INFECTED RAIN – An Interview with Lena Scissorhands
Interview by Arianna Govoni
These latest two years have been quite “massively” important for all the humankind and they depicted something in particular for each of us, especially these 24 months had a huge weight also on musicians and music business.
Infected Rain has been one of the bands who suffered the blow and the global pandemic paid almost a huge part in the band’s upcoming album, “Ecdysis”, which will be out on Jan 7th 2022 via Nuclear Blast. We had the chance to talk to the beautiful Elena “Lena” Cataraga, aka Lena Scissorhands, in order to discover more about the band’s latest effort. Enjoy!
Hi Lena, welcome back to Femme Metal Webzine, as usual it’s always a great pleasure hosting a chat with you. How are you doing?
Things are going better, obviously, these past two years were interesting for everybody on the planet for the obvious reasons, but things are coming back to normal in a way, slowly but surely and this makes me happy, for sure!
How would you describe these two latest years you’ve lived? I guess you had a very tough time as everybody else in this world…
Obviously we are not special, in any ways, it was very hard for everybody on the planet but it feels like people in the show business suffered the most! I’m talking about actors, musicians, artists in general…
Show business just had to come back way later, it’s still actually not fully back, if other people were able to work from home or, you know, to get back to the office but with a different schedule or whatever it is, you know?
Some didn’t even feel the difference, you know, but we did a lot! So in the beginning, it was definitely very depressing times for us, mainly because the unknown is so scary and you don’t know when you gonna be back, doing what you love, so that’s really scary!
But, later, you know, with the supporting love of family and fans, we put our shit together, rolled up our sleeves and now we are very happy to present the fruits of all that hard work, you know… We’re about to release a new album, we’ve been releasing some single and music videos, we’ve released a documentary, we’ve released a show, a lot going on, yes!
Today we’re here in order to talk about the brand new Infected Rain album that will be out on January 7th 2022.
“Ecdysis” is basically the process of shedding the old skin (in reptiles) or casting off the outer cuticle (in insects and other arthropods).
Would it be wrong to state that this new album marks a sort of rebirth of the band, given also the album cover and the meaning of the word itself?
Yeah, “Ecdysis” is actually a scientific word and I believe it’s a Latin word, actually, so it is pronounced differently in different countries at the moment, but it is used in science!
You’re absolutely correct, but it also means “the metamorphosis”, the new life, the new beginning… so, basically, when a cocoon becomes a butterfly and stuff like that, so yeah, you can say that we chose that on purpose, because of the pandemic, because, you know, the whole word being really asleep for so long and our careers were stopped and everything…
You know, so it’s almost like a new beginning, a fresh start in a way, starting over, starting better, hopefully, being better, hopefully…
As I said, the word relates to mutation and this evolution is also revealed both in your music and your lyrics. Is there a message that both Infected Rain and you, in particular, would like to share with this brand new album?
The message that we are trying to deliver, I guess, specifically with this album, is to be more aware, to be more kind and to pay attention to what happens around us, you know, in our personal life and in the world and, in general, to just remember what are the real values of life and not to be fueled by social medias and everything that people tell us to do, instead of listening to our hearts and our gut! We follow some somebody, you know, so I guess to make it like more precise it’s just to be more aware!
About the record, musically speaking, what differences can you denote between your previous album “Endorphin” and this new one? How do you think the band was able to evolve in such a short time?
I don’t think there’s a big difference between our last album specifically and this one, however there are a couple of differences! The first one is that we actually didn’t go to a recording studio to record it, like we normally would, especially we would go – specifically for the drums and vocals – we would rent a recording studio and do that, because guitars are recorded differently nowadays, so it’s not needed to record the guitars in a studio anymore…
We’ve been doing that for a while, but drums and vocals always in the studio, because you need a sound engineer, you need a specific room for that specific equipment and we couldn’t go ‘cause of covid. We’ve basically built our own studio in a house and learned how to record ourselves, bought all the equipment, we invested time and money to be able to do that from home!
That’s very interesting, it’s a very unique for many reasons, but the main reason is that we have to be our own critiques, because we recorded ourselves, right?
So we had to learn which pieces are good, specifically for me: I never knew how to do that before! I had to learn from scratch, and not only I had to record myself, being my own singer, my own sound engineer, but also my own critique, so I’m the worst when it comes to that! I’m always like: “Aw, I don’t like this, next, next!”.
I will do like more tries than normally in a studio, but I think that shows because I paid more extra attention to every single breath, every single note, every single word…
And the same for my boys, you know, and together we came out with this product that we polished together, not in the wrong way polished where we wanted to sound perfect. No! We actually wanted to sound as “human” as possible, not computerized, you know, so that’s the first difference.
The second one, I would say, was also the fact that my guitar player and the bass player changed the instruments, and although we also changed the tuning, the new instruments sounded different, you know, so that’s also a big thing! Lyrically, it’s very raw and the majority of the lyrics are very, you know, “in your face” and maybe even depressing, in a way, because of what we were going through so yes, obviously because of the pandemic, this album came out so different!
The album has been anticipated by two singles, “Postmortem” and “Fighter”. What kind of feedback did you get from the fans? Do you think that these two peculiar songs could be a great calling card for the band in order to give a picture of this new album or would you pick other songs instead?
No, no, we picked the songs, you know? So obviously we are absolutely confident about how much these songs rappresent the album and the new sound of the band, the new image of the band, for sure! You know, we picked the songs, and we also filmed – if I’m not wrong – five music videos… no, we have six visuals for six different songs on this album, so things are gonna still come out; in fact, this week, December 9th, we will release another song with its music video! Yeah, I think it’s a good way to say that they represent pretty well what the new sound is about.
In a few days, Napalm will stream your brand new single, “The Realm Of Chaos”. The song sees the attendance of Heidi Shepherd from Butcher Babies. How did this cooperation come to birth? Did you already have her voice in mind for this duet?
No, actually, not at all! We had this idea, out of nowhere: in fact, I recorded the song before. We had the idea: “Maybe we should involve somebody and do a featuring on this album, ‘cause we have time”, and when everybody was like: “Fuck yeah! That wold be amazing!”, the first person I thought about was Heidi, because I became a very close friend of hers, specifically throughout the past two years.
She moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, so we became way closer, we knew each other’s sisters in 2013, but we became closer friends just now, so right away I thought about her. I knew they were not on tour, so first I asked and she right away said: “yes”. We recorded her actually, well, to be more specific I recorded her in my vocal studio, in my house, I was the sound engineer! (she laughs, ed). We decided to just do that, to just go for it! It was just a spontaneous idea, not planned.
You’re not new to collaborations: if I’m not mistaken, a few months ago, Seas On The Moon asked you to be their guest on “The Regress”. What can you share about this cooperation?
With Infected Rain, this is song #2 that we invited vocalists on. We did one in the very beginning for “Me Against You”, but me, as a musician in general, I’ve been asked to collaborate in different projects a lot; in fact, especially during these past two years, I’ve done a lot of collaborations, but when it comes to Seas On The Moon specifically, this is the song #6!
I did collaborate with them before, the band is also from Moldova and we are all friends actually, the founder of the band is my drummer’s brother, you know my drummer is also in this song as well. Yeah, Seas On The Moon I think first started in 1998! Very old band, it’s not really a touring band, but yeah, they’ve been doing music a lot and was mainly always instrumental!
I’ve done – I believe – two songs in the past or three with them and then I’ve done other three songs during the pandemic, so I love working with Seas On The Moon, it’s a little bit different style, so I like to explore vocally other genres as well…
Above all, being a singer yourself, how do you take into account the collaborations you’ve been asked to join?
Thank you! That’s actually a very good question, because a lot of people offer to work with them and the majority of collaborations are paid for, you know, and obviously because it’s my job, I would do the same. I tried to work with some friends, we just collaborated because we wanted to, you know.
The way I work when it comes to that is two criterias, they are very important criterias: the first one is the quality of music! It doesn’t matter, it can be the beginner band or the band that is very established, that has been around but if they don’t put enough effort in the sound and the sound quality is not up to the level of either my band or close to it, I cannot do it, because I do represent the band in a way and I have to make sure that everything I do, besides the band, is also quality, right?
So that’s the first criteria! The second criteria, which is also important, is behind it, what the song stands for. I prefer to write the lyric even for the collaborations and the majority of my collaborations have my own lyrics, but some are featurings.
So the band has already the singer and they have the lyrics already and they had in mind to have me as a featuring, right? So I make sure that the main idea of the song is something I care about, it’s something I relate to. I would hate to be part of something that I don’t understand or something that I don’t care about, because, you know, this is not what I wanna do! So these two criterias are very important for me and then if these two criterias are there and they are on point, then I go for it! I have time, you know?
In my own opinion this new album will create a lot of fuzz live. I can clearly see the audience making moshpits on “The Realm Of Chaos” or “Fighter”. Given the current situation, I guess i twill be hard to make some proper plan for your live shows. What can you tell about it? How is the situation both in Las Vegas and Moldova?
I am in Las Vegas actually, but yeah, we’re close to California, but I guess that rules regarding COVID are very different! In fact, I just had this small trip to L.A. and they are very strict about vaccinations and negative tests.
It’s not like that here! Even to go to a bar or a restaurant, you have to show a negative test or a vaccination card, in California, LA specifically, because that’s where I’ve been, we don’t need one here! You need them for bigger events, yes, but not for going to a restaurant or a bar.
Shows are happening here in America, they picked up already, I’ve been to a couple. We just came back actually from our first American tour, so yeah, I can see the difference. People are cautious, people are afraid, they try to keep distance which is understandable, some clubs are still doing the limited capacity and every single state is different, it’s almost like its own country.
In Moldova the situation is pretty easy nowadays, you know, everything is open, things are happening, I don’t know how the things are currently in Europe, but the tour is picking up slowly, and kinda everywhere the way I see it: in fact, we are planning a tour in Europe that will start in February, so fingers crossed that it will go nice and smooth, so yeah!
That’s what all I can tell you about that, when it comes to shows themselves at least, in my experience with the latest tour, I can tell you that people missed live concerts so much that they already are in a show, they chose to be in a show, they will have fun! They will jump around, moshpit, even stage diving, and they don’t care!
As you probably know, in Italy the situation has reached deadlock. Talking about this country, I know that you have a beautiful relationship with Italy, both because you’ve lived and studied here and for your family as well. What’s the most beautiful memory about Italy that you cherish the most?
Oh my God! The most beautiful memory was my very first serious show I attended. I was 17, I just moved to the country, my mom was already living there and she moved the whole family when I was 17!
I was barely speaking Italian actually, I chose to go to this festival in Bologna, from Rome I had to take train and go to Bologna to attend this festival called Flippout Festival, which I believe it doesn’t exist anymore, but it used to take place every summer…
It was so interesting, my journey was interesting, the experience itself was amazing, I will never forget that! It was a very big festival, very big names were there and I was alone, but I was so brave and without even knowing the language and the country, I just went for it! I had so much fun, such a good time and I remember like thinking how awesome that has to be on stage, in front of so many people… I was wondering that, now it’s so ironic how I ended up on stage, later on? (she laughs, ed).
Infected Rain has evolved a lot throughout these latest years. Besides the band’s background, would you like to tell us a bit more about the Moldovan metal scene itself and in general, did this pose any difficulties?
Oh yeah, absolutely, absolutely! The band is 13 years old and only the past two to three years, brought real hype to the band, to be honest!
So, if we were a band that has started in a different country with more possibilities and better economics, we probably would get there a little bit faster, however!
I am not complaining, because we do not regret about anything, we are hard workers and yes, it took us longer, maybe, to actually, you know, be out there and we are still working on that!
I am not saying we reached any specific point, we don’t have a goal or anything, but definitely we are more on people’s mind than before, you know…
We appear everywhere than before, so definitely it’s because of the country we started in, it’s a very small country and a very poor country too! The economics, the politics, everything is just difficult, right.
I have a lot of love and respect for that country, it’s the country I was born, there are many things I love about it, but I never thought I belong there!
Even before I became a musician in the industry that I chose to be, you know, I was used to be a hair/ make up artist and you can only achieve a certain level and that’s it!
You can’t build a career or aspire for more, because the country doesn’t give you that more and it’s sad, because it’s a beautiful country and, specifically, it’s a country with a lot of talented people, because we are hard workers and, as a nation, we know things are difficult, so we put a lot of effort all the time!
Unfortunately, not many bands really make it, especially in the alternative scene, because you really have to believe in yourself and put that extra effort and go out and, maybe, even lose your job, because you go on tour!
People are afraid of that, because how can you pay your bills? What are you gonna do? You know what I mean?
It was scary and hard for us as well, but we did it, you know, we are still doing it and we continued just believing in ourselves and doing no matter what!
We had ups and downs, we had moments where we just wanted to stop because it was so hard, but we didn’t stop, because it was the only thing that made us happy and it’s still the only thing that makes us really happy!
You lose jobs, you lose partners in life, you lose friends and loved ones, because people don’t stick around when you tour so much!
Jobs don’t want to await on you when you tour so much and people are afraid to lose all that, and everywhere actually on the planet, specifically in such a poor country where I’m literally gonna die if I don’t work!
We don’t have clubs to perform in, we don’t have festivals or any events like that for the alternative scene, so people just start touring and building their career somewhere else, which is sad, but at the same time undiscovering so many talented people in the industry of movies, sports, music from Moldova.
Nobody even knows about like this country! Out here, in America, some people have no clue and it’s not their fault, it’s such a small country, you know what I mean?
Lena, I was literally impressed by one single in particular, it’s an old song of course, which was “Orphan Soul”. There you stated something like: “I am a human and I have the right to be emotional, just like everybody else”. This is really a strong statement and I admire your courage, because you always bluntly admit your true self. How difficult is to constantly expose yourself in this cold-hearted society?
It is really very hard, honestly! Thank you for this question! For some people it’s easier, because we are all different, you know? I am a little bit of an introvert, and I know it sounds very hard to people out there so much, because it looks like I am more of an extrovert.
I’m neither, I’m both actually, but the introvert in me is very strong and sometimes it keeps me down, you know, I have to think twice about what I do and where I go; also, I have some sort of anxiety, especially lately in my life, it could be sometimes a social anxiety, sometimes just anxiety in general about things I do, so it really make things a little bit more difficult, however!
I love this career path I chose so much and making music and singing makes me so happy! It brought me actually to life and I found it therapeutic to actually be emotional, talking about all these ups and downs in life, my fears, the things that bother me or happy things…
Talking about these things and singing about those things can be very painful and sometimes vulnerable, just like you mentioned, but it’s very cleansing! It’s almost cathartic in a way, it brings up, it opens up the scars, but also it heals them in a way!
That’s the reason why I keep on doing that and that stronger, introverted me is stronger than my anxiety, than anything: in fact, I feel insanely lucky that I chose this career path in the right time of my life, but maybe who knows? If I was even to be a sane or balanced person, if I didn’t have music in my life…
What about the future plans? What’s brewing?
Of course there’s the album release, we are actually planning to tour the world and we are working on making certain tour happen in Asia, Australia, countries that we’ve never been before! I’m super excited about that! And also Latin America, oh my God, we have so many fans there…
I mean, besides obviosly also touring our beloved Europe, North America and Russia, we have so many fans in Russia as well… Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Northern Europe, the whole planet, really, so… (she laughs). That’s what it’s the most exciting, because we love doing that and we wanna get back to that!
(since Lena speaks a bit of Italian and Infected Rain has so many Italian fans, we felt like concluding this chat giving a particular credit to the Italian Audience)
Grazie mille Lena, questa era la mia ultima domanda. Sapendo che tu conosci l’italiano, ti vorrei chiedere, gentilmente, se ti va di concludere questa nostra chiacchierata rivolgendo un saluto particolare ai fan italiani, quindi ti invito alle parole finali!
Grazie per avermi qui, grazie per tutte le domande che mi hai fatto oggi! Sì, a tutta l’Italia, soprattutto voglio dire, visto che mi chiedete spesso quando torniamo lì, noi facciamo il nostro meglio per arrivare sempre, almeno una volta all’anno – anche perché la mia famiglia mi vuole vedere, ehehehe e vedere concerti – noi proviamo sempre di infilare almeno una data qui e lì. Vi voglio tanto bene, grazie per avere tutto questo amore e questo interesse per gli Infected Rain, grazie veramente!