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SCARLET AURA's: Aura: "It is daring for us to do this music, to believe in it, and to compete with these bands and believe me when I say with my entire modesty that we are ready to step up. We are ready to put Romania on the international Heavy Metal map!

Interview with Scarlet Aura from Aura
by Thomas Kumke at 08 October 2021, 3:44 PM

SCARLET AURA formed by Aura and Mihai Dănciulescu in 2014 are a Romanian Heavy Metal and Power Metal band. Their new album “Genesis Of Time” was released in September and is the final part of the “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy which started with the 2018 album “Hot‘n’Heavy” and continued with the 2020 release of “Stormbreaker”. It's a very good reason for Metal Temple writer Thomas Kumke to chat with vocalist Aura Dănciulescu about the band’s history and the trilogy with the final chapter “Genesis Of Time”.

Hello SCARLET AURA, it is a real pleasure and I am really grateful to perform an interview with you for Metal Temple magazine. First of all I hope you and all your families are coming through this difficult year safe and well. How did SCARLET AURA come through the pandemic so far?

Aura: Thank you so much for having me. These are very difficult times for everybody, especially at the beginning because there was that constant fear. Hopefully, we will tour soon and meet everybody who is expecting SCARLET AURA for shows Germany and Europe. We are now on a tour here in Romania, because we had to cancel the European tour we had prepared with PRIMAL FEAR. We are lucky to have the shows in Romania and three shows in Bulgaria. We are having so much fun, although the restrictions are really tough and the crowd is smaller than we are used to, but we just cannot stop being happy. On stage, we meet our friends and somehow things are on a good path, but still need some time. It is very difficult for us artists to get out of this one without being affected financially and it is really hard for all of us. I do not mention the fact that we could not see parents, family and friends for such a long time. In families like ours, where my husband Mihai \[Dănciulescu] and I are artists and we are living from the SCARLET AURA's financial situation, it can be tough. So, we are happy that we now started to move around with these shows and meet our friends and fans. We also recovered some of the losses we have had along the way, but the most important thing is that the last four years brought us to the end of this amazing “The Book Of Scarlet” trilogy, which is formed out of these three albums, “Hot’n’Heavy”, “Stormbreaker”, and “Genesis Of Time”. We have also released the first one of the fantasy volumes that I wrote “Ignition”, the second one will be released at the end of this year, and the third one next year. So, it is going to be still a while until the entire trilogy will be fulfilled, but musically it is the end of it. We are happy to get to this point with “Genesis Of Time” which is our best work so far. We are really proud of the work and I can say that Mihai grew as a producer and as a songwriter, he just exploded with our latest album. I am curious about what is happening and coming next, because he is working in the studio and we already have material for the next three albums. So, be ready, we are going well, we love Metal music. This is what we do. We give all our time, concentration, focus, and inspiration to the Metal music. It is exciting and I am happy to be back on stage to also have the reward after the entire work in the studio, because there is no better and more precious reward than the face of a satisfied fan at the end of the show.

I had a few interviews this year and many bands told me that they already work in the studio for the next album after they just released one. That you have material for the next three albums already proves actually that SCARLET AURA is one of the most productive and busiest Metal bands…

Aura: We had to be, because we founded SCARLET AURA somehow late in our lives. We had to speed up and recover all the time we had lost to be on the same page with other big European Heavy Metal bands with materials in the background of the band, with amazing songs, with a good produced sound, and also with a really good live show. We needed to work all this up, so that we can compete with the best European bands. The fact that we are from Romania and somehow cut from the Metal world does not make it easier for us, because Metal was not born in Romania and it was not born in Eastern Europe. We are fighting with bands from Northern Europe, we are fighting with bands that have Metal in their blood since they were in their mother's bellies. So, it is daring for us to do this music, to believe in it, and to compete with these bands and believe me when I say with my entire modesty that we are ready to step up. We are ready to put Romania on the international Heavy Metal map!

I think SCARLET AURA is on a good way for achieving it. The band was formed in 2014 (starting as AURA until 2015). What was the idea behind forming the band?

Aura: We started with AURA in 2014. At this time we were already in the alternative Rock band STILLBORN and we had already our fan base here in Romania. We came up with AURA after my name of course, but also because of the energy surrounding our live shows. Our live shows are not just a concert, they are a vibration, something that the crowd feels and get really satisfied at the end of it. People at our shows really feel good, so that is why it was AURA. We were limited to the shows in Romania, but then we went to this international festival and competition in Bulgaria. We played with HELLOWEEN, SABATON, GUS G., and all these amazing Metal bands. We got friends who saw our show, they saw my wings on stage, they saw that I got up on stage on a motorbike, so they said my god this requires some balls being in a contest and you act like you were the headliners. We do what we do because we are really in love with doing this, so it does not matter that it is an AURA show, it is just the contest we are all in. We actually won this contest and we were assigned by a management company and they advised us to change the name from AURA into something else where we could be easily identified on the international Metal stage. They were already preparing our first tour outside of Romania and we made a brainstorming. At the end we decided that SCARLET AURA is the best choice for us. The name had to have AURA in it of course. This was the requirement and the advice of this UK management agency which is very well-known and worked with very highly rated artists. They advised that the name characterizes and describes us best. Having in mind the aura around the band, SCARLET AURA is the name that describes best the energy, the ambition, the attitude, the power of work, and the straight mind which is also what describes us best. Afterwards, we were on tour with Tarja Turunen, and we changed our name having a show in Sofia in Bulgaria with ACCEPT. This was our first show with the new name SCARLET AURA and it happened in November 2015. We announced the renaming and then we had a tour with Tarja Turunen in 2016 to support the release of our first album “Falling Sky” under the name SCARLET AURA, since we already had one with AURA, “The Rock Chick”. After that, we had many other European tours by ourselves, we worked so hard, we played in clubs and were trying to make our music known to the public. Then we had a tour with RHAPSODY and we had one with Jeff Scott Soto, we were on tour in China for one month, where we played shows for 1000s of people every day. We then had a new East European tour and now after three years, we are back in Romania and this is really amazing. Although, the restrictions are cutting our public into half, but next year we can repeat the tour for the other half.

Yeah I think it will get better with time, although I had the impression that not a lot of people came to the live shows I attended, definitely less than permitted which is a bit disappointing…

Aura: This is the truth. Most of the fans are not vaccinated, this is the reality for most Metal fans. I am telling you for sure, because I already experienced this. I had three shows, one in Bucharest and two in Northern Romania and we are preparing now for other two shows this weekend. Being in Romania is easier for us to put the shows in on the weekends. People are not coming, because first they are not vaccinated, second they are afraid, and third most of them are like us, they had businesses closed and they do not or cannot afford to pay a ticket or do things like that. Nevertheless, we have to keep on fighting, we have to keep on doing this, and we have to keep the fire burning. It does not matter whether we do this for 30, 40, or 50 people, we are doing this because we are encouraging the crowd to come and we are here to stay. This is what we have to do and the band must be part of those who will get up on stage, no matter what. This is the moment when we are showing what we are made of. We are here to say: we are fighters for the freedom, we are not only singing about it. So, if we are not only singing about it and we believe in the freedom and in the music we are making, we should show this on stage, no matter how much people are coming in front of the stage.

SCARLET AURA is a very active and productive band. The very first album “The Rock Chick” was still released under the name AURA. The albums “Falling Sky” and “Memories” followed quickly in 2016 and 2017 as well as a label contract with Universal Music Romania. So you had a flying start to your career…

Aura: We had signed with Universal for “The Rock Chick” album. It was only by choice to sign with other labels after Universal Romania, for example “Falling Sky” was assigned to a German label. We tried to find different distributors and different producers to find out which one fits best.

In 2018, you already released a live album and DVD. That is quite an achievement for such a young band…

Aura: Yeah, it is sold out and we should reproduce it, because it is indeed, as you said, a really good DVD and it was a really good show. However, it is not that difficult: you prepare a really good show, you pay the video team, and you do the live show and the audio of course, because you still need to prepare it for the DVD. You only need wanting to do this and believe me, we want to do things. We have Myke D. \[Mihai Dănciulescu] who is pushing every day with ideas. It is amazing. Then I am coming in with my ideas about the books that we should write the trilogy and I am going to do some graphics on the book as well as some presentations of the graphics. If you keep yourself concentrated on the past, a few things are coming.

Let us having a little break from the band history and talk about you Aura. You are one of the founding members of SCARLET AURA and the vocalist. When did you start singing and how did you come to Metal?

Aura: I was really small when I started singing. I think I was 10 years old, but officially and professionally, I started singing at the Cultural Institute in my hometown, where I also had music lessons and piano lessons. Since then, I have made music every day in my entire life. I did studies at the university in political science and law and made a master and a diploma degree, but I never stopped doing music. I found Metal later in my life. I was not in an environment who was listening to Heavy Metal. I knew of DEEP PURPLE, QUEEN, and many other big bands, but I was not a Metal head. It was not in my blood, I had other things back then. When I was in Bucharest at the university, I was singing and I found out that this alternative Rock band which was in search for a vocalist, for a male vocalist. Actually this announcement came to my ears from an opera colleague of mine. I was working at an opera project back then. He said that my voice seemed to be good for Rock and I should try with this band. Since then, this is what I wanted to do. I found my place, because I tried so many techniques and so many different styles of music, from traditional Romanian music to Ethno, Folk music, Pop music, Opera, and symphonic music. I was good, but I was not satisfied. I did not feel like myself. Then, when I started playing alternative Rock, I got a bit to the edge of it. I said: my God, I want to do Metal. That is why I and Mihai started the AURA project. He introduced me to HELLOWEEN and IRON MAIDEN, bands that I may have heard in a bar before. I am saying this to many people. I was not a Metal head from the beginning of my life, but since I found my place in this Metal life, I am even better than most of those who think they are Metal heads. Although I did not listen to Heavy Metal from the beginning, I really respect, do everything and dedicate my life to the Metal music for the last 12 years.

When it comes to female vocalists today, there seem to be only two types of vocalists, those with an angelic and classic voice and those with growling/screaming vocals. I find it really impressive that you do not fit in any of those categories, you perform good old Rock vocals …

Aura: I know what you are saying and I really love Doro Pesch and Lita Ford. I really love those crazy wild years of Heavy Metal. I heard someone saying your music is old. Go fuck yourself! Classic Rock and Heavy Metal is old, but that is their golden part of the style, because it is old. We are not reinventing it, we are just making the old better; we are just making the old sound new. We are just bringing the old back into the years of our kids. Some music will never die and it is just a genre we all should embrace and enjoy. Most people have expectations to hear lots of noise in the background of the songs, lots of modern beats, and synthetic drums. No, we record our drums. It requires a hell of a job to record, edit, mix and master truly recorded instruments and keep that song also in the genre, but also have your own production over it which is modern because we are young and modern. We do not use the same analog techniques our mentors used when they recorded their vinyls and CDs 30 years ago. We are, as you said, approaching a new wave of Heavy Metal which is modern, fresh and that can invite everyone to listen and to come back to this genre. I love it so much. Heavy and Power metal are amazing. It is for everybody. If you go with your grandmother, with your kids, everybody will have fun.

And your voice fits so perfectly into that sound…

Aura: Thank you! I cannot wait for the next albums to come, because this trilogy is a story and it had to be a bit violent. The next album may come with a bit of more elegance in the voice, with another story behind it. I cannot wait to see what Myke D. is capable of in music writing and also, how I can get the best out of it with the vocal lines, the lyrics, and the singing. I am so excited.

Let us go a bit further with the band history. There were a couple of line-up changes up to 2018, but with Rene Nistor you found your current bassist, and beside the live album, you also worked on the album “Hot’n’Heavy” which was released in early 2019 and would become the first part of the trilogy “The Book Of Scarlet”. In addition, you did a lot of touring through Europe. In retrospect, was 2018/19 perhaps the most important period in the history of SCARLET AURA?

Aura: Yes, “Hot’n’Heavy” was a big milestone in our history, but I think the period now with “Genesis Of Time” and the ending of the trilogy is the most important period for SCARLET AURA, because you start things but you never know if you will finish them. Things can happen, like not having enough inspiration, like being too tired to write music, or it might be too expensive to write music. It is expensive to write music, to record, mix, master and to produce it, and then to make videos for it. So, this is the biggest milestone for the band, also because of the fact we have Matthias Klaus back with us. He was the drummer back in 2016 while we toured with Tarja Turunen, and now with Rene on bass, Mihai on guitar and me on the vocals, I think it is the best fit for SCARLET AURA ever. We had some changes in the band, because this is a very serious thing to do and some of our old members got into the flick of the moment, saying yeah we want to do this, it sounds amazing. But when the hard work and the unpaid work came, the moment when you had to compromise time with family and so on, they decided not to continue or that other things are their priority. We had to move on and to see what the best for this dream to continue is. We also have Tatyana with us since 2016, who is our partner manager. Then we have Silver City Records with which we released the trilogy in partnership with Universal Romania. This is our dream team. I think this is the big milestone for SCARLET AURA, also because Mihai and I have a little girl that is going to be one year and nine months tomorrow. We have been also through my pregnancy during the album's recording of the vocals. I was pregnant while being on tour with Jeff Scott Soto. It was not easy and then all the pandemic and working in the studio came while she grew up. This is the perfect moment for us to rise and shine, because now, more than ever, we know what we have to offer, what we have to ask, and from whom.

“The Book Of Scarlet” is a triptych of fantasy stories which were prepared alongside the last three albums. The first part “Ignition” came out with “Hot’n’Heavy”. The main character of the book is “Scarlet”. Who is Scarlet?

Aura: The name SCARLET AURA has the part AURA which stands for the energetic aura, the red aura around it and we thought that Scarlet should be a character and let us write “The Book Of Scarlet” as a trilogy. Scarlet is a hero who saves the world. When listening to the songs and reading the book, you will discover that you are Scarlet and that you have the power to change the world. How you will do that, you will have to discover through our music and through the books. Scarlet is part angel, part devil, and part Phoenix birth. This is the fantasy part. The albums are Heavy and Power Metal albums with messages like hope, friendships, loss of hope, revenge, traitors, peace and love, and things like this. The fantasy story comes behind the albums and it is really well put on paper in these three volumes. The music is not a fantasy, lyrics in the music is not fantasy, but I got somehow to combine the lyrics from the albums really well with the story itself from the volumes. Scarlet is part of these three creatures which had to sacrifice themselves for Scarlet to be born and to save the world. Imagine, a devil and an angel are becoming friends to save the world. This is your topic, right? It is like our song “Utopia” from “Genesis Of Time”. This is how the story completes itself like “Hot’n’Heavy” is the way Scarlet was born from fire. It is the story with Scarlet having the first battle with the way he was born, the story of the three characters who are sacrificing themselves to have Scarlet on Earth as God, because this is what he becomes actually. The songs of “Stormbreaker” are about him having fights to save the world again, with the help of some friends. I do not want to say more, because the book is not released yet, but these friends are singing in a band and they save the world with their music and with the public. There are many nice adventures, because it is not only fantasy, it is a really modern and contemporary story with lots of humor, and lots of things for you to think about. Just dig into the first volume “Ignition” and you will find yourself in it. Then there is “Genesis Of Time” which will go back to the beginning of the story where the three creatures gave life to Scarlet. It is a cycle, it goes back to the “Genesis Of Time” and on the album, we have “Utopia”, we have “Frostbite”, we have “The Black Roses”, we have so many meanings behind the songs and you just have to dive into this adventure. When you read “Ignition”, you will find the lyrics of the songs in the story. So, it is a really interesting way to listen and to read a fantasy book. It is also a unique concept around the world. No one did it before and I am happy to say that!

You mentioned “Stormbreaker” already which was released right on time with the pandemic. As many bands, you were not really able to support the album with a tour. I guess, all your plans for 2020 were in ruins…

Aura: Yes, imagine we had all the CDs, vinyl, and merch paid and the entire costs for releasing material are really high. We were with all that merchandise in the house without possibility of doing anything with it, except for promoting it as much as possible and hoping that parts of the costs cover. This is how the business works in the end, it is your risk.

Did you have the chance to play any live shows in 2020?

Aura: No, not at all, I do not remember. Our daughter Sophia was born at the end of 2019 and I was a bit busy. I think we filmed the video for “Battle Cry” a few months after I gave birth. “Battle Cry” and then “The Heretic” happened relatively soon. So, what we did was work, work, work and expose ourselves more.

How did you spend the pandemic? How did you engage with the fans?

Aura: We had releases of singles from “Stormbreaker” and the future album ”Genesis Of Time” every month. We had release parties online with our fans and we communicated with them daily, we answered every question, every message. Most of our fans knew that I was busy with Sophia and the guys were recording in the studio. So, it was it was a quiet time in the end, it was a good quiet time.

SCARLET AURA and quiet time? I can hardly believe that…

Aura: We were busy in the studio and me recovering \[laughs]. I am telling you it is not easy to go back on stage after you had the baby. All my respect and appreciation for the artists who have more than just one baby. It is really hard.

I can only imagine that. You did a live stream in May 2021, how is a live stream compared to a real live show?

Aura: It is awful. What you do as an artist you do to be rewarded with the applause and the feedback from fans. That does not exist in live streams. Artists, and this is something who they do not say to anyone, have a huge ego. Artists equals ego. This is the truth. So, what we do is to be rewarded. This is the cruel truth, an artist does the art to be rewarded. If an artist does the art and it is not rewarded, the artist will be depressed and sad, and die young. Not getting rewarded with applause or feedback is really, really hard. I am not talking about financial rewards, it is about the impact of the crowd when they see your performance, when they listen to your work. Look, I have someone who installs a gate and the gate is useful. The person who installs the gate is happy that the gate is useful and keeps people safe. If we do the music, we need to have a feedback, which is the blood in our veins. We are not television or theater people who stay in front of a camera and get through the camera. We have some knowledge and some skills regarding this, but you cannot expect us to get used to this, that this is how our life is meant to be from now on. No! Unacceptable!

You did not waste any time and here we are: “Genesis Of Time” was released in September 2021 which is an impressive masterpiece of 70 minutes and the third part of “The Book Of Scarlet”. How was the response so far?

Aura: We were featured in Metal Hammer. I think this is huge. We were featured with a review and also with a material in Metal Hammer, Germany. For us coming from Romania, this is a huge achievement. It means whatever we are doing, we are doing it good. We had amazing feedback from partners we have worked with, from Felipe Andreoli, the bass player from ANGRA. We had feedback from many artists who we sent the album to listen to and they said it is the best work so far. They said that we do not have this kind of work in Heavy Metal and in Power Metal so far and it is good what SCARLET AURA do. It is overwhelming, thank you! Also in Romania, we have got feedback from big artists here who really appreciate what we are doing. We had this show here in Bucharest and members of our fan club Scarlet United came from Germany, from UK, from all over Romania. They came from everywhere, because they love SCARLET AURA. The Scarlet United fan club is really strong and I am happy to be part of it.

Many critics see the new album as the best of SCARLET AURA so far. What is your view on “Genesis Of Time” compared to the earlier albums?

Aura: I think this is normal and it should be, every album should be better. Hopefully it is not going to be the other way around. Every album should be better, because we learn more, we get better and better. Perhaps every album after “Genesis Of Time” should be different and that means better, but in terms of production, sound and in the writing of the music and lyrics, I really think “Genesis Of Time” is our best work so far. Although I am really excited about the “Hot’n’Heavy” album, because it was the turning point in our way of writing music and singing. We had a project called the Balkan stars project with a Serbian and Bulgarian band and we were in Serbia to record a song “To New Horizons”. I was singing my part and the way I was singing sounded amazing. I wanted to do that. The moment we started working on “Hot’n’Heavy”, I knew exactly how I want to sing on those parts and this is how the title song was done. I really love “Hot’n’Heavy”. I also love the production of the “Stormbreaker” album, the vinyl are in red scarlet, so you should check them out. “Genesis Of Time” comes with an elegant double orange with splash black vinyl, they are amazingly produced. The cover for the “Genesis Of Time” with the logo and all the details that really matter to us. In terms of the production, the album is really amazing.

What I found impressive is that “Genesis Of Time” has a lot of different sounds and textures. It starts with the instrumental “The Book Of Scarlet”, it has some traditional Heavy Metal songs like “Raw Power” or “Dark Lightning”, some more Power Metal oriented songs, and not to forget the epic title song. How did the songwriting work on the new album?

Aura: Well, Mihai stays in the studio until the song is done. He works on it and then records it with the guys and he is producing it. He worked on “Genesis Of Time” for one and a half years. We did the entire trilogy in almost four years and when we released “Stormbreaker”, he was already working on “Genesis Of Time”. He works so hard every day and this in terms of the sound, the recordings, and the technical parts. He is also the studio engineer, the recording, mixing, and mastering engineer and everything. Regarding the writing of the songs, it is his artistic talent. As a guitar player, it was his vision on how to write those songs. He gives the songs a title and then he presents them to me. This is the song, this is the title. Then I start to write the lyrics and then we work together on the vocal lines. Afterwards we record the demo and then the guys are coming to record the instruments and at the end we record the vocals. He is the master over the recordings, over the production, over everything.

You are the master over the lyrics. What are the secrets behind SCARLET AURA’s lyrics?

Aura: The moment he gives me the title, I know what he thought about it. We are talking about this and I am making the story behind it. There is no secret, it is only life and it is only thoughts and feelings. So, I am just good at words.

How did “Scarlet” change during the pandemic? She did not have a voice on the new album, since the song “The Book Of Scarlet” is an instrumental…

Aura: Well, this you will have to discover through the books. Scarlet is growing, there are the songs like “Frostbite”, the stories, so you really have to read and listen to the songs and imagine. It is a hero who can fly, who can fight, who can do stupid and idiotic things, because he is also a devil, not only an angel. Close your eyes, imagine you are a Scarlet and have fun with it. The second part of the trilogy will be released this year and the third part next year. In this way, we will also be busy releasing materials until the next album comes out. We cannot release all at once, it is too much for everyone. It is too much info and this is really something the public should soak in and have time to listen, to read, and to get into the story.

Do you have any favorite tracks on the new album or are there any tracks that have a special meaning for you?

Aura: I think “Saints Need Sinners” is my favorite and I hate it that Mihai made it so long that we cannot play it live in the show.

Finally, SCARLET AURA already started with a couple of live shows, but the European Tour with PRIMAL FEAR and BURNING WITCHES for this autumn was cancelled. What are the plans for the upcoming months?

Aura: Our plans depend only on the European situation regarding the COVID restrictions and on the COVID situation. We will see how the situation is at the end of the year. Then we will know if and when we can reschedule things for the European tours of SCARLET AURA. There is nothing we can do until we know something about the European decisions. Until then, go on our homepage, come on Facebook, on Instagram, be active, write to us, and we will let you know of every step we take.

Thank you so much for that amazing interview, I really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to see SCARLET AURA live in Germany soon.

Aura: Thank you so much for taking time for this interview. I send you all my love and regards and hope to see you face to face. Thank you.



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Edited 03 December 2021
 

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