Interview by Jack WilliamsAria Flame was created in the spring of 2011 by dramatic mezzo soprano singer and composer, Aziza Poggi and percussionist, Erik Sales. Before putting a live unit together, Aziza started composing melodies and writing lyrics on her piano. Guitarist Dan Cruzan and bassist & producer Greg Cloon and later joined in as full time members. They are described as a neo classical dark hard rock outfit with a circus like flare, which was created out of the ashes of progressive Egyptian themed metal band Dendura. Whom which was heard on Comedy Central Network, featured in national magazines such as Metal Hammer and Vocals, and also opening for several international acts such as Epica, Unexpect, Scar Symmetry, Edguy, Doro Pesch and The Agonist. They disbanded in late 2010. Their music is inspired from movie soundtrack composers Danny Elfman and John Williams, classical and baroque composers, Beethoven and Handel, and metal bands such as Korn, Nevermore, Revamp. On occasion, Aria Flame will perform Dendura music as well. Aria Flame’s music features classical and haunting rock style female vocals with classical and symphonic keyboards, electric guitar and intricate bass and drums.They use eerie diminished chords and lyrics describing one’s journey from being taken into the darkness using the myth of the phoenix as a metaphor. The music is written in a concept album fashion. The word Aria comes from the classical word meaning “song” and the word “flame” representing the phoenix. Morphing the two words together reflects the combination of styles in their music. Aria Flame’s debut EP “A World of Silence” was released on October 11, 2014 and was produced by bassist Greg Cloon of Underground Studios and mixed and mastered by Grammy Award Winning producer Neil Kernon (Nevermore, Nile, Judas Priest). Their first single, “Divine World” was released on September 3, 2013 to the public. Then at midnight of Halloween in 2013, Aria Flame released their first music video for it. The video had received rave reviews and attention worldwide landing them international press and a growing fan base. Aria Flame performed a trilogy of female fronted metal shows, starting with opening for international acts, Xandria and Delain on September 15, 2014, then performing at Sirens of Metal Festival and Milwaukee Meowsic Festival in early October, before making their way to the Metal Female Voices Festival on October 17th-19th in Belgium, where they will be performing alongside international act such as, Therion, Draconian and Diabulus in Musica. Today I am joined by the lovely and multi-talented Aziza Poggi, singer and mastermind behind Aria Flame. Hello Aziza, welcome to Female Metal Webzine, how are you?
I’m wonderful! Thank you.It’s been my pleasure to see you perform three times this month, the last being MFVF. How was it performing at the festival?
Amazing! It was more than I expected, a complete rush of adrenaline and more than I could hope for. The fans are so warm and friendly and the festival was so well organized. MFVF had an excellent reputation but I was not expecting it to be so grand.It was a real treat to see your show and see so many guest appearances from Grace Meridan, Kassandra Novell and Sabrina Cruz. Along with Joop on keyboards. It really broadened and deepened the show, and I felt the crowd really appreciated it. How did that all come about?
I thought the crowd appreciated it too. I’m glad to hear that. When I became a part of Eve’s Apple, I wanted to make a difference and be an influential performer. I thought, what better way to support and strengthen this genre than collaborate together on a song or two like the Eve’s Apple concerts have done in the past! When you pick up a mic with another singer, and the chemistry works, everyone is happy and it shows with the audience. I believe it to be a healthy way to join forces with other musicians and female singers. So when we were accepted in MFVF, I thought of adding on guest singers and spoke to Grace first about it. Grace, Kassy and I already were doing a few shows together prior to MFVF, and I really had faith it would add to the show. Grace suggested also Sabrina for MFVF and I took a listen to her band Seven Kingdoms and was impressed so we added her on. Joop emailed me and discussed guest keyboards and once I heard his playing in Magion, I couldn’t say no. The girls and Joop did an amazing job and I’m so glad it worked out and we are all closer friends from it too.Most of us I’m sure know you from your time with the great band Dendura, of course, when you started to conceive of Aria Flame what idea or concept were you trying to achieve?
When I was wheelchair bound from a foot surgery in 2011, I had a lot of time on my hands and a lot of thoughts in my head. Thoughts of survival, evolution, growing, strengthening, and becoming a better person. I started writing lyrics and melodies for Aria Flame before the band was put together. Once the band was formed, the name, imagery and representation of the phoenix came into play because the lyrics are about growing and evolution and the music portrays that in the sound with the circus elements and eerie melodies. I wanted something different than Dendura, and a band more written for the voice. I studied classical voice and learned many new techniques so the music was formed around my voice. And I wanted to combine classical singing with rock belting while showcasing the talent in the musicianship as well.As everyone knows, the music business has definitely gotten a lot tougher these days, what are your feelings about this and what do you see as the best way to overcome those obstacles?
It is a hard business. I seen a lot in this field. I think many people just want to be famous. And so they pick up an instrument and some worry about the fame over their musicianship or singing. I see this a lot. And I think the radio plays what they think the world will like instead of what the world wants to hear. It’s also filled with greed. Who can bring in the most people at a venue, earn the most money for the club owner, despite what fits best for the audience at hand. Sometimes, I see bands fighting over gigs and stepping on each other’s toes and I dont want to deal with bands like that. Sometimes, I don’t like the industry at all. But I love making music, singing and I love the feeling I get on stage performing for others. Inspiring Others and influencing them in some degree. When the fans show their love, it makes it worthwhile. I had a fan once say our song “My Own Little Hell” helped them get through depression. That melted my heart. I felt so happy to hear that I touched someone’s life that way. It makes all the bad , go away. I think knowing who you are, and what you want is half the battle. We will win some and lose some. What keeps me going daily, is my heart feels music, I can’t stop singing melodies, and I have a healthy and well balanced life.What do you see in the future for AF, touring, new material, collaborations?
I see all three of these things. Collaborations, new material, a future new album, and touring. We want to go back to Europe once a year or every two years. Europe was a blessing. The inspiration I was craving for. We also plan on making two music videos this winter. We also will be working with Joop on our next album.
Many of us feel the audience for this genre of music is international, that in the US it is hard to garner support. What are your views on this?
I absolutely agree with that. Our largest show, aside from MFVF, was opening for Delain and Xandria. That was a great show, but it is very hard to push to the masses unless were on a bill with Nightwish or Lacuna Coil. It’s very hard to break out, but we keep trying in the USA and we always get involved with the other female fronted metal festivals in our area to try and make the genre stronger. We have some very devoted fans who travel to see us perform so the numbers are growing for us, and also for others in this genre.Incredible as it sounds, in today’s world, there still seems to be many who don’t feel Female Metal is a genuine force, that it will always be male dominated. What are your views on this and how can we change the perception so many seem to have?
The world is changing and the female metal scene is growing strong. I think people who say this are just afraid their music might get shoved aside or their feeling the male race should still be the center point and woman should be in the kitchen. LOL. I’m not sure, but I’ve heard this kind of comment before and it’s silly. Music shifts, and the music world is shifting to this women in metal and its growing and becoming more popular but it still has a long way to go.One of the things I really enjoy about your show is your presence on stage, confidence. Is there any ritual or routine you go through to prepare yourself to go onstage?
I do have a ritual. If I can, I exercise and walk a bit before the show. Meditate in silence for about 20 minutes and also warm up my voice for about twenty minutes to a half an hour. I just think warm positive thoughts and allow myself to get in a zone of “no fear”. Not fearing who will like my voice, or who will not. Just focusing on what I know I can do and doing my best. It took a long time to get in that “no fear zone” but it is worth it in the end. I use to get stage fright and choke during phrases when I was nervous, but my self esteem is better and I have a well balanced life, which also helps. My fiance is very supportive of my music career and helps us often when he is at shows and I am not surrounded by negative people and only positive ones. So all this comes into play with my confidence.Who are some of your influences?
Floor Jansen from Nightwish and ReVamp, Tarja, Warrel Dane, Johnthan Davis from Korn, Matt Bellamy of Muse, 80’s and 90’s Geoff Tate, and I also love Danny Elfman’s music. His music inspires some of my songwriting ideas.When you are not involved in music, what are some of you interests and pursuits?
I run a perfume and body shop called Aziza World Fragrances. I have a lab in my basement dedicated to my product making. I make eco-friendly, vegan, perfumes, colognes, Whipped and Organic Shea body butter, facial hydrosols, and all natural soy wax candles. I do this part time on top of my regular job in real estate as an administrative assistant. Aside from that, I do recordings with other bands; Amarna Sky, Scarab’s Empire and my fiance is also a musician and we will be working on some music together, I also work out a lot and I spend time with my fiance, my family and my pets at home during off dates from my band. We often have cook outs and people over for dinner and we go to concerts too when we can.I like to close this out by saying thank you so much for your time, it was an honor and pleasure to talk to you. Do you have anything in closing you’d like to say to our readers?
Thank you, Jack. I appreciate the interview and glad you support Aria Flame. I would like to also thank the readers for reading and ask you to keep supporting the music you love. If you love us, talk about us to social media chains by sharing our website and please check out my fragrance site as well and other music at www.azizaworld.com . And for those who have a dream, go for it. Never let someone tear you down.Thank you so much Aziza, best wishes to you always!
And thank you all.