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Asphodelia

At the end of April the debut album ‘Welcome Apocalypse’ from the Italian progressive metal outfit Asphodelia was released and the song material that was displayed on there was of an extremely high quality level. It was a long time ago that I had the pleasure of listening to such a strong debut album and therefore it was no more than logica that we wanted to introduce this band more extensively to our readers. The very sympathetic female singer Samuela Fuiani was contacted, who was very willing to provide us with all the necessary background information about her band Asphodelia.

By: Sjak | Archive under prog / sympho metal

Hi Samuela, when did you start singing and when did you discover that you had a certain talent for it?
I discovered that I had a certain talent for music in general when I was a very little girl. When I was about four years old, I started playing piano and my parents found out that I had a natural talent for this. I started singing quite a lot later in my teenage years. When I was about thirteen or fourteen years old I started doing choir rehearsals at the conservatorium where I studied piano. I discovered that I enjoyed singing and also that I had certain skills in that area. Since then I just try to improve both as a singer as well as a piano player.

Which singers do you admire and which ones have influenced you during your career?
I really listen to a wide range of music and as a result I would probably say that I’m influenced by everything. I can’t say that I’m influenced by a particular artist, but I definitely like the voices of a lot of different artists from different genres.

In 2014 you were part of the band Black Dahlia with whom you recorded the album ‘Fragments’. Was this the first band that you participated in or did you play in other bands before Black Dahlia?
Black Dahlia was my very first band and I started this band together with my guitar player Ruggero Doronzo, who also happens to be my husband. At first we intended to start as an acoustic duo, but later on we decided to find other musicians and to create a complete band. We signed a record deal with a local Italian label, so the album was never released internationally. Despite of that I think it did quite good for a local release.

Black Dahlia morphed into Asphodelia as both Ruggero (guitar player) and you are still the core of the band, but why did you decide to change the name?
At that time we went through a major line-up change and as a result we felt there was no reason to keep the old band name. The experience of a release and a previous band also gave us more strength from a musical perspective. We had matured quite a lot and we felt that we were ready for something more. In fact, we believe that this project clearly shows that we have grown up as musicians and are much more experienced. We therefore felt that we were ready to do something more serious than our previous effort and continued as Asphodelia.

Why did you decide to call the band Asphodelia and what’s the meaning of the band name?
That’s an easy question because we have put a lot of thought to this. Asphodelia comes from the word asphodel, which is a typical Mediterranean flower and which has a strong meaning. In the ancient Greek and Roman mythology it was connected to the ancient underworld. In fact, the asphodel meadows is a place in the ancient mythology where the indifferent souls were sent after death. Since our music is quite dark, also in the lyrics which are about the underworld and the afterlife, we though that this would be a very suitable name for our new project.

Now that you mention the lyrics, why do you have the urge to write such dark lyrics?
It’s just something that flows very naturally as it is a subject that I think about very often. I’m a very thoughtful person and both my husband, who’s also an important lyricist, and I think quite a lot about these kind of topics.

How did you get the line-up completed?
When Ruggero and I founded the project, we first started with Ludovico Massariello on drums and Davide Ricciardi on bass. We recently added a new guitar player Gianni Colonna and a few months ago we had to replace our drummer Ludovico by Guiseppe Centonza.

As Asphodelia you released a promo EP entitled ‘Vengeance’ in 2016, so what was the intention that you had with this EP and was it capable to get the band’s name out in the world?
We were already working on new songs for a while and thought that it would be a good idea to release something to give a taste of what we were doing. We needed to introduce ourselves to our followers and we should just let them know that we were working hard on new song material. Maybe the production of ‘Vengeance’ is not perfect, but at least it was able to give our fans a hint of what we were doing at that time. We created an instrumental intro and used four songs, which are now actually included in our ‘Welcome Apocalypse’ release as well, but with a much better production.

In 2017 you signed a management deal with The Flaming Arts Agency. How did you get connected to them?
We just sent them a promo package and asked for joining their roster. They were very positive about us and we’re very happy that we are represented by them.

So let’s move on to the new album ‘Welcome Apocalypse’ now. When did you start with the actual preparations for this new album and what was the game plan that you had when starting the song writing?
We started working on this album already in 2016, shortly after we released the EP. As a matter of fact we didn’t really start with a proper plan, as we have a very natural approach to making music. We don’t start writing or planning with a specific goal, we just do what we feel we need to do which is the best way to naturally get results.

How does the song writing process in the band look like?
It’s usually the case that I come up with a general musical idea for a song, as the way I work is that the music comes before the lyrics. As Ruggero is a better lyricist than I am, it happens quite often that I come up with the musical idea and that he fills in the lyrical part. When the overall idea is complete, I submit the draft song to the rest of the band and they all give their specific contribution to the song.

What are typical elements that need to be present in a great Asphodelia song before you decide to release it on an album?
As stated earlier, we usually don’t plan things as we write. We just let the process go and at a certain point we feel that the song is complete. Elements that can’t be missed are the fact that a song has to sound powerful, it’s has to be epic to a certain extent and it has to contain orchestral and electronic elements while we on occasion also try to introduce folk elements.

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If I’m not mistaken the album was first released as an independent release in 2017. Weren’t you able to get any record company interested at that time?
At that time we thought that it was the better choice for us to release it independently, because we needed to grow and we needed a certain fan-base first. It was actually never formally released as we opened up a crowd-funding campaign for the production of it and we just pre-sold some copies. Our supporters have been very patient and we appreciate that very much.

Now the album has been picked up by the Danish label Mighty Music, so how did you get teamed up with them and is it a one or multiple album contract?
So far we have got a deal for this album only. We got in touch with them via the usual way, as we sent them a demo, which they liked very much. As a result of this we got the record deal in and we’re very happy that this materialized.

Where was the album recorded and who was responsible for the production process?
The album was recorded in our personal studio. We own a small studio where we do all the tracking, while the mix and mastering was done by Stefano Morabito, who is the head of 16th Cellar Studios in Rome, which is one of the best Italian studios for metal and rock music. Stefano has already worked with labels like Nuclear Blast, Prosthetic Records and with a huge amount of great band. As he also did our Black Dahlia record, we were familiar with the way he works and we knew that we would be in safe hands for the production of this album.

With Black Dahlia you recorded a video for ‘Falling Down’, while you also created a lyric video with Asphodelia for the EP song ‘Flowers Of Evil’ but will you create a video for one of the songs on the album and if so, for which one? Why did you decide for this track?
We are currently working on a video clips for the song ‘Cassandra’ and we have already done a lyric video for the opening track ‘Welcome Apocalypse. These two songs are probably the most representative songs of the entire album and it’s also the reason why we have put them at the beginning of the record. Videos for other songs will most probably follow in the next months, but we haven’t really decided yet for which songs.

How important are videos for a band nowadays in your opinion?
Although they may be not too many broadcasting possibilities anymore, videos are still hugely important. As this is our first album, we need to get as much visibility as possible and videos are a huge part of that process. The first acquaintance with a new band is usually by watching one of the video clips on YouTube and this is why it still a very important aspect for a band.

You also included a cover version of U2’s ‘With Or Without You’. Why did you decide to record a cover in the first place and why did you choose for this particular song?
We didn’t actually plan it but it’s something that I had in mind for a long time. The original song by U2 is a very meaningful song for me and I still love this tune very much. It was part of my life soundtrack so to speak and when I love a song so much I want to make it mine in a certain way. Therefore I tried to find my particular way to play it and ‘With Or Without You’ went through a personalization process that resulted in the cover you find on the record.

Who was responsible for the artwork and in what way is it connected to the lyrical content of the album?
You’re lucky because you’re talking to the artist at this very moment. I had this apocalyptic scene in my mind as I wanted something very eye-catching and of course the album title ‘Welcome Apocalypse’ is very much in line with the mood of the artwork. I created this radio-active sky with this weird moon/sun-eclipse in the background and with oceans rising and destroying the landscape, which fits perfectly with the dark lyrical theme that is presented on the record.

The album has been released on April 20th, but what are you own personal expectation from this album? When will it be a success for you?
We really trust our label’s work as we think they will do great in promotion. We are very positive about the public response because our fan-base is very enthusiastic about it. We did our very best and we hope that the album will at least present our project as one that deserves to get some visibility. We just keep our expectations low as we don’t want to be over-confident or arrogant. We keep working hard to get as much results as possible, which every new band should do.

What are your plans after the release of the album? Do you already have any concrete shows or tours booked for 2018?
We have already done a short UK tour at the end of March and the beginning of April. Next to that we are already confirmed for a festival in Malta on May 5th and for the Metal Gods festival in Norwich, UK on May 20th. On June 2nd we will play in Milan and many other dates will follow soon because we are awaiting the official announcements for our participation in other festivals.

Asphodelia is a relatively young band, but what are in your opinion the unique selling points of the band that makes you stand out from the crowd?
I think that symphonic metal fans will love the album because of its symphonic elements, but also traditional heavy metal lovers will like it because of the heaviness. I think the album covers many tastes and that’s why it might be suited for a wide variety of music fans.

The band has just started, but what are your goals on a more long-term perspective? What are the dreams that you want to accomplish with Asphodelia?
We want to play live as much as possible as we really want to share our music with as many people as possible. This is our main goal both from the more short-term as the more long-term perspective. We want to focus on creating a solid fan-base for now and built from there.

Okay Samuela, I would like to thank you for your willingness to answer my questions. Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you want to express to our readers?
I just want to thank everyone who will take the effort to listen to the album and try to catch the meaning that we wanted to express. Furthermore a big thanks to everybody that has supported us and who will in the future, especially our Indiegogo backers for their patience. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to introduce our band to your readers. I feel very grateful for everything that’s happening with the band right now!

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