Sandra Oliveira is a Portuguese singer-songwriter, vocal teacher and event planner, whose main project is heavy rock band Blame Zeus.
She started singing and writing lyrics 20 years ago. Self-taught at first, she was part of many bands, playing both originals and covers. In 2007 she started having vocal and music lessons. In 2010 she enrolled at Universidade de Évora, to undertake a Music Degree in Jazz Vocals. In 2011 she had the great pleasure of completing the Workshop for Singers and Songwriters at Berklee College of Music, in Valencia, Spain. In 2010 she started giving private singing lessons, Songwriting and Stage Performance. She’s also a teacher at other local music schools.
Besides being a teacher, she’s also a studio vocal coach and back vocalist, Blame Zeus’ manager, and runs Lazy Cat Productions & Management, responsible for organizing rock and metal concerts.
She founded Blame Zeus in December 2010, alongside her husband Ricardo Silveira, the band’s drummer.
Sandra live – by João Fitas
Photo by João Fitas
Obscurena: What gives you the most pleasure when you teach singing?
Sandra Oliveira: That moment when the student discovers his/her voice, and realizes all the hard work and sacrifices are totally worth it.
Obscurena: Why a metal band?
Sandra Oliveira: It’s what runs in my veins, rock and alternative metal. What pours from me when I write.
Obscurena: As responsible for organizing rock and metal concerts how is Rock and Heavy Metal in Portugal?
Sandra Oliveira: We have awesome bands with great talent, but little support from the mainstream organizations and media. Even so, we have the best and most loyal fans, that keep heavy music alive.
Obscurena: When did you started to sing and play guitar ?
Jenny Modemann: I start playing and singing guitar when i was 15 years old. Especially the guitar playing, I`ve been singing for all my life but it was a huge different when it comes to my growls! haha
Obscurena: Why Heavy Metal ?
Jenny Modemann: Metal is the most powerful,most passion music i`ve ever heard in my life!! You cant find so much energy,so much honest ,so much blood in any kind of music! Im a really passionate person..everything I do,I´ll do it with all my heart. I must feel the fire burning. In Heavy Metal you can almost taste it `cause you are in Hell!
Obscurena: What are your plans for the future ?
Jenny Modemann: My plan is to brutalize the world with Cruel Treatment! haha which means to finish our first album soon in the studios and playing shows around this world! We`ll going to put the Underground into the next level.
Obscurena: When you initiated your journey in the theater what made you do it?
Sara Freitas: Apart from having made my parents watch the 3 year old me performing on the top a table (ahaah), I started acting in school plays back in 2001, when I was 10 years old. I had a couple of amazing teachers who gave the class the opportunity to develop several projects about history and science and to present them to the community by acting, dancing and singing. We would set up a different play every year, related to the work developed in the course of the year. And it was really funny and uplifting, exactly when the school year was finishing!
However, I started taking this thing of acting a little bit more seriously in high-school (in 2006), when I joined the theatre group “O Pancadinhas” and had my first audition (with the “Phantom of the opera” theme cover by Nightwish – how original!). I was just taking the first steps in the world of operatic singing, but I think I did Ok because I ended up playing the role of Carlotta Guidicelli, the coloratura soprano diva that is blown away by the angelic Christine, the Phantom’s eternal love. We can actually revive some of those moments through some live footage that I managed to recover:
In the two following years, as the group decided to get back to non-musical plays and few people actually wished to sing, I gave my contribute by performing the theme “All that jazz” in a cabaret-like environment in the play “O leão da estrela” (adapted by the group) and the aria “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen in the play “Os Maias” (also adapted by the group). I managed to recover footages of these two events as well:
Unfortunately, as I started embracing an academic career I somehow had to step out of acting and did my last intervention in 2009 (I guess), this time with the group “A Companhia” in the portuguese revista “P’Arte tudo”. Here’s a small excerpt:
Despite the demanding academic courses, I didn’t give up on singing and joined the amateur choir “Ares Novos”, where I never minded jumping from first soprano to contralto whenever the balance required it. In the meantime, I also joined the choir “Stravaganzza”, where I’m always in my comfort zone, the first soprano. Although, academic life took its toll on me once more and I had to leave the first choir, after 5 years of enjoying learning and making music with very kind people. Let me share with you a beautiful Fado event pulled off by “Ares Novos”, a couple of humble and nervous solos I had the honour of singing and the Sacred Concert by Duke Ellington with band ensemble:
Currently I have no activity in the theatre field, my bad… But I put in practice all that I’ve learnt in all Monolith Moon live shows! 🙂
Obscurena: Why Heavy Metal ?
Sara Freitas: That’s a great question! Let’s see…It could have been Pop (yeah I dived into music with Britney Spears, Shakira, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera!), it could have been Hip Hop (I used to dig Eminem and Da Weasel soooo much!), it could have been Rock (there was a time I was really into soft rock like Rui Veloso, Polo Norte, Coldplay, Scorpions!), it could have been R&B (oh my Tony Braxton, Michael Jackson!), it could have been Classical/Folk (how I love Loreena McKennitt, Blackmore’s Night, Il Divo, Patricia Petibon!), it could have been World (oh the goddesses Dulce Pontes, Virginia Rodrigues, Natacha Atlas!), and the wandering goes on…
I have to say that the Metal thing started during my teenage with (inevitably anther list, here we go!) hard Rock bands such as Likin Park, Evanescence, POD… Which then became Slipknot, System of a Down, Mudvayne… Which became Nightwish, Kamelot, Epica, Sonata Arctica… Which gave place to Queen, Iron Maiden, Manowar… Which then gave place to Children of Bodom, Dream Theater, Symphony X… Who changed roles with Opeth, Necrophagist, Obscura, Katatonia, Beyond Creation… Who have to share the space with more ambient and down tempo stuff like Ahab, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Aes Dana, Hildur Guðnadóttir… (I’m certainly leaving out very important names that somehow made/make part of my life and influenced me as a pseudo-artist and person). Ah, with so much going on, today my playlists are a mess =) As well as my singing style (personal opinion), because I can’t figure out if I do have my own performing style. Besides I try hard to assemble these many influences into one piece, it’s difficult and I often catch myself trying to embrace the existing style that fits better according to the song (if it is a cover I try copying the original, if it’s someone’s original I try figuring out the style. Bah!).
Luckily, it is in Monolith Moon (let me take the chance to introduce the band where I’m lyricist and vocals!) that I find the perfect playground for mixing up and testing all these things, and also some vocal experimentation, which I love so much. As far as music is concerned, it is when I’m rehearsing and performing live with the guys that I have feel like I have no barriers, that I can truly convey my passion for performing with whoever wants to witness it. I love engaging the audience with my presence (whatever that is!), my only concern is giving 100% both vocally and emotionally. I feel like an essential part of an essential whole and not the element that has all the attention, as many categorize a female singer in a group of male musicians. I often get frustrated over this “it’s a woman singing in a band” thing and the duties of being a frontwoman… Damn, I don’t want to look beautiful, I just love being myself in Monolith Moon, using the voice like any other instrument, and that’s all, no fancy clothes, no fancy make up. Give me kindness, beauty and truth =) Here are some of our songs, enjoy
So, for me Monolith Moon is freedom, is having no guidelines, no conventions but the rules of good taste (I leave that to the mastermind composer, by the way, I don’t have enough knowledge on music theory to write my own stuff! =( ). All surprises and thinking outside the box, but always keeping the compromise between showing my passion and letting my fellow companions shine!Ah, I cannot finish without mentioning how wonderful it is to meet and share stage with so many talented musicians in Portugal and to work with great professionals in the area! \m/So why Metal? Metal is absolute freedom!
Obscurena: In the midst of so many things you do, and since you possess a wonderful voice, what do you think about your future?
Sara Freitas: I feel flattered and appreciate your kind words, thank you so much =) And there’s also a magnificent space for learning a lot, still… And that can be part of my future! Besides my main goals are related to my academic career (the solar photovoltaic thingy!), I definitely cannot live without singing and being active in musical projects, so it has to be a 50/50 compromise. Well, maybe a 35/65? I’m still struggling and feeling divided, it’s like having to choose between a perfect summer day and a perfect winter day – I can’t! I have some guidelines, but not exactly a plan. Well, come what may, I will always find a way of getting the both worlds to communicate and inspire each other.
For now, apart from continuing to make music with the band Monolith Moon and the choir Stravaganzza, I will keep updating my humble youtube channel with homemade videos of covers and funny vocal experimentation and will also aim into collaborations with different musicians for cover projects or originals (hey, there’s already something in the making =) stay tuned!). I just can’t stop!
Thank you so much for this opportunity to share what I’ve been doing, my humble arts, my vision. Sorry for having made this flash interview huge… All the best for your Obscurena project and for the artists that you’ve been supporting! And a last special “Thank You” to all of those who are in my heart and give me the strength to keep on improving:
BIO: LadyAxe is a South African Viking Metal artist/ dark poet/ horror author and indie filmmaker. Her literary work includes being a professional ghost writer for various publishing houses in Europe as well as her own works of poetry and horror short stories, soon to be re-published.
Her literary work includes being a professional ghost writer for various publishing houses in Europe as well as her own works of poetry and horror short stories, soon to be re-published.The upcoming short story compilation, ‘Webbing Woven with Wickeding’, will feature 8 horror journeys with grisly old school atmosphere in the vein of Poe and Lovecraft.The book will be available via her literary Facebook page – LadyAxe Lit As for her music career, Axe was the first female heavy metal artist in South Africa, back in 1992-3.
It was a tough time to bring a female power metal artist in amongst the new wave of Death Metal that just took over the country, but she persisted, being billed mainly with Goth/ Power acts through her record company. Because of mismanagement of the acts on the record company’s roster, Axe left the company a year after.
After over a decade of obscurity, she resurfaced with “The Invitation”, the end credit song to UK horror film, THE GHOSTS OF CROWLEY HALL.
For fear of copyright issues, her name was changed to LadyAxe and was the name used from there on in. Official LadyAxe Facebook page.In 2009 LadyAxe headlined the Windhoek Metalfest in Namibia, making history as the first time a metal band featured three generations of females from the same family. It was a once-off feat just for the one performance, but proved the unpredictable nature of LadyAxe.
Subsequently she recorded various demo’s of the songs they played at the WMF, but with lack of funding to record a proper studio album, Axe posted said demo’s mainly on Reverbnation.The lo-fi demo compilation, “DEMOnized”, was released in June 2015, due to popular demand for all the old Axe and LadyAxe demo’s that have only been heard live before.
The CD is available on www.ladyaxemerch.blogspot.com and various online music distributors.In late 2015 recording started on her first EP, not in a studio, but in her guest bedroom at home. This is where the new LadyAxe was born, with Viking and Norse Mythology at the helm of the songs. Axe wrote all the songs and played most of the instruments on it, including most of the guitaring. She captured all the fun and frustration of the recording process in five humorous vlogs called “Asatru Rising – the Recording Chronicles” posted on Youtube.
As South Africa’s only Viking Metal act, LadyAxe will soon release the long awaited EP aptly entitled “Ásatrú” in 2016 to showcase the true punch she delivers. With her tribal/ Viking influences rooted in her music and lyrics, this should be interesting for a female fronted band to bring.
Lock up your sons! LadyAxe will be raiding your village soon!