Metal Chick of the Month – Vicky Psarakis

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You! Pull me out and plug me in!

As our Metal Chick of the Month beautifully chants in one of her band’s best songs, fear is not her master. Owner of a powerful and wide vocal range that allows her to sing anything from the smoothest Jazz to the most visceral Heavy Metal, she’s the present and future of female singing, with a more-than-promising career ahead of her. I’m talking about the dashing long-haired singer Vicky Psarakis, the frontwoman of one of the most influential contemporary metal bands in Canada, The Agonist, and a woman that represents pure talent in heavy music.

Vicky was born on June 22, 1988 in Chicago, Illinois, United States, but moved to Greece with her family at the age of 10. Her Greek roots were the main reason why she grew up listening to traditional Greek music (as well as Jazz, Blues, Pop and Disco classics), something not very common in the background of most Heavy Metal musicians. Our blonde diva started singing when she was around 5 or 6 years old, when her teachers would make her participate in school plays and musicals. Then when she was 10 she laid her eyes on a piano and fell in love for it, getting her first keyboard and starting playing on her own. When Vicky was attending middle school she started listening to metal and rock music, singing a lot and writing her own songs, later growing an interest towards orchestral arrangements and soundtracks. She mentioned during one of her interviews that the great support she received from people around her was the main reason why she continued to pursue a career in music, leading her to where she is today.

Before joining The Agonist, Vicky had a band named E.V.E., which started off as a Progressive Rock personal project in 2010. Among the bands that influenced the music by E.V.E. there are some very interesting names such as Pain Of Salvation, Ayreon, Dream Theater, Pink Floyd and Fates Warning. In regards to the meaning of E.V.E., according to Vicky herself it stands for “Equations Vanquish Equality”, where the first word is connected with science, math and technology, while the following words refer to humankind and how each person is affected by modern society, giving the idea of how progress, usually a positive term, can affect our lives in a negative way at the same time. You can take a listen at their only release, the 2012 self-titled EP Equations Vanquish Equality, at the band’s BandCamp page or at their official YouTube channel (by the way, on YouTube you can check out their tribute to the renowned diva Anneke Van Giersbergen with a cover version for the song Beautiful One), and witness how Vicky’s vocal performance used to be in the early stages of her career.

Another key point in Vicky’s career are the cover versions for several different bands and artists available on her official YouTube channel, which are either personal favorites or requests from friends or fans and have nothing to do with E.V.E. or The Agonist. Among all the awesome versions uploaded by our stunning singer, I recommend you go check her performance in Audioslave’s Show Me How To Live, in Nightwish’s Slaying The Dreamer, in Disturbed’s Stricken, and especially in Aerosmith’s Dream On and in one of the biggest Iron Maiden classics of all time, The Clairvoyant. Moreover, what seemed to be just a nice and healthy hobby became in fact the spark that changed her life forever: The Agonist’s guitarist, songwriter and founder Danny Marino sent Vicky a message saying how he was impressed with her covers after watching some of her videos on YouTube, asking her later on if she wanted to try and track some vocal and lyric ideas on a couple of his new songs. Vicky ended up sending him back almost a full song (which is now the incredible Danse Macabre), and after listening to it and sharing it with the rest of the band he asked her if she would be willing to join The Agonist as their new frontwoman.

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Although Vicky’s been with The Agonist for such a short period of time, having recorded only the single Disconnect Me in 2014 and the superb full-length album Eye of Providence in 2015, which showcases all her versatility in songs such as Gates Of Horn And Ivory and A Gentle Disease, she already has a lot of interesting stories and facts to share. When asked what’s easier for her to record, if clean singing or harsh vocals, she said screaming might be faster to track, but it’s something relatively new to her and her clean vocals come out a lot more natural due to her music background. Regarding her live performances with The Agonist, Vicky said she was really nervous before stepping on stage for the first time with the band, but as soon as the adrenaline kicked in all nerves were gone and she enjoyed the moment. She also said the most intense concert with The Agonist so far has been Summer Breeze 2014, where they played for a crowd of over ten thousand people. And it looks like Vicky doesn’t have any issues singing songs she didn’t originally write or record: she just sings them in a way that’s comfortable to her, giving her own personal touch to the music.

Apart from her career with The Agonist, E.V.E. and her cover videos on YouTube, Vicky has featured in some other projects and bands as a guest musician, recording female vocals on the song Siege of Ruad, from the album Nuclear Winter (2008) by Greek Heavy/Power Metal band Orion’s Reign; backing vocals on the album Depressive Icons (2010) by Greek Doom/Gothic Metal band Daylight Misery; female vocals on the album Lasting Forever (2013) by Chinese Power Metal band Barque Of Dante, as you can see in the song The Way to Freedom; additional vocals on the album Anthem to Creation (2013) by Greek Progressive Metal band Until Rain; and female vocals on the 2014 self-titled album by Greek Power Metal band Rage of Romance, as in the song Let Me Breathe Again. Is that enough Vicky for your taste?

Such a multifaceted artist like Vicky couldn’t have a short list of influences, of course. If you thought she would say her favorite singers of all time are Angela Gossow or Phil Anselmo, for example, you’re totally wrong, because as aforementioned screaming is something new to her music career. Although Heavy Metal inspired her to become a musician, her list of influences include names from different genres of music like Anneke Van Giersbergen, Daniel Gildenlow, Mikael Akerfeldt, Mikael Stanne, Devon Graves, Roy Khan, Russel Allen, Tom Englund, Marilyn Manson, Sting, among many others. She also enjoys listening to classics such as Led Zeppelin, and to more modern bands like American Rock group Rival Sons.

Lastly, despite all the growling and jumping on stage, her personal hobbies and interests are similar to what most of us like to do in our free time, including activities such as working out, watching a movie, cooking, hanging out with her friends and going out for a beer or to a good restaurant. In other words, if you’re a fan of Vicky Psarakis keep your eyes open wherever you are: she might be sitting right next to your table, sharing a beer with her friends and having some fun, just like you.

Vicky Psarakis’ Official Facebook page
Vicky Psarakis’ Official Twitter
The Agonist’s Official Facebook page
The Agonist’s Official Twitter

“I believe it’s very important for a vocalist and musician in general to be able to maintain their identity by adding their own stamp instead of copying someone else’s rendition on a song.” – Vicky Psarakis

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Concert Review – Tarja Turunen (Tom Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil, 10/24/2015)

Tarja’s fans never disappoint when she plays in Brazil and, this time, they said goodbye to the “Colours in the Road” tour in a night full of love, gratitude and amazing songs.

OPENING ACT: Mad Old Lady

Tarja_Saturday night, October 24, was an example on how multicultural a big city like São Paulo can be. That night, the city hosted several concerts, on small, medium and big venues, of small and big bands and there was no reason to one stay at home. One of the shows that night was of the Finnish singer Tarja Turunen, at Tom Brasil. She came back to the country a year after her last show here and, this time, with nothing less than seven dates in Brazil to end the Colours in the Road tour, that also had dates in Mexico and El Salvador and ends with concerts in Chile, Uruguay and Argentina in November.

The Brazilian band MAD OLD LADY were the opening act of the night. Formed by Eduardo Parras (vocals), Guga Bento (drums), Rafael Agostino (keyboards), Timo Kaarkoski and Tiago de Moura (guitars) and Fernando Giovanetti (bass), they were one of the bands that recently played at Motörhead’s MotörBoat (the only Brazilian act in this edition) and, back to Brazil, they were responsible for entertaining the audience that was waiting for the Finnish soprano. Mad Old Lady are a well-known band by Tarja’s fans for they also were the opening act of her previous concert in town, in 2014. The fans enjoyed an honest concert and saw on stage competent musicians playing songs of their album Power of the Warrior, and even a cover for Metallica’s Enter Sandman, sang by the bassist Fernando, the highlight of their show for many.

Band members
Eduardo Parras – vocals
Timo Kaarkoski – guitars
Tiago de Moura – guitars
Fernando Giovanetti – bass
Rafael Agostino – keyboards
Guga Bento – drums

TARJA TURUNEN

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Photos by Yuri Murakami – http://www.sleepychaos.com.br

All the expectations of the night, of course, were kept for TARJA TURUNEN. October marked the tenth year since Tarja left Nightwish and the fans, always loving and supportive, were excited to see her once again on stage. The enthusiasm of the crowd was in high levels with the entrance of the musicians that form Tarja’s band in this tour: Guillermo De Medio (keyboards), Nicolas Polo (drums), Pit Barrett (bass), Alex Scholp and Julian Barrett (guitars). To the sound of the first tunes of The Phantom of the Opera, composed by Baron Lloyd-Webber, Tarja was the last one to come onstage and drove her fans to pure happiness while singing the famous song of the musical.

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Photos by Yuri Murakami – http://www.sleepychaos.com.br

Smiling and talkative all the time, Tarja showed that she deserves the title of one of the greatest divas of heavy metal: between the songs, she always took a moment to thank the love and support of the fans, in English, Spanish and even in Portuguese, received many presents, like stuffed bears, dolls and love letters, and said that she considers Brazil as her fourth home. The setlist of the night was very generous and mixed songs from her three solo albums, some covers and even a new and yet unreleased song, No Bitter End, that Tarja said it will be in her upcoming album, to be released in 2016. The fans made a beautiful side show following the singer all the time clapping, screaming and singing along with her.

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Photos by Yuri Murakami – http://www.sleepychaos.com.br

Among the covers, Tarja also revealed being an huge fan of James Bond’s movies and sang Goldfinger, theme song of the movie released in 1964. The Finnish diva also sang Slaying the Dreamer, a Nightwish song that she hasn’t sung since her departure of the band, and the night ended up with Gary Moore’s classic Over the Hills and Far Away, also famous as a cover released by her former band. There was still room in the night for a special birthday celebration to drummer Nicolas Polo, with everybody singing for him and Tarja bringing him a cake in shape of a snare drum. During this moment of the party, Tarja once again showed her gratitude to her loyal fans and said it was a pleasure and an honour to come to Brazil at the beginning and also at the end of this tour. When the show was almost over, during Until My Last Breath, one of the most known songs of her solo career, she came down the stage to salute all the fans that were on the front row.

Undoubtedly that was a memorable and very special night. Tarja is a talented singer like no other, she has a very strong presence and a charisma that few vocalists in heavy metal show in and out of the stage, as well as a legion of really dedicated and passionate fans. If it was an honour for her to play twice in Brazil with this tour, can you imagine how special it was to her fans? Certainly we all are already waiting for the return of this beautiful Finnish diva with the release of the new album, next year.

Setlist
The Phantom of the Opera
500 Letters
Ciarán’s Well
Falling Awake
I Walk Alone
Anteroom of Death
Never Enough
Dark Star
Neverlight
Until Silence
No Bitter End
Goldfinger
Deliverance
Victim of Ritual
Slaying the Dreamer
Die Alive
Until My Last Breath
Over the Hills and Far Away

Band members
Tarja Turunen – vocals
Guillermo De Medio – keyboards
Nicolas Polo – drums
Pit Barrett – bass
Alex Scholp – guitars
Julian Barrett – guitars