METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Anna. So glad to be catching up with you again. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you.
ANNA HEL: Hi! It’s a pleasure to answer your questions, thank you for the attention.
MPAP: For those of you that haven’t heard yet, Conflict has a new full-length release coming out soon titled Decision Code. So, Anna, is there a release date? Anything set in stone you can reveal here?
ANNA: Everything is set now, the booklet is sent to printing, the album is mixed and being mastered; we even could manage to find a great musician for the sax part for one of the tracks, kinda last minute. The pre-order date is planned to be revealed next week. (Editors Note: It now has been set for 10/19/19) We are under pressure, there were some planning and technical problems, but we look forward to the release in November.
MPAP: Now if you took your previous 2014 full length Transform Into A Human and held it up to Decision Code, what to you personally stands out from it? What can your fans expect?
ANNA: The new album will be absolutely different from 'Transform', it’s heavier in sound, in vocals, alongside with the conceptuality. There’s a new approach to lyrics, vocal melodies, and the songs structure alongside with development. It’s versatile, with some jazzy dark influences, and the guest appearances are blast spicing to the whole product. I must say that all the songs draw and complement the story chapters. Thus, during or after reading a chapter one could turn on a song and completely immerse yourself in the picture of what is happening.
MPAP: How do you think you’ve grown as a vocalist since Conflict’s 2012 single "Low Frequency Addicted" vs. your vocals on Decision Code?
ANNA: I must say I’ve grown, however due to current approach the vocals on Decision Code are more extreme and piercing, and have less clear melodic parts. We tried to achieve concrete sound yet epic, I felt a bit bounded in expression. Anyways, the way for any singer has million miles to go.
MPAP: You’ve stated Decision Code is a conceptual album? Tell us a little bit more about this?
ANNA: We didn’t know actually if this idea was gonna work, however made some steps forward to it and decided to implement the story into life. I love challenges because conception definitely tie up everything in art being created: a story, music, lyrics, even vocal expression. How is this cocktail gonna taste like nobody can predict. The first thoughts lighted up were that there will be no boundaries for poetry and imagination. I can definitely state otherwise. At the same time, I dived into personage characters that deep, so I felt the state of an actor preparing to different roles so to say. I run thru emotional state variety almost all moments when I write lyrics, but touching this album lines gave me unusual experience.
MPAP: Some of the songs from it are "Autonomous," "Megapolis," "To Serve And Protect," and "Deadlock." Tell us about these songs for a moment.
ANNA: All the songs are connected together with the story plot, nevertheless, I assume they sound independent, aside the conception. I would like not to reveal the songs content, but to give freedom to the fans to interpret the conceive and find their own meaning and vision. Personally, I love the track "Deadlock" revealing the denouement of the whole story and posing the main question to the characters. How they will be able to answer it, you will know after reading the story and listening to the album.
MPAP: And this is something exciting. You have some guests on this album as well. To name a few, you have Alex Blake from Deadheaven, Karsten "Jagger" Jäger from Disbelief, and then Burton C. Bell from Fear Factory. Those are some heavy hitters to have behind the mic I must say.
ANNA: And Jayce Lewis and Dave Lowmiller of A Dark Halo.Oh, yes! I still feel excited about the fact that such great singers took part on our album. After the songs grew from idea to the listenable form, we started to think of the guest vocals because this might line out and carry the concept and fulfil personages’ emotionality in the story at the same time. I listened to the songs over and over figuring out what vocals are suited best. And, you know, it was not that difficult to choose, as I thought from the start. I began to look through my special list of the singers I definitely wished to be on our album, then contacted them and waited for response for a while. The response time meant a lot as well. The main condition we received back is that a track must resonate and suit them. The condition was fully met, and with excitement in our hearts, we waited for results.
MPAP: I wanted to talk to you about one of those guests for a moment, Mr. Burton C. Bell. Fear Factory is no stranger to Conflict. Back in 2015, you did a recover of their drum track only unfinished song called "Ammunition." It was your interpretation of how you felt Fear Factory might have finished the song. Then in 2016, you did their song "Scumgrief," and then on Conflict’s 2017s Take Cover you did "New Breed." So, it’s safe to say; Fear Factory is an influence in Conflict’s music?
ANNA: Fear Factory is the pillar in the era of industrial metal, the band’s influence in music is inexpressible. By means of the cover tracks, we share our love and passion to this music style and to the pioneers of this genre. I enjoyed the process of recording and writing lyrics for "Ammunition." I admit the song might sound different if ever accomplished by FF, however completing it in my own way brought me much excitement and joy.
MPAP: In our previous interview with you back in December 2017, we asked if Burton's vocals were an influence of yours, and you responded with 'no, but I really like how his voice and timbre harmonies fit into Fear Factory’s music. Maybe we’ll sing a song together someday.' Well, Anna, that someday is here, almost two years later. How cool is that?
ANNA: You see, if you wish something it will definitely come true someday, now I love this word. Just got to give it a try, haha. If the goal is set, you just need to work hard and keep moving forward to it.
MPAP: So, tell us about this song "The Architect" Burton guest vocals on? How did it come about to getting Burton on board to do the song? How did you reach out to him since he is located in Los Angles and you’re in Moscow, which is over 6,000 miles away?
ANNA: The song "Architect" has desperate mood with the certain atmosphere expressing the moment of death of the main story character. The most touching and vulnerable disclosure of feelings. Nowadays the internet opens vast majority ways of contact with people all over the world. With no doubts or discussion, I contacted Burton C. Bell via social media and kept fingers crossed. I knew his voice fits perfectly into the song.
MPAP: Now was the music for "The Architect" already written before he agreed to do the song? And did you already have the lyrics written, or did he help during that part of the writing process?
ANNA: I felt truly honored knowing the song and the lyrics I wrote suits him. After a little time, he asked if the lyrics and vocal lines may be rearranged and get the song produced the way he see it. I definitely agreed because he is a talented singer and his vision might set the song to another level. The lyrics stayed pretty much the same. The result is truly awesome and in the style of Burton C. Bell with my vocals heading along. Of course, I’d love to keep both variants of the track and later on to represent it as a bonus track maybe.
MPAP: In our previous interview, we had mentioned that we had reached out to our friend, Jimmy Littlefield, who was in the band Agnozia, who happens to be great friends with Dino Cazares, guitarist for Fear Factory, and we had Jimmy ask Dino what he thought about your band Conflict and your cover of the song "Scumgrief"? Dino commented back saying, 'Tell them I love all their cover versions of Fear Factory. I also love their programming.' And after learning that, you said, 'Dino commented on our latest release. He knows about it. Wow!!!'. It’s hard to express, and of course, we felt excited about this. Thank you for bringing such good news!' So, you’ve covered Fear Factory songs, Dino loves what Conflict has done so far, and now Burton C. Bell guests vocals on your new release. It can’t get any better than that, right?
ANNA: You are 1000 percent right! I couldn’t imagine it would turn out like this. The things would get even better if we tour with guys someday, but as we know currently it doesn't seem feasible. I’m looking forward to more collabs, maybe Burton will invite me for guest vocals on his projects in future? I keep my heart and mind open to everything that comes my musical way. Let's see what the future brings.
MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Anna, for doing this interview. We look forward to Decision Code and whatever else Conflict does to finish out 2019 and beyond. Any last words for all your fans out there?
ANNA: Work hard and look forward to your goals, never give up! Never know what your way will lead you to. Don’t forget to look around and live fully on the way to your dreams.
Conflict~ Anna Hel/ October 17th, 2019/ Interview #160