Almost a month and a half ago, we had the chance to make a short trip to the Netherlands, due to the listening session of MaYaN’s new album. However, we had some extra days to fill in, so we decided to extend our stay a bit longer, but in a different place. The choice was pretty easy: Russia; and not precisely for the World Cup; actually we didn’t have much to do there, as you may know
We had been thinking a lot about the idea of doing an interview to the band Blackthorn. We knew about their music since 2016 or so, but after seeing them playing for the first time in Belgium, at the extincted Metal Female Voices Fest, there was a growing interest in the band with which we have maintained contact in a semi-permanent way, promoting their music and supporting their campaigns. The dream is big, to have them one day in Chile, as a support show for another band or as headliners if possible.
Blackthorn defines themselves as a coven; not so hard to guess if we have in mind that the band was born in October 31th, almost 14 years ago. Their music style varies between symphonic, black and gothic metal, where you can appreciate the clean and operatic voice of the vocalist, Aina, as well as the grunts that she and the guitarist Elvira Alchemida develop in some tracks. The rest of the band is composed by three other equally virtuous women that play their role on bass, drums and violin. By far, Blackthorn has released three studio albums, Gossamer Witchcraft, Codex Archaos y Witch Cult Thernion, and it’s all about evilness, witchery, female deities, ancient cults and dark powers, as they express. Enough reasons to want to go deeper into their beliefs, inspiration and wishes.
We contacted Aina, the band frontwoman and Acotath, Blackthorn’s drummer. Both of them were really kind and agreed to meet with us and give us an interview. We were lucky enough to share a warm and unique moment with the girls which made us feel comfy and welcomed in their homeland.
It’s hard to think that so far away from Russia there’s a growing fan base surrounding the band. It’s because of the fans and the interest of many people for getting to know more about the band that we are now able to share a bit of what we talk.
When did Blackthorn born and what is the meaning behind the name and all the band concept?
Aina: Our band was formed in 2004, by me and some girls from the original line-up, so I’m the only person from the original line-up. The idea behind our music, our concept it’s about witches and that’s why we chose such a name, because Blackthorn it’s a tree of witches. It’s a very magical tree, because it’s super big, a cult meaning. So those where interested in such a kind of thing, they know Blackthorn it’s a powerful thing. So that’s why we chose this name and besides, it sounds nice to us. It’s short, it’s simple, it’s easy to memorize.
Acotath, when did you know about Blackthorn and how did you take the decision to join the band?
Acotath: I knew about the band since I met the ex-drummer (Varaska), she was my dread-braid stylist or something, and we talked a lot about Blackthorn, she told me some stories and that’s it. I listen to them I think once and I totally forgot about them, and then Aina wrote me like “hello, we need a drummer”. I knew that. Varaska went to Poland, got married, and it was like an opportunity for me because I like to play drums and I had no band in that time, so, sure, I accepted their request, went to their rehearsal, played some songs and I maybe recorded a video first to make them know that actually I can do something at least – she laughs –. And that’s it, that’s how it worked.
When did you start singing/playing and how did you discover metal music?
Aina: I think I was 9 years old, I was going to be in art school because I really was into painting, into drawing, but they had no place for me, so I accidentally started singing. I didn’t like it first, probably because of teachers, but when I was about 13 years old I realized I wanted to do this, I wanted to make it my career, you know? So I started to take a private classical singing lessons, but first pop lessons – we laugh -. Yeah, but shortly I realized it was not for me, that there were heavy genres of music. Well, the person that introduce me into metal music was probably my brother because he had a band actually –my old brother -, they were into AC/DC, Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath and other stuff like that. But when I was a teenager, all those bands were kind of old for me, you know, like music for old people – laughs- , let’s be honest. But then, I decided to go to musical school in Moscow, and there I met girls from the first line-up. So they were into metal music, and they introduce me to this kind of music, and then I decided to discover new, and new and new bands. This is how it happened.
Acotath: I listened to metal since I was a toddler, my father was a metalhead. First I played violin, then I was in some bands and we had no drummer, as it always happens, and I said “ok, why should we use violins, maybe I can play drums”. And, I don’t know, maybe for now it’s five years, but I’m really into it I think for two or three years only.
So, I guess it is not strange for your parents that you’re in a metal band now…
Acotath: No, they’re ok – laughs -, they knew it would happen.
What do you do when you’re not playing or when you’re not singing, or when you’re not into music?
Aina: Mostly I’m just sleeping –laughs-, making jewelry. I have a big interest in this, in making things -how to say this in English-, things to protect you, to keep you like…talisman, do you say talisman? I like to do such things for my friends, for myself or those who buy from my store. Besides taking photographs and hanging out with my friends.
Acotath: I make tattoos – we laugh about this because we were recently tattoed by her on her homestudio- and I don’t know, lots of other stuff that I can’t remember right now because I’m into this.
You released a new EP a while ago, “Evocation”. Can you talk us about it?
Aina: Yes, we released the new EP back in april. It contains old tracks that we re-recorded, some tracks come from the first album, that’s like Necromance and Edenbeast. We decided to give to this (tracks) new sounds and besides, it’s about ten years (from the first record) so, during this ten years we improved the musicians, so we decided to record this. The EP includes two covers, Dimmu Borgir’s “Ritualist” and Lacuna Coil’s “Nothing stands in our way” and a couple of instrumental versions. It supposed to be piano, my vocals, and other stuff like this.
Is it possible to live from music here in Russia , specifically metal music? Can you imagine yourself doing something different?
Aina: It’s hard to imagine to not do it for me, you know? Because I spend half of my life or even more than half of my life making music, making metal music. I can’t imagine myself doing something different, really, I can’t imagine it, it’s too frightening!
Acotath, where do you get your inspiration to play music or drums?
Acotath: Inspiration, uhm…I think I listen to other bands and I just want to play like them, so I just sit (she looks and points to her drums) and I rehears everytime to be better, and of course I’m a woman so I have to be better even than lots of men, to show them, like “I can do something and you’re just men” – laughs -. I think this is my inspiration, to “prove” something.
How do you do to afford the costs of making and producing music and albums, getting the merch done or traveling outside? Because I know it’s quite expensive so, do you do this with your own efforts, your own pockets maybe or how does it work for the band?
Aina: Yeah, it’s indeed very expensive and we mostly pay everything by ourselves and that’s why we started the Patreon page, that it’s of course very helpful for us. But we don’t spend this money; we prefer to collect it probably to travel somewhere, maybe to Latin America (Yes! We say) So, of course you have to work hard, I myself have three jobs or four, and whenever I can, I use the opportunity to earn some money. Almost all of my money I spend on my band. Not only me, but the girls do it, of course.
Wow…So, what is your main inspiration to start to compose music? How is the process, do you all sit together and start discussing some ideas or how is it?
Aina: Well, our main composer is not me, it’s our guitar player (Elvira Alchemida) so, I can’t take it only by myself. Sometimes I participate in the composing process, but it’s like I’m sitting with my piano and just start to compose some melodies, then I write them down and send them to Elvira and she uses them. As far as I know, she’s influenced by some bands she likes, classical music of course, because when it comes to classical music Elvira has a strong background, maybe you know, because she’s been studying music since the age of four or three. It’s kind of crazy for me and crazy for a Russian, because most children in Russia start to play piano or play any instrument in the age of six or seven, not before, so it is a wonder that Elvira started at the age of three or four. It’s like a miracle. She was gifted and I think she is very gifted. She is talented and same for other girls; whenever we can we participate in the composing process just like this: we just compose some melodies and send them to Elvira and she gives us this new songs and we’re like “it’s perfect!”.
She’s like the mastermind
Aina: Yes, she’s like the mastermind when it comes to music, of course.
Favorite live show played by far?
Aina: It’s hard to choose just one, can I choose a few? – she laughs -. So, one of the best moments, of course, one of the best shows happened at Metal Female Voices Fest, in Belgium. We were so nervous but we did like it, we had a great experience. It’s sad to know that right now the festival is not working anymore. And as a gig, probably the support show for Cradle of Filth, it was very, very great, the crowd was awesome and the band itself, all the guys and the girl, they were so supportive and very down to earth.
Acotath: My favorite show…I think it was in Czech Republic for now, and maybe our new CD presentation; it was fun because we had dancers.
Where would you like to go with your music?
Aina: It’s predictable, you know? – Laughs -. Of course I’d like to have some shows in Latin America, it would be awesome, really awesome, and it’s like a dream to us. So we’ll try the best to go there, I’m trying to find new contacts to play somewhere. Probably Brazil, Mexico, Chile of course. Another place would be the United States, probably, because aside of Latin America, a lot of fans live in the States, so playing there would be cool as well.
Acotath: Everywhere – she laughs -. No, I really want to come to South America, because it’s like a different side of the world. I want to go everywhere with Blackthorn, I love them. I travelled a lot with other bands, I think with Blackthorn would be more fun.
Did you imagine that you had fans in Latin America, being us so far away from Russia?
Aina: Well, it’s hard to believe that there are people living so far from us that finds our music interesting. It’s very supportive and we still can’t believe that. That so many people like our music out there, it’s so awesome.
Acotath: Uh, yes, I think I knew that we had some, because I have a friend from Costa Rica; we have been friends for ten years and she was always my fan – we laugh -.
What would you say about Blackthorn to anyone that doesn’t know about the band?
Aina: Well, you know, you can ask Acotath about that, because probably you know that she travels a lot and when it comes to communicate she’s very easy, she’s like approaching to someone like “Hello, I’m from the best band in the world, we’re five girls, so, would you like to work with us?” – We laugh –. I would start by saying that we consider it as a coven, a witchcraft, something like that and probably I would take our CD with me and give it to someone like “check it out, maybe you’ll like it, it’s better to hear it”.
Acotath: Mmm, listen to Blackthorn? – laughs -. Five sexy chicks.
What does the music and Blackthorn means to you right now?
Aina: Right now it means more than before. I like all the music but Blackthorn to me, is like…how to describe it? It’s like falling into trance sometimes, because there are moments in this trance where I go like really deep, and when I perform it or the girls perform it, whenever I feel it is like a trance for me. So it has a ritualistic meaning for me, it’s much deep for me than for the rest of the girls maybe. Once again I’m a person that is really into witchcraft.
Acotath: Most important thing for me…it’s always people. It doesn’t matter what we’re playing, even Lady Gaga covers, but I just love people.
Would you like to say some words to your Latin American fans or Chilean fans?
Aina: Yes, of course I would like to say thank you for supporting us, for showing interest in what we do, I hope that we will meet in the near future; we’ll try our best to make it happen. Thank you so much, “gracias”.
Acotath: Lots of stuff, but maybe in person – we laugh -. Just, thank you guys, because you’re actually listening to Blackthorn, it means a lot, it’s really interesting and weird I guess! That we have fans from so far away. Thank you!
Image: Credits to Blackthorn Chile
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