Interview by Arianna Govoni
In an area of interest that is often orientated to point to overused cliché instead of trying to innovate, it’s good and nice to see that there’s still somebody who wants to make the difference. This could be applied to Kantica, a symphonic power metal band from Genoa (Italy), who recently released its debut album “Reborn in Aesthetics” via Revalve Records at the beginning of February. Even if the band is still new, its members had a lot of music shows and a great experience in the music biz, also thanks to the past experiences that its members have plenty of experience with their projects. On the occasion of the second edition of Milady Metal Fest, we’ve met the beautiful singer of the band, Chiara Manese, who has told us something concerning the birth of this new band, the upcoming goals and how she keeps on dealing with the changes of the metal scene now and in the latest years.
Hi Chiara, welcome to Femme Metal, it’s a great pleasure hosting you here today. How are you?
Chiara: Despite my swollen feet and ankles, it’s everything ok. I’m so glad to have played this festival with my guys, Kantica from Genoa. Although the whole band comes from Genoa, I come from Milan. It was only to be clear and concise… and circumcised, especially! No, this is another matter… so let’s get back to our interview!
Let’s start delving into about Kantica‘s history. Would you mind giving us a short biography of the band? How did the idea of creating this new band come from?
Chiara: If I’m not wrong, the band came together in 2014, when it still retained the old name Keeper of Time. Even though, I joined the band only a year ago – in 2017 – the band with the old vocalist produced a demo and thanks to this production they played held a few concerts even they supported Masterplan, so let’s say that the guys have started to do something. The songs on the album were already written and simply, they needed only to be recorded in the studio, so I joined them in Genoa. Well, what else can I say? We play symphonic power metal, each of us try to bring some of his influences. We try to include some influence that can lead to the classic symphonic metal, like Epica, but we also try to bring a more aggressive sound, à la Dimmu Borgir or this kind of extreme metal genres, especially for what it concerns the guitar riffs. Indeed, our effort is to create some orchestral sounds which are very powerful, very cinematographic but are strictly carried by the use of the guitar and whose groove (the bass guitar and the drums) are very, very extreme. On top of all, we attempt to conjugate all these elements to an instrumental level. For what it concerns the vocals, I use a more pop and a more lyrical voice, aiming to alternate both styles according to the songs. Personally I try to vocally vary between a more aggressive voice or a delicate falsetto or even a full lyrical tone because, in the end, I have the idea that these songs require more variety, because having such a lot of influences also on an instrumental level, the voice needs to be on the same level… so it has to varied as much as possible. Variation is indeed our principal theme.
Your debut album, “Reborn in Aesthetics”, has been recently released via Revalve Records. What kind of feedback did it get from the audience?
Chiara: We’re pretty happy about this release. The feedback has been the result of reviews, which have been rated from 6 to 9 out of 10. I have to say that the reviews are really positive and we didn’t expect this at all! You never expect such an exploit especially regarding a debut album since the band has still to find all the right amalgama with its new band members; even though, it’s an understatement saying that the album has been highly accepted!
As I stated earlier, each of Kantika member has a different experience with others bands: for example, Andrea plays in Skeletoon, you used to sing with Pursuing the End and so on. How your musical experiences have influenced the composition of this brand new album? Which is the most important thing that has influenced the most in order to write this album?
Chiara: Let’s say that each one of us brings something to the table: for example, Andrea brings a guitar riff, the keyboard player brings a series of orchestral parts, he’s very good at it. Each of us adds something and then, we start to build something together. All of us we contribute with something on an instrumental level, perhaps not everytime can be good or wrong. It’s indeed a matter of tastes, let’s say that we feel comfortable working this way, so we keep on pursuing this path, yeah!
Besides for being caught by your musical offer, I have to admit that I was literally spellbound by the album cover. Would you mind delve into the general meaning of it?
Chiara: The artwork has been designed by our graphic designer Andrea Dolzan who has the author behind all. You can see me on the album cover which I’m naked… Oh my god, naked! Strangely, we cannot understand this point. What does that figure mean? Well, it’s a human being which is neither a man nor a woman. It’s androgynous, a very hybrid one because it wants to represent a superhuman being and we don’t make any sexual reference, who wants to surpass the mankind itself! It’s a human being who wants to unleash from the chains imposed by the society and religion, on top of all it’s not only about the modern society but also the ancient one. This figure wants to research its inner spirit. The posture I’m taking in the picture is basically a yoga posture that creates stability, the inner one; we see an arm pointed towards the sky and the other one that points to the earth, it could be related to the famous “solve et coagula”, even if I don’t like people to think about this, because it leads people to think of Satanism and so on. My intent is not to influence to this idea but I would love people that should think that this is the message of a man or a woman that is free and freely connected to both the sky and the earth, to what is imminent and what is celestial. A balanced bound balanced by the personal free will!
Today, you’re here in Mantua on the occasion of the Milady Metal Fest where you’ll introduce your new album. In the past, as said before you had already the chance to gain a certain personal live experience shows and about this matter, I would love to ask you: what kind of feeling do you feel when you go on stage?
Chiara: What I feel is a huge and absolutely positive excitement. It’s a shiver that I feel inside me and that I try to carry to people through my voice and when I see this happening because it does, it starts from the very first note, it’s the real ultimate joy for me. It’s one of the biggest happiness that I could feel at that moment, it’s just me and you, you and me. I strive to give the best of me and of my passion when I sing which it could be quite physical: I feel inside my body a sort of elation, I wouldn’t say it is a sexual related but I don’t know how to really explain it. It’s some sort of physical stimulation that goes beyond sex, it’s even better than sex, it surpasses all! It’s something that it cannot be reproducible, it’s about the stage itself and it’s the same thing I feel, perhaps, when I sing lyrical music or when I’m singing pop music… this doesn’t depend on the genre. It’s a personal condition in the metal scene is something pretty strong, it’s really strong.
Nowadays it’s pretty hard to get a small recognition in a musical panorama that keeps on evolving day by day and that can be to a certain extent demanding. In your opinion, why is so complicated to achieve it? How much effort you have to put in order to get some follower in such a short time?
Chiara: It’s very complex because there’s a lot of competition with a lot of good bands and good singers. In the latest years, people or simply kids started to learn an instrument and consequently, they started to learn how to sing. Today, compared to the 80s or 90s, it’s much easier and due to the social networks, people have the chance to get noticed even if the material you release is not so amazing! Indeed, the social networks effortlessly help and help these kinds of average people and by doing so, there’s a general uniformity. We might have the best original ideas out there but they won’t be welcomed positively or negatively because many record companies pretend the same old stuff all over again and the risk is that will have to compete with bands which are clones! Our effort is to propose something original: I’m aware that’s a risk on the account of the fact that our ideas could be appreciated or they could not. We don’t compromise and we realize that, but we struggle really hard to pursue our path. As somebody said, those who love me will follow me!
As I said before, you were previously involved with the symphonic metal band Pursuing the End and you’ve been in the music biz for quite a while now. You’ve also seen a lot of bands with female singers coming to life and you also saw how the “female fronted scene” has developed. In your opinion, why people are still so preconceived towards the woman in a metal band? Why we have still to deal with such sexist bias in 2018?
Chiara: I think that it’s getting worse! It can be crazy, but since the ‘70s, where we had the feminine revolution, till now we’re not getting any improvement, we’re stepping back because sexuality and the woman’s aggressiveness is suitable for all. The more we have this freedom of costumes, the more a man is scared and when a man is scared he tends to act as if he was still in the Middle Ages! A man who’s scared by a woman tends to point the finger, so instead of reducing these bias with time, these bias increase. The more a woman has her freedom, the more the man gets scared and so he attacks and he becomes even more aggressive! This is not a good thing at all! I don’t know if there’s really an escape to this, I don’t think there’s any! I think it will get worse. Maybe the solution to this issue is some sort of preparation in order to not create unwillingly some situations that can lead to certain behaviours; I would also love to say that, in her cleverness, the singer needs to feel free to show off her beauty – if she has any, or even if she doesn’t have any – and her own sensuality, her own womanliness, because to me metal is also this: womanliness and sensuality… at least, this my opinion.
Now, it’s time for a funny question: in your opinion, why shall people support Kantica?
Chiara: If the listener feels the desire of feeling alive and wants some contrasts, if he/she wants light and shade, delicacy and the extreme aggressiveness, Kantica is the answer, because we are made of light and shade. There’s no compromise, so if we search for strong feelings, you can find them with us!
“Reborn in Aesthetics” came out in February via Revalve Records. What are the main projects that will keep you busy in the upcoming months?
Chiara: We’re already writing the new album, with calm, but we already have some material who was previously ready. The most important thing for us is to play as much as possible, to get some recognition, because it is the only way to sell. There’s nothing to do about it. We will, later on, think of a possible tour in the future, but we would love to play as much as we can!
Thanks so much, Chiara, for giving us this spot. As you know, the final words go to the interviewee, so now it’s up to you!
Chiara: Guys, please give a listen to Kantica because it’s a nice music project. I think that you can find something more original compared to what has been proposed lately in the music panorama, or at least, this is my personal idea and it is meant to be also our goal! I hope you’ll show up at our next live shows. Stay metal!