Interview by Ed MacLaren

 

Finland’s Katra made a big impact in 2007 with its debut album, the folk/symphonic metal hybrid “Beast Within”. Originally conceived as a solo effort by the band’s namesake, Katra Solopuro, she carved out a fine niche for herself in the metal world. But instead of continuing down that same path on her next album, she expanded Katra to include the band full-time to augment her own considerable songwriting skills. Together they retooled an already unique sound and returned with an even stronger sophomore effort – the aptly titled “Out of the Ashes”. Femme Metal got the chance to chat with the lovely Katra on the key changes, musically and personally, that combined to create “Out of the Ashes”.

“Out of the Ashes” hits the ground running with the pounding track “Delerium”. It’s heavy riffing sets the stage for the rest of the album. Were you trying to make a statement right away that you were going a different direction with this album?

Yes. We felt that “Delirium” was one of the best songs to represent this album.

On “Beast Within”, you called the shots and now with “Out of the Ashes” you’re working as part of a group. Why did you make the decision to change Katra from essentially a solo project to a full band?

Well, during that time we’ve kind of sealed together as a band. We’ve been a full band on stage and on tour for a long time now and every one of us wanted to change the settings to be a full band on paper too. 

How did you go about selecting each band member? What musical qualities and personality traits were you looking for?

I wanted to gather good guys and musicians that I already knew before Katra. It was important for me that we get along well on the stage and also behind the scenes. Musically, I wanted the guys to have their own sparkle and visions about music overall and, of course, good skills technically.

How would you describe the chemistry between you and the rest of the band?

We co-operate really well, we all know how to have some fun and we enjoy a similar style of humor, which can be quite black sometimes. (Wink)

Did you have any problems getting used to the new dynamic? Was it difficult to relinquish an element of control over the music? Did you run into any problems at first?

I think everything worked out without problems.We’ve found a good way to co-operate and everyone has their own important role in a band. Democracy rules.

How did your creative process change with the input of the band?

Now the whole band composes and arranges; there’s at least one song from everyone on the album. Usually the basic structure and idea of song is made by one of us and then everybody arranges their own parts. I write the vocal melodies and lyrics. Riffs, chord progressions and song ideas are usually done before and then we build it up together.

You can hear new energy in the harder-edged sound of “Out of the Ashes”. You toned down the symphonic and folk elements and cranked up the guitars. How has Katra’s sound evolved between albums? How would you describe your new musical direction?

“Out of the Ashes” is a more mature and powerful album if you compare it to “Beast Within”. We wanted to take our sound in a bit more straightforward direction with less orchestration, but with a more intimate feeling.

Was the change in musical direction a natural outgrowth of the new “collaborative” environment or was it a conscious decision?

I’d say both. Of course, the fact that everyone’s taking part in the composing process has a straight effect on our sound, but we also wanted to consciously develop our sound in a more rough and rockish way.

“Beast Within” was an excellent album but after the experience recording of “Out of the Ashes” in a band environment would you have recorded your debut any differently?

Hmm… maybe not. I think it’s only natural that things develop and change. Of course, there’s always something that we could change, but it’s better to keep your eyes on the road and head towards the future.

On “Beast Within” , you favored more operatic vocals drawing out the length of notes. You’ve expanded your already impressive singing style to include a quicker delivery to match the speed of the music.  Was there a lot of experimentation on “Out of the Ashes” working out the vocal parts or did you just go with the flow of the music?

Thank you! For me, the most important thing that influenced my style of singing was when I got in to study theatre music and music drama at the University of Applied Sciences. The main point of singing is now in jazz/rock technique more than classical. So, on this album I made the vocal lines to support more of the technique that I’m studying now.

Tracks like “Vendetta” and “Anthem” are great tracks and add new elements to the Katra sound.  What differences do you hear when you listen to “Beast Within”  and “Out of the Ashes”?

I hear a lot differences. It’s definitely more guitar driven now. We have less piano parts and orchestrations. My voice is different and closer. Lyrics are dealing with heavy issues rather than fairytales. Overall, I feel that the sound is more intimate and represents us more.

You’ve said that “Out of the Ashes” feels like your first album. Why is that?

Maybe because it’s the result of our co-operation and I’ve put so much feeling and experience into it. I was having a really hard time a few years ago and I kind of feel that making this album was like free therapy for me.

Does the title of “Out of the Ashes”  have a personal meaning to you and the band?

Yes, it does. As I said I’ve experienced really difficult things during last few years.I feel that nothing is easy.You have to always bang your head against the wall until it breaks… or you give up. Almost every song on the album is about the end of something, “After the fire there are only ashes, then it’s one’s decision, whether to stay or rise out of the ashes and start again”. The album title is a statement: refuse to give up. 

You had a memorable show opening for Theatre of Tragedy in Mexico City this summer. How would you describe the concert?

I have no words for it… It was absolutely amazing! The atmosphere was unbelievable. There were lots of people sharing the moment with us, singing with us and having fun with us. 

Did you take away anything from the experience to use in future shows?

Yes, I did. I always take some pieces and fond memories from the shows and the next time I will try to give something extra from myself to the audience.I love the fact that music is so universal and goes over boundaries. That’s something I noticed literally during our gig in Mexico. 

 Did you road test any of the new songs? How did they come across live?

Yes, we did. We played “Out of the Ashes”, “Delirium” and “Hide and Seek” at gigs long before we started composing material for this album. We felt that they worked really well – especially “Delirium”.  

What are your tour plans for the fall and the new year? Where can we see Katra live?

The booking management is not in our hands, but I hope we can do a tour in Europe at some point. 

(Famous) Last words?

You can’t experience being alive without realizing that you have to die. But it’s just as impossible to realize you have to die without thinking how incredibly amazing it is to be alive. 


Latest Multimedia

 

Photo Credit

All the photos by Peero Lakanen

 

Links

Katra : MySpace

Katra Solopuro : Facebook