Interview – Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

How about an “alchemical” talk with Mr. Bastiën Baron, one of the founders of Dutch metal act Shuulak, talking about their brand new album Citrinitas and their passion for the occult?

Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

The Headbanging Moose: Can you please begin by introducing the band to our readers? Who are Shuulak, when was the band formed, and what is your main goal in the world of heavy music?

Bastiën Baron: At heart we’re a heavy metal band, but we’ve given it a modern spin and drenched it in occultism. Our goal is to have a street named after us. Or a small town. Preferably the latter.

THM: Although your 2019 EP Citrinitas might be short in duration, there’s a lot of good stuff in each one of its four tracks. Why did you decide to release such a short album instead of a full-length one, and are you satisfied with the final result of the EP?

BB: Thanks for the compliments! There are many reasons for this. But foremostly, releasing a full-length album is a long and costly process. By keeping our releases short, we’re able to do them more frequently, which I think, people will appreciate. Especially in this day and age. That said, as our audience grows, so does demand for a physical release. We’ll relieve the itch soon.

THM: Can you explain in more details the concept behind Citrinitas and its connection to your previous EP’s Nigredo, released in 2017, and Albedo, from 2018?

BB: The EP’s are connected and are named after the steps towards the alchemist’s Magnum Opus; the goal of which is immortality and ultimate knowledge. It’s an ongoing story we’re not finished telling yet.

THM: What’s the main reason why you guys decided to explore such distinct topic in your albums? And can we expect more of this alchemical side of Shuulak in your future releases, or is it time for the band to venture through different lands and concepts?

BB: Alchemy is an exciting journey into the depths of the soul. There are, however, many more paths to take in the world of mysticism and the occult. So, we definitely won’t stop here.

Album Review – Shuulak / Citrinitas EP (2019)

THM: It’s simply fantastic to see more and more bands all over the world with women in their formation who are not only their lead singers, but also guitarists, bassists and drummers, which is exactly the case with Shuulak. How is it to have two girls on the band, Eve Laetitia and Puck Wildschut, taking care of the guitar and bass duties respectively?

BB: To us it’s quite.. normal. We don’t really think about it, to be honest. Though, Eve is really happy about it. She’s been the only girl for a long time, so it’s refreshing to have Puck around.

THM: How does your creative process work, I mean, do you all work together on the music and the lyrics, or are there any duties that are performed by only one or two of the band members? The process seems to be working well, as the music found in your albums sounds great, but is there anything the band thinks that could be done in a different or better way in the future?

BB: Angelo and Eve write the music, Bastiën handles the lyrics and vocals. Though it’s not set in stone, the process is quite fluid and ever changing. There’s a lot of back and forth. I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ or ‘better’ way to do things. Every song is different, and so is the way we write them. We’re constantly refining.

THM: Who are your biggest influences in music and in life in general, and how much do those influences impact the way Shuulak compose music?

BB: Musically we’re inspired by a great many artists but we don’t copy anyone. We’re all big horror fans and this definitely shines through in our music. Stuff like the books of Clive Barker or Dario Argento’s movies definitely inspire us as well as books on the real life history of the occult and ritual magic.

Shuulak

THM: What’s your opinion about the current metal scene in the Netherlands? Do you think this is a good time for bands like Shuulak to release more and more music and to tour around the country? And apart from the big names like Epica, Within Temptation and Delain, what other Dutch metal or even non-metal bands would you recommend to our readers?

BB: The Netherlands are very small, and so is the metal scene here. It’s very cozy and a good place to be. As for us, we’ve got our eyes set further. We frequently visit our southern neighbors in Belgium, as well as our friends in Germany.

It’s true The Netherlands is known for a blossoming female-fronted scene and you’ll find many wonderful bands here, but I would recommend a German band: Crownfall. We played our very first concert in Germany with them and not only are they amazingly talented musicians, they’re wonderful people too. So check them out!

THM: What does the future hold for Shuulak? And when would fans from other parts of Europe, from Asia and from North and South America be able to witness the band playing live in their countries?

BB: We’re focused on Europe right now, but we’re not dismissing the idea of an intercontinental tour. When demand is high enough, we’ll definitely visit those places.

THM: Thank you very much for your time. Please feel free to send your final considerations, goodbyes and anything else you would like to say to our readers.

BB: We’d like to thank The Headbanging Moose for this interview! To all of you reading this: you’re awesome for making it this far. If you’re curious, check us out on Bandcamp or find us on Spotify. We hope to see you at a show in the near future and are looking forward to finding new friends and disciples.

Links
Shuulak Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | BandCamp | Apple Music

Metal Chick of the Month – Elena Vladi

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I’m coming down to feel you, to touch you, to be you, to kill…

Ladies and gentlemen, the heavy music scene in Hollywood, one of the most famous neighborhoods in the world located in the central region of Los Angeles, California in the United States, has recently crowned a new queen, and we all shall bow to her beauty, to her loveliness, and in special to her kick-ass music. Hailing from Mother Russia, here comes the multi-talented artist Elena Vladimirova, better known as Elena Vladi, the lead singer of Nu-Metal act Red Queen and a woman that knows better than anyone else how to provide a fiery fusion of stunning looks and electrifying music, making the work from such distinguished woman even more delectable. The Russian Red Queen is among us, and your life will never be the same again after being infected by her scrumptious venom.

Like any true queen of darkness and lust, there’s little to none information available online about the personal life of Elena, which makes perfect sense for a woman that wants to keep mystery as one of the main ingredients in her promising career. All we know is that she relocated from Russia to the United States in a not-so-distant past and joined her partner in crime Patrick Crisci in order to form what used to be known as Experimental Hybrid Black Metal project Demona Mortiss, but that gradually morphed to Nu-Metal band Red Queen. Let’s say that the band, which used to play a dark fusion containing elements from Gothic, Doom and Death Metal the likes of Tristania and Dimmu Borgir, is now highly recommended for fans of Slipknot, Korn, Deftones and Lacuna Coil, just to give you a better idea of the remarkable change in their sonority through time.

Before we talk about Elena Vladi in more detail, let’s take a quick look at the history of Red Queen. Previously known as Demona Mortiss, the project was created by Elena in 2009 as an Experimental Hybrid Black Metal project as already mentioned, obtaining a significant amount of followers in a short span of time, especially in Europe, before officially changing the name in 2013 to Red Queen. Demona Mortiis were Elena on vocals and synths, Patrick on guitars and Trent Gouveia on drums, and although there are no official albums under the name Demona Mortiis you can still enjoy some of their blackened compositions on YouTube like Lost, Inverted Heaven and Phasmophobia, this one live at the Viper Room in Los Angeles in January 2013.

Not only the name of the project and music direction changed in Red Queen, but the lineup also suffered a few changes. Red Queen are now only Elena on vocals synths and lyrics, and Patrick on guitars, synths, bass and drums, also being responsible for the overall production of the band, with guest musician Grey Soto playing some guitar parts in a couple of songs. This dynamic duo released back in April 2016 their debut EP entitled Star Blood, containing five classy and sexy songs (Asyphyx, Naked, Star Ruby, Insidious and Alchemy), as well as an amazing cover version for Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, the classic 1995 single by Irish Rock icons U2 from the Batman Forever soundtrack album. If you want to take a better listen to Star Blood and purchase it, you can go to Red Queen’s official webstore or BandCamp page, and also find it on iTunes. When asked about what inspired her to write the music found in Star Blood, Elena said she gets her inspiration from movies and books, from the cosmos and a variety of “conspiracy theories”, and from her own emotions, always aiming at intriguing people. Well, let’s say she succeeded in that hands down, and if you want to know more details about Red Queen you can check this short and sweet 2015 Q&A interview with Elena Vladi and Patrick Crisci, and also listen to their music at their YouTube channel and ReverbNation page.

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Apart from her career with Demona Mortiis and Red Queen, our Russian bombshell can be seen as a guest musician in distinct projects that have almost nothing to do with the musicality bred by Red Queen, showcasing her versatility as an artist and her will to go beyond any boundaries that she might face in terms of creativity and experimentation. For instance, her stunning voice embellishes the chaos found in the song You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying, from the 2012 album Vanitas by British Industrial Black Metal/Grindcore band Anaal Nathrakh, as well as in two composition from the 2012 albums Evolution and (R)Evolution, by American Electronic duo Blood on the Dance Floor, those being Love Conquers All and La Petite Morte (The Little Death), respectively.

Albeit music might be the primary focus in her life, our Gothic diva also extends all her talent to fashion modeling and graphic and web designing for living, also being proficient at tarot, rune and aura reading, as well as other forms of divination, chakra balancing and necromancy. In addition to all that, Elena lets her geek side flourish through her admiration for Astronomy, String Theory and Quantum Physics, not to mention she also excels in guidance to Spiritual Ascension. And as many other female metallers such as Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz, our voluptuous queen doesn’t eat meat and considers veganism a part of human evolution. In case you’re curious to see Elena modeling instead of singing, click HERE to watch a short clip of when Elena was invited to participate in a cover shoot for volume 34, issue #33 of LA Weekly (released on July 5, 2012), for a special article entitled “Everything You Wanted to Know About Metal” (which is obviously not true, but as that’s not our main goal in this essay let’s simply ignore that). Pay attention to the music in this video, as it’s Elena and her Demona Mortiis playing a beautiful cover version for Confide in Me, by Australian singer Kylie Minogue. The great success achieved by the cover with Elena translated into this specific issue being the best-selling one of 2012. You can enjoy the read by clicking HERE and going directly to page 55, titled ALL HAIL “Metal subgenres explained, from thrash to pornogrind”.

Her passion for modeling can also be seen in the underground publication Gothic Beauty, as for example in their issue #42 when Elena was the cover girl of the magazine, and in tons of pictures modeling for Heavy Red, a Los Angeles-based fashion company established in 1999 by lead designer Tyler Ondine specialized in Gothic fashion and sexually sophisticated clothing, always aiming at being the cutting edge of Gothic clothing including corsets, dresses, gowns, shirts, skirts, coats, hoodies, club wear, lingerie and jewelry. Elena has been one of the faces of the company since relocating to the United States, helping Heavy Red achieve a new level of elegance and darkness in line with the company’s vision of Couture Noir.

The “Russian Queen of Nu-Metal” also focuses her efforts in improving the merch store at the official Red Queen website, working on getting more skirt and other clothing designs for the fans of the band. Furthermore, Elena is also planning on opening her own jewelry shop, named Vladi Fashion Jewelry, where she’ll sell her trial collection of royal necklaces and will expand into rings and more jewelry options later. She thinks every woman (including herself) loves jewelry, and therefore she wants to share her vision of beautiful designs with other women through her new store. And if you think that’s already a lot coming from only one woman, let me tell you that she is also trying to find time for her side project under her name, which according to Elena would be quite mellow and electronic, and fully written and produced by herself. I guess we can never get enough of our stunning queen, don’t you agree? And sorry to say that, Elena, but it looks like the less free time you have for yourself, the better it is for us fans.

Elena Vladi’s Official Facebook page
Elena Vladi’s Official Twitter
Elena Vladi’s Official Instagram
Red Queen’s Official Facebook page
Red Queen’s Official Twitter
Red Queen’s Official VKontakte page

“I am a full blooded Russian… Russians are crazy, we all know that, I expect respect and you shall receive the same in return…” – Elena Vladi