OUT OF THE LIGHT AND INTO THE DARK - THEATRES DES VAMPIRES' SONYA SCARLET ESCAPES THE SCORCHING SUMMER SUN TO ANSWER ROCKDETECTOR'S FEARSOME 40 QUESTIONS.
INTERVIEW: DAVID BORGIOLI-JONES
21 July 2006
Born in 1994 from the ashes of a cult Italian outfit SEPOLCRUM, Rome's THEATRES DES VAMPIRES are one heavily theatric, vampire fixated Gothic Metal act. Boasting seven albums to date, the band has made a name for itself over the years playing shows with the likes of IRON MAIDEN, CHILDREN OF BODOM and IN FLAMES.
In 2003 THEATRES DES VAMPIRES decided to completely re-record debut their album 'Vampyrìsme, Nècrophilie, Nècrosadisme, Nècrophagie'. Contributing to album on guitar was CRADLE OF FILTH / CHRISTIAN DEATH guitarist Gian Pyres. More recently, in 2005 the band issued their current album 'Pleasure And Pain' through via the Dreamcell 11 label. Frontwoman Sonya Scarlet retreats to the shade in order to answer Rockdetector's Fearsome 40 questions...
What are you up to right now?
"Answering your interview on a fucking hot day and no cold beer around me! Terrible."
What are your present obsessions?
"Death and disenchantment, the rude reality. I love dreams."
Recommend a book that has truly inspired you. Why did it make such an impact?
"I've got hundreds of books and each of them has got a special meaning for me. 'The Ballad Of The Reading Gaol' by Oscar Wilde. You can see the suffering and the deep meaning hidden behind every single movement or natural event. People are going to die and they watch the sky and the moon for their last time. They watch it as never before. We're too blind to see what we've got. For he who live more lives than one, more deaths than one must die"
Where is 'home' and why do you live there?
"My home is my country. I'm proud to be Italian and this is my land. Anyway, I prefer the woods and the mountains to the stifling chaos of the big cities."
What record recently has really surprised you with its quality? Is there any album you own and enjoy that might surprise your fans?"
"I've got my favourite CDs that never change. 'Lecons De Tenebres' by ELEND, 'Dance Of December Souls' by KATATONIA, 'Disintegration' by THE CURE and 'Elodia' by LACRIMOSA. SUI GENERIS UMBRA band as well, they're bloody and hypnotic. I don't care about the quality, I see what they give to me, the emotions. I also like bands such as POISONBLACK or DIARY OF DREAMS. I don't want to surprise you, I can just tell you what I am and what I like."
**Who are your musical heroes?
"There are no heroes in music. We've got heroes in war and in everyday life. There are good musicians. Music is so different and subjective. It must give you emotions, that's its power."
If you could collaborate with any musicians to do a project album, who would they be any why?
"I've got my band and I think its enough, I would like to collaborate with some musicians such as Pete Steele from TYPE O NEGATIVE, Ville Laihiala from POISONBLACK, or Mikael Åkerfeldt from OPRTH because I like their voices and their bands."
Other than music, what other types of Art do you appreciate?
"I love literature, theater and cinema and I study these arts at University. I love painting and I love all art – without it we'd live in a lake of sand."
Besides the instrument you are known for, which other instruments can you play?
"Hmm, I tried to study guitar when I was 14 years old but it was kind of a disaster! So luckily for you I left it very soon!"
The first concert you ever attended was...
"My first concert with THEATRES DES VAMPIRES, at the 'Gods Of Metal' festival in 2000 – simply amazing, I'll never forget it. And my first concert as the main singer of the band in London the past year. It was a great emotion for me."
When and where was the very first time you performed music?
"I was 15 years old and we played some songs by THE CURE at our first and only concert in high school. It was very funny and I've got a horrible tape about it at home but it's top secret!"
From a performers point of view, what has been your most memorable concert and why?
"I don't know because I always do what I feel in that moment so I don't know how people see what I do or what they feel. For me each concert is the most important of all because I must give all my energy and all my emotions to our fans."
When was the last time you really felt you were struggling in your career and faced extreme adversity?
"We had some problems when we changed our line-up but after a strange period we saw that it was the best choice for us because it gave us new opportunities. We're growing up now and we're all doing our best to do it in the best way."
What has been your career highlight to date?
"Well we've been in existence for ten years now and we've done some interesting things for sure. Over the years we participated in great festivals all round Europe, like 'Vampyria III', 'Gods Of Metal 2000', 'Gotham', 'Wave Gotik Treffen'. We've collaborated with great musicians and great friends that helped us compose the albums, or played as guests for us – like Gian Pyres from CRADLE OF FILTH, Valor from CHRISTIAN DEATH, Bruno Kramm from DAS ICH, Dhiloz from ANCIENT, Flegias from NECRODEATH and so on. Lots of great experiences."
"Well probably BLACK SABBATH. They are a very dark band and they invented a kind of music. The other two bands you are talking about are a great bands for sure but they are not of my musical taste. BLACK SABBATH are really evil, and dark and have a mystic aura around them so yes, I definitely prefer them of the three."
What's the most daring piece of music you've made?
"Surely the remix of 'La Danse Macabre Du Vampire' with an EBM sound and the cover of Kylie Minogue which has not been officially released yet called "You Can't Get Out Of My... Grave" You can only find it on an unofficial CD that is around. I don't know how."
As a public entertainer, how much responsibility do you feel towards providing a role model for your fans?
"I don't want to be a role model for my fans. I am what I am. I don't what my fans to have any kind of suggestions from me. They must do what they want and what they like. I hope they'll have a life better than mine."
How difficult is it to run a band as a democracy / functioning unit?
"It was difficult years ago but now with this line-up everything always goes the right way. There's no one that has got a leader role, we've got our keyboard player, Fabian, who organises lots of things in the band but there's a full democracy and everybody has got the same importance."
When was the last time you were really excited about visiting a country?
"I'm always excited because I love travelling. I lived in London for a period and every time that I return there for a gig I'm excited as the first day. I love visiting new counties and I also love the countries I know. Actually I would like to have some gigs in the US because I've never been there."
Ever done a gig when you've been really ill?
"Yes, I did a gig when I had temperature some years ago in the south of Italy. It was terrible and it was so hot I felt my legs trembling but you know, it was impossible not to show it. And I lost my voice during the last tour. It's so embarrassing singing every night if you're not perfect when all those people are waiting for you all around Europe. Believe me, it's so hard and I tried to do my best to have a great show, drinking a horrible syrup every day."
On tour, what are your daily rituals before you get to the gig?
"I need to prepare my makeup one hour before because I have to sit and to concentrate my self on the gig. The others, they must prepare everything for the concert, their instruments, the pyro effects and a lot of stuff. So one hour before the concert everybody has got a precise role. Every time we go on stage I feel a great emotion but after the first song I feel better and better, and after the second song my fans have the best of me."
Can you pinpoint the moment you made the decision to become a musician?
"As I said before I love all arts. I've been a ballet dancer for 16 years of my life and that is an art using body language. So I decided to connect it with singing to express everything about me and about my soul through lyrics, the body, and music. All of this is inside me. There's no precise moment to talk about because it's a long time ago that it started – when I was five years old."
Truthfully, how important is it to you the way you look?
"Clothes are your second skin. You have to feel good in your dress because it's a part of you, your expression, and your personality. I'm a fashion designer as well so I know that clothes represent our culture, our story, and our attitude. Our band without our look is like paint without colour. We believe in what we do and in what we are. We are THEATRES DES VAMPIRES, a theatrical name that we interpret everyday following our natural attitude."
Describe your strangest celebrity encounter.
"At the 'Gods of Metal' of 2000, Bruce Dickinson from IRON MAIDEN walked in front of me backstage and I didn't reconise him because of his short hair. I said who's he? And they were one of my favourite bands... it was quite funny."
Have you ever NOT signed an autograph?
"Yes, sometimes it happens when I'm slow to get out of the dressing room and the club has to close early."
What's the biggest scar on your body and how did you get it?
"I don't like talking about it because when you do these things you feel a deep pain inside."
Have you ever come close to death? What happened?
"I had some difficult periods in my life, the first one was when I was 16 but I'm still here as you can see."
What subject is guaranteed to get you into a heated debate?
"Talking about everything you can't see, I like dreaming cause I hate the cold reality."
What is the last injustice you saw?
"I see injustice everyday and we must fight to go on. You can never stop, they are just people, they can't stop you."
What do you hope to achieve before you die?
"The best CD of our career with the best sound and the strongest emotions. I would like to keep playing to the death with our music."
What happens to you after you die?
"You will see it as well, just wait."
Credit/s: David Borgioli-Jones
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Last updated: 21 July 2006