michael (Opeth) has been one of my all time favorite musicians all around.
14. @ Dan. Who are some of you're favorite drummers and did you learn to play the drums yourself?
Dan: Yep, I taught myself and my faves are Matt Gartska, Matt Greiner, Luke Holland, and Adam Gray.
15. How did Insatia meet and form the working relationship with Staffan Karlsson?
Zoë: It’s funny because Staffan is literally one of my favorite people in the entire world. Fabio and him really did more than produce this album, they had big conversations with me about life, the universe, politics, philosophy… everything under the sun. Staffan is one of the smartest, kindest men I know, so much so that my grandparents have adopted him as their “Swedish son” (Fabio is their “Italian son”) which I guess makes him my uncle now, haha. I would hate to record vocals with anyone else now, period.
16. Phoenix Aflame features collaborations and guest appearances from other musicians. How did you all meet and do you plan further collaborations in the future?
Zoë: We were very fortunate that Fabio and Staffan had many good friends who were willing to contribute to this album. I’m grateful to them all- some of them I’ve been listening to in their own projects for years. We definitely are starting to work on a “guest list” for the next album.
17. Insatia embodies various musical ranges within your sound, which in my opinion would probably make you fairly accessible to music fans as a whole, and not just metal heads. I'm curious if you guys had any coverage outside of the metal world or fans from other music scenes?
Zoë: We actually do, and it’s kind of easier for a band in our sub genre because we’re not straight up “heavy metal.” I love all kinds of metal, from black to power, but not all of it makes for easy listening to the everyday music fan. People who are normally classical or even folk/bluegrass fans have written to say they’ve loved the album, and obviously that’s great that we can bridge genre gaps like that.
18. How long did it take to film the video for Memory of a Sapphire and did you all work on the idea together?
Zoë: Oh my gosh that was so much fun. Our production team was the best, the theater we used was amazing, and it all went very smoothly. Easily one of the highlights of this album cycle. We filmed it all in about 8 hours. The concept was very simple, and we wanted it that way for this video. Some of the shots are actually shot through the glass sapphire I’m holding in the video, adding this interesting blue sparkle- that was our producers’ idea.
19. I was reading that Insatia have started working on demos for the follow up to Phoenix Aflame. The creative process can certainly be exhausting and a mental drain at times. In your opinion what methods would Insatia advise to musicians and writers to develop for both crafting ideas and taking a break when necessary?
Dave: Rip off your favorite band. Keep wine handy at all times.
Zoe: I don’t know what a writing break is. I’m always writing. But yeah, spend lots of time listening to what you love. Get inspired!
Dan: Aside from Insatia I'm working on personal music and it’s too much sometimes. The best advice is when in the creating process is it’s best to focus on one project at a time. I feel like you won't exhaust yourself and you'll direct better ideas to one place.
Kaelen: Take your time. Get started early and try out as many different methods to writing. The creative process is also in creating new ways to write.
20. What themes/concepts are inspiring the next release or do you gradually work through this bit by bit?
Zoë: The next album already has a sneaky theme running through it all, I can definitely say that, and we’re already conceptualizing the artwork and other details for it as well. It’s definitely got it’s own distinct flavor already, a maturation of sound and ideas. We’ll actually be debuting one of the new songs at our shows this fall.
21. What do you all enjoy the most about playing and writing music with Insatia?
Dave: Our jam space, it’s dope as fuck.
Zoë: I like getting to see other people interpret my lyrics through the lens of their own stories. When I get emails or messages about that, it makes me feel like I’ve made art that’s more than just self-explanatory diary entries.
Dan: I think overall it's good vibes and a fun genre.
Kaelen: I really enjoy the drive we all have.
22. What have been some of your favorite live shows with Insatia?
Dan: First show I played with these guys I guess haha, back on New Years 2017.
Zoë: Definitely October 2014 with Sonata Arctica/Xandria/Delain.
Dave: Vegas, 2015. It was a perfect show for me because I was exhausted past the point of being self conscious.
Kaelen: Our NYE 2017 show in Montreal was loads of fun.
23. Where would you like to tour next?
Zoe: Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Mexico.
Dan: Any place in Europe.
24. What is the local scene like for indie music?
Dave: Montreal has a great music scene, were lucky to be doing what we do here.
Kaelen: Yeah Montreal is great thankfully.
Zoë: Montreal is definitely a superior music scene for metal as compared to my hometown, Tucson.
25. Are there any other bands/artists you would recommend for the readers?
Dave: Battle Beast is the only band that exists right now to me.
Zoe: Ascendia, they’re breathtaking.
Kaelen: My buddies in Mandroid Echostar. I love them and so proud of them for winning a Juno this year. Definitely worth checking out.
26. @ Zoe. I read you hosted a show on Metal Express Radio featuring some of you're favorite tracks. Is this something you would like to do again or maybe Insatia could start their own podcast?
Zoë: I had a lot of fun doing that- I’m pretty open about what I’m listening to, but if you gave me my own podcast I would probably talk forever and say nothing of real consequence. People with podcasts are already out there airing interesting content on a regular basis, like Joe Rogan, haha.
Dave: It would be fun to do a traveling podcast on the road interview fans from different places to get a feel for each scene, could probably sell it to vice.
27. I also co-host a talk radio show involving discussions (or should I say nerding tbh) about all kinds of music, movies, and comics. Does Insatia have any interest in talk radio, and if so, what would Insatia like to do for a chat show?
Zoë: Oh man yes. We’re all super nerds. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Portal, Skyrim, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, HP Lovecraft, Xmen, the best brands of Mezcal, I mean pick your poison and we’ll gladly come shoot the breeze with you.
Kaelen: I dig talk shows- I can bounce around all kinds of subjects.
28. What other music do you all enjoy outside of metal?
Zoë: I love bluegrass and jazz. The Telluride Sessions by Strength In Numbers is a regular bing album for me. Progressive Bluegrass. Mmmm.
Dave: I dabble in some outlaw country, Hank 3 is the shit.
Kaelen: I love all forms of progressive music. I really love drum n bass, Carly Rae Jepsen and ambient orchestral stuff too.
29. Are there any non metal genres of music or bands/singers that you all would like to work with or previously worked with?
Zoë: I would love to work with Marko Saaresto from Poets of the Fall someday. He’s just a brilliant, dynamic vocalist and writer.
Dave: I think Pink would be a great metal/hard rock singer, we should try to get her out if she's bored with what she's doing.
Dan: I’d love to work with Getter and more of the EDM scene.
Kaelen: Honestly, I love working with musicians ,so anyone would be fun to bring me new writing perspectives.
30. @ Zoe. I read that you enjoy Japanese culture. Would this be anime, Haiku poems, or Japanese history? Or all of those areas?
Zoë: I was originally studying mathematics and Japanese at university- I love the language most of all, it’s very unique in a lot of it’s setup, and language in general fascinates me. I also write really bad haikus. Observe:
Sunsets are pretty
The neighbors are cooking meth
Can I have coffee?
31. What do you all enjoy to relax when not playing metal with Insatia?
Zoë: I’m mother to an amazing 4 year old daughter who keeps life pretty much perfect. Other than that I read, cook, write, draw, and run.
Dave: Mayer Hawthorn and Chromeo are my go to relax tunes- I chill out.
Kaelen: I spend time on my family farm.
Dan: I love to make electronic music, train, and more music.
32. What are some of you're favorite movies and TV series?
Zoë: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, LOST, A Beautiful Mind, Lord of the Rings, Baby Driver, Rick and Morty, old school Disney princess stuff.
Dave: Anything from Tarantino, Attack On Titan, Rick and Morty, and Deadwood.
Dan: Futurama is my favorite show and second to that is Rick and Morty.
Kaelen: Lord of the Rings, The 100, Star Trek.... I am a film nerd so there are a lot.
33. Is there anything you would like to shout out or say to the readers?
Zoe: Accept that you’re worthy of love, love others for who they are, spend life in constant growth, and pursue your goals passionately.
Dave: Following your dreams is the worst advice ever, I'm here to advise against it.
Dan: Give what you love your best.
Kaelen: Shout out to my cats! Hah. (please insert finger gun emoji here)
Thank you for the awesome answers! I wish you all the best with future music and tours. Peace and respect, Gaz, Ancient Visionz.