Edge of Paradise – Finding Strength in the UnknownSunday, 12th September 2021
An up and coming band within the modern metal scene, Edge of Paradise have been scrappy in getting their name around. Instead of bending to the current trends, they established their vision and built the band’s sound around it. Perpetually moving forward and enhancing their sound, their latest album, The Unknown gives their clearest example to date. Futuristic, industrial and cinematic in tone, Edge of Paradise makes heavy music that successfully catches the ear without succumbing to trends. We caught up with vocalist Margarita Monet to get her perspective on the new album, a look back through the band’s almost 10 year history, as well as her thoughts on videos and visuals that accompany the band.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel makes The Unknown stand out?
Margarita Monet: It’s definitely our best album to date. It’s the most cinematic and meaningful – I feel like we have evolved as songwriters. It’s a continuation of Universe, which was the previous album, just at a whole new level. Over the pandemic, we were introduced to new people that came aboard on the production team, like Howard Benson and Neil Sanderson, so everything really brought us up to a new level. This album is a representation of that.
Dead Rhetoric: So does The Unknown link into Universe? Like leaving the universe and entering the unknown?
Monet: Yeah, there’s a bit of that. It also has to do with the future and how technology plays into it, like the merge of human minds and technology as well as the implications of that. We also wanted to empower people to find strength in the unknown. With human nature, we tend to be afraid…well, not really afraid but we tend to fear what we can’t control. I wanted to change the narrative a bit – whether it’s what is going to happen tomorrow or even life after death. You can scale it in a lot of different ways, but I wanted to find empowerment in the unknown rather than giving into fear of it.
Dead Rhetoric: Did COVID alter your recording process – I know you obviously lost out on some touring.
Monet: It was actually really interesting – after we came back from our European tour, we knew we had some gaps so we wanted to record some songs. We didn’t have the intention to record a full album, but we started writing some new music and called up our producer, Mike Plotnikoff, and went into the studio. That’s when he introduced us to Neil. Mike was working on the Three Days Grace album with Neil. He asked if we wanted him to be a part of the session and I said ‘yeah, why not?’ We hit it off really well with Neil and just kept recording.
As everything started to shut down, we kept going into the studio because there was only a few people. We were amidst this apocalyptic feeling in the air, so we had some crazy conversations from the studio and we already had some crazy ideas for the songs, so it all just kind of inspired some more ideas. Overall, I think we are so immersed in the music, something I don’t think we ever really did before because we always had something to do before. For this one, we were totally immersed in what we were doing, and the whole atmosphere maybe, in a way inspired it, but definitely influenced it some sort of way I think.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve always been a very visual band as well, did you need to be more creative due to these circumstances to get the music videos up to your standard?
Monet: In a way, yeah. When we are recording, I always gave snippets to our fans and social media to keep the engagement and to share what we were up to. When we almost finished the album, we started thinking about music videos. To me, music videos are really important because I love doing them, and second of all, the songs are all very cinematic so I wanted to give them some justice with the visual aspect of being a band as well. It’s always important to think about the visual piece too. So we got together with film maker Scott Hansen and he really understood the music. He gets my ideas. We got creative with how to make it happen – also without a crazy budget too because these days we aren’t this giant band, not yet [laughs].
We had to get creative, so we went to the desert. Going on location actually ended up being cheaper. You can do so much because there is so much beauty in where we live. So we went to the desert on the border with Mexico. During the pandemic, the desert was a perfect place to be [laughs]! We did the title track and then we did “Digital Paradise.” We got a little more creative with that one with the space we had and the camera we used. Now with the video with Robyn August [“False Idols”], he directed it and it’s crazy! We rented out this Egyptian location and a sci-fi location so it looks like we are time traveling. It was really fun!
Dead Rhetoric: How much of the video portion is coming from you, in deciding how you want to do something for a track, given the cinematic quality of the songs?
Monet: A lot of it, probably most of it. I pretty much come up with most of the ideas, and then if we are working with someone like Scott Hansen, he is helping me bring the ideas to life. Of course, he is contributing with his own ideas, as well as how to make things happen. For “My Method Your Madness” and for “False Idols” I came up with most of the ideas, and I’m editing the videos myself. We actually do a lot ourselves, but the more people we work with – I love the contributing factor of working with other people. But I also love to really follow my own vision in a way, so it’s a bit of both.
Dead Rhetoric: You had some help in the studio for bass. Have you been able to find a permanent bass player?
Monet: We recently got a permanent member. Ricky Bonazza, the bass player for Butcher Babies, played on the album. Now the album is done and we are going to start preparing for touring. His name is Justin, and he actually knew the band for a long time. We have been friends on Facebook for a while. It’s kind of cool – I put out an ad and he saw it and came to an audition. He was so enthusiastic and really fit the line-up well. He has a really great personality and plays great. We are looking forward to touring together, hopefully soon!
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts about how the band has progressed?
Monet: We actually pulled the Mask album down from Spotify. We sound like a different band completely. Most of the songs I didn’t write with Dave [Bates] – he wrote it with Robin McAuley. It sounds completely different. Immortal Waltz, which was produced by Michael Wagener, that album was the first album that Dave and I wrote together. I think it put us on a path to finding what we wanted to sound like, and figuring out how to work together since Dave and I came from completely different backgrounds. Michael Wagener was really the inspiration – inspiring us to figuring out how we wanted the find the sound of the band. It was a very long journey. We will be celebrating our tenth anniversary in September when the album comes out. I think all of the trials and tribulations shaped us into what we are.
Alive, the EP we released right before Universe, I think that’s when we really followed the direction of where the music was taking us. We really liked that – the industrial sound with a bit of symphonic edge. Universe really put us onto the cinematic path, and The Unknown is our best music. We really have found ourselves and where we want to be.
Dead Rhetoric: I think as you continued forward, to reword what you have said, you moved into your own sound. If I hear The Unknown or even Universe, it sounds like Edge of Paradise. I can’t make a quick, ‘it sounds like band x or y,’ which is pretty cool. You have been able to reach that point that some bands just don’t get to.
Monet: Thank you so much, that’s a really huge compliment. That’s what we are always striving to do.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned that the 10 year anniversary is around the corner. What are you most proud of?
Monet: Definitely just making the album and pushing through. We have paid our dues as a band. Looking back, everything we did was a big undertaking from our perspective. Even going on the European tour, bringing the band to Japan – everything looked impossible to us before we did it and then we were like, “We have to make it happen!” We figured out a way to do that, so I think that fire behind us wanting to keep making music and bringing the band to new levels. With this album and the European tour, it’s very meaningful to us because we know that it wasn’t easy to do and what it took from us to make those things happen.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there one big lesson that you feel like you’ve learned from in that timespan?
Monet: First, you have to do this because you love it. When we do a song or record, it keeps reminding me how much I love doing the music and sharing the music, because it can get lost in all of the business side of things, and all of the stuff that is not as much fun that you have to do as a band [laughs]. That can sometimes be discouraging. So I learned that I have to keep making music that I love and believe in. Then to keep everything going. It’s important to me to keep sharing a piece of my soul with the world through music. Also, I think it’s important for us to stay true to ourselves. These days, it’s easy to follow a trend or get lost in what is going on because it is so saturated these days.
Dead Rhetoric: I know with Universe you had that a language cipher that went with the album. Are you trying to do any outside the box stuff with The Unknown?
Monet: The cipher comes with this album as well, because we are also keeping that language going with the album as well as with the merch items. I have been painting too. I have painted a piece for each song. So far, we have released one for “Digital Paradise” and pre-order packages came with that painting. Also with “The Unknown” original painting I am going to do a giveaway for. We will be doing a guitar giveaway in September, and giving away the original painting for that song. Eventually I will probably release an artbook that features every painting for each song and the lyrics. I was really grateful that people are interested in the art, and it became a piece of the band.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel that people would be surprised to learn about you?
Monet: Some people may not know that I’m from Russia. I speak Russian, and I grew up in Moscow. I did ballet most of my life and played classical piano. Some people do know that. But being in a rock band, it was a bit 180 for me [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: What’s planned for the rest of this year?
Monet: Until the end of the year, we are going to be focused on more videos and promoting the album. We actually did a cover of one of my favorite songs by The Who, “Love Reign O’er Me,” which will come out in October. We have a lot of content still to release, along with the album. We will be announcing tour plans for next year. We love touring and we wanted to be touring sooner, but its still so weird. We were supposed to be in the UK in September, but due to restrictions we just couldn’t make that happen. We will see everyone on the road in the new year. Hopefully it will be a new and better year, with the virus long gone. Until then, we may play a few shows locally, but we will keep you updated with videos and music.