Interview by Erwin Van Dijk

Monaco is a miniature state the size of some football fields. It is mostly known as hangout for the rich & famous in the world. But metal? Until very recently I would not have thought of metal from Monaco. Enter Black Knight Symfonia. The band has got two female singers (an operatic female singer and a melodic female singer) and this interview is with Arya, one of singers and Saga, the guitarist, composer and male singer of the band.

Arya is your artist name. Why did you choose this name for your work with Black Knight Symfonia?

Arya: Arya is the name of the main character in the french comic book of Michel Weyland, a solitary woman, dark, incredibly strong and pretty, in Persian this name means pure and noble. The courage of this young lady guided me when I was younger, a nice warrior, doing terrible quests… Black Knight Symfonia tells legends of battles, troubles, I think this name suits well our universe.

Did you always wanted to become a singer?

Arya: I’ve always listened to classical music, the first disc I heard was a compilation of solos from Maria Callas. The need to sing came way later. I fist studied piano at the conservatory, but I was missing something when I played this instrument. To be able to change every note, make it vibrate, change its colour just like I want, only the voice could do it. So when I was 14 years old I changed my course and learned opera singing at the conservatory. When I take a breath to start singing, I feel, already fine inside. Some people say eyes are the mirror of the soul, but I think that it’s the voice.

And did you follow any singing lessons and what do you do to keep your voice in top condition?

Arya: I studied music, piano and opera singing at the conservatory, but also in the children’s choir of the opera of Nice. To keep my voice in condition I work everyday. I have a library full of old vocal techniques, anatomy and musical interpretation books. Most of my techniques when I sing were learned from ancient masters. I have the habit before singing for Black Knight Symfonia to sing some technical baroque airs, “to warm up” my voice, like some Handel, then I finish my warm up with operas, like some Gounod or Cilea. And then I am prepared to sing “Dragonland”.

Is Black Knight Symfonia your first band?

Arya: Black Knight Symfonia is the first band where I am a lead singer, I sang before in Nohellia but I was just doing backing vocals. This is the first time that I have the opportunity to work on the music and the lyrics, this is very hard but the result is that I can try new and more exciting things.

The other female singer of Black Knight Symfonia is Nymphadora. What are the differences between your and her voice?

Arya: Nymphadora has a very “rock” voice, very pure and I have a operatic voice. When we recorded the chorus in the song “Akasha”, we were astonished by the fact that our voices were mixing really nicely. We complete each other extremely well.

To what kind do you listen yourself and what are your favourite bands?

Ayra: On the classical music side, I really love baroque from Italy and England, and contemporary French music. Baroque music was technical and elegant, contemporary music manages to let us enter the world of dreams. Well, that’s for classical music. And now the underground music…. I am a big aficionada of black metal. If I had to list just a few bands, I would choose Burzum, Satyricon and Summoning. I don’t really listen to other metal band with female vocals because I never find the power of the music, songs are focalised on the voice, what Black Knight Symfonia took the risk not to do. Music first and that’s what I like to have real strong emotional compositions with orchestrations and not just “common songs” to be trendy.

Why did you choose to become a member of Black Knight Symfonia?

Arya: I was introduced to Saga by a mutual friend. We talked about our visions of music and Saga played me a few songs, like “Emerald Kingdom”, and I immediately fell in love with his musical personality 🙂 The dialogue between SagaNymphadora and me was evident. We quickly began working together and the trio was marvellous. Time passed and since then, we became close friends.

Like with AryaSaga is your artist name. Why did you choose this name?

Saga: First a Saga is an Epic story and Epic is the main characteristic of our music and the second reason is that Saga is also the name of a Knight in Saint-Seiya that like me is a Gemini and has an equally evil and good spirit.

Did you always wanted to become a guitarist and who are your favourite guitar players?

Saga: I wanted to become a guitar player when I heard Yngwie Malmsteen and Megadeth albums. I was really surprised and loved immediately the virtuosity of the neoclassical approach of Yngwie Malmsteen melt with the intensity of Metal songs. I am a self taught guitarist and I learned pretty much everything from analysing the playing of the guitarists that I like the most. I also practised some typical neoclassical structures in my playing because I like Metal as much as classical music. My favourite guitar players are Yngwie Malmsteen because he created neoclassical metal, Steve Vai that is a genius of the guitar and plays like nobody else on earth, Michael Romeo, and Jeff Waters from Annihilator that has some kick ass rhythm patterns.

What kind of guitars and amplifiers do you use and why?

Saga:I’m playing on a Vigier Excalibur Ultra (French hand made guitar) and on an Ibanez UV777 Steve Vai signature 7 strings guitar and I play on VOX and Marshall amplifiers.

Did you have other bands before Black Knight Symfonia and what are the differences between them and Black Knight Symfonia ?

 Saga: I am also a member and the main composer in the international Viking folk metal bands Folkearth and Folkodia. In the past I played in a Black Metal and in a Technical Death metal band and I also played a few years in an instrumental guitar band. Black Knight Symfonia is the band I always dreamt about because it allows me to compose using elements from all metal genres and to add powerful and emotional Epic orchestral arrangements.

With the exception of the female vocals (which is logic) and the drum parts you are responsible for all the other aspects of Black Knight Symfonia. Do you see Black Knight Symfonia as a real band or more as a solo project ?

Saga: Black Knight Symfonia is a real band. Arya and Nymphadora are full time members and they bring their musical background and lots of emotions into the vocal melodies and they also participate in the writing of the lyrics. Composing all the music is just the way it works for me to create an original musical world. I can’t afford bringing someone else to compose music for Black Knight Symfonia because someone else would probably be influenced by another band. It is sad but most of the band are just copying others people work… I really hate followers … For me Music is a sort of art and I always stay focused on my goal that is to create my own music without getting distracted or influenced by any other bands music. Creativity is the most important thing in my music.

What is the idea behind the name Black Knight Symfonia?

Black is related to the dark mood of our music, I don’t like really much happy “cheesy” music.Knight is related to the Epic and kind of medieval or fantasy themes of our lyrics and the Black Knight is a really Dark strong and tortured Knight. Symfonia is related to the orchestral aspect of our music. I really consider the orchestral parts as important as the metal parts, and finally I can say that Symfonia is written with an F and not a PH because it is written in Polish and it is a wink to Fryderyc Chopin (who was Polish) that is one of my favourite classical composer with Johan Sebastian Bach.

Heavenly Chaos” is your debut album. How would you describe the music on the album?

The music on our album could be best described as a really emotional dark and epic trip into a fantasy world.

Where did you get the inspiration for the music and lyrics?

To create music I just follow what my heart want to “share” with listeners , I compose mostly when I am in an appropriate emotional condition. For the lyrics on the first album we thought of a tragedy in an epic and fantasy world. Our first album is a concept album based on the “fall” into evilness of the Black Knight after being betrayed by the one he was protecting.

What are your favourite songs on the album and why?

My favourite songs are “Dragonland” and “Emerald Kingdom”. I love “Dragonland” because it shows the intensity of our music and the really important role of combining real operatic vocals with a more rock female vocals and some black/death vocals. “Emerald Kingdom” is probably the most epic song in our album, and brings a lot of different ambiances. I love the orchestration and the story related in this song.

How did the press receive the album?

We get lots of excellent reviews, and it seems that the press recognize us as a really original band that can bring the audience into new unknown territories.

Can you introduce us to the other two members of Black Knight SymfoniaLeviathan and Nymphadora?

Nymphadora is a young talented female singer in charge of the non operatic female vocals parts. She has a strong and emotional voice. She was the first female singer to join the band in March 2008. Leviathan is a long time friend and our studio drummer. He is a professional drummer and can play almost everything from Metal, technical death metal to speed metal or even jazz rock. He played some really nice and original drums on our first album because we didn’t wanted to have just a common Symphonic metal drum playing. He really got into our musical world and involved in the recording of the drums really more than we were expecting. We will definitely work again with him for our next releases.

What are Black Knight Symfonia’s plans for 2010 and beyond?

I am already composing second album and we will soon work on vocals parts and in 2010 we will go back to studio to record our second album. You can expect our next album to be much more intense and the orchestrations will also have an even more important role to bring you into something you never heard before. We will also keep focused to get signed by an open minded label that will release our first album. And beyond 2010 I would say that as long as my imagination and emotions allows me to bring some more very original and unique music Black Knight Symfonia will live on.

And the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked in this interview that might be important?

Arya: Just a little word of love and kindness to all our listeners, hundreds kisses !

Saga: We just want to thanks every listeners and fans that are sending to us some really nice compliments and support messages. We are really grateful for your support! We also want to thanks the femme Metal Webzine for showing interest in our band. We are still searching for an open minded label to sign our band and release our album “Heavenly Choas” ! So if you are working in a label or know someone running or working in a record company and if you love our musical world please just contact us we will consider every propositions. Stay Epic and Metal !

 

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