Czarina is a project driven by Vero Faye Kitsuné. This New-York (USA) native artist is now based in Spain. She this year unleashed her second full length album entitled “Arcana” (darkTunes Music Group). Her work makes me think to an imaginary fusion between Qntal (for the Ethereal approach) and Pop/Rock influences. It’s a styled- and artistic production which I can only but highly recommend.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: You’re dealing with different artistic forms; being involved as music composer and producer, designer, filmmaker, performer and creative director. Do I forget something? I can’t get away from the idea you must have a true artistic background, right? Tell us a bit more about it and what means artistic expression to you?
Vero: Growing up in a very artistic and multi-faceted family, I have always had one foot in music and performance arts, the other foot in visual arts and design. I played in a Prog-Metal band in my early 20s for several years. However, during the last 2 decades, I have been serving as a creative director and designer in the fashion and footwear industry, while my musical endeavors receded into an on-and-off passion project. Ten years ago, I launched my own footwear and fashion label called Ivy Kirzhner, through which many of my followers actually have come to know me first.
However, after a series of challenging chapters, I regret to say that my life went through a cataclysmic shift, and I was forced to fold this remarkable golden era in my career early 2018. Even though I continued to consult in the fashion industry, I found solace in making music again -writing, composing, producing and being fully creative without being tethered to a business construct. I’ve always felt that I was handed a very complex tapestry of life experiences to substantiate into a myriad of creative and artistic expressions. Thus, just like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Czarina was born.
Q: Is it possible for you to earn a living with your artistic activities and especially with music? And do you think there’s enough recognition and support for contemporary (underground) artists? Do you see main differences between places and countries?
Vero: For me (and for now), it has always been about achieving a balance between earning and artistic passion. I work as a creative director and designer for a living, whereas what I do in Czarina -music production, filmmaking and visual arts -are primarily for the sake of artistry and creative expression.
I’m in my 4th year with this project, and I’m only beginning to see some quantifiable return in the investments, which is promising. What matters after all is fulfilling a vision and being fulfilled. I’m finding that a lot of contemporary underground artists similar to me who are unique, genre-bending, carrying a refined point of view, and refusing to fit in any bucket are often overlooked, only because we are hard to place in the current algorithmic system. But I don’t think it’s impossible to make a breakthrough. It takes a lot more work and effort, but tapping directly into a pool of like-minded folks who are looking for more uniqueness out of art and music generates a much more fulfilling and rewarding experience.
I think most artists are fixated over streaming metrics -which is fine, even if streaming often entails passive listeners. But I believe in developing a real tangible, fire-breathing, supportive fan base who genuinely connect with the music and craft.
After moving from New York to Spain, I definitely have noticed that Europe in general tends to provide a more supportive and healthier incubation space for innovative, emerging artists. Especially after signing with darkTunes Music Group, it’s the first time I felt both my music and I are finally getting embraced, and I am finding myself to be at the right place.
Q: What kind of music project did you want to set up with Czarina? What have been the main sources of inspiration and how do you try to transpose these influences into music?
Vero: When I started, I wanted to establish an artistic and creative DNA that is entirely unique to who I am and all my facets, and can transcend several adjacent genres and media. The project revolves around my music, songwriting and production, but it is intended to be a pure, artistic kaleidoscope containing layers upon layers of visual and experiential storytelling across several media. I want folks to know and feel right away that it’s me -my very own sound, aesthetic, perspective, and vibe -free from prevailing constructs. A lot of my music and songwriting all contain particular messages and philosophies that honestly speak of my experiences -products of self-reflection and generated awareness and openness. My sources of inspiration change from time to time depending on where I am in life, but the thematic common denominator that ties everything together and keeps the project grounded is spirituality and wisdom gained thru a very vast and yet very specific set of life experiences.
Q: I noticed an impressive evolution in sound/production from your debut album “Painted Holograms” (2018) towards “Arcana”. What happened in between both albums and how do you perceive your own evolution in the writing- and production process?
Vero: A tremendous amount of growth has definitely happened. My records are true reflections of where I am in life. When I decided to work on Czarina early 2018, I was still living in New York City -raw and coming out of a very difficult period following a shatter. The songs in my debut record “Painted Holograms” were written and produced during this time, and they carry out themes of healing and piecing one’s life back together. I had just started dabbling with synths and was very much into nostalgia, so I decided to blend Cinematic ‘Neon Noir’ inspired by tech noir films like “Blade Runner” with contemporary Industrial, Trip-Hop and Dark-Wave. It was also my first time producing a full record, still harnessing my DAW (I use Logic Pro), grasping techniques in music production, and leaning on a couple of good friends to help bring it to the finish line. I would say that “Painted Holograms” truly represented where I was at the time.
Then the years that followed were remarkable –ultimately finding love, getting married, getting ushered to a much better place and turning my life around. In the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, my husband (the artist DeadlyKawaii) and I decided to live our dreams and move to his ancestral homeland in Galicia, Spain. And this has been a massive turning point for me. Galicia is so beautiful, raw, and has a very magical vibe. I could not help but be inspired by my new home and this new-found elevation in life and spirit. Shortly after the move, I was contacted by Raphael Beck of darkTunes Music Group and was signed to the label. I took the opportunity to redefine this project and allow its evolution to synchronize with where I now stand. If “Painted Holograms” was about piecing one’s self back together after a shatter, then “Arcana” is about finally becoming whole and completely renewed. I was feeling very confident, ambitious and resolved. I wanted a big new, monstrous sound that is inspired, ethereal yet heavy-hitting. I returned to my Prog-Metal roots, brought out all my guitars and my affinity for chamber music, new age choirs and Gothic-Rock –all to create a unique new sound that I can finally call my own.
Q: How do you look back at the writing and accomplishment of “Arcana”? What have been the main challenges in the accomplishment of this opus and are there elements you’re not entirely satisfied with?
Vero: I’m tremendously proud of “Arcana.” I felt really empowered the whole time I was writing, composing and producing it. I feel like I achieved a very particular and finite vision and intent. Everything felt aligned. However, the ambitiously grandiose nature of its production definitely has posed challenges on the technical sound engineering end. The writing and production are very complex, with a lot of stems and sounds that needed to be mediated properly -guitars, chamber orchestra, drums, choirs, etc. It was not an easy task. I brought in my good friend Von Hertzog (VHxRR, Information Society) as co-producer, mixing and mastering engineer to bring his expertise, and harness and finesse the vast dynamics of the record. He also provided additional production input and atmospheric sound designs on some of the tracks. As much as I feel I reached a new summit with “Arcana,” I believe I just scratched the surface. There is still a lot of room for growth. I could now see where I could have pushed and also pulled more. So, I’m very excited to see where the next record will take me.
Q: I’ve been also deeply impressed by the imagery and the clips which I can imagine are just two others facets of your creativity and art. It’s styled and revealing mystic- and ritual elements, right? What do you try to express by these aspects of your work and what’s the connection between music and imagery?
Vero: I have been following occult, esoteric, mystical and new age studies and all things arcane. I often take inspiration from global mythology, legends and all sorts of wonders from the ancient world. Something about the wondrous nature of those worlds just fascinates me and keeps me inspired, curious and hopeful. Also Costa da Morte in Galicia where we live is actually known for its sorcery, magic and actual living and breathing mages. I definitely went through a shift when I moved here as though I answered a particular calling. So a lot of what has inspired me spiritually and philosophically, I try to embed them in my work. Art is magical and alchemical already on its own. Might as well take it to the next level and constructively embed rituals and magic into the music and imagery –may they help uplift spirits and call on others who can do the same.
Q: What are the further plans?
Vero: I am very excited to showcase the universe within “Arcana” in its entirety. I am working on bringing “Arcana” to life as a full live stage performance, which I hope to be ready come fall. I am slated to drop at least 2 of them this year and the rest next year. I’m slated to drop 2 new music videos this year as well. So lots of fun stuff in the works. I feel like I’m only getting started.
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