Singer Berenice Musa – Tears Of Martyr
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Massacre Records for providing the promo pictures.
Additional promo pictures are from Tears Of Martyr Facebook Page taken by: Diana Álvarez
The symphonic/goth metal act Tears Of Martyr recently released their second album TALES. I got interested of the band when I heard TALES because the album is excellent. I hooked up with singer Berenice Musa in order to get to know the band and their history. The band comes from the Canary Island but lives now in Madrid so it was obvious that I had to find out what the Spanish metal scene are up to.
How long did it take to write the material for TALES? Who writes the material in the band?
It took like a year since we started to think about the new album until we recorded it. In the past Miguel Angel (guitar and vocals in Tears of Martyr) was the main composer but for Tales the four of us contributed with our own ideas which I think was very enriching for the final result. Then we started working on these ideas and polishing them until we got the songs how they sound right now. Afterwards Miguel wrote the lyrics for all the songs.
What are the lyrics about on TALES?
The album is actually a book of tales, where each story has its own characters and could stand by itself from the others. In the lyrics written by Miguel you can find many tale categories ranging from just original characters like “Golem”, “Mermaid and Loneliness” or “Fallen Hero”, to stories inspired in classic novels and poems like “The Scent No. 13th”, “Lost Boys” or “Of a Raven Born”. There are also songs inspired in some stories and legends from Spain, like “Vampiress of the Sunset Street”, “Ancient Pine Awaits” or “Wolves and a Witch”,
You put out the song “Golem” on your website what did the fans think of the song?
We can proudly say that the comments about the song are being very positive. Personally I think “Golem” is the perfect starting point to enjoy our album “Tales”.
Do you think that the band have gone through any musical development if you compare TALES to your previous album ENTRANCE?
For me Tales is the natural and organic development we have been through as a band. The essence of Entrance can still be found on our second album, but you can feel an evolution in the structures of the songs, melodies and the orchestral arrangements.
Who did the art-work of the album and what do you think of it?
The cover art was made by Adrian, our bass player. He has always been a very talented painter, so we came around with the idea that he could go ahead with the cover this time. After some draft ideas he finally showed us the concept where the writer is sitting at his desk with all his tales coming out of his head and tormenting him. We all immediatly liked it.
The bands debut album ENTRANCE came 2009 what have you been up to in between albums?
After the recording of Entrance the former bass player quit the band, so at that moment the priority was to find a new one. The search for a new bass player that could fit in the band was really difficult and it took longer that we had thought until we met Adrián, our current bass player.
Why took it you so long to follow up ENTRANCE?
As I previously mentioned it was mainly due to the search of a new bass player. When Adrián joined the band we immediately started to work on Tales and recorded it in August 2012 , though it wasn’t released until 2013.
Is ENTRANCE available to purchase in stores today?
For anyone interested , you can buy ENTRANCE in the STF-Records online store and on any digital online store like iTunes or Amazon.
You recorded a video to the song “Golem”, could you tell us a bit about what the video is about?
“Golem” is the first single of Tales and deals with the myth of creation.
Are there plans on shooting videos to any of the other songs too?
We actually would like to shoot a video for each song of the album. As I mentioned before each song is a tale and every story would be perfect for a video.
I’ve read that the band got some great reviews for TALES, how did that feel? Does the band care about what critics have to say?
In general the reviews are being very positive and of course we feel very happy and proud about it. We know it is impossible that everybody likes our music but what is clear for us is that we can always learn something from each review from the positive as well as from the negative ones.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Tears Of Martyr plays?
For me it’s quiet difficult to describe our music. Some say we are a Symphonic/Gothic Metal band, others say we are Operatic or Beauty & Beast…above all we are a metal band. In Tears of Martyr we combine heavy riffs and a lot of melody, both with a strong presence of orchestra arrangements and powerful & thrilling vocal lines. Another important element in our music is the combination of the male growling vocals and the soprano voice.
I think that the music have a lot in common with bands like Epica, Nightwish and Serenia, what do you think? Are those acts someone that you look up to or are inspired by?
On one hand it’s always a pleasure to be somehow compared with these bands . But on the other hand these comparisons are very surprising for us, as we are actually inspired by bands from the 80´s and 90’s like KISS, Metallica or Theater of Tragedy. These bands were our real inspiration when we began into music.
What do you think separates Tears Of Martyr with the bands mentioned above?
The things you see in Tears of Martyr now, the essence, was already there when the band was formed in the mid nineties. The use of keyboards simulating a symphonic orchestra and a female voice were already important elements in our music. The only difference nowadays is that we are more mature, and we are able to express our feelings with more precision and knowledge. We love what we do and we expect it to be like that for many years to come!
You have got an amazing voice, are you classical trained or schooled in any way?
You are right, I got a Bachelor in Classical Singing which I finished in The Netherlands. Singing is my way of living, I work as solo soprano and in professional choirs.
Production and studio
How come you chose to record the album in New Sin Studio?
In 2011 Enrik Garcia contacted me in order to make a collaboration with his band Dark Moor and they always record their albums in New Sin Studio with Luigi Stefanini. I really enjoyed the experience of working with both of them and shared it with the rest of the band. However we looked for other options but at the end we decided to record there.
The producers were Luigi Stefanini and Enrik Garcia, how come you wanted to work with them? What are their strongest features as producers do you think?
Both individually are great professionals but the most interesting aspect perhaps is that they have been working together for over 10 years, so they form a solid team and know each other quiet well. Added to their professionalism they are both really nice and kind persons and both create a relaxed atmosphere to work.
Where is the studio located?
It is located in Loria,Italy, which is a small town in the north of the country quite near to Venice.
Who did the mixing and mastering and was any member part of that process?
The mastering and mixing were both done by Luigi and Enrik. After a whole year working hard in the compositions of the songs and the recording the band preferred to let them do this part all by themselves. We trusted in them and in their professionalism and they really did a great job.
How long took it to record TALES?
We booked the studio for 4 weeks, it took us like 2 weeks and a half to record all the instruments and voices and the rest of the time was for the mixing and mastering.
Do you think that you’re going to work with Stefanini and Garcia in the future?
Working with them was a great experience and they are still our first option, but who knows…
Could you tell us a bit about the history of the band, when was Tears Of Martyr formed and who is the bandleader?
The band started in the mid-nineties in Gran Canaria, Spain. Like many bands Tears of Martyr started with four friends who liked to gather and play their favourite band’s songs. Slowly they started to compose their own songs. In Tears of Martyr we try to avoid to have a bandleader and prefer to do things in a democratic way. Everyone of us plays a certain role in the band and for the rest of the tasks we delegate in the other members. But when it comes to important decissions we try to reach an agreement .
Where does the band name come from and does it mean anything special for you?
There was a quote we used a lot some years ago: “The tears of the ones who choose to die or to be tortured rather than to give up a belief”. It refers to the meaning of being alive, the importance of trust in yourself , to stand on your feet against all odds and the fleeting dream of being able to change your destiny…
Was it clear from the start that you were going to play the kind of music you do know or did you have another sound then?
In the beginning the band made a mix of thrash-death-doom where melody was always a big part of the formula. Very soon we felt the need of adding keyboards and a female voice to express our feelings in a better way, elements that were already present in our first demo “The Essence of Evil”.
The Canary Islands are pretty small but still you managed to get attention from press was it hard to get recognized from the beginning?
Every beginning is always hard, imagine how it can be living 2000 km away from the mainland. It was really hard, but now we look back and see that all the effort was worth it.
You entered the contest The Best Spanish Band which you won in 2009 how was it to win?
This contest was organized by the Spanish web femalemetal.com exactly the same year we released our first album ENTRANCE. Surprisingly for us we received a lot of support from the readers and finally won the award.
How was your debut album ENTRANCE greeted?
With our first album Entrance we had really good reviews. It was released under the German label STF-Records and they did a great job promoting not only the album but also the band in countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland where we were completely unknown.
The band has gone through some changes in the line-up which one is the original members today?
The only original member in the band right now is Miguel Angel (guitar and vocals) . Then Doramas (Drums) and I joined the band almost at the same time in the year 1999.
The band moved to Madrid in 2007, why?
We made that decision as it was quite complicated to become well-known living on the island, now being in Madrid has helped us a lot in terms of promotion and giving us more chances to play live.
How’s the metal scene doing in Spain?
We have many bands here and really good musicians but the metal scene in Spain is quiet an underground one. Unfortunately, we don’t receive enough support from the media and the attendance to live shows is very poor especially for bands that are starting their career.
Are there many clubs there bands can play in Spain when you play metal/hardrock?
There are clubs but most of the mythical ones that were considered temples of metal have closed because of this delicate financial situation we are going through right now.
Portugal, Greece and Spain have had its share of turmoil in the economy this past year. Is that anything that you have been affected of?
Not directly, but the country is suffering important reductions in the public health services, public education and culture which I find is very alarming. I really hope that this will change soon.
Have you toured outside the Canary Island and Spain?
In 2011 we were invited to play at the Night of Rock Fest in Austria and this year we played at the Lisbon Dark Fest, Portugal.
You have been support to acts Dark Tranqillity, Epica and Draconian. Were you out on tour with those acts or was it one time shows?
They were all one time shows but we really would have liked to tour with these bands.
Does the band thinks it is important to be active on the social forums on the internet?
Nowadays internet is a really powerful tool and for us it is very important to be present in all these platforms and use them in order to spread our music all around the world. In this moment the band has a website, a facebook and myspace profile, a twitter account and an official channel in youtube where people can stay updated with all the news regarding the band.
The band has got a website but there’s not any info about the band only news, why?
As you said, the web is actually focused on the latest news of the band, more info like the bio can be found on our facebok profile and on the other channels of the band.
Is there any interest for the band in North America or Asia?
We would like our music to reach as many places as possible and this includes of course North America and Asia.
Are there any plans on doing a tour in the rest of Europe soon?
Yes there are! We are really excited about it and we hope to announce the dates really soon!!
You’re currently working with the management Killshot how is that? Are you happy with their work so far?
We’ve been working with Killshot only for three months and we are quiet satisfied with the job they are doing.
Is the band working on any new material at the moment?
Yes, we are right now working on new songs that hopefully will be recorded next year.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t discovered Tears Of Martyr yet?
Well, it is not easy nowadays to create something completely new, we know it and we are not worried about that. We offer thrilling songs packed with emotions and hopefully, in the end, a little piece of happiness for all our fans.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy TALES?
We are very happy how “Tales” has turned out and in my opinion this album is well balanced , offers an easy listening and I am sure everyone will enjoy the songs and the the tales we tell in it.
Well that was all for me for this time. I wish you and the band all the best in the future.
Thank you for your best wishes and cheers to all METAL RULES readers. We hope to see you on tour!!
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