Founded in New York City around 2018/2019, FOLTERKAMMER, or ‘Torture Chamber’, is an operatic black metal project that will blow your mind. Fronted by the charming and extremely talented ‘Dramatic Growloratura Soprano’ Andromeda Anarchia, the quartet seamlessly fuses beauty with brutality. We had an inspiring chat with the sassy Swiss singer about the theme of the new album, the advantages of the German language, and the chances for a European tour.

Interview by: Isabell Köster

The title of your second album is “Weibermacht”, which translates as “power of women”, or I think you also called it “bitch power” once. It refers to a motif in the history of art and culture. Why did you choose that phrase as your title?
As I write the lyrics, and I’m the only one who speaks German – and the guys wanted me to sing in German – I have a lot of freedom when it comes to the subject. Of course, I keep in mind what the others like, but with me, it’s always about portraying a strong female personality in FOLTERKAMMER. On the first album “Die Lederpredigt” it was a malicious goddess, a very evil, anti-Maria type figure. That played a bit more into this black metal or anti-religious theme, but not talking about Satanism, but just about an evil woman. And because I’m a woman and my voice type is a so-called dramatic coloratura soprano, which means I have a loud and very high voice, it makes sense to portray a strong female figure, even just from a vocal perspective. However, I don’t want to do the same thing every time, but present new ideas. So, I thought about what we associate with strong women, and that’s when the archetype of the dominatrix came into my mind, and in this context the concept of “Weibermacht”. These provocative representations of a dominant woman and a submissive man have been around for a very long time. And I mean we play black metal, it’s all about provocation and rebellion. Then I thought to myself, what can you rebel with these days? And as a woman I know how difficult it is for a woman to move freely in a society and in a genre that is still very patriarchal. And metal is generally a very male-dominated style of music and very masculine in the characteristics attributed to it. That’s why I thought that the most provocative thing I could do was to present a dominant woman. I mean BDSM is nothing new in metal, but it’s always the dominant guy and the submissive woman – I wanted to turn that on its head. And I’m pretty obsessive in my nature and get very absorbed in things. So, for months I was frantically reading books and documents about BDSM and “Weibermacht” and its history in Europe. But I didn’t just read, I also had lessons with a professional dominatrix from London. I studied songs, watched films, and even watched femdom porn films so that I could learn the jargon. It was a very impressive journey! I wanted to deal with the topic respectfully, but also very creatively. To summarize, one can say, the subject of the album is “Weibermacht” as a whole, but using the dominatrix as an example.FOLTERKAMMER AlgolagniaIn the track “Algolagnia” you sing: “The woman who strives for equality has too little ambition/Dear women: be cheeky and laugh!/ Cheeky women to power!” Do you think we women are still too hesitant when it comes to standing up for ourselves?

FOLTERKAMMER textBPI definitely want women to be happy with themselves. And I always have such a hard time with the term empowerment, because I don’t need to be empowered – I already have the power! Why do women always have to work so hard for everything? I think you’re also allowed to have fun and be cheeky. That’s also my nature, I have a lot of humour and I like to be cheeky. But I’ve realized that it’s precisely this aspect in metal, this comedic or theatrical aspect, that people don’t really know. That’s why it can also be a bit off-putting for people if, for example, there’s something cabaret-like about it. The metal scene is familiar with the theatrical, but it’s usually presented in a classical context and therefore less cheeky. I also loved listening to the German singer Nina Hagen, which becomes obvious when you hear me sing. She is best known for her theatrical vocals and as ‘The Godmother Of German Punk’.

Was she also one of the reasons why you decided to sing in German?
Well, German is a strong language, especially when it comes to the sound of the voice. German Opera is unbelievably good, and growls also sound great when sung in German. That’s the main reason why the guys wanted me to perform in my mother tongue. And I think that’s beautiful because the German language really is a cultural and artistic language. It’s incredibly poetic, and I think it’s great to be able to write lyrics and sing in German. Moreover, it’s an exotic component for everyone who doesn’t speak German, but for us it has something almost traditional, to express yourself so artfully through our language.FOLTERKAMMER albumThe cover artwork for “Weiber- macht” is as beautiful as it is provocative. It also plays with the power dynamic between man and woman. Who’s the artist and what’s the idea behind it?
Eliran Kantor is responsible for the cover, and he’s a genius with these things. Kantor has been enlisted by everyone from My Dying Bride to Sigh. We told him what the album is about, and he certainly did his own research on the topic and must have found these typical heavenly images with angels and everything. He cleverly adapted that, but also chose this face sitting motif – the man as the broom and the woman as the witch. Moreover, there are so many symbols involved, which is brilliant. It visualizes perfectly what I’m singing about. And then it has this classic motif to match FOLTERKAMMER. But the best and funniest thing is that we released a black metal album whose cover shows a woman in a pink dress sitting on a man.

This topic is also addressed in the song “Leck Mich!” (“Lick Me!”). Please tell me more about the action-packed video that you filmed for the track. It ends with you suggestively lifting your skirt (you can watch the video for “Leck Mich!” here).

The guys came up with that idea, because Brendan McGowan, our drummer, is a professional filmmaker and a trained actor, and he directs a lot of music videos for various people. The guys translated the lyrics and then came up with the idea to make a video like that. It wasn’t my doing, but I think it’s such a great concept to have some kind of Renaissance or Baroque ladies only fight club going on in which I’m the main prize. We had so much fun filming the video! The women who took part in the shoot are all lovely musicians, actresses or artists from New York. And another fun fact: this video was recorded in the basement of a church in Brooklyn! It’s supposed to be provocative, but it’s also supposed to reflect a sense of humour.FOLTERKAMMER bandpicWho were and are the most important women in your life, both in your private life and professionally?
In my private life, I can just look at my relatives. A big inspiration is one of my grandmothers. She had an incredible theatrical talent. My grandmother was like a Hollywood diva, and that in Switzerland, somewhere in the countryside. She had naturally flaming red hair and was a sight to behold, but was simply born far too early. Since she was a woman with a razor-sharp mind and a tongue to match. She was totally cheeky and an activist even back then, campaigning for women’s rights. Moreover, she painted and was a talented actress, but she didn’t have the courage to make it her profession back then and instead opted for the role of housewife and mother, which was socially demanded at the time. But I would say that she didn’t do the best job, because she just wasn’t the right type for it. She is an inspiration to me in that she had a very distinctive manner and I admired that. What is more, I don’t have any children and at some point said: “I want the life my grandmother couldn’t live”. So, whenever I have to create a female character, I tap into my grandma for inspiration, because she had that ‘je ne sais quoi’. But my mother and sisters influenced me too: my mother sings so well and has always sung a lot with me. She is a constant but also expressive woman. And my sisters have a lot of power, too – one of them is a tattoo artist and goes skydiving, and the other one has her own business. I have a lot of great women in my family circle and aunts with beautiful voices, all of them music and art fans, but none of them made it a profession. And in my case, I couldn’t do anything else, I had no choice. And I also wanted to do it for my grandma. On a professional level, there are women like Nina Hagen or her mother Eva-Maria Hagen who are great role models for me. But Kate Bush, the Australian dramatic coloratura soprano Joan Sutherland and Angela Gossow (ex-Arch Enemy) have also inspired me a lot.

Last question: will there be a European tour soon?
Yes, there will definitely be a European tour. Simply because I’m from Switzerland and our bassist Laurent David is from France. We’re working hard on bringing FOLTERKAMMER to the European stages.