German thoroughness: an interview with CANTERRA’s Korinna König

CANTERRA_logowhite

KEEP THE HEARTMACHINE BEATING

CANTERRA, a name that you may have or may not have heard before. Fact is, this German female fronted metal band from Leipzig will release a new album Heartmachine on August 7th. And curious as we are, we decided to give singer Korinna König a third degree interrogation about this new, sophomore album and reveal some new facts. Don’t worry, we didn’t hurt her at all!

The name CANTERRA may not ring as many bells as you would like among female fronted metal fans, so maybe it’s good to introduce yourself first. Who is CANTERRA?

KORINNA: First of all we are 5 German music lovers doing rock music with a lot of emotion. What we need to have fun with music are mainly fat guitars and strong melodies, otherwise anything can happen. We are living our dream with Canterra. Our top priority is that our own songs really have to carry us away and that they are a lot of fun live. We don’t compose because we have to, but because we want to and when a song says ‘hello’ and then has something to say as well we try to make it better until it gives us goosebumps. We have been around for a few years now and with our first album First Escape we were able to tour the country intensively for the first time, for example with Lacrimosa, Beyond The Black, Crematory and many more. It was an CANTERRA_interview1unforgettable journey with First Escape and we were able to rock with our songs on festivals like the Wacken Open Air for the very first time. And now we open the next chapter with Heartmachine. We have worked a lot on ourselves and the production process over the last years and I am extremely proud of our new musical baby. Heartmachine is one step further in many ways, for example production, composition, vocal variability, message… Because of the female voice we are often compared with Nightwish or Delain, and hey… it’s a big big honor for us. We sound different just because we are us and we make the music we like and this defines the music without doing it on purpose. We are not too orchestral, but if a song calls for it we will follow that call as long as it feels good. You can always expect a good melody and a fat musical wall with guitar focus from CANTERRA.

You label yourself as a gothic metal band, but in this year 2020, symphonic metal is prevalent in the female fronted metal scene. Is CANTERRA moving slowly towards symphonic metal as well or are you gonna stick to gothic metal?

KORINNA: That’s a good question. To be honest, I’m not sure. There’s no plan. Maybe the fans can answer this much better after listening to the new album. 😉 You can hear a significant change in our sound, but that’s more because we now know better how to achieve the atmosphere we want to achieve and because the production has now reached a level that we always wanted. Especially in the last few years there were cool production tools that you start playing around with and sound things are evolving and effecting your sound. And I think Heartmachine is more symphonic metal than goth. Our musical roots, especially those of Harry and me, are in gothic metal, so this was and is our first common musical basis from which we started making music. How this will develop in the coming years, we don’t know exactly ourselves. The only thing I’m sure of is that it remains exciting! But guitars, melodic vocals and authenticity will stay our core!

So far, you have only released one album, First Escape, in 2016. What reactions did you get on that debut album from the press/fans and what have you been up to since then?

CANTERRA_First EscapeKORINNA: The reactions were very good, both in the press and live. Since then we have been on tour with the First Escape songs, especially in Germany, and have played many, many great concerts. A big highlight was definitely the tour with Lacrimosa, which started this journey. We are very grateful to Tilo for making this start possible. The reactions of the fans on the tour really overwhelmed us and gave us a lot of energy to take the next step. But also the following gigs with Xandria, Beyond The Black, Crematory or Lord Of The Lost and Letzte Instanz were a blast. We are extremely happy to have played at festivals like Wacken, Baltic or Hexentanz for the first time. And that’s exactly why we make music, we have to get on stage to bring the songs to life together with the fans. There is nothing worse than having written the most beautiful song and then it wastes away in the drawer. Playing live, especially at festivals, is like jumping into water, you never know exactly what will happen, it’s always a little adventure and that’s what life is like, that’s how music has to happen. The songs live themselves out a little differently at every gig. And we would like to repeat that with Heartmachine. In the last years we have worked a lot on ourselves and the production process and wrote songs. A new production only made sense for us if we could create a development at that point, and that took some time.

Let’s talk about your new album, Heartmachine. You had to postpone the release date from April 12th to August 7th 2020, because of the Coronavirus pandemic. In what way did that hinder your plans that you had no doubt already made by then?

KORINNA: The Corona Pandemic came at the worst possible time for us. Everything was prepared and organized, the release of the album, the tour. It was the exact time when we hit the peak of the infection in Europe. A kind of precision landing. Several years of work were destroyed in a few days. That was also a heavy blow psychologically. Financially, we were just able to prevent the worst from happening. However, there are so many incalculable things that go down the drain, that’s really bad. But the health of all of us comes first, that’s clear. Now we try to sort ourselves out and hope to celebrate Heartmachine live in 2021.

The title Heartmachine suggests that it is a concept album. Is there a ‘red line’ between the 8 songs on the album or are they all solitary tracks?

CANTERRA_HeartmachineKORINNA: It’s not a concept album in the sense that we thought about what the songs should be about and then went to work. They are all songs in their own right from the beginning. In the moment the song Heartmachine became a coherent picture, it was clear that Heartmachine is not only an unusual and live extremely stirring song, but also a great album title. It was clear very quickly that the record’s name simply MUST be Heartmachine. And suddenly we realized how the individual plot lines of the songs came together to form a great whole. The lyrics mainly come from my pen and I not only noticed it here, but nearly every time: after finishing songs in a creative phase, I realize that they often belong together unintentionally. If you write or sing about the things that occupy you at the moment, that is actually obvious. When the songs were finished, we noticed two very clear binding elements, which we then transferred to the artwork. On the one hand, there is the matter of the human self-destruction through the poisoning of our environment and the man-made climate change and on the other hand the tackling of things, becoming active and living and working in your own dreams. If you sit around and grumble, but don’t do anything yourself, nothing is going to happen and I don’t think you have the right to grumble if you are not willing to help changing things. The Heartmachine can be a kind of mirror inside you, which finally tears down the walls to your soul, wipes away the unimportant and pulsates. Live in the now and do not let live. So there is definitely a connecting element, but an unintended one.

As a foretaste, you released a video for A Lifetime. Is that song representative for the rest of the album? And why did you record the Jermaine Jackson/Pia Zadora cover When The Rain Begins To Fall? Isn’t that a kind of a dissonant between the other songs?

KORINNA: I think A Lifetime is a song that is a good way to get into the album and immediately brings to mind the positive sound of the album. I just love the song and the message and can’t wait to play this song live on a festival stage. The song just feels like the evening mood at a hot summer festival. The video for A Lifetime is a quick Corona thank you to all our fans who have already pre-ordered the album despite the release delay and had to cancel some of their flight tickets to our shows. Instead of playing the release show we shot this video in the rehearsal room. We have developed some nice music video concepts for the song and I hope that we can realize them in the upcoming month.

The creation of the Jackson/Zadora cover is actually quite funny, because everything went very fast. We are kids of the 80’s and we had the crazy idea to try our hand at editing a big song and then it all happened very fast. One weekend Hannes and I picked a handful of songs just for fun and I found that When The Rain Begins to Fall grooves and drifts the most while singing it. Only one day later Hannes sent me an instrumental demo of it. A few days later a first vocal draft was added and it was clear that it would be good. That our producer was also enthusiastic about it was the deciding factor for us to actually take the song to the Heartmachine universe. Despite the serious themes on the album, it is very important to us to say that not 100% of the time is spent on musing and gloomy thoughts, so there is still a very positive sound throughout the whole record. If you always take everything too serious, you go crazy. And so When The Rain Begins to Fall for example is just a song for fun. We hope that you like it as much as we do… we would recommend to turn it up very loud! By the way, the other songs on the record has to be heard loud as well!

Not long before you went into the studio to record Heartmachine, your drummer Max Krüger left CANTERRA. That must have been a shock for the band. But luckily for you, guest drummer Mark Cross gave you a helping hand and now you have Lars Gelbke behind the drumkit. Have you considered letting him do the drum parts again now that the release date was postponed and there was time for that?

KORINNA: It was no shock for us, because it was clear for a long time that Max’s time for the band would not be enough. It’s a pity that Max had to leave, because Max is an important part of the CANTERRA family and always will be. He wanted to finish the production of the record with us very much.  The songs on Heartmachine carry the signature of him. Unfortunately, due to some breakdowns and unpredictable things, Max was not able to record these songs and we needed a quick solution for the recording. We definitely don’t plan to re-record the album at the moment, that would be an enormous effort and Lars also wants to find his own style with us.

CANTERRA_promoThere’s only eight songs on Heartmachine and no German song at the end, like Der einzige Erbe on First Escape. Why didn’t you record a track in your own language this time, while there is obviously still room for it?

KORINNA: We just haven’t written any German songs lately, respectively no song has developed in the direction of German lyrics. But this is not impossible for the future and can happen anytime. It was important for us to put our best new songs together now. We don’t think much of filling material, which might take a while to find its final form, to be cramped onto a record. What comes and is good will find its way. And from my point of view we should not let ourselves be imposed with too rigid forms in the music industry and especially because this is a creative field where we should focus on creating. I actually have a problem with the statement ‘but it has to be like this’. We really enjoy being involved with music and not too much with the supposed perfect format, which might give you better access to the business behind it. It should always be about the music and the songs.

Speaking of last songs, Fear Me – Fast is no doubt the fastest track on Heartmachine. Will you do more songs like this in the future and who did the harsh vocals on this one?

KORINNA: The vocals come from our guitarist Harry. And songs with growls can also be a part of our musical work in the future. We grew up musically with the gothic metal classics of Crematory, Type O Negative and Theatre Of Tragedy, that’s a part of us that more or less shines through. But who knows what the future will bring. The song Fear Me itself builds a bridge to our roots.

When Heartmachine is finally released on August 7th, will you do that special release show at the Moritzbastei in Leipzig that you also had to postpone in April? And any plans for a European tour after that?

KORINNA: Due to Corona we had to postpone another unreleased date for a release show at the time of the release in August. We now hope that the release show, which will take place on 27.02.2021 in Moritzbastei in Leipzig, Germany, can take place. So this will be a kind of post-release show. But the album will be out this August, we don’t want to let the fans wait anymore. Especially in these days you need new music, that hopefully gives you power and strength. The music has to come alive, especially in these times. Right now, there are no plans for a substitute of the planned European tour, if there will be new dates in this constellation is not in our hands. If things get more predictable, we will try to hit the road again.

Do you have any last words before we unstrap you and let you go again?

KORINNA: Thanks for having us! I hope we will meet healthy and in peace at a CANTERRA concert someday. We all have to stick together to survive these times. I am afraid a lot of bands, clubs and little label structures will crash in this crisis. I recommend you to support your favorite bands and clubs as much as you can. Otherwise they might not exist afterwards. Stay healthy and take care about each other!

For more info:
Website / Facebook