Interview by Vard AmanVocalist, Olga Salikhova, has over the years become a familiar name and face (and voice) in Russian Female-fronted Metal, having fronted bands such as Slavery, Oktagon and Luna Aeterna. Currently, she is singing for one of the pioneering bands of Russian-based Doom Metal, Voiceless Void, as well as her own project, Core. I caught up with her for a chat about her musical career to date. Hi Olga! Welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. So, to start off with: when did you start singing?
When I was a little girl my granny used to take me a long way to our summer cottage on a bike on the rear seat, and I used to sing all the way to entertain both of us. Later when I was 7 I went to music school and joined a choir, and I liked being part of it.Did you have any special training?
Yes, I did! When I was a teenager, I felt a great desire to get a Grammy and to conquer the world, and I was quite sure it won’t take me more than, say, 5 years, so I started attending some weekend classes at a musical studio. There I experienced my first individual vocal classes. After that all my training was mostly with different private vocal coaches.What was your first band?
I was 17 then, it was a very nice band called Slavery, they lived in a different city in the Moscow Region, so I had to commute to our rehearsals twice a week and my parents had to meet me really late at night coming back. Slavery was kind of melodic power metal with dark lyrics and kind of gothic image. They were really nice guys and the founders of the band are still my friends. There are only a couple of live audio recordings from our gigs and a demo. Unfortunately, even though they existed for 10 years, they didn’t release any albums, even after I left the band.
According to Metal Archives, Slavery split up for the second time in 2010. When was the first time? Was that also when you left?
No, when I left the band, they found another female leader, also named Olga (Mashkina), also a blonde, there were kind jokes about that in the group and among our fans that the band attracts such front girls. I know after Olga Mashkina they had another blonde singer, Nastya. I actually don’t know much about their first splitting-up, I know about the second one in 2010, I was involved then.How were you involved?
I took a break in my musical career after I left Luna Aeterna. I didn’t sing at all for about 4 or 5 years. I communicated with my ex-music colleagues very seldom, only occasionally. Then one day I met with the bass-player of Slavery, Irina, and she suggested that I join them again because their singer, Nastya, was leaving the band for personal reasons. I agreed with enthusiasm, we started rehearsing together, it all was nice and we were discussing recording an album, but after a month of rehearsals the guys decided that they felt exhausted and lacked creative inspiration and new ideas for our music. That’s how we split up, basically.
What are they doing now?
The drummer gave up making music and sold his drums. The keyboard player Anya found her own band Unstable, she is a singer and composer there. Ira, the bass-player, is currently a music concert photojournalist at a very famous site about rock music. The guitarist, Yura, is more into humour, he is in amateur video-production, as far as I know.It’s a pity I never got to hear Slavery. The first time I got to hear you was with Oktagon during “Tempora Vice Versa”, with Madlen. Tell us a bit about Oktagon and your involvement with them.
With Oktagon it was a very funny story. My bandmate, Dasha, was then a girlfriend of their drummer and she helped me get into that group. We toured and performed with them for a couple of years. The show I remember most with Oktagon was the Lacrimosa gothic party in one of our then-biggest and most famous Moscow clubs Tochka, a lot of gothic-oriented people still remember that big show, which was not a regular local event and even got some media-coverage by a state TV-channel. I wasn’t involved with the recording of “Tempora Vice Versa”, and I wasn’t in the band at the same time as Madlen, they only did some live recordings with my vocals. The biggest contribution I made to Oktagon was bringing Anatoliy Tikhonov into the band, and he played with Oktagon for some time after I left. So, you see, all musicians of the Russian underground know each other through playing in different bands in different times. We are kind of a melting pot! People are quite stable in playing their instruments, but unfortunately, sometimes they change several groups before taking part in even one recording. Probably this is because there are bands who release an album only after several years after getting together and sometimes it really seems hopeless to waiting for them to get it together, I don’t know. Probably this is because of lack of understanding of the music industry and what steps take you to a different level. Frankly speaking, it all was so long ago, that I don’t remember the details of how I came from Oktagon to the band Luna Aeterna. I think for some time I sang in both, but, anyway, Luna Aeterna was the band where I spent the most time and recorded the album “Taina” (“Mystery”) together, that’s why memories about this band nowadays are most meaningful to me, even though all bands were nice and I keep a lot of bright memories about all of them.Luna Aeterna used to be called Fullmoon. What was the reason for the name change?
Yes, first we were called Fullmoon. It was a very elegant word (at least in Russian), very becoming to our image, but when we started recording our album and found out more about legal aspects of releasing our product, we realized that we had to rename ourselves as there was another band from Russia who has already released an album with such name.So “Taina” was really the first time I heard you then, not with Oktagon (oops… my bad… hehe). I didn’t hear “В смерти – жизнь”, the EP prior to “Taina” under Fullmoon. Were you involved with that?
Yes, I was. As far as I remember, we recorded it in Misha‘s home. Misha is our songwriter and leader of the band, keyboard player and creative inspiration of the band, he was working on founding a home recording studio then and it was one of his first experiences to record music on a more professional level. Nowadays he is a professional studio sound engineer and producer. I remember that lovely room, where we were recording it. It was a tiny place, very stuffy in there and there was a horizontal bar hanging above your head. It was fun recording in such cramped conditions. I did have some recording experience with Slavery before, we had done home EP “Padenie Nebes” (“Heavens Fall”), but still the recoding process was quite stressful for me, as I struggled to do two or three takes of the lines, they were emotional and lively, but if all 3 tries were no good, we couldn’t get a better result on the same day. At that time I thought I was more inclined to live performances, rather than recording in the studio. Now I feel capable of both. It comes with experience. I hope in the nearest time I will be able to prove it.Tell us about the writing process and the recording of “Taina”.
It was on DAI records of famous rock sound engineer Evgeniy Vinogradov in his home studio. I don’t really remember many details about it, we just were trying to work hard and do our best because we were doing something we really loved and believed in. It took us quite long to record all the songs, around 1 year for the whole album. Looking back on that, we all understand, that many things could have been done better to get a more expressive sound, but still I am proud of being one of the people, who recorded that album and I still feel acutely the songs as a part of me with every cell of my body.How would you describe Luna Aeterna’s sound, in general?
Well, actually, I don’t know how to describe the music in words… Beautiful, emotional, very sincere, open-hearted gothic music with sad lyrics, and very energetic and heavy guitars.Two of the songs were sung in Romanian, right? (And everything else in Russian)
Yes, that is true. The first female singer in Luna Aeterna could speak Romanian and it was very becoming to the music and the topic of vampires to translate the lyrics into Romanian, so they did. When I came, there was the demo version with Olga’s singing, so I tried to copy her pronunciation, that’s all. But I don’t speak Romanian and have never learnt the language.Do you speak any other languages (other than Russian and English of course)?
I used to speak b1 level of German and French, but I have lost most of my skills as I have no practice in either of the languages at all.How well did “Taina” do, inside and outside of Russia?
Frankly, I left after the album was recorded and before the album was released, so I really don’t have that much information about that. The only thing I know, is that in Russian main social network, the equivalent of Facebook, called VKontakte, where people may keep music they like to listen, there are quite many listeners of our songs, with “Taina”‘s material, too.Why did you leave Luna Aeterna? And what happened to the band after you left?
Our guitar player Alex Volt left the band, which made me feel uncomfortable, because we used to be a stable group with none of the people in the band ever changing in my time there. I was upset and also left a short while afterwards. I didn’t communicate with the guys or anyone in the metal community for a couple of years and completely abandoned musical activities. As far as I remember, LA had 3 female singers after I left, and recorded an EP and some singles, but no albums. In 2012 I was celebrating my birthday with a gig, organized by myself, and I sang there with 2 bands, my current band, called Core, and the guys from Luna Aeterna. We sang songs from “Taina”, I felt so much at home with them, so much warmth and emotions inside. It was like a miracle to me. The best birthday and one-time reunion ever!Is there any chance of a more permanent Luna Aeterna reunion?
Well, who knows! We still feel the chemistry between each other; understanding and the feeling like we are brothers, but no particular things were discussed so far.Tell us a bit about Core.
Core is currently a cover-band, which is more focused on playing world famous light-rock hits which all of us like. We haven’t done any demos yet and are currently working on our own material, which is not well-structured yet and sounds more like progressive rock, but we haven’t rehearsed it yet, all the scratches are in guitar pro or active drums, so, it seems to me, that it will be greatly modified after we all try to really perform the music all together. The lyrics are not dark at all, the opposite really, some positive staff about vocation in life, searching and finding the right place for your talents in life.I understand you’re also currently singing for Voiceless Void, one of the pioneers of Russian Doom Metal. How did you get involved with them?
After Slavery broke up, I started looking for some other band and getting the place in Voiceless Void was very easy, because Roma, the leader of the group, had seen me on stage with my previous bands and I just had to come once to record some demo of a couple of their songs, so that all the band could accept on my candidacy. It went smoothly and quite quickly. Now we are rehearsing and having gigs together, but no album was recorded with my voice yet, as they just released and album when I came to the band. Now Roma is composing and writing lyrics for the 5th album for the band, but I can’t tell you any deadlines about when we will go to the studio.How does the new material compare to the old so far?
It would probably be better not to ask just yet, only our group leader, Roman Boss, has heard it. The rest of the band only knows 2 new songs; “Black Sun” (it is in demo version in VKontakte), and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fHuxKwdAIg (live). As far as I know it will be more or less classical Voiceless Void’s beautiful doom style.
Didn’t Voiceless Void open for Draconian on their second trip to Moscow?
Yes, true, in the famous Russian Tochka club. It was a great gig, it was my first gig after several years without stage. I felt quite nervous, but all went quite smoothly, the sound engineer did perfect job, we sounded really nicely and the audience was very hearty.What do you think about the Russian, or Moscow Metal scene in general, and how has it changed over the years?
I don’t think I am the best person to be asked this question, because I don’t follow its development, I listen to light rock at home and it is mostly performed by foreign musicians.What do you do / like doing outside of singing?
Frankly speaking, there is not too much free time, as I work and music is more like my hobby, but it takes nearly as much time as work. Still I find time to communicate with people. I like promoting ideas on social networks, so I am trying to learn the basics of social networks management. Also, I like organizing little events for my friends, such as intellectual parties, pecha-kuchas, and my latest interest is organizing local gigs and music seminars for musicians. That’s it! To say it short, socializing with co-thinkers in a proactive way – this is my main interest besides music.
Luna Aeterna – MySpace * VKontakte *Site
Core – Vkontakte
Voiceless Void – MySpace *Facebook * VKontakte
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