INTERVIEW: Monica Primo – My Black Light


Interview by Ed MacLaren

Italy’s My Black Light is a band with a plan. Since its inception in 2008, the band has clawed and grabbed its way through the ranks starting as a cover band to performing original songs in music contests and to industry reps. In the final phase, the band steadily sharpened its skills and music into the razor-edged gothic prog metal tracks on their debut album “Human Maze”. Lead vocalist Monica Primo took some time to talk to Femme Metal Webzine about the debut album, its musical style and its deal with Massacre Records.
Hi Monica! Thanks for joining Femme Metal for this interview!

Thanks to you!

“Human Maze” is a strong debut with a positive response from fans and critics alike. Were you and the band happy with the end product?

Of course we are! We couldn’t imagine such a great enthusiasm and interest in our music and when we signed with Massacre Records it was so surprising we couldn’t believe it.

When you and the band got together you started off playing cover songs. What songs did My Black Light cut its teeth on?

We were born as a Within Temptation cover band. This first step helped us play together and know each other better and grow up together. But we had so much more to say and show, so after a while we decided to write and play our own music. And you don’t come back when you start!

Why did you start with cover songs instead of starting to write original material?

Well, like I said before we didn’t know each other, either as musicians or as persons, so we just wanted to see what playing together was like. Some of us were very young and I think we just wanted to test the band.

How did performing covers impact the musical direction on “Human Maze”?

Honestly, not so much. I think playing covers makes you find out more the differences of your style compared to the band you are covering than the similarity. Of course, in “Human Maze” you can find some features of Within Temptation especially in the most symphonic parts of our music but just because we like that kind of music, we have never intended to copy anything.

How did My Black Light develop the ideas for the album? How did you develop and perfect the songs?

Usually Rudy starts composing a sort of draft song so we can work together on it adding our personal taste and style. He always acts like a supervisor during this phase and works together with all of us. After that he arranges the music and at the end of it I start working on the vocal melody and on the lyrics. Sometimes in this phase we change something in the music again so it takes us a bit longer to finish the song – sometimes we like it immediately.

When you started writing songs did they just flow or did it take a lot of work to get your song craft to a level you were happy with?

When we compose, both music and lyrics, it just comes to us and we start writing it down. I think at that step it’s just a flow of thoughts and emotions. It takes more to arrange it and adapt it to what we want to achieve, that part is more rational.

Would you consider “Human Maze” a concept album of sorts?

Well, not really a concept album but you can find a sort of main theme throughout the whole album – our way of reacting inside to the world outside, our emotions and feelings before life, death, people, fear, time, faith and so on.

You participated in a number of music contests early in your career. What did you and the band take away from that experience?

It’s great to know other bands and to meet other people, I think you can always learn something new from these kind of experiences and in addition you can put yourself to the test and see whether people like your music and what you can improve. It’s not important to win – I don’t make much of it – but what you experience.

The “Human Maze” was originally release digitally and then you landed a distribution deal with Massacre Records. How has that impacted the band over the last year?

Well, first of all it gave us a lot of visibility we hadn’t before. We got plenty of interviews, reviews, advertising and new fans, and we hope this will help us playing on stage more and more.

Did you tweak the album for the Massacre release or was it good to go as is?

We decided with them to include a new song, just to give our fans something more as the demo was already out digitally with Pirames International and they adjusted the graphic art a little so it became more colored and brilliant.

My Black Light has a very gothic vibe but you can hear eastern influences in tracks like “Being Human” and others with proggy elements and strong symphonic flourishes. Does each band member bring a separate set of influences to the table?

Yes, that’s it. Every member has brought their personal taste and influences especially during the arranging step, so even though the main nature is gothic, you can actually recognize different genres.

Tracks like “Inner World” have some heavy riffing but the band fools around with the song structure mid-song for great effect. Is there a conscious effort to make tracks unpredictable and do the unexpected?

“Inner World” is the song that best identifies the band, that’s why we decided to film our first video with this song. The idea of the structure in the middle was to create a break between the previous condition and we tried to express the same in the video too. The structure should suggest something mysterious and distressing that is growing. We decided for a prog solution.

The band is equally adept at complex song structures as straight-ahead metal tracks. Do you and the band favor one style over the other?

We like to mix the two of them equally. Life is never only simple or complex and we want our music to be the same.

Your vocals are a stand-out feature on the album – a perfect complement to the music behind it. How much time do you spend developing your melodies lines for the songs? What is your process?

Thank you very much. I can’t tell you exactly how much time it takes me to develop a melody, but I need to listen to the music again and again until I find something I like. Then I record the vocal line and listen to it again and again. Sometimes I change everything again or Rudy does and then we work together until the final version.

Have you started work on any new material? What direction is it moving in?

Yes, we already have some new songs, they’re just drafts for now so we need to work still hard on them. However I can say they’re a little heavier and less symphonic than the previous but you know things can still change a lot.

Has the experience of recording your debut given you any specific musical ideas you want to develop on your next album?

Actually, every time we work on a song we have new ideas for the next one and recording really gives us the chance to do that. We are lucky Rudy has his own studio where we recorded our music and we could take our time to record our album.

Will fans get to see My Black Light tour in 2012?

We hope! We have some great gigs in the next six months but we haven’t defined a tour yet. We’ll see.

(Famous) Last words?

This is Rudy’s favorite from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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