Guitarist/keyboard player Polvareda Johnson and singer Rei Reych – Song of Anhubis
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.
Songs Of Anubis is the name of a Spanish goth metal act that currently came out with their second album titled REVERSED REFLECTION. Since the album was great and I hadn’t heard about the band before I thought it was time for a proper introduction. Spain maybe isn’t known to the masses as a huge producer of famous metal acts but Songs Of Anubis maybe can change that.
Guitarist / keyboard player Polvareda Johnson and singer Rei Reych and I sat down to have a chat and for me to learn more about the bands past, present and what the plans are for the band in the, hopefully, covid-free future. If you like Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, The Gathering or Amaranthe, Songs Of Anubis might be something for you.
Hi Rei and Polvareda, how are you doing today? Are you ready to kick off the interview?
From home to workplace, from workplace to home. Not much more can be done in these times of pandemic.
Ok, let’s go!
Let’s take it from the start back in 2016 with the release of your debut album REVENGE AS REDEMPTION, what did media think of the debut album?
Revenge as Redemption was a concept album about a person’s life based on five cycles. An album that should be listened to in its entirety and that works more as a whole than as something individual.
It was an album that we promoted very little and had all kinds of reviews. Good reviews and bad reviews. It’s a very ambient album for the most part and requires listening to a few times.
Who came up with the band name Songs Of Anhubis, does the band name have any special meaning to the band?
Regarding the name we wanted to base it on something related to mythology because we love it. We were clear that we wanted something that we could identify with, so we chose the god Anubis, guardian of the dead, as he has several characteristics that we liked, among them, that meaning of rebirth that we also wanted to reflect for certain personal reasons.
In addition, “Song of Anhubis” seemed to us to be a good name in terms of phonetics. Finally, we added an “h” as a differentiating element.
Did you do any live touring on that album?
Yes, but only in our country. The conditions to touring along Europe were not very good so we decided to leave it for later.
You released the album on your own without any back up from a label, why did you chose to do that?
Shortly after we recorded it we decided to take another direction, we didn’t want to give that album too much repercussion since it wasn’t going to represent what Song of Anhubis was going to do later on. They were old songs and we recorded them to enjoy them ourselves.
By self-publishing the album we were free to do with it what we wanted at any time.
How would you like to describe what kind of music the band plays and do you think the bands music have developed anything throughout the years, if so in what way?
We think that we have left the gothic and melancholic style behind and are focusing more on modern metal. We take influences from many styles such as nu metal americano from lately 90’s- early 2000’s, Electronic music, a bit Sweden’s melodic death and American metalcore as well…We keep gothic style because it is a style that marked us in its day and we still love it even though the influences of bands we had before like Theatre of Tragedy, Tiamat, etc… are almost not noticed anymore.
New album REVERSED REFLECTION
The info sheet say that it has taken you four years to get the new album out, is that correct and why has it taken you so long?
Correct. The main reason is that there were changes in the line-up and we wanted to start the new album from zero, but without taking anything from what had been done before. We also had doubts about what to do with the band’s sound. Making decisions among four people is difficult and takes a lot of time to clarify ideas. Now we are the ones who want to be and we are going together in the same direction.
Is it correct that it is you two that writes the material? Do you sit together and write stuff or how does the writing process take place?
Usually Polvareda, the band’s guitarist, composes the guitar lines and on them, I compose the lyrics and voice melodies. Then we add the other instruments and arrangements.
This order changes when the song is more electronic and the composition of the song starts to be created with the synthesizers.
However, everyone is free to compose songs and the bassist has contributed two songs to the album.
My Own Enemy (OFFICIAL VISUALIZER)
The info sheet say that you have taken an 180 degree turn on the new album and experiment with electronic elements and sounds, is that true and could you explain a little more in-depth what you have done differently on REVERSED REFLECTION compared to your previous albums?
Basically to reinforce those electronic elements that were already in the first album but in a more shy way. The voice technique employed by Rei has also changed considerably, using lyrical singing more as a resource than as a norm, and the ambient and decadent passages have given way to a more cheerful and danceable metal.
The songs are shorter and the structures become more conventional.
Were there any songs you wrote that didn’t made it on to the final edition of the album?
Five or six themes written at the same time as those that have entered Reversed Reflection have been left out. The reason is that stylistically they are different, focused on the strongest metal and will enter the third album that will go more in that style.
Is the song “Hypersomnia” sung on Spanish?
Yes! Spanish is our mother tongue and we wanted to sing the only ballad on the album in our language to better express the feeling of the lyric.
What are the longest songs “Suicide Nation” and “My Own Enemy” about?
Suicide Nation has an intro that lasts more than a minute and that’s why the song is longer than we would have liked. We thought of putting the intro as a separate track ahead of the song itself but in the end we left it as it is on the album.
My own victim has many riffs and we can even say that it has two choruses. We also wanted to put an electronic and intimate bridge.
We don’t mind that the length of a song is a bit longer than it should be if we can show what we have in mind.
How come you named the album REVERSED REFLECTION and who came up with the title?
The idea came from our graphic designer. To continue with the double “R” in reference to the title of the first album and my initials “R.R” we think that there is a duality in everything. That duality involves a “reverse reflection” that is often difficult to detect. A kind face/appearance that hides something dark behind it, or you might even think that the opposite can also happen. This can be found in our daily lives, at work, in the neighborhood, in religion, in politics, etc.
You can see the snake approaching the ear of the skeleton as if it were whispering lies, promises, incitements to evil… On the other hand, that snake becomes the umbilical cord of a child still in gestation that in turn is holding the skeleton, symbolizing the choice of who you want to be or the role you want to play within that intrinsic duality that we all have. After all, the choices we make at any given moment define us. So, yes, I think in some ways the life we end up having is a reflection of who we are, with its exceptions of course, this is a huge generalisation.
The melted candle on the skull symbolises the passage of time, the decisions taken or the irreversibility, while the raven is a being that is usually interpreted as the animal that crosses the barrier of life and death or even the messenger of death. In this case, depending on the culture consulted, its symbolism ranges from the incarnation of evil to a kinder aspect such as it has in Nordic or Celtic mythology, which is a symbol that in itself also represents duality to a certain extent.
Do you think Fransisco Plazas did a good job creating the cover art to the album? Was he given free hands to create what he wanted?
Totally. The concept of the album cover and title is entirely her idea and her work is amazing definitely.
A few people makes guest appearances on the album as Jagoba Ormaetxea on bass and keyboard, Pedro J Monge on keyboards, Diego Zapatero also on keyboards and Oscar Blanco on a guitar solo on one song, who are those guys and how come they ended up on REVERSED REFLECTION?
Mario (Bassist) got sick in the middle of recording the album and we had very specific dates in the calendar to finish it. We couldn’t wait any longer as more bands had to come into the studio to record so Jagoba recorded the bass on two tracks. He also made the synthesizer arrangements on one track due to lack of time. Pedro and Diego collaborated in one song with keyboards (also due to lack of time) and Oscar is a Polvareda´s old fella and we wanted him to collaborate with one of his characteristic solos.
The info sheet claims that fans of Amaranthe, Evanescence, Lacuna Coil and The Gathering is going to like your music, do you agree with that?
We think we don’t look like any of those particular bands but we do have a bit of all of them.
We are a band with frontwoman and electronic elements so it is inevitable that we are compared a bit with Amaranthe. And… We are a band with frontwoman and very inspired by the American metal of the 90’s-2000 as well, so we probably look like Evanescence and Lacuna Coil (since Karmacode) Bands that are very inspired by bands like Korn, Deftones or Papa Roach…. Like us.
Joining those references with a female voice is quickly compared to those bands described.
Misantropia (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Which bands does Song of Anhubis lies close musically to?
We think that the bands mentioned above serve as a reference.
I would add a bit of Devin Townsend, Deftones, a bit of German’s dark wave, a bit of Soilwork…. Depending on the song we can have some reference bands or others.
Do you think metal fans likes your music or are there mainly goth fans that likes your music?
We think that it depends more on them than on us. This last album is not melancholic and decadent like the first one so those who liked the first one may not like this second one and vice versa. Interesting thing is to listen to it with an open mind and without musical prejudices
Have you read any reviews of REVERSED REFLECTION yet? Do you care about what the critics have to say about your work?
We have read many reviews about our work and we care it, of course. But we are aware that a review is four years of work that is summarized in four or five lines of text after four or five listens of the album.
When we see that this work and effort is recognised we are very happy as it is a sign that we are on the right track. However, when the review is not good, we are a little saddened. If the criticism is constructive it is well received and we try to improve since no band or album is perfect. Unfortunately most of the reviews are based on personal taste and against that little can be done. It is impossible to like everyone.
We suppose that when it comes to distributing the bands for review, it will be done to tastes of the writers but in metal, bands with female singers have a handicap. All of them are gathered in the same musical genre. Metal with a female singer. Although they are the bands of very different styles. It is very curious.
Many bands/artists consider their latest album as their best one so far, is it also so with you and REVERSED REFLECTION?
On each album we do what we really like and musically we evolve over time. I suppose the same thing happens to the rest of the bands so it is logical that each band enjoys their latest work more and this one seems to them to be the best.
Maybe this premise is very difficult to fulfill for bands that have been playing for 20 years and 10 albums but for us it is not.
Personally I think the album is really great with some intense songs and well executed music that, for me, lies close to the music of Lacuna Coil. Are you happy with the outcome of the album?
Oh, thank you so much! We are glad you liked it! Yes, we’re very happy with the album. Of course we see things that can be improved, but in general I think we have made the music what we had in mind.
Studio and production
I read that you used different studios to record the album in, which studios were used? And why did you use different studios?
Well… Before making the album we planned to record two eps and edit them almost simultaneously.
One with more electronic cuts and another focused on metal. But when we received the offer from Rockshots we decided to release it in album format so we had to finish recording some of the songs we left for the other ep to include them in this “Reversed Reflection” So… this album was recorded in two studios. Taom Studios and Chromaticity Studios.
Three producers took care of the production, who are they and why three producers?
Jagoba Ormaetxea and Pedro Monge are a reputed producers in our country. We think that they are the best for our musical style and we wanted to have both of them to express the best of us. The third producer, Mario Martin, is the bassist of the band and he was completely in charge of producing the first four songs of the album since we were preparing them in his home studio and once in the professional studio, we only had download the tracks and re-record guitars and vocals.
Mario Martin is also a member in the band, how was it to take instructions and directions from him :)?
Hahaha! Mario produced four songs in the album because we recorded them in his home studio and only had to dump the tracks in the professional studio and record the guitars and vocals so there was no problem.
Two of those songs were composed by him. In the other two remaining songs he proposed some ideas that really worked well.
How long did it take all together to record the album and get it totally finished?
We started recording the album in June 2019 and finished it in August 2020.
I know Pedro J Monge mixed parts of the album but who did the rest of the mixing?
Jagoba Ormaetxea from Taom studios.
He also did the mastering, in which studio did he do that?
In Chromaticity Studios. As we had songs recorded in two different studios we had to remaster the whole album.
With thought of the pandemic did you have any problems finishing off the studio work back in the spring?
In our case it has been the opposite. Both studios had cancellations of bands due to Covid and we took advantage of those gaps to finish recording the album.
Label and management
Rockshots Records is the bands new home, how come you chose to ink a deal with them? How did you get in touch with RR? Did you send them demos etc?
We saw the catalogue of bands they have and there were a few that we liked so we sent them a demo with six tracks. It also influenced that we have friends that have been in another Italian label like Coroner records and some ex-band of Coroner is now in Rockshots.
Are you happy with the work the label have put into the band and the album so far?
Yes. The label is reaching places that are impossible to reach on our own.
REVERSED REFLECTION is released as download and on CD, any plans on releasing it on vinyl as well?
We would like to but probably not. Editing vinyl is really expensive and we would have to ensure a minimum of sales before doing it. Although we think that right now people buy more vinyl than cds. Maybe we can talk about this with the label and see what it proposes and whether it is worthwhile but right now it’s not among our priorities.
Is the band fans of the vinyl format?
Depend on who. Rei and Mario not too much. He preffer digital platforms, her prefers cd format. Txato is a great collector of vinyls albums and Polvareda bought many vinyls a few years ago but now prefers music in digital platforms.
Are there many that listened to the album on Spotify? Due to the promo made by the label the listeners in spotify are growing.
We expect the number to continue to increase.
Any plans on re-release the debut album REVENGE AS REDEMPTION?.
We don’t think so. It belongs to a past stage and now we are interested in playing other kind of music although we keep on playing two or three songs from that album live.
It was only released on bandcamp and on spotify not on cd? Are there many that did buy it on your bandcamp page?
Sell cds throught Bandcamp is very difficult and not too profitable to us . The commissions, taxes and shipping costs mean that we are not very interested in selling physical format on that platform. We had requests from places like Japan but only the shipping costs were 10 Euros in an uncertified letter!
In physical format (Cd) we only published a limited edition of 50 copies for promotion and sale in concerts.
Who own the legal rights to that album?
We do that.
Do you currently work with any management?
Not yet. We have to think about the pros and cons of having a manager.
Past present and future
I know the band got a facebook page but there aren’t much info about the band and there aren’t many pictures and stuff like that either, and the info is in Spanish..why is it so?
You’re right. We’re disappoint with Facebook. Maintaining a good Facebook page requires time and constant work. All that work is worthless when you realize that the posts you upload to the page don’t reach people if you don’t pay. About it info thing only in spanish…Is true and it is something we have to change.
How come you doesn’t have a proper website, do you rely on Instagram and bandcamp instead?
We are currently growing as a band and having our own website is something we will do sooner or later.
Your current number of followers on FB is 1000, do you think that number is going to increase with the release of REVERSED REFLECTION?
We hope so, but as we said before, it’s no use having 1,000 or 10,000 followers and that the publications only reach 200 people.
At the beginning of September you released a video to “Teratos” that got almost 30 000 hits so far, could you tell us a little bit about the video, was it fun to shoot?
We chose the track “Teratos” because it is energetic and we found it perfect for a video clip. The making off was a bit bumpy because we had some unforeseen events on the day of the recording. With regard to the video clip itself, it is an allegory or a metaphor for the duality of the same person, the duality that we all have inside, where the inclination of the balance (and the decisions we make) determines the personality of each one and also our hidden side. That’s why we add the element of the mirror among other things. It is a very interpretative video clip and what we want is that each person who sees it interprets it in their own way.
It wasn’t much fun because it was shot from midnight to dawn and it was tiring.
Teratos (Official Music Video)
Where in Spain do you live and does everyone in the band live in the same city?
We live in Mungia. A little town near from Bilbao. All band members are from Mungia.
Now that covid 19 put a lid on live shows does the band have any plans on maybe throwing a live stream in order to perform for the fans and play the new songs live?
It’s not a bad idea but organizing such an event requires a lot of time and infrastructure. We’re not a famous band so I don’t think it’s worth doing.
Spain was struck really hard by the pandemic, what’s the status in the country today?
Spain is a country based on tourism basically so the pandemic has affected the economy a lot. Also the culture of the Spanish people based on daily meetings in bars and restaurants until late in the evening has not helped to prevent the spread. Currently the bars and restaurants are closed and we can only go out in our town or the surrounding area.
In Sweden we’re now only allowed to gather 8 people at the same time, what’s it like in Spain, is it OK to gather many people at the same time?
Only six people. Right now there is a discussion about whether it will be possible to gather more people in family meetings for Christmas. And we can only move to the neighbouring village of our place of residence except for work or medical emergency.
What’s the bands main priority now, Spain or the rest of the Europe or the world?
Rock and metal music is not very appreciated in Spain except for the usual well-known bands. That’s why singing in Spanish has never been an option for us. In the rest of Europe there is more musical culture so we think we should focus more on the European market and some specific countries in the rest of the world.
The pandemic has made it hard to make proper PR for albums and so on, how do you handle that situation?
With tons of patiente. These are the times we have had to live in and we must accept that. We waste this year and probably next
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Songs Of Anhubis yet?
We think that we are a band to be listened to with an open mind. We have many influences from different styles and if you don’t like one song you probably will like the next one. We don’t like to repeat the same formula song after song or have albums that give the feeling of the same song playing all the time.
Now the access to listen to music is completely free so you can approach the band without any risk.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy REVERSED REFLECTION?
Good production, good music and a good digipack!
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 in the future and would love to see you live on a stage in Scandinavia soon, stay healthy and safe. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Thank you so much for your time and for give us a place in your page.
We invite all readers to listen to the album on Spotify and/or listen to the singles on Youtube. We hope to meet you one day in the cold lands of the north!