sábado, 10 de julho de 2021

Road Crossover - A meeting of genius minds - Episode 0ne: Alex Voorhees (Imago Mortis) & Fabio Caldeira (Maestrick)


The idea of ​​Road Crossover came last year, in a conversation with Alex Voorhees (Imago Mortis), who suggested that we do some lives together with other vehicles dedicated to Metal. A great idea, which we still want to realize, but Alex's suggestion made me think about using the format by interviewing two musicians from different bands, with their own particularities and characteristics, different styles, but at the same time with things in common. 

Then came Road Crossover, which will also have some different formats (interview published on the site, podcasts and lives), and which debuts with this interview with two brilliant minds of Brazilian Metal, Alex Voorhees, from Progressive Doom Metal band Imago Mortis (founded in 1995 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), and Fabio Caldeira, from Progressive Metal band Maestrick (founded in 2006 - Sao Jose do Rio Preto SP - Brazil).

Different generations, artists who do not impose limits, having in their influences, in addition to Rock and Metal, classical and folk music, MPB, Synth Pop, Progressive Rock and art, cinema and literature, for example, and here we also emphasize one more objective of this series, which is to show that Metal needs to be less closed and conservator.

And in this interview you will be able to know a little more about these great musicians, their personal tastes, inspirations, their views on some subjects, their music and each other's work. It was incredible, without false modesty, because with the level of respondents it was impossible to be different.

With you then, the first Road Crossover, with ALEX VOORHEES (IMAGO MORTIS) AND FABIO CALDEIRA (MAESTRICK):

RtM: After more than 2 years of the last full-lenghts of Imago and Maestrick, do you believe that the public has assimilated the concept? Did you feel that public and press feedback was within what you expected?

Alex: From the specialized national press, yes. From the audience and the music scene itself? No! Few people understood. But I care much less about that and more about trying to achieve musical, artistic excellence, that's what I'm after. I plan to continue learning and evolving with each work.

But I must point out that some people really dove into our concept! I'll cite an example:
Fifteen years after its release, the album “VIDA” was the subject of a master's thesis, “Death as a Semiotic Event – ​​The Symbolic Perspective of the Heavy Metal Band Imago Mortis”, by Bruno Pael dos Santos, by the Universidade Federal da Grande Golden (Golden - MS). Over the course of the 158 pages of his dissertation, MA student Bruno painstakingly analyzed many of the secret messages that the band thought no one would ever even notice.

Fábio: Yes. I believe that the general concept dealt with on the record the vast majority of the public has assimilated. The feedback was and still is the best possible. Of course there are many details that sometimes take longer to be noticed. This depends a lot on each individual's journey when listening to a song and what they are looking for. But I guarantee, whoever searches will always find it.

RtM: And about the concept of "LSD" and "Espresso Della Vita:Solare", I would like you to talk a little about where you looked for inspiration for the concepts.

Alex: In mid-2010 I learned about the studies of anthropologist Helen E. Fisher and her book "Anatomy of Love". This book explains (I'll summarize here) that we are mere puppets of nature in the sense that we are born to reproduce ourselves. And that romantic love is just a myth. That simple. Along with this, we look to classical philosophy (Schopenhauer, Plato, Nietzsche), art, culture, poetry, in addition to our own existential questions and personal experiences to lecture on this topic.
LSD in the context of the album means "Love, Sex and Death", alluding to the chemicals that cause "passion".

Fabio: Maestrick always tries to “paint what's in his backyard”, and at Solare it was no different. The idea for the concept came from an afternoon coffee with my mother. We were talking about my grandfather Antônio, who had recently passed away and both he and my paternal grandfather, Eduardo, worked at FEPASA (former railway company in the State of São Paulo), and I grew up listening to stories about his rounds during the night.
My mother made a beautiful analogy, of life as a train ride, where we board at birth and live until our day to get off. I took the idea to Heitor and Montanha, they liked it and then we already had the basic idea to develop together what Solare became and what Lunare will be, with stories we heard from people close to us or that we experienced ourselves.

RtM: You also explored elements of various styles in these albums, "LSD", for example, even has a ballad, with female vocals and 80's elements, "Promise", and in "Espresso...", "Penitência", with percussions and weight bordering on Thrash. Elements that will probably surprise the listener, especially who will hear them for the first time, and this is a characteristic of both bands. I would like you to comment on this, things that perhaps many "purists" may find strange too.

Alex: I'm grown-up (5.1) so I lived through the 80s and it was a “romantic ballad” period. I wasn't unscathed, of course, I'm an open fan. So, as it's a themed album and there's a romantic moment on it, I thought it was fair to evoke the feeling of even youthful innocence that existed in that decade. already thes other elements, we can say that Imago Mortis was never paralyzed within the limits imposed by labels, we always explored sounds but expanded the range a little more.
Without ever losing its essence, the backbone is still the doom. But a linear doom metal fan tends to listen to our work and not understand anything, as we have a lot of classic Heavy Metal, Thrash and Prog influences and our musicians are very technical, which helps a lot. Are we currently prog doom? The definitions I leave for you.

Fábio: Although we have some tastes in common, at Maestrick, everyone has their musical and artistic predilections. We only seek to explore this individuality spontaneously and naturally. We are more concerned with getting it right than with the direction we are aiming. If we think it's best for the record, we'll be there. It doesn't matter if it's vaudeville pop music like Daily View, western hard rock like Far West, or sudden thrash metal with maracatu in Portuguese, with the participation of my paternal grandmother, like Penitência.

RtM: Mixing styles, avoiding labels, what would be the pros and cons? Many bands that changed their sound, such as Anathema, for example, end up losing fans, but gaining others. Even if it displeases some along the way, I understand that the artist should not set limits to yourself.

Alex: The pros are that we don't get stuck, we can experiment more, vary more. I, for example, find it annoying to always make the same style of sound. So I have this “nineties” vein, from that early 90's where it was common to see crossover of musical styles within metal, the introduction of groove and more experimental bands, I really like that time. And I come from bands like “Dust From Misery” and “Alquimia (Alchemy)”, which were basically just that. The other musicians in the band, ditto. 

They come from different musical styles, are versatile so it ends up contemplating everyone's taste because in common, the main thing we have is this: being a versatile and musical band.
The characteristic itself ends up appearing naturally, as Imago Mortis already has this mark. We know exactly what we want to achieve with each song. As for losing fans, man. We care very little about this, including because we are a band with few (but very loyal) fans. We don't trade Imago's artistic integrity for anything. And those who like Imago expect just that: the unexpected.

Fábio: If the change is genuine, it means evolution. And that's always good, because we're constantly evolving. We always change, mature, learn, and it is natural that the work we do will represent who we have become. The album name is not used for nothing. It represents the moment in space and time that those people, consequently artists, were when they recorded that work. Of course it all depends, but I consider it important to evolve by understanding and giving due importance to everything that has already been done.

RtM: Which song of each other would you like to make a version and why?

Alex: Maestrick's material is very different from ours, but there are some things we share, certainly. Our material is very musical too, but our approach is darker, more aggressive and heavier. They sound a lot more melodic than us. The music I like the most from the guys is Penitencia (Penitence) It reminded me of the old "Dust From Misery". And the lyrics in Portuguese, dirtier, thrash but with melody in the chorus. This song is the most reminiscent of Imago!
But I'm going to ask Charles here (Imago Mortis keyboardist). Which song by Caldeira would you like  Imago Mortis interpret?

Charles: Across The River (laughs), to join Long River (Imago)! (Interviewer's Note: "And complete the trilogy with 'Across the Desert'! Hahaha"

Fábio: The first song I heard from Imago was “Prayers In The Wind, present in the Hamlet project. I think it would be her, because of the theatrical character it has.

RtM: Alex, what is the most surprising song by Maestrick you heard, that caused you a feeling, like "I never expected to hear something like that on their record!", or something like that.And You Too Fábio, which song by Imago caught you by surprise?

Alex: Just what I mentioned, "Penitência" (Penance). The one farthest out of the curve: , in Portuguese, with a few curupira moves, etc… and thrash nuances in the middle. But I can also highlight the country guitar in “Rooster Race”. I was between that and Penitência for Imago to play (laughs). Caldeira recently (I'll spoiler) confided in me that in their next play he's going to paint more “dark” things. I'm waiting pal!

Fábio: I'm more of a record guy than a music guy. I really appreciate the full experience, and that's why I would quote the album “Vida” in its entirety. Gustavo Carmo, producer of Maestrick's first album, “Unpuzzle!”(2011), also produced “Vida”. So after he introduced us to this work, a mutual friend of ours lent me the physical version of the disc, which came with Tarot cards and co. It's a game. That impressed me a lot, both sonically and visually.

RtM: And if one were to produce the next work of the other, what do you think you could add, like "That album is very good, but in the next one they did such a thing in such a way the result could be even better, or more optimized ..."?

Alex: Man, me as a producer, I'm a facilitator. The less I influence the composition and art of others, the better. I always propose to find the best solutions or play my color tone, which is a matter of taste. But if the guy asked me to produce it, it's because he's a fan of the sound I get.
In the case of Maestrick: I would, honestly, add little to their work because Maestro Caldeira already thinks similar to me, he has the concepts and lines of the songs he makes very defined in his head. I could suggest something, some way - if asked, but it would be up to the band to accept or not. And in technical terms, I think they've already defined exactly how they want to sound. But it would be interesting to put these crazy minds together. One day, this could happen.

Fabio: I wouldn't dare say that something from Imago would be better if I could produce it. After all, they already have their identity and their DNA. It would be easier for Alex to help us than the other way around, since he has more experience than all of us. This is something we respect a lot, so if we were to work together, I would limit myself to giving my opinion, when asked, based simply on my point of view. It would be something to add strength and not subtract. They are perfect as they are.

RtM: In your opinion, how to achieve a balance between technique and feeling? That is, using musical knowledge and modern equipment and programs, but without losing spontaneity. I say this because we see many productions in which there is investment, the musicians have technical knowledge, but they end up not exciting.

Alex: For me, this is the easiest thing there is: just let it flow. Sound simply comes from within. It has to sound natural and exactly match what you're feeling at the moment. That's about the composition. Can we go the other way around and mentally decide what we want to do? oh, I want to write something along the lines of the 80s, an empowered synthpop.
In this case, there is a lot of research work on sound, textures, timbres, which synths were used, how to achieve this sound, and so on. I cited an example.

When this happens what you said, about the artist having technical knowledge but it doesn't end up exciting, what can I say… can it be so much different? Maybe the guy's personal life is bad, he's not inspired, he's under pressure to release material, or it's just ideas that don't work out. It happens, it's hard to get it right 100% of the time.

Fábio: This separation between “technique and feeling” is interesting, because by etymology, technique also means art. The sense of what is technique has been distorted at some point, and erroneously associated with something that is cold and without feeling. But let's think randomly, if we take a sculpture by Michelangelo, for example.

It is impossible to conceive a work like that without knowing the procedures, without knowing the tools, the materials in depth. Without technique. This knowledge is what makes you express yourself in the best possible way.
Going back to music, what can happen is that you have concentrated on getting the best drum sound, but you didn't stop to think about composing your musical arrangements. In this sense, there must be a balance.

RtM: And which conceptual albums marked or inspired you, whether as a fan, listener or composer?

● Pink Floyd - The Wall
● Andrew Lloyd Webber - Jesus Christ Superstar
● The Who - Tommy
● King Diamond - Abigail
● Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt. 2 - Scenes from a memory
● Haken - The Mountain

· Pink Floyd – The Wall
· Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt.2 – Scenes From a Memory
· Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
· Symphony X - V
· Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime
· Angra – Holy Land
· Queen – Queen II

RtM: Maestrick and Imago have very own characteristics, one goes more to progressive, the other to Doom, but they have some things in common, like the use of Brazilian music and lyrics in Portuguese. I would like you to comment on the use of these elements of our culture. I see that many bands are valuing this more now, and maybe there was a bigger prejudice before, a radical view that Brazilian popular music and heavy rock and metal could not mix.

Alex: You said it all man! I'll say honestly: I like Brazilian influences when it's real, when the guy really listens to MPB at home, when he likes a Chico, a Caetano, a Tom Jobim, enjoy the percussions, instruments and timbres of our music. Because it's a very wide universe.
I believe that the guy, no matter how brucutu metalhead he is, will naturally sound with some Brazilian groove. But I understand the question, I'm going deep. So, I think it's natural, when it happens in a natural way the tendency is for it to sound better, this is the case of Imago since we love our music and we have a lot of influence from things here!

Fábio: In my case, heavy metal was one of the last styles I knew, when I was 15/16 years old. At home, he always played Brazilian popular music, Chico Buarque, Gal Costa, Raul Seixas, Elis Regina, Milton Nascimento, Ivan Lins, Tom Jobim, national and international pop music and country music. 
So that's part of me and the boys too. If you take compositions like “Let Me Sing” or “Eu Sou a Mosca” by Raul Seixas (brazilian rocker from 70's) the eclectic and natural way in which he mixed styles and cultures is something that we are inspired by today. So using that in our songwriting is just a consequence of who we are.

RtM: You are two great interpreters and vocalists, two of the best in the Brazilian scene. Tell us a little about the techniques and "secrets" you use in your productions regarding voice recordings.

Alex: I would have liked to have been, but I am not, a very studied and technical guy. The things I do are in the race, in the tough face. They never told me that I couldn't sing throaty and clean in the same song, but you'll notice that I was one of the first to do it here in Brazil, back in a day in the late 80's.

To produce my vocals it's very simple, I basically use EQ, some compression just to flesh out the voice and a bit of ambience. When the music asks for, some other effect is added, such as “delay”. I already have my “presets” here, it took me a while to create them and they work well!

Fabio: Thank you very much! Studying is a constant in my life, first because I'm a handful of curious (lol), and because the voice is the result of muscle adjustments, so even working as a singing teacher, I still take classes, practice every day , because it is necessary to strengthen my muscles and become more fluent in the coordination I use when I sing.
A secret I have is to try to interpret each song in a different way, like a guitarist who uses different pedals and timbres according to the song's proposal. 

I usually imagine the character in detail. How does he walk? How does he speak? He is good? What does he think of what is being said in the song?
And then I lend myself to this character. That's not always possible because sometimes music doesn't ask for it, but I'm always intense and take care of myself a lot, both physically and vocally, whether on tour or recording.

RtM: And your musical inspirations outside of metal, what would they be?

Alex: if I tell you that 90% of my inspirations are just outside metal? I like classical music more, movie soundtracks, 80's music (synthpop, stuff), MPB, folk, indie pop, etc…

Fábio: I'm going to talk about several aspects that influence me and Maestrick as well. Freddie Mercury and Brian May, French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, Heitor Villa-Lobos, film directors Tim Burton and Georges Méliès, contemporary composers Thomas J. Bergensen, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel and writers Graciliano Ramos and Dante Alighieri.

RtM: Name one of your favorite bands, the first that comes to mind and the best song of all times of that band?

Alex: I don't have a favorite band, I have bands at the moment, the ones I listen to the most at the moment but if I REALLY have to name one, I'll go from "Rush'' and I wouldn't know how to choose a song only from the guys.

Fabio: Iron Maiden - The Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner

RtM: And what are you preparing new material from Imago and Maestrick.

Alex: Imago Mortis has been making videos for the lives, the online festivals and that has yielded good partnerships too, like the version we did - together with the band "Lived" for a Killing Joke sound called "Virus". There was also a collab recently with friends - among them the diva “Daísa Munhoz”. 
We released on Youtube the track "Arthur'', a tribute to master Rick Wakeman, which was praised by himself! As for the original copyright material, we already have some good ideas in the oven and it will be a matter of time before something appears there on social networks (Speaking of which, subscribe to find out what's new) We should also invest more in our platforms like “Apoia-se” and release exclusive material there!

Fábio: Maestrick is in the pre-production of his next album, “Espresso Della Vita: Lunare”, the second part of the concept that we started with “Solare”, and which should start being recorded this year so that it can be released in 2022.

RtM: Finishing, I would like you to talk about other musical activities besides thebands. Fábio could talk about his participation in Edu Falaschi's new album, "Vera Cruz", and Alex about his activities as a producer and composer at Voorhees Studios.

Alex: For those who don't know yet, I'm a composer and arranger, as well as a music producer. I love composing, creating, experimenting and not necessarily being the performer myself. I like to see my songs in other people's voices. 
But with some counterpart. I sell a person's license to interpret my exclusive and unreleased tracks, with my arrangements, over the internet or various phonograms for a surprising symbolic value. And I'm mainly in pop music. I'll leave a video here with some of these songs: ACCESS HERE

To know a little more about me and this type of service, contact me by e-mail alexvoorhees@gmail.com or whatsapp +5551982546508

Thanks for the opportunity to talk and exchange ideas with musical geniuses like Fábio Caldeira and thanks also to you, who took the time to read this conversation. Kisses in the heart (no frills gratitude and light), we are one and go off Bolsonaro!

Fábio: I work as a teacher of vocal technique, piano and music in general. I make arrangements and compositions for other artists, for theatrical and cinematographic productions and I am also a writer. I was responsible for developing and writing the story of “Vera Cruz”, Edu Falaschi's new album, based on the concept and ideas he had in mind, and I also sang in the choirs of the album.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for the invitation, for the space and for the excellent questions. Besides, of course, I can be next to my dear Alex, one of the greatest Brazilian metal artists of all times.
I wish everyone the best! Light, peace, art and science!

Interview by: Carlos Garcia

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