Arcane Existence just released their new full-length Colossus. Kiera Pietrangelo, the band’s guitarist and founder answered some questions about it.
French version? – soon on french-metal.com
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! How would you introduce the band Arcane Existence without using the word “Metal”?
Kiera Pietrangelo (guitar): Cinematic fantasy mixed with heavy, fast, aggressive, melodic and catchy instrumentation and vocals.
Where does the name Arcane Existence come from? What is the link with the music you play?
Kiera: When creating the first album, I wanted to make a name that fit the style and theme of the first album without making it exclusive to that theme (such as incorporating “Once Upon a Time” into the name). I also wanted to use words that people could pronounce and recognize without the name already existing. I put down keywords that had the feeling I wanted (fantasy, mystical, magical, etc) and tried different combinations until one stuck. I then searched “Arcane Existence” on Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, YouTube and Google to see if anything came up that could interfere. There was one small band of kids from years ago on YouTube but they were playing completely different music, didn’t have many views (maybe less than a hundred) and weren’t active. So, I claimed it.
The band is about to release Colossus, its second album, how do you all feel about that?
Kiera: This album is a huge growth and a maturation of our sound as a cohesive band from the last album. The first album was treated as a solo project and this 2nd album was treated as a live, full band and the sound shows that. Everyone involved in the album played a big part on their instrument(s) and brought their best to the table. No matter how it’s received by others, we’re all very proud of this album.
This album is the first as a full band, what made you consider moving from a solo project to a full band?
Kiera: I never expected the first album to go far. This project was initially created as an outlet for me to create whatever Metal style I was feeling and into writing. Funny enough, the 2nd album was going to be more Depressive Black Metal if this stayed as a solo project. The first album made waves in the local scene so we (Eligio and myself) decided to get some local musicians in the band. I had to completely scrap the initial 2nd album idea and write with the idea that this is a full live band with people proficient with their instruments. I don’t regret making this a full band, I just couldn’t fathom it back when the first album dropped.
How does the composition process happen? What are the main changes you noticed with the first album?
Kiera: I typically start the songs with general compositional arrangement and guitar riffs. Going into the 2nd album, I had support with everyone’s respective instruments. I handed the songs to the rest of the band and everyone refined or even rewrote their own parts to make it into the masterpiece that it is now. I don’t have to stress as much on the other instruments now. I can trust that it’s in good hands as it has been and will continue to be.
Is there a story behind the album? What were you influenced by during the writing process? It can be music, art in general or something else.
Kiera: There’s definitely a story only this time, it’s our own original story. Jade and myself split up the lyrics but the overall theme is there. It’s a story about corruption and how it exists in positions of power no matter how “pure” the person may be. It also deals with the psychological side of this as the listener follows this cult member from killing the corrupt ruler to becoming that corrupt ruler themselves. When it comes to musical influences I drew from Carach Angren and classical pieces from the Romantic Era.
On this album, I felt a great sense of theatrical darkness, how did you manage to create such a balance between all elements?
Kiera: That balance was already there on the first album and has been a part of my writing for many years. For the guitars and drums, there needs to be room for the keys/orchestrations to come through. This can be done by simpler riffs or by just cutting them out all together (much like keyboard breaks). I also have to give credit to Becca for how wonderfully she crafted her keyboard parts.
Bobby Carroll (Cyborg Octopus, Raiju) plays guest guitar parts on Sovereign Blood and Castle on the Hill, how did you ask him to participate?
Kiera: I just messaged Bobby and asked. I’ve already known him from the local scene and shows and he was down to do the solos without question.
I personally love the contrast between wild growls and enchanting clean voice over majestic keyboards and rhythmic, how do you work as a vocal duo?
Kiera: A lot of the vocal dynamics are written in while Jade is doing her lyrics and scream patterns. We work out when we think singing should be there either layering or on its own. Becca also does her own backing vocals writing and vocal melodies. So, screams are done first and then Becca works in her parts and any other ideas she may have afterwards.
You already unveiled Sovereign Blood, Conclave and The Altar to introduce the album, why did you choose those ones? What was the guideline for the videoclip of The Altar?
Kiera: Choosing singles has got to be one of the hardest decisions since these are the only songs people are hearing for the first time off the new album. We tried to pick songs that show the growth of the band and are overall fun songs. We had been playing Sovereign Blood live for a while before the single came out and it was always a crowd favorite so it just made sense for it to be first. The Altar music video is bold and cinematic as we wanted our first music video to be exactly what we had dreamed for this song. The video contains an actual Altar and ritual to show transformation/rebirth, depending on how you interpret it. It was also a very fun concept and we had fun with the visuals and props that capture the band’s vibe.
Last year, Covid 19 began to fuck a lot of things up around the world, how did you deal with the situation as a band? Did the crisis have any impact on the album?
Kiera: It certainly delayed the album but it also gave us the time we needed to focus on finishing our studio time, making music videos and getting our visuals in order.
Even if the future is still full of doubts, do you have some plans for the band’s future you can tell us?
Kiera: We definitely want to tour the west coast. No solid dates or exact locations but it has been talked about for a while. There will also be a 3rd album but I can’t say any more than that.
How is the Metal scene in the USA? We of course all know very huge bands from the USA, but what about the underground scene?
Kiera: I think we’re fortunate with our location since the underground scene has tons of bands. Even the bands that are known on a national or international level are active in the underground and local scene and are generally fairly supportive of the local bands.
You probably answered this question a thousand times, but how is it to be a woman in the Metal scene? Did you face some criticism?
Kiera: I dealt with a lot of that criticism prior to Arcane Existence which is what inspired me to make the first album. I think the band itself hasn’t really faced much sexism as a whole though.
What was your first Metal album? Bought by yourself or offered by someone. What led you to the Extreme Metal universe?
Kiera: Evanescence, despite not really being Metal, was my gateway into darker music. Killswitch Engage’s The End of Heartache was my direct gateway as suggested by an online friend. I remember thinking the screaming was odd and kind of hilarious.
What do you love about your music that you cannot find in other band’s music?
Kiera: I think our style has a combination I have not heard or seen. We have Symphonic Metal elements in terms of vocals and melodies blended with Black Metal/Death Metal instrumentation. There aren’t a lot of Black and Death Metal bands with orchestrations that aren’t either Symphonic Metal or far too cluttered with everything going full speed at once. I’d consider our music more digestible and dynamic than most.
Do you have hobbies aside from music? Do you also have a job, or does your music income allow you to live?
Kiera: I spend a lot of my time practicing and writing music. During the new album release, especially, I manage the release material and have little time for other things. However, I also enjoy playing video games with friends or immersive single player games by myself. I work as a mechanical engineer to pay for my music needs.
What is your best and your worst experience as a musician ever?
Kiera: Best is an easy one. We opened for Arkona in late 2019 and it had to be our best show ever. The venue (The Chapel in SF) treated us very well from great sound and lighting to just all around treating us very kindly. I’ve definitely played some crappy venues before and I’d say the worst one was an Indian restaurant in SF. I really don’t know why we played there but this was many years ago before I had a more serious band.
Maybe you already heard about the french Metal scene? Which french bands do you know?
Kiera: I know France is known for some wacky original material like The Algorithm (love that guy), Igorrr, Corpo Mente, Gojira, Blut Aus Nord, and Svart Crown. I have yet to hear a french Metal band that sounds like any other band.
What if I ask you to compare Arcane Existence’s music with a dish? Which one and why?
Kiera: I think it’s fair to say that everyone in the band loves sushi (we’ve definitely had some sushi outings). In that respect, the best sushi roll that suits us would be the rainbow roll. The different fish represent the different genres and styles (could be literary genres or just the different vocal styles) and the regular california roll beneath represents the digestible part of this band. Layers of different things that ultimately come down to something we can all appreciate. The california roll could also be the instrumentation minus the keys and the fish are the vocals and keyboards. Sort of like the embellishments to something very common. There are many ways to go about it.
Are there some musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with on a song, or more?
Kiera: I’m very picky with collabs and features as I generally don’t like songs that have a featured artist on them. So, if I had to pick any artists to collab with I’d have to say Amy Lee (I’ve always wanted to hear her voice over something far heavier and faster) or Veronica from Fleshgod Apocalypse. I feel like they’d both give us something we wouldn’t make on our own stylistically.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Arcane Existence and three other bands!
Kiera: That’s an easy one, Dimmu Borgir, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Cradle of Filth. We could probably take in a Symphonic Metal band like Epica instead of one of the previously listed but it’s hard to replace any of them.
That was the last question for me! Thanks a lot for your time, last words are yours!
Kiera: Check out the new album Colossus coming out August 20th on all streaming platforms! All merch can also be found on our bandcamp, arcanexistence.bandcamp.com.