Interview by Roberta Ilaria Rossi
Symphonic metal is one of the most fashionable among the music metal genres and surely it has got a very special care, becoming the “landmark” for lots of emerging bands. This surely is the case that concerns the Croatian metal band Downcast Art which recently brought its music around Croatia and now is trying to enlarge the boundaries. Here’s what the lovely Jelena revealed to us.
Hi Jelena and welcome to Femme Metal.net. Let’s start our interview talking about the project Downcast Art. Would you like to introduce some more detail to our readers?
Of course! 🙂 We are a symphonic metal band from Croatia and this year we released our first album called “Forbidden Memories”. The band consists of five members, Kristijan (guitar and vocals), Davor (bass guitar), Zdravko (keyboards), Lukas (drums) and me (vocals).
Downcast Art is a Croatian band which makes symphonic and opera metal music. How did this band start?
The band was formed by our keyboard player, Zdravko, in 2005. During the first few years, they played covers of the well-known bands of the genre, but with time, they started to develop their own musical expression. I’ve been in the band since 2011, so I don’t know too much about the years before, only some general stuff the guys told me 🙂
The band was formed in 2005, the path was long but before releasing the debut album, something happened in the band: there were a lot of lineup changes, you’ve released an EP, “Downlight”, containing 3 songs only and then, you’ve found a stable line up. How is going on your musical path at the moment?
Well, I’d say. We have live concerts often enough to promote our debut album. Along with live shows, we are working on some new songs and ideas.
Before your entrance in the band, there was another singer, Iva Grdić. How did you get in touch with the band?
We got in touch via a Croatian forum dealing with music, instruments and playing in bands. I wasn’t registered there (I did not know the site even existed), but my best friend decided that I needed a band, and made a post on the forum about a certain classical singer searching for a band, preferably symphonic metal 🙂 Zdravko saw the post and contacted me, I listened to their music, liked it, and before you know it, I was having rehearsals with them.
Let’s talk about your album. It’s called “Forbidden Memories”. Could you please tell us how was this record born and could you please say something about the album title?
When I came in the band, the music was finished, only the vocal lines had to be completed. All the instruments were already recorded (only a few things had to be fixed in the studio), so I got the lyrics and the music and started working. In five or six rehearsals (lasting 3 to 5 hours each :)), I sketched the vocal lines with the help from the guys (sitting on the floor and saying: “Yes, that’s it!!!” or “No, could you do it…. somehow different” :)). It was recorded and mastered, and after finishing the booklet, the album was complete. Its title refers to the idea which binds all of the songs together: something lost, perhaps living in the past, where all the things are brighter; our memories of that place and everything in the present that connects us to it.
Did the record obtain good reviews and good feedbacks from medias and fans?
It did, we are still extremely proud of the American review in which we received 11 of 10 points, and other reviews, from Canada and Croatia, where the number never went below 8 of 10. The fans are great, they are mainly getting in touch with us and commenting our music on the band Facebook page after the live shows.
I’ve noticed that there is a lyric in your mother tongue, called “Miris Prošlosti” and the remaining ones are written in English. What about this choice?
Well, so that we could say there is a symphonic metal song in Croatian. 😀 Just kidding, there was the idea of translating the song to English, but it just sounded better in Croatian, I suppose. The other songs are in English so they are understandable to the fans in the world. And our songwriter likes to write in English 🙂
In the track “Miris Prošlosti” we can see and read these lines: “Drugi svijet u tišini vremena, sve, sve što sanjam ja, negdje u meni, Čuva tajnu zvijezde daleke“. What do they mean?
Literally translated: “Another world in the silence of time, everything I am dreaming of, somewhere in me, keeps the secret of a faraway star”. As you can see, it also has a reference to the past and the secrets it keeps.
“Forbidden Memories” is the song that gives a name to the record and it sees a duet. What could you tell us about this song?
As much as I know about the process of making of that song, it was made to be a “catchy” song 🙂 Thematically, it deals with memories defining who you are, which defined you as a person, your individuality.
The lyrics of this record are well-written and they show off a very good skill in writing. How does a lyric branded Downcast Art come to life?
The only person writing the lyrics in the band is Zdravko. Since I joined the band after all the lyrics for the first album were written, I can tell you only that, at the moment, we have a great amount of music and ideas for the second album, but the lyrics are kept in secret until the very end.;
If you could pick a song taken from this record to identify the sound of the band at its best, what song would you choose? I would say “Whisper of a Dying Rose”…
Hmm, I’d choose “Home of Silence”. It is soft and sad at the beginning, it gives you hope on the chorus and it fully awakes the whole band (and the audience) after the guitar solo.
“Chants from the Deep” is an instrumental track and it fits well on the album. What could you say about this song? Who did compose it?
That song is made to recall the song of the lost captains and sailors of the seabed. A deeper meaning would be that it’s a song from the bottom of the heart, pure and untouched by empty words of this world. It was composed by Kristijan and Zdravko.
You mainly are a soprano, what did your adventure in music start?
It started off at the age of 7 at the School of Music in my hometown, where I studied piano and music theory. At the age of 15, I changed my major from piano to classical singing and vocal techniques. After finishing high school and the School of Music, I continued my education on the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, thus completing my formal musical path.
What were your biggest influences?
Classical opera singers had the biggest influence over me and my singing, mainly Maria Callas, Anna Netrebko, Cecilia Bartoli… Their tone and the ability to portray a huge number of completely different characters in the opera inspired me to think, to act and to feel as a protagonist of the songs I’m singing on the stage. It is the most important task of the singer, to be in the song and to pass it on to the audience.
Now that the album has been released, what are your future goals?
In the near future, we would like to perform live as much as possible, especially outside the Croatian border. Also, at the moment, we are trying to improve and fill in our merchandise offer with T-shirts and similar stuff. Later in the future, we are planning to release the next album, of course 🙂
What could you say about your fanbase? Are you accepted by the Croatian public?
Pretty much, yes. Croatia is not the country where metal and symphonic metal are popular and well accepted music genres. With that in mind, we are receiving surprisingly positive feedback from many people who aren’t even fans of the genre, but still like to listen to our music in the car, or at home relaxing after work, for example 🙂 That is a great compliment, if you ask me, to satisfy the needs of the people who aren’t used to the sound of metal and operatic voice.
What about the European one?
We still didn’t present the material from the album live in Europe, but judging by the reviews and individual feedback we got, the European public might like us 😉 I’m very optimistic.
Will we ever see Downcast Art touring Europe one day?
Oh, I certainly hope so 🙂 It will probably be an exhausting and beautiful experience and I can’t wait for it to happen!
Ok this was my last question. Thanks for your time Jelena. Do you want to say and share something with our readers and your fans out there?
Thank you for the interview and for your interest in our music! To readers and fans: listen to good music, love and respect each other and visit www.downcastart.com every now and then 🙂