Interview by Vard AmanWell crafted, with superb songwriting, arrangement and lyrical skills, Sanctorium is a band whose art has grown and matured with time and patience (not unlike, as the saying goes, “a fine wine”). Having recently released their debut full length album “The Depths Inside”, I caught up with Sanctorium‘s vocalist, Daria Zhukova. Hi Daria, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine! To start off, how and when did Sanctorium start and how did you all meet?
Hello! Well, Sanctorium was founded in 2005 by guitarist Victor and drummer Andrew. They had been already played together, and after previous project decided to form a new band. I joined to band in November, and guys have started in July. We had met with Victor for 2 years before on guitar courses. The funniest thing was that fact, that I’ve started to sing seriously only since September 2005! Nevertheless I was accepted into band, and I’m still grateful for that.Have you had a lot of line up changes since then?
In the next several years, the band replaced more than half of its members: guitarists, bassists, keyboardists. The reasons were both personal and professional. And in 2009 both founders also left the band, but with the permission to use our songs. So since 2009 I can say that I was a new founder.Tell us a bit about your early releases.
There was home demo, recorded in 2005. It consisted of “Intro” and 3 tracks: “Alone”, “Harvester” and the rose, “Initiation of Al’Hazred”. Then we recorded our first EP in studio. It was titled “Gate of Sin”, where Sin was a God of Moon in Sumerian-Akkadian mythology. We recorded it about one year or more because of lack of experience of recording and abundance of instruments. We included there our longest song “Exiled Angel”, whose duration is 9:18, another “Intro”, “Prayer”, “Thousand Years” and another version of “Initiation of Al’Hazred”. After that problems with line up have started, so the next recording appeared only in 2012, and it was a single “Alive”.Is there any chance you might re-record “Exiled Angel” in the future?
Yes, why not? But I still don’t know, when and where it will be. It can be on one of the next albums, or maybe special EP in doom style. Who knows..And now for that hardest of questions: how would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard you?
It’s really hard question! Well, I would describe it like sympho metal with a lot of influences. Epic monumental sound with violins, choirs, “beauty and the beast” vocals and sometimes “beauty and the beauty”. Or maybe “beast and the beast” =))How would you describe your vocal style?
I have a classical base, and although sometimes I try to sing pop vocal, it’s always with me.
To me it sounds like a lot of thought and work went into your debut album, “The Depths Inside”. Tell us a bit about the writing and recording process of “The Depths Inside” and the different guests that you used.
Well, almost all songs were written the long time before, so there was no problem with material. The newest song on the album is “Cancer of Earth”, which was written in 2012. But some of them were very rarely played live, or not performed at all, like “Maid of Lake” or “Silent Cry”. So the guys had to practice them at home and then record without any rehearsals. Recording process was also long, but not so long as with “Gate of Sin”. We started in April 2013 and finished in October. First part of the album was mixing, when I recorded back vocals in second one. Some arrangements were rewritten directly into the recording process, some instrumental parts, choir and back vocals appeared also only there. As for our guests, we are very grateful to all of them. Violin parts were performed by Ekaterina Sapogova, excellent musician and responsive person. You can listen to her in early Dominia and Tvangeste. The female choir were perfomed by Daria Lozinskaya, a talented singer and a friend of mine. We had both studied at the Conservatory. Anastasia Simanskaya is a well-known person in metal community as a voice of Citadel, power metal band of mid 2000s. She has a brilliant soprano coloratura, and it was my dream to sing together some day. She is also a good friend of mine, so sometimes dreams come true! As for male choir, guest male vocal in “Dragonqueen”, mixing and mastering – here great thanks once again to Max Morton, vocal of Ukrainian metal band Morton, gorgeous professional, multinstrumentalist and sound engineer, and kind, positive and wise person. We had a great pleasure in working together, and I hope our second album will be mixed and mastered also by him and only by him.I was very impressed with the lyrics as well! Can you give the readers an idea of what your lyrics are about and what inspires them?
As I said above, most of album songs were written long ago. In that time our first vocalist Sergey wrote texts to all music (and also some music). He was very interested in different mythologies, especially in Sumerian one. As I remember, Therion also inspired him and our guitarist-composer Victor. So, what are texts about… It’s like deep-colored paintings, because they are descriptive. They describes places, characters, situations… As for now, texts are written by our present vocalist and by me, so they are much less mythological. Maybe, more about nature, human’s problems and sins. Our music inspires us by itself.At the end of “The Depths Inside” I was left thinking: “a sequel is coming”. Are you working on new material, and will it carry on from where the last one left off, or is it still too early to tell?
I think, albums will be different. “TDI” was a whole page of history, we wrote it and now it’s time to go ahead. I hope we’ll use choirs and orchestral instruments, like there, but it will not be a sequel, just another story.What has the response been to “The Depths Inside” so far, both in Russia and internationally?
To our delight, the album was warmly received by critics and fans. We’ve got a lot of laudatory reviews both from Russia and abroad. You know, after it there is a little scary to release a second album, because you afraid to accidentally spoil the first impression.How about touring? Have you done any tours or have any planned?
No, because right now we are on vacation. After it I think we’ll concentrate on second album, because concerts distract us from it. However, if we’ll receive an interesting suggestion, why not? We are always open for it! We would like to play somewhere abroad.What for you is the best and worst things about playing in a band?
The best thing is that you can feel yourself as a part of a whole creative organism, feel that energy. About worst… You have to always find compromises in any questions, because musicians of Sanctorium are totally different people, with different characters, preferences in music and life. And if you don’t want offenses or scandals, you always must invent new solutions that would satisfy the majority.What do you do/like to do when you’re not making music?
My second big passion is photography. I like to make photos of people, nature, animals – whatever I see. And I like to be a model too. Also I like to travel! I have visited a lot of places in Europe, and want to travel more and more. The brightest and hardest experience was in the south of Italy, where I visited my friend. He has shown me a lot of beautiful places, but after returning home I couldn’t feel my legs. It’s really hard to travel in mountains with heavy backpack, when it’s +40 degrees outside. But now I look at photos, which were taken there, and want to return there some day. Also I like Swiss a lot, I’ve been there with a classical vocal ensemble. We had visited more than 30 cities, towns and villages, and I liked them all. Amazingly beautiful country! Besides that, I like to read and watch good movies. And playing good RPGs! =)