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SURMA's Viktorie Surmøvá: "We would like to make music that will lift the spirit of all those who need it in these times, and we hope to make melodies that you will be happy to have stuck in your ears."

Interview with Viktorie Surmøvá from SURMA
by Jean Francois-Poulin at 25 November 2020, 2:27 AM

2020 has been a year full of deceptions and turmoil but one thing, one tangent has been stable and that’s the oncoming storm of great and new music. 2020 has given us some musical memories beyond our wildest dreams and some surprises along the way. I reviews countless albums this year, probably more than all the years passed and I have been impressed so many times in these trying times. SURMA was a big surprise for me this year and one of the very best albums to come across Symphonic Metal in quite a while. Metal Temple writer Jean-Francois Poulin recently had the chance and privilege to interview to very talented Viktorie Surmova for the likes Metal Temple. In a the metal world full of smoke and mirrors at times, it’s safe to say that some bands let true talent shine in front of all the temptations of sight before sound and SURMA is definitely on top of that list. 

SURMA kind of came out of nowhere in the middle of 2020, where did you meet all the members of the band? Being these members are from the 4 corners of Europe and hardly near to each other!

Thank you for the lovely introduction! The band started in 2018. I met Heri in the end of 2016 during the TYR tour. Then we met Rens, the bass player, when we already recorded most of the guitars in 2019 and Aleksandr, drummer, joined the band just this summer 2020.

The first single off the album was ‘’Reveal the Light Within’’, what is the meaning of the light within from a personal standpoint?

I wanted to point out that we all carry some light inside which we can. reveal. It's like finding the purpose of life, doing what we love, what fulfills us somehow. Not to do just things we have to because of others expectations. On the other hand the whole album carries a positive mood. My general point was to tell people that no matter how dark days they are experiencing, there is always a way to find the light and not be stuck in their own dark, pessimistic mind.

Musical upbringing has a big part in the development of our musical senses, from what we hear and what we feel about it, sometimes music carves the soul of a child and you never know what those times with impact your life in the future. What is your earliest musical memory? What is your earliest recollection of music around you at a young age?

My father is a big rock/metal fan and my mum likes to listen to rock and classical music. We were listening to the music every single day and my father was even educating me in hard rock, metal music. I have been singing at home every day since my childhood but I started to do actively music with my cello studies when I was 6yo.

You guys signed to the legendary musical label, Metal Blade Records! How did that come about and what does it mean to you on a personal and professional level?

Heri was already in good contact with them through his other band, TYR. It is standard procedure in the business to let the record label you are already signed to have the first choice of your new bands, and let them make an offer on it if they want. So we did, and we were very pleased with the offer they gave. We are very happy to be on a prestigious label, and we consider it an honour.

I saw a number of videos of you guys in the studio, you seem to have a whole lot of fun and it shows in your music, what is your perspective as the uncompromising work that is involved when creating an album? And how was it recording that Quarantine version of the first single with all you guys at your different homes?

Music really makes us happy. The most difficult part while creating the album is that we do not have daily income so sometimes we just had to do other necessary projects just to be able to pay the bills.  The rest was nice. We recorded it at home and we had enough time for everything. The Quarantine acoustic song was lovely to do! I finally felt like we had a chance to do something all together after a long time. But of course it would be nicer to be able to record it together for real and no long distance.

How has the state of the World affected your music and your song writing process? The album seems such a positive tornado in front of all that his happening around us since the beginning of the year.

Actually the whole album was finished before the Corona madness. I guess I was a bit of a fortune teller when I thought people need more positive messages in life.

You were part of the BOHEMIAN METAL RHAPSODY, what exactly is this project?

Actually I still am. It is a project of a Czech drummer from the band named "Citron". They were among the very first metal bands in Czechia. BOHEMIAN METAL RHAPSODY is something like "rock-opera" in it's way There are 8 singers, 2 cellos and the whole metal band with fireshow, big screens etc.. It is a great experience.

Did you take any music classes growing up?

I took some very basic classes while I was studying cello for 11 years. But then I continued after a break on the conservatory in Prague and later in the Netherlands.

Let’s just say hypothetically you have a blank check to hire any band for a dream tour, who would be the bands you would choose and why?

NIGHTWISH, AYREON and EIVOR. NIGHTWISH because of their huge show, because there were the first band that inspired me to do what I do and because I had the pleasure to meet them and they are really nice people. AYREON because this project is just spectacular and it contains great singers whom I admire and EIVOR because I would love to learn so much from her as a singer.

What were the bands that influenced you guys when you were thinking of possibly forming the band?

I didn't want to sound like any band, so I wasn't thinking of it like this. But when Jacob Hansen asked me how do we want to sound in the mix and master reference, I think I answered DELAIN and EPICA.

What 5 albums would you bring with you if you were stuck on a deserted island?

OK!, 1. our own - SURMA - The Light Within (to be proud of something), 2.  EIVOR - Segl, 3. MAYAN - Dhyana,  4. MYRKUR - Folkesange, 5. S.O.A.D. - Hypnotize/Mezmerize

You decide to form this Supergroup, who would be the members of it and why?

Heri on guitar, Mark Jansen on second guitar, Eugene Abdiukhanov on bass, Roman Lomtadze on drums and Floor Jansen with Marcela Bovio singing (preferably with me as well). Why? Except Eugene I've got to know all of them and I love their personalities and charisma. With Eugene, they are all just bloody great musicians!

Is there an artist any there, no matter what genre, you would love to collaborate with?

I always wanted to make a collaboration with some Ukrainian singer, because it would feel like I am closer to Ukrainian listeners which I am not now. And it is a pity since I have a family there and I am proud of being half Ukrainian half Czech.  Hard to say precisely. Tatiana from JINJER, Okean Elzy or HARDKISS band.

Any plans on doing any live shows on the internet during these trying times?

We wanted to do that, but since we are living in three different countries, it is not easy to get all the band members together to do something like that. Unfortunately this looks like it is far in the future for us still.

Do you have a favorite city or town or venue you have been to in your musical career?

All the places are my dream to sing in. All that matters to me are the listeners. But if you want me to really choose, I usually mention 70,000 tons of metal, because I love the atmosphere there.

When on hiatus (or quarantined obviously), what do you discover about yourself on a personal standpoint and as a musician? Did you learn more after the release of the album or before that?

I discovered that it is really demotivating for me to stay at home for a long time. I need to travel, I need to perform, I just need that energy exchange with the crowd in front of the stage! The album release didn't play a big role in my personal discovery if that's what you mean.

So what's in store for you guys in the near future and is there any bands you guys would love to tour with? Obviously when touring will be safe and allowed.

- We're staying at home, writing music and recording I think it would be good for us to tour with bands like NIGHTWISH, EPICA, DELAIN, UNLEASH THE ARCHERS or WITHIN TEMPTATION.

Any side-projects you guys are working on that we can expect in the near future?

Well, Heri has his other band, TYR. He's making their next album now. We are also doing some things for SURMA already, some between-the-albums projects and we also have some ideas for the second SURMA album already.

What would guys like to accomplish with the future releases?

We would like to make music that will lift the spirit of all those who need it in these times, and we hope to make melodies that you will be happy to have stuck in your ear. Also we would love to go on tour and meet the fans and supporters. That would be lovely.

What in your mind is the one thing that truly unleashes an artist’s true potential?

Perfect technical working conditions, support from fans and earning enough from music to do it full time.

How has the political turmoil affected the lyrical content of your music?

I don't think that played any role, actually. We were concentrating on stories mostly from the past and diving into those. Present day politics never came up, as I recall the process.

In your eyes, what makes a good foundation for the dynamic of a band?

It is important that all members are on the same page and have the same plans and expectations for the future of the band. It is also important that all members can stand each other at a basic level. Even better if they really like each other, but bands can function professionally without that. SURMA are building their fanbase and working diligently to make it worthwhile for each and every listener out there. I am happy that a band like this that is female fronted that brings it to another level. I like it when its substance before style, pure talent before the superficial stuff we get so much nowadays. They are an example to follow and the fact that they concentrate on the music before the image part of the genre is something that makes me extremely happy as a fan of music.

Thank you so much Viktorie for the opportunity to interview you for the Metal Temple!


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Edited 30 January 2023

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