Ferocious Ukrainian groove metallers Jinjer visited Thessaloniki a few days ago, supporting Arch Enemy’s tour ‘Will to Power’. Metal Invader took the chance to catch up on a face-to-face interview with their singer Tatiana Shmailyuk and the bassist Eugene Kostyuk just before their show. Full of energy, they talked about what drives Jinjer and what the futures holds for them.
Hello and welcome to Metal Invader! Nice having you with us! How has touring life been so far? Has life been treating you well?
Tatiana: Hello from us! Life has been great! I have never felt better, this tour is the best I’ve been so far!
Eugene: Everything has been great so far!
Touring with Arch Enemy is a huge deal for you, I gather. How do you feel about it and what has the crowd’s feedback been so far?
T: Definitely! Yes! It’s a big deal for us. We have learned so much from them. And the audience has been great. I guess we have lots of fans ourselves!
E: They have been great teachers to us. I’ve never expected that they would treat us so good, I really appreciate them for giving us the chance to join them on tour. Yesterday was the first time we ever got the chance to play somewhere that we’ve never been before and that is in Athens. So, I was really nervous in contrast to Bulgaria where we have already been so many times before, so we didn’t know what to expect.
This is Jinjer’s second visit at Thessaloniki. You played two years ago at a Straight From The Heart Records Festival at Eightball. How do you feel about returning to the scene of the crime?
T: I really don’t know what to expect and what to feel because Eightball is a small club and there was a small crowd, with just hardcore fans, this is going to be completely different.
E: Actually, you never know what to expect from hardcore fans, haha! I believe it’s gonna be fun tonight but I’m sad that our friend from Thessaloniki, George Pirounakis, the owner of OneTwoSix Clothing won’t be joining us tonight. However, it’s cool to be back, Thessaloniki is a wonderful city.
Tatiana, from interviews and videos I’ve watched, you seem to be a rather shy person, however when you go on stage you are a totally different person. Is the stage a way to keep balance in your life? Is this powerful expression on stage the way you deal with life?
T: I try to be myself, being a shy person is not such a bad thing after all, especially in this world that we live in now. But when it comes to encountering troubles and problems in life, you have to be a “lion”, a wild animal! So I try to show a different side of me to the world while on stage.
I know you’re bored answering questions about this ‘female-fronted’ label people keep attaching to your band. On a different perspective, has this label create any obstacles in your way or closed any doors for you?
T: I wouldn’t say that because when a door closes, another opens! So, I know that there are a lot of people and promoters who are getting crazy over female fronted bands, they constantly try to get as many bands like that.
E: On the other hand, there are people who just don’t want to bring up female fronted metal bands. This term is ridiculous to me, it’s stupid to discriminate a band from the lead vocalist’s gender.
Tatiana, from what I know you dreamed to be a guitarist when you were young, although now you’re a powerful vocalist of a band that every day moves forward. How do you feel about it? Are you satisfied by the way life took its course?
Yes, I’m happy with how things turned out for me. I love singing! I also play the guitar but only a little bit, if I played the guitar it would be hard for me to sing at the same time. I can’t go on without singing.
Jinjer has been active since 2009, if I’m not mistaken; it’s almost a decade. How does this make you feel and what keeps you keep going strong? Does success make you feel anxious? Do you feel any pressure? Especially these last two years it seems that the band’s reputation grows day by day. Did you anticipate such success?
E: Actually, I don’t think things could have turned a better way for us. We couldn’t even imagine everything we have accomplished so far. We didn’t have a plan in the beginning, I wasn’t in the band in the beginning, when I joined, nobody was quite interested in going on tours, or joining on tour one of the biggest metal bands, like Arch Enemy, but I could. I could imagine all that! We were just playing music. However we are definitely happy for what is going on right now. We’re not gonna stop, we’re gonna move forward.
Best and worst moment of the tour?
T: On the tour? Oh, I think it’s our car, haha! It consumes a lot of gas, which is bad. Also, sometimes when we leave the stage we have to get immediately on the road afterwards after leaving the venue.
E: We had only two days off while on the road. But it’s not that bad, we expected that, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. Nothing bad has happened in this tour… so far. In general, the worst thing that happened, was the accident of our ex-drummer Eugene Mantulin that fell from the third floor, broke his spine and got paralyzed in 2014. I can’t think about anything worse that could happen and nothing did happen before and after. This is the saddest thing that ever happened to me.
One cannot enlist Jinjer into one single music genre. Diversity is a main pillar of your band, as elements of various different musical expressions are incorporated into your music. How important is diversity for you? Was it intentional from the start or did it just come along the way?
It was not intentional at all! It just came along. It wasn’t actually like that from the beginning. If you listen to our first two records, they were just straight metalcore. In “Cloud Factory”, we had some more influences. The music changed together with the lineup change, because every time a new member came along, they’ve put their own influences into the band’s sound. We are all different people, we bring our own influences, we’re so versatile and diverse.
What do you have in mind when composing new music and what message do you want to convey as a band, if there is any?
E: We write about things that happen around us. You see something happening in the streets, like a car accident or whatever, or just while walking along a street, seeing the rain falling, the clouds, politics, there are so many things. You start then feeling in a certain way. You cannot play cheerful music when you feel sad, you just play sad music.
Τ: For example, in our beloved “I Speak Astronomy”, it wasn’t supposed to be a song about cosmic and universal stuff when we composed it. But after ten or twenty times I listened to it, voila!
What are Jinjer’s future plans? Any thoughts about releasing a new album?
E: The future is bright and wide open. We have to start working on new songs, little by little. We really want to come up with a new album by the end of this year, but we’re touring a lot. After this tour is done, we’re going to the UK in November and in January we’re back on tour with Arch Enemy, Wintersun and Tribulation. We’re touring for one month with them in Western Europe, Scandinavia and Spain and we hope that in spring we will go back on tour. Then, summer festivals. Between all these things, we have to come up with some new songs.
Is it difficult to compose new songs on tour?
E: It’s impossible. We do it only when we’re home, sitting alone in our home, alone with my guitar. You can’t be on the bus and write new riffs, at least it’s not easy for me. It doesn’t work for me at all.
Thank you so much for the interview, I’ll let you get ready…
We thank you again for this interview, see you out there! It’s going to be a blast!