CHAOS MAGIC – Passing Flowing
International symphonic metal outfit Chaos Magic pairs guitarist Timo Tolkki – formerly of Helsinki, Finland-based power metal ensemble Stratovarius – and vocalist Caterina Nix. Born Caterina Torrealba in Santiago, Chile, the frontwoman originally met Timo during a meet and greet with Stratovarius. The two spoke and developed a friendship, and so the pair kept in touch.
“Some time later, I decided that I wanted to show him my music,” Caterina continues. “I sent it over to him, and he was quite taken by my voice. The idea of working together started a few years ago, but we didn’t have an opportunity to realise this idea until Frontiers came upon the idea of having a female singer for a solo project. He forwarded my name along with the names of other female singers that he knew, and then finally Frontiers said ‘Yeah.’”
Certain quarters in the metal community might not be familiar with the singer. “I started singing when I was very young,” she informs. “It has always been very cathartic for me. I was always really involved with music; I participated in school bands and the school choir, and I had a few bands also in my adolescence. I’ve always been into rock (laughs). I’ve always liked this kind of music, and then I started a band where we played Nightwish covers, which later turned into Aghonya.”
Nevertheless, the tracks ‘High Above Me’ and ‘Angels Of The Apocalypse’ – which featured on May 2014 full-length Angels Of The Apocalypse, the second from Timo-led project Avalon – introduced many within the metal community to Caterina. “We were already recording Chaos Magic by then,” she reveals. “Frontiers and Timo came up with the idea of me singing these two songs, because they thought it would be good for me to be a little bit known before we released the Chaos Magic album. So, the idea was borne from Frontiers and Timo.”
Chaos Magic’s moniker happens to be spiritual in intent. “I came up with that name since I wanted a name that was universal, because I believe that we are all energy,” the vocalist shares. “I wanted to sort of show that we have a connection with you name it, whether it be God, nature, spirituality. We are all parts of a mass of energy, or whatever you call it, or whoever you pray to, or whatever your beliefs are. You can focus on something and achieve that through your energy, so that’s what Chaos Magic is about. It’s about finding your own magic within you, and materialising it somehow.”
Chaos Magic’s self-titled debut jaunt arrived in July 2015, for which Timo wrote all respective compositions. “I worked here, and he was in Finland,” Caterina divulges. “We worked through the internet. Basically now, we have the opportunity to do that, and it wasn’t hard at all. I thought it was gonna be much more difficult because we were on different continents, but it was great. He sent me his material – the demo versions – I listened to them, I sung the songs, and sent the tracks out to him. I was quite pleased with the first takes I sent him of the songs. There wasn’t much that he wanted to correct or anything, and so it went quite well.
“I didn’t have the chance to write any songs this time, but probably if there is a second album, I will write some of the songs . This time, we didn’t have time. We had a schedule that we had to fulfil, so it was gonna be hard for me to write a couple of songs. For sure though, if this goes well and there is another Chaos Magic album, I will definitely be showing my material.”
The duo’s inaugural affair mainly exhibits symphonic ingredients, although this isn’t the sole ingredient. “I think you can find several styles,” the frontwoman critiques. “There’s definitely heavy metal there, but symphonic metal mostly. You can find a little hard rock sometimes, and the songs are pretty catchy. There’s something there that I would say is similar to Amaranthe, or a little bit of Within Temptation. This is quite representative of that genre, of female-fronted bands. When we were planning how the album would sound, I proposed to Timo bands like Amaranthe, Within Temptation, Nightwish. I think he was already aware of these bands. You have to remember that he was the one who wrote the album – I didn’t have a chance to write anything – but that’s what we discussed. We knew beforehand how we wanted each song to sound.
“There’s people who think this might sound like Stratovarius because Timo’s involved (laughs), but it’s not like that. I think if people listen to this record though, they are gonna like it.”
In addition to authoring the musical passages for Chaos Magic’s initial material, Timo penned all of its corresponding lyrics. “I made minor changes, where I thought things could sound a little bit better or I thought would fit my voice a bit better,” Caterina augments. “The lyrics were written by him, though. We had a few ideas beforehand, which we talked about. I came up with a few names for the songs, but the lyrics this time are all him.
“Most of the lyrics and the spirit of the album are quite uplifting. We didn’t want to make anything apocalyptic nor did we want want to warn the world that humanity is coming to an end or anything, so most of the lyrics are things that people could relate to in everyday situations. They talk about trying to get out of a gloomy place, and going to somewhere where you can find yourself, and find positive things in your life. The message of the album is quite uplifting, I would say.”
Recording was undertaken in the members’ respective native countries. “I recorded my vocals here in Chile at a studio of a friend of mine, who I actually work a lot with,” the singer discloses. “They were recorded more than a year ago. Yeah, it took a long time for the album to be released. I can’t remember exactly when, but it was more than a year ago. I think we took two weeks to record the voices, and also, Timo took two weeks to record the album – he did engineering and production, as well. It was very fast. As I was saying earlier, it wasn’t difficult at all. Timo liked the things that I sent him right away.”
Having befriended Timo as well as having cut material with the axeman, Caterina has gotten to know the man somewhat. “Timo is a complex guy,” she describes. “When I met him, he was friendly. He was eager to interact with the fans, but some things have happened in his life, and he’s not that person any more. I just think he’s trying to heal himself. I’m not saying that he’s not friendly any more, or anything like that. It’s just that there are certain circumstances in his life. I hope he will become better. He was a brilliant musician, and he’s still a brilliant musician.”
The vocalist has also suffered from depression in the past. “Not as much as him, but yeah, we’ve both been in dark places at some points in our lives,” she confesses.
Chaos Magic’s artwork was designed by Caterina in collaboration with Frontiers. “I designed that along with Frontiers Records. I mean, I made a drawing of what I thought should be the artwork,” she clarifies. “I sent it to them, and they liked it very much. It was an interesting idea, mixing magic, religion, and spirituality.”
A music video was filmed for the track ‘I’m Alive’. “We picked that song, because of what I was saying about,” the frontwoman references. “It has a very uplifting message. I think it’s kind of helpful if you see it that way, because it talks about being in a dark place and trying to get out of it. We just shot the video here in Chile at an abandoned train station. We had so many problems; we were attacked by Murphy’s law (laughs). Everything that could go wrong, went wrong, but I stand by it (laughs).”
At the time of writing, the recording of further video clips isn’t planned. “That’s gonna depend on Frontiers, but for now that’s the only one,” Caterina explains.
The singer and Timo have discussed the possibility of crafting a second Chaos Magic affair. “We’ve talked about it, but it’s gonna depend on how the fans react to it,” she observes. “After all, this is a business. If it does well and it’s worth releasing another album, we’re definitely gonna do it. For now though, it’s too early to say.”
Musically speaking, Caterina currently has a sole focus. “Right now, I’m focusing on Chaos Magic and the future of the project,” she states. “I’m trying to get shows here locally; I’m trying to find venues and interested people who would like to participate. I don’t think Timo’s gonna be able to play live shows for the moment. If I play in Chile, it’s gonna be me and other musicians. So, for the moment we’re not having Timo considered for live shows. I’m gonna see how we’re gonna distribute the album in Chile and South America, because from what I know, Frontiers Records is only gonna distribute in Europe and the US. I still have a lot of work to do, and so I don’t have the time for another project. I’m focusing all of my energy on Chaos Magic right now.”
Chaos Magic was released on July 3rd, 2015 in Europe and subsequently on the 10th in North America, all via Frontiers Music Srl.
Interview published in July 2015.
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