Enemy of Reality – The Myth Comes AliveThursday, 2nd February 2017
Melding together the rich literature of mythology and the wondrous expansiveness available through symphonic metal, Enemy of Reality represent one of the shining newcomer beacons from Greece. Beyond the soprano vocals and dramatic compositions, you partake in a vibrant style that takes into account heavier guitar textures, progressive maneuvers, and a bevy of guest performances that partake in the storylines without overshadowing the final outcome. The versatility can appease people into Nightwish just as much as say Sirenia, or even deeper neoclassical/extreme oriented artists.
Vocalist Iliana Tsakiraki took the time recently to answer a series of questions regarding the group – including the numerous special guest appearances on both records, how they attained their current record deal with Belgian label FYB Records, their affinity for domestic mythology, as well as enjoying a multi-faceted work/career balance surrounded by music. And in the interim, don’t forget to study the Greek Gods and their history when you get the chance.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you tell us about your initial memories surrounding music, and what circumstances took place for you to move from being a fan to picking up an instrument/ singing and forming your first bands?
Iliana Tsakiraki: The truth is that I have an older sister, 5 years to be exact, that started playing the piano and singing in choirs at a very tender age. She listened to rock and she was one of my biggest influences. I started out around 5 with the piano, didn’t get to become a “true” fun, meaning going to concerts, having specific idols etc. When SepticFlesh released Sumerian Daemons around 2003, then I understood I ‘d use my classical singing training later (opera).
Dead Rhetoric: Enemy of Reality formed in 2013- what do you remember about the formation of the group, and did you have a good idea right away the types of elements you wanted to go into your symphonic metal style that you deliver or was there a natural growth process that took place in rehearsals and initial songwriting sessions?
Tsakiraki: I remember that (guitarist) Steelianos (Amoiridis) gave an excellent good impression at first, and as soon as I met him I stopped being unsure about anything. It came out pretty easy for us, since I already had a great support from Philip (Stone) for many years now (our drummer) and it was much easier since I knew that a great player was already in the band. Later on, I was hesitant at first in seeking our bass player by a public announcement, something that I was wrong about, as Thanos was an excellent case. I already had discussed my influences and vision for this band with the band, but I told them I wanted their characters coming out in the final result. So we started composing and rehearsing at the same time.
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to the songwriting, a lot of the material you choose to tackle lyrically comes from Greek mythology – what makes you gravitate towards that particular subject matter, and do you come up with the themes first before the music or is the process hand in hand?
Tsakiraki: Well, we were already familiar with this story, the Greek mythology is quite rich, we discussed it and it felt like a nice theme to work on. Arakhne was created directly from its tale. I mean we created some chapters around the story, and started creating according to what we felt. That is how it should be with concept albums, as we believe.
Dead Rhetoric: Rejected Gods your debut album appeared on FYB Records, a Belgian label. How did you attract the interest of the label, and how do you feel the recording sessions went for the record? Any particular highlights – and how did you decide on the special guest appearances with members of Symphony X, Sirenia, Chaostar, and Jaded Star?
Tsakiraki: FYB Records isn’t a major company, but they ‘re watching over us a lot and they ‘re helpful. The people that work there are friendly and honest. And these are very important traits to us. We have many fans from BeNeLux, so it was also logical to work with a Belgian company. As for the recording sessions, everything was beautiful, there was a lot of stress and kind of ‘tiring’ moments due to the long hours maybe, but we all enjoyed the result. We always choose guests that their character could add something to the overall outcome or play a specific part in our story. When this is combined with dear friends, it gets even better!
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about the live performances you did in support of the record- as you gained great opportunities to play festivals outside of Greece like MFVF in Belgium, Dames of Darkness in the UK, and Maximum Rock in Romania among others? What do you hope to get across to the audience on stage that is special and different from the studio versions?
Tsakiraki: We ‘re a live band, and we love performing. The whole vibe we ‘re receiving and the new people we meet is something magical and unique. The fact that we ‘ve participated in major festivals in Europe with huge names, that we never even imagined we ‘d play next to them, is a dream coming true for us. Of course, if you want to be a live band, the main target is to create the same vibes to people that have listened to your record, on an even larger scale. That is what we (rely) on.
Dead Rhetoric: Your latest album is Arakhne – a full conceptual effort relating to another Greek mythological story about a maiden who is turned into a spider by Athena. Where do you see the major differences between your debut to now, were there any particular struggles or obstacles to work through, and what do you consider the highlights?
Tsakiraki: The obvious is the usage of a full conceptual effort, lyrically. There were also differences in our sound, mainly because we didn’t have the pressure that our material was going to be our debut, or our introduction to the world. We ‘re getting more mature, the more we compose, the more we play, and the more time that we spend together. There were some obstacles and hard moments, such as Marianthie ‘s departure and the fact that we had to work with a new keyboard player, Leonidas (Diamantopoulos), but things turned out great in the end!
Dead Rhetoric: You used IndieGoGo to crowdfund the new record- raising over $6,000 from over 150 backers. How do you feel about this direct business model to the fans – and what were some of the special perks that seemed to work out the best? Will it be something you continue to explore for future records?
Tsakiraki: We used it on our debut album as well, and we used the same model with this one. It is not easy to create a campaign if you wanna be serious about it. It needs careful planning and effort, and you need to be trustworthy. We ‘re extremely happy with how things turned out for us. We were the first metal band in Greece to achieve exceeding our target. And we ‘re very honored that people trusted us and pre-ordered the record and perks months prior to its release. Our box set was one of the greatest ‘hits’ of the campaign. As well as a perk containing the album, a t-shirt and some other goodies. We like this model, and the fact that it makes the connection between us and the fans much more direct. As for future (use), we can’t know for sure, but it is possible.
Dead Rhetoric: Did you hand pick again the special guest performances on the record, and how does it feel to have contributions from Fabio Lione and Jeff Waters from instance on tracks like “Reflected” and “Nouthetisis” respectively? Also, what was it like working with Rotting Christ’s George Emmanuel on the production end of things – did he give you any particular tips and insight to make the outcome of the record that much stronger?
Tsakiraki: Answering the first part of your question, yes, we handpicked the special guests. We needed Fabio ‘s voice to portray Narcissus, he was the first we thought of, and we needed Chiara from Therion for the part of Arakhne on “Showdown”. As for Jeff and “Nouthetisis”, his solo is wicked, it sounds complex, melodic and old-school- and that is what we needed, as “Nouthetisis” has a more thrashy sound in comparison to other songs.
For the second part, George Emmanuel is an amazing producer, we ‘ve known him for many years and were sure about the result. He helped out a lot and created a concrete production in our opinion. Plus he is a great guy as well. Nasos Nomikos (VU productions) also helped us a lot with his mastering services.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your views on the symphonic metal genre currently? It seems like there is a wide variety of bands that exist in this sub-genre from all across the globe – does the diversity help elevate the appeal for a wider reaching fan base?
Tsakiraki: We hope so. There are many really interesting bands from all around the world, exactly as you said. We won’t mention names, but any fan that seeks out new stuff, will surely find some music that will leave him or her pleased.
Dead Rhetoric: How much warm up do you have to do in terms of gearing up for the stage – as I would imagine you can’t just rip out the operatic notes right away? Are there particular rituals that you pay attention to every time?
Tsakiraki: You ‘re very right, you must always warm up before playing live. Sometimes it is hard to find the time to do the needed warm up. But it is always necessary to be sure and safe that your performance will be good from the beginning of the show.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you define success for Enemy of Reality at this point in your career?
Tsakiraki: I don’t know, never really gave it much thought. But we feel good about what we ‘ve done so far, and we feel good with the things we ‘re planning to do, so it feels like we ‘ve succeeded in our goals. The goal is to be able to reach as many pairs of ears as we can to increase our audience, produce solid music that people will enjoy listening to over and over again, and play many live shows (as we love it). Up to now, we ‘ve succeeded in doing our best.
Dead Rhetoric: What types of interests and hobbies do the band members have outside of the music? Do you believe that friendships are important to the success and health of the band as well?
Tsakiraki: Yes, indeed it is very important that there is a friendly relationship between the members of a band. You get to spend many hours with your band mates, and share a lot of things. They are the ones that should understand you in many situations and not break under disagreements. To support all this, the good and friendly feelings between the members form a solid ground. On the other hand, I know bands that don’t have such a healthy relationship, and co-exist for material gains, that happens in major bands often. Steelianos and myself have hobbies relative to music! Our day jobs are about music, as we both teach, and we mainly go out in places with music, and live shows, we compose, we study. Thanos likes nature and going on small and long trips depending on his schedule. Philip also has hobbies around music as he plays with another project apart from Enemy.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about some of your favorite metal records of all time – as well as some of the best concert memories you have experienced purely from a fan perspective? Have you ever had the chance to meet any of your idols in person?
Tsakiraki: Yes, I ‘m very lucky that my music travel has given me the opportunity to fulfill some of my dreams, as meeting some artists such as Tarja, Floor, Sharon, Dead Can Dance, Epica, Anneke, collaborating with SepticFlesh in a record as many others. I felt very happy when we supported them live as well. There are plenty of favorite records, but I ‘ll only mention three: Sumerian Daemons-SepticFlesh, Episode-Stratovarius, and Mechanical Animals-Marilyn Manson.
Dead Rhetoric: How is the economic and political situation in Greece these days – as I know that you’ve been through some challenging times over the past few years? Does this also effect the support of the local metal scene in your country?
Tsakiraki: For some it is a little strange, for others more strange, and for some not strange or troubling at all. The local metal scene is directly affected by the situation and it makes the evolution of a band harder in plenty of ways. Concerning the live shows for example, the rent for a venue can be very expensive while the taxes are large. People try to support the bands they love as much as possible though.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for Enemy of Reality over the next year? Will there be a conceptual video for one of the songs off the new album- as well as more festival or tour plans down the pipeline?
Tsakiraki: The truth is we have many plans for Arakhne. The video clip is one of them. The concept ‘s chapters could all be portrayed in videos, almost like short films for each of them. But that would require a large budget as well. So, we don’t know which song to choose. There will be a video clip though for sure. As for festivals and shows, we ‘ll announce several during February!