The Women of ArA’Kus – Part 1

This is part 1 of my interviews with the women of ArA’Kus. If you don’t know about ArA’Kus you can check out my previous post, their website, and other social media such as facebook, bandcamp, and youtube.

Seattle-based heavy metal band, ArA’Kus, weaves a musical tapestry of opera, fantasy, and theatrics into their live performances and musical craft. This web of darkness, epic storytelling, and fervent metal love was founded in 2001 with a little hope, and a big idea. Since then ArA’Kus has been plagued with a variety of line-up changes, yet, has still remained steadfast to producing a live show that combines the best aspects of music with a visually appealing experience. The band consists of 6 members and auxiliary performers including a twelve member chorus, marital artists, fire dancers, and an aerial acrobatic troupe.

Additionally, costumes are an important part of the show. Mixing early medieval influenced outfits, with fantasy art and leather from local vendors, ArA’Kus is a living, breathing LOTR with a metal soundtrack. That soundtrack includes throaty growls from the depths of the beast, ethereal chants via the chorus, hell-rasing guitar solos, and spoken interludes that transition the songs and give a back story to the lyrics. Their debut  work, “Aeterno Elementum” is a three-part concept album, which will be released in stages this year, along with a novelization of their music’s storylines. You can catch their debut July 31, 2010 at 7:00 pm at the Everett Historical Theater in Everett, Wa.  It is easy to get caught in a spider’s web of enchantment with the art-metal persona that is ArA’Kus.

Bringing that metal edge and class to the group is Whitney Burdge, Lead Soprano and all around rocker, who isn’t afraid to tell Jukebox Heroines all about their latest creation.

Jukebox Heroines (JH): Thanks for doing this interview! So, tell the fans a little about yourself.

Whitney Burdge (WB): I’m a strange (but cool) hybrid of girl who has been created from world travel, architecture and design, classical music, poetry, salsa dancing, fashion, etc. Most of my singing experience in the past has been with an accompanying symphony, but I’ve been lucky to fall into the recent opportunity of combining my classical skills with the world of metal and seeing what our love-child creates.

JH: How did you become part of Arakus?

WB: My first encounter with Ara’Kus was an unusual one. I was on a dating site. One of the guys in the band who was also on there noticed that I had classical singing experience listed in my profile. Since that was the sound they were going for with their lead female singer, he invited me to come out and audition for them. I checked out their music and liked what they were trying to create, not to mention their absolute professionalism. A few weeks later, I was in!

JH: What draws you to metal music? It’s known as a rather masculine genre?

WB: To me, everyone needs to listen to a different music style to match every mood. The range of human emotion is enormous, and metal just fits the bill for either those darker times where you’re feeling more intense, or simply need a strong beat to give you energy.

JH: What are your female artist/musician influences?

WB: My influences range from women like Haylie Williams of Paramore for her identifiability, opera singers for their vocal techniques, and some world singers such as Yasmin Levy, for the unique vocal nuances they exhibit which aren’t often seen in American music.

JH: When did you begin singing and what made you want to do it?

WB: I actually don’t recall what made me want to start singing. I know in 8th grade, I signed up for a class that would sing along to Broadway tunes or Disney songs, and it just felt like a talent that clicked.

JH: What kind of stage persona do you project? Why?

WB: The stage persona I want to project is one of confidence and also elegance. The music of Ara’Kus has a strong dichotomy in blending both edgy and lyrical sounds; as the lead female singer, I want to carry over that same contrast. I think it makes the music more accessible instead of intimating to first-timers to the genre.

JH: What do you want people to experience with your music/live show?

WB: I think I want people to enjoy the transitions of our show, with the highs and lows of intensity and the changing dynamic of the songs. Metal, in general, has a reputation for all sounding “the same”; our show, though, will have several interesting elements to help the audience experience the music more fully. I also want the audience to appreciate everyone’s musicianship. These are just a bunch of guys “jamming” in someone’s garage. Everyone takes their role seriously, and tries to master their part in the production.

JH: How are you feeling about the big July 31st album premiere?

WB: I’m very excited about our July 31 show. I haven’t seen anything like what we are doing before, so I’m looking forward to conveying something musically “new” to the audience. Of course, I’m also nervous! I’m still pretty new to performing in this kind of group, but look at each show as a chance to develop my overall confidence, and to just rock out and have fun!

JH: If Arakus was a type of animal, it would be: ________________. Why?

WB: If Ara’Kus was an animal, we’d be a Komodo dragon. We may look intimidating at first, but we’re actually quite cuddly.

JH: Any advice for other lady-metalheads out there?

WB: My advice is just for the ladies to be an active voice in metal. None of the men who have been in it awhile want it to stagnate or remain a male-heavy genre. If you have ideas to help it evolve, or wanna bring your own style to it, then do it!

Stay tuned for Part 2 for an interview with Rachel Brunson!

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Posted on July 9, 2010, in Mic Talk - Interviews, Seattle-Portland Music Scene and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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