Interview by Miriam Cadoni
Surma is the brainchild of the Czech singer Viktorie Surmøvá and the guitarist of the Far Oer’s main export band Tyr whose full-line up is completed by the Dutch bassist Rens Bourgondiën and the Russian drummer Aleksandr Zhukov. As stated on its Facebook profile, the band’s main goal “is to lift your spirits out of your everyday humdrum and high into the sky with our epic music”. Surely, with this interesting debut “The Light Within” which will be released via Metal Blade soon, the band managed to achieve that goal. In this regard, let’s read together what the singer Viktorie had to say about it. Enjoy!
Hi Viktorie, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are you and these precarious days are treating you?
Hello, thanks for having me. I’m doing pretty well. Of course, I miss to travel and to have concerts abroad. Anyway, I’m at home and I’m working on other stuff. Actually, it can be worse.
First and foremost, for the readers that aren’t still familiar with Surma, would you like to tell us how the band came together?
Well, everything came together in 2018 when I met Heri Joensen who is my actual partner and guitar player from the progressive/folk metal band Týr and basically, I was a musician before I was in a band and I’m quite active in other projects as well.
However, I always wanted to have my own band and create my own music and when I met Heri, he suggested me that I should do it on my own and that he’s able to help me. In the end, this is how began.
On November 6th, the debut album “The Light Within” will be released via Metal Blade. What can you share about its general production?
Actually, I had most of these ideas since a long time. You know, I just walk in the street and a certain idea pops up and then, I record it in my phone. What I record in my phone are mostly the melodies and then, everything lies there for years.
But, the main issue was I didn’t know how to begin. After I met Hari, I introduced to him my ideas. How we work is mostly like this: I have my vocal note and then, he plays the guitar accordingly. It took a few years because I wasn’t aware how start the whole process.
As I said before, “The Light Within” will be released via Metal Blade Records. How was your first approach with the label and so far, how is it going?
Well, Heri is already under Metal Blade with his own band, so we contacted them and ask them if they were up to listen to our demo materials we had. We were surprised when they positively answered back by offering us a record deal for three album with us, which is not that common nowadays.
I was really happy by their offer and working with Metal Blade is very nice. They are taking care of us and especially, there’s this kind lady in the team who’s really helpful with everything. Yes, we’re quite satisfied with everything.
I’ve read that when looking for inspiration, you did check out a few sculpture oeuvres. When do you observe them, what exactly are you searching for and which one is your favorite?[laughs]. This is a nice one. Well, I don’t know how it began but probably everything began with the fact that I used to work in a bar and after the shift, every night I was walking around this sculpture that’s really freaky, you know. It’s in Prague and it’s a memorial for Polish prisoners during the Communist era. It’s a very depressing one but the art itself is very beautiful.
And in the evening, there are some lights enlighten it and that makes everything much more powerful. You can feel the emotions from it. I think that was the point when I felt a sort of connection from this art which, at the end of the day, is important in every artistic medium we produce. Then, I found out few more sculpture that were beautiful and that made me feel something really strong and from them, we discovered the stories behind those sculptures.
Lastly, it was really interesting to be literally immersed in their stories. Though, one of my favorite sculpture is, of course, the one that I have previously mentioned and to that it’s related a really strong memory. Then, from the song “Cages of Rage”, which is about this sculpture created by this amazing Ukrainian artist.
It features a sort of construction of two sitting people with their back against each other like they are having an argument and not talking with each other at all. Additionally, inside this construction, we can find some glowing children who touch together. It’s so powerful because is basically about every day’s relationships.
Personally, I do love arts and the more you grow older, the more you start to appreciate it and both paintings and sculptures can communicate and express a lot…
Absolutely, absolutely. You know, art is very personal. Sometimes it you feel something and sometimes not also another person can have the opposite reaction. But whatever emotion might trigger (even if it’s anger or happiness), you should be free to experience them.
Surma‘s core duo is made up by you and Týr’s Heri Joensen. To which extent, his musical background impacted Surma?
I think definitely yes, that had an impact. You know, he composes the harmonies and everything is in his head. So, it’s how he works. First of all, he persuaded me to found the band and make it work with some concrete plans. Secondly, he developed my melodies on his own. Surely, you can listen to his imprint and he did a lot.
Among your many musical adventures, I’d like to mention your participation with Bohemian Metal Rhapsody and Cruadalach. What would you like to say about it and what did you learn from these experiences? Lastly, which is the memory that you cherish the most?
Well, I’ll start with Bohemian Metal Rhapsody. It’s a huge project, it’s not really a band. In the line up are present 8 singers, a metal band and 2 cellos. As you can see, it’s not a really common band set up which of course, it’s feasible only for big stages. What I’ve learned while performing with this project to feel more at home in bigger stages because it’s what we did last year during a summer festival. It was really really amazing to experience that, to experience the energy from all the people present there.
You know, we didn’t perform in a club show with just a few hundred people in the audience but they were thousands and thousand and it was something strong. What also I’ve learned is how to work together with a big crew because it’s not always a pleasant journey. Everyone has a different personality. Of course, we are friends and everything is fine and we work together quite easily, but sometimes it can happen that someone has a difference opinion on certain matters. So, it’s nice to learn how to manage with different ideas.
Instead with Cruadalach, it’s a basically metalcore band and it wasn’t, at all, my musical genre but I really like their style and I started to enjoy their since my collaboration with them began. Again, the amount of energy of their music is so much bigger than the style I usually sing in. It’s just everything is so fast and I have to move myself a lot, dancing in a silly way [laughs].
It’s really nice, I like a lot the energy and the people in the band. It’s a pity that I’ve performed with them just in Czechia so far. Actually, I was supposed to go with Crudalach in Germany but unfortunately, we don’t know if it will happen because of the Corona pandemic.
From “The Light Within”, two singles have been released: they lyric video of “Reveal the Light Within” and the live video of “Like the Rivers Flows”. Which insights would you like to share about those songs?
“Like the Rivers Flows”, I think, it was the first song we have composed together. At the time, it was really hectic because we knew that we wanted to get a recording deal. So, we decided to join Tyr on tour and record it live. However, the main issue was that we (me and Heri) didn’t have a proper band and we had to figure to prepare this. We had literally one day for rehearse the whole material and then join the tour.
We weren’t entirely prepared but we succeeded in our goal to get a record deal which is nice. Of course, it’s a live video, it’s not a real recording and there are a lot of mistakes [laughs]. But, I guess, it’s common to see mistakes like that in the beginning. Well, I can already tell you that we were recording the official video few months ago and what I remember quite well, it’s the fact I was freezing [laughs] and it was even during the summer.
Throughout that session, we have recorded this video that will feature another song . It was a real long one because we were busy from the early morning until midnight. After shooting this one, with all the set up and cameras already ready, we went back into the studio and we shot the lyric video for “Reveal the Light Within”.
In the lyric video, I was wearing too much clothing due to the fact that it didn’t look out nice in the final outcome, so, imagine the situation, I was really tired and cold and since we didn’t have a fan, the guys were helping me with that with a paper for creating some wind effect which it really didn’t help to my body temperature [laughs]. In the end , we tried to recording it quite quickly, I was suffering during the shooting but I’m really happy with it.
Due to the current situation, do you have some sort of other plans in mind set for the promotion of this release?
We’ll gonna release something and we are working on some videos, let’s say. It’s still not sure because I’m still hoping for having a release show but we don’t know how the situation will be. We’re still thinking what to do and it’s really difficult to decided right now. Whatever it will follow, we’re going to reveal something pretty soon on our social medias.
So, Viktorie, we’re at the end of our interview. Please be free to say hi to your fans and our readers. Thank you so really much for this interview.[Laughs] Thank you so much. It was really nice to having this interview and I’m very thankful towards this nice community in the metal scene. Thank you so much for having me here, it’s like a dream coming true and please guys, listen to the music as much as possible. I hope that you make you happy and hopefully, see you soon on tour on some shows probably.