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SYNLAKROSS's Patricia Pons: "“Go ahead with your ideas and just do it if you can no matter what, because life is this moment.”

Interview with Patricia Pons from SYNLAKROSS
by Thomas Kumke at 15 July 2021, 8:21 AM

Melodic Death Metal band SYNLAKROSS hailing from Spain released their 4th full-length album “0K4M1” last month. It's a very good reason for Metal Temple writer Thomas Kumke to talk with vocalist Patricia Pons about the band’s history, their inspirations, the concept behind “0K4M1”, the struggles of being an independent band, and Metal in Spain.

Hello Patricia, it is a real pleasure to meet you and I am really grateful to perform an interview with you for Metal Temple magazine. First of all I hope you had an exciting year in 2021, and you and your family are safe. How are things in Spain?

Patricia: Well, I think it is getting better like in all the countries of Europe because of the vaccination and people are optimistic right now. We can go outside without the face masks from tomorrow onwards. We still have to wear them inside, like in supermarkets. Regarding concerts, there are now a few shows scheduled here, but mainly from other genres.

How did you cope with the current pandemic situation as a band?

Patricia: I think everybody who is in a band has to be patient right now. Also the fans need to be patient, because the situation changed everything. I guess the idea is now to record new music or new videos and stuff like that. This is not easy because everything was postponed and everything was delayed because of the restrictions. Everything was going slowly with our new album. I think that the only thing I can say is: be patient with all this stuff.

I can imagine that it is very difficult to release a new album during those times. SynlakrosS released a new album. How difficult was that?

Patricia: It was difficult because of the situation and the restrictions. The restrictions were changing every few weeks, so it was impossible to make plans. We started to be more flexible with everything. We put some dates on the calendar but it was difficult for us since the beginning of recording the new album. We started recording the album and just on the last day of the recording, the lockdown was announcement. When we had the album ready to launch, we started chatting with the guys of the distribution and everything became slower and slower. That was the main difference with the new album for us, because we always did everything by ourselves. When you have an idea to release a song on a certain day, it is perfect, but right now if you even want to record a new video, you have to wait because of the situation. I think as I said before, for now we have to wait with music like all the other bands. Do not give up is the idea behind this. Do not give up and continue playing. There were some moments being at home where the only thing that you can do is just to think about lyrics or creating riffs, but if we carry ourselves, then we can do anything. I think the idea of never give up is still there.

How do you keep connecting to your fans during this time?

Patricia: I tried to answer every message and every comment on social media. We recently made a live event for our fans. It was great to chat with our fans. I was expecting to do something like that since long time ago and I think it was great. As I said, for me right now it is important just to keep in touch with the fans on social networks. Perhaps we are not very creative compared to that what other bands do on Twitch or their YouTube channels, but I think everybody has to be their self and not getting crazy because everybody is doing a special thing. If we are more introverted, we are going to be us all the time, no matter what.

Lets talk about the history of SynlakrosS. The band was formed in 2008 by bassist Pablo Fuentes and former drummer Tiko Martinez. The line-up was complete in around 2010. How do you see this early phase of the band? What was the idea behind forming a melodic Death Metal band?

Patricia: The project was created by Pablo Fuentes who is our bassist. The idea was to create a new melodic Death Metal band, because he is a huge fan of In Flames. However, the band should have an own personal touch, I think it was very important to create something that you really are proud of and you are really part of. It should not be a copy of another band or a tribute band. So when I joined the band, they were looking for a vocalist, and I remember one thing that this band is amazing and the music really rocks. Right now I listened to a few songs that we recorded during that time, and it is like: wow, the sound is terrible, but the ideas were great and are still great. So the magic was there since the beginning.

You released then the self-named demo in 2011 and the first full length album “Melodichrome” in 2013, followed by the 2016 release of “Death Bullets For A Forajido”…What does “Forajido” actually mean?

Patricia: “Forajido” is Spanish and means outlaw. When we did “Melodichrome”, it was the first contact with a real studio for me, since the demo that we recorded before was recorded by a friend and made by ourselves. In that moment when we recorded the first album, it felt great. But after a few months of that record, we started feeling that it was not the greatest album that we really wanted to record in that moment, because it was our first album and it was still an early time of the band. After a year we recorded a Nightwish cover song and also a song called “Dragon Egg”, but I think the first time that you can really hear what we really wanted to do is on our second album “Death Bullets For A Forajido”. I think this is the very first time that we introduced ourselves. The vocals have more shouts and stuff like that. I think for me the real first step was “Death Bullets For A Forajido” after “Melodichrome”. After that, I think the album where you really can hear what is SynlakrosS about is our third album “Malice Murder”.

Especially “Death Bullets For A Forajido” was well received by the critics and fans and it also was a starting point for having bigger tours with The Agonist and Jinjer, also with Primal Fear. Do you think that was the time when SynlakrosS established themselves in Spain and Europe?

Patricia: That is a really hard question to answer because to establish means to me when you are becoming a mainstream band like Iron Maiden or Metallica.

Yes I see what you mean. Perhaps establish in a sense that SynlakrosS became known in Spain and had the opportunity to go on tours and festivals. You also won awards in Spain for this album…./qst]

Patricia: Yes, we won the Granito Festival contest in the Metal section and it was our first big festival. And yeah, I have good memories about this, it was great.

 You followed up then with “Malice Murder” in 2018, another album that gave you a lot of recognition and you went to another European tour…

Patricia: It was a very good new level for us. We really felt very confident with “Malice Murder”. The people also started to love it. It was great. We had a lot of plans and we were starting with new tours and stuff like that until COVID appeared…

 The line-up of SynlakrosS has been relatively stable throughout the years, you had only very few changes, most notably co-founder Tiko Martinez left in 2018. Do you think this stability was one of the reasons for this steady development and success of the band?

Patricia: Yes absolutely. I think it was a key, because every time that we had to look for a new member, it was like: oh my god, who is going to join us? Is the new member going to fit in? This is a source of stress and, of course, you have to make a choice and this needs time. I am very grateful for that stability, I think it really helps. We are still in good relation with the former members of the band. Tiko Martinez left after “Malice Murder”. I think in terms of music or in terms of the instrument, it was easy to replace him with Dan our new drummer because he is very talented and he really wants the same that we want. He is really into the project. That is very cool. But at a personal level, we were friends with Tiko, and we are still being friends for more than 10 years. So it is difficult, because he is your friend and you are seeing his face all the time, a lot of experience, a lot of jokes, a lot of things. It was not an easy change because we were friends. We are also still friends with Horacio, our former guitarist. Those changes always leave a hole. You can replace the musician but you cannot replace the friend. The only thing that you can do is to get a new friend. Tiko always has a very special place in the band as well as Horacio and Adrian. But hey, we are very happy, it was nothing dramatic, it was just a choice of life, because sometimes you decide that this is the end of an era for you. That was his decision and we respect that and we are still being friends. So I think that it is a cool thing for a band being together and supporting each other, no matter what.

Does Tiko like the new album?

Patricia: Yeah, he likes it. He was at our rehearsal place a few months after he left the band and he was listening to the new songs and he said it is going to be a great album.

Lets talk about you Patricia. How and when did you become a vocalist and how did you come into Metal?

Patricia: I started to be interested in Metal when I was a teenager. During that time, I discovered several Metal bands. In addition, I was part of a chorus at high school. So I think part of me wanted to sing, but I did not know during that time that I was prepared for a Metal band. I remember just singing, for example, growls, guttural, screams and stuff like that. Every time I went to our club close to my house, with the music being very loud. Every time when I heard the singer screaming, it was the time when I started to make guttural noise because the music was too loud. It was the perfect time because sometimes when you start singing guttural, you start pushing too much and put too much pressure on your throat because people saying that is embarrassing to do that sound or you are shy like me. Singing guttural at these moments was perfect, because the music was too loud and people around were drinking and taking not much notice when you start making this noise.

You use your clean voice and you also growl? How did you learn growling?

Patricia: I learnt it by myself. I remember to hear friends doing guttural sounds and when I was in the club that was the perfect time to start to scream by myself. I tried to imitate every sound from low growls to high pitched screams or whatever. I remember to watch a few videos about growling on YouTube. I think this was the kind of things that I wanted to learn by myself and to try by myself. Everybody have their own kind of voice and for me it is more important to try to develop my own style rather than to try to imitate others. For example, I started to sing in a chorus like a soprano. I remember that is not very different to sing in that way compared to singing guttural because you have to do some similar techniques. I remember to listen to a lot of the Metal bands from Northern Europe because I really like the deep guttural sound like that from Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. I am more into deep gutturals rather than the higher screams that you can hear from bands of the United States, It is different and I really like Death Metal vibes from the 90s in Northern Europe.

What is your advice for any aspiring growling vocalists?

Patricia: I think the advice is to take care of your voice and always warm up, always calm down and practice. In addition, try to be yourself and do not try to imitate others. For example, I have a high voice, because I am a soprano and I remember a few years ago, I read that only females can sing gutturals with a deeper voice or mezzo-soprano. So it was impossible for a soprano to sing guttural. So yeah, I am not soprano. Do not trust everything what you read.

Lets talk about the new album “0K4M1” or what I call “Okami”. What does the name “0K4M1” stand for?

Patricia: The name is really “Zero-K-Four-M-One”. In fact, there are people who think that the name of the album is “”Okay For Me”. The name is the name of the creature. “0K4M1” is a code name for an experiment and the creature is the result of the experiment. If you are curious why we choose this name, one of the songs “Õkami” was created by our guitarist Ivan Munoz. All the other songs were created by Pablo Fuentes since he is our main composer. So “Õkami” was created by Ivan and he included that Japanese-inspired sound into it, which was great. The question was how can we put this song into the album and do not go crazy with that? So he came up with the name of the song and I really like it and it fit with the idea of the lyrics that I had. So were going to name the album “0K4M1” because the creature is an experiment, but this song “Õkami” is going to be the mature chapter of the creature, since every song is a chapter of the creature. So this particular song is about the mature creature that is the perfect weapon. If you search for the word Õkami, it means wolf in Japanese, but it also means God, because if you write in Japanese with a different symbol, it becomes a different meaning. So the idea of wolf and God was just perfect. In that moment, all the lyrics and all the ideas of the album made sense altogether.

 “0K4M1” is a concept album where the whole album is conceptually centered on the futuristic creature “0K4M1” including artwork and video. How did this idea develop and how was the songwriting process?

Patricia: I can only speak about my vision of the album, because I am the person who wrote the lyrics. For me, the idea started when I was walking outside on the roads one day, and I was feeling weird and a little bit sad. I had that feeling when you are not going to fit into the society or in your job or in your family, no matter what. I started really feeling like an alien. All of us have such moments in our life where we are going to feel in that way. If you go one step further with the idea and you do not feel only like an alien, because if you feel like an alien you can at least fit into the alien spot. But if you are something in between, you are not going to be accepted by humans or by aliens. I think it was a very realistic idea. I remember that is was a long time ago, when I listened to an album that reflects that kind of sadness. I do not know, perhaps the classic vibes of new Metal albums from the 90s are very depressing stuff. Some of us were connected with that kind of music and with that kind of lyrics. When I thought about feeling different, feeling sad, and feeling like an alien, I also was thinking about which music was made with that kind of sadness and dramatic experience in this year. Even Death Metal is not like this, and I think sometimes we really need music where you really want to scream with all the pain, with all the sadness, and with all the crap. That was the idea for me. We made the album “Malice Murder” with a lot of anger and a lot of violence, and the idea was the same. I was like: what bands are writing songs with that kind of rage because I really need it. I know, there are bands writing songs like that. I really needed to create something with more pain. I remember that it was very helpful for me to listen to such music when I was a teenager and it is amazing how that kind of music can help you. It is mind blowing. In fact, I remember that I received a mail a few weeks ago. It was written by a boy from the United States and he wrote: “I really like your music. I was very depressed today and your music was really helpful. Thank you very much.” Wow, that was amazing and it is perfect, because that kind of response is what I want to achieve as a musician and as a person. Music helped me in the past and also today, and it is amazing if you can help others.

How does the lyric writing work for a closed concept album? Do you have the music first and then the lyrics? Or do you develop the lyric concept first? How does it work?

Patricia: It is hard to explain because most of the time, the music is created before the lyrics. However, every time when we are at the end of the session of recording a new album, we start thinking about the next album. So, I start thinking about the new album and also I have to think about new ideas and new lyrics. It is a very organic process, it is very easy. We do not have to talk too much about what we want, in fact the perfect example is “Malice Murder”, because there was a general feeling in the band that we really want to do a dark album. So, I guess for the new album, it was something in the air. Writing lyrics for a concept album is different because you have to have very clear ideas of for example the characters and the chapters of the life of the creature. The music is developed by the guys, they work on that, but my ideas have to fit into that specific music, into the specific emotion. We had a few more songs that we were not recording, because the songs that we choose, the music, the bass, it all was perfect for the message. So after working on the lyrics, it was very obvious for us that this album is going to be very compact.

Is it easier to write a concept or a non-concept album?

Patricia: For me, it is easier when you have a concept, because all of our albums are connected to the same thing since “Melodichrome”. I remember when I started to sing in SynlakrosS, we started to make some songs and every song had a special kind of lyrics and during that time we had a lot of ideas. When we decided to record the first album, it was when the idea of the concept really appeared. I think this is because I have a degree in design and you have to have a concept to develop a project as a designer. So I think because of that, I always have to have an idea of a concept and use something that really has sense for me to build on.

The album is out for around a month. How was the response so far?

Patricia: It has been really great, which is amazing, because we are living in the pandemic and everything is difficult, is lonely, and is crazy. We are receiving great reviews like yours, and people and the fans are loving the album. They are really loving it and I receive sometimes messages from people that they are always listening to the album. This is awesome and I cannot wait to play the new songs live in Europe, see the faces of the people and be in connection with them. That is the then the moment when you really know if the songs are working.

 What is your favorite track on “0K4M1”? Mine is “Õkami” because I like the more aggressive and faster tracks, and your vocals are outstanding on this one…

Patricia: That is difficult. I do not really know. At the beginning when we released the album, it was “Stardust” and also “Pitch Black”. But at the moment, I do not know, “Õkami” is one of them. It changes every month, because of rehearsals and then you have new ideas. I think it was a great idea to do “0K4M1” and to try things like “Õkami” with as you say the vocals and to try to spread the songs with more fear. The whole album is my baby actually and it is difficult to choose one song.

You released with “Pitch Black” one video to support the new album. Not surprisingly it fits into the concept of the album. Could you tell us about how the video was developed from the idea to the filming?

Patricia: We recorded this video with Sergio Mangas who was the director and with Barbara Navarro, the creative director. They are both professionals and Barbara has really great ideas and she really knows what we want and how to do it. I wrote the lyrics, so I had the feeling that we do not have the budget to do that film since you really need the budget to create an alien in the movie, but Barbara was there to think and create with us. It is great when you find somebody like her to work and to create videos like this. It is not easy to understand what the video is about, because this is the moment when the creature was created and also the birth of the creature. I do not know if people are going to get it, but I think it is a great video and it is something different. I mean, it is different from the things that we made before and that is the idea for us to continue creating things different than the things that we did before.

I have one part in my interviews where I try with some key words to talk about a few topics. We start easy…. Your top 3 Metal bands?

Patricia: Let me see. I am going to say Dir En Grey, the Japanese Metal band. Then it is In Flames. The third one changes every month but I am going to say Cradle Of Filth.

Your most favorite top 3 albums?

Patricia: Wow, this is even more difficult than the question before because it really changes every month. I would say “Follow The Leader” by Korn. That was a great album. Then I would say “Midiam” by Cradle Of Filth and I choose “Clayman” by In Flames.

I have concert tickets for you… I give you the choice of 2 bands and I come to you 3 times…. Which band do you choose and why? Let us start with the first pair…Arch Enemy or Heaven Shall Burn?

Patricia: I would go to Arch Enemy because they have really great songs especially during the era with Angela Gossow like “Nemesis”.

Korn or Amon Amarth?

Patricia: Sorry for Amon Amarth, I am going to see Korn.

 I did not know that Korn is one of your favorites, so that was an easy choice. I think I know the answer for the next one…Killswitch Engage or Dark Tranquility?

Patricia: It is Dark Tranquility.

 Yeah, I am not surprised. The reason for those questions was to dig into the inspirations of SynlakrosS. The sound is often described somewhere between melodic Death Metal and melodic Metalcore. This is also the reason why I put all those Metalcore bands into the previous question. What are your biggest influences?

Patricia: I think for all of SynlakrosS, In Flames is the biggest influence. For me as a vocalist, it is a mix of singers. I really like the way, Anders Fridèn of In Flames sings, I think he is really amazing, his musicality and his rhythm is very, very cool. Jonathan Davis of Korn has really a huge impact on me, and also at the beginning Sandra Nasic of Guano Apes. That girl is really amazing. I think that it is a classic question that people and fans wish to answer instead of me, because I do not know the answer. For example, I remember a person from another country saying that in the way I sing, you could see that I am from Spain, because of flamenco roots or something like that. That was really weird for me but I guess that is the kind of question that the fans want to have answers.

 When you look at Spain, there is actually not very much regarding Metal. However, the development of SynlakrosS goes a bit parallel to that of another Spanish melodic Death Metal band Bloodhunter. How do both bands differ? Is there competition between both bands?

Patricia: There is no competition because I think that they are more a Death Metal kind of band and we are doing what we want to do all the time. So as you can see us as a melodic Death Metal band but if there is something that inspires us from other styles, we are open to everything and we want to try new things every time. I think Bloodhunter are more like an old school Death Metal band, especially when you listen to their older stuff.

SynlakrosS and Bloodhunter are both Spanish melodic Death Metal bands. How popular is Metal in Spain?

Patricia: It depends. We have big festivals, but it is not the mainstream music. If you are watching TV, you are not going to listen to Metal, no matter what. So it feels like underground, I guess. As I said we have big festivals with lots of people but it is not the most popular music in this country.

 You mentioned the Spanish big Metal festivals such as Resurrection Fest or Rock Fest Barcelona. Do you think that Metal bands in Spain have sufficient support to play shows?

Patricia: Well, I think it depends like everything in life on having the right friends and the right people that you know. Generally speaking, there is not enough support for Metal bands. It is like a closed circle of musicians and festivals. I think it is very different from the festivals of other countries where you can see the big names of the international bands on top, but here for example, it is all big names of international bands. The medium sized bands are also international bands, and the small ones are from Spain. For example we have a band like Angelus Apatrida, a great band which play international and everywhere such as in the last edition of Wacken Open Air. There are lots of people that are going to see them and they have sold out shows, but in my opinion, the name of the band is still being too small on the poster of the festivals and they are not going to play during the best hour of the festival.

qst] It is different in other countries. For example, a Swedish festival will have a Swedish headliner, in Germany you have a German headliner, even France would have Gojira as a headliner, but there seem to be a big difference between Northern Europe and Southern Europe in terms of Metal…

Patricia: I think this is because here in Spain, Metal is not a big culturing thing. I think Metal here started in the 80s, but it was more Hard Rock than pure Metal. When Iron Maiden became very big and famous, here there was nothing even close to Iron Maiden in terms of quality, because every style in every country need at least 10 years or so to really embrace this style and to really know what you are doing. So I think we are late in Metal.

SynlakrosS is an independent band. What are advantages and disadvantages? Would you sign for a big label?

Patricia: Well, my experience is only being in an unsigned band. Everything is hard and there is a lot of work to do all the time. It is like an iceberg and what people see is only the top of the things that you do and it is hard. I want to believe that is easy for bands that have signed for a big label and who have the management and stuff like that, but I do not know. I hope to discover that one day, but sometimes everything is a pain in the ass. You are working a lot and you are not receiving all the things that you want. For example if we want to do a European tour, we have to organize it ourselves and it is me looking for clubs and looking for bands most of the time. So we do not have the support. More famous bands have an agency which takes care of everything and things go faster for them. When we prepared a tour, a small tour across Europe, I worked on that at least during eight months before that we were going to play there, and then everything was canceled. It is a lot of work and a lot of headache, but you know, it is our project and it is the music that we love and either we do this or not. On the other hand, I think one of the big advantages is that we are free to create the album that we want and how we want it without any restrictions and without people saying that it is not going to be a big sale.

 It probably depends what is more important to you. Is it the freedom you have as an independent band or the stability of a signed band where you can fully focus on the music and you do not need to take care about things like stage water. We are now on a good way back to normality. With whom would SynlakrosS love to go on tour in the future?

Patricia: Of course we are crazy for playing in Europe and also Germany. We really want to play in Germany a lot, because this one of the countries where we have a lot of support since the beginning. We also really want to go back to United Kingdom, but who knows what happens now with the Brexit. When we played there two years ago, everything was easy because there were part of the European Union. In the future we also really want to play in the United States because we have a lot of fans there too. I think we really want to play everywhere since our passion is for music and we cannot wait to share more music. Regarding bands to go on tour with, this is different for me. I do not have any ideas of what kind of bands to tour with. I know the kinds of bands that I want to see as a fan, but it is different when you are a musician and you share the stage with them, because you can see maybe one song of them and everything is crazy. I am in the dressing room and have to change or I am working on my makeup or I warm up, so you cannot see the other bands. I know a lot of people see bands and singers like big idols, and I know behind the big idol there is a person, a normal person. I really do not have an idol, I have artists who I like and I really like what they do. When I am interested in a particular singer, I want to know a little bit of his or her life, because sometimes their life experience leaves a mark on them and their music. But for all the rest, I do not want to know if they are divorced or what they eat. I think that is why I am not a big fan of social networking. I do not want to know what they are wearing at a Christmas party.

 What are your plans for the next months and what can we expect from SynlakrosS?

Patricia: Well, if I tell you I have to kill you. We have new stuff. Well, this is because of you, I am going to tell you everything. We were recording two songs of “0K4M1” a few weeks ago, but live versions. We are going to launch this video and also the music. We still have to wait for a few details, but I hope that it is going to be out in a few weeks, probably next month. Also we are going to record brand new music.

 I guess the live video is live in a studio during those times…

Patricia: It was recorded in a studio, but in a special studio. You can even see the plants and everything in the studio, but you can see that it is live and also you can hear the sound. We really miss the feeling of playing live, so we really wanted to do that. We never did something like this before and now it is the perfect time to do that. Of course, playing without fans is a bit weird because every time when I scream, I am looking for the reaction. Every time when we record a new song or a new album in the studio, we put all our heart on that, but nobody is watching this. With this live recording, it is the same sensation.

Is there anything you would like to tell to your fans or the readers of Metal Temple magazine?

Patricia: I want to say thank you for this interview. It was a pleasure to talk with you and to do this interview for Metal Temple. And also, I really want to send all my love and all my support to everybody because this is a tough moment in our lives and we have a hard time with this pandemic. Go ahead with your ideas and just do it if you can no matter what, because life is this moment. There are moments of happiness and there is COVID shit. It is like a roller coaster. So I just want to say: cheer up, go ahead and do the things that you have to do.

Patricia, it was great talking to you and to perform this interview with you for Metal Temple magazine. I really enjoyed it and had a great time with you. Thank you very much.

Patricia: Thank you very much!



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