Debut Album: Portal | An Interview with Cestra

  • Describe your sound in 3 words.

Dystopian metal Enya (direct quote from Jordan Fish of Bring Me The Horizon, it’s the best description I’ve heard so far!)

  • Strings are an inseparable part of your arrangements. How did this love for strings occur?

I’m a huge fan of orchestral elements and choirs, the human element brings so much warmth music. I really adore the string arrangements in Bjork’s work, on her albums Vespertine and Vulnicura in particular. Dead Can Dance also have beautiful string arrangements that add so much weight and meaning to their music. Strings signify emotion for me.

  • You certainly have a signature voice! Who would you pick as your most admired singer?

That’s way too difficult to answer with just one singer. In terms of prowess, range and emotion – Lisa Gerrard, Cedric Bixler Zavala and Jeff Buckley. I also love the true vocal divas and the soul greats. And the legendary vocalists in metal. I could write an essay on this, I’m gonna stop now!

  • You have done plenty of collaborations and we are wondering if you have any memorable stories to share with us?

Major live shows are always awesome, singing a solo at the Royal Albert Hall was probably my highlight as a vocalist so far. And performing at Reading and Leeds was a big tick on my life to do list. With touring I’ve found myself in some weird situations, last year I was firing a flamethrower in front of 70,000 people at Rock Am Ring. Collaboration leads to some really unusual experiences.

  • How has your sound progressed over the years and the different projects you’ve been involved in? What should we expect from your debut album?

I started out about 15 years ago live looping bass and drum samples, I was very much still figuring out how to write songs. I sessioned for various people over the years (as a bass player & vocalist) and before Cestra I had a band called Lionface, which was industrial, heavy, aggressive-pop music. That was super fun to perform. After that wound up, I started writing with no limitations. I didn’t think about how it would be performed live. So I’ve ended up with a very orchestral, industrial, experimental, electronic and choral debut album. The one word I would use to describe it is ‘intense’.

  • What comes first in your work, music or lyrics? Have you been through any periods where you have changed your priorities on this?

It’s always been the music first. The music appears, vocals and melodies come from the music and the lyrics come last. Writing the lyrics is the bit that most feels like work!

  • Which would be your ideal collaboration?

I would love to work with some heavier bands, do some guest vocals or get my choir (Choir Noir) performing live with someone epic. Gojira or Deftones maybe.

  • Tell us something we don’t know about you.

I spent last year touring the world performing with Bring Me The Horizon and one of my tour jobs was performing as one of their 4 dancers. And I don’t know how to dance. So lots of time was spent going over and over choreography in hotel rooms.

  • Thank you!

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