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Season of Ghosts – Interview with Sophia Aslanides & ‘A Leap of Faith’ Album Review
Jad | May 11, 2020
Everyone agrees that 2020 sucks. Some even wish we can skip forward to 2021, or go back to 2019. Although all these thoughts are mere wishes, today we are going to actually go back to good ‘ol 2018, and talk about Season of Ghosts‘ album, ‘A Leap of Faith‘.
As we look back to review the late 2018 album, and after the positive reviews we received on our Interview with the Fans V2.0 article format and requests to use the same format on all interviews, this will the first article where we apply it. We hope you like it.
Season of Ghosts is an Electro-Metal band originating from Japan and currently residing in the UK. The band’s music bundles together a great variety of sounds creating one interesting sound that can only be associated with Season of Ghosts. That sound was the recipe of making ‘A Leap Of Faith’. Here are four things we loved about ‘A Leap Of Faith’.
1. The unique sound
It is not easy to make something new these days. Season of Ghosts however were able to create a brand new sound within an already saturated sub-genre. They did not invent new instruments or new theories. They simply presented a wonderful cinematic version of Electro-Metal that reflects their own personality. This sound we’re talking about can be heard in especially in songs like Astero (Id), A Place to Call Home, and How the Story Ends.
2. The guitars
Many Metal and Rock artists whose sound is connected to electronic music pay less attention to the guitars since there is already a keyboard-based melody. This was not case in ‘A Leap Of Faith’. The album was as guitar-based as any Metal album should be. The riffs were variant and dominant with a heavy tendency. How The Story Ends is a great example on how guitars were predominant despite the electronic music. Almost Human and A Place to Call Home are two another wonderful displays of the great guitars on ‘A Leap Of Faith’.
3. Sophia Aslanides’s great vocals
Just because our name is FemMetal doesn’t mean we’re always going to praise the female member’s contribution to the album. But this time, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Sophia’s voice and a talent were a one of the main factors ‘A Leap Of Faith’ has the sound it has. Her voice is very unique and vibrates right into the heart of the listeners. How the Story Ends and What A Time To Be Alive are two of the songs we enjoyed Sophia’s voice on most.
4. Favourite Song: ‘How the Story Ends’
No wonder this song was agreed upon as favourite by all three members of the review team. It begins with a wonderful intro softly putting the song in motion with Sophia’s soft vocalizing. Then explodes into a faster tune with an interesting riff and a backing melody. The chorus is enormous and has an epic taste. Great song!
These were four things we loved about ‘A Leap Of Faith’. The album is a complete and beautiful work. One thing we believe would have made it even better is adding some external harsh vocals to some songs.
We recommend ‘A Leap Of Faith’ to all fans of Rock and Metal with an electronic fusion. But a word of warning, although the running time of the album is theoretically 45 minutes, its actual running time is at least 1.5 hours as you won’t be able to listen to it only once!
We had the wonderful chance to chat with Sophia Aslanides about her music and thoughts about many things, including her upcoming performance in Online Female Fest on May 16th. We hope you enjoy reading this interview.
Hello Sophia. It’s a pleasure to chat with you. How are you and the rest of the members of ‘Season of Ghosts’ today?
We’re happily leading our quarantine lives! Sadly we can’t be on the road and we’ve had to cancel several shows around the world, including an Asian tour, but we’re taking the time to work on our 3rd album, stay productive and plan our weekly YouTube live-stream!
First, for our readers who haven’t yet got the chance to listen to ‘Season of Ghosts’, would you like to tell them more about your band? How did you guys form and how would you describe your sound and message you carry in your music?
I created Season of Ghosts while I was still living in Japan. Back then I used to sing for a trance metal band called Blood Stain Child. Season of Ghosts was created in Tokyo and became my solo project after I left BSC. During the production of The Human Paradox, I happened to work with Zombie Sam and we instantly clicked. He is an orchestra conductor and shared my vision in music and aesthetics, so we co-composed and co-produced the entire thing, with the help of Nero Argento and Ettore Rigotti (Babymetal, GYZE, Disarmonia Mundi, Blood Stain Child). It was only natural that he’d join the band for the second album. After a long time of working together we also became a family and these days we bicker like an old couple, to the amusement (??) of our fans, hahah~
Our sound is a mix-n-match of our collective influences. I love Japanese music and western electro-industrial. I also love old melodic metal albums by bands like Anathema, The Gathering, Katatonia, Sentenced etc. Sam loves Californian pop-punk, but we’re both european, so the sound is really somewhere in-between, although lots of people say our songs sound like anime openings. I won’t complain, anime music is cool! I make sure each and every song carries a message and each album has its own theme and atmosphere. I’m strictly against creating “filler” songs, songs that people will want to skip fast. I create songs putting attention to detail, the structure, the lyrics.
My lyrics have traditionally been rather dark-ish, however, if you spend a moment to read the text, you understand that all my stories bear a beacon of hope. No matter how much darkness we go through, no matter the struggle, there’s always a tiny light at the end of the tunnel and it’s our responsibility to look for it and pursue it. Life is not easy but quitting is not an option in my book. Now Sam would say I sound like a Spartan, hahah~! The song lyrics always speak about topics such as personal struggles, spirituality, esotericism, human nature and its tragedies, soul searching, self improvement, the supernatural, sci-fi and horror topics at times. Doom and gloom like I said, hahah!
As I’ve said in feature I made on social media, your music sounds as if it’s from the future (specifically 3020 AC) from all the progressiveness it has and all the unique elements it contains. What inspires you, from inside and outside the music industry to create this unique sound?
I create art intuitively. I don’t have a strategy or a report on what’s trending so I can hop on a bandwagon. I don’t care about trends. I’m not a people pleaser and I’m not gonna do this and that just because it will “sell more”. Depending on the “now”, I open my mind and “download” messages, inspiration, an entire path perhaps and I embrace that direction. I go with the flow of the universe, I don’t force things. Observing people has always been a favourite pastime of mine. I wanted to be a psychologist originally and the desire never left me, so human nature is always an inspiration. I’ve also always had an affinity for what lies beyond, the unseen. Sam is just a crazy genius with music and comes up with fantastic ideas, so I guess our collective crazy is what makes the music sound like it’s from…3020?? That’s an honour to hear actually, thank you! About music inspiration, you just have to scroll up to the previous questions!
One other thing I loved about your music is your singing voice that has some sort of electrifying vibe in it. Who are the vocalists that got you interested in being a musician and a singer rather than just a music consumer?
I don’t have any particular sing-spiration, but I’ve always sang along to bands I loved. I’m a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan, so I used to know all their lyrics by heart. Then I used to sing along to Malice Mizer, Raphael, Lareine and a ton of other Visual Kei/Jrock bands. If I had to pick a female voice, I’d say Anneke Van Giersbergen. I think she’s the best voice of her generation. You just stay there and listen to her speechless. She has a rare gift. However, I don’t like thinking “oh, I wanna be like that person”. I’m allergic to copycats and I definitely don’t want to be like anybody else. Influences are unavoidable, but I’m focusing on being the best version of myself.
What bands and artists did you grow up listening to that you can say had the greatest influence on you as a person?
Like I said above, Smashing Pumpkins defined me during my teenage years and the unique personality of Billy Corgan always resonated with me. His opinions, his ideas. After so many years, he still talks and it resonates with me, even though I haven’t listened to the Pumpkins for a very long time. I used to listen to tons of Britpop/Britrock during its prime, in the mid 90s as well, but I got tired of the booze/drug/sex themes and I looked for something with a purpose, so I found metal! I usually loved bands that were either experimental in their approach, or very melodic, but never anything close to heavy/symphonic/power metal. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just not my thing. I’ll listen to Amorphis but not Nightwish for example. Like I said, Anathema is perhaps the biggest influence here, the honesty of the compositions, the heartfelt vocal delivery, the lyrics, the doom and gloom, hahaha! Also the album Animatronic by The Kovenant really influenced me at the time, so I started looking more into electronics combined with heavy music and I found electro-industrial, hahah~ EBM and synth pop bands like VNV Nation and Namnambulu really defined that part of my life and made sure I’d be making music that includes electronics for a very long time.
Then discovering Visual Kei changed my entire existence. The genre (if you can call it that) encompassess everything I’ve ever loved, so it’s like a huge playground where no combination is forbidden and there are countless possibilities. Malice Mizer and LAREINE will always be my biggest inspirations here. Their collective works, the aesthetics are just incomparable. Kitschy at times, but who can forget Kamijo in that over the top dramatic, “aunt from Chicago” blue hat in the Fiancailles PV? Like seriously.
Your last album was released in 2018. Do you have any plans for a new release any time soon?
A Leap of Faith, which was the second album after The Human Paradox, was released October 2018. So it’s already 1.5 year old. We’re currently dreaming up a 3rd album. Sam, I and Fatal Fe (he’s a friend and external collaborator that creates epic electronics!) are laying the groundwork for a worthy successor of the past two albums. We were planning for a late 2020 release, but the way things are now, it’s probably gonna be 2021.
I identify as a nerd. So it’s time for some nerdy questions. Your music has influences from movies and movies take us to different worlds. So this will be the theme of our nerdy questions. Ready?
Absolutely! Nerds are the coolest people!
In a world where you have the ability to teleport to any place you want, where would you spend most of your time?
I love travelling, so I’d go visit every single place in the world (and spend tons of time in Japan, my happy place), take billions of pictures and eat all the food! I’d spend time connecting with animals and nature. The more I spend time with animals the more they draw me in. They have so much to teach us. If teleporting outside of this earth would be possible, I’d go visit parallel universes and find alternate versions of me, see who is the coolest and try to learn from her. Sometimes I feel I’m not doing a very good job, I need help! Actually that’s what our song Quantum – through the looking glass was about!
In a world where humour is the currency, how rich would you be?
According to Sam I’d be broke because he doesn’t appreciate my sense of humour. According to me, I’d be well off, not filthy rich, but I’d have the potential. Believe it or not, I have a love for comedy, especially the anime-kind, if that makes any sense @_@;;
In a world where the law forces you to wear a t-shirt of the artist you have most songs of on your phone or whatever device you use for music, what t-shirt would you be wearing?
I’d be wearing a t-shirt saying “theta waves”, as I don’t really listen to music but mostly meditation tracks and theta waves for concentration, hahah! This almost sounds like a t-shirt Cisco from The Flash would wear. Something that only he would understand, lol.
In a world where you can either be a vampire or a werewolf, what would you be?
A hybrid! It’s better to have options.
Finally, in a world where you are the supreme ruler of your country, what is an interesting legislation you’d like to make?
A law that says it’s obligatory to teach survival skills in schools, self-preservation, cultivate your EQ, self-awareness, meditation, animal appreciation, botanology, entrepreneurship, how to manage your life financially so you’re not broke in the future and other stuff that people need in life and wish someone had taught them in school!
You’re participating in the Online Female Fest in few days along with other talented ladies. How important is it for artists in these hard times to be united in events such as this one?
I’m very excited to be part of the very first online festival showcasing female performers! I believe this goes for humans in general, but also extends to artists. We are stronger together and supporting each other at all times creates a win-win situation for everyone. No one can survive alone, no matter how powerful they are.
One more question, as you know we are big supporters of feminism and women’s rights around the world. Although many countries have achieved equality between genders, many other countries still lag behind, and in some other communities, laws exist but the mentality of equality is still lacking. As a woman and an artist what advice would you give to young girls reading this article that live in communities where they are still regarded as weak and not able to be in charge or make decisions?
Educate yourselves as much as you can and find a way to escape those countries. There is no hope for evolution, as those societies weaponise certain beliefs and mentalities to keep others under control. Don’t be a statistic and sit there waiting for change. Run away, be yourself somewhere else and help accelerate change in your country and in the world wherever possible.