“I use my voice like an instrument.” – Interview with Chiara Tricarico of Moonlight Haze

September 12, we drove to Leipzig for Winds And Woods Meet Metal Festival. One of the bands on the bill that day were Italian metallers Moonlight Haze and we used the opportunity to catch up with the vocalist Chiara Tricarico after their highly energetic set. Chiara told us all about their new album “Lunaris” and its predecessor “De Rerum Natura”, her versatile voice and how she uses it, sharing the stage with Tarja Turunen and more. Enjoy! 

MG: Chiara, you’ve just played your first show after how long…? It surely must feel amazing to be back on stage, especially playing new songs. How are you feeling?

Chiara: We are very excited and very happy to finally be able to be back on stage. It has been quite a strange year for everyone… Lockdown, the pandemic situation… We really hope there will be a chance to go back to normality very soon. We have been missing the shows very much.

MG: Your debut album came out in 2019 and now you present “Lunaris” a year later. What made you release these two albums in such short interval? Some bands take 3-4 years, if not even more, in between albums. What’s that driving fuel that keeps you going in this fast tempo?

Chiara: The answer is very simple: we were inspired. When Giulio called me and invited me to form a new band with him I was like: “I don’t know…” You know, when you have to start something from the beginning, it takes time …

MG: It’s tough?

Chiara: Yeah, it takes much effort! Then he sent me this email and the object of the email was “Top secret songs”.(laughs)It contained three demo songs and I was like: “Okay… Let’s listen to what he sent me.” You know, when you receive a mail titled “Top secret songs” you are curious to listen to what it contains, you want to listen to the songs immediately! I did so and I immediately fell in love with the material he sent me. So I started writing all the vocal melodies and lyrics. I mean, I stayed awake that night to write the lyrics. The day later I called him and said: “Okay, let’s do it.“ (laughs) We have to form this new band, we have to look for the band members!” It was too cool. I couldn’t wait to record the songs, to play them live. So we were very excited, very inspired from the very beginning. And we were so happy that the other guys agreed to join us. We released “De Rerum Natura” and the response was very good, so we were even more excited and we were already thinking of the new material. Right after one or two months after the release of “De Rerum Natura”, we were already writing new stuff. That was quick! (laughs)

MG: That was really fast, yes. Chiara, you’re a very versatile singer that can alter between rock singing and more classical style in matter of seconds. When I listen to Moonlight Haze, it sounds almost as if there were two vocalists… For you personally, which style is more comfortable? Is there any difference if we speak stage-wise and studio-wise? Which one do you enjoy more in both situations?

Chiara: Okay, it’s a tough question because I started taking singing lessons many years ago and I started with the operatic singing. That’s where I come from. I took that decision to learn operating singing because when I first heard “Wishmaster” with the amazing vocals of Tarja Turunen, I immediately fell in love with those vocals and thought that I wanted to sing like her. (laughs) So I started like that and I really wanted to sing in that style. At the certain point, my music teacher said:“Okay, now you can sing operatic. Why don’t you try to add modern vocals, because I think your voice would sound very good, as well.” I can’t thank her enough for that. I’ve never thought about singing in modern style and now I have much fun switching from one style to another. And sometimes I also add some harsh vocals, as well. You can hear them in the song “The Dangerous Art Of Overthinking”, for example. I use my voice like an instrument. You know, a guitar player can change the guitar. I mean, you can play some songs using another model. I cannot do that because the instrument remains the same, but I like to switch from one style to another.

MG: You can choose how to play this instrument in a certain variety.

Chiara: Yeah, that’s what I’m doing, I choose which vocal style fits better with the mood of the song.

MG: So I guess we’re gonna skip the next question because it says: “Is that you growling on the album?”

Chiara: Yeah! (laughs)

MG: I find it very interesting. I mean, there are ladies out there doing modern vocals and growling, but not that often combining the operatic vocals with growling, as far as I know. I know Beatrice Bini is doing this…

Chiara: Is she?

MG: Yeah, she recently released a cover of an Epica song where she’s doing Mark Jansen’s vocals and Simone Simons’, too. I can highly recommend it, I was really surprised… And another element that brings diversity to your singing are languages. You’ve released a few songs in Italian. Is singing in your mother tongue more challenging or more natural for you?

Chiara: In some ways it’s more challenging, because, you know, singing in a metal band usually means singing in English and writing lyrics in English. But… Well, I wrote some Italian lyrics for the first album as well, but I decided to have Laura Macrì, my friend from MaYaN singing them. I like her vocals and I love when she sings in Italian, so I wanted her to do that. And about lyrics of “Enigma”… When Giulio first sent me the first demo of that song, some Italian lyrics started to come into my brain and I thought maybe I should write in Italian. It was nothing planned, but then it seemed to me that they fit perfectly to the music. And then, since the title of the song is “Enigma”, it means there’s some mystery around that song. So I decided I want to challenge myself a bit. I wrote the English version of the song too, which is included on our second album, “Lunaris”. These two versions are not exact translations of each other. I decided to do so because it’s a mystery, like a riddle. If you read the lyrics in both languages, you can find new elements. That’s why we put both of them on the album.

MG: Most of the bands try to evolve with each album and naturally set a goal to record better material than previously. From your point of view, what makes “Lunaris” better than “De Rerum Natura”? Is there any aspect you knew you needed to work on and make it stronger?

Chiara: Actually, as you can imagine, during the writing and recording process of the first album everything was new to us. We knew each other from other bands, from our past experiences, but during “De Rerum Natura” we were working together as a team for the first time. We had to find out a lot about each other and about the way we work. We had fun, it was an amazing experience, but what I can say is that “Lunaris” was even better. Our empathy as a band was growing so fast that we didn’t even had to tell certain things, we just knew our goal and which sound we want to achieve. It was even more fulfilling, so, yeah, we have evolved as a band, I think.

MG: I’ve just recently discovered you cover of Bocelli you recorded with your friend Laura Macrì. You mentioned this song has a very important meaning to you and it gets you emotionally. Are there any other songs that never fail to move something inside you?

Chiara: Too many, actually! (laughs) I just don’t know where to start, there are so many songs that touch my heart so deeply. I can’t listen to them without crying. This thing happens with “Vivo Per Lei”. The lyrics are touching me so deeply it was quite tough for me to record it because I felt very emotional about those lyrics.

MG: Italian female metal scene is expanding rapidly. Until recently, it was the Dutch metal scene with names such as Within Temptation, Epica, Floor Jansen that was highly praised but it seems to me the trend has changed. There are so many amazing singers, musicians and bands based in Italy at the moment. It’s not just about Lacuna Coil anymore. How do you see this as an Italian musician?

Chiara: Well, we don’t really feel as a part of a “female fronted metal scene” or an “Italian metal scene”. We feel as a part of something wider. Yeah, there are so many good bands everywhere, so I don’t know.

MG: Final question. In January, you played a couple of special anniversary shows with Tarja Turunen along with Clémentine Delauney and other amazing guests. How was that experience? Tell me about it.

Chiara: It was an amazing experience! I really feel that I’ve learned so much from that experience. I can’t find any other words to describe those gigs, I was so excited when Tarja asked me to join her for those two very special anniversary shows. She was celebrating 15 years of solo career, and as I told you, she’s one of the main influences to me. I was so happy and so excited. The shows were amazing, we had much fun and it was quite a long set list! I also had a chance to sing a duet with her. Much fun really.

MG: Did it feel like becoming a knight?

Chiara: Haha, kind of! I felt so happy!

MG: And that’s it. I thank you for your precious time!

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