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Sara Squadrani: “The main theme of the story is centered around how light itself creates darkness and vice versa, exploring how little it takes to surrender to darkness while staying away from it requires honesty, courage and deep self-awareness.”

In januari bracht het Italiaanse symfonische power metal gezelschap Ancient Bards album nummer vier uit, met de titel ‘Origine’. Liefhebbers van de band konden hun vingers aflikken, want ook dit album stond weer vol met alles wat je van de barden zou verwachten. Ondanks drie uitstekende albums voor ‘Origine’ is het bij Lords of Metal nog nooit tot een interview met de band gekomen. De hoogste tijd om daar eens verandering in te brengen dus! Zodoende had ondergetekende een onderhoud met zangeres Sara Squadrani, lees vooral verder!

Door: Jori – 18 april 2019

Hello there, and congratulations on the recent release of your fourth album. How are things in the Ancient Bards camp?
Hi Jori, thank you very much! Hello to all the readers of Lords Of Metal! Things are good here, we’re all taking some time to dedicate to our jobs and activities, but we’re always working on landing shows and promoting our newest album. We are enjoying this moment, because the release of ‘Origine’ was the culmination of more than a year of constant hard work, so it’s very rewarding now to see it’s being appreciated.

It’s long overdue, but this is actually your first interview with our magazine. So, for the readers not yet familiar with Ancient Bards, could you give an approximately ten-sentence version of the bands history?
We are a so called “female fronted” metal band from Italy. Our music can be placed in the symphonic epic metal genre, although it has with hints of power too. Ancient Bards’ main feature is the massive presence of soundtrack-like orchestrations which aim to score the story that we tell through our concept albums, the Black Crystal Sword Saga. We are proud of our very heterogeneous mix of personal influences. Our different backgrounds allow each one of us to bring our own unique spin to the music, which ends up being a fun melting pot with heavy riffs, fast kick drums, epic orchestrations, growls and powerful vocals with a soul edge to it.

’Origine’ is the bands fourth album and I think it is safe to say that those who liked the prior releases will enjoy this album very much again. In terms of the musical atmosphere, it’s much like ‘A New Dawn Ending’ from the intro ‘Origine’ and the powerful opener ‘Impious Dystopia’ on. According to you, what is the recipe for the signature Ancient Bards sound?
I guess our signature sound comes from our process, it probably lies in the way the songs get written. It all starts with Daniele who composes the songs and already draft out the orchestral arrangements which give a pretty incisive print to the song right from the start. The sound gets enriched every time the new composition passes through the hands of the next composer in line. After Daniele come Martino and Simone who take care of riffs, guitar and bass lines. This is the stage when the music gets its heavier connotations. Federico then upgrade Daniele’s daft drums and ties everything with the riffs, throwing in his ideas. Lastly, I take care of the lyrics and adapt vocal lines while Claudio writes his solos. I think this “journey” is what creates our sound and it’s also the reason why it is also constantly evolving. Each of these stages enhance the primary idea of the song Daniele lined out, taking it a step further every time, although the root of what he wrote is always the soul of the piece and the beckon we all follow.

’Aureum Legacy’ is a song that introduces some new ingredients in that recipe though. The bombastics are cut back a bit, and especially a striking role for bass player Martino is revealed. ‘Oscurita’ is even more wayward and it really features some elements I never heard from Ancient Bards before. So I think it is safe to say that you are still expanding your musical horizon? How do you make sure that the songwriting keeps evolving?
We are expanding our musical horizon. We have always been very wide-eyed, but we used to tune down a bit some of our most peculiar traits to stick to a specific style. However now, with every release, we are more and more taking the chance to be ourselves and leverage those features that make us unique, letting off of that “fear” of not fitting in the genre. Our songwriting keeps evolving because we keep evolving, as people and as musicians. We think it is extremely important not to fossilize ourselves, we like to investigate on what more we can give to the music to make it more interesting, more multifaceted, more us.

Of course there is the closing epic ‘The Great Divide’. Recording this song must have been one heck of an undertaking?
The recording of ‘The Great Divide’ wasn’t different from the recording of the other songs. The composition, though, I think took Daniele quite a while, with lots of trial and errors, editing, fine tuning and rewriting. He did a pretty good job, I think it’s very well balanced and one of the most centred, best suits he’s ever written. Also, Martino’s and Simone’s riffs make the difference, they give character to the song and bring everything together.

Now that the album is out a couple of weeks, how have the reactions of your fans been so far?
The feedback so far is amazing. We are extremely happy that our fans like the album and we were pleased be told that the product made up for the long wait. We were especially concerned about the satisfaction of the supporters of our crowdfunding campaign. With every single pledge, we were given much more than mere money, we were given trust and last thing we wanted was to disappoint our supporters. Thankfully, all of them were happy with the result and the comments were heart-warming. We knew we did our best, we put our hearts and souls on the record, and finally having the confirmation that all that work was appreciated is absolutely priceless. I’ll take this occasion to thank all our new and old supporters: you guys are great!

The storyline of the album is again about the “Black crystal sword” saga. Care to lift the veil a bit concerning this story? What is it about?
Telling the whole story would be long and complicated, I’ll try to be as brief as I can. ‘Origine’ is the first chapter of Part 2 of the saga and tells events happened prior to Part 1 (which was set in Lastworld). Here we are on a different world, in a different time. There are two new characters called Lork and Eirene, they’re brother and sister and between them lies the essence of the eternal battle between good and evil. There is jealousy, betrayal, expectations, disappointment, resentment and lots of love too as the plot unfolds describing the relationship between the two siblings. The main theme of the story is centered around how light itself creates darkness and vice versa, exploring how little it takes to surrender to darkness while staying away from it requires honesty, courage and deep self-awareness.

When you started the “Black crystal sword” saga, weren’t you afraid that Luca Turilli (Rhapsody) would kill you for copying his ideas?
Well, if anyone has to be pissed that would be Tolkien! The Black Crystal Sword Saga has its very own course, very different from Turilli’s saga. Of course, you can find some similarities, but I can assure you the intention was never to “copy his ideas”, which is a pretty harsh sentence. Part 2 has nothing to do with the Emerald Sword Saga, while Part 1 certainly has more things in common with it but, if anything, they are merely the homage of a sixteen year old boy to his musical hero. Daniele was very young when he wrote the music and the whole saga, so I guess it’s not such a crime that he took inspiration from someone he looked up to. Plus, Luca Turilli is like the nicest guy on earth and I don’t think he would ever be capable of holding such a high degree of hate in his bones, let alone feel like killing us.

About two years ago you played a show in Arnhem, the Netherlands that would be recorded for a DVD. Any news on that front?
Yes, it won’t be on DVD though, that’s a rather obsolete technology. The concert will be released in digital format so everyone can enjoy it. We have been crazy busy dealing with all the crowdfunding phase, the recordings, the promotion, the release, the planning of shows, and releasing a live video requires some serious work which we unfortunately still haven’t found the time for. We have another project to take care of, then we certainly will dedicate every spare minute to the editing of the Arnhem, because we promised our fans a live video and that’s what they’ll get!

So now that you have the album out and all, what are the future plans of the band? Any touring up the pipeline?
We currently have a few shows ready to be announced as soon as all the connecting gigs get confirmed. We hope we can share the new dates soon. We’d like to tour as much as possible to be able to meet as many of our supporters as we can. We are lucky though, because some of our supporters are so amazing that they’re willing to fly and come to us when we can’t go to them. Incredible!

Well I think we can wrap it up for this time. Thanks for taking some time for the readers of Lords of Metal. Is there anything you would still like to get out there?
Thank you very much for having us, it’s a pleasure to finally land on Lords of Metal. Have a good read guys, see you next time!

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