Interview by Si SmithAfter the 2007 line-up change of the band’s original 2003 members, the band started writing and composing the first album called “The Double Mask of Human Kind”, released on 8th February 2011. The new album differs completely from the two previous demos called “At the Gates of Arcan” and “Darkness and Confusion” by introducing a new, guitar-oriented sound. “The Double Mask of Human Kind” describes the two faces of war, the hopes and fears of the people living in war zones as well as the sarcastic complacency of the people who lead wars according to their personal economic and political interests. Femme Metal got the chance to talk to Marta Iacoponi, singer and violinist from Repsel. Hi Marta. First of all, thank you for talking to us, and a warm welcome from everyone here at Femme Metal.
Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be interviewed by Femme Metal!The band started in 2003 under the name Repsel being an acronym of the original members’ initials. Who was in the band at that time and how has the band changed up until now?
Well, Paolo, the drummer, and Lorenzo, the guitar player, are the band’s only remaining founding members. The band had initially another vocalist. I joined the band in 2004 and we started recording our first demo the same year. The line-up remained the same for almost four years, but on October 2007 Giorgio replaced the former guitar player. Soon after, we began working on the new album, “The Double Mask of Human Kind”. The band changed up another time in January 2010. Alessandro, the bass player, was the last to join the band.Is this the final the line-up? What are the best things about working with the line-up you have now?
I hope the current line-up to be the final one, and I think it could be, because we are highly motivated. Furthermore, the success over the past two years has increased the band’s cohesion and the failures have been overcome better than ever. We play and work hard together towards the same result…When it comes to creating your music, does each member play his individual role? Or is there a main songwriter?
Every song starts from a basic structure of the guitar players or the bass player. Then, I write the lyrics and the vocal lines. Sometimes we write all together and it may happen that the ideas join together during the band’s sessions.Your music has been described as a mixture between metal and progressive rock. Are there any particular progressive or metal ‘heroes’ you look up to as singer, or that the band looks up to?
Each member of the band has different musical tastes and each one of us listens to a lot of music, but a group that joins us is the Porcupine Tree that we saw in Bologna when we were recording our album “The Double Mask of Human Kind” as well as some of the milestones of music like Iron Maiden and Genesis. Their CDs are always present in our journeys.As Italian female-fronted metal becomes more common and common, what do you feel that Repsel has to offer to a newcomer to the scene?
We have always been writing our music spontaneously without thinking about what the market was expecting from us. It seems to me that some of the bands on the scene have lost their naturalness over the last years in order to satisfy the demand of the main labels, but I do think that is more important to write about what you really are rather than what they want you to be. Maybe in the end this will pay us back.It appears that your image has changed across time. The first demo “At the Gates of Arcan” has a hand-drawn fantasy look to it, right down to the sword in the logo. By the time “Darkness and Confusion” comes out, we see a much more refined style, a beautiful portrayal of a tree with some exquisite lettering over it. How has each release been a step along the pathway to where you are now?
In the first demo, “At the Gates of Arcan”, we started telling a story of pure fantasy that ended in the second one “Darkness and Confusion” and represents what we were at that time: dreamers. As we grew up, we felt the need to talk about reality, which happened in “The Double Mask of Human Kind”. We are still following the same path with our new songs, but we are trying to go beyond the narration of objective reality, investigating in the deep of feelings.There are many videos on YouTube of your live performances. How difficult is it to sing and play the violin in the same songs? Do you ever get mixed up? (I know I would!)
I never play the violin and sing at the same time. Every song is conceived for vocal and violin lines never to mix up, and therefore I never get confused.
“The Double Mask of Human Kind” describes the two faces of war. What are these two faces and why it is important to sing about them?
The need of facing a single theme under different points of view and talking about something real made us choose the war as main subject. So, we also had the chance to talk about man, his fears and double nature that reflects on war with winners and losers, executioners and victims.The album cover is very striking. Could you tell us more about this cover?
The hand at the center of the cover represents the hand of a man who is the creator and the victim of the war at the same time. In his fist there’s a powerless God represented as a bleeding Trinity.The first song on the album was also your first video from the album. This video looks very professional and is very effective. It certainly looks like you all are enjoying what you are doing. What was it like recording this video?
We put a great effort in it and it was as involving as the recording of the album itself. It was the first time we were making a video that allowed us to add other messages that couldn’t be otherwise perceived.A fashion question now: who designed the remarkable dress you are wearing in the video? And what does the little girl represent?
My mother and I designed the dress. My mother sewed it the same day of the video shooting. The little girl in the video symbolises the innocence, whereas the entity following her represents the dangers from which children cannot defend themselves, especially in war.“Please Don’t Throw the Dice” has an aggressive riff with a progressive-oriented guitar sound throughout the song. It seems that Repsel is very much a guitar-driven band, which is always nice to see. “No Hope” is a ballad with lovely violin melodies. Your voice on this song is beautiful and you can hear many nuances in your voice. How do you train your voice to keep on singing? Do you have any rituals or techniques to creating such a great sound?
I’ve been taking singing lessons for years. My teacher and I have been working very hard on the diaphragm and on sound resonance. This work has been very useful over the last year and for the recording of our last album.The album has more ‘historical’ songs such as “Guantanamo Bay” and “The 6th August 1945”. How do you get ‘in character’ to sing these songs? Are you able to put some of your own emotion and passion into these songs?
I always start from the emotions that I tell, as if I lived these events in first person. The melodic line also helps me because I write it inspired by the instrumental basis of the guitars.The album certainly builds to a great conclusion with “War Machines”. So, what is the next step for Repsel now the album is out?
We are working on promoting the album with the staff of our label Nomadism and we are trying to organize a tour for the new season. At the same time, we started working on our new album and we’ve already done a good deal of work.Marta, thank you for talking to us. Do you want to say something more to our readers?
I hope to have aroused interest in the readers and I invite them to listen to some of the songs of our album on MySpace. The support of the audience is very important for us and we hope to receive your opinions, which are fundamental for the band’s growth.Thank you once again and we wish Repsel all the best in the future!
Thank you so much for this space dedicated to our band. Goodbye.