“Compromising with things already done is not something that attracts our interest.” -Androniki (vocals)
Greece’s Chaostar began as a classical influenced offshoot of the always cutting-edge and generally well-revered Septicflesh. When the death metal act flirted with more and more classical influences on their crucial, evolutionary album (and recently reissued) A Fallen Temple, Christos Antoniou of Septicflesh decided to cast the dice and start another project to further explore that direction parallel to the metal thrust of his “main” band. Within the span of several albums (and a short hiatus), Chaostar made their own mark via a masterful synthesis of heavy music’s pedigree with true opera (not just symphonic metal’s often great but select borrowing of high soprano vocals). Lush strings, mournful brass, percussion and world instruments eloping in a post-modern blender under a cloud of Gothic splendor? Most bands might make a hot mess of such varied combinations and source material, but Chaostar’s recent Anomima is breathtaking in scope, a real odyssey. In my opinion, the current Chaostar line-up is their strongest yet.
Kurt Vonnegut asked in his “self-portrait” Palm Sunday ,” Are many novelists schizophrenic – at least marginally so? Do they hallucinate, seeing and hearing things that healthy people cannot sense? Do they turn disordered perceptions into gold in the literary marketplace…or if writer’s themselves aren’t crazy, perhaps a lot of their ancestors were?”
This would certainly also apply to those rare musicians in it for the right reasons, panning for gold in an industry cluttered with acts who make lifeless, flaccid and watered down imitations of once great genres. Not so with trailblazers like Chaostar. This is a group who restlessly work to create alchemy that will permanently mark and alter your consciousness. Jung would have had a field day with this band!
Most recent Chaostar vocalist Androniki Skoula is frighteningly talented, a gorgeous chameleon with a voice from Olympus. It was an honor to interview her about Chaostar’s Anomina as well as other matters.
Click HERE to read the interview!
Thank you for doing this, Androniki! ANOMIMA is a triumph. I admire you and Christos for pushing the band forward into new terriroties. Does an explorer always visit the same lands? No. How did it feel making this record?
First of all I would like to say thank you back for this interview as well.
It is hard to answer whether an explorer visits again and again the same places. However, there are high chances that a visitor goes again and again to the same places without realizing that. For us, the most important is that we are always ready to explore new places and nevertheless we are ready to take our risks. Compromising with things already done is not something that attracts our interest. Making this record has been a unique experience and the first experiment of team work. The new members of Chaostar (I am one as well) had the chance in Anomima to cooperate and evaluate their power altogether. A wonderful experience for all of us.
Chaostar is a group who I like people to hear rather than for me to describe. I mean, I can describe it! but it is better as an immersive experience. Like the band Queenadreena, who were so unique, it is better to bring people into the Chaostar world and watch their amazement. Speaking of Queenadreena, you should hear their song “X-ing Off The Days” if you never did. It is tribal and unhinged and I think you’d love it.
Funny but the interesting for us, is to hear all of you describing Chaostar. I guess that a group of people , deeply in love with music, just gathered together and comprised Chaostar. If you access inside the heart of Chaostar you will notice that each of us is totally different to the other. We are like electrified stones brought close the one to the other and create throughout that music. The result most of the times is unknown even to us. We start and we let alone all our energy and improvisation to come along. There is no specific target, or specific result we want to achive .Probably that stems form the deep persuasion we have as a band that categorizing ourselves works as a restriction to creativity. It is simple to understand that whenever creativity has to abide by certain rules then automatically it lacks of spontaneity.As far as QueenAdreena , I listen to a very beautiful band with a lot of psychedelic rock influences with avant-garde touches and industrial ambience…Nice music.
What do you think makes us so compelled towards people in history who stood up for what they believed in, like Joan of Arc or even reporters like Julio Anguita Parrado who was killed in Iraq in 2003 while covering the war as an embedded journalist? These people died facing unsafe challenges but they retain a timeless bravery.
Exactly what you said.These people died facing unsafe challenges and disregarding danger. However I don’t want to be misunderstood and I mean that it is not “disregarding” danger that compels us to commemorate them . What makes them unique cases is definitely their ability to see clear the truth and follow it unconditionally. People who say the truth are the most likely to be hated or rejected by society. So he who has the courage to be sincere with himself and his feelings and has the integrity to face reality and declare it , definitely compels our respect. It is not easy to see the light insisting on it and fighting for keeping it alive , when all the others around disregard it. Socrates for example ,had long before condemned himself to death ,by asking restlessly the Athenians about the obvious truths they wanted to avoid. Yes , this person compels my respect and can be a source of inspiration.
What drew you to the music of Chaostar when you were asked to join the group?
Actually when I was asked to join ,I knew really few things about Chaostar. Nevertheless , my strong belief that the unknown has in store more interesting things for me , than my false conceptions about life, led me there. I liked the music, I accepted the challenge of Christos who made clear from the beginning that he seeks for a “risky ” singer and finally I found myself in Chaostar.
I think you are very charismatic and beautiful in that every photo of you, even casual pictures, you seem to have a confidence and natural sense of who you are. You can play with mystery via costume or be just yourself (not that costumes aren’t “sides” of ourselves”) but I think you are a good role model for people to see a woman vocalist who is very trained and capable and also not exploited. Thoughts?
Dear ,what can I say? I am flattered with everything you said. Honestly your words invigorate my self confidence, however I believe I am still far from all those things you described. It has to take years and years to get to a point that I would accept those words. Arrogance wouldn’t like to be one of my features. Of course It would be a blessing if I could work as a role model , but that is something that we can only conclude at after a lot of years and more work. However, I can say with certainty that I love transformations through costumes ,outfits, make-up and different styles. It is a way to portray to the audience all those feelings that makes you sing and perform .A way to “shape” all the inner burns that lead you to act and sing.
Ok, I waited long enough! How amazing was it working on the video for “MA”? How did Butoh dancer Sumako Koseki become involved? Everyone I have show it to is blown away by the grace and impact and even terror or liberation of the video! I love how Chaostar is so careful to honor different world music traditions and their cultural importance through different languages or musical themes, while still being a unique band!
Thank you very much , It is great that you liked the video. Sumako Koseki participating in a Chaostar video is an honor to us. Honestly this has been not only a spiritually great experience but also a work of art that will work as an inheritance to the listeners. At least that is our wish…Sumako Koseki has been in Greece in order to give a seminar to a number of people. It was then that the director of the clip “Ma”, approached her and asked her ot listen to “MA”. She got so enthusiastic with the song that she immediately accepted to participate on the clip. Watching her performing live, is breathtaking. People inside the studio ,were on the verge of crying and that is because all her performance is based on what makes her dance and not the dance itself. That is why it is so soul-touching all her performance. It actually opens a dialogues to every people’s hearts and hidden emotions. Difficult thing to describe.
How do you find a still and calm place inside to channel the forces of such powerful music? Does such control come from Opera? In Opera, you have to sometimes be so convincing and yet sing the most difficult material possible while still conveying rich emotion of human experience!
Well of course classical training plays a huge role to that. The feeling must not overcome the execution. The execution has to be perfect but in the same time the actor-singer has to convey several emotions to the audience. Opera really trains you to do that, although I have never til today acted in an opera or a stage, my training in auditorium has already shown that to me.
You must be so happy for people to hear your contributions on Anomina.I am also a huge Moonspell fan and Fernando has such a grasp of metal’s importance and also literary potential. Do you feel Anomina lived up to what the band desired to achieve and how did the guests help?
I believe that Chaostar did it. In bands so controversial and not easily categorized like Chaostar, results take sometime to appear , but they do come. The contrubution of all the guests is extremely important and underlines the complexity and controversy we want to have as a band. It is an honor for us to have such people like Fernando Ribeiro and David Vincent in this album.
A friend of mine and I have been really into the Jamaican Bobsled team lately. It just seems so cool that they exist, like “How could anyone not love that”! I also tend to not like it when people hate black licorice but most people don’t like it. Is there anything in your life that you frown if someone says they don’t like because it is one of your favorite things? Also, what do you do to relax after a very long day of working?
Generally I am a quick -tempered person and when I listen to something that hurts things that I love I easily tend to react. However through the years I balanced that and I left it a bit behind. I really can’t recall something specific that makes me mad, but there is definitely a number of things. Now as far as the long day relax is concerned I like going out in a restaurant and eating some great food. Greeks always have a giant inclination towards cuisine.
Is there any older Chaostar material you particularly love?
All of them are great , but I would say that songs like Canticles, Lamentation rank among the top for me.
Chaostar are true artists in that you are making timeless, original works that don’t care to cater to trends. It is like when you walk around a beautiful city and see the architecture, original human works that stand tall. What do you think the band will do next?
We will start working on new material in some months from now. We will focus again on showing something different , fresh and new to the audience. We honestly have no idea how the result will be , but we certainly go for something dark and imposing seen from a controversial side. We have already some ideas on the table that consist of biter emotions exchanging their place with glimpses of glorious enlightenment.
Septicflesh are re-releasing A Fallen Temple. I would love to hear you sing “The Eldest Cosmonaut” live with Septicflesh doing Natalie’s old parts! Do you think this could ever happen?
Some things belong to the ones that made them ones great , so the parts of “The Eldest Cosmonaut” will always belong to Natalie, for now and forever. Thank you for the interview, it has been a pleasure. I would like also to thank all the people who spend some time reading the interview.
Photos by Stella Mouzi