DECRYPTING THE ENIGMA
With COVID-19 still dominating practically everyone’s daily lives, we thought it might be a good idea to do some extra interviews. We start with Fiona Creaby, lead singer of Greece symphonic metal band FALLEN ARISE. Fiona tells us about how she got involved with the band, her very first concert with them and about FALLEN ARISE’s successful album ‘Enigma’.
Hello Fiona, how are you doing? How are you holding up in this nasty crisis with COVID-19 and how was your year 2020?
FIONA: Thank you, it is great to chat with you. Well, it certainly has been a difficult year for everyone. Like most people, I’ve spent a lot of time in lockdown or isolating, which has been tough, but my priority is to keep those around me safe, so it is important to maintain this until times are safer. A lot of time has been spent in the virtual world of course, and it has been generally busy in different ways and that has helped to keep a sense of focus which is important when there is a lot of uncertainty to manage.
Let’s go back into history a little. You joined FALLEN ARISE in 2016 and before that, you were in a couple of other bands. One of them is Apparition, who made a very meritorious album ‘The Awakening’ in 2018. Is this band still active and can we expect a new album from Apparition next year?
FIONA: Yes, 2018 saw a great release for Apparition. Back in 2016 there was a lot to manage with the recording of ‘The Awakening’ in full swing during Autumn and into early 2017, then with mixing too. It was a very busy period for me when I joined FALLEN ARISE, especially as we went straight into touring. Apparition have a long history within the UK metal scene and for me personally I have about ten years of work with Apparition, on and off. There are peaks and troughs of activity, but the restrictions this year in the UK have meant it has been very difficult to do much of anything. But, as the world emerges into a post-COVID era, I think Apparition would look to do something.
How did you get involved with FALLEN ARISE? Did they contact you or did you do an audition? Have you listened to previous FALLEN ARISE albums before you joined them?
FIONA: It was August 2016 when I was approached by the band’s management, which then led to meeting Gus (Dibelas – keyboards) in September 2016 for more in-depth conversations. They were familiar with Apparition and had seen some of my work with them, so I think they felt I was a good fit. I listened to the back catalogue after the first meeting, which I really enjoyed. Then, after meeting Gus, I had a play around with a couple of instrumentals and demos that Gus sent to me and it went from there. Things progressed fairly quickly and I was over in Athens by October in rehearsal for the ‘Adeline Tour’. I really enjoy performing the songs Gus and I chose for the different sets on the tour.
“I always like to watch and learn how other bands do things, as you can pick up great tips and techniques from others whilst touring.”
– FIONA CREABY –
Your very first concert with FALLEN ARISE was with Serenity in Sofia, Bulgaria. What can you remember from that concert?
FIONA: What remains with me was the enthusiasm of the audience. It was my first time to Bulgaria too, so it was an amazing experience to be immersed into a new culture and the crowd were just great. It really gave me a lot of confidence on stage as I always get a bit nervous and with a new band and new material, it makes it a bit harder, so the crowd really gave me a lot of energy. And afterwards too when we were taking photos with people and signing merch. Serenity were great to work with as well, and you could tell the amount of experience on the stage just from the way they performed together. It was good to work with them as I always like to watch and learn how other bands do things, as you can pick up great tips and techniques from others whilst touring.
Not only you came in the band, but also the reintroduction of male singer Vlasis Katsaounis and a new drummer Marios Karavasilis was announced in 2016, followed by guitarist Spiros Vasilakis in 2019 and this year FALLEN ARISE announced a new bassist as well, Jason Ioakeim. That leaves keyboards player Gus Dibelas as the only original member. Why is it so difficult to keep a line-up together?
FIONA: I think it is a blend of things really. Bands mature and find the right direction of travel as time moves on. The music industry is increasingly turbulent and constantly in flux at rapid pace which influences that. Individual band members grow and change as life circumstances evolve. So, in my view, ten years can be a long time for a band these days and I think it is quite natural to have evolution in a band line-up over time. I think this is also often the case when a band moves from their more formative years as they develop their sound and ideas and are working to carve out a space for themselves in a very competitive arena. Additionally, there are life-changes that a lot of people go through during their 20s, 30s and 40s as careers take off, families grow, priorities change and so forth. A career as a musician is a rewarding but challenging endeavor. It often requires a fair amount of sacrifice in terms of time away from family, financial commitments and other things, which can all influence line-up changes as people’s life circumstances sometimes require them to take other paths. But I think we have a really solid core for FALLEN ARISE in Gus, who is the main composer. And with four of us being together for over four years now, that has helped to create a good bond too. But you also do need to embrace change over time to allow space for fresh ideas and new perspectives and we are really pleased to have welcomed Spyros and Jason, who bring a lot of new energy to the band.
In April 2020, ‘Enigma’, the first FALLEN ARISE album with you on female vocals, was released through Rock Of Angels Records. The timing couldn’t have been worse with COVID-19 spreading all over the world. Have you, as a band and in agreement with ROAR, considered to postpone the release, since you weren’t able to support it and show the fans your new songs on stage?
FIONA: This was a very difficult situation for us and for ROAR. To release an album there is a lot of prior work which starts many months before, especially in relation to the promotion campaign which has various milestones set right up the release date. Until March, we had no clue this pandemic would come and decimate our 2020 plans. When it happened, we had a conversation with ROAR on whether to postpone the release or not. At that point the promotion was in full swing and the album had also already been presented to the media and press via a pre-release listening and QA session with music journalists, promoters and industry professionals. Our video for ‘Reborn’ had also already been released to the public, with considerable advertisement of our launch date in April. We also had so much interest and excitement from our fans too and from all the reviewers. So, on balance of all that activity, we felt we had to keep to the release plans at that point. I suppose none of us thought that 2020 would close in the same situation as April 2020, but regardless we feel it was the right choice to release on schedule. It is of course frustrating that we had a lot of plans for 2020 and 2021 cancelled, including touring ‘Enigma’, a full launch show, media appearances and further video and photography in the pipeline. However, for us, the safety of our fans, our partners, our crew and our families has to come first, and we know that we will tour ‘Enigma’ and do the other activities we had to cancel when it is safe to do so. It is just a matter of time for us.
“I think that the nicest reaction for me happened after months of shielding in my apartment during lockdown. I was on a video call with my parents and I could see ‘Reborn’ playing in the background on YouTube. They were bouncing their heads along to it and really enjoying it and singing along.”
– FIONA CREABY –
How was the feedback to ‘Enigma’ so far? What was the nicest reaction you got?
FIONA: There have been so many amazing reactions, such supportive comments. Seeing the ‘Reborn’ video getting view after view and positive comment after comment has been one of the most amazing reactions. It made me very proud of everyone’s hard work to create the album and the video. I have also enjoyed reading all of the music articles reviewing ‘Enigma’ too, which had great feedback. But one thing I have really missed are the reactions at shows when you see the audience enjoying the songs and when they come and talk to you afterwards about what they enjoyed the most. So, from a personal perspective, I think that the nicest reaction for me happened after months of shielding in my apartment during lockdown. I was on a video call with my parents and I could see ‘Reborn’ playing in the background on YouTube. They were bouncing their heads along to it and really enjoying it and singing along. It had given them such a lift to watch it and forget the frustrations of the pandemic for several minutes. Seeing that moment just made me feel so happy and underlined the importance of these sort of moments when you see people’s enjoyment, like at shows. It makes me look forward to getting out there and seeing more people enjoying ‘Enigma’.
In the last couple of months of this catastrophic year 2020, FALLEN ARISE have posted all kinds of old material on their Facebook page: albums, videos and photos. Your last video was ‘Reborn’ from March 9th, 2020. Is it possible for FALLEN ARISE to make a new video for one of the songs on ‘Enigma’?
FIONA: Well, being in different locations with all the restrictions on travel makes it a more conventional band video extremely difficult, especially with the conditions in different countries changing all the time and often without much notice. But we are working on producing something visual from the album, so watch this space because it will be coming soon! Beyond that, we do have some other ideas we hope will pan out in 2021, so there will be other things coming too.
On one of those posts, about the album ‘Ethereal’, you wrote: “We prepare some good things about this album soon, so great news are coming soon!” Can you give us a hint of what’s to come? Have you already written some new songs for an upcoming album?
FIONA: Well, not to give too much away, and as mentioned we still have things to come from ‘Enigma’, but we are also sharing ideas and talking about what is next too, so there are new things taking shape in the pipeline.
What is the first thing you will do after this crisis with COVID-19 is over and everybody is vaccinated?
FIONA: The first thing I will do is see my family, my friends and my bandmates in person. It has been too long since I have seen most of the people close to me, so that is my priority. So, basically, I will travel to see people! The next priority will be touring ‘Enigma’. I just hope it is not too long from now that people can enjoy more freedom again and be close to their loved ones, as well as enjoy gigs and shows again and be able to dance and sing as much as possible at them!
Thank you for your time, Fiona. I really appreciate you wanted to do this interview.
FIONA: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, I wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe 2021!