If one day you have the pleasure of visiting the stunning country of Slovenia (in case you haven’t done so already), you’ll be able to admire several distinguished attractions such as the unique Postojna Cave, the awe-inspiring Lake Bled and the Bled Castle, the Škocjan Caves and, in case you have just one single day in the capital Ljubljana, you can have a relaxing walk through the city’s charming streets and savor the exquisite tastes offered by all of its fancy restaurants. Hence, as a tribute to this wonderful country, to its culture and its people, there’s nothing better than kicking off another year at The Headbanging Moose than with the gorgeous and “louder than hell” Slovenian bassist Sasha Zagorc (or Saša Zagorc in proper Slovene), the songwriter, manager and leader of Slovenia’s own all-female Heavy Metal band Hellcats.
Born on July 22, 1986 in the city of Ljubljana, Sasha started playing classical guitar at a very early age in music school together with her sister Sonja Zagorc, the drummer for Hellcats, who at that time was studying flute. When they finished music school, Sasha switched from classical guitar to bass guitar (also playing in a few local bands) and her sister from flute to drums (quite a change in terms of noise and impact), and then they decided to form their own all-female band. Well, I guess you know what happened next, and that’s where our tribute to this blonde bombshell will be focused on through the next few lines. Are you ready to rumble to the sound of the Heavy Metal by our headbanging diva Sasha and her kick-ass bandmates?
Apart from Sasha on bass guitar and backing vocals, and her sister Sonja on drums, the first all-female metal band from Slovenia is also formed by Katja Mavec on guitars and Dasha Makuc on vocals. The name of the band, which combines femininity with a strong Heavy Metal attitude, was suggested by a friend of Sasha who’s also a musician and an airplane aficionado. He named the band after the Grumman F6F Hellcat, a carrier-based fighter aircraft. Formed in their hometown Ljubljana in 2003, it wasn’t easy for the Hellcats to find many female musicians due to the small size of the Slovenian music scene, a country of only 2 million habitants. However, due to Slovenia’s high level of development, even metal music (a genre usually relegated to the underground as opposed to pop and folk music) has its space in the country’s rich culture, with MetalDays (formerly known as Metalcamp), a huge festival held annually in the city of Tolmin, being the driving force of Heavy Metal in Slovenian soil.
Despite being on the road for over 10 years, Sasha and the Hellcats have only recorded two albums so far, the first being their self-titled EP Hellcats, in 2011, followed by the full-length album Divja Pot (named Warrior Princess in the English version) in 2013. That doesn’t mean they don’t have enough material already for a powerful live concert, which seems to be the thing they love the most in life. The band has already performed in several festivals such as Metalcamp in Slovenia, Viva la Pola festival in Croatia, Metal Franconia in Germany, and several TV and radio shows. For instance, in 2012 the Hellcats were invited to tour Russia, where among all the cities they played their most memorable moments were being one of the main attractions at the female bands rock festival named Zheleznye Devy (or “Iron Girls”), in the city of Kaluga, and performing at the music festival named Jelen Demofest, in Banja Luka. Hellcats achieved 4th place among more than 400 groups, becoming the highest placed foreign band ever at the festival.
If you want to see the lovely Sasha in action together with the Hellcats, there are a few official videos on YouTube in both Slovene and English, those being the Power Metal tune Steelrider (or Divja Pot in Slovene), the sexy Demons Dreams (or Sanjam Demone), the high-octane song Now Is My Time (or Prerojena), and the kick-ass hymn I Am (or Naprej). As a huge admirer of old school Heavy Metal, I personally prefer their more straightforward compositions, which emanate electricity, blood and passion. How not to get thrilled to the sound of Proud To Be Loud or Hellcats, or even better, to their first ever single and best song to date, the awe-inspiring Heavy Metal? The song’s Manowar-inspired lyrics (“Heavy metal lives in me / The hell between will set me free / Heavy metal lives in me / The ones who fake it can just leave”) are a thing of beauty. In addition, there are even a few live videos of those awesome songs online, as for example these live versions of Hellcats and Heavy Metal, recorded in 2013, and if you want to have a delicious overdose of Sasha you can take a look at this YouTube playlist, where you’ll find all official videos, some live performances, interviews, and special covers by Hellcats of icons such as Judas Priest, Doro and AC/DC.
Perhaps the most organic and crisp performance available online by the Hellcats is their participation in a radio show called Metalmorfoza on November 15, 2014 at the Studio Hendrix for a radio station named Radio Koper. In case you do not have enough time to watch the full show, you can get a taste of the amazing rumbling bass lines by Sasha in the song Vladar Noči, live at that same program. An alternative way to enjoy the music by the Hellcats is on a program called Na Sceni, recorded on October 29, 2013 at the Slovenian channel RTV 4, but let me warn you that if you do not speak Slovene the only thing you’ll be able to understand is the music and nothing else.
Our unstoppable bass player has always been a metalhead, always wearing her own black leather clothes anywhere she goes, being highly influenced by heavy, thrash and hard rock behemoths like Pantera, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica and AC/DC, among others. Shasa mentioned in one of her interviews that she and her sister grew up listening to those bands, helping them to become who they are today. She also mentioned her biggest motivation to write music is life itself, with their compositions being filled with optimism, energy, love, passion and strength. When asked about which language she prefers singing, if English or Slovene, Sasha said they let their emotions lead them, it doesn’t matter if it’s in one language or another, all depending on which one better suits the message and feeling of the music. As an example, she cited the single Heavy Metal, sung entirely in Slovene and being a big success among metalheads all over the world.
Having a band provides our blonde metaller some well-deserved relaxation, and she loves going on tour with her best friends. Sasha said it’s not hard for them to keep the band going forward, as they love what they do. That’s the main reason why during the auditions for the missing band members when the band started, she and Sonja were not only trying to find the right musicians, but they were also looking for good personalities to get along with and to become friends with as well. In her own words, she thinks this is very important for female bands, because “girls like to chat more than guys”. You can take a listen at a short clip with Sasha HERE, where she talks to BBC about how challenging it is to maintain an all-girl metal band, and if you want to know more about her role in the band and how she learned to headbang, among other topics, click HERE for a 30-minute interview with Sasha and the unparalleled bassist Doris Yeh (Chthonic). For instance, did you know Sasha is a professional architect and graphic designer, as at least for now Hellcats cannot make a living out of music itself?
When asked about how she envisions her career with the Hellcats in the next five to ten years, Sasha provided an answer that, albeit a little cliché, is exactly everything we want to hear from a true Heavy Metal band anytime, anywhere. “In the next five to ten years from now we see Hellcats touring and performing on big stages and to be more and more successful every year and to have more and more fans. Our biggest wish is to tour the Europe first and then go to the USA”, said our metal diva. Let’s hope her dreams come true, and that she includes Canada on her tour when the Hellcats come to North America, or we will riot.
“Our music is about love, desires, passion and strength. Our songs are filled with optimism and energy. We have a lot to tell and we want people to feel good when they listen to our music.” – Sasha Zagorc