Since summer, Russian all-female symphonic – extreme metal band Blackthorn implies releasing something new. New photoshoot, videos from rehearsals of new songs and even a brand new music video for “Graven on a Deathless Sin” from their previous album “Witch Cult Ternion”. How long shall we wait for the new release? How has the sound of the band changed? We sat down with Aina Blackthorn and Polina Acotath, the lead singer and the drummer of the band, to ask this and more.
MG: Good evening, ladies. On social media, there was information that you are preparing a new album. To start, I would like to know is there any approximate release date of the album?
Aina: Hello. Well, actually, we have nothing exact to tell you because the new album – we plan a full-length one, you are right – is still in the making. We are adding some things, learning our parts, composing and re-composing lyrics. We don’t want to feed you with false hopes, so we can’t tell an accurate date yet, but we are working on it.
MG: Polina, the new album is the first full-length Blackthorn album where you take part in the recording. How would you describe the new material? Is it very different from the band’s previous works?
Polina: As for me, I’d say it’s very dissimilar to our previous ones. It’s definitely very different from the second one [“Codex Archaos”– add. MG]. Well, honestly, I didn’t listen to the first one, “Gossammer Witchcraft” [laughs]. “Codex Archaos” was, you know, more… fast, I’d say, more brutal. “Witch Cult Ternion” was more melodic, more “lovely”, and this one goes totally “lovely”.
MG: You have been preparing new material for quite a long time, the previous album, “Witch Cult Ternion”, was released four years ago. What difficulties have you faced (or are still facing) during the recordings of your new material?
Aina: Well, I’d divide them as technical issues and financial issues, because you have to save some money before the start. We always feel about the recording process very… responsible and prepared, I’d say. That means that we usually have some budget to rely on. I wouldn’t call all this stuff difficulties, it’s more like problems to solve. Technically, it’s the fact that the material, at least vocal parts, is getting more complicated, so you need to learn, improve your skills, sing new material every time. This is also a difficulty, but, of course, more like a goal to reach. And, no doubt, there are superior forces from time to time. I mean, we could have some problems with choirs, guest vocalists, but as I can remember, these happen rarely and we always managed to find a replacement.
MG: Aina, I want to ask you, as the permanent leader of Blackthorn: how did you get the idea to create a band, what inspired you to develop your creativity in the direction of heavy music?
Aina: Actually, I have wanted to perform since I was 12. I was singing in the chorus, my elder brother had several bands, so I was considering it as something “great” [chuckles]. Not cinema, not anything else, only this direction. What inspired me? Hmm… I guess, at some moment, I just started dreaming about having my own band. Maybe because it was kinda “fashionable” back in the days. I’m not sure about the term “fashionable” here, but I can’t think of anything better now. It all started at the beginning of the 00s and here, in Russia, metal was very popular, many new bands were appearing. Yes, I can say that people were interested especially in extreme genres of heavy music. Everybody was on the Internet, on these music forums, sites. There were no social media back then. I just hung around, watched people forming bands, hiring new band members. Suddenly, I thought: “Why not?”. After that, I spent a lot of time laying in a hospital, dealing with a disease. When I recovered, I was 100% sure about my decision to try it… During the process, it turned out I hired only girls. I decided it would be our special thing and we will keep it till the end.
MG: Sorry, I’m going to get off the topic a bit. You mentioned the Russian metal scene. I’m very concerned about this theme. I think it would be interesting for our readers, too. How would you characterize the situation with heavy music in Russia nowadays?
Aina: We have a controversial situation now. On the one hand, as I can see, metal here lost its popularity a bit, the attendance at the local concerts decreased. Back in the days in Moscow, a local band could easily get about 1000 spectators, whilst nowadays it’s usually about 100-150 people. But, on the other hand, the number of metal bands from Russia keeps on increasing, the quality of recordings improved, the music videos have become very professional, there are more ways to promote your music.
MG: Female drummers are quite rare in the music industry. Polina, why did you choose this particular instrument?
Polina: It was totally by accident. As I can remember, I was studying at university. Some of my buddies were forming a band, but they didn’t have a drummer. I was playing the violin, but no one needed a violinist, so I was like: “Can I give it a try?”. Since then, I am a drummer.
MG: You’re a member of several bands, not only Blackthorn. How difficult is it to combine the activities between all of them?
Polina: I wouldn’t say it’s very difficult because I treat it like a job, I do it for a living. It’s my bread, I’d say [laughs]!
MG: Blackthorn is a band with a pretty extensive background, you’ve been on stage for fifteen years. Which Blackthorn album, including EPs, do you like the most and why?
Aina: I think I will choose between full-length albums. I guess my favorite is our last one, “Witch Cult Ternion”. In my opinion, it’s normal for an artist to see their latest work as a gem among them all. Yes, I think this one is my favorite.
MG: Polina, you often play live with different bands. What was the most memorable thing that happened to you on tour?
Polina: It was Stepa [laughs]. When we had a joint tour with Blackthorn – I don’t remember where it was – there were a lot of bands and in one of them…
Aina: Seriously? You are really going to tell them about that? I thought you were joking [laughs]!
Polina: In one of those bands there was a fat… sorry, a juicy guy who always wore leggings. That was unforgettable! By the way, taking the opportunity, we say hi to Stepa [laughs]!
MG: Aina, you are quite a versatile singer, you can sing both clean vocals and extreme vocals. Did you get a musical education? What technique do you prefer?
Aina: Yes, I have a degree in music. First I studied at the local music school in the group with advanced chorus classes, then I graduated from university as a vocalist. As for the technique, honestly, it’s very hard to choose. The thing is that with clean vocals I practice much more… I don’t know, really. Maybe, I should pay more attention to the practice of my screams and growls. This is one of the goals I have set before releasing the new album. But if someone made me choose or die, I’d pick clean vocals.This is obviously my thing.
MG: What songs do you like to perform live the most?
Polina: For now, they are from the upcoming album. I don’t know the names, I don’t even remember how I call them in my head [laughs]. From the “oldies” it’s, I think, “Hexshadow Turned to Flesh” and… I loved one more… Ah! “Strix Nebulosa”.
MG: You are both creative girls; Polina makes badass tattoos, you make hand-made jewellery. And the rest of the band? Do they do something similar or is their creativity dedicated only to music?
Aina: Of course, they do! Wait a minute, I need to think. Lena, our violinist, is passionate about dances, she practices strip – plastic. I don’t know if we can define her interest in alpinism as a “creative thing”. I’d say yes.
Polina: You forgot about role-plays she is involved in.
Aina: Yeah, you are right. Lena is really into role-plays. She goes on trips dedicated to all this stuff several times a year. They sew costumes for themselves. She truly enjoys it! Well, about others… Tanya, our bass-player, is good at taking photos.
Aina: Yep, she also likes travelling. As for Elvira, our lead-guitar, I remember that when she just came to the band, we were sometimes at her home and she was drawing or sculpting something… Well, Elvira is definitely a very creative person. She can create something interesting at home and tell us anything about it. She also plays guitar, keyboards and sings clean and extreme vocals.
MG: I have a question for you both. In your band are vividly expressed occult themes. Surely, you both often associated yourselves with the heroes of your music videos and songs. If you had supernatural power, what would it be?
Polina: I think, as the majority of citizens of megalopolises, I would like to be able to teleport. You can go wherever you want, even to Caribs, have a rest there and go back in one day. And as a drummer, I’d prefer also super-regeneration, so if you get punched in the face by your drumstick you could have your eyes back. Or if you are left without a hand it could grow up again. And you’d never catch a cold [laughs].
Aina: Yep, this is very important for a musician. First, I thought that I’d want to predict the future but then I remembered that I already can do it and it’s not that funny [smiles]. I think I would like to teleport like Polina. Or, as it’s called in the occult sphere, to have an astral projection. It’s like you are in one place, at the same time your copy is in another place, your third clone is somewhere else… This would be really cool! And, I guess, levitation, just for my soul [chuckles].
MG: That’s cool! Thank you, ladies. We wish you success with the release of your new album. Anything you want to add or say?
Aina: Thank you for the interview. Big thanks to everyone who reads it. If you got interested in our music, you can visit our pages on social media and watch our music videos on YouTube. We hope you will like it.
Polina: Don’t do drugs, kids. Drink more water, eat healthy food, listen to your mama [laughs]!