Subterranea – Interview
Interview with Alia Synesthesia (aka Subterranea) and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
AS: This is a very open-ended question. I am primarily a musician, but I also paint/illustrate, develop video games and write. I think different artistic mediums were always inter-connected for me, so I find ways of how to express myself artistically across multiple mediums.
If the question presupposed what kind of musician I am – I am definitely drawn to darker, dissonant and gothic forms of musical expression. Genre doesn’t really restrict me, but recently I am drawn more and more to bigger, wall-of-sound productions. Symphonic metal, death/doom metal, blackgaze, progressive metal – are all genres that resonate with me especially prominently.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
AS: I was born in Yakutia, which is northern Siberia, and started doing music when I was six. I studied in russian music school (6 years) first on piano, then on operatic vocals department, and was performing on stage since I was seven. I have composed music since probably when I was a teenager, but I started taking serious interest in production after I immigrated to Canada and was already in the third year of my BA degree in Medieval Literature, History and Theatre Studies. I was taking music lessons too (classical/operatic singing), but was two courses short to make Music my minor, besides, I already was much more involved with sound engineering and digital composition which I was mostly exploring on my own.
Since 2013 I have released about 5-6 releases independently, and with bands. But Subterranea, my main project, didn’t start until 2017. Ever since then, my musical life has become a never-ending journey of sound exploration and digital production experiments. Subterranea greatly has influenced my life not only with recording and touring opportunities, but also pushed me to become a more adventurous producer and audio engineer.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
AS: With regards to musical influences – these go in waves, as I keep discovering new ways of orchestrating sound composition and production. I was somewhat influenced by Steven Wilson, although this doesn’t seem to be much of the case currently. I was definitely influenced by Ulver, Storm Corrosion, Opeth, Myrkur, Chelsea Wolfe. More recently – by Alcest, Dan Swano (pretty much any of his projects). There are also some musicians that I am inspired by, yet not influenced by musically – I am fascinated with the history of Dave Mustaine and Metallica, for instance. I love Megadeth, but it probably had no influence on my overall sound.
When it comes to non-musical influences – I like horror literature (H.P. Lovecraft stands out particularly) as well as Greek, Roman and Medieval histories, mythologies and folklore. I was very immersed into Greco-Roman and early British studies in the university and I think it made an enormous impact on my musical themes.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
AS: Becoming a better, well-rounded producer and have options to pursue what I like. Thus far I was quite fortunate to be able to pursue any creative avenues I enjoyed (sometimes at the same time), but it also takes a lot of energy, commitment and drive. My goal is to never run out of the hassling energy I have been so fortunate to have. Other than that – working with people I admire and being able to keep touring are high in my goal/dream list.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
AS: I write, compose, arrange and perform my songs. Subject matter varies but usually it’s exploration of mythological themes from the modern, subjective perspective. I tend to lean towards darker themes overall – I like chthonic mythology, I like hearing myths about monsters and monstrous creatures of different time periods and nations. A portion of my MA studies were dedicated to comparing Witchcraft lore across different European nations, looking for differences and similarities. All this lands in my songs.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
AS: Usually social media and word of mouth.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
AS: I think this is definitely a helpful way of promoting music that otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to be heard. I definitely would not be able to explore music of smaller, independent artists without streaming services like Spotify and music circulation platforms like Bandcamp. It is definitely a bittersweet area for sure – platforms like Spotify don’t pay artists their fare share, which reinforces the concept of “working/creating for exposure”, but digital distribution does have more reach in my option.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
AS: In a way, I wish I would have written the entire Storm Corrosion album. Just because of how unique it is from the first track to the last. It’s a beautiful combination of folk and dark. But obviously, If I would have written it – It would sound completely different. So, In a way, I am glad I didn’t. When it comes to writing under other musical influences, I almost never want to steal any particular part of the song or melody, it’s more of absorbing the feeling that a certain album and composition gives me and trying to match that in my own music, with my own tools, instrumentations, and creative devices.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
AS: I don’t have any. I get easily annoyed by stupid or ass-licking people in music industry. In a way I prefer emotional honesty most of all, but I don’t have any pet peeves or drastic stances. Just don’t be a dick – would be closest to a pet peeve I have.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
AS: Probably that would be learning how to shred on a cello. Distorted cello is my best kept secret when it comes to black metal production.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
AS: New record – St. Agony. Probably my most aggressive and honest record to date.
PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.
AS: The next upcoming show I have is Covenant Festival on April 10. I am super excited for this because it’s the first year of Covenant in my home city – Toronto, as it is a Vancouver-based festival.
After that, I am playing at the Woodgothic Festival in Brazil in June. There is also a possibility of South American tour on a joint bill with Attrition, but not 100% confirmed yet.
Why should you be there? I am always trying to put on a great show, so If you are curious to see a cello-shredding operatic singer – you might enjoy the show!