Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, vocalist Lariyah Daniels has risen from the ashes with a new band, a new attitude, and the determination to incinerate everything that gets in her path. Sarge of LRI caught up with Lariyah and new guitarist Sergio Quesada recently in Atlanta, Georgia to discuss her new band, KHAOTIKA, the new EP (Bloodline Empire) , and her message for her fans.
LRI: When LRI last spoke to you back in October 2012, you were on tour with HESSLER and planning new music. We were somewhat surprised to hear about your departure this last January. Can you fill us in on what happened?
LARIYAH: Actually, I left the band in December (2013), but played the date in January as a favor to do, not so much to the band, but for the fans. It was emotional, I’m not going to lie, but on the other hand, it was time to close it. It was time to move on. But..I would do anything to see the fans again, some people do understand who I was before, you know, who I was before I joined Hessler. They knew me back then..back when I was goth/black metal in pictures taken in cemetaries back when I was 14 or 15, and now everyone is all of a sudden surprised.. “Oh, Lariyah, you look so different!”. No I don’t, you idiot. I look exactly the same as I always have.
LRI: Yes! You can be you. I think that’s what your fans expect- wanting to hear TRUE Lariyah..REAL Lariyah. From the heart. You know, you’ve undergone a huge musical transformation with your new band, KHAOTIKA, from what your fans are used to hearing, and I’m curious what led you from point A to point.. “K”
Lariyah: (laughs) Yes, it IS a K. See, when I joined the other band 3 years ago, everything was prewritten and it was told to me how to sing. I really had no creative space, and that’s how it stayed till the end. There were only three songs I wrote, and fans actually knew those were mine because the emotions were showing in my vocals. They were definitely darker songs. I remember always fighting with the members of the band to gravitate toward darker music to help show more me, you know, who I am, but it was always a fight because that’s “not heavy metal”. The “leader” of the previous band was always trying to teach me heavy metal. Trying to get me to understand what it was. He would tell me to watch videos, study the music that was not my cup of tea. I was always in trouble. Every time it was a huge fight. He would say “you don’t understand, you’re not heavy metal”. Well, duh. So it was really kind of heartbreaking, because I was trying so hard to feel it all, the non-dark music, I struggled when I started thinking about it, what I had to sing about, because, well, I didn’t want to sing about shark attacks and kamikazes.. I want emotional songs..lyrics that target people’s emotions, which is why I wrote “Confessions”, or “Gone away” which was dedicated to my mother. The writing process was exactly when one of the guitarist’s father died unfortunately, and I think we kind of connected with that song, and it was beautiful thing, you know,we dedicated that song to them both…and I’ll always remember that. Fans seemed to love the song, but I wasn’t quite satisfied. I wanted my song to scream with the pain and passion I felt. With KHAOTIKA, you can call me as Satanic as you want, you can call it screaming or growing, but how do you react when you’re mad? How do you react when you’re hurt? You express it. Passionately. When you’re frustrated, you yell, you scream. It’s not pretending. I want the emotional part of my music to show. For the EP we’ve created, BLOODLINE EMPIRE, we wanted to capture the occult side of it so people know where we’re at with the music. I wanted people to know where I AM. I’m not going to lie – if you don’t want to listen to me at this point, then I don’t want you to listen to what’s coming at all. It’s not all going to be about religion only, or anti-religion, or whatever you want to call it, but..look, if you don’t like what’s out there now, you’ll most likely not like what’s coming, either, because there will be some REAL heavy shit coming. We’ve put this EP out as a statement. The upcoming album will contain 13 tracks and we’ll be showing a lot of different things fans haven’t really experienced with me before. My vocal range is pretty impressive (octave-wise, which you’ll hear soon), and I really get to let loose and show what I can do. There will be one song dedicated to my mother … she deserves that. Done properly! This October will be 25 years since she died. Very emotional.
LRI: Indeed. Speaking of emotion, you’re right- BLOODLINE EMPIRE is filled with, I think, every emotion humanly (or inhumanly!) possible. I’ve worn this EP out. Gotta be honest- there is simply no comparison to this and any other work in your past. It’s not even on the same plain. This really showcases your power and range as a vocalist, as well as introducing us to some amazing musicians, I mean, SERGIO, you are a God, bro. Your fretwork is, pardon the pun, like a man possessed.
LARIYAH: (laughs) We’re starting the Temple of Serg..wanna join?
LRI: YES! Sign me up! Musically, it’s a complete departure from what I expected from you, gotta be honest, but, it’s refreshing to experience the evolution that has allowed that inner power and controlled, intense chaos get unleashed. I get the feeling we’re seeing your true self. Like you’ve emerged from your chrysalis.
LARIYAH: Exactly. This is how I sing. The reason we pushed for “Masters ov Mayhem” to be released as the first single was that it was the most brutal. I wanted to see how people would react. The reaction was really quite expected. So, uh, what really sucked was that people seemed to ONLY pay attention to the lyrics, as opposed to putting everything together, you know? “Oh Lariyah, you’re just screaming, you’re yelling, I cannot listen to you”, and then it’s “the double bass pedal drums, the drummer cannot do anything else”, and I’m like, ok, thank you for that, here is the door for your way out, why would I give a single ^@$#? Funny thing, though, is that afterwards, I noticed people didn’t even check the other songs that were posted..and that’s a good thing, because I don’t want these particular people listening to anything else, you know? But if, before, you told me I was a Goddess, like, all of a sudden, did you disbelieve in your God? [laughs] It was quite funny to see, but I have faith in my fans who DO get it to share the music, share the message, and share the Khaos. The ballad “All pain is gone” for instance, and that was my showcase, you know? I was watching to see who would even check that out, but apparently some tuned out after the first song, and, well, GOOD! You don’t have to believe in what I believe in to enjoy the music, and I understand our music is not for everybody, but I’m done with creating music for the masses. Before it was all about target the metalheads, rockheads, popheads, whateverheads, and now it’s completely opposite. I love playing to thousands of people, I miss it, but I won’t perform music I don’t believe in. I want my energy to connect with my audience. To project.
LRI: What about those who may be turned off at the imagery of KHAOTIKA?
LARIYAH: Give me a break. What about Iron Maiden? 666? Ozzy? Look, if you’re backing off because of an inverted cross, or the image, well, you’re very shallow. Get outta here.
LRI: So what exactly is your take on Satanism. Your lyrics are quite to the point.
LARIYAH: They are to the point, but a lot is hidden as I cannot really speak or sing to loud about it. YET. Let’s put it this way. The biblical God or Satan, anything you find in Christianity, I have nothing to do with it. It’s a different matter, more advanced, this is the real thing. The evil I represent is not something that people of the gimmick want to follow, because it can get dangerous. This is NOT for everyone, yet those who are supposed to understand and find the meaning in between the lines, they already have and it is only the beginning.
LRI: It is quite a difference from where fans remembered you from your last band and that body of work, to now, you know..the transition is quite dramatic, but I think that if fans can suspend those expectations, and give an honest listen of KHAOTIKA, they will be pleasantly surprised, as I was, at what your putting out. If they’re not fans of this music, they SHOULD be.
LARIYAH: Thank you. A lot of that credit goes to Sergio and his songwriting.
LRI: Yes, Sergio, you’re the main musical songwriter, correct?
SERGIO: Yeah, writing, guitar, keys, you know, a bit of everything.
LRI: Nice! What influences your writing process? I mean, it’s foreboding, dark, ominous..where does that come from?
SERGIO: Purely from the musical side, I grew up with metal.. thrash, death metal, black metal, power metal, so those are my roots, but I’ve diversified a bit over the years, as a local musician here in Atlanta, I’ve had the opportunity to play in quite a few bands and different situations playing everything from funk to classical to jazz. I’ve always liked the darker sides of music, so all those elements come together. I guess all that comes out in the writing. For example, in “All pain is gone”, some chords during the verse are extended in terms of harmony, borrowed more from the jazzier side I guess. A lot of the riffs through the EP in general have a very cadential sound or feel, an influence from the old school classical and baroque guys.
LARIYAH: What I love about working with Serg is that he doesn’t strictly think “American”, you know? It’s not like we have to do something just for what’s popular here. From all our influences, we’re able to cultivate a unique sound that transcends this particular sound or that particular sound.
SERGIO: Yea, it’s a good mix of European influences alongside American, and from other parts of the world as well, since I grew up in Mexico .
LARIYAH: Exactly! We were just talking about under-appreciated WATAIN today, if you look at their newer album, they had Spanish guitar, tango, various influences in their music- and they’re black metal. They’ve got fans going back to 1999, 2000, whatever, and they were stuck with pure black metal- no additives, no experimenting, but the thing is, we all progress. We all grow. It was a true honor to cover Watain’s “They Rode On”, which is, I guess, their only ballad, because it meant so much to us. Some of their old school fans didn’t like it when they released it since Watain deviated from the “standard” path, but they’re not about taking the easy way out, and neither am I. You know, bands like Emperor and Taake are known for taking rock and melding it with occult metal, and, people love when they add something else. That’s the goal with KHAOTIKA- to get the “black” end of occult metal to a newer audience. It’s really not that I’m trying to create a new genre, but, let’s face it, my vocals are more mainstream, but I want more people to listen to it. Again, I know it’s not for everyone, and I won’t compromise on the music to suit people, but bringing more people into this type music is a good thing. I have extremely amazing musicians who deserve to be heard.
LRI: Yeah, I get that. You know, I’ve got a lot of friends who are into Swedish Black Metal, and, I’ll be honest, I’ve listened to it, tried to get into it, but I can’t quite grasp the majority of it. I can appreciate the music, the message, but much of it is beyond my range, I guess, which is why I’m so pleasantly blown away with KHAOTIKA. Whether your goal was to create a new genre or not, I think you may have done just that. If not a new genre, I can certainly attest to the fact that KHAOTIKA has drawn me in like few other bands in that musical arena have. The fact you’ve done it without losing a bit of the aggression, the anger, the raw passion..that is quite a feat.
LARIYAH: Thank you. That is the best compliment I can hear. I like that you get it. One of my bigger vocal influences is Farida Lemouchi from Devil’s Blood, which is occult rock, but her vocal range is so hypnotizing. Just mesmerizing.
LRI: Mesmerizing. That’s a good way to describe your EP. It lures you in and then grabs you by the throat and violently shakes you to the core- and you love every minute of it. Whether you consider it black metal, death metal, occult metal, KHAOTIKA is a fresh boot to the face that will appeal to a wide range of people.
LARIYAH: Thank you!
LRI: As far as the rest of the band, do you have all the other members in place yet?
LARIYAH: We are going to keep it under wraps for now, but I can tell you for the album that we do have some celebrity guests from international acts, but we want to wait for the perfect moment to announce.
LRI: ok, so a couple fun things in closing- you ready for that?
LRI: Tell us where you are in your fitness competitions. We know you’ve had a lot of success in the past, earned several endorsements. Any plans to compete again?
LARIYAH: Well, see, the whole fitness and modeling, it all came form me being bullied in school, believe it or not. I was always the little chubby girl from a broken family, growing up, everyone seemed to hate me, and that’s tough to handle as a kid, but as I matured, I wanted to gain control of my life and started working out. Then people would tell me I should compete, so I took it as a challenge and entered. I was doing photoshoots in Poland and America, Virgin Islands, etc, and thought, what the hell, you know? It was hard work to compete on that level, and it turned out pretty well I thought. It was so hard to tour and try to stay in shape, you know, basically you destroyed your body on tour with beer, and lack of sleep, then go back to the gym for three months to only burn off the damage you caused, then you start it all over. It was a tough cycle. But really, my move to Atlanta, and my focus on KHAOTIKA, you know, well..I’m not going to stop working out, but it’s on hold at this point. Not saying I won’t compete again, but not right now.
LRI: You’re originally from Poland, you’ve been here seven years..what do you miss most about home?
LARIYAH: Family. I think that’s the only thing I miss. Family- whether they are your birth family, blood family, your family is your blood. I’m very emotional. I would go crazy if I didn’t get to Skype with them every now and then.
LRI: If you could get a care package from home, what would it contain?
LARIYAH: NON GMO FOOD!
LRI: HAHA! Final thoughts- what can we expect from KHAOTIKA in the next year?
SERGIO: Musically, it’s going to get darker, more in depth and developed in terms of arrangements. More emotion and aggression.
LARIYAH: Yes! Lots of emotion and aggression!
LRI: Tour plans? I mean, what would a KHAOTIKA tour look like? Who do you see yourselves touring with?
LARIYAH: Oh, I’d love to say WATAIN, but WATAIN are Gods [smiles], I’m too humble to even think about that… but I still will.
SERGIO: I would like to tour with Arch Enemy, hahaha.
LRI: FUCK YES! That would be killer! I’d love to see that!
LARIYAH: Just wait- 2015..the darkness is coming.
Download a FREE MP3 of KHAOTIKA’s new cover of Watain’s “They Rode On” HERE!
Visit KHOATIKA at https://www.facebook.com/KhaotikaOfficial