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Anthea: Exhilarating Symphonic Metal from Los Angeles

Anthea: Exhilarating Symphonic Metal from Los Angeles

Anthea: Exhilarating Symphonic Metal from Los Angeles

Anthea is an exhilarating Symphonic Metal Band from the legendary Los Angeles music scene ready to make their presence known well above and beyond the City Of Angeles.  In the grand tradition of Kamelot and Sonata Arctica, Anthea has now presented their debut album Illusion upon the world!  An absolutely stunning work of artistry, in addition to all of the superb musicianship found within, special guest appearances on Illusion include Chiara Tricarico of Moonlight Haze and Eric Meyers from CelladorHighwire Daze recently caught up with singer / keyboard player Diego Valadez to find out a whole lot more about Anthea and the supersonic world of Illusion.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Anthea, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Diego Valadez, I am the singer/keyboard player for Anthea. This all started as a solo project in order to record some symphonic metal songs that I had written. However, not long after we recorded those tracks, my buddy Peter Vasquez (drums) and I decided to form Anthea into an actual band so that we could perform those songs live. So as a band, we’ve been around playing all over the LA area since our first gig at the Whisky A Go-Go in October of 2015.

What do you think of our local Los Angeles music scene pre-pandemic days and how did Anthea fit into the scheme of things?
The metal scene in Los Angeles is great! I’ve been gigging in LA since my high school days and, in my experience, there has always been an awesome underground metal scene that continues today! We seriously have some phenomenal metal musicians here in LA that I think deserve more attention. However, I will say that when we first started Anthea, I was a little worried about how we would be received in the local scene. Most of the bands around here tend to lean more towards thrash, black, and death metal whereas we’re more focused on trying to create beautiful melodies and orchestrations. It turns out, however, that I was worried for nothing. Our music has been very well received in the local community and we’ve been told by countless people that they find it refreshing to hear something that they haven’t really heard in the local metal community. It also probably helps that, despite being a primarily symphonic metal band, we all grew up listening and loving those more brutal sub-genres and I do think it comes out in some of our own songs like “Eclipse” or “Illusion” for example.

How did you wind up signing with Rockshot Records?
Throughout late 2018, early 2019, we had been self-releasing some singles that actually got a lot more attention than we had anticipated. So later that year, we announced that we would be re-recording those singles and adding a couple of new songs to create a new EP. Not long after that announcement, we were contacted by Rockshots Records. They basically told us that if we were to record a full-length album rather than just an EP, they would offer us a record deal. We decided to go for it and we couldn’t be happier with how things worked out!

Is there any overall story or concept behind the Illusion title?
Not exactly. Musically, we were aiming to set an overall tone so that Illusion would feel like a true album rather than just a collection of songs. Lyrically though, the songs are all independent from one another.

Select two songs from Illusion and what inspired the lyrics.
Each song is either about a personal experience or just a topic that I find genuinely interesting. For example, “Eclipse” is probably the darkest sounding song on the album. It was inspired by an episode of sleep paralysis that I had when I was around 14 years old. I remember seeing shadow figures entering my bedroom and a demonic face approaching me. It only happened to me once but it definitely left an impression. So for those who don’t know, when you’re experiencing sleep paralysis you’re not really asleep but you’re not quite awake either. So that’s what I’m referring to with lyrics like “Eclipsing of dimensions between awareness and sleep, deception of nocturnal poetry.” Our brains can be deceptive little tricksters.

Then you have a more positive song like “Reach” for example. This song was written as self-motivation but I hope others can take something from it as well. Essentially the lyrics are telling the listener that we all have that inner voice that causes us to doubt our own abilities to accomplish something. However, we shouldn’t allow that mentality to overwhelm us. Instead, we should focus on what could be achieved if we put forth the effort. Even if things don’t work out as planned, there is still comfort in knowing that you gave it your all. “A dream comes alive, the journey is bright if you strive toward your epiphany.

Who produced Illusion and what was it like working with them?
That guy was a total nightmare to work with to be completely honest. He didn’t know what he was doing half the time, he was constantly googling how to accomplish this or that, and he ate all of my food! Also, that guy was me. This was my first time producing an album and I really do feel like I learned a lot in the process. So much so, that I feel very comfortable sitting in the producer’s chair now and can’t wait to work on the next one, which I’m sure will go a lot smoother.

Who did the cover art for Illusion and how much input did you have on it?
The artwork was done by Ricky Silva of Interfectum Studios. He’s been doing our artwork from the very beginning and never disappoints! On this one, we basically just sent him the lyrics for the title song “Illusion” and let him do his thing. The only real note we gave was that we wanted the artwork to represent the feeling of a strong internal struggle. As always, Ricky fully understood what we were going for and we feel like he captured it perfectly!

How did Chiara Tricarico of Moonlight Haze and Ravenworld become involved with the song Moirai and what was it like working with her?
I met Chiara back in 2017 back when she was singing in Temperance and I was the keyboard player for Cellador. We played the Evoken Fest in Japan together, and we just got along really well. After hearing her sing live, I knew immediately that if we ever needed a female voice on a song, she would be the first person that I would contact. So after I had written Moirai, I sent her a demo and she loved the idea of singing on the track. She totally understood the concept of the song and gave such a beautiful performance! It actually worked out perfectly, since so much of that song deals with the idea of how we’re all interconnected, having 2 voices from across the world singing together really fit the theme.

How did Eric Meyers of Cellador become involved with the song The Light Divine?
Eric and I are still very good friends from our days in Cellador together! One day when we were talking, I had mentioned that Anthea was about to start working on a debut album. He said he’d love to have a guest solo somewhere on the record so I made sure to have a spot for him. The Light Divine is probably our most intricate song in terms of musicianship, so I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to let Eric give us one of his signature shreddy guitar solos and the end result is killer!

What has it been like to release a new album right in the middle of a pandemic? Have you had any shows or tours cancelled because of it?
Well we were actually starting to wrap on the album right as things were shutting down in mid-March. Being stuck at home gave me an opportunity as a first time producer to fine-tune the album and get it to sound exactly the way I had in mind. The critical and fan response has been overwhelmingly positive! Maybe people have more time to listen to new music these days, I don’t know. I guess we’re just making the best out of a bad situation.

We did have some shows lined up, luckily most of them hadn’t been announced yet. However, we were looking forward to a gig that we had lined up with Amaranthe, Battle Beast, and Seven Spires. That would have been back in September, but that gig is now on indefinite hold so I guess we’ll see when/if that happens. To me, the thing that sucks the most about releasing a new album right now is that you can’t go out and perform your new material live which is normally the most exciting part of releasing an album.

What could one expect from a live Anthea show?
We just love performing and I think people can sense that when they go to an Anthea show. We always aim to give the audience a high-energy metal show with a massive cinematic orchestral sound. If you want to see just a tiny glimpse of what the looks like, I recommend checking out our music video for the song “Illusion” which uses footage from our last couple of shows in 2019.

If Anthea could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
The obvious ones like Iron Maiden or Megadeth come to mind, but the first band that I ever saw live was Sonata Arctica. Opening for them would symbolize things coming full circle in a way. Plus all of us in Anthea is highly influenced by Sonata Arctica so that would just be cool in general.

Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Anthea?
Yeah, everyone in Anthea is involved with projects outside of this one. I myself am still technically a member of Cellador although we aren’t currently very active. I also would like to eventually do some Film/ TV/ Video Game music scoring. Our guitarists Marcos Mejia and Juan Pina are both in the black metal band Warwind. The two of them, along with our drummer Peter Vasquez, are also in Angel Sinestro. Eric “EJ” Guerrero also has his own industrial project called E.Ject.

What do you hope 2021 brings for Anthea?
We’re already brainstorming some new song ideas. The big question within the band right now is whether to release a follow-up album sometime in 2021, or hold off until 2022 in order to give our debut “Illusion” some proper live concerts and tours. Either way, we have absolutely no plans of slowing down any time soon!

Any final words of wisdom?
Initially when things began shutting down, I was quoted as saying to use this time to your advantage and to work on all of those artistic projects that you always wanted to work on. While that still holds true, I do want to say that you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you didn’t learn 42 languages and write 15 consecutive best selling novels by the time this is all over. All of that is extracurricular. Prioritize your own mental health first, keep in contact with your loved ones, even if it’s virtually, and then, if you feel up to it, go ahead and write that screenplay or become the world’s greatest kazoo player, whatever your thing is. Stay safe, and stay metal!

Album Credits:
Diego Valadez – Vocals/Keys
Juan Pina – Guitar/Screams
Marcos Mejia – Guitar
Eric Guerrero – Bass
Peter Vasquez – Drums

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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