Victoria K – that’s the name of the newest symphonic metal phenomenon from Australia. Moreover, it’s the name of a band with most probably the youngest metal goddess and voice behind the microphone on the current heavy scene. If you haven’t heard about this rising star yet, you should get a hold of their debut album “Essentia” this minute and join their journey from the very beginning. And while you listen to the album, read the following interview with the band’s leader, founder, vocalist and songwriter Victoria as we discuss her musical journey, Australian metal scene, recording with a live orchestra and much more.
MG: Hello, Victoria! Thanks for your time and congratulations on the release of a beast of a new album! You’re the very first Australian artist we’re interviewing so it’s an honour for us.
VK: Oh, thank you so much for having me. What an honour to be the first Australian and it’s amazing to be representing Australian female metal singers.
MG: Speaking of your beautiful home country, what’s the metal scene and especially gothic/symphonic scene like for female musicians over there? I can’t really think of many bands in these subgenres that would make it big in Europe or America. Also, it’s not that easy for European and American bands to perform in your part of the world that often, if at all. As an insider, how do you perceive this?
VK: The Australian Metal scene is very underground. What is really interesting though is once you start getting into the scene, there are so many metal fans in my country. In Melbourne, there are so many venues to play and the metal scene is quite strong, even though it’s not mainstream. Being so far from the rest of the World, touring Europe and the US is a big challenge, but one great thing we have in Australia are some excellent touring companies you have delivered first-class acts to Australia from both Europe and the US.
MG: I have to admit that I only discovered your band just a few weeks ago. And ever since then, I’ve been seeing the name on numerous websites, Instagram, in Facebook groups… just everywhere. With the release of your debut album “Essentia”, do you somehow see the difference in your audience as well? Are there more likes or followers on your social media accounts, more streams, merch orders…?
VK: Essentia has gone really well and has had a lot of press and social media exposure. It’s just amazing to see how many people are interacting with the music and the love they have shown us. All our social media has had a steady increase, but most importantly we have had a fantastic response from our followers, fans and new listeners. We always love hearing about new people discovering and connecting to our music. So, a huge thanks to you and to all our new fans and followers for taking the time to listen and interact with our music. We are so grateful.
MG: On “Essentia”, it’s not only your voice we can hear. You have a partner, the amazing growler Sheri Vengeance. She was supposed to be your mentor for extreme vocals and now she’s a big part of the album, and I even dare to say the Victoria K sound. Can we count with her as a part of your live shows and upcoming works on a permanent basis? I really do hope so. You make such a great team.
VK: Yes, Sheri is amazing. She’ll definitely be a part of the live stream show, which we are so excited to present to everyone. She brings a new element and depth to the music which is a sound we all love and it creates a counterpoint to my clean vocals. The extreme vocals are definitely an integral part of the Victoria K sound. Don’t forget to head over to www.twitch.tv/rockshotsrecords and catch the live stream on June 27th at 2pm CEST.
MG: Another name that makes me really happy to see among featured artists on the album is Michalina Malisz. Big fan of her work and Eluveitie here. I’d like to learn a bit more about the birth of “Shroud Of Solitude”. When you started working on the album, did you already know you needed her and her hurdy gurdy wizardry to make an appearance at some point or was it just a coincidence and what this particular song asked for once written?
VK: Michalina is amazing and it was incredible to work with her on this song. The idea of the Hurdy Gurdy only grew after the song had been developed. As we were preparing the orchestrations, I felt we needed a Celtic or more ancient sound and the Hurdy Gurdy fit that perfectly. It was around the time we had been announced as the support act for Eluveite when Michalina agreed to be involved with the album. She was so easy to work with and just a beautiful person.
MG: I’ve read that you had prepared about 30 songs for the album but only 10 made the cut. Any chance we’ll get to hear the rest of them in the future?
VK: What an interesting question. I don’t think I can really even answer it. The best answer I guess would be “maybe”. Songwriting can be a funny thing and sometimes you need to write 5 (or more) songs to create one that really works, other times inspiration hits and the songwriting process just flows quickly. In the end, songs for any future albums will probably be selected in the same way as we did for this album. That means a large number of songs just won’t make the cut. We’ll just have to wait and see which songs make the grade for the second album.
MG: On the album, you’ve worked with your producer Lee Bradshaw, with whom you’ve been a team since you were like 9-10. Now, that’s quite a journey! I assume it wasn’t exactly symphonic metal you worked on with him when you were 9. How did you get together in the first place?
VK: Lee has been amazing, and we first met when I recorded a cover of “Barracuda” by Heart with my good friend Kaitlyn Thomas. We did a couple of other things after that and I was lucky enough that he saw something in me, and he took me under his wing through his Artist Development Program. I was always into the alternative metal and symphonic metal, even from back then, so Lee and I had some “heated discussions” about songs and songs choice and genre (lol). The truth is he let me grow and explore my own musical expression while he guided me in developing my skill, technique and knowledge in all facets of music including voice. He was and still is my mentor, I trust him completely. It’s always comforting to know I have Lee if I need any advice or help.
MG: Lee also helped with the album orchestrations and arrangements which were recorded by the Budapest Scoring Orchestra. Now, that is a dream for many renowned symphonic metal bands and you managed to cross it off your bucket list with your debut album. How did it come together? Were you present during the recording sessions? I have to say the songs sound just amazing and truly deserve this extra dimension.
VK: Having the live orchestra play on the album is truly amazing. Lee wrote the scores and organised the Budapest Scoring Orchestra. We sent all the material to them, but we couldn’t be there because they are on the other side of the world. We logged into the recording from our computers and listened in as the orchestra played and recorded their part. Lee was providing feedback and made requests so that we got exactly what we needed. It was truly an amazing experience, and they will certainly be a part of our future albums.
MG: You cite Within Temptation, Nightwish, Evanescence and Kamelot all as your influences. Which of these bands was the first one that opened the door to symphonic/gothic metal for you? Which one of these can we thank for your existence?
VK: That one is very easy. You can thank Amy Lee (Evanescence) for that. My mum played me “My Immortal” when I was about 9 years old and I remember running out of the room terrified by the haunting sound of the music and Amy’s voice, but at the same time, I loved what I heard. It was a really weird feeling scared and fascinated at the same time. That was it, from then on, I was hooked.
MG: Back in 2016, you released a special version of your debut single “Monster” in – as you called it – Greeklish. I have two questions concerning languages. The first one is; which language is more natural or, on the contrary, more challenging for you to sing in? And the second; are we gonna hear more Greek vocals and influences from you in the future?
VK: My first language is English. I have Greek heritage and speak Greek as my second language. Greek is definitely harder for me to sing, only because when I sing in Greek, I sing with an Australian accent. As for the future, no one really knows. I might find some obscure or ancient language to sing in. Actually, that would have a really cool vibe.
MG: As I’ve already mentioned earlier, it’s hard for young Australian bands to make a global breakthrough. I really hope this isn’t your case, even more so since you’re signed to an Italian label, and we get to see you on big stages here in Europe soon. Obviously, the current situation isn’t playing in your favour but what are your plans when it comes to touring?
VK: Oh, thank you! We certainly hope to be touring Europe as soon as we can. It’s really hard to plan for that now because no one really knows how long the global pandemic will last and which borders will be open when. I don’t see any overseas tours until at least mid-2021. We will, however, be working hard in Australia and providing our fans with as much as we can. I really hope you and your readers get a chance to see us on the live stream.
MG: Many artists are trying to make the best out of the current global crisis with the help of modern conveniences. You’re not an exception. You’ll be live-streaming a full set from the studio on June 27th. Are you excited to perform for your fans, even if just virtually? What can we expect from the stream?
VK: We are so excited to stream for our fans. Like you said, we need to make the best of what we have and the situations we face. We will be playing full album during the show and we are adding in a couple of acoustic elements and changing the songs up a little bit just to make our show that bit more interesting. We will have all the lighting and energy of a live show, that way our fans get to experience our live show from the comfort of their homes.
MG: Victoria, thank you so much for the talk. I wish you all the best and hope to catch you somewhere on the road soon. Anything else you’d like to add?
VK: Thank you so much for having me, it was lovely chatting with you. I just wanted to say a big thank you to all our fans and supporters and I wish you all good health in these uncertain times. We look forward to being able to get out on tour and be with you all as soon as possible. Thank you all for your support and we hope to see you all tune in on June 27th and enjoy the live stream show. Stay safe.