Interview by Alessandra CognettaFYRE! is an international band revolving around the charismatic figure of vocalist and guitarist Alejandra Burgos. Alejandra left her home in Argentina to pursue a musical career in Europe and, in three years, FYRE! built the foundations for their debut album, “Missy Powerful”. The album is an energetic blend of rock and metal influences that showcases the input of all the band members. This was going to be a face to face interview but, due to the postponement of some of their tour dates, it turned into a very nice skype conversation. I talked with Alejandra and her fellow bandmate and bassist, Lars Ratz, about the album, its conception and the band’s recent activities. But enough with introductions, it’s time to dive in and discover the energy and friendliness of this Palma de Mallorca based band! Hello and welcome to Femme Metal, Alejandra! How’s it going, especially since the recent news about the tour being postponed?
Lars: The tour was very very great so far, it was amazing to open for an artist like Anastacia who has a great voice and a great personality. She actually has a really “rock” appeal in her live shows and she even does a Guns N’Roses & AC/DC medley, which was really interesting. The shows were very good, almost sold out everywhere and we had a good following of fans, so we were very happy. Unfortunately, there was only one Italian show so far and she has a cold and that’s why we have to face cancellation of the Italian shows, which is very bad. It’s a shame, really, but what can we do? It’s not in our hands and the shows should be postponed to another date and we hope that we can then come again with her and see you in person as well.[*As of now, the shows have been rescheduled for January 2015]“Missy Powerful” is your debut album, Alejandra. How would you describe it to for our readers who still haven’t had the chance to listen to your work?
Alejandra: It really is a combination of our three influences. The influences of the musicians of the band. We have 14 songs, which talk about life. We tell stories and “Missy Powerful” identifies my personality and, of course, the ones of the band.Your band is quite an international ensemble and you all worked together to create the album. When did you realize you had found the right partners for this musical adventure?
Alejandra: Well, it was three years ago. I met Lars in Formentera and then I met Tolo [Grimalt], the guitarist and Sergi [Tomás Vidal], the drummer. We met a few times to compose, to play together and we started to know each other and, after six months, we decided we were going to make a band. But, really, Lars and Tolo had been looking for a female singer for two years and Lars told me that he “found me”.
Lars: Yes, you were the only one I could accept to reach my thoughts for what I wanted in a metal singer.
Alejandra: Lars was the bassist in Metalium and Tolo was with him in their last two albums, so they knew each other.
Lars: Yeah, we wanted to make a new band and I was looking for two years for a female singer. It was not easy to find one, I was actually pretty frustrated and thought I would never find one and then, ta-da(laughs)! In three years we wrote 25 songs and we picked now the best 14. You have the result in “Missy Powerful”. This is not a project band which was put together quickly, we already have three years and we played a lot of shows together and we grew together. What’s your opinion on the album, if I may ask?Well, I was really surprised as I didn’t know about FYRE! at all, so I got the album and listened and it was really – not just powerful – energetic. Listening to the songs, I felt “energized” as well.
Lars & Alejandra: Wow!
Lars: So we can put FYRE! in a can and sell it like an energy drink? Like, “Fyre Bull” (laughs)? That’s a good merchandising idea.
Alejandra: But really, when we play together there is pure energy. I was working with a lot of musicians all over Argentina and Europe and when I met them I thought: “Okay, that’s-”
Lars: The “real deal”!How did that all play out? What kind of input did each of you bring to the music during the songwriting process?
Lars: Basically everybody – Alejandra, me and Tolo – we are all songwriters, so there is a big potential of creative input. We can create something together so we basically come together most of the time and somebody has an idea of a riff, or Alejandra or Tolo have an idea for a melody and we just work on it. We took our time without rushing, because I believe that something, to be good, needs its time. We wanted to play the songs live before we recorded them as we wanted them, to see how we felt as well, playing. One thing is writing a song and another thing is playing a song live. Sometimes you feel that an idea which originally sounded like a really, really great idea turns out to be “Okay, not so bad…” and some songs grow in the process. An “OK” idea grows because Alejandra has an idea to change a phrase and it comes together like a puzzle and that’s what we did. We really gave it time for the songs to grow like good wine.You started making music when you were very young and with your incredible energy you travelled all over the world. Weren’t you worried about moving to Europe?
Alejandra: I started playing when I was 8 years old with my father and, after that, I always had bands with him and people from school. Then, when I was 15 I started playing live shows and festivals in Argentina and I started travelling Argentina with my band for seven years. But then I really wanted to start travelling with my guitar, go here and there, and this possibility was a bit complicated in Argentina. That’s why I said “Okay, maybe it’s time to go out of my country and have a look, meet other musicians to learn different things from teachers around the world. I started when I was 22 – the first time was in Palma de Mallorca – because I thought I’d go there in the summer and start to play in the streets. Then I met musicians and started to play a bit differently, with bands, and travelled Asturias, Galicia, Barcelona… all over Spain; then London, France, Germany and I think that’s how Lars listened to me, I was doing a lot of things at that time. I felt good to go outside my country, because I felt better when I came back. It was four years of me going five months in Argentina and seven months in Europe and going and coming back, so I learned a lot!Now, since we have Lars here as well, I wanted to ask you how you came in contact with music. How did you start making music and what inspired you?
Lars: To be honest, when I was 9 years old I was a big fan of ABBA and the Bee Gees. When I was about 12 I got an LP given to me by my bigger brother and I like the way the cover looked and I had no idea what music was on there. I put on the record and put it up on my headphones at full volume and it was “You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!!”, the hottest band in the world: Kiss! That record was their “Alive II”. From that moment I was infected with rock and thought “This cool guy, spitting blood and flames? I wanna be as cool as him!” He played the bass, so I had to go and buy a bass guitar at the nearest shop. The rest is history.
You released a video for “Stay Until The Moonshine”, which was shot in Spain. Can you tell us something more about the concept behind it and the shooting sessions?
Lars: Well, there are two videos, do you know about the other one, “Get The Hell Out”?No, I didn’t! I think I may have missed its release.
Alejandra: It’s two different concepts. In one, “Get The Hell Out” we show more of the band rocking out and the other one is more of a pop-rock song, so we made something more “soft”.
Lars: Yeah, we have these sides like Alejandra coming from a more melodic style and I’m coming from heavy metal and hard rock, so we do have, as you can hear on the CD, quite a wide range and variety. both videos simply reflect the “other side”, a soft side and a hard one. Any rock band has ballads, as you know, so we have one as well. What’s your opinion about the video?I liked it! I liked the scenery choice, because it’s really unusual for a music video to show sceneries like Spain’s. Usually, when you watch a metal or rock video, it’s either the stage or symbolic places like forests, snow… so it was a nice change, very refreshing.
Alejandra: We live in Palma De Mallorca, so that’s why we did it.
Lars: For me, it’s like a dream come true!I want to ask you about your voice, Alejandra. You have a very powerful style but you also don’t shy away from more intimate tones. You also play the guitar, which I’m sure adds a lot of perspective over music in general. How do you combine and develop all these different skills?
Alejandra: Well, it’s the long way. When I was very young I started with country and folk and I got some things from there. Then, when I was 15 I started to listen more to the Beatles, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Chuck Berry… and I grew with rock ‘n’ roll. Then I did a lot of shows only with an acoustic guitar and I started to realize that my shows had a little bit more and more power. When I started with country, then blues, then rock ‘n’ roll, I always finished my shows in a very powerful way, for an acoustic guitar, and that’s why I think I have this mix.
Lars: The thing is, before I met her she was not unleashing the beast inside of her (laughs). She did not even know that she had it in her, but now she likes it and feels okay with it, which is the most important part. The artist must be authentic, we’re not doing the shows for money, but mainly for expressing ourselves. Only if an artist is authentic, in the long run they will have something to say to people.
Alejandra: They took my potential out!We talked about the tour with Anastacia earlier, so I wanted to ask if you noticed any difference between the audience with Anastacia and the ones you had in your previous experiences on stage.
Alejandra: Anastacia’s public was very, very rock, more than we expected. The band too sounds rock live. We played with Alice Cooper before: it was a little bit different, a bit more rock. For us it was the same. With the energy and with people, they react very nicely, so… super!
Lars: In the end, we always give our best in what we’re gonna do and as I said, even if you listen to somebody on the street – and maybe it’s not even your music, it’s folk music or something – if you listen to him, you believe in what he sings and you like what you hear, then fine, you’ll love it! It’s about being authentic and seeing somebody whom you will believe, which FYRE! automatically feels after a few seconds: this woman is one of a special kind.There is a total of 14 tracks on your debut album. If you had to recommend one to a friend, which one would you choose and why?
Alejandra: We’ll give you three songs (laughs), for example: “No Happiness”, I think it’s a really emotional song. Like you said, we put all our emotions in the lyrics. Then, “Get The Hell Out”, with the video that you have to see!
Lars: And the opener maybe, “We Are Here”, which also shows a lot of differences. There are too many to mention. There is “Moonshine” if you want to hear a softer sound as well.You also recorded a cover of “Stairway To Heaven”. It’s a very famous song that many artists reinterpret, you know, it’s the one you’d jam with the school band.
Lars: Yeah, and also “Smoke On The Water”! (laughs)Why did you choose it and how did you approach the rearrangement?
Lars: I already did one with Metalium in 1999, on the first record I “touched the Holy Grail” by doing a cover of “Smoke On The Water”, but even Deep Purple themselves loved the song. They told me, so I did actually get convinced that you can take “forbidden” songs and if you make it in your own interpretation and make it original – in “Stairway to Heaven” we have a guitar, a flute and a male voice, here you have a piano, a violin and a female voice. We changed a bit the arrangement and we think we did a good job, but with cover songs it’s a special thing, you know? It’s very, very much up to the taste and if somebody believes it’s okay to touch such a holy tune. In other words you end with people saying – for example, yesterday we got a fanmail from Germany. The girl said she’s the biggest Led Zeppelin fan and she is very critic, but she said that after listening to the song she started to cry and it was the most beautiful version she had ever heard. We also got a fanmail from Portugal which was similar. In other reviews you will read that it wasn’t a good idea, but, what the fuck, I mean you have to do what you think you should to and if you start doing only what people expect from you, then you become fucking mainstream and you will never be innovative.I have one last question about your future plans and then there’s our final greetings. We usually leave a final space for the artists to say what they want.
Lars: We definitely want to come back to Italy with the postponed shows of Anastacia, and with another rock tour we’re planning for next year, because we think this country is really ready for FYRE!, we can tell from the reactions in Milano, they were the best reactions on the tour so far. For some reason, the crowd reacts to strong female voices a lot, we had that impression. It’s definitely time for FYRE! to come over in Italy.
Lars: We hope, especially talking to you and your website, to meet a lot of fans of female voices and for sure, they will not be disappointed.