quinta-feira, 28 de março de 2024

Interview - Mistheria: "Music is the Ultimate Goal of Our Expression and Emotions."


Maestro Mistheria started early in music, being a pianist, keyboardist, keyboardist and organist, producer and composer, involved in both classical and rock/metal genres.

(Leia a versão em português aqui)

After graduating - with full score - from the Conservatory of Music on the "Organ and Composition" course, Mistheria began his career as a solo artist, session musician and producer.

He has numerous and prestigious collaborations, both in the studio and live, with many international artists and groups, including sensations such as Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Roy Z (Rob Halford), Rob Rock (Chris Impellitteri), Mike Portnoy, Steve Di Giorgio (Testament), Jeff Scott Soto, Mike Terrana, Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake), Mark Boals (Ring of Fire), Edu Falaschi (Angra, Almah).

Mistheria comes to Brazil on tour for Bruce Dickinson's new album, and we took the opportunity to talk about his work with the legendary Iron Maiden singer, and of course, a little about his solo career, the fantastic Vivaldi Metal Project and much more .


RtM: Hello Maestro, thank you for taking the time for this interview. And soon you will be here in Brazil together with Bruce Dickinson on the tour for the album "The Mandrake Project". I believe your expectations must be high with the tour and visiting South America.

Mistheria: Hello and thank you for inviting me to the interview. We will have 7 shows in Brazil. I know Bruce has a huge, very loyal and enthusiastic fan base there. I'm really looking forward to sharing some exciting moments with the Brazilian audience. Thrilled!

RtM: I believe it will also help more people get to know your work here. Will there be any space in the show for a keyboard solo perhaps? Do you plan something special for the presentations?

Mistheria: Yes, there are also some spots for my keyboard solos, the show is full of many interesting moments.


RtM: You played on two other works by Bruce, "Tyranny of Souls" and "Scream for me Sarajevo", tell us a little about how these opportunities came about, and how do you feel being part of Bruce's solo work again so many years later?

Mistheria: In 2003, I was contacted by Roy Z with whom I had already had the great pleasure of working on Rob Rock's album “Eyes of Eternity”. Roy was working on Bruce's “Tyranny of Souls” and asked me to record keyboards on that album. We continued to collaborate on Rob Rock's albums “Holy Hell” and “Garden of Chaos”. 

We started working on Bruce's “The Mandrake Project” in 2012 and we finally have it in our hands now. The recording process was intense, creative, and exciting. I'm really happy that this new masterpiece is now available for anyone to listen to.

RtM: And what's it like working with a legend like Bruce? Did you have space to collaborate on the compositions? I see that on this new album the keyboard has much more participation.

Mistheria: On “The Mandrake Project” I had the opportunity to record a lot of keyboards and work on some orchestrations, and give vent to a lot of ideas. I was inspired by such beautiful songs, and when the demos included Bruce's vocals, I finalized all my parts. 

Roy Z and Bruce asked me to record as much as possible, then they would work on it during the mixing process. I really enjoy this working process, it is deeply stimulating for me. They also gave me some tips and directions to follow. It was fabulous working with them on the album.


RtM: And about this album, which has a darker atmosphere, what could you say about it and which songs from it did you like the most and would like to play live?

Mistheria: Hard to answer :) I love all the tracks! I like adding some “color” to songs, dark atmospheres, spacey sounds, gothic organ and choirs, etc. I actually had the chance to record a lot of them on this album, so I'm really satisfied and happy with the result. . I would love to play one of my favorite songs live, “Afterglow of Ragnarok”, and in fact we will!


RtM: Now talking about your career in general. You started playing music at a very young age, according to your bio thanks to your father and a family friend. Tell us a little about the beginning and what your routine was like.

Mistheria: Correct. My parents love music and my father introduced me to the accordion which was my first instrument. I followed 7 years of private lessons before entering the Conservatory of Music, and ten years later I graduated in "Organ and Composition". 

My routine was to practice every day, including holidays and holidays, it was worth it. When I decided to become a professional musician, I blessed all the thousands of hours spent on the instrument and books.


RtM: And which composers inspired you most in those early years?

Mistheria: Bach, Chopin, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, to name a few.

RtM: And the interest in Heavy Metal? When did you start and what were the main influences that inspired you to delve deeper into the style?

Mistheria: During my academic studies I started listening to Jon Lord and Keith Emerson, and of course their bands. Subsequently Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson, Yes and many other prog-rock bands of the 70s and 80s.


RtM: Tell us a little about your first experiences on stage and what your first adventures were with a band.

Mistheria: My first band was Mirage, following the influences of the time, we wrote prog-rock also following in the footsteps of groups from the Italian scene such as Il Banco and Le Orme. 

With Mirage I had my first experiences on stage playing in summer concerts and competitions for emerging groups. A first touring experience, however, was with an entertainment orchestra with which we generally performed Italian and international Pop music. I was about 18 years old.

RtM: Some more purist people don't like the mix of classical music and Heavy Metal, I personally love it and I think the styles have a lot in common. What is your opinion about it? And which artists or bands, besides you - who are the mentor of the wonderful project "Vivaldi Metal Project" - best united these two worlds?

Mistheria: I am a classical musician, but I have always seen music as a 360-degree expression of feelings and emotions. Music is not an end in itself, but it is the ultimate goal of our expression and our emotions. My musical philosophy and my creation, the Vivaldi Metal Project, are based on this. 

There are great bands that greatly combine the two spheres of the same musical world, bands that I really like such as Epica, Rhapsody of Fire, Delain, Nightwish, Xandria, Yngwie Malmsteen, Beyond The Black, Adagio, and other groups from the symphonic-metal scene.


RtM: Taking advantage of the opportunity, tell us a little about how the idea for the "Vivaldi Metal Project" came about.

Mistheria: I listened to Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" already when I attended compulsory school. I put this wonderful masterpiece on loop during my school homework. 

During my studies at the Conservatory, in my moments of rest, I enjoyed making rock/metal arrangements of the pieces I studied and brought to class, such as Bach's Preludes, Liszt's Hungarian Dances, Chopin's Nocturnes, etc. 

Then I started creating pieces of this type on request, until, one Winter night, while playing the piano in my room, I said to myself: why not arrange Vivaldi's entire opera “The Four Seasons”? No sooner said than done...


RtM: Still on the "Vivaldi Metal Project", “The Four Seasons” featured more than 130 Metal/Classical artists, orchestra, string quartet and choir. The project was acclaimed as the greatest Symphonic-Metal Opera ever created! Tell us a little about what it was like working with so many artists, and what the composition and recording process was like, which must have been a lot of work!! How long did it take to complete this project?

Mistheria: The first album “The Four Seasons” has around 130 artists, the second "EpiClassica" almost 200, plus orchestra and choir in both works. The process was certainly long and tiring, it required a lot of my time and energy but when you work with great musicians and rely on very good and talented collaborators, the work gives great satisfaction and you are happy to have undertaken such a path. 

The ever-smooth recording process took place primarily online as the participating musicians are spread across the globe. Work on the first album lasted about two and a half years, on the second about three years. I consider the Vivaldi Metal Project a dream that I was able to realize and that will always remain glued to my career and my life.

RtM: And regarding the Vivaldi Metal Project's second album, "Epiclassica", in addition to compositions by other classical musicians and not just Vivaldi, as in "The Four Seasons", what are the other differences between the two works? Such as the lyrical concept and the greater number of artists involved in the latter.

Mistheria: The new Vivaldi Metal Project album “EpiClassica” does not only feature classical masterworks by Antonio Vivaldi, but the works of other great composers such as Tomaso Albinoni, Johann S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Antonín Dvořák, Gabriel Fauré, Franz Liszt, Wolfgang A. Mozart, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Franz Schubert.

While based on classical themes, these songs are largely composed of original material, representative of Vivaldi Metal Project’s symphonic-metal style.

The Vivaldi Metal Project’s first record revolved around the concept of the various "seasons" of human life - from birth to death. As a continuation of the last, this new album explores the "seasons" of our emotional experience as human beings - from joys to sorrows and from frailty to deep strength. Each song creates a rich musical tapestry expressing the “colors” of raw human emotion, while weaving a common thread throughout the album.


RtM: And if you are planning a new album in the future? And in a New album, what artists do you like to have on It?

Mistheria: The third studio album is in the works, there are already concepts, ideas, and some demos ready. As for the line-up, for this new album I decided to change the direction a bit, in fact it will be recorded by the musicians who are part of the live band, and some (few) amazing special guests from the world Metal scene .


RtM: In 1998 you released your first Opera Rock, "Imperator", I would like you to tell us a little about it, concept and creative process. An album that is difficult to find to listen to, including songs from this album that you re-arranged and recorded on later albums. What were the main reasons that led you to re-record them?

Mistheria:  "Imperator" was a collection of songs that I had written, conceived, and collected for a live show of mine called "Metamorphosis", in which I combined various artists and different art forms: music, dance, theater, graphics and video. 

Most were songs that were therefore linked to visual parts, such as videos and dance, or which acted as soundtracks to narrative parts. For this reason, listening is a little "difficult", because a fundamental part is missing, which is the visual one. In any case, I wanted to collect these songs in an album to remember this work of mine, almost a precursor of what would be the Vivaldi Metal Project about 13-14 years later.

RtM: And about the album "Messenger of the Gods" (2004), which brought together a team of stars and was recorded in several different places. Tell us a little about what it was like to make this production and, of course, about its concept.

Mistheria: I could say that "Messenger of the Gods" was the natural sequel, after 3-4 years, to the show and album "Imperator". The difference was that I moved my musical path to harder roads, therefore Rock and Metal, and therefore officially began my career as a solo artist in the Neoclassical, Prog-Metal, and Symphonic-Metal genres. 

For "Messenger of the Gods" I had about 30 great musicians (Rob Rock, Mark Boals, Anders Johansson, Barry Sparks, Jeff Kollman, Matt Bissonette,Tommy Denander, George Bellas, just to name a few). My idea of music is based on collaboration between musicians and the exchange of ideas to make the strings of emotion vibrate.


RtM: In 2010 we have "Dragon Fire", which I personally really like, and I think it's a wonderful album for those who like this mix of Metal and classical music with lots of pomp and bombastic arrangements! Tell us a little about it and what the impact was like at the time.

Mistheria: "Dragon Fire" is an album that solidified my presence in the Metal world, it had a great impact when it was released and gave me the opportunity to be called to work with other artists and groups who wanted my type of sound and arrangement, especially on the keyboard and orchestral level. 

A job with which I had the great pleasure and honor of expanding my collaborations and writing songs with fantastic singers such as John West, Rob Rock, Mark Boals, Lance King, and Titta Tani. The songs have that ideal combination and balance for me between Metal, Prog, and Symphonic. I am very satisfied with it. I'm glad to know that you like it too.


RtM: Regarding your instrumental projects, I highlight "Gemini" (2017), where you bring your own compositions and versions of works by Beethoven and Vivaldi, where again you bring this union of classical music and Metal; and the albums "Dreams" (2020) and "Solo Piano" (2021) are more classically focused. I would like you to make a brief comment on each of these works.

 Mistheria: "Gemini" is an instrumental album, so I was able to give free rein to my intentions as a pianist, keyboardist, and instrumentalist. The forms of the songs remain, for me, almost the same as those of a sung song, I like clear and understandable structures even for instrumental works. This album also collects songs from different years, some recorded again (for example "My Dear Chopin") and others finalized after many years in which I only performed them live. 

It collects my instrumental Metal repertoire from 1992 to 2017. "Solo Piano" and "Dreams" are part of my "Classical" sphere, in which I like to let myself be carried away by soft, intimate, new-age, ambient, classical atmospheres and sounds. There is also a third album in this category, "Keys of Eternity". I perform these three works very often live in my solo concerts.


RtM: And citing different experiences, as you are a musician who is always looking for challenges and creating new things, a very interesting work was the tribute to Whitney Houston. I would like you to talk a little about it and if you have thought about doing others in the same vein, perhaps approaching various Pop icons. Elton John, for example, I think that because he is a pianist too, it would be very interesting.

Mistheria: Many works that I have published are requests from some productions and record companies, this was also the case for the tribute to Whitney Houston (an artist I adore). I was specifically asked to arrange about ten songs and perform them mainly with the Keytar (an instrument that I adore equally:) I have also arranged and recorded other compilations of international Pop songs, mostly on the piano, so in part, I have already realized the idea you suggest.


RtM: There are dozens of works that you have already recorded, including solo works and participations, as we will not be able to cover them all here, I would like you to highlight the most recent ones, such as the albums with Chaos Magic, Kattah and Nova Luna, which ones did you most enjoy participating in and If there was one that was more challenging for you.

Mistheria: I like all the collaborations I do, otherwise I wouldn't do them. Of course, there are collaborations that succeed better than others, for various reasons, and I personally prefer some to others, again for various reasons. 

In any case, also because you mentioned it, certainly the collaboration, both in the studio and live, with the Chilean singer and fantastic friend Caterina Nix and her project "Chaos Magic" is one of those dearest to me. I exclude from the list, because we are talking about a living legend, the collaboration with Bruce Dickinson and Roy Z who, both on an artistic and human level, is an integral and inseparable part of my career and life.


RtM: Sure! The Work with Bruce and Roy is hors concours. Well, finally, I would like you to define what music means to you and what you think is important for an artist so that you don't lose your passion for creating new things and become obsolete.

Mistheria: I believe that I have already largely answered this last question in the previous ones :) 

In any case, and summarizing what was said before, for me Music is a finalization and ultimate form of the feelings and emotions of the human being, and only the interaction between different musicians (therefore different characters, personalities, and minds) can be expressed in the best possible form and completeness. 

This approach makes musical creation always alive, exciting, new, exciting, projected into the future.


Interview: Carlos Garcia 

Mistheria Official Site

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