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Anyone who loves music as much as I do, knows that feeling when a new song or record or even band gets to you right away. And then there are those tracks and artists you totally fall for at an instant. And this has been the case for me about three years ago with Ashtar and their debut album. A first public declaration of my affection was released on January 3rd 2016. Fast forward to the future and present as it is, I had the honour of interviewing founding member and front woman Witch N. Our virtual dialogue is also the first part to be published for my new series “Obscure Sisterhood”. Reading her answers, I finally found out why the art of Asthar is music to my ears – literally speaking, having had the same female rolemodel/idol as a teen: Courtney Love. 

Ashtar

Nadine, it’s been quite a while since ‘Ilmasaari was released and the new album is finally on the horizon. What can you tell us about the second coming of Ashtar?
We’re working on new songs and plan to enter the studio again in 2019. But at this moment we can’t say anything about a release date. We’re playing some of the new songs live already – so if you want to get a hint how the new album is going to be you need to see us live on stage soon!

Following pretty much all the news regarding Ashtar I know that a lot has changed for Marko and yourself – how much impact does your personal life have on the band?
I suppose you mean our two little kids. Yes, as we are the core of Ashtar, our personal life has of course a big impact. We’ve learned how it is to have a band while having no time at all. We’ve learned a lot about organizing and being creative on command as well. For me personally, having kids make me feel more comfortable with myself. I know better who I am and what is really important in my life. And music is definitely one very important thing in my and Markos life, so we give our best to keep Ashtar going.

You have been a member of Swiss Death/Doom band shEver before the birth of Ashtar – was there any difference in working with just female musicians compared to your current environment?
This is a very delicate question. Yes, I think there is a difference between working with women or men. Though in Ashtar, where I work with my husband, the comparison is not that significant. I played in some other bands with male members too, but I was hardly involved in the songwriting process – I just can say that women seem much more focused and efficient to me, they don’t just sit around and drink beer instead of rehearsing or writing new songs. And I think shEver would never have sounded like we did if there would have been some male members around. By the way, they still exist and have two male members nowadays. Beside that I generally think that women just write different songs with different attitudes and atmospheres.

At what age did you get into heavy music and why (if there is any particular reason at all)?
It depends on the definition of heavy, but I would say when I was about 16 or 17. When I first heard “Far beyond driven” from Pantera I was blown away and curious about more stuff like that. A bit later I got more into Gothic Metal and then into Black and Death Metal. The reason? I was fascinated by the heaviness, the brutality and the beauty at the same time in this kind of music.

MMXIV

You play the bass, guitars, the violin and sing – but what was your first love when it comes to a creative/musical outlet and how old where you?
My first instrument was, like pretty much every child’s, the recorder. Beside playing the children songs I sometimes created my own “songs”. I was 5 or 6 years old. But really creative I got when I learned to play the violin with 8 years. For some years I mainly played classical music until me and my girlfriend decided to start a band when we were 16 – I began to take bass lessons and wrote my own Grunge songs on my guitar.

Have you ever felt like there is anything you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) do because you are a woman?
When I was a little girl I was not allowed to play soccer in a club, because my parents told me that this is not a girl’s sport. And later, with Ashtar, I played a concert while being pregnant in the 7th month. There were men who came to me and told me that this is no good for my child. (BTW: This child is now 3 years old and very healthy. And he loves music!)

Would you consider yourself a feminist and what are your thoughts on feminism?                                                                                                      I would not consider myself a feminist but still many of my opinions are feministic. As long as women don’t have the same rights (or salary) as men I think feminism is very much-needed here. The really extreme forms of feminism I do not appreciate though. Biologically, women and men are not the same and I am really happy that there are differences. 😊 So women and men do not need to be equal in every part of their lives.

What was the first and the most recent record you bought?
The first record I bought from my own money was probably “What’s the story morning glory” by Oasis – when I was 12. The last record? Hmm, I think that was the album “Maltrér” from the German Black Metal band Verheerer.

Studio

What is more fun: Playing or watching a concert?
I love to see bands live, but nothing compares to the feeling when I am on stage myself.

Do you have a musical rolemodel/idol, maybe even a female one?
I had many idols when I was a teenager, especially Courtney Love of Hole or Jennifer Finch of L7. Nowadays my idols are not musicians anymore.

What advice would you give young girls when it comes to picking up an instrument/starting to sing and joining a band?
First you need to master your instrument or voice, like everybody who wants to join a serious band. Then just do what you feel you want to do! Never pretend to be something you aren’t. People will notice sooner or later. And you can only be good when you are true to yourself.

Nowadays it seems like no band/musician will have a chance without Fcebook, Instagram etc. – what is your personal take on social media?
I grew up without social media and I am really grateful for that because I know the “other side” too. I learned to use social media for promoting my bands, so I think they can be really useful. But I think it’s important that we don’t take the number of “likes” as indicator for our success.

And finally: Will you be touring to promote the upcoming new album? Yes, this is our plan: We will give everything to get on the road for at least one or two weeks in Europe. But this will take a while, the album has to be recorded first.

Stage

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