Upwards, Teodasia's debut album, was available in stores globally March, 30, 2012. Priscilla Fiazza's vocals are uniquely full of Italian soprano power and she adds a cute falsetto sound that separates her from many other female singers in the genre. This Venetian band does however follow in the musical tradition of many of their heroes from Northearn Europe and Italy, (Nightwish, Epica, ReVamp and Elvenking, Rhapsody of Fire). Teodasia's music is as their press release describes "an epic journey of sound". The mood of the debut album, as described in their press release, "varies from light to dark, from symphonic and melodic to heavy, intensley dynamic, powerful. Priscilla's voice guides the listener through a path of Light; it's a pilgrimage of the soul that leads upwards, to a state of a mystical rise — which is embodied in the progression of sound throughout the album".
Upwards will be distributed by Audioglobe. You can find a preview of the album and also the debut single, "Lost Words of Forgiveness" on the band's official website: www.teodasia.com" (http://www.teodasia.com/, 2012).
SoT- Welcome to the Sea of Tranquility, Priscilla! We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule promoting your new debut album Upwards and rehearsing for your tour, to take some time out to answer some questions for your fans here.
We caught up with you just before the release of Upwards. First off, thank you for trusting me with your creation last year, and I appreciate the kind words you shared about my review. It was a great leap of faith to trust someone with something you have worked so hard to achieve and I wish for your continued success in reaching fans that really should hear your music.
Where does the name Teodasia originate?
The name dates back to the band's foundation- many years ago, in 2006. Francesco Gozzo began composing and believing in the potential of his music. Thanks to his strong vision, he was able to recruit a fair lot of musicians-- which have come and gone throughout the years- to help his vision come to life. His project caught the attention of a producer, Andrea Bezzon, who has lead our endeavors in the past couple of years. The name "Teodasia" survived through all these changes, because it embodied a vision and a dream. What was originally just Francesco's dream in time became everyone's. We also thought that the name had an evocative sound to it -- and that it was evocative in the same way that the music is. We later discovered that "Teodasia" also means something specific. Theos means God, and Asia is another way to say East. Our "God of the East" is the sun! The sun stands for Light and warmth; it rises for good and bad people alike, marking a continued invitation and a clear direction. We want to turn our eyes 'Upwards', towards the sun, towards a guide. The quality of warmth is also displayed by the timbres of our instrumentation and sound.
SoT-Since that promo was sent you have signed with Audioglobe. Tell us what is like to work with the label. Do they provide good support for your efforts?
Audioglobe is our distribution service, whereas our label is Red Pony Records. It has taken a long time before we were able to find a situation that came close to our ideal. Our key request was to keep freedom in choosing how to deal with promoting our music and our image. "Upwards" is our debut album and first impressions are always important. We wanted to be authentic and to come across as ourselves. Red Pony showed us that all of our requests could be accommodated -- while boosting, as opposed to thwarting, its ability to carry out its duties as a label.
SoT-Tell us about your background as a singer and the wonderful region of Italy which you are from. How do the surroundings help inspire you? The video you made provided a nice glimpse into that world. More on that later.
Italy is indeed a wonderful country, with glorious musical traditions. It is the home of 'Bel Canto', which literally means 'pleasant singing/song'. Bel Canto is a mindset, as well as a vocal technique. The goal is for the voice to result smooth, flexible, ornate and passionate. My vocal training was initially focused on achieving such abilities. Through singing 'Bel Canto' repertoire, I also learned to connect with my emotions and see them sublimated into the nobility of sound. The first scores I sang were works by the Italian Baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi; my favorites were 'Lasciatemi morire' ('let me die alone of solitude and suffering') and 'Sebben Crudele' (how cruel love feels sometimes). Back then, I was living in Auckland, New Zealand and my singing teacher was Liudmila Vaganova, an incredible Russian pianist. She introduced to me Bach, Mozart and Schubert. I was also singing second soprano in my school's choir. We had a very busy schedule, many performances and rehearsals. Our conductor, Ms. Pattson, had ambitious plans for us, which lead us to winning a gold prize in an international school choir competition. The finals were held in the Sydney Opera House. By then I had dropped out of my semi-professional career in golf to focus on music alone. Music was the main reason why I moved back to Italy after graduation from high school. At this point I met my teacher for pop/rock singing, Silvia Testoni, who developed my voice in all of its extension and registers.
After some solo experiences, I finally met my band. Along with the band, I also connected with the beautiful surroundings of the Venice area, where the band is based. You are quite right; there is something about Venice that makes people develop a sensibility for art, music and poetry. The Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini spoke of the special quality of the Venetian lighting. I agree. It makes your spirit sing.
SoT-I like the cool instrumental opening to Upwards. It grabs your imagination and projects your feelings upwards right out of the box! Describe how you created that falsetto vocal on Temptress. It is so cool and distinctive and creates a nice signature vocal to separate you from the crowd of female singers. How did the song develop? Who or what was the inspiration?
Strange, how things that come most naturally turn out to be the most expressive! That 'falsetto' quality that you mention is a product of raw instinct and good training. "Temptress" has such a playful quality. I kept on thinking of a Venetian dame of the 18th century and how she would express such playfulness vocally. There it came.
As far as having the technique in my bag of vocal tricks, that vocal quality was born when my Italian vocal coach Silvia Testoni would insist that I sing Kate Bush's signature song "Wuthering Heights". This song represents a fruitful contamination of Bel Canto and pop music. Very clever. Likewise, "Temptress" is a rock track, but it is so melodic in some parts that one simply cannot ignore the spirit of 'Bel Canto' coming through. The lyrics of the 'falsetto' part say: "I'll charm you back; you shall fall right at my feet". Indeed they are representative of a Bel Canto female character, feeling taken by a man and setting out to make him hers in the same way. The characters are to yield to each other, without hiding behind disguises – because the voice leaves nothing hidden.
SoT-Revelations grabs the listener's attention with that excellent piano intro. Loved that. How do you decide what instrument to choose to create the best opening mood?
Francesco, the composer of the band, sits at the piano while holding on to a reference point, which could be a mood, an idea, an emotion or a dream (Francesco has a rich dreaming life). Whatever he holds on to becomes the spirit of the music -- he embeds it so powerfully. Once the first harmonic and melodic ideas take shape; the rest comes to him all at once: the choice of instruments, orchestral arrangements, electronics and effects. Francesco's music is a sonic unit emerging, not a step-by-step construction.
I like to think of this process as Michelangelo thought of sculpting. Michelangelo would say that the sculpture was already present within the block of marble, and that his task was merely to make it come to the surface, by eliminating the excess stone. Riegl speaks of 'Kunstwollen', the will of art. I think that Francesco's mind works that way too. That is why he is so incredibly quick when it comes to arranging. I do the same with lyrics. I try to read the message that is already there, embedded within the music. My task is to discover it and make it surface into a verbal form.
SoT-Lost World's of Forgiveness has a deep dark opening which is epic. The music, (guitars, keys, and orchestration are some of the best on the album). The track also features a great duet. With whom are you singing? (I could not find it in the credits). At times you sing as sweet as Marcela Bovio, of Stream of Passion…and believe me that is a compliment.
That is a great compliment indeed. Marcela Bovio has all my admiration. The vocalist in the track is Rhapsody of Fire's Fabio Lione! It was such an honor to work with him and to duet with his powerful voice. Fabio gave approval, encouragement and support -- which gave us such a confidence boost when the long-awaited release date was approaching. In Lost Words of Forgiveness, the message in the vocally sweet parts is acknowledgment of a sad situation; there is sweetness because there is Hope. 'Sometimes forgiveness does not come so cheap/ blood of the fathers, takes ages to heal'- here is an example of the message carried out by the vocally sweet parts.
SoT-Lost World's of Forgiveness is also the track featured in your first music video. How cool is it that your drummer wanted to capture that power on the edge of a mountain?
That mountain edge sure plays a lead role in the video :) The edge is the stage for the guy's instrumental solos and it emphasizes the power of the song's music and message. Standing on an edge is also metaphorical for decision-making. If you make the wrong decision, you fall. A fall from such a height is an irreversible event-- it leads to certain death, to the death of the soul. That is what happens, for instance, to my character. Her fall comes as a warning to the offenders, not to pretend that hurtful words are innocuous; it comes as a warning to victims too, to take emotional pain seriously and take the steps to heal it.
My character wanted to call it quits, because her soul was damaged as a result of offenses inflicted on her. There was no will of any sort in the surroundings to mend her hurt. She was left with distance and strife. Whenever we stand on the edge of life-bearing decisions, we need to think of the consequences of our actions, keeping a firm willingness to get better and holding on to the understanding that the path of healing is always available, regardless of how difficult it might seem.
SoT-How much fun was it to create the video? It looks like everyone was inspired to create a cool fantasy world.
It was an incredibly fun experience and it was also an amazing opportunity for team-building. We went to Tuscany for two nights with a large crew of technicians and helpers, each doing their absolute best to make our video a success. I would like to mention especially the director, Savino Cancellara. He put very much care and attention in communicating the message of the song; he created a storyline from scratch to vehicle his own interpretation of the song. We all really enjoyed working this way; I felt that we were had all come together to give (visual) shape to our message.
I enjoyed everyone's company and contributions very much. Spending time with Fabio Lione was awesome. He is really funny, sweet and outgoing!
SoT-Close Call is another soft song which displays the diverse nature of your vocal abilities. What relationship or friendship was the inspiration for this track?
Close Call is a song of friendship. It sometimes happens that people who we hold close and dear lose their way, succumbing to their weakness and to the sirens of the world. They are not willing or not capable of asking for help. That is when real friends come in and speak aloud and from the heart. Sometimes only the heart of a friend can call them back, remind them of their strength and wash away all their pain.
The inspiration for the song came one day when I was thinking of all the people in my past that I had wished I could help. I took the impetus of the heart and turned sadness into sweetness. Then wrote Close Call.
"Running despite your chains", opens A Powerful Life. That seems like the story of many new bands. You have a great spirit. How do you overcome the ups and downs of the music biz? In my experience, the major obstacle that can hold us back from fulfilling our dreams is the degree of self-motivation we can muster up. It is a given that difficulties abound when dealing with the music business, although the toughest hurdles come straight from us. Not believing in yourself, not valuing your work, feeling guilty and selfish for wanting something strongly, not overcoming the fear of outcomes -- these are the real problems. When you can say that you have conquered these challenges, there is nothing that can hold you back any longer. Our unconquered problems are unhealthy traveling companions, just like those we address in "A Powerful Life". Here we
sing the joy of freedom, of reclaiming the self from suffocating circumstances.
SoT-What advice would you pass on to others who are right now where you were years ago, trying to develop a message, image and story for their creations?
My advice is to do a lot of soul-searching. It is important to understand who you are, what your inner gifts are and where this picture of yourself is naturally leading you for fulfillment. You have to understand what you want before making steps towards achieving it. Introspection is my key word. Sometimes we realize that what we thought we wanted is not what we actually want. To be investing time and energy to achieve what we do not actually want makes us feel as if
we were condemned to being hopeless and frustrated. Only when the heart and mind are in unison, achieving our goals becomes as natural as breathing.
If working with music is an authentic desire stemming from the very core of you, then your music, image and message will come very naturally-- for they were already in you. The game is letting them emerge, and the journey is quite fun too.
SoT-Hollow Earth has an excellent epic opening and feel to it. Describe the inspiration and development of this track.
This track has an interesting history. It was once 'Crystal Earth', named after an experiment in film direction by Francesco. In the beginning Francesco's compositions were, in fact, soundtracks. Francesco showed me a few shots of 'Crystal Earth', very secretively, and I thought there were some clever intuitions and a taste for scenography. It was a fantasy movie and it featured the entire neighborhood!
When he composed the music, Francesco named it 'Crystal Earth', to root it in a nice retrospective memory. You can get an intuition of the soundtrack nature of Francesco's first compositions if you notice that the track has a long instrumental part in the middle section.
The song is now called 'Hollow Earth' and it is immersed in the overall concept of the album. It speaks of deep, intimate transformation propelled by dire circumstances. The act of descending into our core grants us contact with a primordial force – the uncorrupted self -- where we find the strength to be a kernel of change and restoration.
SoT-I just watched your acoustic You Tube video for Aurora…Wow! First off, will you release that version on CD or digital download? It is amazing. The actual CD track is also fantastic. A great showcase for your vocal talents.
Aurora is an amazing ballad and I feel blessed that I have had the chance to lend my voice to such a beautiful melody. I am glad you liked the acoustic version! You see, we were looking for a way to introduce our new keyboard player, Michele, to all of our fans. Michele joined the band just a few months ago, thus he did not have a chance to feature in the album nor in the official music videos. We thought that the best way to introduce him was to show him playing. I must add that I really enjoying singing to his piano playing, because he is very a passionate player. We have great communication and I hold that his artistic contribution -as well as his human qualities- will be vital for the future of the band. Back to the question- there will be no release of the acoustic version because there is no proper recording! I am really pleased that what was meant as just an introduction turned out so enjoyable.
SoT-Pandora's Knight seems to be wrapped in a theme similar to all the mystery surrounding the year 2012. What are your thoughts on this amazing year…so far?
The song is not explicit on the theme. However, I did write it at a time when I was mulling over the theme of the Apocalypse. I am a Catholic, and as a Catholic I believe that the events described in the book of Revelations will unfold. What we do not know is how to determine at what level the book relies on symbolic language and how to unlock its symbolism. In the Christian perspective, no human being is to know in advance when the End will come; we can only pay attention to the signs and prepare.
Some people are awaiting the second coming of Jesus, some are expecting catastrophic changes in the environment and major earthquakes, and some are expecting the onset of a nuclear war. Regardless of the position, there is a very concrete positive aspect of all the emphasis on the year 2012. We become increasingly aware, as a society, that life is not to be taken for granted and that a serious reflection on our society's values has been long due. We are reminded that the present moment is a gift and that it deserves to be honored. We are also powerfully encouraged to get rid of all baggage slowing us down in the pursuit of that which gives meaning to our lives.
"Pandora's Knight" is about dropping baggage that keeps us stuck -- even when it appears to serve a noble purpose in keeping evil at bay. We call for fighting evil out in the open and commit to a relentless hunt.
SoT-Eulogy is another album highlight because it includes some the band's best instrumentation. What is your favorite part of the song? I think you know I like the "ahs".
Whenever I listen to -or perform- this track, I feel so peaceful! What amazes me about the guys is that, although they play full groove and heavy chords, they are still able to communicate peace of mind. My favorite part is probably the "ahs". The track itself is so great... would anyone expect it to get even better at 4'30''?! All of us are playing together, enjoying the sound and rejoicing in our music. The choir also did an incredible job in adding dimension to this ending.
SoT-My Minotaur closes the album in epic proportions. Priscilla you are out front and driving this musical train. How much fun is it to perform this track or any of the others on stage?
Performing our music live is incredible fun!! Our live shows open with a short version of Eulogy, when the guys first walk on stage; then comes "My Minotaur", with my entrance. I am filled with so much adrenaline and energy at this point; My Minotaur is the outlet to let it flow out! When we perform live we are looking at each other all the time and we never stop smiling!
SoT-Can you tell us about your future tour plans for the Upwards tour?
We have two management teams -- both working towards making our music go the distance! I know that they are planning a summer tour around Northern Europe and Britain; of course, these are insider's rumors. We will know for good when management settles on a course of action. We will inform our fans as soon as we know ourselves!
SoT- Is there anything else you would like to add that I did not cover in the interview?
I'd like to mention that an extra track has made it in the final version of the album; it is named 'Clarion Call'. We encourage everyone to check out our official website, where fans can find teasers for each track, accompanied with a comment on the track and a comment on the album's overall concept.
Mark, it was a real pleasure answering your questions and learning about your impressions. Thank you very much for appreciating our work! Thank you, Mark and Sea of Tranquility, for an enjoyable interview. Best wishes for your work.
SoT- Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us. We at the Sea of Tranquility wish you and the rest of Teodasia much success with the launch of Upwards and all that you do in the future.
We fans will be watching your star rise!
(Click here to read our review of Upwards)