Interview with SOULS OF DIOTIMA
Claudia Barsi – Lead vocals
Giorgio Pinna – Drums
Antonio Doro – Bass, scream vocals
Fabio “The Black Mask” Puddu – Guitars
Interview by Rossy Maguire
Hey and thank you for taking the time to do this interview! To kick-off, what is the meaning behind the band’s name SOULS OF DIOTIMA?
After 16 years of career and four albums released, this will be the thousandth time we have answered this question; however, we are pleased to explain to you that the name Souls of Diotima was chosen by the founder and current drummer Giorgio Pinna during the period of his philosophical studies, it is up to you to discover the correlation, ahah…..
SOULS OF DIOTIMA formed in 2004. How did you all meet?
The band was founded by Giorgio Pinna, our drummer, and manager, together with his brother Renato. And after the first line-up changes, we arrived at the current line-up. As we all lived in the same area it wasn’t difficult to get to know each other and we were all already making music at various levels, so it was a pretty natural and very successful meeting for us.
When did you first start getting into music and know you wanted to join a band?
In general, we can tell you that from an early age we have always had a passion for music, each of us in a different way and we have always felt the need to express our emotions through the band. We consider ourselves very fortunate in this, being able to do what we have always wanted in life is a fortune.
Have you been in bands previously to SOULS OF DIOTIMA?
Some of us do, some of us don’t. Some of us obviously played in different little experiences, but once we got into the band we dedicated ourselves exclusively to that.
So you’re about to release your fourth album “Janas” this month. What’s the inspiration behind this album and how does it differ from the previous albums in your discography such as “Maitri”, “What Remains Of This Day”, and “The Sorceress Reveals – Atlantis”?
We decided to continue the second chapter of the previous album, which is mainly based on the stories and legends of our homeland, Sardinia. So, although the more mature compositional style of this album differs greatly from the previous albums, ‘JANAS’ represents the second and final chapter of the same longstanding concept, which began in 2016 with our third album, “The Sorceress Reveals – Atlantis”. This latest album was created as a conclusion to the theme of our homeland. In fact, we’re already composing the next album, which will deal with completely different topics.
Obviously, like any band, our sound has evolved continuously over the 16 years of our career. Initially, we focused more on technique and virtuosity than on searching for a sound that was recognizably ours. Over the years what we’ve tried to achieve is not to be a bad copy of someone else, but to be recognizable from the first notes of one of our songs. What we’ve tried to do, especially in our latest work, is to create a more refined and smoother sound, which further highlights the main aspects of our signature sound and make us recognizable from the first time anyone listens. This was also made possible thanks to the support of our latest producer, Oscar Nilsson, who managed to fully understand what we wanted to achieve with our sound. In this latest work, we’ve tried to eliminate any unnecessary sound and orchestral superstructures, maintaining our signature style, but in a more metal sound than before.
Adding to the previous question, where do you draw your influences from when it comes to producing new music/lyrics, whether that is for “Janas” or previous albums such as the above?
Up to now, our songs have dealt with what’s around us. We prefer to sing about the stories and legends that form part of our homeland’s tradition, as well as current issues, of course. Writing the lyrics is a very important process for us: rather than merely accompany the music, they should form an integral and fundamental part of any song. Actually, we prefer not to explain the lyrics of our songs, but to leave it up to our listeners to create their own free interpretation. In the first albums, we used more philosophical and complex language, but more recently, although we still express important concepts, we do so in a lighter and more easily understandable way that’s accessible to everyone. Obviously, when we write a lyric we focus on the sound of the words, which must fit perfectly with the music.
Is there a particular writing/recording procedure you like to follow or do you just go with the flow to get the old creative juices flowing?
Generally, it’s a joint effort that starts with an idea from one of us, which is then developed in the rehearsal room and finally goes into the studio. It begins with the basic structure of the piece generally created by Antonio, which is then shaped and arranged until everyone is satisfied with it. Only at that point do we begin to write the lyrics, mainly written by Giorgio. If everything sounds good and we decide the song works then it goes into the album; otherwise, we discard it and start over. Our compositional stage comes about very spontaneously, but we also know our music needs to reach people’s ears, so the second stage needs a more contemplated signature style. We try not to make the mistake of falling into deep-rooted habits, as we have so often done in the past; we now realize the importance of finding a balance between technique and spontaneity.
Who designed the awesome artwork for the album and what was it like to work with them on this album?
All our graphics and covers have been entrusted, for many years now, to the mastery of Rhett Podersoo (Stephen King, Daniel Polansky, etc.). Rhett is now part of our “family” and therefore he knows by now what our style and image are. He is a great artist and it would be difficult to do without him. Currently, the visual aspect of a band is fundamental and he always manages to make the most of the idea we have in our mind.
Do you have a favourite track/tracks from “Janas”?
Each of us obviously has our favorite but in this album, each song has its own precise function like building a movie from start to finish. Then, of course, the songs we chose as singles are the ones we thought would have the greatest impact on our fans, regardless of our personal tastes.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before or even “Mediterranean Metal” for that matter?
Our style is characterized by recognizable elements of traditional, progressive, and symphonic metal, as well as by unconventional elements, musically intertwined in a new and highly expressive way. Our sound is characterized by complex arrangements and musical compositions and powerful and mesmerizing voices. Our music engages all senses and conveys a sensation similar to watching a movie, creating strong visual scenes and almost tangible mental images. The particularity of our style recalls Mediterranean atmospheres and traditions and this makes the sound and style unique and recognizable, they could almost be thought of as “Mediterranean Metal”. In general, we try to include rhythmics, vocal lines, and sounds in our compositions that refer to those Mediterranean atmospheres of our land.
SOULS OF DIOTIMA originally formed in Sassari, Italy. What’s the music scene like there?
Honestly, we’re not very knowledgeable about this. We think that, as in every city in Italy and the world, there will be bands. Then, if by the music scene, you mean cover bands who enjoy playing as a hobby, there are so many. If you talk about professionalism, besides us, we are very few. The reasons for this deserve a more detailed description separately.
In addition, how has the Covid-19 pandemic affected yourself, the band, and/or Italy?
We believe the pandemic has affected bands around the world in the same way. We already had a tour planned that we had to postpone, hopefully by the end of 2021. Obviously, we were not left doing nothing, having an album coming out. We are already working on the composition of the next album and we are preparing for the next lives which we hope will resume soon. In general, we think that the pandemic has put the music industry even more in crisis, a crisis that was present even before the pandemic, and in this last year, everything has been considerably accentuated.
Is there anywhere in the world you would like to play but haven’t yet? In addition, any bands you would like to play with?
Honestly, there are two cities we would love to play in and we haven’t played yet, one is Tel Aviv, where in recent years there is a new and growing attention to metal and a very attentive audience and the other is New York for obvious reasons, it’s the center of the world. Regarding bands, we would love to share the stage with Orphaned Land, a band we feel a great affinity with for various reasons.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally and are there any new/existing bands that have captured your attention and would recommend to your fans and readers?
We not only listen to metal as you might think but we also really like British pop, classical music and we are also very passionate about movie soundtracks, although of course metal music is always our first love. As for the new bands, we can name you Solitude Within from Belgium and Dayslived in Italy, both have opened some dates of our European tour, and Solitude Within also attended our Diotima Metal Fest in Paris. In general, we really like bands that make sincere music and are not a bad copy of others.
What would you say are the pros/cons of being in a band? Have these changed since the pandemic happened?
Honestly, we don’t see any negative aspects of being in a band, otherwise we wouldn’t be a part of it, and we don’t think the pandemic has changed that. In general, we can tell you that those who want to be in a professional level band must be ready to make many sacrifices and have a lot of patience otherwise it is better to dedicate themselves to something else. To be part of a band you also need to be ready for long tours and forced coexistence with band members, which is not always easy. We are practically like a family and we are now used to being together in every easy and difficult situation. The satisfaction of playing your own music and being part of a high-level band far outweigh the negative aspects, but being part of a band is a life choice and those who are not ready are better off doing something else.
Aside from creating music, is there anything you like to do for fun and/or as a hobby?
Obviously yes. Each of us has different passions, for example, Fabio is passionate about astronomy … does he remind you of any other guitarist? Ahah … We are very passionate about cinema and TV series. Giorgio, also for his studies, is passionate about reading, poetry, and historical research, which he then obviously pours on the lyrics. Claudia and Antonio are very fond of cinema. It is important for us to have distractions outside of our work which is music, this allows us to distract ourselves and recharge our energies.
Once Covid-19 finally settles, what are your plans for yourself and the band?
Obviously, the first thing we will do is to come back on tour to present the new album ‘JANAS’. We really miss getting on stage and playing live and we hope to be back to do this soon. Obviously, in the meantime, we are not standing still, but we are already working on the composition of the next album and, of course, we are preparing for the next lives.
Thank you for your time and best of luck with the album’s release. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Thanks to you for the interview. We greet your readers and our fans, advising them to follow us on our social channels and that we will soon be with them with our live shows.