“I am happy I can honor my family’s name.” – Interview with Viktorie Surmová of Surma

Founded by singer Viktorie Surmová (Bohemian Metal Rhapsody) and musician Heri Joensen (Týr) in 2018, Surma is a new symphonic/progressive metal band with a goal to bring light into the world through their epic musical soundscapes. Last year, Surma signed a worldwide deal with Metal Blade Records and is now ready to unleash their debut effort “The Light Within”. We talked with Viktorie all things Surma and beyond right in time for the album release tomorrow. 

MG: Hello, Viktorie! How are you doing? I’ve been following the covid-19 situation in the Czech republic closely and the numbers are scary. How did the overall situation affect you as a person?

Viktorie: Well, it affects me and other musicians in the whole world quite the same. There are no concerts, no touring, no artistic life. That means also no money to pay the bills. It  is tough. Not to mention that people in general are upset and more negative these days. Which is kinda understandable when you barely can see your friends or family. We have to stay strong.

MG: And as a musician? You have your debut album “The Light Within” with Surma coming out November 6. What difficulties did you have to face? I believe Heri is currently with you in Prague but the rest of the guys is in the Netherlands and Russia, if I’m not wrong. How did you deal with this fact during the recording process?

Viktorie: The album was finished before the pandemic. So there were no troubles with recording. We just had some plans for the album promotion. Make more videos or have a release show in Prague for example, but that is definitely not going to happen. It is sad… And btw, our drummer, Aleks, lives in Bratislava. But yes, he is Russian.

MG: Releasing a debut album is kinda risky during these uncertain times. Were you playing with an idea to postpone the release of the album until the situation settles down a bit?

Viktorie: Ha! Since the album was already finished almost a year ago… We’ve already postponed it once. Also we trust in Metal Blade Records planning skills. I am afraid we would be waiting another year until the situation really settles down. 

MG: Obviously, you’re the main vocalist of the band but we can also hear Heri throughout the album during choruses or on tracks like “The City Of Winds” and “Cages Of Rage”. What was the process of deciding what parts he’s gonna sing like? What was your key?

Viktorie: I just told him that since he is a singer, he should definitely be singing on the album as well. “The City Of Winds“ was a perfect choice because of the strory behind the sculpture „Ali&Nino“m which is a story of a man and a woman. So, perfect. And “Cages Of Rage” is the same reason. Another sculpture „Love“ which is showing the relationship between a man and a woman. Also, not to mention „Like the River Flows“! 

MG: Speaking of Heri, how do you even work together on new music? I remember Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation saying that she can’t write new material with her partner and founding member Robert Westerholt. Do you prefer working separately or together? What does your usual writing session look like?

Viktorie: I completely understand her! I can work with Heri, but not for too long. Then we start to dissagree on some stuff. I usually have vocal melodies recorded for him and I let him do his magic with guitars and harmonies. Sometimes when Heri is showing me his idea, I approve or I add something to it. I think we can work together quite well in general. I am just not a very patient person, so maybe that’s why I can’t be sitting with him in one room during his guitar composing.

MG: I already mentioned “Cages Of Rage”. This track features a children choir and it works so well, the atmosphere their “tiny” voices create is incredible… What was the overall experience of working with these kids like?

Viktorie: Oh my God! They were absolutely perfect! „Fine Kids“ is their name. I was afraid if they were going to record it correctly because they are young and it is in English and metal. But they came, completely prepared and they were finished just in an hour or so. Incredible! Their choir leader, Jana Galíková, did a great job with them. 

MG: The booklet of the album features pictures of sculptures and other art pieces. It is such an interesting idea. Who came up with it?

Viktorie: That would be me, I hope. It should help people to connect our songs to the art that inspired us. Of course, the stories are also from the real life, but art is usually inspired by real stories of people. 

MG: Speaking of the album booklet, it sets a very dark tone and atmosphere, as opposed to the uplifting message of hope and optimism you want to send through this collection of songs. Was this contrast intentional?

Viktorie: Not at all. But now that you mentioned it, I like the idea a lot! Guyla Havancsák made the inside of the booklet and Julien Cambier helped me to realize the cover. Black background was the best solution with the contrast of the sculpture grey. 

MG: The band is called Surma. It has many meanings, also in different languages and, of course, connection to your surname. Were there any other band names on the table or was Surma an obvious choice from the beginning?

Viktorie: I don’t think so. We were thinking of a name for a long time and we simply had no other idea. Surma is perfectly short, international and I am happy I can honor my family’s name.

MG: You lead a busy life of a musician. You’re active with Surma and Czech acts Bohemian Metal Rhapsody and Rosa Nocturna who are dropping a new album, too. What can you tell us about this record and work with this band? Do you prefer singing in English or Czech? 

Viktorie: Rosa Nocturna is a band of a guitarist Tonda Buček. He is incredibly hard-working and he devotes every free second of his life to the band. I love how passionate he is even though he lost all bandmembers a few years ago and started over. The new album is called „Andělé a Bestie“ and I like the variability of the album. I personally used to prefer to sing in English, but I don’t feel the difference now. It comes with practise, I guess.

MG: Thank you so much, Viktorie. Congratulations on the amazing album and all the best for you and Surma! 

Viktorie: Thank you for having me! I love your site! Thank you for supporting the female metal scene. All the best for you too. 

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