Originally from the Canary Islands, Tears of Martyr now calls Madrid home. For those craving a dose of dark gothic metal, the band’s new release “Entrance” will feed your hungry metal beast. Mmmmm, a delicious helping of shining soprano vocals (a truly fine voice) paired with light-eating death metal vocals. Femme Metal sat down with Berenice Musa, female vocalist for Tears of Martyr, to get the whole story. Dig in!
Hello Berenice and welcome to Femme Metal. For those who have not heard Tears of Martyr’s first full-length release, “Entrance”, how would you describe it?
Hi Robin, I would like to start by saying that I am really excited about this interview and that for me it is a huge pleasure to answer your questions and introduce Tears of Martyr to the Femme Metal readers. “Entrance” is an invitation to anyone who wants to experience the world of Tears of Martyr. A journey through many emotional states, like anger, despair, revenge, wrath, resignation against hope, salvation or self-esteem. We regard each song as a unique play, with characters, who develop through the story, and at the same time each song contains a message open to any personal interpretation. “Entrance” isn’t a paradigm or a utopia; it’s our personal view of the human being and its reality, whose existence we compare to a chessboard controlled by fate.
Many bands make only a few songs from their albums available on the Internet. Why did Tears of Martyr make all 12 tracks available for streaming on its official band site?
Our intention with “Entrance” was to spread our music and the band name to any possible place in the world. That is the main reason why we decided to offer our music for free worldwide.
How has the feedback from reviewers and fans been?
I can proudly say that we are receiving very positive feedbacks, both from the media and the fans. It is an enormous motivation for us to continue with the hard work.
Your soprano vocals on “Entrance” are beautifully pure and clear. What type of musical training have you had?
100% classical training. I started studying classical singing in Gran Canaria and moved then to the Netherlands to finish my Bachelor’s Degree. Nowadays I continue studying with private teachers and repertoirists in order to improve my technique and work on new repertoire. For me, singing is like a long distance run; you always have to be prepared and in shape, and it is dangerous to allow yourself to rest on one’s laurel.
Do you remember what first sparked your passion for music? Did you grow up in a musical family?
No member of my closest family is a professional musician, though I remember having grown up surrounded by music. My father is truly a music lover; he used to play his favourite bands’ CDs when he was at home and he also likes singing. I keep a special memory from my childhood: it was my father who was the one in charge of bathing me in the afternoon before dinner. While doing this, he used to sing to me and whenever he would stop singing I immediately started to say: “Go on Dad, go on!!”. Probably he was the one who passed on to me his passion for music. Apparently this passion in me grew up in a different way, as singing has become my profession.
Please introduce the other members of Tears of Martyr, and tell us a little bit about them.
Well…please let me introduce you to Miguel Ángel, he plays guitar and shares with me the singing parts. He is the only founding member who remains in the band and practically all the music and lyrics come from his highly creative mind. Next one isDoramas, he is our drum player since 2001. Before he entered as an active member inTears of Martyr, he had always been very close to the band. Apart from being a personal friend of many of the founding members,Doramasdid the design of the first demo tape of the band,“The Essence of Evil”. Together withJavi “Astur”, guitar player since December 2008, he spends most of his time doing management tasks, like looking for gigs, updating the MySpace and the web, promoting the band and the CD on the Internet, etc… Our last signing isCésar, bass player since July 2009.
How did a classically-trained soprano become the female vocalist for a metal band with extreme male vocals?
To answer this question we have to go back to 2000. In that year I collaborated in the first CD of a local band from Gran Canaria called Carne Cruda (Raw Meat). They organized a concert in order to present their work and asked me if I wanted to take part in it. Of course I agreed without any doubt. Immediately after my performance with Carne Cruda, a very close friend of Tears of Martyr approached me and told me that the band was looking for a singer like me. I was given a sort of business card with two telephone numbers on it. After a few months I finally decided to phone the first number on the card; it was Miguel Ángel who answered. This is how it all started!!
Over the years, Tears of Martyr have gone through periods of great difficulty. Jumping back to 2007: half the band quit, and you, Miguel Ángel and Doramas decided to move the 2000 kilometers from the Canary Islands to Madrid. Can you give us an idea of what it was like to make such a major decision, both for Tears of Martyr as a band and for you personally?
It certainly was a tough decision for us personally (we left behind our families, friends, our homes and jobs) but not tough as a band decision. The band was feeling the need of a change for quite a long time. We knew that if we wanted to grow up as a band the best thing to do was to move to the continent. As you already said, in 2007 half of the band quit and the question we made ourselves was quite decisive: we had to start over again, that was for sure, but we had to decide if we wanted to do it either in Gran Canaria or in Madrid. And the answer was clear: it was “then” or never. Personally, for me it wasn’t such a hard decision; I deeply believe in Tears of Martyr and I would bet my life on it. Nowadays, I have adapted myself to Madrid and to its crazy and wild life rhythm. The only two things I miss from Gran Canaria are my family and the sea. Whenever I feel nostalgic and homesick, I take a plane and in two hours I’m on my little beloved island and with my dear family.
What is the metal scene like in Madrid, compared to the Canary Islands?
First of all you have to bear in mind that Madrid is the capital of Spain and compared to it, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which is the town I come from, is a very small place. As you may be probably thinking, in Madrid there are more opportunities. That is true; it is easier to get in contact with other musicians from the scene and there are more chances to play. But, on the other hand, there is more rivalry, because there are more bands here in Madrid. In addition to all this, our music, not only in Madrid but generally in Spain, is not mainstream and, unfortunately, is still considered underground music. However this reality won’t reduce our yearning for self-improvement, both as a band or each one of us as musicians.
Tears of Martyr has top-notch musicians collaborating on “Entrance”, such as Dani Fernández (ex-Dark Moor), violinist Julio Fernandez, and a six-person vocal cast that includes Beatriz Albert (Ebony Ark). How did the band’s collaboration with these musicians come about?
For the recording of “Entrance” we had the necessity of a session bass player and somebody recommended Dani Fernández to us. After contacting him and negotiating a little bit, he accepted to record the bass lines. The work with Dani was excellent and we continue having a friendly relationship with him. The rest of the musicians that took part in the recording, they are all close friends of ours. For this our first recording we wanted to create a comfortable working atmosphere, that is the reason why we chose to surround ourselves with good friends.
The band has played concerts alongside Dark Tranquillity, Swallow the Sun, Draconian and To/Die/For, among others. What is your best memory from a Tears of Martyr gig?
All of our concerts are special to me but if I have to pick just one I would choose our first gig in Madrid. It wasn’t actually an important concert but I was really excited to feel that somehow we were starting to fulfill our dreams.
I can’t resist going completely off-topic, so here goes:
Favourite vice? Chocolate!! Believe when I tell you I can’t resist the temptation when it is about chocolate!! Most embarrassing album/artist in your collection? I actually listen to a wide variety of music styles. If you could take a closer look to my CD collection you could find from metal to classical music, pop music, jazz, chill out, etc… But none to feel embarrassed of. Cartoons, yes or no?Definitely yes: Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, American Dad but also older ones like Maya the Bee, The Pink Panther and an old French cartoon TV production called “Once upon a time…”. It is a compilation of cartoons that covered issues like the human body, history, the outer space or science. I really liked this one when I was a child. Any pets?A dog called Ozzy If you were not a musician, what would you want to be?Historiographer
What are Tears of Martyr’s plans for 2010?
Our short term plan is to continue with the promotion of “Entrance” inside and outside of Spain. There are as well some concert dates to be confirmed and shortly our new web will be finished containing many surprises.
Thank you, Berenice, it’s been a pleasure talking with you. Do you have any last words for your fans?
I would like to thank you, Robin, for giving me this opportunity to share with you and the Femme Metal readers pieces of my own world, where Tears of Martyr is included. I also would like to invite everyone to join our group on Facebook and, to keep up with current events related to the band, visit our web or MySpace.