When you open ANA’s official website, this is the first you will read: “GET TO KNOW ANA. A New Face in Melbourne, Australia. ANA is a female fronted, 5-piece symphonic metal band founded in 2023. Are you ready to have ANA rock your world?” This and the fact that ANA is going to release their debut EP “The Art Of Letting Go” on March 29th via Eclipse Records gave us added incentive to contact the band and ask their Russian born singer Anna Khristenko some questions.

Interview by: Henk van Nieuwenhoven

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There is some misunderstanding about the spelling of your last name, Anna. Both your official website and The Metal Archives say Hristenko, but on the press release from Eclipse Records it is spelled as Khristenko.
“The correct spelling of my last name is Khristenko. However, a lot of people had trouble pronouncing it correctly so over the years I changed it to Hristenko to make it easier for them. Now that we are growing as a band I feel like I want my name to be spelled correctly.”

You now live in Melbourne, Australia. But how did a girl from Zelenokumsk in Russia, a town between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, get herself in The Land Down Under, a long way from home.
“There is a very long story behind how I went from Zelenokumsk to Melbourne. I would love to write a book one day and maybe even a movie. My journey from the village first took me to a larger city in Russia, it then continued across South East Asia. My time in Asia was very challenging and formed a lot of who I would become. It gave me a sense of direction and purpose. A combination of determination, passion and self-belief lead me to my new home and new beginning in Melbourne.”ANA headpicPlease take us back to the moment you decided to start a band and can you introduce each member starting with yourself?
“It was in December 2022 that I decided to form a band together with my husband Josh. We were very focused and knew exactly what we wanted this band to be.

Ana Hristenko (vocals) – a classically trained singer who has her roots in opera and has also spent many years performing pop music throughout South East Asia.
Josh Mak (guitar) – frontman and primary songwriter for hard rock band Cynation. Josh’s work with Cynation has won multiple awards, most notably the 2020 Best Music Video at the International Film Makers Festival of New York.
Cleveland Beckford Gonzales (drums) – founding member, drummer and songwriter for the Panamanian metalcore band Watch Me Face It.
Tory Giamba (bass) – a highly experienced session player in the Aussie scene. Former member of

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Carmeria and has previously toured as the live bassist for Pseudo Echo.
Matt Williamson (keyboards) – the youngest member of the band and also an exceptionally gifted keyboardist who is well versed and proficient in many genres.”

ANA’s very first single “Sirens” came out on May 25th, 2023. On the soon to be released EP “The Art Of Letting Go” there’s a remastered version of “Sirens”. Why was it necessary to remaster it, the 2023 version didn’t sound that bad?
“We chose to remaster it as we wanted it to sit well in the mix with the other songs on the EP. We were fortunate enough to have the very talented Thomas “Plec” Johansson master our record and we knew he would make an already good sounding track even better.”

The title “Sirens” is unmistakably connected to the sea. It could have had a beautiful storytelling video, but instead you released a lyric video.
“At the time we released “Sirens” we did not have the budget to film the video that we had envisioned for the song. Therefore, we felt that a lyric video was the best choice. Who knows, we may still shoot the video for it down the track.”

You said that ANA is a palindrome that you can read both ways and that the logo of the Ouroboros biting its own tail signifies the cycle of life and rebirth. So death is not the end for you.
“Nobody is immortal, we all eventually succumb to death’s embrace. But through our art we can live forever and touch the hearts of those who are yet to be born.”

“Ouroboros” is also the title of your latest single launched on February 27th. Can you explain the title through the lyrics?
“The title and the lyrics tell the tale of ANA and the band in our official comic book. Giving hints to her origin and back story. Myth and reality are interweaved and we leave it to the listener to discern for themselves which is which.”

The last track on the EP is “Moth”, an unprecedented beauty that starts with only piano and your crystal clear voice. Do you feel like a moth attracted to the flame in the music industry?
“Thank you for your beautiful description of the song. Not at all, in the industry I feel much more like the flame than the moth.”

You also mentioned that ANA makes symphonic metal, but what if someone would impugn this and tell you that it’s more a mix of symphonic and melodic metal with a poppy flavour?
“I absolutely agree with that. We say it’s symphonic metal to make it easier to explain to people. But we refer to ourselves as progressive symphonic black pop-core. Each of these elements represent the 5 members of the band.”

Earlier this year ANA signed a deal with Eclipse Records, who are based in the US. What was the reason you decided to go into business with them?
Eclipse is a company that’s been around for 27 years. That is no easy feat in the music business. We respected their resilience and also appreciated that they trusted our creative vision.”

As you mentioned earlier, there’s also an official ANA comic book. The first issue 0 came out in October 2023. Are you working on the pre-production for the next issue already?
“The first Issue 0 limited printing of 150 copies has almost sold out. I think there’s about 20 copies left. We will be doing a second printing of this issue which will have the colours redone by another artist. Currently we are working on the production of Issue 1 which will be a full length comic. Down the track we will make physical and digital copies available for our fans around the world.”ANA comicANA have done quite a few gigs in Australia until now and you will also play at the Metal United Down Under 2024 festival in Bendigo on April 20th. What was the crowds’ reaction towards ANA so far?
“We have been incredibly fortunate. From our first show we’ve received so much support and love from the crowds and with each show we play we can see and feel them growing together with us.”

How do you rate the chances that ANA will go on tour in Europe or the US? Maybe as support act for Victoria K or Temtris?
“We are currently making plans to do shows in the US. It likely won’t be till January 2025 but who knows what may come next? Europe is definitely on our list of touring venues too. We’ve noticed a lot of love coming from there, especially from Finland. ❤️  ■