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The Women of ArA’Kus – Part 2


And now part 2 of my interview set with the women of ArA’Kus featuring keyboardist Rachel Brunson. If you didn’t read part 1, you can do so here. You can also check out the ArA’Kus’ website, and your favorite social media,  facebook, bandcamp, and youtube.

A little background (from previous post):

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.

If anyone knows how to spin the magic and madness, it’s Rachel Brunson, keyboardist, and lover of doing things differently from the crowd.

 

Jukebox Heroines (JH): Thanks for doing this interview! So, give Jukebox Heroines the scoop on who you are. 

Rachel Brunson (RB): I’m an artist, musician, and a full time student. I have a degree in photography/multimedia design from Notre Dame and am working on my second Bachelors at Evergreen in psychology. I (hopefully!) start grad school in a year for a Masters in Art Therapy. I grew up in Indiana and moved to Olympia 8 years ago. My main reason for moving was wanting to find a place to live that was more artistic and had a bigger music scene then where I’m from (which is pretty much non-existant!) Other then music, I love to read. I’m a total bibliophile and want to die with enough books to open a library. No kids, just 2 cats and a plethora of fish.

JH: How did you become part of Arakus?

RB: Looong story! Suffice to say, I dated a guy that used to be in the band and used to do their photography. Many years and convoluted stories later, I came on as a guest musician to fill in while they searched for a permanent keyboard player. I ended up loving it, and they were happy with my musical capabilities and asked me to stay on permanently.

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

I’ve always loved music of all types. My first love was and always will be classical. I started listing to metal in the 80’s (I was a kid so I don’t really remember who introduced me to it.) I love that it is such an expansive genre. It seems as if you can meld anything with metal and it will work. It can be either obnoxiously loud and fast, or soft and melodic. It never fails to surprise me so it keeps me interested. I feel like a lot of other genres seem to strive to emulate each other, whilst metal seems to strive to be different regardless of corporate approval and radio playability.

JH: What are your female artist/musician influences?

RB: Not many to be honest, I’m mostly drawn to male fronted bands. I do have a thing for Tori Amos though.

JH: I totally do too!

JH: When did you begin playing the keys and what made you pick that instrument?

RB: I began playing piano 24 years ago (at 6). My parents bought me a piano at 7 as I was obsessed. I just love the sound and the versatility of it. I didn’t start playing keyboards until fall of 2008 for ArA’KuS. It was a hard battle for while the layout and conception is the same, the feel of the two are completely different.

JH: What kind of keyboard do you use? Any preferences or sounds you use?

RB: Why? I’m using a Casio CDP-100. It’s actually a digital piano. I’m finding that they are easier for me to play as opposed to non-weighted keys. I have the advantage of a computer interface and the feel of an acoustic piano. I’m using Mainstage with an m-audio midi adapter to run them. I actually like the sound of harpsichords but have yet to find an applicable use for them for ArA’KuS. Someday maybe…

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

RB: I want them to stand in awe of our greatness! Kidding (sort of). I want them to enjoy it. I want people to come and be completely surprised by a metal band and leave wanting more. I want it to inspire them to be more creative and to not be afraid to do what seems crazy at first.

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

RB: Nervous, excited, nervous again. I haven’t performed on a stage in about 15 years (theater stage that is). It’s so different from bar shows! I’m excited to perform in a setting that I love though.

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

RB: Duck billed platypus. A little strange and is nothing like it appears at first glance. Can be soft and fuzzy but with sharp teeth.

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

RB: Loads, but I can’t type all of it out here. I’ve been in this business as either a fan, photographer, promoter, booking agent, designer, and/or musician since I was 16. I’m not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, but women have it hard in this business sometimes. There are a lot of people out there that have some pretty awful misconceived notions of female metal heads. So if you run into someone that thinks you are something that you’re not, do what you can to change their minds. There are so many talented women out there that are afraid to push the boundaries of a traditionally male ran subset of musical society. We all need to show them that we can be a force to be reckoned with.

JB: Come to the dark feminist side Rachel! 🙂 We need more female metal heads here.

Thank you so much to Rachel and Whitney for taking the time to speak their minds here at Jukebox Heroines. Be sure to stay tuned for more updates on ArA’Kus and special features from their show.

Speaking of, you can catch ArA’Kus at their premiere show July 31, 2010 7:00 pm at The Everett Historical Theater in Everett, Wa. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or by calling 425-258-6766.

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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!

You Gotta Hear – ArA’Kus


Friends of the blog, ArA’Kus, Seattle’s best kept heavy metal secret is about to put on the show of a lifetime.

July 31st , 2010 – 7:00 p.m – “Aeterno Elementum” by ArA’Kus

Historic Everett Theater
2911 Colby Avenue
Everett, WA  98201
http://everetttheatre.org/

Tickets are $10. You can purchase them here or call: 425-258-6766.

A little taste of what you’ll get:

Aeterno Elementum tells a sweeping story of betrayal and tragedy that will leave viewers in shock. This chilling story will be told not only through the music, but also through performers of all types. Actors will bring to life the events of the tales, while martial artists and dancers of various sorts amaze the audience and create a sense of intense spectacle.

Despite the actors and the performers, the music is still center stage. The compositions feature complex, classically influenced progressions that will appeal to even non-fans of heavy metal and showcase several operatic vocalists as well as a full chorus and string section. Apart from the heavy metal fare, several more traditional classical pieces will be featured, including acapella performances from the Ara’Kus Chorus, orchestrated pieces featuring operatic soprano Whitney Burdge and tenor Jeremiah Johnson, classical guitar interludes by Randy Haines and other unexpected performances.

Jukebox Heroines will have an exclusive interview with Whitney Burdge (Lead Soprano) and Rachel Brunson (Keyboards) in just a bit! So stay tuned! Until then, check out their tunes and promo video for the show.

http://arakusband.com

Melissa Auf der Maur – Out of Our Minds Video


Melissa Auf der Maur’s New Video – Out Of Our Minds! Album to be released March 23!

Melissa is a Celtic rocker from Quebec, Canada. Visit her online at her official site.

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