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Interview Volnaya Staya with Natalie, Marina and Xenia by Wojtek Gabriel, June 2008

Volnaya Staya

Interview Volnaya Staya with Natalie, Marina and Xenia by Wojtek Gabriel, June 2008

I don't think British metal fans are well familiar with the Russian scene. For me Arija, Moscow's legendary heavy metal outfit are one of the greatest metal bands ever and I also know and like many other Russian traditional bands. Volnaya Staya is quite new to the scene and quite interesting, as you don't get many all-female bands in heavy metal in general. The band's beginnings were quite unusual as well. The father of the band is Alexey Strike of the Russian thrash legend Master, who is also the composer and producer for the band. As you can read in their biography, Volnaya Staya just filled in a spot after 80's female fronted acts, Markiza and Primadonna. As I liked the girls' debut album Staya I decided to do a short interview with them. Here's the result.

NE: I'm not sure about the Volnaya Staya's beginnings. Did you girls found a band and then Aleksey came along and became your manager and songwriter or was it his project from the beginning. I mean he found the musicians and put the band together?

Marina: The second version. The birthday of the band was the day of the first performance. It was at the Change Your Tomorrow fest, which took place on 9th of September, 2006. The idea of our band is to prove that the Russian rock-scene isn't only for men! Some of them have to move and vacate the place for us!
Natalie: Our band's history differs from the histories of many other bands because of Alex Strike our producer and inspirer. The idea of the project is very simple a female heavy metal band with professional musicians.

NE: The name Volnaya Staya means Free Flock or Free Horde. What's the idea behind that name?

M: It means free flock, acting like a free horde!
Xenia: Volnaya Staya is a creative alliance of five cheery girls.

NE: Your name was just Staya at the beginning. Why did you add Volnaya to it?

X: Staya sounds very simple, but with the word Volnaya it acquires a riddle.
M: Because of band Staya in Byelorussia. They already had registered it before us, so we had to change the name of the band.

NE: Natalie, you came to the band after the previous guitarist Anna left. Do you know why did she left? And how did you get in touch with the band?

N: I don't know about the details of Anna's leaving. Maybe she had another prospects on the implementation of her talent? I had no problems with other girls from the band and our creative alliance continues to work on new interesting material. Of course, every change in line-up is traumatic for well-coordinated band. It stops activity and the development of the band, but I tried to learn all material as quickly as possible. I didn't want to prevent the band from not taking part in scheduled gigs.

NE: I've seen a clip of you perform Judas Priest's Breaking The Law at the Change Your Tomorrow festival and like you said it was your live debut. Was it the biggest event you've played so far?

N: I think, we had our biggest show in Czech Republic but the Change Your Tomorrow 4 wasn't the first band performance with me. Before that show we played together in Plan B club on 30th of March, 2007. It was the presentation of album Staya.

NE: I've also seen you play Warlock's I Rule The Ruins. Are you fans of Doro Pesch?

M: No, I doubt it. But I hold her in high respect.
N: Doro doesn't provoke negative emotions. She's good.

NE: By the way, you're putting a song on the upcoming A Tribute To Warlock album. Is it gonna be I Rule The Ruins or another song?

M: Yea, it's gonna be this song.

NE: And who is your favourite female performer? For me Jutta Weinhold from Velvet Viper / Zed Yago rules. She has an unbelievable voice!

M: I can't name them. There are very many praiseworthy female musicians. It is senseless to choose the best one.
N: Do you mean women-musicians or women-vocalists? They are different. I like all the women that I met during making material for my site It is safe to say that all of them have become dear for me.

NE: I'm a big fan of Aria, they're really huge in Russia, but unknown abroad, mainly because of the Russian lyrics. Did you consider before writing the album, that it wouldn't get any significant feedback outside of your country?

X: The English version of album Staya will be released soon just for the foreign audience.
M: Our band provokes a lot of emotions even with Russian lyrics. Our performance in Czech Republic confirmed it!

NE: Natalie, you're the most experienced musician in the band I think, as you already played at the end of 80's with the all-female rock band Lamia and a few others. I think all of you have some experience with other bands, but were any of them from any bigger, well known acts?

N: I have just been alive for a long time that's all I'm joking! Volnaya Staya for Julie Main, for example is her first band. It is her debut and I want to her to appreciate it. I think she will have a lot pride to know that she has begun her career in such wonderful band.
M: The most well known that I was in was called Forsage.

NE: Do you personally know any musicians from the Russian legendary female bands Markiza and Primadonna?

N: Yes, I know them personally. I know many other female bands and there is a great quantity of interesting female projects. The information about them is on my site

NE: Natalie, your favourite rock groups are WASP, Kiss, Savatage, Alice Cooper, but you studied music theory for two years. Are you into more classic genres as well? Classical music, jazz?

N: Yes, of course. When you begin you try out many different genres. Sometimes it is just a sporting interest could I play this or not? But after a while you stay in favourite genre.

NE: I mentioned Savatage. Have you heard new Jon Oliva's Pain album yet? It's one of the best metal albums I've heard over last couple of years!

N: Yes, I have heard this album and it is superb like everything that Jon Oliva makes.

NE: How did you pick up the guitar first? Why did you choose this instrument?

N: In my childhood I had toys which were intended for boys (balls, pistols, daggers) and construction sets and logical games. Of course I had dolls, but it was not interesting to play with them at all. But playing war, climbing trees, being the hockey goalkeeper were attractive to me. I was on friendly terms only with boys because I had nothing to talk with girls. When I was 10, my relatives presented me with a mandolin. I lived in Almaty (Kazakhstan) and there were no musical educational agencies. We could study to play only on pianos and button accordions in our single music school, but I wanted to play only on mandolin. It was very hard to find Russian folk orchestra, but we did it! I became the soloist of this orchestra after an audition. In three years my relatives made me a present again. It was a guitar! There were no teachers, but I had some music experience by that time. After that moment I studied everything by myself. Then I was 12 and it is a reference point of my playing the guitar. When I was in my third year I bought my first electric guitar and put together my band Lamia

NE: You said in one interview, that if the guitar was taken from you, you'd go and hang yourself, haha Is music really that important in your life?

N: These words are not mine! The producer of Lamia band Alex Ostrovnoy pronounced this phrase. He drew such a conclusion after watching my rehearsals and guitar practice. Apparently I have too much energy and adrenaline and I must to use it by all means, otherwise I will simply burn out

NE: You make your living as a web designer. How did you come up with the idea of a website dedicated to female rock musicians?

N: At first it was to have been a site about me, but after that I decided to devote it to girls who are engaged in music. Later my site turned into a huge portal with a great amount of information about different female bands from all around the world. It is not only about modern bands.

NE: Last year you played Basinfest in Czech Rep. with WASP and Kreator among others. Have you played any other shows outside Russia?

N: I went on tours in Germany, Latvia, etc. Volnaya Staya played gigs in Estonia and Czech Republic.

NE: A question you've been asked many times probably. Aren't you afraid that many guys come to your shows just to see beautiful girls play hard music and not for the music itself?

M: It is their problem! I go to concerts to listen to music and I believe, that I'm not alone!

NE: Except for the work on the new album, what are you nearest future plans?

X: It is time to divert our attention away from studio and pay attention to our fans! Wait for the concerts!
M: Our plans consist in having fun!
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