As 2023 is drawing to a close, as much as it is a time to reflect over the past twelve months, there are still a few little remaining moments of joy musically to be had. One of those for me has been the opportunity to interview one of my new favourite bands.
With a recently released second album, A Lump Of Death: A Chaos Of Dead Lovers, that’s out now on Argonauta Records, and fresh back from a mini tour in Europe, Unverkalt have been quite the busy bees recently, so it was an absolute honour being able to get the time to shoot some questions towards the band’s vocalist Dimitra Kalavrezou.
Covering all manner of subjects, from name meanings to influences, and everything in between, here, for your reading pleasure, it’s time to discover more about one of the year’s biggest surprises for me, Unverkalt…
The name Unverkalt, where did it come from, and what does it mean? How did you decide on it?
The name is a fusion of words drawn from Scandinavian languages, creating a unique and made-up term. We often sum up its meaning with the phrase: ‘There’s nothing left but cold.’ The decision became clear as soon as we saw the complete name written down on a paper. We knew it was the one!
What are your backgrounds collectively? Did you know each other outside of the band, or has it been an idea that evolved amongst yourselves right from the start?
In 2017, Themis and I started this project, initially just experimenting with sounds. One of the very first songs we worked on together was Les Fleurs de la Vanité, and we immediately felt a musical connection. Back then, we didn’t know where it would take us. While working on our debut album, L’origine du monde, George Stamkos joined, and we instantly clicked – both musically and personally. We felt complete and ready to start this journey together.
When Spyros Olivotos and Christian Eggers joined, it was a bit different. We already knew them personally, but the project’s concept really resonated with them – the chemistry was already there! We’re so grateful to be all together on this, sharing our music with the world means everything to us!
We love experimenting with our sound, and with each chapter of Unverkalt, we aim to add something new, evolving our music…
Your sound is quite unique, especially the vocal side of things, was this what you set out to achieve initially, or has it grown over time?
Influenced by the alternative scene of the ‘90s, our music incorporates elements from that era right from the start. On the vocal side, we want to be experimental and raw, blending something dark and heavy combined with vocals that are fragile and ethereal in approach.
We love experimenting with our sound, and with each chapter of Unverkalt, we aim to add something new, evolving our music. The core idea behind our sound is to serve as a form of catharsis, allowing the release of intense emotions – including pain, suffering, and human experiences.
After such a strong debut album, did you find it easier to gather ideas for a second album, or was it more restrictive?
After the release of our debut album, we had already begun working on the next chapter. The concept was clear in our minds from the start. We aimed to create a cinematic album influenced by the ‘70s, exploring the rise of cult leaders, acts of serial killers, and extreme crimes that have occurred both in the past and continue to this day. The lyrical process was intense, we dived deep into the darker side of the human psyche and the pure darkness that consumes it.
Who are your influences musically? Who do you look to as being significant in your own journey?
Some of our biggest influences are Black Sabbath, Paradise Lost, Isis, The Cure, Björk, Fever Ray, Deftones, Tool, and Madrugada.
What has been your biggest experience so far as Unverkalt?
The year 2021 brought a major shift for us as we settled in Berlin, with only George currently residing in Greece. Living in Berlin has been a rich source of experiences, especially in terms of opportunities for more live shows.
As regards touring, do you prefer clubs and venues, or festivals more?
There isn’t anything more fulfilling than playing your music in a live audience. You can instantly see the impact that your music has on them, and this feeling can’t be replaced with anything else. We just want to play music, and we don’t mind where, whether it’s a big festival with a large audience or a small venue with just a couple of people. Any place where our music can be shared and listened to by people is everything for us and we put our heart into every show!
Creating music is a source of healing, and we’re dedicated to it no matter what…
Commercial success, or underground heroes? Which is more rewarding to the band, making money, or the love of playing?
Creating music is a source of healing, and we’re dedicated to it no matter what. It’s our whole life! The most rewarding thing for us will be to consistently release new music and deliver it with honesty and raw emotion.
When coming up with inspiration, ideas for the music and subject matter, do you all work together or individually and meet in the middle?
We work both ways! We’re always sharing ideas and talking about everything. It’s incredible to see all these different perspectives coming together for a common goal.
Who are your musical heroes? And, given the chance, who would be your dream band to tour with?
The bands/artists that we would love to tour with are: Puscifer, Crosses, Amenra, Deftones, Madrugada, Chelsea Wolfe, and many more!
What plans do you have next now that the new album is released?
We have a surprise coming in a few months, and at the moment, we will celebrate our new album release by performing more shows that will be announced in 2024.
Looking to the future, where do you hope to see yourselves in five years?
We hope to play all over the world!
How do you find the whole heavy music scene being from Greece? How does it compare with the ideas of the world stage, and being part of a much larger scene?
The heavy music scene in Greece is constantly growing, filled with amazing artists and bands giving their all. However, some genres struggle for recognition. Compared to the global stage, being an artist in Greece is tough. The Greek government doesn’t support the arts like other countries do.
Artists here work hard with no support, pouring their hearts into what they love. Economically, there are limitations, and the current economic situation in Greece poses a significant obstacle. Greece is our home, and it’s disheartening to witness and experience all these challenges.
The heavy music scene in Greece is constantly growing, filled with amazing artists and bands giving their all…
Are there any other bands you’ve found who you would like to suggest, as ‘ones to watch’, besides yourselves?
Yes, a lot! But let’s choose the favourites!
Rolo Tomassi, Devil Sold His Soul, Black Sheep Wall, Ghost Brigade, Atlas, Winona Oak, Moyka, Breathe, CHVRCHES, Iamamiwhoami, PVRIS.
Is there anything else you would like to add? Any final words, big news, or even gentle nudges towards where the album and merchandise can be purchased too?
Thank you for this amazing and personal interview! We enjoyed every question and were thrilled to answer them. We hope to see you soon at our live shows! Until then, stay tuned for more updates from us in the coming months!
Feel free to show your support and check out our merchandise on our Bandcamp page.
Thank you so much for this interview, I’m very excited to see your responses and share this with the world through The Sleeping Shaman.
Interviewed by: Lee Beamish