RK : First of all , thank you for accepting our invitation for an interview.
Thank you for having us!
RK : Share with us what is the story behind the name IGNEA. Why did you decide to pick this name for the band?
Helle: Earlier, the band was called Parallax, and we released a space-themed EP ‘Sputnik’. It all suited together. Then, as the band became more serious, we thought it would be hard to promote it along with other 60+ bands called Parallax. And the new songs sounded differently. It was a perfect timing for rebranding. And we came up with IGNEA, a short, quite unique title meaning ‘flaming’/‘fiery’. We felt that it was a match, and we feel that today as well.
RK : Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? How did you all first meet each other? Has anything surprised you about it all so far?
Helle: The band was started by our keyboardist and composer Evgeny. He started the project long ago, and there were many lineup changes. However, only in 2013, along with regular rehearsals and first studio EP, it was properly born. We all were friends or friends of friends. Most of the members even live in one district.
Unlike many other bands, we rehearse only one time per week and almost don’t communicate between the tours. But during the tours, we are feeling like one big family. This is what surprises me. But it is cool.
RK : Which are your biggest band influences?
Evgeny: I’d call Amorphis the No. 1 influence. Although we do not play in their sub genre directly, the overall atmosphere and amount of folk elements are those things that contribute to IGNEA most. Of course, there's also a lot of influences of Orphaned Land, Nightwish and movie soundtracks here and there. In the upcoming music, there will be more modern metal elements, mostly influenced not by acts you would think of like Amaranthe, Blood Stain Child or alike, but more of a modern UK prog metal scene: Arcane Roots, Black Peaks, Palm Reader, etc.
RK : What was the first song you played as a band?
Helle: It was ‘Sputnik’ from our first EP. Fun fact, we opened all the sets of the shows during the October tour with this song as well.
RK : How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Evgeny: We rarely improvise, maybe except some solo parts. Usually when someone improvises, makes some twitches to a riff or groove, and everyone likes it, we simply learn the new details and play the songs differently after that. So yes, some moments sound differently when we perform live, those have been improvised before, but when you hear them, there's no improvisation at all.
RK : Let’s talk about your album, “The Sign of Faith” released in 2017, which is already a massive hit. Tell us something about the album.
Helle: It feels that we’ve released it so long ago. Many songs on the album are interlinked in terms of the theme of faith: faith in religion, in love, in self-belief… Everyone has their own ‘sign of faith’, you know. At the same time, it is quite diverse. We’ve got an anti-terrorism song ‘Seytanu Akbar’, a Disney-like lullaby ‘How I hate the night’, a symphonic ‘Alga’ recorded with a full orchestra, a metal ballad ‘Theatre of Denial’, etc.
RK : What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
Ignea : We were surprised how absolutely different songs in terms of genre and lyrics can be mixed into one release so smoothly. It’s like telling a story, you know. And, as it was our first full-length album, it really feels as if we created something massive enough to be included into the world of metal.
RK : What is the biggest change you feel after and before " The Sign of Faith”?
Ignea : Recognition by people from all over the world. A new era for the band. A new challenge for the band, because we are now working on a new album that should overcome “The Sign of Faith”. And even some sadness that the main promo part for this album is over.
RK : Let’s talk about your latest music video "Queen Dies", the music video is magnificent, What is the message you seek to send through this music video?
Helle: Thank you! Well, almost all of our previous songs were very serious in terms of messages. ‘Queen Dies’ is a phantom of imagination, a synergy of our idea and our director’s vision. In terms of plot, it mostly reflects the lyrical content of this song: the Queen’s court wizard is having a dream that she would die by hand of a ‘power-hungry twin’. Therefore, she orders to kill all the twins in the kingdom, including her sister. In this bloody process, she starts to understand that she likes it, and then she’s captured by a demon. All in all, she doesn’t die herself, but the Queen in her Dies.
RK : In 2017, IGNEA has been nominated for the Best Ukrainian Metal Act award and has entered in the list of Top 3 best Metal Bands of Ukraine. How did it feel when you found out you had been nominated for the award?
Helle: We were shocked by both nomination and entering the top 3 bands, mostly because 95% of our audience is spread all over the world, outside Ukraine. We are even more grateful and surprised because it were the listeners who voted.
But, in general, we are absolutely calm about any awards. For us, it is important to create music and keep in touch with our fans through web and live shows. It’s the best award and reward!
RK : If you had all the money and time in the world, what song either yours or someone else’s would you love to re-create? What the video be like?
Evgeny: Everything already exists, why do it once more? Although, there are a lot of pop songs that would sound much better if were metal, and this idea often gets destroyed by metalheads who have poor arranging skills, which also discriminates metal as a powerful tool of music. I think, I'd do a proper pop metal album, featuring all the original vocalists. Metalhead Rihanna, why not!
RK : Where do you think you are all happiest: In the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Helle: Our studio process is a bit different compared to other bands. We all have day jobs, and each of us records their parts separately, entering the studio mostly on the weekends and in the evenings after work. Therefore, we do enjoy stage performing and touring most of all.
Evgeny: I don't get happy as such in the studio. Don't get me wrong, working with an exceptinally talented producer Max Morton in his absolutely comfortable and work-oriented environment is super relaxing and productive, but you work there. You do the work you're expecting from yourself. Apart from the final applause of a hot and sweaty sold-out venue (let it even be for 300 people only), there's a happy moment when you finish a new demo, you give it a couple of weeks to settle, and you're ready to smack it once you hear it again after a pause — you just imagine people who pull over their cars to headbang to this song playing — yes, there it is, that moment!
RK : Since you are on the metal scene for quite a long time we are sure you went through many challenges. Was there ever a time when you simply want to quit?
Helle: I won’t say that 5 years, 1.5 of which were mostly inactive, is a long time. I guess, we’re only at our early stages, and there’s more to come. During all the time, we only face financial challenges and geographic border (visa) challenges. But this is what each DIY band faces, it’s all solvable, and we receive a huge support from our fans. There was never a moment we wanted to quit.
RK : What advice IGNEA would give to fellow bands when picking up a studio?
Helle: Our band is lucky because since the very start, we’ve been working only in one studio with the best sound producer — Max Morton. We feel absolutely comfortable there, and we love the result. If you’ve never recorded anything, I’d recommend getting as prepared as you can, record all the demos at home to polish them, and then start picking up a studio. Choose the sound producers you like most in terms of the sound they make, search for the feedback and recommendations, and if you can afford that, and the timing is perfect, why not choose that studio?
RK : Outside your genre, what music do you like?
Helle: We all listen to lots of different genres, not only metal: pop, techno, folk, OST, prog rock, indie, etc. We just do not limit ourselves.
RK : How has 2018 been treating you so far? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year and how close are you to reaching it?
Ignea :2018 has so far been the most efficient year for IGNEA. We’ve released a video for our new single, which is the first release since the album, and it starts a new stage for us. But our main goal for 2018 was touring. We had 2 European tours, one of them supporting Illdisposed, and the other one — Butcher Babies and Kobra and the Lotus. We’ve covered 9 countries, played shows in loads of cities, and reached so many people. Even though the goal was reached, we are now setting the new ones: the new album, more EU festivals next year, a couple of non-standard releases. Just stay tuned.
RK : Have you ever been to India and anything you know about Indian Music Industry?
Helle: Neither the band nor I never have been to India. But I am personally very interested in your culture, and it would be an honor to play in your country. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard about the Indian Music Industry but I am now curious to check it out.
RK : We (Retro Kolkata) are trying to make a bridge between National and International Art & Culture By featuring National & International personalities who already have made their own path in their respective fields and we think your story and tips might help the newcomers to build their career. Please say something about our initiative and any special message for your followers.
Ignea : Thank you, Retro Kolkata, for spreading a word about artists. It means a lot for the industry to develop.
And we are grateful for our listeners from all over the world. Hope to see all of you at our shows some day, wherever you are! Keep your ears open for new music.