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ARDOURS' Mariangela Demurtas: “I want to sing and play for someone who is really listening, because you connect with those people and I would love to connect with people who write good things to me. It makes me feel happy about what I am doing.”

Interview with Mariangela Demurtas from ARDOURS
by Thomas Kumke at 20 February 2021, 1:54 PM

Mariangela Demurtas is one of the vocalists of Norwegian Gothic Metal band TRISTANIA and the main vocalist of Italian Gothic Metal band ARDOURS. With ARDOURS, Mariangela released full-length album “Last Place On Earth” in 2019 and the EP “Eu4ria” in 2020 via Frontier Records. Currently she is working on the second album. Metal Temple writer Thomas Kumke was fortunate to speak with Mariangela about the history and conceptual ideas of ARDOURS, the song writing in the band and inspirations, living in Norway, and life in a Metal family.

Hello Mariangela, it is a real pleasure to have you here and I am really grateful to perform an interview with you today for the Metal Temple online magazine. First of all I hope you had a great start in 2021, and you and your family are safe.

Mariangela: Thank you, I wish the same to you. Everything went fine here at home. Some of my family even got COVID, but they got lucky because they almost did not have any symptoms. Well, everything is going fine.

The same here, but the pandemic seem to come nearer. With Covid-19, everything has changed and especially artists are affected. For fans, it is a very difficult situation without live shows, how is it from a musician’s perspective?

Mariangela: Well, if I am honest, since my kid is still very young, it feels nice to be taking care of him. He is still a small kid. If I was not a mom, I was probably going to miss touring more. I miss performing, of course, because it is something that I feel in the blood, but being a mom and having family gave me a bit more sense of peace to be sure that I am present for my kid. Maybe later when he is older, I am going to be more relaxed about that. For now it is a big responsibility and he wants to grow without missing his mom. It is a bit complicated and it would be a totally different point of view if not being a mom. He is three years old and at an age where he does not really know what is going on. So he does not really ask questions like: Why am I not going out with mom? What is happening? Why do you wear that mask? That is nice. Even though he is missing the kinder garden right now, because since one month the pandemic grew from 1000 cases to 15000 cases per day within two weeks and they closed down everything. So we are waiting for him to go back to the kinder garden and enjoy the company of other kids. I mean, we are busy as well, so it is really strange to be home being busy with the little kid. For instance, when I went to 70000tons of metal and later on to make the video for Ardours and for Timo Tolkki, he was still very little. So I already did that and that was a nice experience for me because I got out of the house and it was fantastic being myself again. But at the same time, you always feel like this big sense of responsibility, because at this age, they want their mom all the time.

You are one of the vocalists of Tristania and the vocalist of Ardours. While you had a great start with Ardours, things with Tristania have been very quiet during the last few years. Are there any future plans for Tristania or can you fully focus on Ardours?

Mariangela: I think for now, I can fully focus on Ardours.

Then let us talk about Ardours. Ardours is a Gothic Metal band and it is your project. You founded Ardours together with your long-term friend and multi-instrumentalist Kris Laurent in 2015. The debut album “Last Place On Earth” was released in 2019 and Tarald Lie, the drummer of Tristania, joined the band. How did Ardours develop from the idea until the release of the debut album?

Mariangela: We never sat together in the room to decide to have a band, we actually had conversations online and via WhatsApp. I know Kris, since ever. He was a friend of my first metal band in Sardinia, by then we became friends because we had the same view or many things. He was always forward thinking, trying to make things better, and he is a hard working person. He got my attention because of that. Kris had an attitude of wanting to get somewhere and wanting to do things. He always had this wish and ambition, which I appreciated. I always admired what he was doing. He also moved to Milan and we were always in touch. When I was in Tristania, I felt that the band is not doing very much and I can no longer keep quiet. So, first of all I wrote an album for myself that I never released publicly, because I decided that it probably was not the right direction I wanted to go to. Currently, I am releasing those songs on Patreon for now and thinking about new songs already. After that, I felt that I want to play and I want to do more. This was not just about myself, but I wanted to create another project. I spoke to Kris about it because I always liked the fact that he had his own mark writing guitar riffs and I could feel that he was keen by those riffs. It is something like a signature that not everybody has. I asked him if he was interested in trying out songs and he sent me some files and I worked on them at home and they worked. So we wrote “Last Place On Earth” by just sending files to each other. We sat together only three times and we built the whole thing. We are the only producers of this album and we involved Tarald Lie for writing the lyrics, because I noticed that Tarald has a very poetic way of writing that I really like. I saw Ardours as a very atmospheric and poetic kind of project. At the same time, I saw that he could play the drums and I invited him to play the drums and he did that. His commitment is not full time, because he has other projects. I really value his presence in Ardours, because he is great. Also, I decided not to put my lyrics on the album, because I wanted to have the lyrics from a man's perspective. I will explain this. When women write, the majority of women become too explicit with the right feelings in a very personal way. When I see Tarald, he writes about feelings from another perspective and I think that was very interesting. So I decided to call him for that and I am very happy I did, because I think the result was really good. Of course, that was our first thing together so I cannot say that we reached our identity fully, but we put a lot of ourselves in there. Some people asked me why I do not push with the voice much because people know that I am capable of doing more technical stuff. I explained my reasons that I like those words to be alive and to be just pushed. I want them to be poetic and I want it to be narrative.

That is a very interesting point. I was always wondering why Tarald wrote the lyrics since often the vocalist writes them. How happy were you with “Last Place On Earth”? What was the response from fans and public?

Mariangela: I was very happy about the response, but I also was actually a bit disappointed because my kid was always needing me all the time. I was trying to work on online promotions and being online for the people and answering everything. That was a bit disappointing, because I could not manage to do as much as I wanted. We were also supposed to go to festivals. We have been invited but with the COVID pandemic it was not possible anymore. We were booked already for a festival in Milan and also for another festival last October but with COVID, it cut our legs a bit.

You followed up with the EP “Eu4ria” in early 2020 just a few weeks before the pandemic started…

Mariangela: I would have promoted this a bit more online. I did not because let us say that life became a mess. During that time I was working at different music schools, where everything was shutting down because we had to go into lockdown. All of a sudden, we had to teach online. So, I was online with my kid at home, taking care of him, of my work, and the promotion of my band. When everything became a bit stressful, I decided to cut down a bit with things and try to focus on seeing how our life is going to be. I was inside in an apartment with a small kid and it was a bit crazy without going out which is not going to be possible for me.

“Eu4ria” is a hommage on the 80s. Is the influence of the new wave/alternative rock era of the 80s on Ardours the element which separates you most from other Gothic Metal bands?

Mariangela: I think so. I think that Ardours has something different. Everybody thinks this about his own project, but what I mean is that we have evidently an 80s twist on our music, but not in a way that you would say: oh, they are trying to be Depeche Mode. They are just having some influences on us. We keep a lot of Rock and Metal in our music at the same time. So I would not define that as a typical Gothic Metal band and I would not define that as a typical 80s New Wave band. I know Gothic Rock bands and I know Gothic Metal bands which really sound we could sound like. We have guitar riffs and something related to bass and guitar, but when it comes to sound then I think that that 80s thing is not in every band. Sometimes even the labels send us out like: for fans of The Gathering or Lacuna Coil. I understand the connection because as long as we have people with a taste for those bands they also like us, but I do not see the 80s in The Gathering or in Lacuna Coil. That is why I think it is something for us but different from them. It is a cool thing that everybody has his own identity. We do not want to be a copy of anybody else, but we cannot deny that of course we have influences and we have someone to look up to, so it is just a matter of understanding where we are going. Even for the voice as I said before, I did not really put myself that personal into that, I just tried to give the words life.

You are now working on the second Ardours album. What is the current status?

Mariangela: The second album will be a bit different, but at the same time I can say it is clearly us. You will find “Last Place On Earth” definitely in this album as well, they are very connected to each other but there will be more 80s elements. There will be lyrics by me and by Tarald and we probably will have also something in Italian.

How does the song writing process work in Ardours?

Mariangela: Either I send a melody with lyrics to Kris, because sometimes I have ideas that are left somewhere and I just pick them up since they are cool. Before I was using those for my solo stuff only, but now I use it for the band as well. I decided to open up and use it for both, because it is me anyway, even though I am not the only person in the band. Maybe I give something different, maybe I give some more of myself. I sing those lyrics and I send him a melody so that he can work on this. Then he does the music for those lyrics and the melody. Sometimes it sounds really good like it happened with a song that I gave him two weeks ago. He just worked on the music and I kept my vocals the way I wanted. The result was so cool and we both were very happy with it. Otherwise, Kris sends me the guitar parts or a whole instrumental song and then I have to work on vocals, lyrics and the melody. Sometimes it is hard for me to make words speaking in the melody, so I prefer to have the lyrics already and to play with the lyrics.

Is it easier or perhaps more difficult to write an album with a close friend?

Mariangela: It is actually quite easy with Kris, because if we do not agree on something we always find an easy going way to a solution and that is really good. We are quite open to each other, so it is not the kind of situation where we are like: I hate that you are doing that. Not at all. So, I am happy about it. Being friends, to be honest, makes it easier. When I was thinking about making a project, I thought about many friends I have in the music industry. However, the reality was that all of them were busy. My connections were with people that played in bands and they were all busy with their projects. So, I could not ask someone to compromise with something if he is already busy with his own band. Then I remembered that I have a good friend who can actually do something with you. The fact that he was a friend is a plus because when you make music with a friend, you are better connected and you know each other. I think it is a plus. I think a successful band where they know each other for a long time, they stick together because they know each other; they know how to deal with each other. That makes things easier. I mean, it does not mean that sometimes there are no arguments; that happens anyway. Sometimes it even happens in marriages or in relationships. I noticed that when you like someone and you get along well, and you are friends, then music is the thing that works well, music in terms of business as well like building up a project not just doing music. I can do music with anyone, but if he is an asshole maybe I do not want to do this anymore.

What is the difference in song writing when you compare that to Tristania?

Mariangela: The difference is that I have probably less of an opinion in Tristania, because we are many people trying to decide on one thing. Sometimes you just have to adjust with decisions of others as well. That is different in Ardours because I am the one who is deciding about it.

I imagine that writing and recording an album today is quite difficult due to the pandemic. What are the main challenges?

Mariangela: Regarding the pre-production, it is quite comfortable because I have everything I need at home. I have a way how to record myself with a software that I learned more than 10 years ago. So I do it since ever, and that is how I work with Tristania and with bands from other places. What is difficult is meeting and working together with Kris. Even though it is a bit different, we are working well together even like this. When it comes to recording, then I would go to a studio and record my vocals professionally. We would also record Kris part and we would record the drums in another studio. Then we assemble everything. Nowadays you can do this. It would be much better to be together and see things sitting on a desk and talking like we did for “Last Place On Earth”.

When do you think the new album is ready?

Mariangela: I would not be surprised if we finish writing the album next month. Then it is a matter of showing the album to the label and see how it goes. If things go well, it would be possible to enter the studio in May or June. I think that is a possibility but it depends on how busy the label is. They have a flow to follow, I mean they have schedules and we cannot just take a schedule as we want. We have to see whether we have to wait.

Let’s move the topic. I have a challenge for both of us and we will work together as a team. I will give you some key words and I would like you to elaborate on that. I will have some follow-up questions and key words and questions should enable us to talk about three different topics. Are you ready? Let us start with geography. Norway….

Mariangela: Okay, cold, nature, beautiful landscapes, strict rules, good beers.

You used to live there. How is life in Norway?

Mariangela: It is totally different from here. It was cool. I learned a lot but I felt the cultural shock because one thing is when you live somewhere totally different from your country for one year, another thing is when you are building a life there and you have to stick with a way of living that has never been yours. Some things are much better and some things are probably not. So, you always put yourself in that situation of understanding what these differences are really telling you. What should I see from now on in this life? What is going to happen? So, sometimes it leaves you with a lot of question marks and you say, okay, now I have to elaborate that myself because the thing is mine. I have learned this, but I knew something different before about what is going to help me and what is probably going to be the right one. This is all about social skills. Let us say that the way you live in a society, the way you choose what to do with the mentality, the way you choose words when you speak is different. Also, I did not know how to dress properly in the cold. I was going out with my jeans without long underwear appropriate for the winter. I did not know about that. So I was going out with my jeans and I was asking everyone are you not freezing? And they said: No why are you freezing? My legs were frozen. I mean, I did not really have an experience like that, so for me it was extremely cold. It was extremely different. They were just laughing about it.

Next one. Sardinia….

Mariangela: I am from Sardinia. It is very beautiful. The only reason why I do not live there is because I probably do not match a lot with the mentality. It is an island and I think something develops usually mentality-wise, and there is not much progress going on. It is a pity. Besides that, it is quite alive culturally, I must say that we have a lot of cultural stuff going on there. So and the summers are beautiful of course. We have beautiful visual people relaxing and you do not know stress when you live in Sardinia. Stress does not exist there. I only learned about stress when I left. So basically, it is a different world. I am lucky that I actually had this experience, but that I went from one extreme to another probably gave me some food for thought like understanding and growing.

Is there a Metal scene in Sardinia and how important is it?

Mariangela: Yes, there is a Metal scene. When I was younger the main Metal scene was Thrash Metal, because we were in the 90s. We had also Gothic bands, probably more related to Joy Division, Bauhaus and all that stuff. Then we had Nu Metal coming up and we had a lot of Rap Metal bands. Actually, there is a guy from Sardinia called Salmo who now is super famous in Italy. He was playing in one of these bands and now he is a rapper. He has indeed a successful career, huge, like one of those million careers. Amazing. If you consider that we come from an island, there was nothing there. We did not have the internet at the time that could save us like nowadays, we did not have those tools. We only saw things through MTV. We did not have YouTube, like nowadays. Well we had, but it was not big. We had MySpace but it was not as advanced in terms of marketing and business. So it was different. It was impossible to really make it out of an island unless leave, so I had to leave.

I discussed that topic in a recent interview with Malta’s Metal vocalist Mikaela Attard. She told me that you have to make the second step before the first one, meaning to leave to abroad and then come back. When you come from a place like Sardinia, do you have to leave for a music career?

Mariangela: Well, I went to Milan first and I stayed there for a while, and then I went to Norway. I think nowadays you do not need that. We have social media today, but if I had social media at the time, I do not know. The thing is, I was also extremely curious and adventurous. So, I would have gone anywhere in the world. After Norway, my plans were like: I want to have an experience now in UK and then I want to try living in Germany, but then maybe I want to go to Canada. My mentality was like that. I wanted to be everywhere and learn from everywhere. However, this is not really possible when you have a band, because you would mess up everything for everyone else. I did not know what to choose, traveling or being the singer. To be honest, I have this addiction to try out things, new things. If I was going to be a singer, maybe I want to change my mind to be something else. I am not surprised that I was going to do that. I just had this big responsibility of the fact that when you start something you cannot just change your mind from one day to another. The thing is that singing is quite natural for me and probably that one I thought that I wanted to do. If you ask me nowadays, I will tell you that I was a personal trainer. I was a psychologist, I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be an actress, a dancer, all this stuff.

Let us go on to the next topic. Sirenia….

Mariangela: Ailyn \[the former vocalist], she is my friend. Morten \[founding member], he is also a friend and he was in Tristania before. And they are from Norway.

Is there a lot of competition between Tristania and Serenia, given that both are Norwegian and Sirenia was actually formed by former Tristania member Morten Veland?

Mariangela: No, not at all. We are not in competition.

Both bands are from Norway but have female vocalists from Southern Europe. Why is that?

Mariangela: Well, to be honest, I think Tristania was the first band with a Southern singer. At the time, Nightwish was changing their singer, but they called someone from the North \[Anette Olzon]. Afterwards, Tristania changed their singer and they called someone from Italy. Then, Sirenia called Ailyn from Spain and then there was Draconian calling someone from South Africa \[Heike Langhans]. We ended up like that. Something I could see is that people can raise a personal project quite easily in Norway. They have the tools and they have the resources, they have more possibilities. Many singers probably have their own projects, they do not need a Metal band. Some of them, if they are in Metal, they are more in Heavy Metal. There are not many Gothic Metal singers and that is why you find more singers from the South in these bands. Also I think, it is because many of them probably do not want to be on tour. In addition, the Norwegians are quite shy and you do not find people that want to be in front. I do not think you will find many of them ready to be a rock star and to show their faces. It is a different mentality. I think it is mainly because they like softer stuff, or they make their own projects. I do not know many women singing in a Metal band unless it is Heavy Metal or Hard Rock.

Next one. Paradise Lost, Gothic Metal pioneers?

Mariangela: Yeah, definitely.

Lacuna Coil….

Mariangela: I think they really deserve what they have, because of the fact that they are genuine, they are real. They grew up a lot and they had to work very hard to be where they are today. I know Cristina Scabbia, we are friends and we talk sometimes. I noticed that she is a very easy going and down-to-Earth person. She is quite open minded even with the fans and everyone around her. I think a person like her has normally many followers, because she has a good energy and people want good energy. In addition, she stayed in Italy and she did not lose her mind. Fame can make people losing their mind, but she stayed down-to-Earth all the time. I like that. Lacuna Coil are insanely good on stage, they kick ass.

Are bands like Paradise Lost and Lacuna Coil role models for you? Do they inspire you?

Mariangela: I love the songwriting of Paradise Lost a lot. I think they have unique songs, and they really have their own signature. I like them a lot. When it comes to live shows they, of course, are much more hiding than Lacuna Coil but they also make a music that cannot be like: Hey, come on. It would be really ridiculous. You have to respect that. Actually, that was a bit be tragic in my situation when I joined Tristania, because they are a bit like that and I was more like Cristina, always alive and I wanted to connect with the people. Sometimes it just could not work like that, but at the same time I did not want to lose my identity but being respected in the band. It was a bit complicated until I got to the point that I actually just wanted to have a lot of fun, just enjoying the moments when I was singing without being too scared if the people were feeling excited or not, or whether making them jumping or not. It probably was not there at Tristania, I think there was a different vibe.

The third topic: Moonspell….

Mariangela: Well, I like them a lot. I think it is a very hard working band, I can see that. They are really on fire all the time and they are working so much. I think they deserve more than what they have considering what they do, there deserve more than that. I do not know if people can see that from outside, but these people are never stopping. It is insane. They do work the whole week, they do not have a day off or a free weekend, they are always working on something, it is insane. Musically, they are mature and have their own identity. They change from album to album and give always a fresh product to the fans. They like their fans and they protect them. Moonspell is also criticized from their own people here in Portugal. I think it is because of envy. That is a very sad thing that often happens in the South of Europe. Instead of supporting each other, many people just cannot stand the fact that someone goes further because he works hard.

You are married with Moonspell’s guitarist Ricardo Amorim. How is life in an all-musician family?

Mariangela: The thing is no matter who is playing, I am the woman in the house. So, that means that the kid wants to stay with mom, and in this situation we have to choose who goes out. If he goes out, everything is fine, if I go out it is traumatic for my kid. I have to stay with him all the time to make him feel protected. My husband has a normal life. I never had a problem when he went playing. The cool thing about being musicians in the house is that we understand what we go through. Sometimes it is difficult, because when you are in a band you cannot put your personal things in front because if everybody in the band would do this, the band is not going anywhere. You cannot put your personal problems in front and so sometimes I have to deal with that also since my band is not that active lately, and that is it. When I am going on tour next year my kid is then four years old and that is my turn.

Have you been tempted to sign Ricardo for Ardours?

Mariangela: Yes. I would love to. I would love to write music with him, but it is impossible because he does not have time. So, it does not happen. Perhaps it is better because when you run things in the family, sometimes you expect things and if it is not happening you feel the right to say something about it. Maybe better not, but I know that he is really talented, insanely talented, but unfortunately he does not have time for me.

You have a son. Is he going to become a vocalist or a guitarist?

Mariangela: My kid has a little piano and he plays sometimes. He vocalizes with me, because when I play on the piano and I do vocalize it, he already does it with me. So he comes after me. He does it when I do it with the students. He does screaming all the time.

A Death Metal vocalist then…

Mariangela: Yes it is possible. Sometimes I do not like it because me and my husband we play a lot with these things and sometimes I also train myself with new things, so he learns it. He sees us dancing, we dance with him and we play with him. Music is definitely very natural. He knows all the songs and he loves to hear songs. He loves The Police. It is very interesting to see him like that. Actually, I think he is a singer.

Closing the loop a little bit. It is a very difficult situation for artists at the moment due to the pandemic. Many bands perform live streams or have Q&A sessions on social media. Vocalists tend to give lessons. I also noticed that more and more artists are on Patreon. You offer vocal lessons and you are on Patreon as well. What do you offer there for your fans and how is it perceived?

Mariangela: Yes, I do online lessons, I do not promote that very much, because I have many students. I do not know if I can fill up my days with only giving lessons because of the Patreon and I work very much for it. I have other activities as well and I have to choose what to do. Actually, being a teacher is cool because it gives me a lot of tools for learning even more. I wanted to be a better singer, because I just wanted to be, and I started learning singing techniques. I also have a certificate from VoicetoTeach in Italy, so I am actually allowed to teach. I love it because it is very rewarding to see people happy. What they discover and what they achieve keeps me very motivated as well. It is a thing that, besides singing on stage, gives me lots of passion. Regarding the Patreon, I do offer quite a lot. Usually it is like this: I have original music and I do one of my songs every month, then I do two covers with video. The next one I am covering is Lana Del Rey, it is still not out yet, but probably I am going to play it out next week. Then I do singing lessons and I do podcasts. So, I offer quite many things. I teach for them if they want and I offer a monthly hangout. The patrons that I have are quite happy and they give me huge positive responses. They are really happy to be there because besides the fact that they learn, or they listen, or they know that there also will be random pictures of me when I was a kid and I tell the stories about myself, I let them deeply discover me as an artist. They also become friends with each other because we have chats on Discord. You see this girl from Japan being connected to the girl of Vancouver that is talking to the guy in Wisconsin, at the same time with a guy from Italy. So you see these networks between them and it is amazing because they actually found a place where they express themselves and at the same time being inspired by someone like me who tried to do the best to make them happy. I always worry and ask: do you guys like it? What do you guys suggest? What do you guys like to have? I try to be very open minded in everything and try out new things for them to be happy, to earn the extra money to succeed, because that allows an artist to make recordings by tools for recording and everything what is needed. Making music is very expensive and people do not know that. A musician needs to have all the tools and everything for recording. So, if you want to do things professionally, you always need to have new gears and everything that is needed for giving good quality things. Now, I have to work hard for having more patrons because my band Tristania has not been active, so not many people have been watching what I was doing and it is been quite difficult for me to push this. I am seeing that it is growing step by step and people finding me again. It is a cool thing. I have always been active with Ardours, but it is difficult for people to follow up everything because they are bombarded with things happening. Everyone is doing something, everybody is showing up and people are like: Where should I go? So the people who are with me right now, from what I know is that they are happy. That makes me really happy, very motivated, and very happy in life. This is what I want to do, I want to sing and play for someone who is really listening, because you connect with those people and I would love to connect with people who write good things to me. It makes me feel happy about what I am doing. This is the reason of making a Patreon. It is not just raising money, it is investing in time and dedication for someone who really believes in you and supports you. As I said, we have expenses as well and the time we spend is working time and I am talking about hard-working time because you have to prepare things and it is a lot, but I am happy with doing that.

So, what are your plans for 2021?

Mariangela: Most important is to finish the new album with Ardours and also probably releasing something of my own. In addition I try to get better in everything I can. Recently, I started to research a lot on what I can do better and I am investing on learning. So let us see, maybe next year, I will be able to do everything by myself. And hopefully, we can go on tour.

Mariangela, it was a great honor to perform this interview with you for Metal Temple magazine. I really enjoyed it talking to you and I can’t wait to see you live with Ardours, especially since I missed out on the album release show in autumn 2019. And I am looking forward to the new album. Thank you very much.

Mariangela: Amazing. Thank you. Thank you so much for the interview. It was so nice. Stay safe.



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Edited 19 September 2021
 

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