Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Roberto at Rockshots Records for setting up the interview
Thanks to Rockshots Records for the promo pictures of the band
Straight from Melbourne, Australia comes Victoria K who recently released her debut album ESSENTIA which is jammed with some fierce symphonic metal songs. What makes ESSENTIA special is Victoria’s use of middle eastern influences in her music and fans of Nightwish, Evanescence and Within Temptation should be paying her some attention. When I had the pleasure to talk to singer/bandleader Victoria we talked about the band, the new album, and about her YouTube channel where she interprets well known hard rock tunes her own way. Why she has chosen to have session musicians on the album and a whole new band line up for live shows when the pandemic is over you can read about down below.
Hi Victoria how are you doing? I hope you’re doing well in these COVID-19 times, what’s the status in Australia regarding the virus?
Hello Metal Rules and thank you so much for having me. In Australia we have Isolation Restrictions like everywhere else in the world, but we are not too bad overall. We have low numbers of infection and death. I think we are very lucky compared to some other Countries.
Well let’s take it back where it all started, in 2016 your debut single MONSTER was unleashed, was the single released worldwide or only in Australia?
Monster was released Worldwide and I was very excited as it was my first ever single release.
When did you begin to sing? Have you taken singing lessons?
I started singing through my dance school when I was quite young. My parents thought I should give it a go. I soon realized I was a better singer than I was a dancer. I think I took my first lessons when I was about 5 years old.
Which artists/bands inspired you to start to sing?
When I started singing I was also interested in theatre so I really wanted to get the major roles.
You have to be able to sing right?
These days though Artists like Tarja Turunen and Floor Jansen are a great source of inspiration. Their technique, tone, timber and vocal quality are just incredible.
In your bio it can be read that you are inspired by bands like Within Temptation, Nightwish and Kamelot, is that correct? And in what way can we hear those inspirations in your music?
That’s very true. These bands are some of my key inspirations. You can hear elements of these bands throughout the Album Essentia. I play the piano but I also play viola, so the orchestral compositions were always something that I was going to use in my music. In the end, I will leave each listener to make their own minds up about where they can hear these inspirations. I always write from the heart and I am grateful for everyone that takes the time to listen.
You’re also a songwriter, when did you begin to write material and what inspires you to write lyrics?
I started writing music when I was around 9 years old. It was a good release for me and it was something I felt compelled to do. I really can’t imagine not writing. I read a lot of Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, so I draw a lot of inspiration from their works and their writing styles.
When you create a song what comes first, the music or the lyrics?
Lyrics always. I write about everyday things I see around me, as well peoples reactions and behaviors to things that happen. My lyrics portray how I interpret what I see. I then explore chord progressions, riffs and melodies for the lyrics.
Do you play any instruments?
Yes. I play piano and viola. I also dabble with the ocarina, I just love the sound.
Since about 4 years back you got your own Youtube channel where you interpret other artists songs, what inspired you to start a youtube channel?
It kind of just happened. In the end I found it a good way to release my creative energy and be heard.
How do you pick and choose which songs you’re going to cover? From what I can see you prefer to interpret songs sung by female singers like Heart, Halestorm, Within Temptation and Nightwish?
I really chose to sing the songs I enjoyed. I have also covered songs by Metallica, Kamelot, Skid Row, AC DC and others. I guess I chose which ever songs connected with me at the time.
You have also interpreted a song by Metallica and Iron Maiden, how come you chose those bands?
I love Iron Maiden, so I was super excited to cover their music and collaborate with other young musicians from all over the world. When I collaborated with other musicians it was really an opportunity for everyone to input their ideas on which song to cover and we all agreed from there.
Your cover version of the Nightwish song “Last Ride of Day” has got almost 60,000 hits, congratulations 🙂 are you happy with the amount of people that are following your channel or do you want to increase the numbers?
Thank you. I’m so grateful that people are watching and enjoying my covers. As for increasing the followers on my channel, well, I haven’t really thought about that much. I am really just focusing on the band at the moment, the release of Essentia and our own songs.
I know that Kamelot reacted positive to your cover of “Insomnia” are there other bands that have contacted you commenting your interpretations of their songs?
It was really nice they re-posted my cover of Insomnia on their Twitter account. There was a YouTube video where Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro were recorded viewing and commenting on people singing covers of Lacuna Coil songs. My cover of “To The Edge” was amongst the videos and Andrea turned to Cristina and said, “We write good songs” and smiled, It looked like he enjoyed my version. Their comments were all very positive and they mentioned they liked the tone and power of my voice and the passion I felt for the song. It was really amazing for them to comment on that cover in such a positive way.
You also had the opportunity to meet Kamelot two years ago during their tour, how was that?
They were so nice. Just good people and Lauren Hart was lovely. They killed it on the stage that night too.
The band Victoria K
According to the bio the album was supposed to be a solo project but it turned into a bandwork instead, how come you shifted focus to involve your band?
The project was a solo project. I recorded Lacuna and off the back of the song I was blessed to be selected to support Eluveitie at their Melbourne show. The search was on for the right musicians to play that show. We all got along so well and we could all see a great opportunity to move forward as band. Here we are today.
How come you chose to name the band after you and not have a band name?
This was a very difficult decision and something that took a lot of thought. In the end, it takes a lot of hard work and time to create a fan base and a following. The “Victoria K” brand already had that so it made sense to keep that brand and expand it into a band. All the fans seem to like and support the move and all the socials have now transitioned to the band pages.
Where did you find members to join your band?
The members were found through our immediate networks. Our producer Lee knew James (drummer) and Sheri (extreme vocals) and James brought in Julia (guitars) while Sheri introduced us to Marty
(bass). I love all of them and they all bring in years of experience and great energy.
Who was the first person you recruited?
Lee first secured Sheri to feature on a couple of the tracks with her extreme vocals. She was only supposed to be involved in the one album as a feature artist but her vocals bring an incredible depth to the songs so we couldn’t help but ask her to stay on. She’s listed as a feature artist because we wanted to honour her initial involvement in the project. You may just hear her singing on a couple of extra songs during our live show and on future albums.
Why have you chosen to have only one guitarist in the band and not two? I mean you get a lot heavier and richer sound with two guitars.
The songs I had written worked well with one guitar and the richness come through with the orchestrations and how they blend against the guitars. In the future there well may be a need for a second guitarist.
The band consists of both men and women, was it your intention to have it that way or was it a coincidence?
That was purely a coincidence. I really love the way it’s worked out though. We were only ever looking for the right people to work with and I feel we have really achieved that.
Is this lineup a solid one do you think? Some of the members are involved in other bands as well from what I can read in the bio.
I feel it’s a really solid outfit. We are all very supportive of each others musical journeys and I would love to see their other projects succeed. I feel music is collaborative and not competitive. We all get along extremely well and when we are together there’s always a good vibe.
You sing the clean vocals and Sheri Vengeance takes on the extreme vocals, how come you wanted to incorporate some extreme vocals?
I have always loved that sound. It brings a darkness and a depth to the music that I always imagined. Most importantly, I think it adds to the storytelling of the songs.
When did you begin to write material to the album?
The album is made of music that I had written over many years. When we decided to produce an album it was a process of elimination. We started with about 30 songs and short listed them to about 17 songs. We created very quick demos of the songs and then over several weeks of continual listening we shortlisted the songs that would work best.
Have you written all of the material on your own or together with someone?
I wrote all the lyrics and created the melodies and structures on the piano. These were taken to our producer Lee Bradshaw where all the ideas, compositions and arrangements were refined. Lee created and wrote all the orchestral compositions to go with the material.
Are all of the songs but “Lacuna” newly written for the album or did you use any older songs?
All the songs had been written before the release of Lacuna. They were songs I had written over many years.
If I get it right you have a live band and then a separate line up that plays on the album? Why have you chose to have it that way?
You are correct. The project was initially a solo project and the album was recorded before the “Live” band had been created. The current band came together to play live shows and the energy and vibe is great between everyone so we’ll continue with this line up into the future.
The bio writes that “Essence is the indispensable quality of something that determines it’s very nature or character. So I guess the album as a whole tried to define the very nature of humanity in a way” do you agree with that or how would you describe the nature of ESSENTIA as?
That is correct. That’s exactly how I see Essentia. People are very complex, but what drives us? Why do we feel the way we feel? Why do we think the way we do? I observe people and I try to put the things I see into words and music.
Who did the cover artwork for ESSENTIA?
A very talented digital artist from Brazil – Fabio Araujo of Art Studio Design. Everyone should really check out his work. Amazing!!
How did Michalina Mailiaz from Eluveite end up guesting on ESSENTIA?
I really wanted folk and Celtic sounds on the song Shroud Of Solitude. We were discussing this just as we had been announced as the support act for Eluveitie. I mentioned that I love the Hurdy Gurdy and would love it on this track in particular. Next things you know Michalina agreed to be a part of the project. She is an incredible person, so giving and kind and just lovely to work with.
ESSENTIA contains 10 tracks and have a playing time on about 36 minutes, was it your intention of making a kind of short and hard hitting album or did it just happen?
It was not really the intention. After we had completed all the songs and created what we wanted for each that’s what the time came in at. The main aim was to ensure each song was the best it could be and we didn’t really think about the album length.
What are the opening song “Freedom (Uncharted)” (4.37) and “Lacuna” (4.53) about?
Freedom Uncharted talks about our personal unseen hopes, the longing that we all have. The search to be free to achieve our dreams and the uncharted road we must walk to achieve that.
Lacuna is Latin for missing piece or space. The song discusses the search to find what can fill that empty or incomplete feeling we all feel at times. Some people find it and others don’t.
“Lacuna” was the first single out from ESSENTIA, on the album it say the song is in an album version, are there any difference in between the song as a single and on the album?
There is a difference in the songs. The Album version is longer than the radio edit. The radio edit version was released in Australia only and was distributed by Warner Music Australia. We wanted to keep the song shorter so that it was more in line with Australian cultural and radio airplay expectations.
How would you like to describe what kind of music you play?
I guess I would call it dark, broody and macabre with symphonic and middle eastern references.
Which bands do you think you have musical similarities with?
Different reviewers have compared our music to various bands including Evanescence, Nightwish, Within Temptation and Epica amongst others.
Where does the oriental influences in your music come from?
The middle Eastern references come directly from my Greek heritage and are sounds that I grew up listening to. I guess you can say it is in my blood.
Brett Garsed, Garry Pantazis and Rich Panaia handles guitar, drums and bass on the album, are they hired studio musicians?
Yes, they were my studio/session musicians. They worked on this and other previous material for me.
The orchestral parts are performed by Budapest Scoring Orchestra which feels really cool, many artists and bands are relying on keyboard these days but not you 🙂
It was very cool to have them play on the album. We got to listen in to the recording live, whilst it was being recorded, which was really really cool. The live orchestra just adds that extra depth and feel to the whole album. The difference in quality when we added the live musicians was astounding.
What did fans think of the single/video “Forsaken” which was released at the end of February? The video got almost 30 000 hits so far, congrats
Thank you so much. We got a very positive response from the music video. When you are a new band, listeners always compare you to other bands they know. Its only natural and expected.
What we wanted with the single releases was to create an every increasing reference of our music, so that a full sonic soundscape was developed before the album release.
Forsaken worked really well after Lacuna and it was the perfect track to introduce the extreme vocal element of our sound.
Forsaken (Official Music Video – Feat. Sheri Vengeance)
Have you read any reviews of ESSENTIA yet? Do you care about what media and critics think of your work?
We have read the reviews. Most people have really enjoyed the album and the sound. It’s great reading the reviews to see how the music is being received but it doesn’t affect how future music is being or will be created. The most important thing is that we produce the albums and the music we feel we need to produce.
Heavy Magazine wrote that you very quickly won over the crowd and with your voice on songs like “Lacuna” and “Matrix” it’s easy to see that you will be matching it alongside with bands like Evanescence and Nightwish, what do you think of that statement?
To be honest I was really humbled by that statement to be compared with such huge bands. The statement was written after the Eluveitie support show and it was amazing to have the crowd really vibe with our music. What made it even more amazing is that none of them had ever heard our music before and they all got right into it. At the end of the show the crowd started yelling for an encore. That was a really unforgettable experience.
Studio and production
In which studio was ESSENTIA recorded and which bands have producer Lee Bradshaw worked with prior to you?
Essentia was recorded at Bradshaw Music Productions. Lee has been in the industry producing for over 20 years and has work with many well-known Australian artists and musicians.
Bradshaw composed and arranged the orchestral parts, did you also participate in that process?
All that was Lee’s work. I knew what I wanted and how I wanted it to sound, Lee picked my brain and I played some of my thoughts on piano for him. The final product however is all his work.
Who mixed and mastered the album and where took that place?
Essentia was mixed and mastered by Michael Weurth at Long Island Sound Studios in New York City
How long did it take to record the album from beginning to end?
The songs had all been written before commencing the album, and were all written over a 2 or 3 year period. The process from song selection to final product would have taken 3 or 4 months.
Did you enjoy working and recording in the studio?
I’ve been working in studios since I was 9 years old. I always love my time in the studio and it’s like a second home for me. Did I enjoy the studio? 100% yes, every time. In fact, I miss not being there.
Label and management
You’re signed to the label Rockshot Records, when did you sign on for them and are you happy with the work the label have put into the album so far?
We are extremely happy to be working with Rockshots, their commitment, knowledge, passion and work ethic are incredible. We first signed to Rockshots Records at the end of 2019 and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship.
Were there many labels that showed interest in signing you?
We had a few offers from different labels, from various parts of the world to consider. In the end we felt that Rockshots Records best aligned with our values and goals.
What’s the pro’s and con’s with being signed to a smaller label like Rockshot Records?
We love how hands on and easily accessible they are. Anything we need they are always available for us. The communication is quick, open and frank. In the end we all have the same end goal and we work very closely to achieve that.
The label is based in Italy and you in Australia, do you see any difficulties or problems that you’re not based in the same country?
In today’s world with so many ways to connect the distance has not been an issue at all. Rockshots European base has been a huge benefit for us and has allowed us access to opportunities we never would have been exposed to.
For how many albums are you signed for at Rockshots Records?
At this stage we will work through the release of Essentia and assess future plans for the second album from there.
Besides Cd Digipack and digital download are there any plans on releasing ESSENTIA on vinyl?
Vinyl is always a consideration. We are currently working through the possibility of a vinyl release.
Is the album going to be available on regular CD as well and not only in a Digipack version? Are there any bonus features on the digipack version?
We are only releasing on Digipack. The pack includes a 16 page booklet where fans will find all the lyrics and additional photographs.
Are you a fan of the vinyl format?
I love the vinyl format. That is why I would really love to release Essentia on vinyl as well.
Is the album available to purchase in North/South America, Canada and Asia?
The album is available worldwide so is available for purchase in North/South America, Canada and Asia. In North America we have secured distribution through major retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart and globally the album can be purchased via the Rockshots Records online store, Amazon, Seasons of Mist online store amongst other global retail stores.
Is ESSENTIA featured on Spotify and Itunes today?
Yes. Essentia can be found on Spotify and iTunes and all other music and streaming platforms.
Are you currently working with any booking agency?
We are working very closely with Overdrive Touring here in Australia on various projects and ventures.
Past present and future
How come you don’t have a proper website up and running?
We do have a website. You can find it at www.victoriakmusicofficial.com
Besides Facebook and Youtube are you active on other social forums?
Yes. Our Instagram is Victoria_K_Official, Twitter is @victoriak2004 and Spotify is Victoria K
The Haunting (Official Music Video)
You got about 3000 likes on your facebook, do you think your fanbase is going to increase with the release of ESSENTIA?
We have noticed a good increase in our fanbase since the release of Essentia. The three music videos have been received really well with well over 100,000 views between them. Spotify streams have increased, as have our listeners and followers on Spotify. In fact, all our social media has had an increase in followers.
Are there any plans on heading out on tour when the covid 19 pandemic has blown off? What are your thoughts on the situation in the world at the moment?
We had been planning a European tour when the pandemic hit. We will again be working towards that once the Covid situation is over.
Do you have any plans on doing a live stream show or Q and A session on Facebook as so many other artists are doing these days?
We have nearly finished the planning for a live stream concert. We are hoping to share this with all our fans by the end of June.
Matrix (Official Music Video – feat. Sheri Vengeance)
Where in the world do you have you biggest fanbase?
That’s very hard to say. We have fans all over the world from the UK, Europe, Canada, North America, South America and Asia. Our largest Spotify listeners by Country are the US and Israel. The number one city for listeners however is London.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Victoria K yet?
I guess, if you like symphonic and gothic metal bands then just drop us a listen and see what you think.
Could you give them three reasons why they should buy ESSENTIA?
1. You’ll get to hear clearly what the Victoria K sound is all about.
2. Michalina Malisz is simply irresistible on Shroud of Solitude and
3. The digipack contains all the song lyrics in a 16 page booklet
Well that was all for me and metal-rules.com today. Thanks for taking the time making the interview, I wish you and the band all the best and would love to see you on a stage in Europe in the future. Finally, do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Thank you so much Metal-rules.com. It was awesome chatting with you. A huge thank you also to all our supporters and fans. Remember to just stay true yourselves and your beliefs. That way nothing can get to you.
We hope to see you all in Europe very very soon