Tuesday, 23 December 2014

INTERVIEW: Season of Ghosts

Although frantically busy following the release of her debut solo album - The Human Paradox, Sophia Aslanidou of Season of Ghosts, took time out to talk to Femetalism about not only her new album but her collaboration and new business venture with Zombie Sam and her experience at Female Metal Voices Festival this year.

Hi Sophia, can you tell us about yourself?

Hello! I’m a Greek person who loves music, Japanese fashion, travelling, food, fluffy animals and cute things!

Can you give us some insight into your new project Season of Ghosts and
how it came about?

photo: Bert Van den Wyngaert SEASON OF GHOSTS started out as a side project to my previous band, BLOOD STAIN CHILD, but in the meantime I decided to quit altogether and focus only on SoG. I’m glad I did so, because it gave me the unparalleled liberty to polish older skills and discover a whole bunch of new ones! No one was allowed to have much of a creative opinion in BSC, it was all the leader’s work, apart from the lyrics, so had I stayed in a situation like that, I would have continued being a lyricist and performer. And a manager. And a whole bunch of other things, hahahah…but definitely not a
music producer. With SoG I forced myself to sit on the main composer’s/producer’s chair for the first time. It was very demanding, but I feel happy now, looking back. Your album The Human Paradox is being released in December.

Can you 
tell us about the concept for the album, the songs, the writing and
recording processes? 

It’s a concept album, talking about the circle of life through the eyes of a wanderer, a time traveller. It’s a narration, starting from birth and ending with reincarnation. It’s probably not a first in the music industry, but I believe it’s original because of my personal take on the subject by incorporating a good portion of my beliefs and opinions about basic, human subjects.

Misc trivia! I always seclude myself whenever I have to write and only my cats are allowed to come close and contribute to my inspiration with their fluffy awesomeness. For the time being, I’m an analog person, so I compose on real instruments, piano and guitar and record vocal ideas on my phone.

MiA from the popular J-rock band, MEJIBRAY, played on two tracks of the album, which is a cool addition for those who love Japanese music. All vocals were handled by me, melodic and harsh, while Ettore Rigotti (Disarmonia Mundi) was responsible for the mixing and mastering. We
recorded the album mainly in NERO ARGENTO’s studio, Aexeron studios, in Turin, Italy. It was created between Greece and Italy and I worked with my co-producer, ZOMBIE SAM as well as NERO ARGENTO, the album’s “developer”, via internet and phone.

You have been heavily involved with all aspects of the albums creation
from writing the songs to the mixing and mastering.  This has clearly made
the album much more personal to you. How do you feel this very hands on
approach has influenced the album?

I think it’s what made all the difference! People and critics who’ve already listened to the album are talking about a deep impact, a purely personal experience, which could have been achieved only in the way I did. I insist on combining multiple musical styles at all costs, so we all worked hard on finding the perfect compromise between sounds and vocals. I also recorded a ton of vocal layering, which made people’s job harder while mixing, but that’s what I wanted it to sound like. Above all, I felt I had to make something purely “ME”, whoever that “me” might be anyway.

You can love it or hate it, but at least it’s honest and genuine. I didn’t want to copy anybody, that’s why I've hardly been listening to music for the last few years. Influences are unavoidable, but give this record a spin and you’ll see what I mean.

As an artist, do you have any particular musicians or styles that you
draw influence from? Where do your ideas for music come from?

My ideas come from observing humans and the world around and beyond. They come from dreams and impulses. Even when I used to write poetry and won national prizes, I always wrote intuitively. I can compose upon request (for other artists), but for my own works, I only use intuition. My favourite artists are Anathema, The Smashing Pumpkins, Malice Mizer and a ton of other western experimental and visual kei artists.

Last year you worked on a cover of Sarah’s Song with Zombie Sam. How did that collaboration come about, and did that lead to you working together on touring The Human Paradox?

Zombie Sam is my right hand in SEASON OF GHOSTS, the co-producer of my album and 1/3 of Ghost Legion, my live session band. In fact, working together on my album consumed so many hundreds of hours that we decided to keep it like that and produce  more things!

I’m also singing on his Carol Of The Bells cover released on Monday the 22nd December 2014 and we’re soon launching our own company, INVICTUS MEDIA! It’s a media company focusing mainly on soundtrack, for movies, TV, games etc, also full album production, compositions, arrangements, artist development and much more! It’s still under construction but here’s the link: www.invictusmedia.org

You recently played Metal Female Voices Festival in Belgium. This was the first show you had played as Seasons of Ghosts. How was this experience for you?

It was certainly exciting and a little bit terrifying. Exciting because it always was my first show after almost 2.5 years and terrifying for the same reason. First of all, I had to play on stage with people I barely knew. I met the other 2 members of Ghost Legion in the studio for the first time and we rehearsed for just a couple days before taking off for MFVF, but that was fine because it was as if we’d been playing together forever.

Then, the festival conditions were not very favourable towards smaller bands, which is perfectly normal for such a big festival, but this sadly reduced our performance level to -90% from what we’d originally prepared. We were not allowed a sound-check and we were denied even the promised back-line check, so I could hear everything BUT my own voice from the monitors *laughs*. Then, the PA staff asked me to go onstage and place the set-list on the monitor and he just pushed play and the show started without any warning. So my members had to run to take their jackets from backstage and be on time for their parts. I admit this caused me panic, but I calmed down after the second half of the first song. We had tons of fun afterwards, though, so it’s definitely been one of the best memories of 2014!

What do you enjoy most about playing live?  Do you have a favourite song to perform?

I like it when people respond to what I say and they’re able to feel what I’m giving them that moment. It’s important. I’m not there to just throw a bunch of songs to people’s faces and leave. I wanna make an impact. Favourite song to perform is probably Time Travellers and Genesis? I love
the whole album, so I can’t choose *laughs*

Metal Female Voices Festival is a huge, prestigious event to play. Are there any other venues, festivals or cities you would like to play that you haven’t already?

It’s an amazing event overall and I was incredibly honoured to perform there for my first show. Until now I’ve performed in the States, Russia, Ukraine, Belgium and of course Japan, so I’d like to go to everywhere I’ve never played before, even Australia!

Can you tell the Femetalism readers something about yourself that they might not already know. 

I used to practice Tae-kwon-do and I love martial arts! Other sports don’t really amuse me, to be honest.

What is coming next for Season of Ghosts?

Hopefully lots of touring and happy, productive moments in 2015. Please wait for me in the U.K! Take care!

Huge thanks to Sophia for taking this time and talking to Femetalism.  We look forward to seeing more about the new business and future releases and collaborations.

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Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.