Interview: Crypta’s Fernanda Lira “Playing live is my passion”

In 2020, Brazilian thrash metal band Nervosa’s bassist and vocalist Fernanda Lira left the band together with drummer Luana Dametto to focus on their terrific death metal band Crypta, which released its debut album “Echoes of the Soul” in June 2021 via Napalm Records. Roppongi Rocks boss Stefan Nilsson had a chat with Fernanda to talk about thrash and death metal, the energy kicks from live performances, Crypta’s creative process and much more.

During your decade in Nervosa, you played thrash metal with death metal influences. Now in Crypta, you play thrashy death metal. Why did you decide to launch a death metal band rather than your own thrash metal band? “First thing is, I can’t really decide which is my favourite genre, haha! I really have always loved thrash and death the same way, they are both my main preferences in metal and the genres I listened to the most. So, in the end, I thought it would be nice to actually explore this other favourite genre of mine since I had the chance to by starting something new. Also, Crypta was meant to be a side project only, since I was mainly focused on Nervosa when the band was created, so I thought it wouldn’t make sense to have a side project playing the same kind of music, you know? At least not to me, I always like to explore new things! Besides that, Luana Dametto was the one who initially had the idea to have a side project, and Luana is a death metal drummer, she briefly played thrash while in Nervosa, but death metal is definitely her favourite and where she feels more comfortable in playing. She specifically mentioned to me that she would love to have a death metal project with me, and since I’m a fan of the genre, I thought it would be amazing to express a new way of songwriting with this genre.”

No matter what musical style you play, the strong Fernanda Lira personality shines through the music and performance. You have a fierceness and energy about both your voice and bass playing that are easily recognisable. When you write music, do you feel that you have to write in a certain style in order to sound like what the fans expect of you? “Thank you so much for the kind words, it truly means a lot to me! I definitely have my preferences when it comes to the sound of my bass and a very particular way of singing which allows me to interpret the words I sing, but I can’t say I actually do that in order to reach any sort of expectation. I mean, of course, I want to please my fans, they’re the reason for everything and I always want to deliver my best possible, but to me, what comes first is always to try stuff that actually makes me feel comfortable, because the more comfortable, the happier I’ll be, and the happier I’ll be, the better I’ll deliver and I think in the end this is what makes this recognisable thing you mentioned, so to me it’s pretty natural. As for all the feeling of the music I write and my stage presence, I just really let it flow naturally, I don’t really plan that, I just let it flow organically accordingly to how I’m feeling, of course making sure it fits the genre I’m playing, and what the music and the band sound demands.”

You are a bassist that is also the lead vocalist. Which bassists that sing lead are your favourites in heavy metal? “I have so many that I love! Haha! I could make a huge list, but my top three would probably be Geddy Lee from Rush, Ron Royce from Coroner and performance-wise, Cronos from Venom. Not that I can be any close as being the amazing musicians that they are, hahaha, but they have been really inspiring along my musical journey!”

Three of Crypta’s four members are in Brazil while Sonia Anubis is from The Netherlands. When you were forming the band, did you ever think that you should have a fully Brazil-based band or was Sonia an obvious choice when you decided to put together a new band? “She was our first choice, definitely. We knew it could be logistically more demanding, but we just knew from the start that we wanted her with us. We had always been fan girls of her playing, that’s the truth! Haha! I’ve personally been following her for years now on social media, and when it was time to look for the guitarists, our first option was Sonia Anubis, we just thought she would be a good match to what we were aiming to do with Crypta.”

How did you write the music for Crypta’s album? With Sonia in another country, did you still manage to create music as a band? “We wrote the whole album via Whatsapp group chats and many Google Drive folders, haha! The only time we actually got to play all the songs together was during the rehearsals we did after the album recordings! But it was fine and we managed it really well, mainly because me and Luana were already pretty used to writing music this way, since when we were in Nervosa, we were all from different cities, so we ended up writing most of the Nervosa songs separately too, so it was not a big deal for us! I personally actually like writing music this way, because I’m a very methodic person and very perfectionist when it comes to songwriting, so being at home by myself exploring my ideas and improving them before sending it to the girls is really healthy for me! So, basically, what we did is one of us would start a song with some riff ideas, then the other one would improve or implement them and add some other ones to the structure, then Luana would create drums over them, etc, etc. And the result was great because in every song there are influences and ideas from all four of us, so it’s definitely group work, even though not in person. The only thing that was a bit more challenging was actually polishing the songs. It would have been great to actually have some time together to actually play the rough structures of the songs together and do adjustments together, it would have been way easier than doing this through the internet. That’s actually why we took so long to pre-produce our album – we spent nearly eight months going through every song and improving them, adding or removing riffs, changing the structures, adding breaks and intros here and there… But we did it anyway and really like the result, it was just some extra work, let’s say, haha!”

Soon after you and I met here in Tokyo in February 2020, touring came to a halt due to the pandemic. Now that you have a new band and a new album ready, are you eager to go on tour again? “I simply don’t have enough words to express how much I miss touring and can’t wait to be back at it again! Haha! Really, I now understand that playing live is my passion and it’s been really tough to be living without this in my routine! Not only it’s good for the body and health due to the huge amounts of adrenaline discharge every night, but there’s nothing like the energy exchange that happens during a show, between the audience and the musician, you just can’t explain it and it’s just something you can’t replace, nothing can be compared to that. It’s an immense pleasure and honour to me to look people in the eyes while I’m playing and make them smile and maybe forget about their problems even if it is for a second, and also, the real-life face-to-face support is so inspiring, it’s definitely a fuel to us up there on stage. So yeah, I really miss it. I can’t wait to be talking to you all again by the merch stand after the show, taking pics, laughing, just having a good metal time together again. But unfortunately, right now it’s still not the time – it’s not safe for anyone, you know? We wanna make sure our next show is as safe as possible to the band, our crew, venue staff, and of course of fans – we want people to leave our show happy and not sick, so at least for us, it’s still gonna take a while until we get back on stage, but we have so many plans going on and Japan will definitely be among them as soon as everything is good to go! Until then, please keep taking care of yourselves and cherishing and supporting art as much as you can, because, during the pandemic, we learnt that we could live without many things, but we never spent a day without being in touch with art. We found out art can definitely help us go through tough terrible times more lightly, so yeah, let’s keep on supporting it!”