CZARINA The Fox’s Wedding

A film by The Kitsunés, ‘The Fox’s Wedding’ is both inspired by the East Asian folklore and legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s short film of the same title.

From ‘Arcana’, the acclaimed second album of Warrior Goth by New York born CZARINA, the immaculate visual presentation is directed by her and her husband DeadlyKawaii who together are The Kitsunés. It sees East embrace West with a nod to deep roots and lineage, following three mischievous children entering a magical forest filled with fantastical creatures and stumbling upon a magical wedding procession that they secretly follow.

As has been central to all previous CZARINA videos, care and attention has been applied to location and props. Filmed in the Spanish region of Galicia, there are hand painted masks with both Asian and Galician floral motifs as well as a traditional Galician Sporran.

CZARINA chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of ‘The Fox’s Wedding’ and her future plans…

Out of the remaining tracks on the ‘Arcana’ album, what made you feel ‘The Fox’s Wedding’ deserved a video treatment?

I wrote ‘The Fox’s Wedding’ as the wedding march song for my and DeadlyKawaii’s wedding. We got married on Winter Solstice 5 years ago, but we had a low key ceremony and celebrations in New York at the time as our families were sprawled across 3 different continents. We are still hopeful to have a grand ceremony here in Galicia with our families together where we can actually utilise the song. But for now, we figured to work on a video that can visually elaborate on the magic that inspired the song, as well as a Winter Solstice offering to close Arcana before I move on to the next record.

Who is “The Fox”?

Both bride and groom in the video, along with the entire entourage. We just went with the singular “Fox” following the traditional title for the Asian folklore – in this case, the Japanese version, “Kitsune No Yomeiri.

It’s interesting how foxes are vilified by the English Aristocracy and other Western cultures but Ancient Chinese traditions admired them?

The tale of the Fox Spirit – called kitsune in Japan, kumiho in Korea, and huli jing or Nine Tails in China and other parts of Asia – is a massive part of the diasporic traditional folklore of Asia.  Magical creatures, shapeshifters and demi-gods seen as both benevolent and malevolent in their role in maintaining cosmic balance as karmic deliverers, fox spirits are said to have brought downfall to certain dynastic empires.  But the legend of ‘The Fox’s Wedding’ is one that has been quite popular and has received numerous beautiful depictions throughout Asian history to today.  We wanted to capture a lot of the details of the legend in the video – from the sunshine rain to the kitsunebi ghost lights that appear in the forest and of course, the mischievous trickery and final reveal at the very end of the video.

Were the lit paper lanterns and boats inspired by the imagery of Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival?

Yes, we wanted to bring some of the most beautiful Asian traditions into the ambience, especially the dance of lights and the lantern boats from Chinese Mid-Autumn festival and DuanWu. The video is a unique amalgam of Asian traditions mixed with Galician to reflect both my and DeadlyKawaii’s diverse lineage and backgrounds.  We wanted to weave that beautiful visual tapestry that bridges the East with the West.  I always felt like it’s our personal duty with this project to symbolically communicate this bridge in both art and music, and this video gave the platform to showcase this.

The designs on the entourage’s fox masks were inspired by Sargadelos – which is the iconic Galician porcelain and ceramic wares found all over the region.  The entourage also wore blue robes as that is the official colour of Galicia.  Whereas the bride and groom have a mix of traditional Asian ceremonial attire with Galician motifs and accessories like the Galician Sporran, with their fox masks symbolising nature and the cosmos.

The faerie creatures that appear were also a mix – from kodamas or “tree spirits” found in Japanese folklore, also called nuno in Filipino, to the horned forest guardians found in Gaelic and Druid legends.

How was it directing the child stars in the story?

It was so much fun working with the kids! I felt we got very lucky because they were so perfect and such natural talents.  The two boys, Tico and Torgas, are the fraternal twins of our associate producer, and the girl Charlotte is their friend from school whom they eagerly suggested we cast. So they already have that natural bond with each other and were funny and goofy, yet curious at the same time.  We usually film our own videos, but this time we enlisted the help of Galician cinematographer, Raul Lorenzo, who worked with us in directing the kids for the shots.  All their shots were so precious and hilarious, so it was quite hard to choose what would go in the final edit. They did a beautiful and tremendous job ushering the audience into the magic and throughout.

You played for the first time in Germany at Dark Dance Treffen recently, how was it and are you doing more?

Performing at Dark Dance Treffen so far is one of my greatest highlights. I really had a great time at the festival and getting to know the German dark music and alternative scene.  The scene was quite next-level and I was truly in awe by how cool and awesome they are. And yes, I would love to do a tour in Germany soon and do more fests. The next dark fest I’ll be performing at is at the iconic Castle Party in Poland in July 2024.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to CZARINA

‘The Fox’s Wedding’ is from the album ‘Arcana’ released by darkTunes Music Group, available from https://czarinaofficial.bandcamp.com/






Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
22 December 2023

CZARINA The Outsider

Following the cult acclaim for her second album ‘Arcana’, CZARINA returns with a dark electro take on alternative rock band A PERFECT CIRCLE’s 2004 single ‘The Outsider’.

Pushing the song into a more baroque Gothic direction which manages to caress and ravage vocally, there are hints of DEPECHE MODE and THE CURE in the synthesized filmic arrangement, particularly in the stringy resonances of the latter’s ‘Lullaby’. The track will be part of the ‘Sacred Geometry: A Tribute to A PERFECT CIRCLE’ tribute compilation by Coitus Interruptus Productions who also put together the JAPAN tribute album ‘Still Life In Polaroids’ on which CZARINA featured.

Based in the Spanish region Galicia facing both the Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian Sea, New Yorker Vero Faye Kitsuné, who makes her art under the imperial nom de théâtre of CZARINA, takes her more recent mystical inspiration from her relocation, projecting the vast landscape with a cosmic presence in her visual presentations.

CZARINA chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of ‘The Outsider’ and its impressive video which was made with her husband / creative partner DeadlyKawaii under their two-man production umbrella The Kitsunés on a limited budget…

What inspired you darkly synth up A PERFECT CIRCLE’s ‘The Outsider’?

The original track and performance are so iconic of A PERFECT CIRCLE, of Maynard James Keenan and of that particular era in music that it is hallowed ground. (The song and their record, ‘Thirteenth Step’, just turned 20 years old!)

I have to carefully dissect, deconstruct the composition and arrangements, and then drastically rebuild without deviating from the original chord structure and vocal melodies. My goal was to give the song my own perspective, spin and dynamic qualities, without repeating what was already done, and bring it to a very different and unique space through a new set of lens. During production, a lot of my other influences also came to mind in the process. There’s a bit of THE CURE, Siouxsie and Kate Bush vibes in there.

But I didn’t set out to do just a darkwave or synth pop version. I wanted to push my production and performance while maintaining the song’s gripping intensity – especially the visceral anger – but also give it an otherworldly, enigmatic atmosphere that feels ancient – almost like “a call from home” or “return to senses” type of thing. It was fun writing and integrating the string section, the choir and a new piano / synths topline melody against the arps and the heavy drums which I kept in that dark alternative / epic rock style of performance along with the vocals.

The original was driven by Billy Howerdel’s guitars so I felt it was only proper to throw in a very brief Phrygian mode guitar performance. The mix of various elements gave the song some new facets and dimension. As there were a lot of layers and parts going on at the same time (typical with most of my production work), my co-producer, mixing and mastering engineer, Von Hertzog (VHxRR, INFORMATION SOCIETY) had to dial in all the moving parts in analog to get that wide full range in dynamics. He gave the mix some massive cojonés. The result felt like a whole different world emerged from the core of the original song itself.

The video is suitably picturesque, mystical and uses drones, how did you come up with the concept?

I wanted to give the song a different meaning as to how it relates in a larger scale. We wanted to paint the visuals with a bit of nostalgic, cosmic fantasy and color – make it fun yet thoughtful. DeadlyKawaii and I created this alien, celestial world using all the surreal, beautiful surroundings available to us here in our home in Costa Da Morte, Galicia and convey the song from the view point of a true, yet curious and playful “Outsider” in the form of a dark astral entity looking in and pondering over humanity (or perhaps, another hopeless race of intelligent yet terribly misguided beings entering final stages of its cosmic cycle and really screwing things up in their home planet.)

We see this Outsider see truth, come to full realization, absorb and charge up some power to initiate the final act of judgement and become the source of destruction – not necessarily out of anger or contempt, but rather out of duty in the cycle of Creation as Karmic messenger and deliverer. We wanted the final performance to carry a tinge of sadness while delivering the final death blow.

When I was writing the treatment, I was focusing on the lyrics “You’re pounding on a fault line” and how it relates to stories of Judgement in esoteric mysticism. Some of these tales are echoed within video games I loved playing during my youth like the ‘Final Fantasy’ series (FF7 is my favorite) where humanity is being challenged to take action to prove their worth and turn things around or face demise in the form of “the terror from the skies” or a great tempest and deluge.

We wanted to exhibit the elements borrowed from this particular mix of ancient and modern sources and share our own thoughts on how society has created and long maintained unsustainable, destructive and hurtful systems in constant pursuit of decadence that would be responsible for fast-tracking humanity’s eventual death along with the planet and all creatures. Hence the question, “What would it take to get thru to you, precious?”. We see ripples of consequences cascading now with all the destruction by various forces of nature happening simultaneously in different parts of the world due to climate change. The video is trying to give that message and reminder a signal boost even though it is probably too late.

You recently did a cover of ‘Halloween’ for the JAPAN tribute album ‘Still Life In Polaroids’, is there a spiritual link with ‘The Outsider’ at all?

Both songs vividly paint and articulate the heightened emotions of emotional and mental crises and distress behind relationship breakdowns. Though JAPAN’s ‘Halloween’ was more painterly, atmospheric and cryptic in its writing, whereas A PERFECT CIRCLE’s ‘The Outsider’ was direct, aggressive and confrontational, I find both songs together emote the movements and reverberations of the painful fight for love, the weight of attachment and the despair that comes with eventual loss in full spectrum- from realization, hurt, anger, trauma to healing, self-reflection, and ultimately, acceptance, resignation and resolve. Both writers seem to urge us to feel the feels, but also look at ourselves deeply in the mirror, purge, release and transmute pain and move forward towards a higher direction. As long as we know how to navigate and move forward, we will always be ok.

Your 2022 album ‘Arcana’ attracted some critical acclaim in the independent online press, how do you look back on the making of it and its reception?

I’m overjoyed and humbled that the record resonated. ‘Arcana’ gave me the affirmation to always follow my gut and stay true and authentic to the vision and what I want to do. Von and I often talk about how the record pushed both of us, and we got somewhere new and vast. My own production is often huge, hairy and monstrous: multi-layered with lots of instruments – synths, orchestral and electronic parts on top of dynamic vocals. That’s just my natural inclination when I write and produce music. And Von is like the mad scientist who figures out how to balance and make the layered harmonics work thru various analogue mixing and mastering techniques to get to that giant, expansive range. I felt like we did something new and rare and I finally got to a sound I can call my own. It’s like opening a new portal and we had to crack several codes to get to it. The process was challenging but incredibly rewarding and exciting in the end. I’m very excited to work on the next one and see how this project evolves further in its own universe.

What’s next for CZARINA, live and recording wise?

I’ll be performing at European Dark Dance Treffen in Mannheim in November, which I’m excited for! My first time to play Germany and a gothic fest. I am closing the Arcana chapter of this project with one final music video dropping mid-December for the track ‘The Fox’s Wedding’. It is immediately followed by a really fun collab with a video game-inspired music video with my DarkTunes label boss, Extize, coming end of December. My third album is also now in the works which I hope to release sometime in 2024, along with more tour and festival dates here in the EU.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to CZARINA

‘The Outsider’ is released by darkTunes Music Group as a digital single on the usual platforms, available from https://czarinaofficial.bandcamp.com/

European Dark Dance Treffen takes place 16 – 19 November 2023, the line-up includes CZARINA, BLUETENGEL, COVENANT, DAS ICH, BOYTRONIC + many more, tickets available from https://helterskelter.ticketshop.live/EDDT-2023/





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
22 September 2023


Photo by Tapio Normall

It was hoped to be a year of positive electricity but with the oddball burst of negative waves, 2022 was summed up by the title of its best album.

The product of Finnish duo SIN COS TAN, ‘Living In Fear’ captured the anxieties of living with The Bear Next Door in a post-pandemic world. With billionaires taking over social media with the intent of allowing the extreme right wing an increased voice, it was as if the lessons of Trump and Bolsonaro had not been learned.

‘The Wolves Are Returning’ warned xPROPAGANDA on a track from their excellent album ‘The Heart Is Strange’, the message coming from two Germans whose grandparents’ generation “did nothing” and had made the mistake of opening up the door to the Nazis was extremely poignant.

It was as if The Cold War had never ended; the poetry of one who has escaped ethnic genocide and been separated from next of kin as a refugee has substance. So for Alanas Chosnau on his second album with Mark Reeder, this was ‘Life Everywhere’ and provided a deeper statement on life during wartime. Meanwhile China’s STOLEN presented their ‘Eroded Creation’ and explained ‘Why We Follow’.

Battles both worldwide and personal were being reflected in music everywhere with ‘War’ by I SPEAK MACHINE being another example. Things did not get much cheerier with Rodney Cromwell whose long-awaited second long player ‘Memory Box’ provided commentary on a sadly post-truth world, the so-called “alternative facts” as Donald Trump’s extremely dim advisor Kellyanne Conway liked to put it.

The decade so far has not been a barrel of laughs and the likes of UNIFY SEPARATE, BOY HARSHER, O+HER, NNHMN, VANDAL MOON and ADULT. captured the zeitgeist of the past 3 years.

Meanwhile, MECHA MAIKO maintained it was still ‘NOT OK’, I AM SNOW ANGEL felt it was now a ‘Lost World’ and Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO made their comeback by reflecting on ‘Sad Cities’.

As sardonic as ever, DUBSTAR presented their second collection of kitchen sink dramas since they reconfigured as a duo with ‘Two’ and reunited with producer Stephen Hague for their most acclaimed record since their 1995 debut ‘Disgraceful’.

On a more optimistic note, Italians Do It Better brought their cinematic world to London with headline shows by DESIRE and MOTHERMARY who each had new long form releases to air, while shyness was nice for the most promising breakthrough act of the year Gemma Cullingford who got all ‘Tongue Tied’ on her second long player. Meanwhile DAWN TO DAWN, ULTRAFLEX and H/P offered electronically escapist solutions to the year,

But KID MOXIE was happy to ‘Shine’ with the best video of 2022 while CZARINA got mystical with ‘Arcana’, Karin Park looked back at her ‘Private Collection’ and Patricia Wolf explored ambience on ‘See-Through’. Other female talent that shone brightly in 2022 included Norway’s SEA CHANGE, Sweden’s Hanna Rua, Alina Valentina from The Netherlands, Mexican Valentina Moretti and Anglo-French avant songstress Julia-Sophie but sister / brother duos MINIMAL SCHLAGER and SPRAY proved siblings could continue to work well together in synth.

40 years after the release of their debut album ‘Happy Families’, BLANCMANGE returned home to London Records for a ‘Private View’ while mainman Neil Arthur was keeping himself busy with FADER too. Having being shelved for 30 years, the second ELECTRIBE 101 album ‘Electribal Soul’ finally saw the light of day. And some 39 years after it was first conceived, the lost Warren Cann and Hans Zimmer opus ‘Spies’ was released in a new 21st Century recording by the HELDEN Project’s lead vocalist Zaine Griff.

Although PET SHOP BOYS celebrated their career with the magnificent ‘Dreamworld’ tour for the best live event of 2022 and joined SOFT CELL in the ‘Purple Zone’, Marc Almond and David Ball presented the disclaimer ‘*Happiness Not Included’ before announcing that they would be performing at a run of outdoor events in 2023 despite having stated their 2018 O2 extravaganza would be their last.

Also having declared a final album in 2014, RÖYKSOPP returned with the triple volumed ‘Profound Mysteries’ that featured Susanne Sundfør and Alison Goldfrapp.

Veterans Howard Jones, William Orbit, Jean-Michel Jarre and Wolfgang Flür as well as long-standing Nordic combos LUSTANS LAKEJER and A-HA released new albums but while the quality across the releases was mixed, fans were loyal and happy. After various trials and tribulations, TEARS FOR FEARS returned with ‘The Tipping Point’ and erased memories of the lacklustre 2004 comeback ‘Everybody Loves A Happy Ending’, but the duo were unable to capitalise when the majority of the UK concert tour of stately homes was cancelled due to an unfortunate accident that befell Curt Smith.

Creating a dehumanised technologically dependent Sci-Fi world, DIE KRUPPS opted for more machine than metal under their EBM pseudonym DIE ROBO SAPIENS. With NASA making its first steps back to the moon with the Artemis project, fittingly Italian producer EUGENE spent ‘Seven Years In Space’ and Ireland’s CIRCUIT3 looked back at space travel’s past on ‘Technology For The Youth’. Back on earth, THE WEEKND was still being accused of stealing from synthwave while coming up with the song of the year in ‘Less Than Zero’. In the meantime, having infuriated audiences by saying “f*ck that ‘synthwave’ stuff as u name it” in 2018, KAVINSKY was ‘Reborn’ with a second album that had much less of the wave and expanded into broader electronically generated templates with the occasional funkier overtones.

Celebrating ‘40 Years Of Hits’ on a sell-out arena tour and issuing a new album ‘Direction Of The Heart’ which featured a guest appearance by Russell Mael of SPARKS on the single ‘Traffic’ with the obligatory ‘Acoustic Mix’, as the excellent book ‘Themes For Great Cities’ by Graeme Thomson highlighted, the best years of SIMPLE MINDS are now well behind them. They are a poor facsimile of the great band they once were and as a special Summer concert in Edinburgh in honour of ‘New Gold Dream’ proved, Jim Kerr and Co can’t even play their best album properly.

Music-related books continued to be popular with Martyn Ware and Karl Bartos respectively writing their memoirs ‘Electronically Yours Vol1’ and ‘The Sound Of The Machine’. In a wider historical context, that crucial 1978-1983 period where electronic pop was more or less invented got documented in the encyclopaedic ‘Listening To The Music The Machines Make’ by Richard Evans.

2022 saw several prominent figures depart for the jukebox in the sky; Vangelis, Manuel Göttsching, Angelo Badalamenti, Julee Cruise, Dave Smith, Herb Deutsch, Terry Hall, Robert Marlow and Andy Fletcher will be sadly missed but ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK was particularly devasted by the passing of German electronic legend Klaus Schulze only 4 days after he gave a rare interview to the site.

Meanwhile Dave Gahan and Martin Gore announced yet another tour of underwhelming arena shows plonked into stadiums for an as-yet-unfinished album that at least had a title ‘Momento Mori’. Ticketscalper took advantage with so-called dynamic pricing (or legalised touting) as hapless Devotees were fleeced thousands of dollars in North America… all this just to see a continually ungrateful frontman (who didn’t even sing is own words on a DEPECHE MODE song until 2005) gesture with a microphone in the air on a catwalk rather than actually singing on it and to possibly hear a pre-1985 song performed that will inevitably ruined by The Drumhead and The Noodler!

As Juls Garat of Massachusetts goth band PILGRIMS OF YEARNING observed via social media: “If you’re spending a kidney on DEPECHE MODE tickets and not attending a local show this weekend, I don’t wanna see you complaining that there’s no scene, local venues or new music anymore”. With the lack of curiosity amongst audiences who were content with nostalgia and the like, it was a difficult year for independent acts.

There is no easy answer and as the old saying goes, you can take a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink. But one promoter that did hit on an innovative idea was Duskwaves who came up with afternoon synth gigs. Hosted at various locations in the South East of England with the aim of drumming up daytime weekend business at venues, events started at 2.00pm and ended by 6.00pm to allow for an easy journey home or possibly dinner afterwards. Artists such as YOUNG EMPRESS, INFRA VIOLET, STRIKE EAGLE and AUW joined in the family friendly fun and while the concept was unusual, with classic synth audiences not getting any younger, it has potential.

While the worldwide situation remains uncomfortable and unsettling, for The Cold War generation, it all seemed strangely familiar. As Jori Hulkkonen of SIN COS TAN said in an interview with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK recently: “It feels kind of comfortable to be back in that same state of mind that you grew up in!! It’s like you grew up in not a nice place, but you get 20-30 years out of it and then you get drawn back into The Cold War state of mind. It’s where I come from and there’s nothing good about it, but somehow feels very familiar so you can handle it in a different way”.

The Cold War inspired songs such as ‘Enola Gay’, ‘Fireside Favourite’, ‘All Stood Still’, ‘Let’s All Make A Bomb’, ‘I Melt With You’, ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ and ‘Five Minutes To Midnight’ which encapsulated the nuclear paranoia of the times. So if the current tensions go on any longer, how will artistic expression be affected and driven?

But as Synthesizer Patel actor Sanjeev Kohli wittily remarked of the UK’s 41 day Prime Minister aka Mad Lizzie following her successful leadership bid: “Liz Truss has now been trusted with the nuclear button. I honestly wouldn’t trust her with the bossanova button on a broken Yamaha keyboard”.

In a year which saw the bizarre scenario of a black vicar worshipping Enoch Powell on the repulsive gammon TV channel GB News and the truth about Tory PPE scandals becoming clearer, Richy Sunak, Ugly Patel, Cruella Braverman and Krazi Kwarteng continued to be the ultimate race traitors in their Westminster tribute band A FLOCK OF SIEG HEILS. Failing to look in the mirror, their role as collaborators was all as part of a wider self-serving mission to help keep the whites Reich and line the pockets of their already loaded banker mates instead of paying nurses a fair wage. Nurses are for life and not just for Covid. So what did happen to that £350 million promised for the NHS by that pompous lying posh boy Boris Johnson if Brexit happened? As Tim Burgess of THE CHARLATANS summed it all up rather succinctly on Twitter: “Worth remembering that the real enemy travels by private jet, not by dinghy” ✊😉

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 2022 playlist ‘Stay Negative To Be Positive’ playlist can be listened to at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4Mw0Fn10yNZQcrGzod98MM

Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd December 2022

CZARINA Interview

Located in the Iberian Peninsula on the North West of Spain above Portugal, Galicia is the home of dark electro artist CZARINA.

With lush green surroundings as well facing both the Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian Sea, Galicia is the perfect dynamic space to inspire the cosmic mystical presence of CZARINA. An eclectic mix of synthpop, orchestral baroque pop, gothic new age and prog rock, ‘Arcana’ is the title of her sophomore long player. Latin for “mysteries” or “secrets”, ‘Arcana’ celebrates life, love and the laws of the universe. The imperial nom de théâtre of Vero Faye Kitsuné, CZARINA combines transcendentalism, new age mysticism and the future world with a discipline inspired by Budo martial arts.

With the imminent release of the lavish thoughtfully designed ‘Arcana’ package and its associated artefacts, the New York native kindly spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of her second long player and her range of artistic interests.

‘Arcana’ is a fierce album…

‘Arcana’ is the record I should have debuted this project with. The huge dynamics really mirror the emotional depths I’ve been wanting to express for a long time. But I needed more time to develop, learn more hard lessons, and gain more perspective in order to develop the sound and the record’s spirit. It took a lot of honesty and diving into who I am, my life history and how I was being shaped. I led a very intense life filled with so many lessons, cycles and completions.

My challenge was to articulate all the various eras and chapters I’ve had and all that I’ve learned into an eclectic, yet cohesive sound that would all seamlessly work as a record. I think I have achieved that in ‘Arcana’. It’s fierce, it’s intense, it’s cerebral and emotional, but also conscious, loving and battle-worn at the same time. Well, because that’s really who I am. I needed to create the art and mythology that are reflective of me and how I now view all that surrounds me.

Was adopting a Warrior Woman persona for this record quite cathartic?

There is that little monk warrior inside that needed to come out, so it’s hardly an adoption 🙂

But being able to come out as non-binary just recently, being who I truly am, not being boxed into constructs and letting that resonate in the sound is freeing. Writing the songs and working on the production definitely allowed me to get the kind of catharsis I’ve been needing for so long. I did let out a good, hard cry when the production was finished.

The influences are very eclectic but ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK can hear Florence, Siouxsie and Karin?

Florence Welch, Siouxie Sioux, and Karin Dreijer are definitely influential in a way that they do have their own sound, and I take a lot of comfort in listening to their uniqueness. In a music world that tries to homogenise artists’ sounds these days, I think uniqueness and a very nuanced performance and personality are all very important. However, my biggest influences are actually the prog metal band TOOL and their singer / lyricist Maynard James Keenan’s projects – the dark alt rock supergroup A PERFECT CIRCLE, and the art rock band PUSCIFER. I grew up listening to them and I still do to this day. Also Björk, the late Dolores O’Riordan and Enya all share that kind of spirit that influenced and shaped my own development years in music that are all being reflected now.

Many of the tracks are highly percussive, where does this energy come from?

Even though I am predominantly an electronic and synth musician these days, I did start in prog rock over 20 years ago as a songwriter, lead singer and guitarist, and my love for odd meters and polyrhythms remain strong to this day. I love a good, solid and super tight rhythm section, even though I am not fond of dealing with a band or session musicians in the writing and production process. I love writing complex drums parts with depths and layers on my own. My masculine and cerebral side really come through in that element. But also there is something satisfying and therapeutic about it that brings me to a very zen state in the midst of thunderous, controlled percussive chaos. It’s like being in the eye of a storm you are in control of.

Recording live drums in a home studio is never straightforward so how did you get the rhythmic colours and vibe that you sought, particularly on a frantic electronic rock number like ‘Lost Lands’?

CZARINA: I use mostly VSTs these days and I just lay all my drum parts on MIDI, happily slaving over and meticulously piecing the parts one by one, as though creating a multi-colored tapestry. I do perform them on the MIDI to generate that nuanced delivery. I’m also a visual artist, so I tend to also see rhythmic patterns visually, which always helps with creating polyrhythms.

I have a Roland V-Kit, which I use to sample from time to time. My co–producer on the record, Von Hertzog (The Social Club), also gave some clever drum production input on tracks like ‘Wonderland’ where he added a touch of congas under the hi-hats to get that nice, rippled top-end syncopation, and on ‘The Fox’s Wedding’ where he took my timpanis and added and tweaked additional layers to give it that wide-ranging depth. Production details like that have become so important in sculpting the percussions throughout the record. So on that note, I’m a very excellent drummer on MIDI, just don’t make me perform them on real drums. We will need Danny Carey for that or a drummer with 12 limbs. 😀

Is ‘Medusa’ about anyone or any situation in particular?

‘Medusa’ is a #MeToo song, and talks about the ancient Greek myth the song was inspired by. According to the myth, Medusa was defiled by Poseidon in Athena’s temple, but was the one who got blamed and punished. Hence, the cynical tone in the chorus lines, “Cuz I’m the predator, I’m the predator.”

For a long time, Medusa was deemed as a monstrous figure and an outcast – just the way a lot of strong, female entities have always been vilified throughout history. Only until recently, her story has been turned around, and today Medusa has become quite the symbol of feminine rage. I definitely personally could relate as someone who’s experienced (and still experience) the occasional misogyny, gross racism and micro-transgressions especially growing up in a tough city and revelling in highly-competitive industries and music communities. It’s never easy being a strong person of colour – especially one that has been born female, while trying to make your mark in the world. There is definitely Medusa inside who’s always on edge, thirsty for justice, always wanting to set things right and have zero tolerance for unjust behaviour.

Titles like ‘Celestial Satellites’ and ‘Til The Last Star (Cosmos)’ indicate that you indeed do look up, what fascinates you about the sky and how does it permeate into your work?

Our house stands right by the water and every night when we walk our pup Hamlet on the beach, our most favorite thing my husband DeadlyKawaii and I do is look up and watch the stars during these walks and be completely immersed in their beauty. (Sometimes we do see weird things that we couldn’t explain). As the old wayfarers and seafarers would say (and before GPS systems) – one could never get lost as long as one knows how to read the stars.

I’m deeply in love with nature and the cosmos – all the greater things that are outside of ourselves. It is a reminder that we are really small, and humanity only makes up a tiny fraction of this grand architecture and universal consciousness. It’s humbling and I do surrender all of myself to it all. With that said, I am very New Age, and I lean on a lot of esoteric traditions and holistic definitions of the divine.

‘Excelsior’ has a delightful Pagan eccentricity like NIKI & THE DOVE?

‘Excelsior’ definitely has Pagan undercurrents. It’s actually my favourite song in the record because of its feral and raw complexities, the range it carries, and how it seamlessly shifts from one polyrhythm to another before wailing into giant, exhilarating crescendos like a mad winged creature. It’s the most complex composition I have ever written, produced and also performed. It’s super fun to perform it live. The music video for it is a wild one as well.

You moved to Europe comparatively recently, is it ‘Wonderland’?

Galicia is absolutely my Wonderland. This place is really magical and carries that energy. I feel like I’m in a Ghibli film as I’m constantly surrounded by such epic, utter beauty. As soon as I arrived here, my life and my mentality went through a shift. And I wanted to make changes in myself and in how I do my art. It made me more spiritual, more conscious and more connected with nature. Also, Galicia is the inspiration for ‘Arcana’. If it weren’t for this move, I would probably have just written another synth or cyberpunk record.

‘The Fox’s Wedding’ is like dark Celine Dion?

LOL – I’m going to share this with my parents as they’re obsessed with Celine Dion! Especially my dad. Celine has been a huge part of our household growing up. I used to sing – or rather, coerced by my parents to sing her songs at family gatherings, so I’m pretty sure a lot of that still lives in my psyche. Celine is the queen of love songs. DeadlyKawaii and I were supposed to have a formal wedding celebration with our entire family here in Galicia, but the pandemic has stalled all those plans. ‘The Fox’s Wedding’ is the song that I wrote for it that I’m hoping to walk down the aisle to someday. I kept most of the instrumentations organic to give that otherworldly vibe that Galicia has, as though you’re entering a magical forest cast in the moonlight and you’re getting greeted by fairy folk every step of the way. Those are the things that typically twirl in my head as I write and compose.

Meanwhile, although it has hints of Lene Lovich, is ‘Atomic (Ad Initivm)’ perhaps a baroque tribute to Debbie Harry?

I never thought of it that way before, but let’s call it that. Debbie is a legend and a true icon. She has touched the lives of many people I work with, including my own. And for sure, she’s my favorite atomic blonde. What a blessing she is to have around us.

How did the idea to cover ‘Cities in Dust’ come about, what inspired your arrangement with the orchestration?

‘Cities in Dust’ is one of my favourite songs ever and I’ve always made a habit of covering my favourites. I’ve always wanted to pay tribute to Siouxie Sioux, but give it my own sonic imprint. What inspired the orchestral arrangements is the actual message of the song itself. The lyrics in ‘Cities in Dust’ have prophetic qualities to it, and images of empires and cities falling come to mind. I wanted to convey that epicness and at the same time cast a warning true to what the lyrics are trying to say. I also saw the opportunity to flex some cinematic orchestral chops and create the music as I hear it in my head.

‘Arcana’ is essentially a technology driven production but are you happy with a DAW, software and samples or do you like to bring in analog hardware from time to time?

I do have some analog synths that were used in the development of this record – namely, Jupiter-6, JP-8000 and Korg Minilogue. Von Hertzog also did analog mastering for this entire record. So yes, there is a soft spot for analog in this project even though majority of it was produced on Logic Pro. Also, do guitars count? 😀

‘Arcana’ must be like directing your own film? Who do you think this album will appeal to?

A few of us hold on to the philosophy of being our own target market. I didn’t think of anyone or anything else outside of what I personally wanted to hear when I was writing these songs. I didn’t even think in genres. A few who had already heard it have said ‘Arcana’ is impossible to categorise or box in a genre. I guess we will find out whom this album resonates with. Most likely people who are looking for more out of music and art. I think it is very exciting to find out, because this record is not trying to be a “bop” or a “banger”. It’s deep and complex, and a lot more transcendental and holistic in its creation. It takes a few listens to really absorb the music. But each listen, you discover more and more details and secrets hidden in its production.

The visual presentation with photos and videos appears to be very important to CZARINA?

Absolutely part of what I love about what I do. I have a very extensive history of being a fashion designer and creative director and I’m really proud of that track record. I’ve done a lot more than most folks in the field and that will always live in everything else that I do. I think the combination of articulating your vision and who you are in both sound and visuals is powerful and gives me that creative gratification I always seek for myself.

Does a modern artist have to be more multi-faceted now, like DJing, gaming, providing shopping tips, being a brand ambassador and presenting themselves as more of a social media personality? Does this not ultimately detract from the actual making of music?

I don’t think one should try to be everything and anything they’re not. One should always focus on all their strengths and use all that they got, and not just do and rely on the barest minimum. I think the point is to find ways of making sure you and your music stand out. I don’t think that it pays at all to dive into several disparate endeavours that don’t really tie into any cohesive meaning for a project or an artist. There’s gotta be some sort of meaning behind every activity you pick up that really helps paint the giant picture.

Speaking for myself. I have had an eclectic and quite an anomalous upbringing that generated this wide spectrum of different abilities. It was a form of survival in a tough city – being able to do a lot of different things and excel at each and everyone of them. So a lot of what I do are true integral parts of who I am as an artist. And each one of them helps in creating the art and music. They’re all part of one giant artistic vision. For example, I don’t write a song unless I already see what the music video looks like. And I won’t make a record unless each of the songs and videos make a bigger, cohesive story.

You recently established a videocast called ABSYNTH, what is the aim of this platform?

ABSYNTH.space is one of the projects I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. There are a lot of great music blogs (including ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK) and I wanted to create a platform with a video podcast channel that complements what the other platforms do. The way ABSYNTH is growing and evolving is fascinating. Since it is artist-run, the platform tends to focus more on the word of the day within music communities, and the lively discussions and subjects get really avant-garde or super nerdy at times.

It’s a smorgasbord and melting pot of ideas. We cover quite a range of musical genres that are adjacent to each other. But at the end of the day, it’s just so enjoyable to do it. We’re here to have fun, hang with our guests, while remaining hopeful that we are able to help shine the spotlight on emerging acts.

What are you hope and fears as 2022 progresses?

My hope is to be able to play live again and get back on stage. One of my goals this year once after ‘Arcana’ is released is to continue making the music videos and visual components for the record’s entire mythology. But I also want to create the stage and live performance adaptation of the record. I want to make ‘Arcana’ come alive. With the vast orchestration and dynamics, it would be quite a dream to execute it as a full live, theatrical performance.

In terms of fears, as the virus still looms over all of us, the fears I have are missing out on cool things or someone I hold dearly becomes ill. With everything else, I just try to remain positive and uphold a strong “can-do” and solution-drive attitude.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to CZARINA

‘Arcana’ is released by darkTunes Music Group on 22nd February 2022 in CD and digital formats, available from https://czarinaofficial.bandcamp.com/





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
21st February 2022