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Progressive Rock Interviews

Space Mirrors

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Alisa Coral and  Martyr Lucifer of Space Mirrors from 2012
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?

Alisa Coral: I started to play music in mid 90s. But it wasn’t really serious until 2001 when I switched from bass to synthesizers and recorded a couple of ambient albums. In 2002 I founded Space Mirrors with Australian guitarist Michael Blackman. He was the main guitarist until 2010 when he left the band. On our debut The Darker Side of Art album a famous European musician Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One) also played a significant part. Memories of the Future was released in 2006 and saw a further development in the sound and songwriting, again there were some guests. It got great reviews and was even voted in the charts at #22 in the Top 100 albums of 2006 in Gagliarchives, ahead of many famous names, including The Gathering and Hawkwind! In 2009 our third album Majestic-12: A Hidden Presence dedicated to the alien conspiracies topics was released. It featured a major change with Martyr Lucifer (from cult Italian band Hortus Animae) joining on vocals, Cyndee Lee Rule on violin and fabulous Nik Turner on sax and flute. The music became more heavy metal oriented and I concentrated more on actual songwriting rather than delivering instrumental music. We also started to work with a wonderful graphics designer Kevin Sommers who did a great concept artwork for this release.  Then in 2010 Michael Blackman decided to leave the band due to personal reasons. I began to compose new album based on H.P. Lovecraft stories. And Martyr Lucifer joined SM on a permanent basis. He took Michael’s place as a close associate and my main advisor in many band related things like finding new musicians, working with record labels and music production. So we are now the core of the band. I had to find a guitarist and thanks to Martyr I have found Italians Massimo Arke and Fabio “Amon 418” Bartolini who recorded most of the guitars on new album. They are both also related to Hortus Animae band. Massimo has his own project called “Opposite Sides,” Fabio was also in a legendary Italian Death Metal band Baratro, but now he is preparing the second album for his project Hate Profile. There were also two other guitarists who contributed excellent solos and powerful rhythm on a couple of tracks – John Pack from the American space rock band Spaceseed and Sparky Simmons from Acid FM. Sparky also joined Space Mirrors as a permanent member. Cyndee again played violin on several songs. Keyboardists Allen Welty-Green and Bjorn Jeppesen added very cool synth solos. Alan Davey (of Hawkwind and Gunslinger fame) recorded bass for the epic track “The Dreamquest of Uknown Kadath,” his powerful bass really added a new dimension and it was a pleasure to work again with legendary Nik Turner. Space Mirrors is a truly international collective of creative musicians where everyone contributes something special. New album was called Cosmic Horror I: In Darkness They Whisper and was finished by March this year. At the same time I have found a new label home for us in Swedish Transubstans Records. They did a great job releasing new album and doing promotion. I think Kevin Sommers’s artwork and 12 page booklet look really great printed. So everything clicked together really well and we’ve got a new release which I’m very proud of.  

 

Martyr Lucifer: I started singing in a punk band called “Alcatraz” (now Marsh Mallows) when I was 18, the same year I entered the line-up of a thrash/death metal band called “Dogma.” During the last gig of this band I met Thomas, with him we talked about forming an avant-garde metal band and that night the still nameless Hortus Animae was born. The rest is more or less known, those who don't know can read the long and boring bio at http://martyrlucifer.net, so I can directly jump to the day when I received a mail from Alisa Coral that was proposing me to cooperate in the recordings of their album Majestic-12: A Hidden Presence. The Space Mirrors material was very different from what I was playing at the time and it represented for me a very interesting challenge. This cooperation proceeds successfully to this day.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Alisa Coral: My long time dream is to write books. Actually I wrote and published a Sci-Fi trilogy many years ago here in Russia. It was even before I seriously started my music career. I hope one day to return to writing. I have many ideas and several books outlined. I just need a quiet time and place to start it. Some special state of mind I think. But I think it will happen one day.

Martyr Lucifer: The hermit in a cave I think (laughter). Jokes apart, I really don’t know, hopefully something related to music and art in general.

MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?
Alisa Coral: I was interested in the old space exploration stories and found an idea of space mirrors as a tool of terraforming. I liked the phrase and registered an e-mail with that name. At that time we talked a lot with Ian Abrahams, a known rock music journalist/writer, he wrote a book about Hawkwind among others, and he thought it would be a cool name for the band. So I agreed with the idea and when in 2002 I formed a band I called it “Space Mirrors.”
MSJ:

There are some pretty high profile guests. How did that come about?

Alisa Coral: I think Arjen Lucassen and his Ayreon project was the inspiration. I didn’t have a band here in Russia and I thought if I have to invite people from other countries then why not to try my favourite musicians? So I just got in contact with them. Some of my guests I know personally, some only by internet. For example with Alan Davey we talked about his participation already in 2006 when I visited Hawkwind concert at Amsterdam. But it came to reality only last year. Things are constantly moving, I keep in touch with many musicians I admire and sometimes I offer them to play on my albums… or even they offer it themselves!

MSJ:

Who would you see as your musical influences?

Alisa Coral: My main influence is obviously Hawkwind and many related space rock projects. But also it’s a heavy metal side of the music – from Therion to Iron Maiden, from Iced Earth to Manilla Road and Sigh. I think in modern days there is so much music and everything we listen to influences us somehow. I have so big music collection on CD’s that I can’t really pick out exact bands now. Sometimes I listen to my music months later after I recorded it and think to myself “oh, this is certainly that band influence here.” You don’t always realize it when you just composed a song.

Martyr Lucifer: Too many. I’ve been playing many styles of music during my career and, of course, for every project I had different influences. Let’s say that something that influenced me in every band I was and am in is 70s prog rock.

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Alisa Coral: I’m fully concentrated on Space Mirrors now, no side projects. We are working on the sequel to In Darkness They Whisper. “Cosmic Horror II & III” albums. I composed most of the songs now for the second part and writing for the third. We have drum recording sessions scheduled for November with our new drummer. I will have all the announcements made when it’s time for it. Just need to coordinate everything and get all going. So musically it’s very busy time now. I don’t want it to be a too big gap between the first album in the trilogy and the second and third ones. I also played synthesizers on many tracks of new Spaceseed album which should be out some time soon.

Martyr Lucifer: When we started promoting Space Mirrors’ In Darkness They Whisper I also have started the recordings of two brand new tracks, for my homonymous solo project, destined to Shard One, the first in a trilogy of EP’s. All the details of this new release are still to be determined.

MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Alisa Coral: I would say it’s some kind of fusion between the space rock and prog metal. I don’t really understand the term “prog” these days – now everything from Pink Floyd to Meshuggah is called “prog.” But we don’t have a better official description I think. So let it be space rock/prog metal. But we have also elements from epic metal or gothic rock as well.

Martyr Lucifer: Nothing to add to describe better the Space Mirrors' musical world and I agree about prog rock. And I presume I'm the one to blame for the gothic rock touch, sorry everyone!

MSJ:

Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Alisa Coral: Yes, for example Tim Blake. I would like to invite Mark Shelton from Manilla Road some day or Byron from Bal-Sagoth. There are many of them. But I should say that I already work with some of the finest musicians in the world, in my opinion.  

Martyr Lucifer: I’d like to make concrete a cooperation with my friend Aaron of My Dying Bride. Oh... And Anna Varney Cantodea!

MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
Alisa Coral: First of all let’s make it clear – illegal means it is a crime, correct? So if it’s illegal it’s a hindrance by default. It’s a bad thing for musicians I think. When Metallica was suing Napster everyone was against them because they were already millionaires and everyone was envy of them. But now when musicians can’t earn anything from music and they have to look for a regular job I think that opinion has changed and those who judged Metallica harshly at that time understand that they were wrong. People who illegally download music are just thieves. Some people download music to be able to hear it before or just after the release, that’s ok if they buy the music they downloaded afterwards. But in reality, only a very small percent of such people buy the music after. The problem is that downloaders lose the perception of the music, of the album concept, they just listen to gigabytes of sound. They download everything because it’s free, it’s a mess in their heads and they don’t care about music, about bands they download. They just want to be fed more and more gigabytes. And I don’t even want to start the discussion about on what equipment they usually listen to the music. If things don’t change soon musicians won’t be able even to repay for the music they create, so they won’t be able to hire good studios, pay to other musicians. Who will pay for recording of the albums? We will only have music from Internet musicians who create music on laptop, upload it to Internet so that others could download it for free and listen to it on laptop/iPad too. What will be the quality of such music? No one really cares it seems, the future for music is rather bleak because only pop artists who sell jeans, perfume, lifestyle will have money. And note that this money is not from music sales now but from sponsors. And it all started with illegal downloading and companies like Apple and Nokia which encouraged listening to bad quality sound files on their mobile phones. But how many people really pay for downloading of the songs when they can download them for free? I know that artists get very little money from digital downloads. It’s a very complicated system and when money from it reaches the artist it’s almost nothing. Well, actually major labels like Sony or EMI could end this mess right when it started but they were not interested. New bands have almost zero opportunity to really get noticed in current industry. I think that if bands like Venom or Bathory appeared now they would never become famous.

Martyr Lucifer: Both, but mostly a hindrance. It is true that music downloads help bands reaching more people, with the hope that if someone downloaded an album and liked it perhaps he will buy the next or some previous one. But sadly it seems that less and less people buy albums.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
Alisa Coral: This is a different matter. People paid money for the concert so I think they have the right to have “audience” quality recording. I think it’s good for the band to have such loyal groups of fans who record and trade their shows. It’s okay as long as it’s traded for free and no one sells the recording. Only band can earn from selling live recordings. So when a band decides that some show will be officially released fans should stop trading this show immediately. Such trading was going on for years and never did any harm. Again, harm is done only when someone starts to sell bootlegs. I know some bands don’t like it because some shows are good and some are bad. But I think loyal fans know the band can have a bad day so it doesn’t matter. Vice versa, shows with some mistakes in playing or musical glitches can be very special. So generally it’s a good thing because it shows interest in a band. People who don’t care about the band don’t trade the show recordings.

Martyr Lucifer: That’s amazing, if anyone has Hortus Animae shows recorded, send them to me!

MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Alisa Coral: Very interesting question! It would be Madonna for sure. I don’t care about her music but I hate everything she stands for in modern music industry. I can’t accept her falseness. She is completely artificial and made-up by the managers and whatever political force she represents. She had her opportunity to go against the trend when she released American Life with a real message behind it. She had money already, she could be just herself. But she cowardly stepped backwards immediately after she was shown the stop light by the media and global music industry. I understand when poor artists do that. But when you have money you have the control of your life so that’s why it’s unacceptable. Never believe any political messages from her – she is just a puppet on the strings as any other pop artist with “strong political beliefs.” Most of them are paid money for that.

Martyr Lucifer: Instead, If I must have an enemy, or better, an arch nemesis, he should be someone I respect, so… Someone I even like! You know, like it was for Superman and Lex Luthor in the Smallville series (laughter). So considering that, as I previously said, I really respect as an artist Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride, my arch nemesis would be Dark Aaron! Anyway this is obviously a joke (laughter).

MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Alisa Coral: Jon Schaffer from Iced Earth on rhythm guitar (I love his powerful riffing), Alan Davey on bass (I think he is the best!), Tim Blake from Hawkwind/Gong on keys/synthesizers (synth wizard!), Huw Lloyd-Langton on lead guitar (yes, Hawkwind again), Horgh from Immortal on drums, Mark Shelton from Manilla Road for melodic vocals, Abbath from Immortal for screaming vocals and Johan Edlund from Tiamat for gothic and growl vocals.

Martyr Lucifer: (laughter) I don’t know, I’d choose musicians related to so many different kinds of music that the result would definitely be a total mess!

MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Alisa Coral: It’s not an easy question. Can we really mix very different styles in one ultimate festival? OK, if we can then it would be Hawkwind (with the best line-up), Iced Earth, Sigh, Manilla Road, Immortal, Melechesh, Tiamat, Doomsword, Ozric Tentacles (their 90s early 00s line-up), Monster Magnet, Blue Oyster Cult. Enough I think or I can go on and on adding bands, (laughter)

Martyr Lucifer: Hmmm… A festival that includes all genres that I like I presume… So… What, ten bands in two days?

Day 1: Darkthrone (yet they don’t play live unfortunately… in case let’s replace them with Satyricon), My Dying Bride, Slayer, The Cure and Pink Floyd!

Day 2: Katatonia, Tiamat, King Crimson, Dead Can Dance and… Queen with Brian May on vocals! All those guys that tried out really sucked… Better they stayed in the family

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Alisa Coral: The last CD I bought was The Blues Brothers Official Soundtrack. I also recently got Fozzy Sin and Bones and Threshold March of Progress. I listen to rather various music. Right now (while typing this) I’m listening to Iron Maiden’s  En Vivo!.

Martyr Lucifer: The last CD I bought was Choice of Weapon by The Cult, truly awesome. Also saw them live recently promoting that album. For the rest I’m listening to almost everything as usual. Right now The Cure's Greatest Hits, The Misfits’ Famous Monster will follow.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Alisa Coral: Books are my other passion, really. I read a lot. Recently I’ve read Stanis?aw Lem’s Observation on the Spot novel which was never translated into English I’m afraid. I’m sure my English speaking fans would enjoy it as it reflects the modern society and where it goes. Very spot on observations really… though I’m afraid modern “politically correct” society will try to forget such Lem’s works. Right now I’m reading Necroscope by Brian Lumley - rather good so far.

Martyr Lucifer: No, haven’t had much time. But the last book I’ve read was World Without End by Ken Follet, the fantastic sequel of the equally fantastic The Pillars of the Earth. Both are highly recommended.

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Alisa Coral: It was Anthrax last spring - really good their ultimate singer Joey Belladonna is back with them.  

Martyr Lucifer: Duran Duran last summer! And it’s been really enjoyable… Brought back in time!

MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Alisa Coral: I thought about it and can’t really come up with anything. I listen only to music I like and I would never be ashamed of any of that. Maybe I just don’t care what others think about my tastes…

Martyr Lucifer: (laughter) Too many! Am I really to mention them?! So ok, for example I’ve already mentioned Duran Duran… Then I add Lene Marlin, Sade, Madonna (for Alisa’s happiness - laughter), Prince, Lana Del Ray, Bon Jovi and I swear many, many others! Who said Britney Spears? SSSHHH! Seriously speaking, I really make no difference between the so called guilty pleasure and the music I’m supposed to be listening to, as I am pretty omnivorous - musically.

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Alisa Coral: When I was told that one Russian very known music journalist said that he would never write about me or Space Mirrors because I turned away from my origins. I laugh to this day when I recall this. That was funny because I don’t know what origins I turned away from. At that day I realized I became known a bit, (laughter).

 

Martyr Lucifer: I can’t recall any, but I’m damn sure there have been even too many!

MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Alisa Coral: Only three? OK, they would be Roger Zelazny, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Calvert.  

Martyr Lucifer: No one but my beloved wife, as I am not a person of company and she’s the only one that can bear with me. I am sorry for the death of musicians that deeply contributed to my musical growth, see Bon Scott (AC/DC), Joy Division's Ian Curtis, John “Bonzo” Bonham  (Led Zeppelin), David Byron (Uriah Heep), Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne), Cliff Burton (Metallica), Per "Dead" Ohlin & Euronymous (Mayhem), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Tom Sedotschenko (EverEve), Chuck Schuldiner (Death), Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), Quorthon (Bathory), Peter Steele (Type 0 Negative), Jon Lord (Deep Purple)... But I'd prefer to see them again playing and singing rather than having dinner with them.

MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Alisa Coral: Italian food and wine! Some pasta (all pastas are great) for first, bistecca alla fiorentina for second and Rosso di Montalcino or Grignolino for a red wine, for example. 

Martyr Lucifer: In any case, it’d be strictly vegetarian.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Alisa Coral: I would like to say thanks to our fans and journalists who supported us through all these years! And also hello and thanks to our new fans which I hope will find us. Without fans music can’t survive! Please visit our website at http://www.spacemirrors.com, please like our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SpaceMirrors and you can watch SM videos at our youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/spacemirrorscom/videos

Martyr Lucifer: And thank you for this interesting interview, keep following us in the web-zones that Alisa mentioned and also my facebook page is constantly updated with news, including Space Mirrors',  http://www.facebook.com/MartyrLucifer. Cheers!

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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