Thanks to Crying of the Sun, the world learned about us. Until now, no metal band from Bulgaria has gained such popularity and has not reached literally all corners of the Earth. We got a great chance and the most important thing is that it motivates us to work even harder to prove to our fans that we are not just a successful song, but we are a metal band that states categorically its place on the map of metal music.
As for the music business – I honestly don’t like what’s been happening to music in recent years and how spectacular, vision-like, but completely devoid of talent, bands and performers are being launched, while those who really deserve to be heard are ignored and suppressed deliberately. I hope that sooner or later this system will break and as many independent artists as possible will have the opportunity to play at major festivals and make successful international tours without being dependent on anyone. An artist without wings is not an artist, but a bird in a cage.
Doors that open easily are also easy to close. We do not dream of easy fame and false popularity. We fight for every single fan. We try to make different, interesting and captivating music. And if we manage to win the hearts of true music connoisseurs, then we’ve done what is necessary and what we have set as a goal.
The music industry can make you famous for a day without deserving it, but it can also destroy you for a moment, even though you’re making great music. So it is very important to know exactly what you want to achieve and find the best option to do it. (Stela Atanaosva)
Pix666: Your new album ‘A Whole New Land’ will be released in June. What can fans expect on the album? What makes the album different from your previous releases? Is it already possible to pre-order the album somewhere?
Stela: Our fans can expect a very different album in every aspect – that’s why the name of the album is ‘A Whole New Land’. Our songs are much more complex, from a musical and compositional point of view. The arrangements have much heavier guitars and drums. Last but not least are the beautiful orchestral arrangements, as well as the inspiring lyrics. Yes, the album can now be pre-ordered via iTunes.
Pix666: When you release an album, you want to get out on stage right away and blast the songs at the audience. …but the pandemic unfortunately still has us in its grip. Despite everything, have you already made plans for a record release show or a tour?
Stela: We are already planning a show on June 11, where we will present our new album live to all our fans, here in Sofia. After that we have an invitation to participate in a festival here in Bulgaria. We are expecting other dates in the summer, when I hope we will have the opportunity to present our new songs live.
Pix666: Do you have any wishes and dreams for Metalwings for the future – in which countries would you like to play, which festivals or locations do you miss and with which bands would you like to go on tour or share a stage?
Stela: What I wish for myself and Metalwings is to get the attention of true connoisseurs of metal music. We do not strive for quick popularity, but we strive to win people’s hearts. Of course, my biggest dream is to start doing longer tours, to more destinations and one day, to start receiving invitations from big festivals to share the stage with bands like Nightwish, Dimmu Borgir, Epica.
Pix666: As a musician, you certainly spend most of your time creating music – but what else do you do in your free time when you want to get your mind off things – are there any interesting hobbies that you pursue?
Stela: Apart from the obvious things you listed – I like to read books, walk in nature or just sit on the beach, in my hometown Burgas and enjoy the sea. It charges me and inspires me the most. I use my little free time to remain silent and enjoy the moment.
Pix666: Do you have any other news, that you would like to share with the fans?
Stela: Be prepared for something new and truly epic – our new land is coming on June 11th and I’m sure it will take you on the wings of music, to fabulous lands and forgotten dreams.
Have you ever thought about giving up your music career? And if so, what prompted you to keep going?
All musicians who put their soul into music had moments when they wanted to give up. Music is a blessing, but it can also be a curse. Especially when nowadays you see how stars are created in days and real talents are neglected and forgotten. There is no artist who loves works in the dark. Everyone wants attention, contact with the audience and their music to see the light of day. But in fact, instead of making it easier, it has become much harder for real artists because they don’t have the energy or time to be assertive, to be online and to be so social. The real artists don’t have the desire to shoot constantly for dozens of social networks and to show what they eat or what they do. This is exhausting for a real artist. A real artist just wants to make music and share it with the world. But the world has changed and cruelly oppressed those who are not ready for change. At the moment, the chances of becoming popular because of how you look are much higher than becoming famous because you make great music. There are only a few people who will appreciate your music. Millions are those who are impressed by the external, spectacular and easy to perceive. As for how I manage to move forward – I’m a scorpion, I don’t give up easily. The harder I work, the more I pull forward. Besides, music is my life. I don’t make music to impress the whole world. I make music to be heard by those who have the hearts and minds to appreciate it. Our music is boutique – it is only for connoisseurs. I am happy for every fan and every positive comment, because for us everyone is valuable. When someone take the time to hear our songs, to write us a comment – this means that we have already achieved our goal. So, the music industry brings both a lot of joy and can kill you. It is important with what expectations you pass through the door of fame.
How has your experience been as a woman and being in the music and metal scene?
I don’t think we should divide musicians into men or women. We are all the same. If so far there has been a feeling that women are neglected and not accepted in the metal scene, it is because women have paid too much attention to men’s opinions. I already think that has changed and women have gained much more confidence that they are no less good than men on the metal scene. I personally feel great being part of the metal scene and showing the world how amazing we women are in every way.
Finally, what message would you like to leave to all those women, and people in general, who still do not dare to play an instrument and form a band due to fears, prejudices and insecurities?
I want to say that we live in a small country – the poorest in the European Union. We do not have a developed music industry. The media does not support local bands. No organizer of major festivals here wants to open his eyes and hear something different from what he has already heard. The battle is fierce and unjust and will always be so. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but it is like that here. We have achieved everything so far on our own. Do you know why? Because we didn’t give up and didn’t pay attention to anyone who criticized us or betrayed us. We always stand up and move forward. Don’t let anyone take away your dreams and break your wings. Life is only yours, and the world is huge and waiting for you to concure it. Do not waste your time in fears, do not put up with crumbs. Always strive for more, for a higher, for your better self. And forget about those who don’t like or disapprove of what you do. You have your own path and destiny – just follow it.
“The dreams do not come alone, on the wings of a white dove – they come with a lot of work, faith and passion” – Stela Atanasova.
MG:You combine classical elements with operatic vocals, which may sound pretty old school, but the album sounds really fresh, with a lot of powerful, dramatic and dynamic moments. How did you manage to achieve this sound? What was your goal with “A Whole New Land” soundwise?
Stela: Thank you very much for your positive opinion. This means a lot to me. It is true that combining classics with opera vocals already sounds old school, but when you do it with passion and are not afraid to use different elements or experiment, you will always sound different and fresh. There is a huge potential in this style of music and I am happy to be part of the world of symphonic metal.
In my personal opinion, all artists and bands must strive for constant development and change. We must constantly provoke ourselves to do what we are afraid of and never stop looking for new techniques and means of expression in order to make as real and beautiful music as possible.
The sound we achieved with our new album is not accidental – from the very beginning, when we started discussing the new album, I gathered the guys and told them what my vision was for it. I wanted everything to sound more complex. I wanted heavier guitars and drums, as well as much more epic orchestral tracks. Then I decided that in order to present our songs in the best possible way, we should mix and master them with already proven names. That’s why I chose Jens Bogren. I didn’t just want to release another album – I wanted to release one of the best albums of recent years, which will be listened to for years to come. And I am convinced that we succeeded. We are very pleased with the sound we achieved, thanks to Jens, and that our album sounds amazing as a whole concept in musical and dramatic terms. But of course, the best indicator of that is our fans, so I can’t wait to hear their feeling and opinion about our album.
A few days ago, you released your new single “Still Believe In Us”. The song is inspired by what has happened to our world over the last three months. How do you feel about this single? Do you believe that your song spread the message that you’ve wanted to express?
I am completely convinced of that. This is a very special single because it reveals our love and empathy for all people around the world. Our role as artists is to lift the spirits of people, not only during concerts, but when they have fallen. In this strange situation in which we lived for several months we saw how the will of the people was crushed and replaced by fear and obedience. But all people need is someone to tell them – nothing is over. The good is yet to come. Our vocation as artists is to show the real side of life. To rebel against fear and irresponsibility. Artists should not close their eyes when facing the truth. A true artist must stand boldly in front of people and clearly state his position. Everything else is vanity and theater on wheels.
How do you spend your time through the pandemic of COVID-19? Do you meet each other for rehearsals, or the pandemic slow down your future plans?
These were strange times. People have changed. Fear took over. Music saves us as always. As for our plans – all evil for good.We stopped rehearsals for a while, but we realized that was not the way to go. The musician’s job is to make music. Not to hide and wait for the storm to pass. We are a band – such events cannot break us because we are together in this. After all, when we begin to think that we are all one and together in all this, our world will have no boundaries.
In Corona Corner, we are asking musicians how the outbreak has effected them, how did they adapt to the situation, what did they learn. Amazing Stela Atanasova, mastermind of Metalwings, shares her quarantine story with our readers.
Hi! How are you doing during corona outbreak? Hello! Thank you very much for this interview. We all feel good. We can’t wait to get back to a normal life, namely to make music without restriction and to prepare our next album safely.
What have you cancelled/postponed due coronavirus? What we had to postpone due this virus is the shooting of our next official music video, which will be the single of the album. Most likely this will happen by the end of summer. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the band’s creation. We intend to celebrate this fact with the release of this single and the official video for it. So, the best is yet to come.
How the global coronavirus pandemic is directly impacting bands? What made the pandemic was that it divided people, divided bands, families. Everyone had to find a way to get through this. Many of the bands failed to do tours, concerts, to release albums. But this is not the end of the world. We just got a chance to restart. We got time to create new songs, to think about our priorities, to dream. Nothing fatal happened to the bands. Most independent bands like us have seen much worse than that. We are not afraid of such things. We survived all the time, with no support other than our fans. So we can handle it. For the rest bands, I can say nothing. I guess their labels will help them deal with this situation. Bands will survive. But it is important to say that bands, especially rock and metal, at such tough times should give the most support and courage to their fans. This is not a time to complain, but to give strength and hope to people. Our fans are the ones who need us more now than ever. It should not be the opposite.
How are you keeping your fans during this chaotic period? As always – with music. We’ve created a brand new song “Still believe in us” – dedicated to people who still believe in goodness and are fighting for a better world. We do what we are best at doing – making music and giving hope.
What will metal look like when we re-emerge from isolation? I sincerely hope it will re-emerge more authentic and wilder. Such as the spirit of metal in the 70’s. It is time to bring back that sense of freedom and change. Definitely it’s time for a change.
Who will suffer the most after all: musicians, organizers promoters… What does suffering mean? That they lost money? That the tours were delayed? It’s nothing – it’s just a wind. Many people did not survive. They lost their lives, lost loved ones, lost their jobs. This is a real loss and suffer. The other is a vanity and comfort that many of us are used to and cannot accept that they can lose it. I would like to recall in this connection Darwin’s words: “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”.
What is your isolation soundtrack? I can’t wait to wake up in the morning, open my window and hear the birdsong. I’ve never heard them sing so beautifully and fabulously. The best singers in the world. I would get at least a hundred guest musicians from them in the band immediately. This is how my soundtrack sounds in isolation. With the voice of nature.
When the band first started what were your expectations for the project and did it turn out the way you thought?
I don’t think we had any specific expectations in the very first steps of the band. The band was founded to make original music. We have not set specific goals, deadlines and we have not focused on how to become known more quickly. In general, we were idealists. Over time, it turned out that not everyone thought like me and our paths parted with most of the formed members. I’m still an idealist, but unfortunately I already know that the music business world is not what I thought. It is much more cruel. Also, I think we have achieved much more than we had dreamed of. Our name is already known. Many people around the world like our music. We don’t have as much concert activity as we want, at least for now, but it’s a matter of time and right people. We are now much ahead of what we had imagined at the beginning. We don’t make music for money or fame. I will never stop repeating it. We make music because it is our life and our calling.
What makes Metalwings unique?
Each band is unique in itself, because the spirit of the band is determined not only by the music being made, but also by the energy of each of its members. That is why we are unique with each of the members who contribute to the sound and distinctive features of our band.
We are unique because we were able to make a break into a business that does not tolerate independent bands. We have succeeded, even though we are from a small country that big labels are not interested to invest in. Despite everything we have gone through, we are here, much stronger and more united. We look ahead and think only of our upcoming album which will change the world of symphonic metal.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process from musical and lyrical standpoint?
The process of creating each song is different. Sometimes I create the lyric first and then the music to it or vice versa. Each song carries its own life and imprint. Tells a story, leaves memories. I would never allow myself the luxury of creating songs that say nothing and carry no message except to fill in the blanks in an album. I pay due attention and respect to each song because music is not a dice game. Music is the language of time. If you ignore this, no one will remember you.
It’s not easy to compose. If one claims that the process of composing or writing lyrics is something very easy, then there is more to learn. It’s hard, but it’s the best thing a person can do. It is a creation and a gift that you need to develop every day and not take for granted. I make my music with love and attention to every detail. Sometimes I get the feeling that I give myself so much into the music that I won’t have the strength to go to the surface afterwards. And when you reach the edge and know that you have no power left to go on, you suddenly feel that there is no other way but the one you are heading for. As exhausted as I am after the creation of a song, in just a few days, with much more force I begin to compose the next. It is a process of destruction and creation. It’s like burning and being reborn.
What lead you to become metal singer? Has it always been a dream of yours?
I always wanted to and knew I would become a singer. As I studied opera singing, I realized that this was not my scene and I did not invest the time to pursue a career in this area. Being a metal singer is fate. You can’t escape your destiny.
What is the hardest thing that you’ve had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
I have a hard time when some member of the band leaves. No matter what is the reasons for this happen, I always looked for the guilt first in myself. It took me a long time to understand that people were just coming and going. Everyone follows its own path and destiny. No one is here forever, neither is irreplaceable. After all, this band is my dream. Some of the people who left the band simply did not want to pursue other people’s dreams.Each obstacle is a new opportunity. I overcome what has happened and find musicians who know what they want and what they are ready to accomplish. I am grateful for the difficult moments, betrayals and lessons because they have brought me to where we are now. We are preparing a new album, which will be something that has not been created so far. We have a lot of fun and we get along perfectly. More than ever we are motivated to break the status quo and give the world a real symphonic metal album.
Do you have a plan recording new album? or tour in Europe?
Yes, that’s the plan. We are currently working hard on our next album. We hope to enter the studio in the summer of 2020 to record it. After that we will do our best to make a promotional tour in Europe.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans before we wrap things up?
Thank you for the support and strength you give us. Without you we will only be a whisper in the darkness.
Read the full interview following the link. The interview with Stela is on page 15:
Stela Atanasova: We’ve mixed all our emotions in every song of the album “For All Beyond” with a lot of work, a lot of listening and smoothing out every detail. The secret is to find the balance. As a friend of mine said, there is everything in each of your songs – there is joy and sadness, there is tenderness and power. Like a bouquet of spring flowers”.
In recent years, our focus has shifted because of social platforms and technologies. We have bad news all the time, governments around the world are acting crazy, the music is full of aggression. We need more light and a breathe of air from all this invasion. We need the tenderness and kindness that we have buried deep within ourselves.
Quando já nada fazia supor que do metal sinfónico surgissem surpresas, elas surgiram em… Sofia, Bulgária. Stela Atasanova lidera um coletivo – os Metalwings – senhores de uma capacidade invulgar de criar hinos de verdadeiro e genuíno metal sinfónico. E não é apenas pelo recurso a uma viola elétrica ou a uma flauta irlandesa. É todo o conceito e sentido de composição que está inerente ao coletivo. For All Beyond é o mais recente disco da banda búlgara e o motivo que nos levou a conversar com a líder Stela.
Olá Stela, tudo bem? Obrigado pela tua disponibilidade. Podes apresentar os Metalwings aos metalheads portugueses?
Olá e obrigado pela oportunidade de apresentar a nossa banda aos teus leitores. Somos os Metalwings e fazemos metal sinfónico. A banda formou-se em 2010, em Sofia, Bulgária. Até agora já lançamos um EP, Fallen Angel In The Hell, e um álbum de estúdio, For All Beyond. Para muitos fãs deste estilo de música, talvez o nome de uma das nossas músicas, Crying Of The Sun, seja familiar. Além disso, temos mais dois vídeos oficiais, para Fallen Angel In The Hell e For All Beyond. Elemento interessante que traz um som diferente à nossa música é o som da viola elétrica e flauta irlandesa que usamos muitas vezes. Mas terão uma melhor ideia de nós, quando ouvirem a nossa música. Ela fala por si.
E tiveram a oportunidade de trabalhar com uma orquestra real. Como foi a experiência? Será para repetir?
Esse momento só pode ser descrito por uma palavra – felicidade. Gravar For All Beyond com uma orquestra real foi um sonho que se tornou realidade. O momento foi muito emocional e forte para todos nós. Gostaria que este fosse o futuro da nossa banda. Vamos ter a oportunidade de gravar toda a nossa música com uma orquestra. Este é o presente mais bonito que podemos dar a nós próprios e aos nossos fãs.
Há também uma música em búlgaro. É uma música pensada para os vossos fãs locais?
Escrevi essa música quando ouvi uma história real com um final triste. Teve que ser cantada em búlgaro. E é para todos os nossos fãs. Muitos dos nossos fãs estrangeiros adoram esta música. Na Bulgária também se tornou uma canção de uma causa – Diabetes without fear
Têm alguma tour prevista para promover For All Beyond?
Na verdade, sim. Dentro de duas semanas, teremos uma mini-tournée na Europa, que incluirá a Áustria, Roménia e Bulgária. Iremos juntar-nos a parte da tour europeia dos Imperial Age, que estão, precisamente em Portugal, neste momento.
Muito obrigado, Stela! Queres acrescentar mais alguma coisa?
Muito obrigado. Adoro Portugal e espero, muito em breve, ter a oportunidade de tocar aí. Muitas saudações da Bulgária para todos os nossos fãs em Portugal!
Beste Metalwings, we willen jullie feliciteren met jullie nieuweling ‘For All Beyond’. Echt een verfrissend album. Metalwings staat nog aan het begin van een carrière, kan je daarom jezelf even kort voorstellen ?
Dank voor de positieve review op ons album, dat is altijd zeer fijn te lezen! We geven je graag een korte historiek van Metalwings. De band werd opgericht in Sofia, de hoofdstad van Bulgarije door Stella Atanasova, ergens in de herfst van 2010. De opzet was om inspirerende symphonic/gothic metal te brengen. Dit is dan ook de stijl die Stella erg bevalt: het combineert schoonheid met klassieke muziek en de kracht van metal. Zonder namen te noemen, vinden we dan ook inspiratie in bands die werk maken van gelaagde muziek, met complexere structuren, stevige orkestraties, fabuleuze teksten, interessante gitaar riffs en afwisselend drumwerk.
Doorheen de jaren zijn er wat line-up-wissels geweest. Alleen Stella (zang) en Angel (Keyboards) waren er van in het begin bij. Dat is enigszins jammer. Anderzijds moet je ook vaststellen dat een band een dynamisch gegeven is. Doorheen de tijd veranderen ook mensen en ideeën. Als het voor sommige niet meer werkt, dan is het allicht ook beter om een ander spoor te kiezen. Elke wissel brengt nieuwe mensen mee, en zo ook nieuwe ideeën.
De naam Metalwings lijkt een beetje bijzonder gekozen. In die zin dat ik dat niet zou associëren met het genre metal dat jullie maken. Ik zou dat eerder toeschrijven, genre progressive of power metal?
Dat is een interessante vaststelling, want sommige fans labelen ons als progressive metal. Los daarvan zochten we naar een naam zonder vervaldatum. Niet iets dat fancy klinkt anno 2010, maar zijn charme zou verliezen in 2019. Metalwings is een naam die de mensen bewust zal doen nadenken of in verwarring kan brengen over welke genre we nu precies brengen. Voor ons is het combinatie van twee elementaire zaken: kracht (metal) en zachtheid/schoonheid (wings).
‘For All Beyond’ is julie eerste volwaardige studioalbum. Is het een conceptalbum? Op de cover zien we een oude boom met menselijke gedaantes rond. Of zijn dat zombies?
Het uitgangspunt was niet om conceptalbum te schrijven. Ergens zweeft wel een idee waarop elk lied aantrekkingskracht heeft. Het klinkt allicht melig, de bron van inspiratie is het leven zelf en de manier waarop de mensen vechten voor of streven naar hun eigen geluk. De boom op de cover symboliseert dan ook het leven, omgeven door mensen, familie, voorouders. God zij dank, geen zombies! Beschouw het als een soort projectie van onze zielen die komen en gaan, verzameld rond de boom van het leven. Het gaat om het maken van moeilijke keuzes, soms met verlies tot gevolg. Maar er komt altijd wel een nieuwe dag, een nieuwe streep licht door het gebladerte. Hou moed en volg je dromen.