Phantom Elite Interview

Frontiers Music

The sophomore album from the symphonic metal band Phantom Elite is Titanium. Vocalist Marina La Torraca (Exit Eden, Avantasia) gives us the scoop on the new record, the impact of Covid on the band, getting back to touring and other subjects.

Chad Bowar: How did the songwriting process for Titanium compare to your debut album Wasteland?
Marina La Torraca: We had a whole other lineup back then, so the people involved in the songwriting were quite different. But we basically worked in a very collaborative way on both albums. This time, most of the instrumentals were written by our guitarist Max van Esch, I took over most of the vocal melodies/arrangements and lyrics (with production and some co-writing from Amanda Somerville), and all of us produced everything together with Sander Gommans. It definitely involved a LOT of back and forth of files. (laughs)

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Definitely spending almost a month and Sander and Amanda’s house and babysitting during recordings breaks. They have three wonderful angels that needed a lot of attention back then.

How has the band’s sound evolved from Wasteland to Titanium?
All of us were eager to start doing something more modern. That can definitely be spotted right away in terms of both songwriting and sound. I think it also evolved into something heavier and, at the same time, more commercial.

What inspired your lyrics this time around?
This album was completely inspired by the overcoming of barriers, fears, etc. It has a lot to do with how we actually managed to keep the band alive after so many issues. In the face of countless adversities, we ultimately managed to turn things around and make this kick ass album happen, with sheer hard work and will power.

How did Amanda Somerville’s guest appearance come about, and what impact did it have on the songs she appeared on?
It was a really spontaneous idea in the studio! She was recording my vocals and I just thought that verse of “Silver Lining” sounded way better in her voice. (laughs) She was kind enough to perform on it for the album, which is a super cool addition and an honor.

How did you come to sign with Frontiers for this album?
Actually frontiers contacted Sander Gommans when we were writing our first songs for a future album (which came to be Titanium). The timing couldn’t be better, since we really needed some support and some good news to keep us going. Frontiers is a solid label with years of experience and they’re willing to expand their brand beyond hard rock/classic metal. Sounded great to us!

Does that change your goals and expectations for the record?
We absolutely expect more visibility than Wasteland had, since then we released everything independently and not in the most organized way – I must admit. This time we’re thinking hand in hand with Frontiers and working hard to deliver top notch content consistently. The results have been amazing so far!

How was the video shoot for “Diamonds And Dark”? Did you have to take extra precautions because of Covid?
We had to postpone the recordings to the last minute because of Covid measurements. But we ended up shooting in summer during a little “break” from the right regulations. And we did it all outside, so it made it all less dangerous when it comes to the virus. But we definitely had to deal with bad weather! Check out the behind the scenes on our YouTube channel, it’s hilarious.

When do you anticipate the band will be able to play live shows?
That’s a depressing question! (laughs) The whole industry has been postponing live shows/tours the earliest to the end of 2021/beginning 2022. So yeah, that’s what we’re aiming for when it comes to touring. But it will definitely happen!

How do you think the live music landscape will change after the pandemic?
I have no idea. But I hope it will eventually go back to what we conceive as normal, otherwise there’s no way live music can be profitable/sustainable enough (with only 30 people in the audience 3m away from each other). And for sure online streaming is not a satisfactory replacement.

What has been the effect of the pandemic on the band, and you personally?
It almost ruined our release! (laughs) No, no, but it was definitely postponed many times, and the possibilities of live promotion are non existent. It’s also been hard to meet up personally, but luckily we’ve been able to work together well using online tools. Now we still have to shoot our last music video before the release and because of lockdown measurements, we will have to run against the clock to make it happen in time. But it’s good adrenaline! Other than that, I caught Covid myself and I can say it’s very far from fun. I’m barely recovered (still hard to answer this interview thoroughly) and it’s been three weeks already.

Are there plans for another Exit Eden album?
Yes! There are plans. But of course I can’t say anything about it now, since I myself don’t have enough confirmed information. We’ll have to wait and hope a little longer.

What are some of your non-music interests and hobbies?
I love plants and graphic design (which I work with, besides music). I’m also a big nerd and I love all nerdy things, like Star Wars, ’80s and ’90s stuff, horror films, etc.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Oh, I’m a little slow on self promotion lately, but I’ve been working on a lot of different projects here and there, and I can’t wait to share everything with everyone when the time comes. Also, of course, Titanium is a must-have release of 2021, I guarantee! Go check it out and let us know what you think!

(interview published January 22, 2021)

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