I also like to combine seemingly different things into one – Interview with Stela Atanasova from Metalwings
The history of the Bulgarian band Metalwings dates back to 2010, when classically trained Stela Atanasova had the idea to combine elements of classical music with Melodic Metal. Soon she found like-minded comrades-in-arms. But the band had the same problems as many other smaller bands, there were many changes in the line-up. So today only two musicians from the early days are active in Metalwings, the singer herself and keyboarder Angel Kitanov. So it is not surprising that in these more than ten years only one EP and two studio albums were released. Recently, “A Whole New Land” was released. Reason enough to ask the singer some curious questions.
Hello Stela. I’m Rainer and I write for Metalheads Forever Magazine. Thanks for letting me do this interview with you. How are you doing?
Hi Rainer. Thank you for this interview. I feel great – a little tired around the release of our new album, but overall, I feel great.
Metalwings have existed for more than ten years. Can you please introduce the band and say something about the history?
You have summarized our story quite well in a few sentences. We have been around for almost 11 years. We have gone through many changes in the line-up of the band. Despite many obstacles and challenges, so far we have managed to release one EP and two studio albums. We look forward, dream and work for the day when our band will be appreciated and will take its rightful place on the world metal stage.
You have a classical musical education. What made you decide to found a metal band instead of anything else?
The challenge was very big and that made me create a metal band and not just keep doing classical music. It is no coincidence that after graduating from music school, I decided to study electronic music, not classical. I have always strived for different, interesting and outside the status quo areas. I also like to combine seemingly different things into one. It’s like music and math – at first glance you say it’s impossible to look for similarities, but in fact when you look and think, you realize that music is math and math is music. In the same way, I decided that it would be great to create a metal band and put all my love for classical and metal music into it.
You have played many live gigs, including at various festivals. But the first EP was released in 2016 and the debut album “For All Beyond” followed in 2018. Why did it take you so long?
Good and real things happen just when they should – not a day sooner or later. I understand that our fans would like to release an album every year, but what most of them do not suspect is how difficult it is for an independent band like ours to release quality albums with good material and quality sound. It is almost impossible financially, but we do it despite the difficulties. With each new album, with each new video – we raise the level and prove to the world that even an independent band from Bulgaria can achieve the level and quality of famous bands and not be broken by problems and obstacles. In addition, it is very difficult to create music with the wrong people. In order to present your work and make people love it, you must have created it with love and created it with people who also invest 100% of themselves. And until I find these people, this core of the band – time has passed. The important thing is that the core of the band is present. When it is there, even if there are some changes, things are fixable.
I’ve never set a goal to just cover a norm for the number of albums released – the important thing for me is that they be meaningful, experienced, suffered and to touch people’s hearts. It doesn’t matter how many albums you have created, but how long the creation will continue to be listened to. Some of our songs will stay in people’s hearts forever.
The current album was made during the Corona pandemic. How difficult was it to record the songs?
Recording the songs was not easier or more difficult because of the pandemic. The pandemic rather delayed our entry into the studio, as well as the release of the album, but in general it did not affect us significantly or rather we did not allow it to affect us and change our goals. It’s just that our new album contains much more complex music material, and it took a lot more time to prepare all the songs from the arrangement, but the recordings themselves were a real pleasure to us.
The album is called “A Whole New Land”. What story are you telling? Is this a concept album?
It’s definitely a concept album. I tell the story of humanity and how far its actions will lead if it continues to live and act in this way.There are no good times ahead of us if we continue to live so selfishly, to be so greedy and vain. That’s why the animals and the girl on the album cover embody the qualities I would like to prevail among us, and I know that those who possess them will survive. In the end, only finesse, beauty and intellect will remain.
In “Milo Moe Libe” you sing in your mother tongue. If I see it correctly, this is a premiere. What made you decide to write this song?
In fact, we have another song in Bulgarian from our previous album called ‘Tujni serza’. There is nothing stronger than singing in your mother tongue. The vibration is different. The song came to me on its own – it wasn’t something I did on purpose. Just when a song is ready to be sung and heard, I compose it. Especially with “Milo Moe Libe” – it could not be sung in English. The song’s energy carries the spirit of the Bulgarians and with this song I wanted to return to my people the faith and the forgotten love for the homeland.
After the album is released, are you satisfied with it? What is the response of the fans and the media?
We are definitely very happy with the feedback we receive from our fans and the media. The reviews are superb, something I had no doubt about. There was a moment when we were worried about how our fans would perceive the turn we make in our style, but it turned out that we chose the right turn and now we will continue our way forward even more boldly and confidently.
You are named in the info as songwriter. How do you go about writing new songs? Do you compose the songs alone or is it a collaborative process within the band?
It all starts in my head first, then I start composing the main harmony and structure of the song on the piano. I write the lyrics and start recording the tracks of the song one by one, such as pianos, choirs, violins, etc. Once the song is completely finished in composition and lyrics, I give it to the drummer and guitarists, who start working on the arrangement of their instruments. At some point we get together and start gluing the songs together one by one so that everything sounds like one and in sync with the orchestration, which is one of the most important key moments in our music.
Where do the ideas for the songs come from? Who or what inspires you when writing?
I am most inspired by life in all its forms and manifestations. I compose when I am in complete harmony with myself. If there is any imbalance in my life, I can’t compose and give myself time to recover. Composing is a very difficult and multi-layered process in which you have to immerse yourself, to focus and at the same time not to lose that divine spark that sounds in your soul. Music is a gift that must be fully experienced and not wasted on sick ambitions.
You are a band that plays live a lot, most recently as a special guest for Imperial Age. How much do you miss these concerts and the contact with the fans?
We haven’t played live in the last two years due to work on the album and then came the pandemic. Of course, we miss the concert life, but now we believe that things will improve and we will have much greater opportunities to do concerts in Bulgaria and abroad.
There are a lot of symphonic metal bands. Many also with women on the microphone. How do Metalwings differ from other bands of this genre?
Each band has its own distinctive feature. We are distinguished by our wonderful melodies, beautiful lyrics, epic orchestrations, the sound of the viola and last but not least, the fact that we do not compromise with a single tone in our music. We are perfectionists and we want to create only the best we are capable of.
I would like to thank you once again for this interview. Maybe we’ll meet at a live show after the pandemic. Would you like to say something to the fans at the end?
Thanks to everyone who loves and supports us. Without you we would not exist!
Stela Atanasova – Operatic Vocals, Electric Viola, Keyboards
Grigor Kostadinov – Guitars
Vlad Enev – Bass
Angel Kitanov – Keyboards
Nikola “Blackie“ Ivanov – Drums