Crypta – Ultimate EchoesThursday, 10th June 2021
Unleashing a fury of death metal with blackened, thrash, and melodic textures, Crypta arrives on the scene with quite an established legacy through previous work. Bassist/vocalist Fernanda Lira and drummer Luana Dametto played together in the Brazilian thrash act Nervosa, while guitarist Sonia Nusselder gained attention for her work in Swiss traditional metal band Burning Witches. Finalizing the lineup with second guitarist Taina Bergamaschi, the band set to work on their debut album Echoes of the Soul. Combining a mixture of influences from the 90’s Florida death scene as well as Polish/Eastern European death and black metal, you can expect a killer sound featuring crushing riffs, energetic kit work, and Lira’s raspy, venomous voice circling over the top of the proceedings.
We reached out to Sonia to bring us up to speed on the formation of the group, the month-long recording in Brazil for Echoes of the Soul, favorite death metal bands and albums, her work in Cobra Spell plus how she is able to make a full-time career in the music field at such a young age.
Dead Rhetoric: Crypta started in June 2019 with two ex-members of the Brazilian thrash band Nervosa plus yourself and Taina Bergamaschi on guitars. How did the initial conversations start into forming this new band – and did you know right away where you wanted to go in terms of a style or was there a feeling out process to arrive at the aspects of classic/modern death, thrash and black metal you produce currently?
Sonia Nusselder: The idea for starting this side project rooted in the style of death metal came from Luana and Fernanda back in 2019. We knew each other because we had played at a concert together in Switzerland before in 2018 I believe. They needed a guitarist to complete the side project that they thought about, and in this case I thought the side project was interesting and I definitely accepted the invitation. I thought it would be amazing to work with these musicians who I have looked up to for a long time. Death metal is a style I can appreciate, and at the time I was playing in the band Burning Witches which is playing heavy metal only. Playing in one of the other genres I really like gives me a chance to find myself more as a guitarist. In many bands before I played death metal, so it was nice to get back to my roots.
In 2019 we started writing some music and finding a name as a three-piece. We started to try to find the concept of the band, and a little bit before we announced the band, we found Taina, our second guitarist. We wanted to have a second guitarist because it would be awesome for live shows, it would sound better and (we could) interchange guitar solos. That’s how Crypta got into shape.
Dead Rhetoric: What was it like creating and recording the debut album Echoes of the Soul at Family Mob Studio in Brazil? And what do you believe the final mixing and mastering jobs by Arthur Rizk and Jens Bogren achieve to make this first Crypta record stand out in today’s scene?
Nusselder: First to record the whole album was a great new experience for me. Since I had to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil, it was on the other side of the world since I live in the Netherlands. It was a big adventure, also in this crazy covid time, it was very hard to fly very far away and all the tests that I needed to get there. We were very lucky to be able to make it happen.
We did everything in a very short amount of time. We recorded the album and promotion for Echoes of the Soul in one month, which is pretty tight for a full-length. We did everything in that studio, we had our own apartments in that studio, so we got to spend every single moment together. We did a lot of pre-production, all the demos were pre-recorded here. I have my own home studio and recorded a lot of guitars beforehand, so I knew when I got inside the studio I knew what I had to record. It went very fast, everything. We recorded the guitars three times with a fourth track that was re-amped. All the rhythm guitars were recorded with a Jackson Warrior, the one I have here on the walls. I have it with me always, it’s my favorite guitar with some EMG pickups, and I used a Peavy 6505 Plus and a Marshall vintage to get the tone of Echoes of the Soul. We were able to achieve the sounds that we wanted. It was very nice to spend some time with my bandmates in Crypta, rehearse together.
As for the mixing and mastering, that also happened while we were in Sao Paulo. It was very democratic, so we all got to say something about it. We aimed for something organic and old-school, but at the same time a modern touch. Something that is listenable for today. What people can expect from the album is a hybrid of black/death metal, the sub-genres of old school styles like the Florida death metal or even some Polish death metal. A little bit of everything that we like is in this album, I believe.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the differences and strengths in your guitar playing duties versus Taina?
Nusselder: We are both extremely different guitar players from each other. Even though we are both obsessed with melody, and riffs overall. We have similar tastes, but different styles of playing. It’s hard to explain, because I don’t really know how to explain my style of playing. We are both different kinds of guitar players, we have an appreciation for harmony, melody, and the brutality of the genre.
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to the songs on the record, which ones came easier and were there others that were a little more difficult?
Nusselder: For me the biggest challenge is to always write a brutal riff. I was used to writing melodic stuff, but joining Crypta there is a challenge to write brutal stuff. I think it came out very easily. I implemented a lot of melodic stuff, such as “From the Ashes” within the chorus and “Shadow Within” features a lot of melody. Everything went quite easy, honestly. The good thing about writing Echoes of the Soul is that we didn’t rush the process. It’s something that I really love. If you rush the songwriting process, sometimes the songs don’t have the right feeling anymore. To me, I got to spend a lot of time on them, have the time to fix things I wasn’t happy about, together. We share our opinions about the song structures to shape the album in the way we wanted it to be. The easier songs for me were probably the more melodic ones because I use my own style in there.
Dead Rhetoric: You spent 2018-2020 with Burning Witches – how would you describe your time with the band and what takeaways / learning experiences did you apply to your career or current situation now with Crypta?
Nusselder: Being a part of Burning Witches really gave me a chance to explore myself as a musician, and especially as a live musician. I’ve always been a bass player before I joined Burning Witches on guitar. It’s always a challenge to shape myself as a guitarist and the guitarist that I want to be. Burning Witches gave me that spotlight to get that going, to kick off my career as a guitarist and they taught me a lot about how it works to be in a professional band that presents themselves like that. It gave me a lot of tools for how it is to play on a festival, play concerts, how that is managed, how it is to play on a tour. And other important things to remember outside of playing a guitar, there are different things that come into play such as management that I never thought about that when I was starting as a musician. When I started, I thought it was all about playing, and it’s more than just playing.
Dead Rhetoric: What would surprise people to learn about the four people in Crypta as far as their personalities and duties/abilities within the band? Do you believe you each have distinct roles that you fill not only as musicians but handling other business duties for the band?
Nusselder: In the band, we have split a lot of the duties so we all can work on many different things. Such as Taina is very good at doing the social media stuff, Fernanda handles a lot of the emails, I handle different things. We have certain tasks, because it gets to be a lot of work to be in a band. We wanted to keep things fair for everyone. I think this is the best way to do. Luana is very good at making designs. I like to edit pictures and making videos. We have all found our little place to be in the band.
Dead Rhetoric: How does the band handle being based in two separate continents considering the members are in Brazil and the Netherlands? Is it important to do your own homework separately and use your time effectively when you are together to get the most done in the shortest amount of time?
Nusselder: We get a lot done, even if we are far away, because with this lineup we are all in communication relating to what we do. If something is very important in a band long distance, it’s very important to be able to communicate well. We often have band meetings with a call, What’s App, we call each other, see each other’s faces and talk a lot about what’s going on. We are perfectionistic when it comes to planning and when things have to get done. We are precise with that, every single member has this mentality.
As far as writing music, it works very well. I can record my stuff at my home, and the other three can easily share the ideas. The only thing is the rehearsing is a difficult thing to do because we are far away. With the pandemic it doesn’t make anything easier. When we are able to tour again, we are going to come together and rehearse a lot of times to make it happen.
Dead Rhetoric: You also play in Cobra Spell – which is more of a traditional heavy metal/hard rock act. How will you balance out the activities between the two acts – and are you working on more new material with Cobra Spell to follow up the Love Venom EP released last fall?
Nusselder: As for balancing, it works perfectly well in my opinion. Music is my full-time job, I get to spend all of my time on music – so I get to split things well, the time for both bands. As for writing for both bands, it’s about two different kinds of music for Sonia. There is a Sonia that likes to play more 80’s kind of music, and the Sonia that likes playing death metal. I can put myself 100% in it, I like to really share my inspiration in different ways.
With Cobra Spell, we are making the demos for the full-length that is coming. We are recording everything. Alex the vocalist of Cobra Spell, he is recording his vocals from Italy. Our drummer is working on his drums from the demos. All of the guitars are actually recorded from the demos. We expect maybe the end of this year or beginning of next year to release the album – who knows.
Dead Rhetoric: Going full force with full-time musical activities for your career – writing music, giving guitar lessons, focus on your social media channels – has that always been the goal since you picked up the bass as a teenager? What are the challenges your face to achieve all that you want as a metal musician?
Nusselder: Of course, I had a lot of dreams when I started becoming a musician. I was inspired with the guitar gods, the hard rock gods like Kiss and all these musicians who conquered the stages around the world. I want that too in my life – but how do I get there? I stayed awake at night thinking about the possibilities, the endless possibilities of being a musician. My parents told me I could be a musician, but they knew I needed something else on the side if it doesn’t work out. I started web developing, just to be sure if music doesn’t work out that I can always have a fall back on an actual job I could do. I was 100% sure music was going to happen, I just didn’t believe any different. Just a year ago I made the step to stop doing web development and commit myself to music. I believe if you put 100% on your biggest passion the dreams can become reality.
I’m doing a lot of things in music such as guitar lessons, the videos I make, writing for my bands, I’m just doing it because I enjoy it and it makes me feel really happy. So far, it’s going the way I want it to even in this coronavirus time, it’s hard but I’m just working forward for the future.
Dead Rhetoric: In previous interviews you’ve talked about your love for death metal acts like Asphyx and Vader – what makes these artists so special to you, and what would be your favorite records or moments from their career? Have you had the opportunity to see either or both of them in concert?
Nusselder: Good question actually! Asphyx, I already have been a big fan of this band for a long time. I’ve seen them live more than ten times. For favorite death metal bands, I have too many I can name. But I can name some albums that I really like. Last One on Earth from Asphyx as well as The Rack are very nice. I would go for… it’s always very hard. Gorguts- Obscura is one of my favorite albums. Consuming Impulse from Pestilence is amazing too. Cause of Death from Obituary, Demigod from Behemoth. I never like to make choices, because it’s so unfair.
Dead Rhetoric: Have other musicians come up to you and asked for advice relating to the music business outside of your guitar lessons – and if so, what aspects or things do you have them think about and consider?
Nusselder: Yes, regularly I get questions about this. It’s obviously different for every single experience, but it’s important to promote yourself very well. In these days when concerts aren’t there, you have to get yourself out there in some kind of way. Right now the way to do it is with social media. It’s a very good way to reach fans worldwide, and in different countries. There are many things I could give as advice. Promotion-wise, and do what you like to do versus what people expect you to do. It depends on the situation. Is it necessary to be on a record label? Personally, I don’t believe it’s always necessary to be on a label. As long as the contract is good for you, the label is good enough to offer what the band needs. It depends on what the question would be.
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to your guitar lessons, what are your students looking for to learn most?
Nusselder: A lot of my students, they all have different needs. Some of them are starting to learn the guitar, so they want to just jam out and learn some basic songs: AC/DC, Led Zeppelin. Other guitarists want to learn all of my guitar solos, which is funny. Some guitar players want to explore more, which is very nice. I like helping them out, finding out more regarding technical skills, theory. What I usually do is teach people how to play the notes first, and then playing in key. Going through the fretboard to create scales, it’s the key to shred pretty much. Learning how to play alternate picking techniques, which is extremely important when it comes to playing fast. Sweeping, tapping, there are so many things you can learn as a guitarist. As soon as they come to me, they want to learn to play fast. That’s abstract – what and why exactly do you want to play fast? It really depends.
Dead Rhetoric: What does the next year or so look like for activities relating to Crypta, Cobra Spell, or whatever else may be cooking in the pipeline?
Nusselder: I’m definitely hopeful for the future. I’m extremely excited for Crypta and Cobra Spell. As soon as possible we will tour. Let’s give it the time to resolve itself instead of rushing it. When things clear up for 2022 there will be a lot of touring. For this year, it’s a lot of songwriting, releasing albums, that’s what on the plan right now.