Markize released their masterpiece, A Perfect Lie in 2012. It is a superb album blending metal, rock, pop, and deep story – telling tracks that meld French, Russian and English lyrics. All of the tracks are sung by the talented, multi-linguist, Alina Dunaevskaya, who possesses a diverse vocal range. The album was one of Sea of Tranquility Staff Writer Mark Johnson's favorite surprises of last year.
Alina has been very busy this year, however, she was able to answer a long list of questions Mark posed, and today we have the answers to his questions from this dynamic lead singer.
Alina, welcome to the Sea of Tranquility. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule promoting your new album A Perfect Lie and rehearsing for your tour to take some time out to answer some questions for your fans.
Mark - From where did the band name Markize originate?
Alina - This name came to me spontaneously during a drive and a discussion about the Marquis de Sade with my parents and David Verbecq, (drums), in 2003. I'm a fan of castles, ancient architecture, corsets and all the atmosphere that prevailed in the 18th and 19th centuries, and it was only natural for me to expose my world through a name that sounded like my first inspirations.
Mark - A Perfect Lie is your third album. Please tell us about your first two albums, Poussières de Vie, and Transparence. What are some of the highlights from these albums and the years that surround their production and performance?
Alina - Actually, A Perfect Lie is the second album. Poussières de Vie is a demo containing the songs, "In My Dream","Poussières de Vie", "Paperdoll" and "Pardonne-Moi", which were rearranged and reinstated in the first album Transparence that was released in 2007. We toured a lot since Transparence, in France and the Netherlands, but we also composed for what became A Perfect Lie. This album should have been released in 2010, but it is at this point that Tarja offered us to join her European tour; we could not refuse such an amazing opportunity! So we put on standby the recording of the second album, and took the opportunity to test some new songs live, such as "Mechanical Hearts ", "A New Era " or 'Все пройдет' The warm welcome regarding the new songs gave us confidence to finish this album and we finally released it in November 2012. I also spent a lot of time on keyboards and vocal arrangements. It was important to me that this album was a reflection of the evolution of the band, and I wanted the pop and electro sounds to be highlighted through the keyboards, but also in the singing.
Mark - Ok , let's talk about A Perfect Lie. The album opens with 'Mechanical Hearts', one of the best tracks on the album. How did you develop that opening keyboard?
Alina - I composed the keyboard base of the song, and Franck subsequently added his guitars over. I use to take a sound that I like, then "triturate" it and compose including other sounds over it. All this is quite inexplicable in words, inspiration is not palpable and when it's there I do my best to explore it. I also get inspired from my love for new wave, electro and industrial music, and always with a hint of "blackness". I had wanted to mix my passion for dance and music for a long time, and while composing the track, I had choreography in mind.
Mark - A Perfect Lie , Also has an accompanying music video with an interesting storyline and ending . It seems that you enjoy making videos for each of your albums. What was it like making the video? Do you think you were able to bring the idea and meaning behind the song to full fruition with the music video ?
Alina - Yes, making music videos is clearly one of my favorite parts in this business! Each song tells a true story, lived near or far, and being able to image it is like an accomplishment and fulfillment of these words. I dream to compose movie scores. So, by making videos to illustrate our music I feel closer to this universe. It is both fun and fabulously exciting to put images together with sounds and words. There are also many possible interpretations of a text, according to the experience and sensitivity. We must choose one interpretation, and this is what happened to "Mechanical Hearts". With Any May, the director of this video, we developed this frame, which fits perfectly to the idea that I wanted to convey in this song: the mechanization of our society that goes through to the mechanization of the human heart, to put it to a "love consumerism". The end of the story in the video is just another way of saying "no" to the standards and barriers that society imposes on us, and to the mind's industrialization and conformism. I had a lot of fun on the set while dancing and for the acting scenes. It was new for Markize to include choreography and I wanted that so much with my past as a dancer.
Mark - On the second track ' Все пройдет ' you sing in Russian . What is your native language and how many languages can you speak fluently? What is the story or meaning of the song?
Alina - Yes Russian is my native language and I also speak French, English and a little Spanish. I would have loved to sing also in Italian or even Portuguese. I find these languages very "melodic". But I miss time badly!
Anyway, it was very important to me to include several Russian songs in the new album, and it was also a fans request.
The song 'Все пройдет', which literally means "All rise", is both the story of a complicated love and a cry of hope. The verses begin with "Let me close to you". It is the suffering of being in love with someone but not being in tune with that person. To not want the same things at the same time, and to know that life goes on, time is running out, and that we lose this precious time not to understand each other and in the end build nothing together. However, I mean in the chorus section to trust the fate that pain and misunderstanding will pass away. I think, in fact, that the reading of these lyrics can generate different meanings, depending on the experience of each person and according to what they want to understand out of it. In life it is the same thing: there are obvious things that come our way, and we choose either to enter or to pass without further addition. And it significantly directs all the events of our life. It is my deep conviction.
Mark – On 'Laisse le temps s'eteindre', you sing in French. I once asked another multi-linguist female vocalist what inspired her to sing songs in a language that felt native to the story or meaning of the song. For those of us who do not speak French, how did the meaning behind the song help you choose the French language?
Alina - There is really no logic to it. The language comes very naturally to me according to the lyrics. It is very "organic" as a choice. I started writing "Laisse le temps s'éteindre" in 2008, with Franck Chentrier who composed the main guitar riff. I have refined and completed it while recording the demo version of the new album. The first sentences, with its own poetry and absurdity (how can we turn off the time?) came to me in French. So I found that it makes sense to continue in French.
Mark - Which is your favorite language to write lyrics?
Alina - I think it is French. Precisely because this language is full of shades. It allows me to play with words, figures of speech, and it implies a strong emotion that I want to convey through the story I tell in a song. But of course I love English, which is very melodic and suits rock music, and Russian delivers a more "intimate" message, I believe.
Mark – On the title track, 'A Perfect Lie', you chose to make the song an instrumental track. Did you believe there was enough of a development of the theme of the album in the other tracks to leave this a wonderful instrumental?
Alina - Basically, "A Perfect Lie" was not originally an instrumental track as such but was part of the song "J'erre "; I had composed on the piano. Subsequently, we decided to make a song that sounds more "catchy", therefore the guys added guitars, bass and drums to "J'erre". With the new direction of this track, and the piano was less prominent, I decided to cut a part, and I rearranged the piano intro of "Jerre" which became "A Perfect Lie". I'm happy with the result because this instrumental track represents perfectly the mood I wanted to convey in: romance, darkness and melancholy.
Mark – For the track 'J'erre', you developed another beautiful keyboard opening. Tell us about the seed and germination of that idea for the keyboard opening, and the meaning behind the song.
Alina - Thank you Mark I wrote this song on the piano in 2010. I just sat at my piano and I let my imagination run free. The melodies that came are more easily borrowed from the spleen than gaiety, it does not change! "J'erre " starts with a piano but is soon joined by the other instruments, contrary to the piano and ambient samples of the first version. "J'erre" is part of the song that was almost "automatic" to write, as if I was guided by something unconscious. It speaks about loneliness, the path we have to go, the feeling of being a stranger to this world, but with the power that draws on the deepest level, the instinct of life and hope, that lead us not to give up, whatever it costs, and to achieve our dreams.
Mark – The track, 'Что нас ждет', features some excellent bass, lead guitar, and drums. What is the idea behind the story of this track?
Alina - This song is the Russian version of "Miroir" single track that had been released in 2010, just before the tour with Tarja. It talks about one of our human obsessions: the fear of aging, the fear of death, and therefore the quest for eternal youth, particularly through cosmetic surgery.
Mark – Alina, who is your favorite female singer, performer and song? Who do you think you most sound like?
Alina - I like many singers for different reasons. For example Tori Amos for her extreme sensitivity, Kati Melua for the technicality of her voice, Amy Lee for her rock n 'roll attitude with shades, or Christina Aguilera for her incredible range, coupled with dance performances and a genuine emotion. All these artists inspire me a lot, and even if they are quite different from each other in style, they are all driven by the same energy that drives me: passion.
Mark – Alina, as I said in the review, 'Dance with Me', is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Is dance your second favorite hobby behind making music?
Alina - I am very glad to hear that Mark! Indeed, dance is a passion that I work on in parallel with the music, although, in recent years, the music has taken over my time! I practiced ballet and jazz for 10 years and did a lot of performances. Thereafter, with the creation of the band, I stopped everything to devote myself to music. But the love of dance has never left me and I dream of mixing my two passions. It was therefore natural for me to shoot a video including choreography and I am really happy with the result in "Mechanical Hearts". Girls who danced with me were great, and choreography by Yvana Verbecq sticks very well to the spirit of the song.
Mark – On the track 'My Chains', you mix English and French verses. How difficult is it to keep the two languages straight on stage performing live?
Alina - It is a mix that came naturally. The French goes well together on the pop and melodic verses, and the English fits well on the rock and catchy choruses.
Mark – 'Don't Let This Take Your Life', has some of the best lyrics on the album. Tell us about the story/lyrical development of this song or the Markize song development process.
Alina - It is very hard for me to explain this song. It may sound crazy, but I think it's my subconscious that guided my hand while writing these lyrics. If I try to analyze my words today by immersing myself in the period in which I wrote, I'd say I went through a big phase of introspection and loneliness in which I tried to find answers through the people around me. A symbiotic relationship and self-seeking in the others, but that can be extremely dangerous because you can end up getting vampirized and annihilated by the other if you meet someone inherently manipulative and unhealthy. I think that is waht happened in my life. But I was totally unconscious of it at that moment, of course. These lyrics are certainly the proof of my awareness and healing since.
Mark – Please tell us the story behind 'Просыпайся'.
Alina – "Просыпайся" means "Wake up" and evokes the fact that time is running out, and it speaks to our blindness to events when they happen. It's like a voice inside us that warns us saying "wake up", when it's not too late, don't give up on your life. There are important people you can meet, don't expect to have any regrets because going back is impossible. I have made this remark to myself very often, and I wanted to put it to music. Nevertheless, it is a song of hope. Nothing is impossible when you want it and do everything for it.
Mark – Do you plan to play all of A Perfect Lie, on tour this year?
Alina – We played the major part of the album during the tour in May, and other songs were played on previous concerts, including the release show at the Zebre de Belleville, in November 2012. There is not one song on the album that has not been played live since the release of A Perfect Lie.
Mark – Which has been your favorite place to play live in your career, so far?
Alina – There are quite a few places that we loved during the European tour, but Moscow remains the experience that moved me the most. It was my dream to play in my country, my hometown, and to my countrymen and women. And it was an even more magical moment thanks to the Markize Russian Fanclub, and especially Ani Eowyn, Alina Aelin and Musa who managed the crew who created for us wonderful surprises during our concert at the Milk Club.
Mark – Since A Perfect Lie came out last year, are you already working on the concept for the next album? Can you share some early ideas?
Alina – Not at the moment. Each of us has his own projects to manage, so we are having a break right now.
Mark – Are you working on separate solo projects we should know about?
Alina: I am working on my personal music project right now. It will show off all my inspirations, and I hope that I can release something by the end of the year. Besides, I have two different cover bands, with which I play many standards of rock, pop, soul, funk, jazz and electro music.
Mark – Is there anything else I have not mentioned that you would like to discuss?
Alina –I would like to thank you Mark, and "Sea of tranquility", for the great support you offer us. It was a pleasure to answer to your questions, and many thanks to the readers!
(Click here to read our review of A Perfect Lie)