Edge of Paradise – Designing a UniverseWednesday, 6th February 2019
There’s busy times ahead for modern metal act Edge of Paradise. With a few releases under their belts already, including most recently 2017’s Alive EP, they’ve recently completed work on their next album, entitled Universe. In preparation for said event, they recorded a video in Iceland for the song “Face of Fear” with the help of the Souls of Rock Foundation, and at the time of writing, are in the middle of a mini-tour of Japan. All of which made for some ripe conversation with vocalist Margarita Monet, who also discussed the band’s six year anniversary book, art, and even a bit of sword-fighting.
Dead Rhetoric: What does Universe represent to the band?
Margarita Monet: Universe will be our third full-length album. The music is a whole new universe [laughs] us because everything has been leading up to this. The songwriting has really evolved and the production is top notch. This will be our best work. The sound kind of evolved into a more modern, electro-rock but still rooted in what Edge of Paradise is. We are excited for people to hear it, I think it is going to be a new phase for the band.
Dead Rhetoric: Given that it’s the third album, do you feel it’s that make-or-break point where you have grown your sound to the point that you feel that this is who you are as a band?
Monet: Definitely. I think if we didn’t feel that way about this music, it’s kind of a dead end. If the sound is not evolving, if the band is not growing, then something is not working. It’s always kind of scary going into making an album because you can’t force inspiration and you can’t force the music – it has to align. We were very lucky that we also got a new band member, Vanya [Kapetanovic], on bass. He helped with the rhythmic stuff and brought a lot of that new electro vibe to the songs.
It all really worked out between the band members. We had Joe Rickard from In Flames play drums on a few songs, and that really brought the energy up. We are super excited for people to hear it – we have a video on our page for “Fire” and our “Face of Fear” video that we recorded in Iceland out now. So you can get a taste, and so far the response has been generally good.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the sponsorship come about for the “Face of Fear” video?
Monet: It was from the Souls of Rock Foundation. Souls of Rock is actually a clothing company in Europe. The Foundation supports rock music – tours, stage productions, and music videos. We were introduced to it through a booking agency, who told us about the Foundation. So of course we applied, but you think it’s too good to be true.
In America you don’t have a lot of funding for music. This was in Europe, so they usually choose European bands. When we were chosen, we were super excited and grateful. They really made this happen for us. It was a really cool experience. We are excited to hopefully work with them in the future and see their Foundation grow. Without them, it’s hard for new rock acts to break through.
Dead Rhetoric: What is the video for “Face of Fear” all about?
Monet: The tagline is “Hate is the face of fear.” When I was writing the song and lyrics, it was inspired by one of my close friends and people I grew up with. I saw depression, and some of my friends took their own lives. When you live in this world and know a lot of people, you see struggles and how our society is not very kind sometimes. Especially with the Internet – everyone has their lairs. If you say something hateful, you are hiding behind some username. I always say haters are cowards because they aren’t showing their face, so no one really knows who they are. I know a lot of younger people and kids struggle and worry about what other people think about them. In our society now, one word can be really cruel and really affect someone’s life in a negative way.
With the song, I just wanted to remind people not to focus on that. It all comes from fear. If you know that, then the cruel words won’t affect you as much. One of the lines is “Life is worth fighting for.” We really just wanted to empower and inspire people. For the video, it’s more about the feeling – showing how grand nature is and how lucky we are to live on a planet that is so beautiful. We really wanted to capture the grandiose to inspire people.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you look for when designing a music video – does it depend on the song?
Monet: Sometimes we have a really cool idea and we pick a song to make it happen, but being in a new band, sometimes you come up with these amazing ideas but you have to figure out how in the world you can make that happen. You have to record the music, marketing, and touring – it’s hard to make it all happen at once. Sometimes you have to scale down a bit.
The main thing I think of when making a video is what can we do to make people visualize – how would they feel about the song when they watch the video, and try to convey the feeling of the song. Not necessarily to be very literal and have a storyline – we might try that in the future and it would be cool to do a mini-movie. But for now, it’s about capturing the song and the visual imagery.
Dead Rhetoric: You will going to Japan very soon. What are you looking forward to about visiting/playing there for the first time?
Monet: It’s a whole different world over there. None of us have been to Japan before so we are super excited. Japan is very into music and very supportive. We have two shows, and we are going to do a lot of shooting as well. We are trying to put a music video together as well. We are going to do some tour blogs and share what Japan is like, so we can take fans on a virtual trip with us. We will only be there one week, and the goal is to come back for a longer tour once the album is out.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel Edge of Paradise differs from other bands out there at the moment?
Monet: We always try to stay true to our inspiration, and if you do that, no one can really replicate it because everyone has their own story and ideas. If you stay true to that, you can come up with something original and that you can relate to – we all go through similar emotions and deal with similar issues.
We just try not to chase trends and stay true to our music. We try to have it naturally evolve. We try to make the best music and have the best production, and come up with stunning imagery to support the music. We really work hard on creating a world that people can be a part of. There’s a lot of great bands out there, we are just trying to create our universe.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that going the extra mile with not just the music but to create a concept, like what you were saying about a universe, does that help pull people in?
Monet: I think so. I always thought of it as one – I don’t think you can have a band and just be music. A band is a whole entity and you have to have all sides to it. For example, when I go to shows, I love to see a stage show and a whole experience. That’s what we want to create as well. An experience for people. I think everyone these days is so visual – you definitely need to have that aspect, looking at it from a business standpoint as well. It’s something I love to do, because I come from a theater background. To me, it’s a lot of fun to create more of an image and show to it.
Dead Rhetoric: You do have a classical/theatrical background. What brought you into metal and rock music?
Monet: I actually have to blame Dave [Bates], our guitar player, for all of it [laughs]. I could never envision this or thought I would be doing this. But when we met – I was hired to sing on a song and he was hired to play guitar on it. We just clicked. We had a similar vision in creating something that we would be really proud of – something we could invest our time and money into and watch it grow. So we really wanted to work together and started a band.
So we had to figure out the music and how to write together. Once we did, we really found out how to complement each other’s style. We are from very different backgrounds, and that kind of sparked my interest. I figured I could use what I had done before and apply it to this, and make something of my own. I love to create so it all just worked out.
Dead Rhetoric: I saw you have a six year anniversary book for the band. What sparked the idea to put something like that out?
Monet: I was just going through all of my photos from all of our tours and thought, “What if we have an EMP attack and all of this would get lost” [laughs]? I used to love Polaroid cameras, so I thought it would be really cool to put it all together. I just did it for myself to start, but I thought it was really cool – I ordered 10 copies and put it out on the Internet.
I didn’t really think people would jump on it so quickly! We had to order a lot – I guess people are into that. I included a lot of stories behind our trips – things that people might not find on the Internet. I definitely want to do another one, for this album maybe, because we had so many changes in the band and so much new stuff – Iceland and Japan – we have so much stuff we can include. They are a lot of fun to make, and they are a souvenir for myself as well with all those memories.
Dead Rhetoric: I was reading some other interviews that you have done – do you have a sword-fighting interest?
Monet: [laughs] Who doesn’t, at least a little bit? I love action movies, Lord of the Rings, and all that stuff. I have an amazing friend, Phil, and he is a stunt guy. He did a lot of big movies and he is a master of swords and fighting – he gave me a few lessons and it was super fun. I kind of always wanted to know how to use a sword in the back of my mind so it was a lot of fun. Maybe we will do something like that for a music video one of these days.
Dead Rhetoric: You do artwork as well. Is this a different outlet for you to express yourself creatively?
Monet: Yeah, in a way. Since I was very young I would paint a lot. You focus on certain things, so you don’t have time for everything. But I picked it back up in the last few years and started painting again. I put them out there and people wanted them, so I started painting a little more. It’s hard to find time – at least for me, because if I am painting something it really draws me in and I want to finish it. It’s like writing a song and wanting to get it done and hear the final mix. I’m addicted to that feeling of completing something. I love to paint – I’m actually painting box sets for each song on the album. Each box will have it’s own theme, with a message from a song from the album.
Dead Rhetoric: That will be like a pre-order thing people can do?
Monet: We are actually signing with a label, Frontiers, so we have to figure out the whole release thing and pre-orders. We are probably going to do a guitar giveaway again. We want to make it fun for people and include giveaway items.
Dead Rhetoric: What challenges are there in keeping you from the next step – not necessarily as a new band, but one that has been around for a few years and has some releases under your belt?
Monet: The challenge is that there are so many people/bands doing this. How do you promote yourself? It takes a lot of money to elevate yourself to the crowd. Touring is hard because it’s so expensive. Another thing, having music that is a little bit different – you can’t really bundle us up with a bunch of bands and call it a ‘thrash metal’ tour, as an example. We can fit with some bands, but in other ways, we can’t really be pigeon-holed and that makes it a challenge.
I don’t know if people know but there are a lot of buy-ons [on tours] and all of this political stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Being an artist these days, you can’t just make music and expect that you will be really successful if you make the greatest song. There’s so much more that is going on behind closed doors, and that’s the hard part. It’s the process of getting people to hear the best song you ever wrote.
Dead Rhetoric: We’ve covered a lot of this already – the album is coming out, you are going to Japan – is there anything else planned at the moment or is it all kind of hanging on getting the album out there?
Monet: It’s hanging on getting the album out. We have more music videos – once we finalize the release date, we will start to get the content out and the next step would be getting a tour together. The next big thing for us would be to expand our touring and do it for a longer basis. We have toured a lot but we have been going week to week. The goal is to stay on the road and break through to some festivals. We should have a lot of announcements coming soon!