METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Julia. So glad to be catching up with you from Rome, Italy. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us here at Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it. How are you doing?
JULIA ELENOIR: First of all, thanks a lot for this interview! I am glad. So happy right now, working a lot for this new album release, but also enjoying this moment.
MPAP: The world seems to be a chaotic place right now, so, how are things over there in the eternal city of Rome?
JULIA: It’s chaotic too… fortunately, I live not exactly in Rome, but in a town on the coast, called Anzio, around 40 miles south of Rome, playground of Emperor Nero. It's the perfect place to escape from the chaos of the city.
MPAP: Let’s do a brief history lesson. Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture, and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes. I guess the main question is, is the metal/industrial genre accepted there?
JULIA: Wow, interesting question! Italy in general has always been a bit of a let-down about innovations in both social and artistic contexts, and metal is no exception, despite it not being an innovation anymore. It’s a very conformist country, but that’s not entirely a bad thing, even if very perilous. Back to the question, though. Yeah, metal is accepted, just with a bit of worry from the older people and regarded as some weirdo’s stuff from the younger. But that’s what we like, isn’t it? To deviate from the norm and be what we like, not what we’re told.
MPAP: Now before we go any further, tell us about 5rand for the readers that haven’t heard of your group just yet? Tell us a bit more than you’re just a female-fronted metal band with attitude and charm in industrial quantity from the eternal city.
JULIA: To complete your introduction, I’d say that our main feature is the combination of clean and growling vocals: we propose a modern metal, distinguished by the blending of melody with heavy, aggressive riffing, which leads into a dark, disturbing and violent, and yet captivating atmosphere. We’ve just released our second album, called Dark Mother. Check it out!
MPAP: 5rand was founded in 2015, how has it been for you these past four years? Everything you’ve expected to be so far?
JULIA: We’ve fared pretty well, had the opportunity to meet great musicians and play along with bands that we use to listen to… that was unthinkable in the beginning.
MPAP: Is there something you haven’t been able to accomplish yet and it’s almost within reach?
JULIA: I always want to do more with my life. And my life is my band, so I always feel like I could do better.
MPAP: Going back to 2015, what would you change if you could?
JULIA: Nothing: I think that if things are working out, that’s because every piece of our history must be in that exact place. The results of changing something would be very unpredictable… ever seen Back To The future?
MPAP: And then what do you think you’ve conquered so far in those short four years in 5rand?
JULIA: A lot of experience on the road, in the studio, on stage… places you have to get accustomed to. And experience with people as well.
MPAP: Ok, everyone put your seatbelts and let’s full-on dive headfirst into the shallow end of the pool and now talk about your new release Dark Mother (Time To Kill Records). If there was a billboard sign in front of the Vatican, what would it need to say about Dark Mother to grab everyone’s attention?
JULIA: Haha! Maybe, 'Watch out, don’t leave your kids alone.' We addressed some of the monstrosities of religion in our previous record Sacred/Scared, as you’ll see we’re headed for something different with this one!
MPAP: Now, what about some of the songs on it like "Embrace The Fury," "Black Ocean," "Old Angel Midnight," and "Before The Flood." What can we expect? What will bite at us when we hear these songs for the first time?
JULIA: They all have a strong evocative power, they’re dark, melodic and yet violent.
MPAP: During the songwriting process, where was your head? Was there ever a message you wanted to get across to everyone when the blueprints of these songs began to take shape?
JULIA:Dark Mother has leitmotif that’s recurrent in every song, although in different intensities and modes throughout the tracks. The concept, the dark mother whom the title refers to, is nature. Battered and loathed by mankind, as her last resort to survive a deadly gangrene, she resolves to get rid of her infected limb, which is humankind. Considering the time we’re living in right now, where we’re slowly, too slowly, beginning to concern about the environment which we’re part of and without which we can’t survive, this concept and the somber emotions it arises have strongly influenced us also during the writing process, not only lyrically.
MPAP:Dark Mother has a mature and modern metal sound to it that brings darkness to life. It also has something disconcerting and violent to it, yet, it has a captivating atmosphere to it as well. Now that the dust has settled, and Dark Mother is out on the streets, how would you compare it to your first release Sacred/Sacred? Is it apples to apples or apples to oranges?
JULIA: A huge difference is that, compared to its predecessor, Dark Mother has been written in a much more cooperative way by the four of us, so that it has a major stylistic congruence. Sacred/Scared on the other hand, being our debut album, has songs written during a quite long span of time and therefore includes different songwriting approaches. I’d say that the final outcome is for sure deeper, darker and more mature, capable of representing the emotional tension and the anguish that nowadays we all perceive, feelings that cannot and should not be ignored.
MPAP: Where do you think you’ve grown the most when you were writing this?
JULIA: In the inner consistence of the songs I’d say. They’re different, but still coherent with one another and they flow naturally.
MPAP: Would you say you’re musically stronger or musically lyrical on this release?
JULIA: I’d say both, actually… We’re all about dualities. The music hasn’t changed that much in its articulation, but it’s better arranged and more focused. In addition to that, though, lyrics are definitely more profound and convey a strong message we all believe in.
MPAP: Your music stimulates the ears, now tell us about the artwork to Dark Mother to stimulate our minds?
JULIA: It’s a mixture of genres and elements that matches ourselves and the theme we’re dealing with. There are both industrial and onirical bits, all seen from a metal perspective. I like that it’s kind of cryptical: it doesn’t openly reveal much, you have to halt the rush and search for the actual meaning.
MPAP: Censorship in heavy metal music were big back in the early 90s in the United States. The PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) were down the throats of many groups, and they labeled anything and everything with an explicit sticker. The cover to Dark Mother contains nudity, but it’s not graphic or even of sexual content. So, what is censorship like in Rome?
JULIA: Well, sticking to music, surprisingly less hypocrite than elsewhere in the western world. Of course, you’d get quite some attention if you go grocery shopping with a Cannibal Corpse t-shirt on, but that’s it.
MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Julia, for doing this interview. Any bands within your hometown you’d like to give a shout out to right now for everyone to go and check them out?
JULIA: In general order: Deflore, Hideous Divinity, Helligators, Lili Refrain, Juggernaut, Shockproof and Hellucination.
MPAP: How about some last words for all your loyal fans out there?
JULIA: Guys, what can I say, you’re my metal-family and finally in my life. I feel to be a part of something big and important. When you feel down, remember that you are a metalhead, so you’re a fighter, that’s where my 'power' comes from. Thank you for your precious support!
Julia Elenoir/ September 8th, 2019/ Interview #156