Karkaos – Toppling the Colossus

Sunday, 4th June 2017

Dead Rhetoric: Being that you’ve put in the time and you’ve got the new album coming out…what’s the hardest part about getting the band off the ground?

Boyer: In Canada it’s really hard. It’s such a huge country, and there’s not a lot of places that you can play. In Europe, from what I’ve heard and what I saw, it’s easier to do smaller tours and stuff like that. But here, it’s quite hard. There’s not a lot of places that are willing to pay you to do music. There’s Montreal and Quebec. Going to the States is impossible. It’s so hard to cross the border – unless you have a huge act that decides for some reason that you should tour with them AND pay for your visa for you, it’s extremely hard. What we are trying to do right now with Karkaos is to try to give us as much visibility as possible in the world. We are all French in the band, but we do all of our posts in English and we are trying to reach as many people as possible so we don’t have to go on tour and completely get ruined by it. That’s what we are working on a lot right now.

The label thing – we are still unsigned and that’s our personal decision for now. If a label comes and offers us a really gorgeous deal, of course would be crazy not to go for it. Right now, it’s really hard to get a label that is going to, in the long term, give you what you invest. And it’s usually the labels that get you on the big tours. We are staying really cautious about it and hoping that the quality that we are giving [stands out]. We are trying not to give anything cheap – we are doing as much as we can do be seen overseas and hope that eventually, maybe we can live off of it. Maybe in a utopic world, but maybe one day.

Dead Rhetoric: Well it’s good that you are more cautious about it. Many times there’s that hunger there and the young band gets that first label offer and grab it, which ends up destroying the band in a few years…

Boyer: As you’ve heard, being a journalist, all of the bands that get ruined by a label. The label puts them on tour, but gives them $10 a day. It’s really hard. People usually don’t understand – producing the music, it costs a lot of money. That’s one thing. But we all have to work. We all have a day job in the band. If you go on tour for a month, not every job will keep you. You can live with the money that you have while you are out, but you still have to pay your rent when you get back. It’s extremely hard. If you sign with a label too quickly, they might just send you out on tour nonstop. We are very lucky to have people in the band that have lived it, and we are more cautious about everything we do.

Dead Rhetoric: So do you get to do many live shows, at least locally?

Boyer: We have a lot of offers. We are trying not to do too much. People get bored easily. If you do a show every two months, it gets boring for people. We are trying to make it more rare – playing 2-3 times a year in Montreal, but we go to Quebec City, Toronto…we travel a lot. Right now for the album, we have concentrated on promotion and to have the most hype possible for the gig that’s come [album release show], but usually we do 1 gig a month or more. We are doing quite a lot.

Dead Rhetoric: Usually when I think of Canada I think of the extreme styles, like Cryptopsy and Gorguts but there seems to be more melodic styles in Canada – any favorites?

Boyer: I’m really fond of The Agonist, I have to say. It’s recent that I got to know them with Eye of Providence. I’m a huge fan of the proggy vibe they have going on and they have great musicianship. I love them. My favorite act from Canada is definitely The Devin Townsend Project. Everything that Devin touches is gold for me. I’m a huge fan – he’s my biggest inspiration and I really love what he does. The music he does, with no pun intended, is transcendent. He goes everywhere – his spectrum of what music should be has exploded. For extreme metal, I don’t know a lot of bands from Canada that I’m a fan of…I like Cryptopsy for sure. I’m a fan of a lot of stuff coming from Europe but can’t think of any other [Canadian] bands.

Dead Rhetoric: Did you have any formal vocal training or was it just what you picked up on your own?

Boyer: That’s actually a really good question. I picked up everything on my own, but I’m not a professional…I’ve never had any professional training so when I first got into the band I growled in a way that completely destroyed my voice. I could not speak anymore, I could not talk anymore, I could not sing anymore. I was speaking like someone who smoked a lot. I got really messed up, and it was just before the recording of the new album. I had to stop and ask myself, “What do I want to do about it?” I talked to the guys in the band and they were all very supportive. I told them that I couldn’t do extreme singing anymore and that I didn’t have the right technique, and was hurting myself to the point that it wasn’t healthy. The band was really supportive and said that if I didn’t want to do extreme vocals anymore it was fine – my voice was great and we would go in that direction. Vincent said he could do more [growls] if I wanted. We were all on the same page.

But as I told you, extreme vocals are so important in my vision and view of metal. I could not just let it go. So I bought the DVD, The Zen of Screaming. I completely changed my technique for deep chest growls to vocal fry. I recorded the whole album in vocal fry and I do only fry for now. So I learned a whole technique while watching Melissa Cross’ DVD. I don’t really have any formal training, but the way I scream today is the way I learned with her technique.

Let me tell you, if I didn’t have that, I would be a really sad person today. It was really hard for me to come to the point where I could not do it anymore. When I recorded the album, it was still really new for me. I had just learned it two months before and it was not the best ever, but I went for it and Chris Donaldson completely pushed me to do it. He really encouraged me.

Dead Rhetoric: You hear a lot of similar stories where vocalists that try to go that route and realize that it is going to cause damage, and 9/10 times it’s that video that helps them out.

Boyer: It’s awesome, it really saved my life. I could not speak anymore. I know a lot of vocalists around here, but with everything I asked them, it’s such an abstract concept. When you don’t have the right technique and you play guitar, someone can place your fingers and say, “No, this is how you do it.” But when you can’t sing the right way, how do you say it? How do you explain it or show it? Every time I asked one of my friends, they were like, “I can’t tell you how…I have no idea what I’m doing but it works for me.” I’m really grateful for that DVD.

Dead Rhetoric: For one reason or another in the metal community, we just can’t get over the idea of a female vocalist. Do you think having two females in the band helps with the idea that it’s not just a gimmick of having a female vocalist when there’s a drummer too?

Boyer: I really want it to be like this. I’m always being told, “female-fronted band.” What does it mean? Except that my voice is a bit high – once again, you have those types of vocals with men too. Just look at Tesseract, he sings really high and its fine. To me, I don’t know what it serves to talk about the fact that we are girls. But at the same time, there’s a lot of people today that still don’t think that women have a place in metal. Whatever you are going to do, it’s not good enough. Let’s just talk about the appearance thing – if a girl doesn’t care and doesn’t shave and just sings and growls, then she thinks she’s playing a man. If a girl dresses very femininely and puts make-up on and everything, then she is trying to draw attention to herself. I’m sorry for this, but I think it’s bullshit. We are just musicians. We are trying to play music. What’s under my pants doesn’t have anything to do with what I do.

Having two girls in a band, and not screaming “we have two girls in a band!” but just doing our thing, I think it’s better for people to see that it doesn’t make a difference. And it can encourage girls to get into that environment because it’s really scary. I have to say, if you get into a band and you are the only girl, and you are trying to do your thing there are going to be some sexist jokes and there will be a few times where you are going to feel really uncomfortable…but you have to go for it until people understand that you have your place just like everyone else in metal music. We are trying to make it more normal…Justine has toured the world with Blackguard and is an amazing musician. She’s not a “girl drummer,” she’s a drummer. The same thing for me. I’m not a female-frontman – I’m a frontwoman. That’s it, there’s nothing more to it. I’m really glad that there are some media outlets for women in metal that exist, because it gives us more visibility and I’m glad for it. But I don’t think that [my gender] makes any difference in what I do.

One really frustrating anecdote I can remember – my song came out for I Legion and there was a review from Russia or somewhere, and they said that they really didn’t like my song. Which is perfectly fine; you don’t have to like what I do. You are doing a critique, it’s fine. But it said in the critique, “at least she looks good with her green hair so it patches up for it” and I was so insulted! First, there’s no appearance of me anywhere in I Legion. There’s no picture of me, no clip of me. My face is something that doesn’t belong to the music. Second, are you trying to say that my appearance patches up for the music? When would you say that? Does anyone talk about Jari in Wintersun or the physique of Nergal of Behemoth? No, nobody cares. But because I’m a girl it goes with it. It’s annoying as fuck. I’m looking forward to people seeing us as musicians, and not just female musicians.

Dead Rhetoric: That was very well said – it’s pretty understandable to be upset about that incident, where someone is basically saying, “it didn’t sound good but at least you are pretty.”

Boyer: It’s so insulting…the only thing I’m doing is being pretty? I’m making music. You can hate it and say that I’m a really bad musician and I’m fine with it. I may be a bit insulted, but it’s cool. But don’t talk about my appearance. It doesn’t have anything to do with it.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s next for Karkaos following the release of the album? What are your goals from here?

Boyer: Writing. We are already planning new songs and writing new material. We would love to play more concerts, and maybe there will be another video. We wanted to go for new material already – we have a lot to create and we don’t want to stop.

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