Vicky Psarakis: «Orphans represents at 100% what The Agonist are»

When The Agonist hired the relatively unknown Vicky Psarakis in 2014 as their new vocalist, it was hard for anyone to predict what could follow.

Five years and three albums later Vicky has managed not only to deal with the difficult role that was appointed to her, but also to be loved by the band’s demanding audience. Rockrooster had the chance and the honor to host the sociable Vicky Psarakis on an interesting interview that gave to us in Greek about The Agonist, the bands new album and herself.

Your new album titled ‘Orphans’ will be out at the 20th of September. What should we be exptecting from it and what differences will it have from your previous records?

The two singles that are already out, represent clearly the sound of the record. It has a much heavier sound than the previous albums and focuses more on the technical aspects of our music. All the band members have performed  at their full potential.

The vocals are also more varied than before. It is a much darker record and as you can see on the two songs that are out, the tracks will also be varied. Homogeneous but varied. This is what we love to do. We wouldn’t be happy if all of our songs sounded the same. I am pretty sure this is our heaviest, most powerful and darkest album I have personaly recorded with the band.

This is your third record with The Agonist. Do you feel that you have found a home in this band?

Yes! I was very lucky, because from the very first moment that I joined the band we had good chemistry, communication and respect. The only thing that was probably missing, was spending some time together. Five years later we have bonded on another level. We are friends, we are family and I believe that this is something you can see when we play live.

The joy of playing together and our bonding is visible on stage and can be easily spoted in the track writing too. We feel more comfortable now. This does not mean that things were difficult in the past. We always had a good flow. But things now are more comfortable and family like.

If you go back to the time that you joined The Agonist, could you imagine things turning out they way they are now?

To be honest no. When I joined the band we had discussions, like it usually happens at those situations, on the direction that the band shall follow. At first, we discussed the possibility of softening our sound a bit, to reduce the brutal vocals and prefer clean ones. We tried it and it did not work well.

This does not mean that the result wasn’t good, but when a band is introduced to the audience with a specific sound, then the fans expect specific things. So I was happy when we decided to return to our usual style of music because I believe that this is the direction that the band should follow. When you are in a band, it is important to think of what is better for everyone and not for yourself. I believe that ‘Orphans’ represents at 100% what The Agonist are and what we should do from now on.

In ‘Orphans’ we can find a song titled ‘Blood As My Guide’. This song includes Greek lyrics. How did you decide to write Greek lyrics for an Agonist song and how do you feel about it?

I have to say that I am really happy and proud about it. It was something spontaneous, but despite that fact, people love it. Not only people that speak or understand Greek, but also people that do not understand a thing I say. There is something that magnetizes them. But the story of how all this occured it also interesting.

Our drummer has written that song. He usually contributes one or two tracks on each rerord. When he sent me that song at first, the part that the Greek lyrics were written wasn’t there yet. So I wrote the rest of the song and sent it back to him. He contacted me and told me that he thought something was missing. After two or three weeks he sent me the song again, adding a new riff.

When I heard the new version, something at the songs atmosphere reminded me Greece and I decided to add Greek lyrics. There is a teaser of the song out. It is about half the song. The magic though, is on the othe half that hasn’t been out yet. The title of the song, is also translation from a Greek lyric.

Since we are talking about Greece… you are coming to Europe with Jinjer but there are no Greek dates in that tour. Should we expect to see you live in Greece again in the near future?

I hope so. We played there once, I believe in 2015 and it’s been four years since then. I had brought the band and everyone was very happy. They really liked Greece. We would love to come again.

There should be interest from a Greek promoter and then discuss it with our Manager. Greece is really far and that makes touring there a bit expensive. We did not manage to play there on this European tour, but hopefully we will include Greece in our next one.

Let’s discuss about you now. When did you find out that you have a talent in singing and when did you decide that this is what you want to do in your life?

Singing is something I have been doing since a very young age. At school they chose me to sing in choir and theatric plays because I was singing the correct notes. After that I stoped singing for a few years. It is not that I really loved singing as a child, but it was something that they asked me to do and I usually agreed.

When I finished junior high scool I started listening to heavy metal music, so I naturally started singing again the songs that I liked. But even then, I cannot say that I had a strong bond with singing. At that age though, I had started writting music and learning to play guitar and piano.

As I grew up, I realized the fact that had a natural talent at singing, so I followed that path. It is something that I learned to love.

Which artists do you listen too on your free time and which ones are your favourite?

Tough question. I was never into a specific genre. It was possible for me to listen only to Death Metal for a year, then switch to Power Metal for another year. This does not mean that I only listen to metal music. I like listening to a lot of different stuff.

I am usually after quality bands, regardless of genre. Some bands that influenced me, especially at a younger age are Opeth, The Gathering, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Pain of Salvation. Newer bands that I like listening too are Periphery, Monuments, Dance Gavin Dance and I really like the most recent record of White Chapel. Generally I listen to a lot of stuff and a lot of genres.

What is your relationship with Greece. If I am not mistaken you have lived here for a while. Where did you live and what are your memories from life here?

Yes I have lived in Greece for many years. I moved there with my parents when I was ten years old and I went to junior high school and high school in Sitia of Crete.

At my eighteen I want to Athens to study at the University and I stayed there until I joined the Agonist. I have relatives at Chicago that I live now and I think it is much easier to travel to Canada from here, than from Greece. I have lived for almost fifteen years there and both my parents are Greek.

What else do you like to do except for singing and composing music on your free time? What are your hobbies?

I have two dogs that require a lot of time and attention (laughs). I also like cooking, working out, movies, series and books. My hobbies are pretty usual.

Instead of a conclusion, would you like to say something to the Greek audience?

I would like to say a big thank you for supporting me, even before joining The Agonist. My first steps in singing took place in Greece where I used to sing live and cover songs and the Greek audience always supported me.

They always believe that I could achieve things out of the country and I am deeply thankful for that. I hope that we will manage to come and perform live again there sometime soon, escpecially during current record’s tour, for which I am very proud. I cannot wait to share it with the audience and of course that includes Greece.

I would like to thank you for your time.

It was my pleasure.