We were recently lucky enough to be able to chat with Diva Satanica, new singer of the mighty NERVOSA and also of BLOODHUNTER and who is nowadays one of the most valued extreme metal singers in the scene. We were able to talk about her fantastic new album «Perpetual Chaos» and much more. Diva was simple and friendly, as always, and the time flew by. Come in and read…
Iñigo Ortúñez (I.O.): Good morning Diva, I am very happy to be able to talk to you, you are currently one of the most relevant singers of extreme metal and I am not talking only at a national level, how are you?
Diva Satanic (D.S.): Well, thank you. I’m fine, very busy, between work and music, I don’t have enough time, but very well.
I.O.: First of all let me congratulate you for your album «Perpetual Chaos», which is really an amazing album, full of power and with brutal performances. How are you seeing the public’s reception so far?
D.S.: We wanted to release something fast, not to wait too long, and even though it was in the middle of the pandemic and there were risks, we did it. And the response has been very good and we are happy, because we had doubts, since changes are always difficult, especially in established formations where the musicians are very loved, and sometimes the fans don’t take it well.
I.O.: Well, the album is great, it doesn’t detract anything from what has been done before. The videos you posted of the recording were great and you could see a happy band. I think that’s reflected in the final result, because the album sounds fresh and overwhelming. Did you really have such a good time recording it or was it also hard? I think you already had some of the work done before, didn’t you?
D.S.: The pre-production of the songs was already done, we had been from May to July working on the songs from home, because we couldn’t travel. Prika would send a riff or a concept about which she wanted to write something, and then each one of us would start writing her part; everything was very dynamic, there was no pattern of «I’m always going to send this and you do that». That freedom helps to have more versatility in terms of styles, because each one of us has very different influences.
Then being able to travel during the pandemic to record in the summer was like an oasis in the desert, after being confined for 6-7 months, of course all with our tests and security measures! We had never met in person before and there, in that idyllic place, was something very special. We will remember this album forever. When you know a person and you are at ease… everything flows better.
I.O.: A pity that the collaborations with legends of the style like Schmier (DESTRUCTION) and Erik AK (FLOTSAM & JETSAM) could not have been in person, it would have been a great experience. I understand that being on a label like Napalm Records will help this kind of collaborations.
D.S.: Well, the truth is that Prika has a lot of contacts, a lot of experience and for example Schmier and Erik, he knew them for a lot of years, because NERVOSA had toured with the bands and they are close friends, so he proposed them to collaborate and of course, for us it is a huge honor, first as fans of them and then being a new band, it is a privilege to be helped by people of this caliber. Although well… I was thinking that if they had to go to the studio, I don’t know if I was more afraid or eager! Because I said, let’s see if people like that are going to come and I’m going to do a crappy take… hahaha.
I.O.: I don’t think so… then your voice would have come out and they would have been shocked!
D.S.: Oops… I don’t think so… Schmier is an amazing guy, he has a tremendous vocal range, I couldn’t do those high notes he does, for me he’s a 10!
I.O.: Which are your favorite songs of the album and why? «Guided by Evil» or «People of the Abyss» I would say that they are the ones I like the most nowadays, but this usually changes, I don’t know if it happens to you too.
D.S.: For me my favorites have always been «Under ruins» and «Until the very end», because they have a very powerful message and also because when we recorded them, it was the first time we found a middle ground between what I was doing before and something else that was there and that Martin Furia, our producer, helped us a lot to find. When I heard it the first time in the studio, he said «that’s me!». «Under ruins» has something between Death, or Crossover, or even Punk… I wouldn’t know how to define it.
I.O.: It seemed that NERVOSA was bleeding out with the departure of Fernanda and Luana, but Prika knew how to find the right replacements, because it is clear that he has put together a very solid band. I would also say that the band, even before releasing the album, which was the confirmation, was already getting much more repercussion and was heard much more. Why do you think that happened?
D.S.: I think it’s due to many things… First of all, NERVOSA has a huge fan base, much bigger than people think… even as a fan myself, I thought I had a lot of fans, but not that many. It’s crazy, every time Prika posts something on a social network, it’s like everything explodes! But then look, Mia Wallace is a reference in the extreme scene, I think she is the only woman who has managed to get into the top level there is, with one of the most important personalities in Black Metal. And that, to me, is music history and has an impact as well. Also each of us has brought in other influences and maybe that has made more people want to listen to us.
I.O.: We fans have also gained another new band, CRYPTA, which also promises a lot. Maybe it’s like Dave Mustaine’s departure from METALLICA, which in the end led us to gain 2 bands where before there was only one! How do you see this situation?
D.S.: I am the first one who was a big fan of NERVOSA and I will follow whatever CRYPTA does because I am also a fan of Fernanda and Luana. Well, and Sonia Anubis, for her amazing guitar work in BURNING WITCHES and COBRA SPELL. It’s true that nowadays there aren’t many bands where all the members are women, so to be able to take two from where there was only one is great.
I.O.: At what point did a young Galician girl named Rocío Vázquez decide to transform herself into that «beast» (that we adore) called Satanic Diva? What changes or situations prompted this transformation?
D.S.: I have always been a big fan of music. In my house there has always been a lot of music, my father had his job, but on weekends he was a representative of Orquestas de pueblo, which is very popular in Galicia. I went with him many times because I loved to see how they set up the stage, the sound checks… In my family there is absolutely no one who likes Rock or is a metalhead, but when I discovered it, I dreamed of being there someday.
My father willingly bought me an acoustic guitar, but nothing… I didn’t get past «Smoke on the water» or things like that. I didn’t dedicate time to it. I signed up many times for singing lessons, but I just couldn’t find it. Until I found Extreme Metal and I said to myself «I want to learn this!» And although the first years were a disaster, it was always clear to me that I had to continue, that I had to practice, to improve… The first time I recorded an album was a horror, because I had no idea what I was doing, it cost me a week of aphonia, countless jokes from friends and family. But then you see that you are getting better, that you know what you are doing, you play in festivals, people get to know you… so you get more motivated. And well, here I’m still practicing, improving, but you can see the results.
I.O.: I understand that you must have had to take classes in this type of singing, right? Because I don’t think it comes innate like that…
D.S.: Well, there are things that are shared with other types of singing, breathing, use of the diaphragm and so on. But well, for someone who has no idea, it’s easier to learn to sing in guttural, because you don’t go out of tune…
I.O.: But to be able to stay in tune, if you have to sing many nights in a row, must be very demanding…
D.S.: Don’t believe it, it’s learning the technique. At the beginning I was obsessed with asking other singers how they had learned, how they did it, but they told me they didn’t know and I didn’t understand. So I watched all the tutorials on YouTube, the famous «The Zen of Screaming» by Melissa Cross, I went to concerts every weekend and I stood in the front row like a psychopath to study how the singers did it… And then I went to the venue and tried to reproduce it. And that’s how I spent 4 easy years, without having a clue.
I.O.: One of the Rock Angels photographers, Jhoger Barrera, is a big fan of yours and sends you the following question: «How was the process of trying to keep the original NERVOSA sound and at the same time incorporate your own essence?»
D.S.: Well, thank you very much Jhoger for the question, very cool… It was a complicated issue because I came from a Death Metal band and my obsession had always been to sing as low as possible to sound like I was a guy, which is a thing that we women in Extreme Metal are obsessed with, even if it’s an absurdity. Over time I have also been working on the treble, but I didn’t have a good intonation or any nuance that would give it more dynamism. We were going from Fernanda’s register, which is very intoned, with many nuances, to mine, which is very different.
We didn’t know if with so much change in the band, betting on another one would be the right thing to do. But we said to ourselves, if I’m going to be the new vocalist, there must be something about my identity as a vocalist, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense and people wouldn’t have been happy with my entry. We looked for a middle ground and we put in new things that I didn’t even know how to do and I learned in the studio… although with a lot of work! The first day we spent a lot of hours getting to know each other and the day after we recorded, things weren’t flowing at all. On the third day Martin Furia told me, «look, take the day off, because you’re going to get burnt and we’re all going to get burnt». The next day he changed my perspective, I went with a different mentality of trying, from my registry, but whatever he tells me. And so I improved, which is very good for me too; I feel that I have made a lot of progress in a recording.
I.O.: You have said many times that you wish you didn’t have to leave BLOODHUNTER, which was the band with which you came up in your career, and truthfully, that honors you. Do you have any current plans that you can tell us about? I understand that you will be somewhat stopped.
D.S.: Well, BLOODHUNTER is a band that we have always lived it as for our free time, because we all work and we can’t dedicate so much time to it. When I did the test with NERVOSA I consulted with them and we were all clear about it. We are used to play when we can and we will adapt to NERVOSA’s schedule, which will be more extensive.
When the pandemic started we were about to start recording the third album, but it fell through. The drums and vocals we wanted to record in another Community, so we could not. I hope we can finish this summer and see if we can release it by the end of the year, because it is taking too long.
I.O.: You have BLOODHUNTER… Mia has ABBATH… Eleni has other side projects… and Prika seems to be 100% focused on NERVOSA.
D.S.: Prika always has a lot of things, side projects, collaborations… Look, she recently did a thing with Tony Dolan from VENOM, who has a project called SABATONERO and they do BLACK SABBATH covers. He has participated in a cover with Mayara Puertas from TORTURE SQUAD, a Brazilian band that is awesome. He always has stuff.
I.O.: What are your expectations for touring considering the market situation? Do you already have dates for 2022? Do you still have any hope of doing something in 2021?
D.S.: This year we had everything full until December and many things will not be possible. The dates in Spain will be done I think, we have recently announced a Festival in Tenerife for July. But well, punctual things… There was a forecast of a tour in Latin America in November, that we will see if it can be done. And for next year there is a big plan: 2 months touring the USA, 1 month at home, another 2 months touring… although we don’t really know if it will be possible yet. But the idea is to tour as much as possible.
I.O.: Have you already talked about how your tours will be? Will you play the whole «Perpetual chaos» album and something else, or will the set-list be really balanced between new and old songs?
D.S.: It will depend on whether we can play a lot this year or not, because we have already started writing the next album. But well, normally we will give a lot of space to «Perpetual Chaos», because it has never been played live. Of course there are super mythical NERVOSA songs, like «Kill the silence», «Into Moshpit» that you have to play, because people are waiting for them and they want to see how they are going to sound now. It’s difficult because sometimes you have a 1 hour set-list, for a band that has been playing for 10 years and you leave a lot of things out.
I.O.: Is there any song that you are a little bit afraid to face, because you think it will be difficult to defend live?
D.S.: We haven’t had rehearsals together yet. We took advantage of a trip to Milan to record the video-clip of «Under ruins» and to take some promotional photos, to also rent a place for a couple of hours to play a little and see how we felt, and we played the songs of «Perpetual Chaos», which are the ones we all knew.
But logically we are already preparing the set-list in case we can play this summer and logically I am practicing many NERVOSA songs, which I already knew before, but to adapt them to me, because they are very different: the way of breathing, how to divide the air between phrases… I think they will sound cool and will gain in forcefulness, because my register is like that, the guttural has a lot of body. The songs are going to sound very brutal! But all the songs are going to cost me a lot, because I had to rethink them and adapt to a new way of breathing between verses. It took me a while, to tell you the truth…
I.O.: The path of women in Rock and Metal has never been easy, even though there is a lot of talent, maybe because those of you who are getting into this, have previously demonstrated a higher quality than the average. What do you think about the current market situation regarding the relevance of women?
D.S.: It is very interesting what you say. There has been a lot of fight lately to make visible the role of women in music, which was necessary. Every time I open my Spotify, there’s a woman in almost everything I listen to. I like bands, not because of the members they have, but because the project convinces me, not only in terms of technical quality, but also because it tells you something, and for a project to tell you something, you have to invest a lot of time and effort, and maybe not all women are willing to do that.
In rock maybe it is more evident that discrimination and some comments, but in Extreme Metal I have never felt any discrimination for being a woman, but maybe because I started less years ago and people are more aware. But if you ask Mia or Prika, they tell you things that make your hair stand on end. Nowadays with the Internet it is much easier to start and I think that with time things will become more equal, as long as there are women interested in this.
I.O.: Women in music, you have to be valued for your songs and your musical abilities, I have no doubt about that. But when I think of NERVOSA, BURNING WITCHES, CRUCIFIED BARBARA… or singers like Doro, Alissa, Sharon, Simone, Anette, Amy Lee… I have a doubt, besides having talent, is it necessary to be beautiful to succeed? Although it must be said, in the rock bands of the 80’s, the guys also took care of their image and they didn’t give it a sexist tone.
D.S.: Well, what you say is also very interesting. Sometimes there is a lot of talk about the sexualization of women in music, but we also have to see how much we are part of it. It’s true that in the 80’s, men exploited a lot the image in the Glam Rock scene, they wore make-up, they went shirtless… and nobody got their hands on their heads. In BLOODHUNTER at the beginning I was criticized a lot for the clothes I wore and the truth is, I wore those clothes, because in my normal life, I also go a lot with my belly in the air, for me it’s very comfortable, I didn’t do it to please anyone. So sometimes people said «she takes advantage of the fact that she is hot to have more pull» and it’s not like that, because I have to work the same as everyone else to play live. If my band was shitty, nobody would call us just because I was pretty.
I.O.: I have to say that I have quite a bit of (musical) hatred for AMARANTHE, because between the fact that I don’t like the music very much and that I see the singer often go out half in her panties… well, the truth is, I think it shouldn’t be necessary to go out like that. It’s a very personal opinion, but the truth is that it really puts me off.
D.S.: Of course… I think you have to find a balance. NERVOSA is teaching me that, that it’s very well that you like to dress in a more or less sensual way, but that maybe it’s good to reserve yourself a little bit, of course without being self-conscious.
In almost all Symphonic Metal bands, the singers wear their corset and a very particular aesthetic, which may not be necessary, but it is a part of the product. In the case of Extreme Metal, it is not very much associated with that more sensual image. I’m not attacking or defending it, if the musician is fulfilling his role, in his performance, it can be one more part, maybe not the most important, but…
I.O.: The truth is that when Bon Jovi or anyone else did it in the 80’s, we didn’t give it importance, but now it seems that because some women do it, we have to look for another twist?
D.S.: Yes, maybe now we are a bit obsessed with denouncing everything that may not be so correct and maybe we are a bit too «balcony police», hahaha…
I.O.: Who are your favorite singers and musicians today? Apart from your band mates, of course… do you have any model or reference when it comes to singing?
D.S.: Within Extreme Metal, vocalists that fascinate me, especially Sabina Classen, who was one of the first I heard in this record and who also has a career and an age and is still as energetic as the first day. If I’m like that in 20 years… I sign! Of course Angela Gossow, who was the first one I saw on stage singing gutturals and logically has had an influence on me.
In terms of bands, BEHEMOTH have always liked me a lot, besides their style, because they have been able to give another twist to Extreme Metal, who would have said that a Death Metal band could wear feathers on their heads, jewels… years ago it would have been a heresy! They have fit it perfectly and have given it a very cinematic feel, their concerts are like «the complete package», you have it all. Then I love other things, I’m a big fan of vocalists, for example Jorn Lande, he opens his mouth and my hair stands on end.
I.O.: Well, we are coming to the end, so here we go with the famous Rock Angels Quiz for Satanic Diva:
1.- CARCASS or SEPULTURA? What a tough one… I would say CARCASS. «Heartwork was a discovery and Michael Amott is one of my favorite guitarists.
2.- Touring or recording in the studio? Touring! No doubt… Recording is Chinese torture, it always feels like it’s not good enough.
3.- What’s your favorite food? That’s a tough one! As a good Galician, I devour food… but I would say the Russian salad, which I love, hahaha…
4.- ARCH ENEMY with Johan Liiva, Angela Gossow or Alissa White-Gluz? It’s hard too… As for the songs, Johan Liiva’s songs. But Angela gave it another twist. And beware, Alissa has managed to make them even bigger. She will be a reference for the new generations, with people like Tatiana from JINJER.
5- Big festivals or small and sweaty venues? For me, Festivals are the best. It’s amazing how thousands of people get together in the same place, sing the same song… it’s magic.
6.- A paradisiacal beach or a good summer Festival? I have no doubt about it… a good Festival! Every summer I go there and I love it.
7.- A guitarist you would like to record or play live with… I’m a guitar freak too. Michael Amott would be one of them, I love Gus G, one of my favorites. And let’s see, I’m a big fan of GUNS N’ ROSES and Slash is an idol, I know all the lyrics, I used to download all their concerts in eMule…
8.- Out of Extreme Metal, which is your favorite band? I would say FIREWIND.
I.O.: OK Diva, thank you so much for your time, it has been a real pleasure and a great honor for me, I love «Perpetual Chaos». A last message to the fans in these uncertain times?
D.S.: Well, first of all, thank you very much to you for the time, it has flown by. And to the people, that a lot of patience… that when we can, we are going to burn the money in the pocket of all the concerts that we are going to see.
I.O.: Remember Burgos when you plan your tour, we have a very cool Heavy Metal Association and we are looking forward to seeing you.
D.S.: I take note!
You have read it in Rock Angels Web & Radio. Do yourselves a favor and buy your copy of «Perpetual Chaos», you won’t regret it. THRASH!