Sophia

All posts tagged Sophia

By Carl Begai

Former Blood Stain Child vocalist Sophia Aslanidou broke away from the band after only one album and sporadic touring due to personal and creative differences. An unfortunate situation, but rather than crawling into a corner to die a scorned artist’s death she picked herself up and invested all her time, energy and remaining sanity in a full-on solo project, Season Of Ghosts. The Human Paradox is in fact a collaboration between Sophia, Italian horror metal genius/composer Zombie Sam, and multi-instrumentalist NeroArgento, resulting in off-kilter album boasting equal parts metal and orchestral soundtrack (with occasional death metal growls scattered hither and yon) that never quite goes where you expect. It’s for this reason that when things slow down or become uncomfortably weird you can’t actually bring yourself to skip to the next track. A well crafted sonic adventure with a remarkable payload of earworm vocal melodies, The Human Paradox keeps you wondering what’s lurking around each corner as you weave your way through it.

SeasonOfGhostscover

Blood Stain Child fans may be pleased to know the trance elements that accompanied Sophia’s entrance for the Epsilon album, only this time out her voice isn’t auto-tuned to death. She’s able to explore her (surprising) full range, doing so right out of the box with ‘Genesis’ and ‘Time Travellers’, two of the heaviest tracks on the record. Hearing her low range on ‘Dream: Paralysis’ and ‘The Human Paradox’ is a welcome touch, the title track played out with the strength of any X Japan ballad right down to some spoken word (Sophia is welcome to read me the phone book anytime). Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

When asked about her short tenure with Japanese melodic death/trance metal outifit Blood Stain Child – two years and one album in total – Greek vocalist Sophia looks back on it as a bittersweet experience. The split was anything but amicable, with Sophia harbouring a certain amount of resentment with regards to how and why things fell apart. Rather than letting the bad taste left in her mouth poison her love for making music, Sophia did what any genuine artist does: she buckled down to create something bigger and better than her previous outing. Season Of Ghosts is her new lease on life, a labour of love that pushed Sophia’s creativity to an entirely new level for the debut album planned for later this year, The Human Paradox.

SOG1

“It’s a pretty crazy mixture of everything and anything I represent and believe in,” says Sophia without missing a beat. “And my co-producer Zombie Sam was a great helping hand during the whole process because he has the classical knowledge to interpret my ideas exactly. I have classical knowledge of my own but I’m not very good with software yet and that’s what it came down to. I can program the basics, but going from what I know about programming to what I wanted to do for Season Of Ghosts, there was a huge gap. I gave Sam my piano scripts, music scores and an overwhelming bulk of notes, and I told him to use this piano sound, that instrument or the other to make it sound Frankenstein because that represents me (laughs). He tried it once, twice, and I was getting frustrated by about the 10th time, but once he got it right we worked from that point forward like a clock.”

Sophia is known first and foremost as a singer, but it’s important to establish the fact that she built the musical foundation for Season Of Ghosts herself. She didn’t hire a group of songwriters to create material according to a wishlist; the tracks started out as personal compositions that grew into full-blown songs over time.

“For this album I started with piano and guitar, and I just let myself go so that I was free to imagine what a certain song should sound like. I’d say 90% of the songs on the album started with the piano or guitar melody, and only 10% – really just one song – started with the vocal melody. I built the foundation and then I imagined the vocal parts.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

In July 2012, Japan’s Blood Stain Child and their Greek vocalist Sophia parted ways, citing musical and personal differences after only two years and one album together. Since then, neither Sophia nor her former bandmates have said very much about the split in the press, but during my interview for her new Season Of Ghosts project Sophia decided to reveal her reasons for jumping ship.

SoG1

“I’m not gonna lie: it was a bittersweet journey – probably with emphasis on the ‘bitter’ – wild and fascinating in the beginning. Everything was new to me, so I invested all the connections I’d built throughout the years in the management business, so Blood Stain Child got to tour the US and Europe for the first time, they got an actual marketable internet presence, and Epsilon sold well internationally. Didn’t you think it was pretty weird for a band that had played on kind of the same level for 12 years to suddenly pop up everywhere?”

“The downside was that I was expected to give endlessly while having no say in anything. I was expected to stay in Japan permanently, even if the band rarely rehearsed. This cost a fortune of course, but what disappointed me immensely, was the leader’s reaction after the huge 2011 earthquake/tsunami. Refusing to provide refuge in Osaka for a couple days because ‘Everybody’s busy and you’ll be in the way’ he heartlessly ordered me to stay in Tokyo, thus endangering my safety. As Tokyo was too chaotic after the meltdowns, I decided to leave for Greece earlier than my planned holidays, citing a state of emergency. For the first time as a member, I showed I had a strong character that couldn’t be manipulated so this was not received well at all. I was a new member, a foreigner, a woman and dared to show my personal opinion in the workplace. Uh-oh…” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

Back in July, Blood Stain Child vocalist Sophia – hailing from Thessaloniki and dividing her time between Greece and Japan – announced her departure from the band after only one album. Her reasons for leaving are her own, suffice to say that it was a two-year rollercoaster ride of ups and downs that inevitably brought her to a crossroads.

With four albums under their belt when she joined the band, and going on to record the Epsilon album as lead vocalist alongside bassist/male singer Ryo, Blood Stain Child afforded Sophia a certain amount of notoriety from the get-go. Some folks will argue, however, that her involvement on the first Princess Ghibli album, Imaginary Flying Machines – an anime-related metal-oriented soundtrack released in April 2011 – boosted her credibility as an artist and paved the way for future musical ventures. With the Oscar-winning Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) being the most respected anime company on the planet, their support of the project was the stamp of approval fans needed to buy into it. Thus, between Blood Stain Child and two Princess Ghibli albums, Sophia has made a name for herself.

The split with Blood Stain Child will be addressed at a later date. For now the focus is on Princess Ghibli and her role in several Touhou Project-related songs.

With regards to the Ghibli albums, Sophia’s involvement was attributed as to Blood Stain Child’s affiliation with Coroner Records and Disarmonia Mundi mastermind Ettore Rigotti as it was to her ability to speak Japanese.

“Well, actually it was thanks to Ettore,” says Sophia. “I don’t think language skills had much to do with it. Or did they? I never thought about it (laughs) Anyway, although he had a good network of acclaimed artists to choose from, he asked me to do it. Little did I know about the level of success those albums would enjoy. The first album is still #1 in the metal genre at Amazon and the second album (Princess Ghibli II: Imaginary Flying Machines) was #1 on the charts of a major TV channel in Japan.”

“If it’s Ghibli, it’s bound to have a certain level of guaranteed success,” she adds, “but I don’t think anybody expected the popularity that spread like wildfire even before the official release. The first album was sold out on pre-sales, so when the actual release took place many people couldn’t find it anywhere in Japan, so the company had to rush for a second print (laughs). Everybody, even Mr. Goro Miyazaki himself (director and son of studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki) loved the result, so the second album was a natural outcome.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

One thing Blood Stain Child guitarist Ryu can never be accused of is a lack of creativity. Just like his constantly evolving image – one needs only to glance through promo pictures from the past eleven years for proof – Ryu’s musical vision continues to widen with each album. For the band’s fifth record, Epsilon, he did what nobody expected and added a female lead vocalist to Blood Stain Child’s ranks; his two-part replacement for the departed Sadew. Bassist and original vocalist Ryo is back up front as well, but the present focus is ultimately on Greek singer Sophia, who plays the melodic contrast to his death metal growls. This has added a completely new dimension to the band’s recognizable trance metal sound, raising eyebrows and dropping some jaws as Epsilon continues to circulate. As expected, not everyone has accepted the change with good graces and Sophia has quite naturally been singled out as the cause of the so-called “problem.” She sees no reason to be concerned, however, as her new bandmates would have left her recordings on the cutting room floor had she proven to be incapable of carrying the songs.

“I guess you thought much deeper than I did,” Sophia remarks. “Don’t forget I’m a typical Sagittarian, looking for adventure and new experiences. Also initially, Ryu asked me to ‘sing on a few songs,’ so I basically considered it a participation rather than becoming an actual band member. A couple of months later, though, while I had already started working on the songs he’d given me, Sadew left, so the band had no lead singer anymore. That’s when Ryu simply asked me ‘Do you wanna be the lead singer?’ I was like… (pulls a shocked expression). Before I could even answer firmly, he told me ‘Welcome to the band, everybody’s waiting for you in Osaka (laughs).” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

Five albums old, Japanese melodic cyber-death metal outfit Blood Stain Child have made a habit of overhauling their sound from record to record. The symphonic Euro-metal mess of their 2002 debut, Silence Of Northern Hell, evolved into various forms of Scandinavian worship in the years that followed, chanelling a grittier and altogether fugly Children Of Bodom on Mystic Your Heart in 2003. The band officially hit their stride two years later with Idolator and a trance-laced take on melding classic and new age In Flames, which continued on Mozaiq in 2007, albeit with more focus on electronic elements, female backing vocals, and a new singer in the driver’s seat. Blood Stain Child’s fanbase has grown with them in spite of these changes, but nothing could have prepared folks for the metamorphosis that has resulted in arguably the strongest album of their career.

Epsilon sees bassist / original vocalist Ryo back up front, replacing his one-album replacement Sadew, only he now shares duties with Greek female singer Sophia, who has effectively changed the way Blood Stain Child does business. Between the melodic and oft-times pop elements of her voice and pushing mad scientist Aki’s electronica up front, evil genius / guitarist Ryu’s vision of creating something unique have been realized. Call it perplexing and bloody impressive, because Epsilon is one of those albums where steel-chewing metalheads should be screaming bloody murder when confronted with anime inspired techno-pop in the mix, yet it works. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

Anyone who has spent time trolling around the metal world in recent years is aware of the Visual Kei movement. Consult the know-it-all realm of Wikipedia for a detailed description of what it entails, but in a nutshell Visual Kei is a full-on music-meets-image subculture out of Japan. Call it the Asian answer to the North American ‘80s glam rock / metal scene, only darker yet somehow even more flamboyant, with a hell of a lot more staying power. Unlike the Western world’s short run of guys-with-guitars-will-be-girls, which was snuffed out with the rise of Seattle’s grunge scene, Visual Kei’s origins date back to the birth of a “little” band called X in 1982, taking root in earnest with their 1989 breakthrough. With the recent international rise of countrymen Dir En Grey, Visual Kei migrated from Japan, going from foreign oddity to audio/visual trend in only a few short years.

Admittedly, I had no intention of tackling the subject. Introduced to X in 1993, I was blown away by their music and image, and they became a regular spin on my stereo. There was also a certain amount of I-know-something-you-don’t-know elitist pride in that the band was a non-entity to the general metal population. Fellow metalhead / co-conspirator The Rev and I had several conversations about the band at the time, agreeing that if North American labels had been aware of X’s existence (better known these days as X Japan) the band would have been signed in a heartbeat. Not that they ever needed a foreign record label to gain an international fan following or lay claim to millions of units sold.

Fast forward to 2010 and the Japanese melodic death metal band Blood Stain Child. Four albums young and working on a fifth, they made the surprise move of adding a female vocalist by the name of Sophia to their line-up. Adding to the unexpected news, she hailed from Greece and had an in-your-face Visual Kei look about her. Curiosity led to correspondence, which eventually turned into the opportunity for some unique insight on what is widely regarded as a cultural phenomenon.

A resident of Japan since August 2010, Sophia reveals she’s always had a focus on her current home. Her ongoing love affair with Visual Kei took hold long before she made the move.

“I grew up with Japanese pop culture and I’ve had a strange attraction towards Japan ever since I was a kid,” she reveals. “My mom used to buy me lots of Japanese stuff, take me and my brothers to Asian cuisine restaurants, and encouraged us to start practicing martial arts. Hey, even my first LP was a My Melody song collection (laughs). Moving to Japan came as a natural thing for everybody who knows even a little about me. I’ve always wanted it. The reasons are many, but the catalytic factor was, of course, Blood Stain Child.” Continue Reading