Cristina Scabbia: ‘It’s Cool to Try to Manage the Darkness to Be Happy’
Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The singer opened up about the group's new album, Black Anima, which flips the script of its predecessor, Delirium, focusing on shining through the negative moments life inevitably throws our way.
Approaching this record in a cinematic sense, the band relied heavily on imagery to drive the creative process, making visual mediums a very necessary component of Black Anima. This type of songwriting also led to Scabbia and co-vocalist Andrea Ferro experimenting more with the depth and range of each of their voices, striving to come off as actors in the individual songs.
Learn more about Black Anima in the conversation below.
Overall the idea behind this record seems to be the ambiguity of humanity. What does the album reflect about the unsettling aspects of the human condition in today's society?
Well, let's say that it was our realization that it is okay not to be okay all the time. So, if Delirium, our previous record, was the record of going through the pain because so many things happened that completely changed our lives and our balance, Black Anima is the representation of our strengths, the energy, the good vibe of the band right now. We just realized that it's cool to try to manage the darkness to be happy.
Sometimes people are afraid of the darkest moments in life and they try to avoid them. You can't because life is not perfect and something bad or negative will eventually happen and what you have to do is to deal with it — go through the darkness to get out of it and be stronger.
There are so many aspects and even visual ideas that we used at the beginning of the songwriting that inspired us in the compositions of the music.
Lyrically, Black Anima depicts some very lonely personal feelings. What enables you to creatively reflect pain without further hurting yourself?
I think I'm definitely stronger than I was a few years ago. When you don't have anything very sad in your life happening, you tend to think about a lot of bullshit and a lot of stuff that is not that important. When something happens to you and hits you hard, you almost feel bulletproof. I cannot really tell you how we've been able to convey everything in our music and lyrics because it's something that you do without even thinking about it in a very spontaneous way and that's what happened to us.
We started writing, then we made a selection of the songs that we liked the most and we kept working on the direction. It was not mechanical at all – it's not that we sat down and we said, 'This album sounds like this, or this song has to be sad or more melancholic or heavier,' they just came out this way and we went with the flow.
Although Black Anima is not a concept album there's a cinematic cohesiveness to it. How much did non-musical art such as movies affect the ways that you thought about the pacing and sequence of the songs?
They are a huge inspiration for us, especially for the music because Marco, our bass player who is responsible for the music is also the producer of the record, and he produced Delirium as well.
He always writes music getting inspired by images. He puts on a movie or a video game or random documentaries and he writes music about the images. So, for this record, he not only did this, but we also did a sort of a meeting before we even started the songwriting. He felt he was a little bit stuck on inspiration, so, we brought pictures, ideas and phrases to inspire him. That triggered something and he started to write so fast — even three, four, five songs a day cause he was super inspired by the visuals.
So, for him and for us, it's extremely important to be inspired by the vision of a record and also to try to create something around the record. Whether it's something we do onstage, our stage outfits, the pictures — we love to play with our image, especially during the live show when you have to offer something visual and not only musical. At least that's what we like. It's not for everyone, but that's us.
The deluxe edition of the new album includes a deck of tarot cards that correspond with each song. What makes that mysticism so appropriate for these songs?
Well, the overall vibe of the record is really dark and mysterious at times. We always loved the art of tarots. We are not into tarot reading, but we just like how they look and the type of vibe that surrounds them. When we did Black Anima, we also thought about the image of this book that collects all the memory and everything we feel connects us to the ones that we have lost. So, we thought the idea of tarots was also sort of a way to connect with someone who's not here physically anymore.
We contacted an American artist Micah Ulrich, and we sent him the name of the cards that we wanted to use. They're not the typical tarot cards and we just changed the images. We wanted something that could go together with every song just because we like this type of imagery and it was fitting with Black Anima. He designed those cards for us, we approved them and put them in the deluxe edition.
Lacuna Coil features two vocalists, you and Andrea. How has the dynamic of the counterpoint of his vocals impacted your own technique, especially on Black Anima.
I think that with this record we experimented even more because Andrea went back to a lot of growling. I always loved his growling voice — it is very distinct. We used it in the past, but we didn't use it for quite a long time. I also decided to experiment more with changing my voice for some of the songs.
So, we feel that there is a huge dynamic in this record because we're literally playing with our voice. We're acting and using our voices in a different way and that gave us the chance to make every song really diverse from each other. We like to think about this record as a movie in which we are the actors, and I think it works perfectly because that's what I was in the mood to play with.
You're the only woman in Lacuna Coil. In what ways are you setting an example — not as a role model, but as someone delineating gender division all together?
To be honest with you, I don't do anything because I don't feel the gender division. That's why I never really stressed about the fact that I am the woman in the band. The most powerful way to scream that women are great is the fact that I feel totally equal to guys. So, we are the same, so I don't want any special treatment because I know where I stand. I know my potential. I know what I can bring to the band.
The guys know it without me being like, 'Oh yeah, I have to be more important. Oh, the light has to be on me because I'm a woman.' I am feeling completely comfortable in my skin and with the guys. We love each other. We feel like a family. Everybody is equal. That's my way to express myself and to feel like a happy woman in this still male-dominated business.
Thanks to Cristina Scabbia for the interview. Get your copy of Lacuna Coil's 'Black Anima' here. Keep up with the bands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s radio show here.
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