ELINA LAIVERA Vocalist for SEDUCE THE HEAVEN Personal Contact Info: *protected email* Personal Facebook Page: Elina Facebook Band Facebook Page: Seduce The Heaven Hometown: Athens, Greece Photo by Yiorgos Zach THE METAL PIT: Hi Elina, Welcome to THE METAL PIT and thanks for answering some questions as Metal Maiden of the Month. ELINA LAIVERA: Hello Blake, thank you very much for your invitation, too. THE METAL PIT: Your band SEDUCE THE HEAVEN combines the male growling vocals of Vagelis Kolios and you doing the clean female vocals. Is there any certain bands that you were influenced by to go with this style? ELINA LAIVERA: At the beginning, the bands that influenced Alex Flouros, the guitarist and master-mind of the band, to start composing this kind of music, were bands like Killswitch Engage, In Flames, Soilwork, Scar Symmetry and more. You see, by the time me and Vagelis joined the project as vocalists and we decided that we wanted to combine male growls with female clean vocals, there were not many bands doing this. You could only find the usual forms with two male voices or in some cases when the singer was really talented could do both growls and clean vocals. Sometimes you could even find bands like The Agonist, were the frontwoman has the difficult role of performing both growls and clean vocals. Bands using male growls and female clean vocals came a bit later. Photo by Yiorgos Zach THE METAL PIT: Where did the name SEDUCE THE HEAVEN come from? ELINA LAIVERA: Actually a friend of ours thought this name. We liked a lot the way it sounded and in my opinion, it reflects everything about our music. It has something graceful and feminine in it, pointing out my presence as frontwoman of the band but it also has something dark in it, pointing out the existence of the male aggressive, massive growls. It’s dark, it’s lyrical, it combines the malicious feature of seduction with the pure, clean spiritual state of heaven. These are two contradictory features just like the ones found in our music. Aggression versus emotion. THE METAL PIT: For you what Female or Male vocalists influenced you? ELINA LAIVERA: Well, if I had to say one, just like that, it would be Amy Lee of Evanescence. She has been my biggest influence, maybe because she was the first woman in rock I ever discovered. She is amazing, not only as a vocalist but also as a whole artist. Her music, her lyrics, the way she infiltrates all the emotions into her singing. But I would be stupid to mention only one vocalist and since my influences on singing come from a wide range of genres, I will also include Christina Aquilera and Loreena Mckennitt as well as Michael Kiske and James LaBrie. THE METAL PIT: When did you first realize you wanted to be a apart of the Metal scene and be in a Metal Band? ELINA LAIVERA: When I discovered rock and metal music I got so inspired that I wanted to be in a band. However, I was so young that I could not find serious people to work with and my first efforts just fell off the rocks. I did not give up, though. I kept on waiting for the “good thing” to come. And Seduce The Heaven came in my life after I finished school. What I want to say is that I had always wanted to be in a metal band but it only happened when I was really ready for it. THE METAL PIT: How would you describe SEDUCE THE HEAVEN’s music? ELINA LAIVERA: Seduce The Heaven is combining powerful elements of Melodic/Death, Metal-Core, Power and Symphonic features in a unique, technical and brutal, yet very melodic way. We combine female clean vocals with male growl vocals, which give us the freedom to use this constant “fight” of light and darkness in our music. THE METAL PIT: Introduce the rest of the band? ELINA LAIVERA: Well, Alex Flouros is the band’s mastermind as well as composer and guitarist, I do the female clean vocals and Vagelis Kolios is our growler. John Thomas is our drummer, Chris Kollias is our bassist and Sinnik Al is our second guitarist, actually Alex’s helping hand for our live sessions. Photo by Yiorgos Zach THE METAL PIT: What is the metal scene like in Greece? ELINA LAIVERA: The metal scene in Greece in general has gradually grown a lot during the last years. Many Greek bands have been created and more specifically bands with great material that made their way out to Europe and America. Bands like Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ and Firewind have made an amazing way on abroad. Regarding the female fronted metal scene in Greece, you can find many good bands, too. Bands like Bare Infinity and ELYSION have started something very special in Europe. Unfortunately Bare Infinity playing power / atmospheric metal, got currently disbanded but they managed to make their name widely known in a short period of time around Europe and who knows where they would have gotten if they hadn’t stopped. ELYSION have also released their debut album in markets like the one of Japan and bands like DIMLIGHT and Meden Agan give strong clues of how professionally the Greek musicians can work. Not to mention that, the crowds of metal-heads attending metal shows in Greece, whether it has to do with female fronted metal or not, are growing bigger and bigger. Of course, being a part of the metal scene in Greece is really difficult since metal music had never been a part of the Greek culture. The local record labels are not going to invest easily on something that has no big inquiry in the specific location. And even if a label decides to take up a rock or metal band, there are no chances to see your music somewhere high, due to the financial bleeding of the country. The labels call for extraordinary amounts of money in order to offer no proper deals. The band has to pay for the cutting of the disc and the merchandise in a time when there is no cash in Greece, whereas the promotion and distribution of the album is not even satisfactory from the side of the label. Greek metal bands deserve more than that and I am glad to see that many Greek bands manage deals with labels from abroad. I am sure there are difficulties on everywhere but in Greece the thing has gone too far on all fields, so why not on the metal scene, too? Photo by Yiorgos Zach THE METAL PIT: You have a new video out for your song Illusive Light. How do you feel the video came out and what was it like working on your first music video? ELINA LAIVERA: We are incredibly happy to have our first video clip finally revealed! It was a wonderful experience, really. The video was directed and produced by Domenik Papaemanouil, a true artist on his field. He had found an old, burnt factory for the “band in action” shootings. It was quite cold and creepy, actually it was perfect for the occasion. The shootings took place some days before the New Year’s Eve and you cannot imagine how difficult it was to do our work with such a cold weather, we were all shaking with our noses frozen, especially me, wearing those light outfits in the last days of December with these very low temperatures. High heeled shoes were also a problem (laughs). The rest of the scenes took place on green screen sets. This was my very first video clip experience so I was a bit anxious but after all it was really fun. Margianna Katsamatsa took great care of my make up, as well as the boys’. Regarding the costumes, I am really thin and especially when it comes to stage clothing I cannot find so tight clothes to apply well on me. So the clothes I wore on the video were made by me and I was really happy for it because there was a lot of time pressure while making them. I think it is a great video after all, it is clever, in many ways and the song we chose represents all that is unique about our music. Of course the album also contains both commercial and more technically orientated songs but we wanted the “first strike” to be powerful, blowing away! “Illusive Light” is all that, it is an aggressive song. However, it is also a long song of 6 minutes so it was a challenge to create a video that would not lack interest. Of course, Dominik did a wonderful work with quick, trembling scenes, blurs and fast camera moves. The result is awesome and we are completely satisfied by that. Only in the first 5 days our video received over 5.000 views on You Tube when no real promotion had taken place and we hadn’t even released an album or had a contract etc. In my opinion, this points out something good. THE METAL PIT: In October you will be playing at the METAL FEMALE VOICES FEST along with other bands like Arch Enemy(featuring previous Metal Maiden of the Month—Angela) , Lacuna Coil among many others. Are you looking forward to playing the same stage of those 2 premiere Metal bands? ELINA LAIVERA: Oh, I cannot tell you how excited we are for this! We had the amazing opportunity to be included in the line-up of this great festival and I must tell you that it had always been a life’s dream for me to perform there one day with my band, among all these big names and wonderful artists. Especially frontwomen like Charlotte Wessels of DELAIN and Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil have been quite inspirational for me and I am looking forward to meet them in person. The line-up of the festival is awesome so far, the fans that are going to attend it are really lucky, they will have the chance to see many favorite bands in the same organisation. We are going to have in our company bands like Arch Enemy as you also said, Xandria, Krypteria, Trillium (the new project of Amanda Somerville), our dear friends Skeptical Minds and many more. One more thing that is great about this year’s MFVF is that we are going to be 3 Greek bands, Seduce The Heaven, DIMLIGHT and Meden Agan. We are very happy for that, we are good friends with the other two bands so it’s going to be a beautiful experience. We are feverishly preparing for our performance, everything is going to be perfect, we cannot wait! THE METAL PIT: Over the last few years especially its seem the Metal world is having an abundance of Female vocalists. Do you feel you have to try and stand out from the rest? ELINA LAIVERA: It is true that in the last years so many female fronted metal bands have come out and new ones keep on springing out. There has even been an attempt to define female fronted metal as a special genre! In my opinion, this is completely wrong. You cannot put different things in the same bag. You cannot say that Arch Enemy is the same with Nightwish or Evanescence just because they are fronted by women. The music behind each frontwoman can vary in such a point that you cannot say “these two are the same thing”. Of course the existence of women in metal is a very good and encouraging fact. Not little people had said that this was all just a trend and it would vanish soon but I guess they were wrong since there is an enormous fan-base supporting this musical idiom for over a decade. I am happy to see that also many male singers accept and welcome female singers and are not stuck onto stereotypical opinions regarding “who does it better”. Now, on whichever field there are many people doing the same thing, you surely have to try and stand out from the rest. I am a new artist and there are so many frontwomen out there, each one very special with thousands of fanatics. However, I have no particular anxiety on that. You see, I believe that if there is something really special about you, you don’t need to do much. People are going to figure it out and will become your fans. What you need to do is to make sure that you are doing your thing well. Study your object deeply, whichever it is, vocals, guitar, piano, bagpipes. A hard-working musician is always a wise one. And of course, handling your public relationships is also a much appreciated (if not highly required) talent in our days. THE METAL PIT: Tell us about your vocal training? When did you start singing? ELINA LAIVERA: I have been singing since I was a kid but hadn’t really believed I could do something more serious on this field. You see, I was focused on becoming a pianist. When I entered the Music School at the age of 12 I was using my voice every day, singing in choirs and ensembles so I liked it a lot and I thought I could do more with my voice. I kept on singing every day of my life since then. However, singing lessons came many years later, at the age of 18. When I entered the studio with SEDUCE THE HEAVEN, I realized I had to train my voice or I would not be able to become a professional vocalist. “Professional” does not only mean earning money from what you do but also doing it on a high level. I wanted to be able to have a good technique and not singing with the fear of losing control over my voice during a live show. So I started my vocal education with one of the greatest vocal trainers in Greece, Nikos Spanatis, widely known in Europe for his career as a lyrical countertenor performing in the biggest theaters and productions. I studied classical singing for one and a half year and then I also inserted modern singing (jazz, musicals, rock operas etc) in my vocal training. Classical training is very important in order to gain a proper basis but I would also like to be able to perform other things, too, more rock orientated that would help me develop my work with the band. Photo by Yiorgos Zach THE METAL PIT: Your band is putting the finishing touches on your debut album. What is the lyric and music writing process within the band? ELINA LAIVERA: Yes, we are about to finish our debut album which is going to be released within the summer of 2012 and I must tell you that the writing process was a wonderful experience for me. I enjoy writing vocal lines and lyrics and Alex enjoys writing the background of the songs so you can figure out how the workload was allocated. Alex composes in a way that allows me to express my feelings, always. I love the way he writes, I get inspiration from nowhere once I listen to the first samples he sends me. From the first notes, I can get the feeling, so I immediately know what the issue of the song will be and this also leads the vocal lines writing process. THE METAL PIT:If you could open up for any band on a tour what band would you want to perform with? ELINA LAIVERA: Hmm, well, this is a difficult question. If I had to choose in accordance with the musical style we serve, I would choose Killswitch Engage, amazing musicians and a BIG influence to us. If I had no limitations and if it was also up to me, I would choose Dream Theater or Evanescence! Hehe, our musical styles have little to do with each other but I would love to perform with these bands, I love them. THE METAL PIT: Since it sounds like you were trained in the operatic type of vocals. Did you ever plan on going that way with your singing? Why did you decide to go the Metal route? ELINA LAIVERA: Well, cannot say i move completely on the metal way. If you listen to our album carefully, you will figure out that I am moving somewhere between a classical vocal style and a more rocking, power style. You cannot say that it is completely this or that. It is something in the middle. The majority of the songs include this mixed technique where I use both classical and rock colours. But there are some points of the songs where my technique gets clearer each time. And of course, on the ballad of the album, since it is needed, I use more classical colours in my voice. Generally, you have to use each technique wherever and whenever each one is needed, in my opinion. THE METAL PIT: Once your new cd is out will you be planning on touring outside of Greece or will that depend on how the cd does? ELINA LAIVERA: Look, we are actually going to organize a tour outside Greece anyway. Our music is of no big interest in our country so we should push it on abroad. Countries like Germany and Sweden love material like the one we have. So we are going to push both our album and tour towards such locations, independently on how the CD will do in Greece. In fact, we are not going to focus that much on Greece, people here don’t really listen to such kind of music though nothing is impossible. You see, a big number of fans are also Greeks and we thank them a lot. THE METAL PIT: What does it mean to be Metal Maiden of the Month at THE METAL PIT? ELINA LAIVERA: Oh, I am extremely happy to be hosted as Metal Maiden of the Month at the METAL PIT and I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity to talk about my band and our plans, it is my pleasure. THE METAL PIT: What do you hope the future holds for SEDUCE THE HEAVEN? ELINA LAIVERA: Well, I I hope we get a proper deal with a good record label, organize successful tours and get the chance to share our music with a big number of people out there. I hope we manage to inspire people to chase after their dreams, become better and never give up. But most of all, I hope we keep on having all this wonderful support from so many people that we have even right now, at our very beginning. And please allow me to thank every single one of our great fans (from Facebook, You Tube and every other social network) that follow us even before releasing a full album and believe in us since our very first samples on You Tube. Thank you all for your awesome support! We hope to have you near us for a long time ahead. THE METAL PIT: Thank you Elina for sitting down with me and being our current Metal Maiden of the Month. I wish you and your band great success and hope to see you in North America sooner then later. ELINA LAIVERA: Thank you too Blake as well as the METAL PIT and I am also sending all my love to North America. We hope to see you soon on tour!