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Blackthorn Interview

Blackthorn Interview:

Doctor T of the Sonic Cathedral staff speaks to the members of Blackthorn about their work and the Russian music scene...

Doctor T:  In the review of your CD, I talked about how Blackthorn came into being, using some wide literary license to describe that path. Could you talk a little about how it actually happened?

Aina:  Almost everything you’ve wrote about was for real. As for a magic book as a gift, I can say that my friends actually brought me just a CD, but it did leave a lasting impression on me. It was the first album of Tristania called Widow’s Weeds and possibly it was that very thing inspired me to create my own band. There are inaccuracies of the line-up for October 2004 as well, but it doesn’t matter anymore.


Doctor T:  So how does that impact your interest in witchcraft, is that still an interest or is that more of a theatrical vehicle for you and the rest of the band.

Aina:  It depends on what you mean by «witchcraft». If we talk about spells, ritual dances, arcanums and etc, then it’s just a vehicle. If we talk of strength of mind, chemistry between a few people, self-actualization, then yes, it’s our big interest.

Doctor T:  Could you tell us the goal of your music, are there things you want to accomplish beyond the entertainment factors?

Elvira:  I believe our main goal is self-expression and energy exchange between us and the audience. Words can't describe what you feel when that process is going; this is sort of a magic ceremony and I can’t call it just «hobby» or «pastime».

Doctor T:  Do you generally play in Moscow or do you travel to other locations? What geographic areas are you interested in expanding to in terms of live performances?

Aina:  We prefer to travel to other locations in these latter days. No special areas, we just try to share our music and live energy with as many people as it possible.

Doctor T:  The composition of your band is interesting, could you speak about how that development took place.

Aina:  As far as I remember, I didn’t plan to found a female band, so let me say it all happened by accident. At that time I didn’t even expect that Blackthorn will stand out from the majority of metal bands with their androcratic atmosphere.

Greta:  Yeah, I know we do stand out, because most people still make aliens of female musicians, especially metal ones. I think that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to music, creativity satisfaction and skills levels are more important. In distinction from the men musicians I know in real life, Blackthorn share the above point of view.

Doctor T:  I think there is probably more acceptance of female metal in Europe than in the US, we have very little of that. Is Russia more European in that sense or more like the US?

Aina:  I’m not sure I agree with this point of view, I always thought there is the same state of things. Anyway, if the US has very little of female metal, I think we are more like the States.

Doctor T:  Your work takes place largely in Russia. For readers in the United States and elsewhere, could you speak about how the music scene in Russia has responded to your music?

Aina:  Upon the whole, the music scene responded to Blackthorn well. Of course, there were a few Blackthorn haters, but they looked so crestfallen that we didn’t make allowance for them.

Doctor T:  Do you have plans to work outside of Russia? Your music would be pretty well received in Western Europe I would suspect and there seems to be a lot of interest in the review published on our website? Would you be interested in playing in the States?

Aina:  Yes, we do and we’re going to execute them very soon! First of all, I must say that our first performance outside of Russia is just around the corner; it’s Metal Heads Mission Festival in Ukraine (enough for beginning, heh) and a few days ago we signed a contract with the UK label Ravenheart Music Records, so Europe should prepare for Blackthorn ;-) Of course, we’re interested in playing in the US, everything depends on your gig providers.

Doctor T:  In terms of music creation, how does the process work? Do you begin with a lyrical theme or do you start with the music first and then develop the lyrics?

Elvira:  Sometimes we begin with lyrics, sometimes music comes first. Being the main band composer, I usually write some music and then send it to Aina to complete the song, as she writes all the lyrics. I have to stress that every musician of our band can give his own ideas during creation of songs, and brings some melodic elements. I am not a tyrant and I don’t have any rules for writing music. What is really important is sincerity.

Doctor T:  Do you write in Russian? Who does the translating into English and is the translation a direct one or do you change lyrics to meet the demands of the English language?

Aina:  Yep, new Blackthorn write in Russian. Actually I’ve never translated our lyrics into English, because if I’m going to write a song in English, I start with English. Sometimes I translate the songs into Russian, that's more like it.

Doctor T:  As a practicing pagan, I am familiar with the art of witchcraft to some extent. Could you talk about your influences from this mystical direction and how that is expressed in your music.

Freya:  Any kind of creative work should imply some magic. You should broaden the horizons of your perception and you can do it better by means of witchcraft and magic.

Doctor T:  How do you think the live audience reacts to the “witchcraft” part of your show? Do they respond positively or is it something they think about. Much of your music and lyrics are pretty dark, that has to be a theme the listeners are aware of.

Aina:  They don’t respond positively or negatively, they just take it for granted as they know we have witch style. Those who are hostile to our shows are those who don’t dig dark stage at all, in most cases.

Doctor T:  Could you describe the music scene in Russia, especially in Moscow? What aspects of that environment might be of interest to our largely western readers?

Freya:  Metal scene in Moscow and in the whole country lives much to be desired, unfortunately. But there are several groups that are worth listening.

Doctor T:  Who are some of the musical groups that have influenced you and which bands to you listen to yourselves?

Aina:  I know that Freya listen to Hanzel und Gretyl, Lordi, Lux Occulta, Mekong Delta, Vintersorg. Elvira prefer Dimmu Borgir, Anorexia Nervosa, Limbonic Art, Septic Flesh, Draconian, Greta is into Sirenia, Korn, Nightwish, Deathstars, Tarot. Varaska’s favorite bands are Unexpect, Ajattara, Emperor, My Dying Bride. I can say we all have similar taste in music, so my favorites are among the above mentioned. As for influences, I’m mostly influenced by classical singers, not metal vocalists.

Doctor T:  What aspects of your music do you see as setting you apart from the rest of the female metal scene, how is Blackthorn different?

Elvira:  It’s pretty hard to compare Blackthorn with another female metal band. A female line-up is not something you can see daily, so every female metal band looks special… at least if they are not wannabes of other women in metal.

Freya:  First of all may be the style of the music. We have the touch of wide-spread dark styles and more brutal parts appear in our material now. It is a rather rare combination, I suppose.

Doctor T:  In the review on our website, I talked about the male grunter you used in one of your songs. Do you plan to use guest musicians like that in the future?

Aina:  We plan to use clean male vocals, no growl or scream anymore though. The reason is that we begin to scream and growl ourselves.

Doctor T:  Your website talks about a theatre background being a part of the Blackthorn heritage. How has that background influenced your music?

Aina:  If you mean our brand new songs, I don’t think that theatre, in other respects children’s theatre, has any influence on us now. Time passed by, new impressions took the shine out of the old ones… Many things have changed and that's why we're not influenced by the same things anymore.

Doctor T:  Could you talk about some of the things that currently influence you, what are some of the new directions you’re interested in?

Aina:  Whole band’s now interested in black metal, we’re going to sound more brutal, we’re going to be a real symphonic black metal band. As it usually is, we’re influenced by the music of our favorite bands, as for the lyrics, it jumped towards violent theme as well.

Doctor T:  Max, the drummer for Blackthorn is blind. That’s not something we see everyday. How does that work out, especially in live performance?

Elvira:  We had a few asperities relating to the using of metronome and the setting up of the drum equipments. I said «we had» because Max has decided to leave Blackthorn to dedicate all of his time to Dominions; his old band. We understand this fact, respect his decision and wish him all the best in the future. But now it’s a time to announce our new member – Varaska the the Mortiferous Winter Blastphemy! A pretty girl and a talented drummer, she turned Blackthorn into an all female metal band, yay! We’re really proud of that.

Doctor T:  An all girl band, well, that means some new pictures, when do we get to see them?

Aina:  We’ll try to setup a photo shoot as soon as we can. Right now we’re too busy ladies.

Doctor T:  Your current release is out in both English and Russian. Do you expect to continue with that direction, providing releases in both languages?

Aina:  No. We plan to place all the songs in English, Russian and other languages on one CD in years to come.

Doctor T:  Will they be written in Russian? What other languages do you think you might use. I’ve talked to other bands who say they won’t record in their own languages, Dutch, for instance. In my opinion, Russian sounds pretty good.

Aina:  I think Blackthorn will try Latin, French and German, maybe Norwegian and Italian. Yeah, here in Russia we also have a lot of the bands that don’t wanna write in native language not for love or money. Russian sounds good, I agree with you:-)

Doctor T:  Any other thoughts for our readers at Sonic Cathedral?

Aina:  First off, we'd like to thank Sonic Cathedral and it’s readers for the interest and for giving us an opportunity to introduce ourselves! Also we’d like to invite everyone interested to visit Blackthorn’s myspace where you can listen to our new songs pretty easily.

Doctor T:  And that address would be:

Aina:  www.myspace.com/blackthornian

Doctor T:  Thanks ladies and we look forward to more Russian music from Blackthorn in the very near future.