Interviews About Albums: Skeptical Minds - Khárôn (2023)

In this new interview, we sat down with the Belgian Electronic Metal/Industrial Metal band Skeptical Minds to ask questions about their album "Kharon". All the questions are answered by Michel (guitarist and founding member since 2002).

1. For those who might be discovering Skeptical Minds for the first time, how would you describe the essence and identity of the band?

Hi and thank you for this interview

Skeptical Minds was created in 2002 and our music is built around 3 main elements: female melodic voice, electric guitar riffs, and electro-industrial elements. The ingredients we combine to create our music are mostly: sadness, aggressivity, and darkness.

On the first albums, our music was telling stories about girls who passed through some experiences that didn’t leave them intact… the kind of experiences that leave scars deep in your soul or body. We explored the dark side of some situations some women can pass through. That was the starting point.

On the two last albums (Omega Thanatos, the previous one, and Kharon, the new one), we wanted to combine them with comic books. Then we decided to tell one story through one character. But that character will pass through situations that everybody can meet in their lives like Emptiness, Lost of someone close, etc…

We mostly focus on the difficult experiences of life… many people think they are alone to fight, especially if they feel alone, but almost everybody has to pass through the same things at a moment in their lives…

2. What sets Skeptical Minds apart in the musical landscape, and what can listeners expect to experience when diving into your discography, particularly with the latest release, Kharon?

I think it’s difficult to classify our music. We don’t like to say we play metal or we play electro or whatever. In fact, we can find many different elements in our music but difficult to put one style on it. We don’t need and don’t want that. In fact, we see our music as a soundtrack of the comic books and the history that is released with the album.

When you have to link your music to a visual for example, you’ll compose things starting from emotions and atmospheres you want to communicate. You don’t start from melodies… it’s another way to work.

I think listeners can expect to travel through different emotions and discover a band that doesn’t sound like most of the bands with a female singer. I don’t think it’s pretentious, try by yourself to put a sticker on Skeptical Minds discography and then tell us. We love Epica, Nightwish, the Gathering, etc…. but we never tried or wanted to sound like them. First of all, because they do it better, and secondly, because we want to play with our own feelings and identity.

3. The band has been relatively quiet in terms of new releases for some time. Can you share insights into what led to this period of reduced activity?

The last studio album was released in 2015. After that, we worked on the next album. Working in parallel on a scenario, a comic book or an album takes a lot of time.

In 2017, we released a Double live DVD while we still worked on the Kharon album. We recorded it in 2019 and wanted to release it in 2020.

Unfortunately, we were locked down and we had to delay it to 2021. It was no option for us to release the album without being able to defend it on stage. The release of an album is its birth. The stage brings it to life! That’s why we say Live music. And for independent bands like us, stage means recovering the investment because such a project needs a big investment.

2021 was impossible and we decided to wait for the situation to return to normal. Last year, everything restarted. We decided to release it now, end of 2023, and live on stage in 2024 (first dates will be announced soon – booking on the way).

4. Were there specific reasons for taking a break from regular releases, and how did this time influence the creative process for Kharon?

This question was partly answered in the previous question but indeed, the process of making an album based on a scenario and a graphic novel is more difficult than composing separate songs without a concept behind it.

That take certainly more time but we didn’t really have a break, we were practicing during the COVID period but we were not allowed to play live for almost 3 years. That’s why we didn’t release anything. On the other hand, we had plenty of time to work on the production of Kharon, to be exactly like we wanted it to be 

5. Sometimes, artists take breaks to recharge creatively. Did this quieter period contribute to a renewed creative energy or fresh perspectives when working on Kharon?

Not really the band has existed now for 22 years and I don’t remember having a break. We always have some project on the way or something going on. Even if nothing happens on the outside, we practice and meet every week. Sometimes, it can be quiet for the outside world, but not for us. We do things like we feel and when we feel it’s a good moment for us. We don’t like to have business plans all programmed for the 3 next years. We take things step by step, month after month and for us, it’s a continuous flow of things.

6. Were there specific activities or experiences during this time that played a role in shaping the new album?

Not really because the album was recorded in 2019. Just the production could take more time. The album was completely mixed, and mastered end of 2020. No rush. But no change in the structure of the project. Just the quality of the production was maximized.

7. The title 'Kharon' is quite intriguing. Could you share the story behind choosing this name for the album? Does it hold a specific significance or convey a particular theme that ties the tracks together?

Kharon is a character taken from the Greek mythology. He was, and still is, the boatman who helped the dead people cross the Styx River to reach the afterworld: the realm of Hades.

Kharon is the second episode of the Omega Thanatos Trilogy. In the first episode, of Omega Thanatos album, the main character dies… we see her in a hospital bed and the album stops there. Here, the album starts with the Awakening. She wakes up but things are different… In fact, she doesn’t realize it immediately, but she’s dead. She will reach the other world and meet an “old man” (title of the thirst song of the album). She doesn’t know yet, but that old man is Kharon. He’s the one who rules the world between our world and the realm of death where Thanatos, the god of death lives (if I can say so). The third episode of the trilogy (next album) will happen in that world and the music will be, of course, darker and more aggressive.

Kharon is the key character of this episode, that’s why we chose his name as a title for the album.

We took a few elements from Greek mythology but we built our own fiction around that.

8. As listeners dive into the tracks of 'Kharon,' what overarching themes or emotions do you hope they will discover? How would you describe the collective journey that the songs take them on throughout the album?

We travel in quite dark ambiances mixed with a lot of melancholy, aggressivity, sadness, and dreamy ambiances, all of them, led by Karolina’s melodic and hypnotizing vocal lines.

9. Something to add?

First of all, thank you for this interview and your interest in the band. After that, we hope to come to Spain to present this new album and we are glad to have listeners and readers from countries far away from us. We really want to play for all of them !! Then, watch your back !!!

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