Emerging Canvas: an interview with artist Anja Tvrtkovic

AnjaT

For every album, single, book, or DVD there is a cover or accompanying piece of art to portray what is within and tempt the emotions into the heart of the host. Always looking out for emerging independent artists The RingMaster Review had the pleasure to come across a young artist from Serbia, Anja Tvrtkovic, whose work has already grabbed thoughts and attention. Such the potency of the few things seen we felt the need to find out more about the lady and her work.

Hello Anja and thank you for talking with us.

Hello, and thank you for the interview!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a person that likes to  do too many things interested in art and music. I am a student of University of Applied Arts studying Animation. In my free time I work art designs for bands, t-shirt designs and illustrations for younger children. I am playing bass and back vocals in an all-female band called Plump (named after a song played by Hole). Two months back I ended up in a band called Jailbait (an all-girl band that is a tribute to the Runaways and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)! And I don’t know what else to say and not end up sounding like an egoistic person  haha :))

When did art first catch your imagination and who were your early influences?

When I was a kid, it was my passion, so most of the time I was watching Flight of Dragons, The Last Unicorn, The Railway Dragon and many more cartoons in that style of drawing! Of course those were the times of VHS so I would record a lot of cartoons and watch them over and over. I can’t say who would be my influence as a person. I was more in my world at the time, with an idea of dragons and dinosaurs in my head.

How would you describe your style of art?

My style? Hmmmm, I always wanted to look badass with my drawings and make people go into “WOAH!” effect, but I would always end up drawing something cute and attractive to a child’s eye. But there are the times when I get into my more serious state, but I never published it.

Is there any particular medium you prefer or find better for your ideas?

Digital art. Definitely. I am too clumsy to work traditional and would always end up all in colours and not satisfied.

artwork2What inspires your work and ideas predominantly?

Other people, friends, but mostly artists all over the world. Internet is a great tool in meeting other styles and techniques.

Music is obviously also an important thing in your life?

Oh yes, very! My bass and love for singing also helps and inspires!! Music is a big part of my life, the thing that gets me going. Every time I stay up late, working for my University, I crank up some good old grunge and metal so I could get through.

What bands and genres are your favourites?

There are too many but, there are some times when I am into grunge, rock, sometimes punk, sometimes I end up in heavy, death and some older thrash. Few of the favourite bands would be: Gojira, System of a Down, Black Sabbath, Offspring, Nirvana, Queen, Deep Purple, Slayer, Kultur Shock, Babes in Toyland Hole, L7, Guano Apes….
I have many local bands that I love and support so I would include them too: NoYz?, Hatred, Uneven, Fandango, Seljačka Buna, Cannot and many more!

When and how did the two mediums come together with you designing art work and posters for bands?

When I was in high school. Because it was a school of Design, a lot of projects were designing CD covers and posters. I was always glared down by my teachers because of doing a design for Opeth, System of a Down and a few more local bands haha.

If given just one choice would you choose working in music or illustrating for children’s books etc?

I would probably find myself more in illustrating then in music. Drawing is more my thing, I would leave music making to more talented people 🙂

I believe you are creating the artwork for the forthcoming album from Serbian band Noyz?

Yes! I am doing the cover and booklet for upcoming album. It is a lot of work, but that is a dream of every artist. To work with a band that  you love, and gets you easily inspired. So I am the lucky one 🙂

Can you give any insight as to what it will be like?

Well, Sharkey(frontman and guitarist) and I had a long talk about the album, and I know very well all the songs (yeah I am a big fan), so there is going to be greyish, a little bit dark, but with symbolic elements. I will try to keep the grunge spirit that Noyz have!

What other artists have you worked with or are looking at in the future?artwork1

I haven’t had a chance to work with other artists, but I hope I will! I like collaborations! But if you think for music artists I worked with tons!

You create music yourself so what do you feel is the biggest similarity between creating pieces of art and making music?

I literally did just one part of a song in collaboration with my friend and Sharkey, as a gift to one dear friend. I  always have a blockade in my head when I am starting to do something. Even for this song I had a blockade, I had to make the melody and lyrics and couldn’t do it. Few days later it just hit me, out of nowhere! That is the same process I am having with my art. So yeah there is a big similarity 🙂

Have you an aim or ambition for your art ahead?

I can’t say there is an aim. I am still in the shell, I don’t have goal in my life, maybe dreams, but those are still far away!

Where can people see your works of art?

For now, I don’t have an online portfolio, and my deviant art page is old and hasn’t been updated in a long time, but I am hoping in making a site as soon as possible! Some of my really old stuff can be seen here: http://njanjadesign.daportfolio.com/

Once again many thanks for talking with us.
It was my pleasure! The questions were fun! 🙂

Would you like to end with three of your favourite works of art and three favourite albums?

I would end up with: From Mars to Sirus – Gojira; Bleach – Nirvana;  Diabolus in Musica – Slayer.

The RingMaster Review 06/04/2013

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Interview with Stefan from Kontrust

One of the surprises and biggest finds  so far this year has come in the shape of Austrian metal band Kontrust, not that they are newcomers just that we have been blind to their impressive sounds until now. With release of their stunning new album Second Hand Wonderland, a deeply eclectic, wonderfully eccentric, and extremely brilliant release we are now enjoying the treats and pleasures the band brings with each and every song. We had the chance to find out more about the band and new album by having the pleasure of vocalist Stefan answering our eager questions.

Hello and many thanks for taking time to talk with us at The Ringmaster Review.

Firstly please just introduce Kontrust and its members.

Glad to have this interview. We’re a hard rocking 7 piece. There’s Agata, who does the vocals, not necessary the softer ones. Rhythm section is Roman on the drums and Manuel on the percussions. Those to supply the a** whooping beats. Gregor our bass player delivers the fat groove, while Robert and Mike kick in with the walls of guitars.

For those of us who have only just discovered you, yes we hold our shaking heads in shame, tell us when and how the band started.

We originally got together in 2001, released the first 2 EP’s and finally 4 years later in 2005 after a massive line up change, when Agata and Gregor joined in, our first long player We!come Home. That’s how it all began.

How has the band changed since those early days?

After the line up change we were a six-piece that started to be heard by an audience at clubs and festivals. We played tons of great shows and then in 2009 we put out a new album “Time To Tango” and then “Bomba” happened. Something we didn’t expect at all. It was our first big international breakthrough. We we’re really blown away. First high ranking chart positions in the Holland, then later in 2010 we received the AMADEUS Music Award in our home country of Austria.
The single and of course the album as well became really popular on the internet and received a substantial airplay on TV and radio. Things started to go really well. We got strong feedback from the international music press and a constant growing international fan base. In early 2011 we added our 7th member Mike (guitar) to the band. After massive touring we played Poland with our biggest show ever at the Prystanek Woodstock festival in front of over 300000 crazy Kontrust fans.
We spent over a year working on our new album “second hand wonderland” which is finally released.

With a sound that has diversity and flavour which encompasses all forms of rock, metal and distinct genres further afield what were and are the influences that helped and still add inspiration your inventiveness?

From Sepultura to Depeche Mode, from Iron Maiden to Bob Marley and so on. All kinds of musical styles from rock to jazz, to electronic music and experimental forms.

The songs  bring so much ingenuity and as mentioned invention to their richness it is hard to imagine where you start when writing them so please give us some insight into the song writing process within Kontrust.

There are a lot of ideas! Then of course time for our ideas to develop and legal and illegal helpers!
We jam, we record, we re-write and so on. We enjoy working with other songwriters as well in order to get a different approach. Working with so much passion, love, frustration and aggression all put into the music we do, we try many different approaches when it comes to writing the songs and leave all the musical barriers behind. And it the end…it sounds like we do.

Listening to your music one also has the thought that songs almost shape themselves that they evolve on their own with the band the guide at times. Is that so?

That really depends on the songs, some go really easy and are done in just a couple of hours, others occupy you for several weeks or even months.

You are about/have just released your brand new album Second Hand Wonderland. Where does the release go or has brought from you as a band that is different from your previous and acclaimed release Time To Tango?

Well compared to all other previous releases, it’s a worldwide release. For the first time, our stuff will be available in every corner of the world. We’re looking forward to the fact, that a lot of new people, who aren’t aware of us yet, will hear us.

Admittedly as I ask this I have only heard the singles Bomba and The Smash Song from the previous album, something that will be remedied soon, but there feels a stronger intensity and dare one say aggressive streak to Second Hand Wonderland. Is that the reality?

The music itself evolved and we brought our songwriting to a new level. It’s definitely more playful, twisted and very hooky. We enjoy writing stuff, that actually touches you, whatever you mood may be, doesn’t matter if it’s in your face, bashing stuff or more melodic parts.

How long was Second Hand Wonderland in the making?

The entire process took over a year to produce, record and finish. The entire time span of finish to start was well over two years.

The album has a soundscape that is almost like an aural version of the South Korean movie The Happiness of the Katakuris and in some ways of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit with its reality blended background of cartoon and reality. Do you understand what I mean and if so do you agree haha?

Well Roger Rabbit I know and it never crossed my mind till now, but yes it’s somewhere in that neighborhood. Crazy and wicked.

The vocal blend of Agata and yourself is as distinctive and contrasting as it is seamless and an obvious and perfect fit. Was this as natural from the start when Agata joined the band or was there work needed to done to make it as impressive as it is?

There was an instant chemistry that worked for everybody at that point in time. We evolved quite a bit since then, got more creative and approached a different musical level. We grew together and got better at what we do.

Agata is from Poland originally, how did you find her?

She found us after we put an ad into a local music-mag. Back then, that was way to do it. She already lived in Vienna several years before, so all of us were in one big town. Just a matter of time until we found each other.

It is impossible to choose a favourite song on the album, each song stating a firm and undeniable claim, but is there any particularly track or moment on Second Hand Wonderland you are most proud of or simply have a stronger pleasure from?

All the tracks! I love them all. I guess it depends on the mood I’m in. Each songs kick’s ass. Or gets you a speeding ticket, because you slammed the gas to hard, while listening to the tunes.

With an album so eclectic and at times wonderfully eccentric you will sadly but obviously find some people that will find it hard or unwilling to venture into your world of imagination. Do you ever think about that when writing or simply declare it their loss?

Obviously it’s an impossible task to satisfy everybody. I guess this album will polarize a lot more than all previous ones. You either love it or hate it.

For all the innovation and imagination you bring to your music has there been ideas or sounds that even you have found hard to immerse into your music or simply unable to work with?

There are a couple of tracks where we were not sure, if should put them on the album or not. But in the end we’re really glad we put them on there, just because of that reason. They color it, they make it different. We like!

You have a great reputation for your live shows making sure everyone has an experience to remember but for you the performance at the Przystanek Woodstock festival last year in front of over 300,000 people must have been a real highlight?

It was absolutely crazy. Insane! Totally overwhelming! We had an instant connection with the crowd and they gave everything back tenfold. So they fired us up really well and we returned the favour. It was an amazing show full of mosh pits and walls of death and bodies surfing everywhere. Flags waving from a crowd that cheered so strong we couldn’t hear ourselves on stage. Very intense. Timeless memories.

An event and success like that must have given the band a stronger hunger and heart for more of the same and inspired your creativity?

For certain! Events like that give you such an intense boost in great vibes and positive energy. It satisfies you. You get the feeling…ok, we must be doing something right. But the most important fact is, you know that you can be grateful. Grateful for being able to play such an event, because of the fans who supported us.

As much as the catchiness to the songs and the irresistible hooks and lures you lay upon us, a lot of the infectiousness comes from feeling and seeing the fun the band has making and bringing the music and how it equals ours receiving it. This is as important to you as musicians as much as the music itself, having fun?

Oh yes. Having fun was always the major part of being in this band. We really enjoy what we do.  Playing live, jamming, recording, writing music, all of it J

Second Hand Wonderland is released on Napalm Records, a surprising link up though we all know they know good music when they hear it. How did the union come about?

Well we were looking for a label and found one. The really treat us well and take good care of us. They have been in the industry for ages and always proved themselves as a great long term solution that makes everybody happy.

Have you shows or a tour lined up to support the album? …and possible festival appearances in the year ahead?

Oh it will be a busy year! We go on tour with “Die Apokalyptischen Reiter” in early may through Germany, Switzerland and Austria. We have many shows planned for the summer festival season throughout Europe. Check out our homepage for exact dates and where they’re happening.

Thank you for sparing time to talk with us would you like to leave with any last words or thoughts?

Thank you for the interview. Big thanks to all our fans out there who support us. Without you we would not be here. This new album is dedicated to you. See you out there on tour J

Finally in our review we referenced the likes of Skindred, Dub War, Djerv, Rammstein, Mike Patton, De Staat, Guano Apes, Yello, 12 Stone Toddler and Shaggy to name a few to give an idea of the music and songs within Second Hand Wonderland. Any there you agree with haha and any we may have missed?

Guano Apes… haha…haha…haha. Why is that? 😉 – Oh yes, probably you forgot Justin Bieber…

Read the Second Hand Wonderland review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/kontrust-second-hand-wonderland/

The Ringmaster Review 25/04/2012

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Kontrust: Second Hand Wonderland

 

As much as music delights, surprises and fuels our lives it can frustrate just as it has with metalers Kontrust.  Frustrate in the fact they have somehow managed to evade our attention here until now. Deeply eclectic, wonderfully eccentric, and extremely brilliant, the Austrian sextet unveils their new album Second Hand Wonderland to set the predominately lacklustre world of rock music on a collision course with inspired ingenuity. The album is amazingly impressive, perfectly unpredictable, and most of all complete fun.

Kontrust are classed as a crossover band though that term can be applied to the majority of bands these days, the new breed openly taking influences and missing multiple genres in to their sounds. Kontrust just do it better and from the widest palette available to create sounds that light up every thought, sense and part of the body. They are an infection there is no cure for, a contagion that one only wants to be consumed by. So how can we describe them for others still not aware? For this album take a healthy chunk of Skindred/Dub War and boil it up with chunks of Djerv, spices of Rammstein, Mike Patton, and Guano Apes and then pipe some Yello, 12 Stone Toddler and Shaggy through it and you are on the right recipe at least.

Second Hand Wonderland is the follow up to the previous acclaimed 2009 album Time To Tango which gave the two singles The Smash Song and the Dutch chart hitting Bomba. In between that and this third release (their debut album Welcome Home coming in 2006) the band received an Amadeus Austrian Music Award in the Hard & Heavy category as well as playing numerous shows and events including the Przystanek Woodstock festival in front of a reported 300,000. Now with the new album one can only see and hope that they hit the largest and widest attention, music needs the likes of Kontrust, the world needs them.

From the moment the album opens and charms it flies like a wild exhilarating wind across the senses, the songs though not particularly brief simply breeze past with the most open of pleasure and fun. They say time flies when one is enjoying oneself and Second Hand Wonderland is the strongest proof. Led by the brilliant dual and contrasting vocals of Stefan and Agata who is Polish, the songs sizzle and stomp with each and every note. With music that rages and bruises through to hypnotising and serenading to sirenesque effect and brought by the rest of the band in guitarist Robert, bassist Gregor, drummer Roman, and percussionist Manuel, the album is a sonic festival that wraps its manic arms around the body whilst drizzling mouth watering invention and bedlam into every pore.

The first single from the album Sock ‘n’ Doll opens the unforgettable experience with initial vocal melodies from Agata before Stefan brings his best Benji Webbe impression.  Within a few eager breaths the track erupts with a deep predatory bass and crushing riffs led forth by thumping rhythms. From a Skindred/Djerv rampage the song suddenly steps aside into a beautiful melodic pop moment from the stunning voice of Agata backed with crystalline melodies. Glittering electro sounds then sweep over with an industrial nip to them and in a little over a minute we have been turned inside out magnificently. The song ripples and pulsates to its end continuing the interchanges and already the incisive hooks of the band are in and attached deeply especially from the explosive metal/ska lead into the climactic end.

Every song could be mentioned in immense detail but to save a review running into pages let us just say each and every song is as inspiring and majestic as they are wonderfully crafted and delivered. The likes of Falling with an metallic Animal Alpha like infusion, the De Staat toned electro pop addiction that is Monkey Boy, and the energised rap/melodic grooved U Say What simply leave one grinning from ear to ear whilst the magic engages fully. If you have not begun joining in by the fourth song a check of the pulse is needed.

The peaks of what is a constant elevated high include the songs The Butterfly Effect, Bad Betrayer, Raise Me Up…… ok basically everything. The Butterfly Effect is a definite highlight and a song that Bow Wow Wow might be making if the band was starting out now, its tribal instinctive rhythms and flow awash with warm and gracefully beckoning vocals from Agata. The wicked sinister stomp of Rasputin and the punk thrusting Adrenaline showing Agata can be as harsh vocally as stunning, not to forget the aggressive maelstrom of intensity Hey DJ! leave one just as desperate to dive back into their depths as those songs mentioned and those left for your investigation.

     Second Hand Wonderland released on Napalm Records (yes a surprise here too but they know great music) is easily one of if not the best album heard so far this year. It is magnificence at its most impressive and sets up Kontrust to be your new favourite band.

Ringmaster 10/04/2012

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