Interview by Vard Aman
In reality, they come from Novosibirsk in the South Western corner of Siberia. In reality, they are a recently formed group of extremely talented musicians who have just released their debut album, called “Carnival of Illusions”. In reality, they play technical Symphonic / Dramatic Metal, and they play it very well indeed! But there is more to Wizardmask than just “reality”, and when you enter the “Carnival of Illusions” you will discover a vast world that they have created: “Here live the dreams. Here languish the hidden wishes. Everything you can keep in your mind is possible here…” I spoke to one of the creators of this fantasy world, Wizardmask’s diva Svetlana Sokolova.
Hello Svetlana, and welcome to Femme Metal Webzine! I understand this is your first interview, we are honoured!
Hello Femme Metal Webzine! I’m glad to be your virtual guest today and give you my first interview! Thanks for making it possible!
You have recently created something that very complex and very powerful. Take us through the creation of Wizardmask?
Wizardmask is a band created by two fantasists: Sergey Amelchenko (music, guitar, conception) and me, Svetlana Diva Sokolova (lyrics, vocal, conception, design). The idea of creating a rock band had come to us long time ago. For many years each of us had been making a beautiful music, which was like missing something, until we decided to write a song together. It was “Marine” composition – the first song which we had made together. The song was done almost in one moment, as if it was waiting for its time to come, and we realized that we can do more. Therefore our debut album “Carnival of Illusions” appeared. The album was released in winter 2011. Official release in Internet was on 1st of April 2012.
Who is in Wizardmask? Have you played in any bands before?
At the moment group consists of 4 people: Sergey Amelchenko (music, guitar, conception), Svetlana Diva Sokolova (lyrics, vocal, conception), Valeriy Fomin (drums) and Ilya Dubrovskiy (bass). Our drummer Valeriy is the only one of us who had performed with other bands before Wizardmask. He’s one of the most talented people of our city, very experienced and professional drummer, who took part in many authors and commercial Siberian musical projects. Other members didn’t have any experience of playing in serious projects, Wizardmask for us is the first experience of playing in serious band.
What is the story behind the name Wizardmask?
As you can see, Wizardmask consists of two words: Wizard and Mask. Wizard and Mask are generalized characters, parts of every creative personality. One of them is creative, fragile, delicate, sensitive, looking at the world in its own way and expressing it in its art. On the contrary, the other one is strong, vivid, energetic, strong-willed, it is able to knock down every barrier, break all stereotypes, create and destroy. Both parts individually are unstable and are in need of each other, when they are in balance, the real magic is born – the art. I think that every creative person has both such parts, some have more of one part, some of the other. What music is born depends on what part is dominant.
How would you define “Dramatic Metal”?
We play in Sympho/Dramatic Metal style. The prefix “Dramatic” shows the sonic picturing of our compositions and its theatricality. We’re trying to create not merely good music, our goal is to create a valuable independent image in a listener’s mind. In this style, as in no other, the ties between melody, arrangement and lyrics is important, no single part can exist without the others. It is very important to hear what exactly I am singing about, telling about, what role I am playing at the moment. In Wizardmask art we make use of synthetic approach to creation of compositions – confluence and freedom, lack of exact regular forms, our compositions are unpredictable in their development, this makes them even more interesting. Every piece of work is a little performance, a fairytale, a sonic picturing story, a scene played by roles, and not only by vocal parts but by all instruments. If you listen to our music carefully, you will feel it and maybe even see it inside you…
Your songwriting style is very technical and detailed on “Carnival of Illusions” and included an orchestra. Tell us a little bit about the songwriting itself and the recording process.
Sergey is writing songs for Wizardmask, thinking over every detail in the sound and the form of composition. Together we contemplate on what the song is really about and what arrangement it should have. Then I think up the vocals line, write vocalization, supporting voices, some melodic turns, I breathe meaning into songs and write lyrics. Sergey makes most of arrangements himself, but in some cases we ask for help from bigger professionals. As you can see in “Carnival of Illusions”, almost in every song there is an orchestra, this is the work of our close friend, Honoured Artist of Russia Vitaliy Vdovin. It should be noted that writing an orchestration part over rock music is a very difficult and scrupulous process, many nuances should be followed. It’s not enough just to write a nice orchestration part, it must be written professionally, without any errors in voice-leading and harmony, it’s an unbelievably difficult toil and it can be done only by an experienced and talented person. Vitaliy has done that brilliantly, he has breathed true symphonic world into our project. It was an important experience for us. We are satisfied with the results. Instruments and vocals were recorded in Novosibirsk studios and Mixing & Mastering was done in the northern capital – St. Petersburg.
What is the theme tying the songs on “Carnival of Illusions” together?
“Carnival of Illusions” is a special place inside every person, it’s the world of mysteries, fantasies and hidden wishes, the world of magic. Spirit of fairytales and dark beauty is running through every song. These are the songs about human’s hearts secrets, about dreams that wait for their hour, about ancient gods, about sins and doubts.
How does your music translate live? Do you play live or make shows often? What is the audience reaction to Wizardmask?
The group has been completed quite recently, and at the moment we have played not very many live concerts. But it should be noted that every new concert of ours is an experiment on our part. Costumes, make-up, stage behaviour, interaction with the public… You understand, right? ) In future we want to develop the visual part of our performances and to accentuate our theatricality even more, using decorations, inviting dancers, light specialists and much more. It’s quite expensive, but always interesting. People react well to us. We are open and sincere in our art and I think that everybody who comes to listen to us feels it. Our performances are like our revelation to the listeners, it’s like our friends coming to our house, sitting by a big fireplace and listening to our mysterious fairytales.
What is next for Wizardmask? What are the group’s plans?
We are planning not to stop now but to move on! To perform, to do active advertisement in Internet. We want to tell everybody about us. Also we want to perform a solo concert and to record another album, we have already started to work on it. We are constantly working on new music, and in a year we are going to release a second album, I hope the starts form up right and all our intentions will be realized.
How do your new songs compared with the songs on “Carnival of Illusions” so far? What can we expect from the next album, or is it too early to tell?
It’s too soon to talk about new songs, we don’t want to tell all our secrets. We can only say, that new songs will be “older” and much more interesting. The experience received helps us to develop our work and to open the specifics of our style and presentation of compositions.
What is the Metal scene like in Novosibirsk?
In Novosibirsk there are very qualified bands of different genres of Metal. But unfortunately the very industry of hard rock concerts is poorly developed. There are few scenes suitable for hard sound. Most of such concerts usually are organized in summer at various open-air festivals.
Tell us a bit more about Novosibirsk and what it’s like living there.
Novosibirsk is quite a big city, not so big as New York, of course ) But big enough. There are many sights and monuments. The city is developing intensively in trading terms, growing dynamically, every year a huge number of hypermarkets and business centres are opened, the city is increasing its speed and rhythm of life, fully becoming a megapolis. In the centre of the city there are many cars, hurrying people, while closer to its outskirts, on the contrary, it’s calm and soothing.
When most people hear the word “Siberia” they immediatly think “very cold”. But Siberia is a big place and Novosibirsk is in the southwest. Does it get very cold there?
Sometimes it is very cold, temperature goes below -40 C . This weather usually begins in the end of January and lasts for 3 weeks – this time is called “hard frosts”. It is hard to get used to it, but that’s the Siberian winter – sometimes it can be so harsh! fur coats, fur boots and metro are saving us, because cars may not always start in such a weather. ))))
What do you do apart from the Wizardmask project?
I like classical music, so me and Sergey frequently go to theatres to watch performances and ballets. Often we relax out of town at our beautiful summer cottage. We go in for sports. We work in Design Studio (This is yet another joint project of ours). But Wizardmask art occupies most of our time. We are constantly creating something, carrying a dictaphone with us and recording each and every thought and melody that comes into our head. We are always in pursuit.
Thanks for talking to us Svetlana! You can be sure that we’re going to follow the Wizardmask’s progress very closely in the future!
Thank you for taking interest in our work and for giving us this wonderful opportunity to tell your readers about our project.
Review By Tony Cannella
Introducing Russia’s Emerald Mind. On their 9-song 48-minute debut titled “Tales of Soveena”, you get a solid slice of Symphonic Power Metal that is full of elite musicianship and the wailing operatic vocals of Svetlana Vysotskaya, which are really quite impressive. Although Svetlana is the front person and her vocals help to carry “Tales of Soveena” you can not discount the contributions of the other musicians in Emerald Mind – they are all well accounted for to help give “Tales of Soveena” a complete feel. The opening track “The Ripper” gets things off and running in a big way and is a definite highlight. From there the band are only getting warmed up as you can hear on the following tracks “The Flying Dutchman”, “Winter” and “This Dying World”. Among the strong material present here, I would have to say that my favorite track is the 9-minute album closer “Lyric of My Soul”. Just a great epic number that features various tempo changes and the stellar musicianship that makes “Tales of Soveena” such an enjoyable and interesting listen. Overall, I would say that Emerald Mind have acquitted themselves quite well on their debut. Svetlana Vysotskaya could be one of the bright new stars to emerge from the Symphonic Power Metal world in 2010, but it is the cohesion and chemistry of the band that help to make “Tales of Soveena” such a good release. If you are missing the Tarja era Nightwish or if you just want to hear some great music than you should turn your attention to this great new Russian band.
Rating – 85/100
- The Ripper
- The Flying Dutchman
- This Dying World
- Sweet Poison
- Breathless Kiss
- Revenge of Princess Olga
- Lyric of My Soul
- Svetlana Vysotskaya – Vocals
- Alexei Vaulin – Guitar
- Dmitry Trofimenko – Keyboard
- Alexander “Legion” Poltorak – Bass
- Vyacheslav Oleinik – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
- Hysterica – “The Art of Metal” (2012)
- Hand of God – “The Hand of God” (2013)
- Flames of Fury – “FoF” EP (2013)
- Effloresce – “Coma Ghosts” (2012)
- Marie Fredriksson – “Nu!” (2013)
- Anneke Van Giersbergen
- Leaves Eyes’ – “Symphonies of the Night” (2013)
- Phildel – “The Glass Ghost” EP (2013)
- Lita Ford
- Sarah Teets – MindMaze
- Susanna Vesilahti – Unshine
- Trobar de Morte – “The Silver Wheel” (2012)
- Viper Venom – “In Venom Veritas” (2012)
- Via Obscura – “Gedanken” (2012)
- The Mariana Hollow – “Velvet Black Sky” (2012)
- Storyum – “Insomnia” (2012)
- Snei Ap – “Hidden Floors” EP (2013)
- Sin7sinS – “Carnival of No Tomorrow” (2012)
- MaterDea – “Satyricon” (2011)
- Rampart – “War Behast” (2012)
- Lita Ford – “The Bitch is Back… Live” LIVE ALBUM (2013)
- Epysode – “Fantasmagoria” (2013)
- Beyond God – “Dark Light of Dawn” EP (2013)
- Ayreon – “The Theory of Everything” (2013)
- Seremonia – “Ihiminen” (2013)
- Tuomas Tuovinen & Eveelina Kojo – myGrain
- TEODASIA announces European Tour with TARJA TURUNEN
- I Left the Planet – “I Left the Planet” EP (2011)
- Grimes – “Visions” (2012)
- Грай [Grai] – “О Земле Родной” ["O Zemly Rodnoj" - "About Native Land"] (2011)