All Our Creativity Comes From The Heart – Interview With Sanctorium
By Rainer Kerber
I have already met some bands from Russia. Most recently, singer Daria Zhukova from the St. Petersburg band Sanctorium contacted me. They have dedicated themselves to symphonic heavy metal for fifteen years. The third studio album “Ornaments” was released in early March. A double album at a high level. The musicians repeatedly incorporated elements from Russian folklore. The band was able to finance this album partly through a crowdfunding campaign. Singer Daria answered my curious questions.
MFM: Hello, I’m Rainer and I write for the Metalheads Forever Magazine. Thank you for being able to do this interview with you. How are you?
Daria: Hi, Rainer, nice to meet you! It’s a pleasure for me. Well, now I feel relieved after the release, because it took too much time and powers. Although there is still a lot of work ahead, the bulk is already behind.
MFM: Although the band has been around for a while, it is largely unknown outside of their home country. Please introduce yourself briefly.
Daria: Well, Sanctorium is symphonic metal band with male and female vocals from Saint Petersburg, Russia.Fans of dark music appreciate the contrast between memorable cold female voice, a colorful male death metal growls and clean male voice, and also mix of heavy guitar riffs with exquisite keyboards (classic of the genre), symphonic arrangements and the general atmosphere of the songs. We take our inspiration in different mythologies, legends, history of ancient civilizations, mysticism and philosophy, which is reflected in English texts-paintings, painted in deep colors.
MFM: How would you describe the sound of Sanctorium?
Daria: Thick and dense wall of guitar sound, rich orchestral arrangements, trio of diverse vocals.
MFM: If I read the right one, then Daria is the only one left from the early days. How did she manage to keep the band alive for so long?
Daria: In that time it was my only wish 🙂 I believe that I was very lucky with the current line-up: for now the band consists of the most devoted and enthusiastic members, with most of which (just think!) we play together for 8-10 years already. Just incredible! And now, if I have a bad mood and want to quit everything, I immediately remember the rule of three “no” and say to myself “no-no-no”)) There is still a lot to do.
MFM: It was nine years between the founding of the band and the debut album “The Depths Inside”. Why did you take so much time for this?
Daria: During this time, we also released a demo consisting of 4 tracks, as well as EP “Gate of Sin” in 2008. In May 2009 there was our big split-up with old musicians, after which I was left alone and decided to form a band with new members. Despite that fact, that they came in 2010 already, more or less we were able to give concerts only in 2012. Then we released a single “Alive”. After that, in 2013 we started to record TDI. And here I should say thanks to my ex-husband, who was a guitarist and composer in the band before the split-up, and who allowed me to leave all songs and to record it.
MFM: In 2018 you started the crowdfunding campaign for your third album “Ornaments”. Unfortunately, you have only reached 22% of the target amount. How did you manage to produce this double album anyway?
Daria: As we wrote in our campaign, the album would be made anyway and we fulfill all our obligations to those who back us up. But of course, it took longer because we had to do our non-musical jobs to earn some money ourselves and borrow the rest of it. And we just didn’t want to leave our new cool songs unwritten, because we really adore them. ????
MFM: How did the songwriting work for this album?
Daria: We have a cloud storage with all our work templates. When somebody has an idea, he or she write it and put in the folder (we have different folders with different styles of templates, from doom to core). Other members listen to it, and if the idea is really good, we take it to work. Our guitarists come together on the rehearsals to write music, and when the structure of the song is ready, other members write their parties. After all, I write lyrics (or ask to write my friends). For this album the most popular folders were folk and sympho ones, and now you can see a result.
MFM: Which bands or musicians influence you when writing new songs?
Daria: Arkona, Nevid’, Wintersun, Slumber, Orphaned Land, Dark Tranquility, Myrath, Eluveitie, Within Temptation… A lot of different bands)
MFM: You have incorporated many elements of Russian folklore into your music. What is your relationship with the folklore of your home country?
Daria: Well, folklore in traditional form is not so popular here. But in metal music it is! Russian people loves combination of soulfulness of folk songs and metal drive. That’s why instead of a big international Metal Festivals in Russia we have only big folk metal festivals ???? However this year we have two new metal fests: Big Gun and Metal over Russia. And lists of the bands are just superb! We’ll see if it is start of a new metal era here.
MFM: What impressed me most was the Song of the Volga boatman “Эй, Ухнем“. Why did you choose this one in particular?
Daria: The story of the beginning of using the folk elements in our music is very interesting. As you know, we played in Japan twice. And before the first visit there was one condition: to prepare and to play a few Russian folk songs, because Japanese likes it a lot. When the guys heard this, the first reaction was shock. What? We? Why? We have never played such kind of music! And after a little thought, we decided to arrange it in our style. So, we arranged such songs as Катюша, Полюшко-Поле, Эй, Ухнем, Калинка and a few others. We played it with a big success, and after that our worldview has been changed forever) We fell in love with our metal version of Эй, Ухнем, and decided not to drop it, but to include this song in our concert program. After our first visit to Japan we started making up songs with folk elements, and this is the story, how the most songs from the Ornaments-Part II were born.
MFM: You have performed almost exclusively in Russia in recent years. There have also been performances in Finland, Japan, Estonia and Latvia. Are you going to play in other countries soon?
Daria: We also had concerts in Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary in 2018. We like to play in other countries a lot, but in our case, it depends on the money due to the large number of members. But if there will be an interesting suggestion from the promoters – we are always ready to come and to play!
MFM: I thank you again for this interview. Do you want to say something to the fans at the end?
Daria: Do not be afraid to discover new horizons and support local bands! All our creativity comes from the heart, while there are enough commercial projects around. In our reality, it’s difficult to create, because there is constantly not enough money, time, efforts, and sometimes all at once. But believe me, when you take the time to evaluate the efforts made, to support the musician with the money or at least with a kind word, then this is very encouraging for us! Your music is like your child, and if it does not go unnoticed and resonates in the hearts of people, it gives you power to go ahead. Thanks!
Daria Zhukova (Eirene) – Vocals
Pavel Kozhuchovskiy – Extreme Vocals
Alexey Shcherbak – Guitars
Alexandr Mutin – Guitars
Olga Gavrilova – Keyboards
Ilya Wilks – Bass
Evgeniy Nosov – Drums
Andrey Romanov – Clean Vocals
MHF Magazine/Rainer Kerber