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We all know that Christos of SepticFlesh is a musical genius with an enviable curriculum... the man keep the flame alive with his other band, Chaostar, who recently released "The Undivided Light". Vocalist and lyricist Androniki Skoula had a conversation with Metal Imperium ...

M.I. - The band has been born out of Christos Antoniou's deep desire to create music that has a more classical approach. What keeps Chaostar going on today? Still the same desire or some other desires came up along the way?

Hi! Still the driving force behind Chaostar remains the desire to get involved with classical music, but also our deep desire for experimentation.

M.I. - Chaostar wishes to be the experiment in music. Do you think you’ve achieved that with your albums?

I truly believe that we did make an apparent effort to experiment. I won’t judge whether this effort concluded in an interesting result or not, but I am sure that it is very clear throughout our songs that we did not constrain ourselves. We experimented with many controversial elements and we really enjoyed it. Almost everything that we had in our hands was an element to “play” with.

M.I. - The last album “Anomima” was released 5 years ago. Why did it take 5 years to release new material?

It took so long for two basic reasons. The first one is that the material we tend to create is always very complex because it consists of collaboration with musicians from different genres that we have to bring together and with the diversity of each song we want to maintain. We never want to repeat a specific style from one track to the other and that as you can understand takes a lot of effort. We don’t want for the tracks to sound similar to each other. The second basic factor of the delay has to do with our daily lives. Christos tours with SepticFlesh and he is not around most time of the year and the rest of the band mostly spends the time in day jobs… Sometimes that doesn’t allow a lot of free time and, of course, not much time for new inspiration. 

M.I. - With “Anomima”, Chaostar wished to indulge the fans in an unknown musical dimension that would free our thoughts and souls. What’s Chaostar wish with “The Undivided light”?

“The Undivided Light” is much more introvert. It is still an album of experimentation, but mostly an album of self-exploration for each of us.  The basic concept has to do with the power of knowledge and all the important values, to become wider and bigger when shared with the masses. Of course, that is something that demands defense and self-discipline in order to be achieved and that exactly is the journey we want to take you in. The journey inside your inner self, the power of the hidden soldier inside, that has the sensitivity to cry, while having the power to slay as well.

M.I. - What’s the main difference between “The Undivided Light” and the previous material? 

“The Undivided Light” is by far the most concrete and mature work up to date. In this album the dark and introvert journey that feasts your ears, has more balanced levels of surprising elements. By listening to the entire album, someone realizes that there is a prologue that fuels the brain and the heart with rhythm so as to stand the rest of the doomness of the album. 

M.I. - With the “The Undivided Light”, Chaostar take their experimentation another step further and it gives new meaning to the term world music. What does it exactly mean? What can we expect from it?

Through “The Undivided Light” the element of experimentation is enclosed inside a general concept. Not that it didn’t happen with “Anomima”, but this time it is more apparent. You feel that there is a journey with a beginning and a final destination, but in between numerous experimentations and surprises make their appearances. I would conclude that the surprises and elements remain a lot in this album, but we succeed better to include them smoothly in a general concept.

M.I. - Why the title “The Undivided Light”? 

As I mentioned before “The Undivided Light” talks about the power of the light to shine even though it has been shared or divided in many flames. The light can represent anything. A value, a virtue, a battle, anything that is precious and holds a special place inside of us cannot be divided, like love, knowledge, history, education, sacrifice, heritage, all of those things do not fear division. The only thing is that sometimes they demand protection and sacrifice from us in order for their “flame” to be protected and bright…

M.I. - Did any Greek tragedy or ancient God inspire the lyrics for a track this time around? Androniki was responsible for the lyrics for “Anomima”. Were you responsible for these ones as well?

Yes, the lyrics were mine again in “The Undivided Light”. To be honest there is always a dominant ancient Greek figure and that is Socrates. Socrates stated that “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. That is the source of my wisdom” and by that this great philosopher actually underlined that the only way to our freedom is to understand that the chase of truth and knowledge is not the purpose, but the purpose is to defend the procedure to that. He clarifies that you can never be a real knower of everything, but since only knowledge is the key to freedom, then go trying and the journey to this procedure is the knowledge itself you always seeked for.

M.I. - What are the reactions to the new album so far?

The reactions are really great. Wonderful reviews, enthusiastic comments on Youtube and online media, plus interviews with very very interesting questions (like this one  ). Personally, I receive a lot of enthusiastic messages from fans who bought the vinyl, cds, merch and they are really overwhelmed.

M.I. - The cover art director and concept realization was Androniki Skoula. How does the cover reflect/portray the “message” of the album?

Following my explanation regarding the title of the album, the concept of the artwork possibly is better understood. I aimed to portray a soldier resting on the helmet after a battle and on the back cover the price of death that has to be paid. As I explained before the title “The Undivided Light” talks (primarily) about the light of knowledge that first and among all releases as of any kind of mind-slavery. This of course demands sacrifice and protection, so each one of us can take the place of the soldier portrayed on the cover of the album. As you also notice the place or the clothing cannot be easily defined into a specific historical era and that is because it doesn’t play any role. Defending your rights and dying for your beliefs has no specific eras and historical barriers that can constrain their importance.

M.I. - The band’s vocalist used to be Natalie Rassoulis but Androniki Skoula stepped in 2009. Was it difficult replacing Natalie? Did you fear the media and fans might compare your vocals? 

She is an excellent singer and she has done an amazing job with Chaostar. No, I never felt any fear. Every singer has her unique style. Some like it, some don’t. Everything is possible.

M.I. - When did you find out you had an enchanted voice? Who are your vocal references? What vocal training do you have? 

I started singing at the age of 3-4 and then went on with piano lessons. After that I followed the classical singing training and I obtained my diploma as a mezzo-soprano in 2012 under the Hellenic Conservatory in Athens. I also had an interesting and very precious experience by having private lessons in Berlin (Germany) with the renown soprano Mikaela Kaune.

M.I. - If you could do a duet with any vocalist, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Which song would you choose to perform?

I really cannot think of anyone! I love many singers and songs that I cannot decide what to say!

M.I. - Does Christos and Chaostar give you the freedom to be yourself when singing? Do you sing the way you think fits better or how does it happen?

Absolutely yes. We have a very good communication with Christos. He gives me the guidance and I follow some general lines and advices, but generally speaking I am totally free.

M.I. - In the last album you used 6 different languages… how many are used in this one? 

We used 4 languages in this album: Swahili, Greek, English and German.

M.I. - This album has a different line-up… do these line-up changes affect your mindset and writing process?

The writing process is something very special and sometimes really outside from the “enclosed” idea of band members. The new line up is updated to Charalambos Paritsis (violin), Nikos Velentzas in percussion and me as the singer-lyricist.

M.I. - Chaostar’s albums usually include guest musicians… how do you decide the ones to invite? For their talent and skills?

First of all, we invite them because we believe that they share with us the same love for experimentation and combination of different musical genres… Then of course comes the virtuosity, the ability and the performance, but the most important is always that they want to take a mystical journey with us.

M.I. - Considering that Chaostar is Christos’ side project, how much of an influence are SepticFlesh in Chaostar’s sound?

To be more specific I would like to point out (something that Christos himself always points out) that Chaostar is not a side project, but a concrete and stable band, following the exact procedures any other band would follow. It is self-evident that SepticFlesh is frequently apparent in Chaostar and the reason is that Christos remains the same person who composes in both bands. The extreme elements, the metal sounds and the bursts of doom metal features are obviously stuff that anybody can recognize as influences from SepticFlesh.

M.I. - You have a vast experience and have guested in many albums mainly by Greek bands. Are you doing any collaborations at the moment? 

I just made a beautiful cooperation with the band “Jaw Bones”, on their album “Wrongs on a right turn” a more rock styled band and I really enjoyed it. They are a really good band with great elements and powerful music! My other latest cooperation has been with LLOTH, a Hellenic Black/ Death Metal band founded in 1995 by Tristessa of ASTARTE, that is carried on by her husband and later Astarte member Nicolas SIC Maiis on vocals. Nicolas is a great person and an inspired musician who gave me the chance to be a member of his wonderful album “ATHANATI”.

M.I. - As far as I could find out the band doesn’t have any scheduled concerts… it is because of the hectic agendas of the members or because this kind of atmospheric music requires special conditions?

Both are the reasons. We have to find the suitable venue for Chaostar and the schedules of the members sometimes do not help…

M.I. - If you could play live in any venue, where would you play and why?

I would love to play in Hamburg’s new Concert Hall! The architecture is beyond any comparison! Amazing architecture!

M.I. - Christos has an awesome resumé… did you ever feel “intimidated” to work with such a musical genius?

No, our cooperation is perfect even though I don’t hold such highly acclaimed diplomas and I don’t have the extent of his musical career.

M.I. - What’s the best lesson you’ve learned with Chaostar so far?

“Live silently- work silently” (Ancient Greek proverb).

M.I. - You are part of a community of female artists called Eve’s Apple. What does this community do? What kind of artists are involved in it?

It is something like a community of professional female singers, aiming to support female fronted bands, to share information about the music industry and to promote their work. It is a beautiful and warm community where many serious subject have been in discussion and many problems that female singers faced over the years are also a topic of discussion. It is a supportive group of female artists and we really enjoy (I feel all the girls) being part of that .

M.I. - These days that sexual harassment is a big issue and the #Metoo movement as well… are you a feminist? Do you pay attention to this media frenzy? How complicated is it being an artist in a scene dominated by men?

I don’t like labels. I don’t consider myself anything more or less than the things I represent with my way of living. It is sad that men have in several occasions exerted such violence towards women, but we are strong and unbeatable. We will eliminate all threats by remaining loyal and focused in delivering the best of our works. The #Metoo, I totally support it, we have to speak out when our body and mind is harassed. 

M.I. - Thank you for taking the time to answer to our questions, Androniki! Please leave a message to the fans and readers of Metal Imperium Webzine!

Dear friends, thank you very much for listening to Chaostar! I hope you enjoy “The Undivided Light” as much as we do! Stay tuned for more news!!

For Portuguese version, click here.

Questions by Sónia Fonseca