A Few Words With...Sandie Gjortz

by John A. Wilcox

The Resurrection Of Lilith is the latest from the ultra-mega-incredibly dark metal band Defacing God. Sandie Gjortz is their distinctive singer. She is posessed with an unforgettable voice. Thankfully, she chose to grace Progsheet with an equally unforgettable interview...

PS: What's the first album/CD you remember buying & why did you buy it?

SG: I think the first album I ever bought was Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power. I loved Pantera in my teenage years and it reminds me of my angry and rebellious period of my younger years. Good times! But actually, now that I think about it, I didn�t even buy that album. I stole it from my dad's collection�. Savage! hahah

PS: What was the 1st gig you played out with a band?

SG: My first real gig was with Defacing God in 2018. It was our debut show on Viborg Metal Festival. I�ll never forget that experience. The audience welcomed me with open arms and the hall was packed. I couldn�t have asked for more. But I think the warm welcome also had something to do with that my musicians in Defacing God are known faces in the metal community, known from other bands prior to Defacing God. Before our debut show, I only did a few guest appearances in other bands or performed solo many years ago.

PS: What made you decide to take the leap & sing professionally?

SG: I live and breathe for music. Simple as that. I always wanted this so I made it happen.

The music gives me the opportunity to let out steam and anger that boils inside me. It�s pure therapy for me and I don�t know how I should live on without it. Other than that, I�ve been a singer as long as I can remember so I guess it comes pretty natural that you want to do it full time.

PS: Were there any particular vocalists that influenced your approach?

SG: Yes, I have vocalists out there that I admire very much.

Daniel Rost�n of Marduk/Funeral Mist is one of my all time favorites in the black metal scene. No one out there sounds as hysterical and aggressive as him! Glen Benton has also always been very high on my top list. David Vincent as well, but when it comes to female vocalists, Onilair of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult is a real badass! There is no bullshit to her style, sound and her character. She is just all around evil in her expression. Exactly the way it should be, so she deserves so much respect! Not to forget to mention Angela Gossow. She must be one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to other women in metal, together with Onilair. Gossow is a legend and many of the male singers out there don�t even reach her to her socks. I think she was even too aggressive for the style of Arch Enemy (meant in a good way though, haha!) She was the first female vocalist of that caliber I discovered maybe 15 years ago and I think she is an inspiration to most female vocalists of my generation to be honest. There weren�t very many other female singers like that back then when I started. Not very well-known ones at least, so I think she somehow marked the beginning of that era. I�ve heard quite a few times now that I really sound similar to her because of the aggressive style I have. I can�t even comprehend that but it is also an honor on the other hand, to be compared to such a talent I must say.

I don�t hear it myself, cause my voice is just my voice and I can�t really change the sound or range of how my voice sound. The sound of our voice is nothing we can really change unless we mix them with thousands of effects or distorts it on purpose. I don�t want to do that and I also don�t believe in this singing style if it get�s too ��over-technical.�� I mean, of course you need to take good care of yourself and your voice. Use your head and the right breathing and singing techniques to a certain point, but to be honest, I don�t believe in all this modern fry-screaming, inhales and easy low-pitched grunting sounds without any power or muscles used in it. It takes out the balls and authenticity of it! You need to sweat, feel the blood and the heat pumping in your veins and the adrenaline that goes up, so I believe in real yelling and real anger, really! A singing style like this is a state of mind and takes real emotions and some character. It�s not (and should certainly not be) a trendy, over-technical YouTube-influencer tutorial attention-seeker kind of thing that you just learn overnight� As a singer, you can easily hear the difference. Everyone can learn a technique but not everyone can have this within them. Real emotions can�t be pretended and you really do need both for doing this if you ask me. I guess you can compare it to playing the guitar to a certain point, maybe? Not that I say vocals and guitars are the same thing at all, but I mean the principal of it. First of all; Learning to play the guitar takes an out of this world kind of focus and dedication, but yes, you can also learn to play notes, scales and learn some different techniques by attending classes or watching YouTube tutorials (or whatever).

The learning part is one thing, but the ��feeling�� part is a whole other thing! You know the technique, but do you have the real emotion or the feeling that it takes to create melodies for example? It is hard to explain, but maybe you get the picture. If you know, you know.

PS: Do you also play any instruments?

SG: I sometimes pick up the guitar and practice a little bit but I do not have the focus and time to really sink into it as it requires (I have utmost respect for so many guitarists out there! It takes a special kind of character as well to be a good guitarist!) and yeah, that is a lifestyle and a whole mindset too and my mind is in the singing. I come up with my ideas when it comes to composing and I have my influences in our music, but I let my guitarists do this part because that is what they do best! My body and voice is my instrument so that is where my focus belong. To each their own.

PS: How long a process was it to record The Resurrection Of Lilith album?

SG: Very long. We changed, re-arranged, re-scheduled, came up with new ideas, waited on a pandemic to pass, had to coordinate with work partners etc. etc. We worked on this album for seven years, very sporadic due to others things going on as well, but the last years much more focused. When the tracks were complete and ready to be taken to the studio, it took us a few months to record everything. It was all the other things in between that took all this time. The creation of our next album will definitely be more ��on track��. We learned what to avoid and how to save time after the work on this release, which is a good thing.

PS: Tell me the stories behind each of the 3 Invocation songs. Let�s start with The Invocation Part I "Lilith."

SG: These three songs are actually meant for being ��one�� song, divided in chapters (part 1, 2 and 3 obviously) and that is why they sound similar to each others in the way they are build up but obviously with different approaches. The first part is The Invocation Of Lilith. The song is not a story as such but a lot more like a ritualistic chant or spell to evoke her from the underworld to resurrect.

The album is about the resurrection of Lilith, but before The Resurrection(Second song of the album where the story begins) she needs to be evoked so it can be seen as a part of the intro of the whole album. Lilith is the storyteller on this whole album and every story told, is seen from her point of view.

PS: The Invocation Part II "Jezebel."

SG: Jezebel�s cultural symbolism throughout the ages has been with deception, manipulation and seduction and for more than two thousand years, Jezebel has been labeled with a reputation as the bad girl of the Bible, the wickedest of women denounced as a murderer, prostitute and an enemy of God � actually Israel�s most accursed queen and wife of king Ahab of Israel. It is said she was notable for a form of rebellion against God through promotion of Witchcraft and ruthless persecution of the biblical prophets, through her husband. Because Jezebel steadfastly remained true to her own beliefs, she met a gruesome death, led by Elijah, the prophet of the God, Yahweh. There was a contest between Jezebel and Elijah, related as a battle of the religious future of the people of Samaria. Jezebel ended up with being thrown out of a window by her own people. She splattered on the walls and were trampled by horses and eaten by stray dogs.

Considering her history and the way she was pictured, I consider her to be made of the exact same mold and material as Lilith herself. Just like Lilith, she remained true to her own beliefs and herself as well until her last breath, no matter the costs. That is why Jezebel is a worthy descendant or blood sister to Lilith and belongs with her in the unholy trinity. The song is exactly like the Invocation part 1- a ritualistic chant (made by Lilith) to invoke her spirit back from the dead so that she can join forces with Lilith.

PS: The Invocation Part III "Abyzou."

SG: Abyzou is according to demonology and among other stories and tales known as a female demon connected to the Sumerian myth of primeval sea from which the world was created in the Sumerian belief system. In the late antique Testament Of Solomon, Abyzou is pictured with fish or serpent-like attributes with a greenish face and serpent-like hair and her body is covered in darkness. She never sleeps but wanders soul-forsaken alone in the desert to find women about to give birth so she can strangle the child, it is said that she cannot rest before she kills a child. She herself is not able to give birth. It is said that she was to blame for miscarriages and infant mortality in general and because she was infertile, she was motivated by envy. Abyzou is actually identified with many of the other known female demons in folklore and mythology- even Lilith herself, so there is already drawn a line between them. They have many similarities and that�s the reason why I picked her to be a part of the unholy trinity as well. I even wonder why Abyzou is pictured as a woman and I wonder why a woman unable to bear children is pictured in such a demonic way? It makes me reflect and I can�t help it but compare it with experiences I have had in my own life. For example, I experienced many times that women (including myself) who do not want children are almost looked down upon as if we are not complete unless we choose to have children. I mean, I have enough in myself as person and I do not need a kid to take care of, to feel complete in my life. I have so many other things that really fulfill me and I do feel I have another purpose on this planet than raising just another human being to the already crowded earth. I mean, I think it is really incredible that the woman body is able to shape and grow another human life inside it (actually it is fucking badass!). But after all, it is also just a bodily function like all the other functions our body contains and it is entirely up to the individual whether they want to make use of this function or not. To each their own and everything is great as long you choose purely out of your own desires and not out from expectations of our society.

Children are just not for everyone and it is simply not interesting for me. There must be room for that diversity! We are already too many on this earth and I personally do not want to raise a child in this world we live in so I don�t see how some people can be offended by the fact that some women actually choose to not have children.

I don�t know� Maybe one day it comes for me, who knows? I strongly doubt it though cause the older I get, the less interested I became in it. But IF I should change my mind one day, then I will certainly blame my damn unconscious biological clock and not my conscious, rational self haha! But yeah, my point is, because of these experiences, I can identify with Abyzou. I also experienced being ��demonized�� as a woman because of my choice and statement. Abyzou wasn�t capable though so it wasn�t her choice so to say, but because she isn�t able to bear children, she is pictured as a demon who craves to strangle the infants of other mothers�I wonder�

Well.. The Invocation Part III is the same concept as the other two invocation songs. It is a ritualistic chant made by Lilith and Jezebel to evoke her so that they can join forces and continue into the track Rise Of The Trinity on the album.

PS: What's the tale behind Rise Of The Trinity?

SG: Rise Of The Trinity is the track that connects and binds The Invocation parts 1,2 and 3 together. This track reunites the sisters of blood and flesh (Lilith, Abyzou and Jezebel) � the three of us shall together set out essence free, make a closure and take back our soul and pride because it has been molested and executed by society and religious servants!

The trinity is the catalyst or the strong force who speaks for all our sisters - ��witches�� burned at the stake, who never got a voice through our history of mankind. Strong and wise women have been slaughtered, molested, accused and executed just because the herd were afraid of their wisdom and free spirit. The trinity is the voice of rebellion and revenge in the name of the fallen and a strong message about sisterhood- that we stand stronger, if we stand together.

PS: Going back a bit, tell me about The Marked Ones.

SG: Our track The Marked Ones is also about the witch hunt and how mothers, sisters and daughters were cremated relentlessly. Children abandoned and mothers forsaken.

The song focuses on how ridiculous people are to follow their great ��Speakers��- in this song, the priest or the king and trust their words blindly. The ��speakers�� have marked the ones who were different and the ones who went against the norms as being a threat to a narrow-minded society and therefore condemned them to death. The song is also obviously about betrayal and how little it takes to manipulate people�s attitudes and make them do horrible things in the name of God.

PS: Are the band planning to hit the road soon to bring the album to stages across the world?

SG: Yes, we are working on it! Right now Europe is on the map and we are working on an upcoming tour as well.

PS: How would you say the band differs from other black metal bands out there?

SG: That answer is pretty simple. We are not a black metal band!

I�d say our main genre is melodic death metal if you absolutely want to label us. A very darkened version of it. We do it in a more atypical way because we have many influences from black metal incorporated for example. At the same time, we work with orchestrations/symphonics to create a darker, more ominous atmosphere which evokes even more emotions. The cinematic and theatrical part is a huge part of our music as well so that is the reason for that combination especially.

The work with orchestrations is mostly seen in modern black metal (which is why I guess you mentioned us a being a black metal band?) and not so common in the traditional melodic/Swedish death metal. Not that I am aware of at least! We balance between several styles and wanted to span the arc between massive and aggressive death metal and symphonic grandeur and I think we achieved that very well. Everything is balanced in a way so that one thing doesn�t take over the other. Our guitars don�t drown in keyboard parts and at the same time the orchestrations remain very clear in the sound collage. That is a hard balance to find, really! I guess these things mentioned above must be the difference between us and others. I am usually not really busy with the comparing part though, cause first and foremost, I don�t get the reason why I should and I am also just not that busy with what other bands are doing and not doing in general.

To sum it up: we did not invent a new genre, no. It was never the intention to even try to create a new one, just for the sake of doing it. The genre we play is a well-known and beloved genre, but we experiment a lot with different styles and we have combined some elements and genres in a way that you don�t typically see out there. That is the way you create your own style and expression and that is how you make things unique, if you ask me. Art is very individual and the formula for everything is already out there - and that counts for every artistic department.

To point out an example; If we look at movie production: horror movies are also a cinematic genre and it has existed for many years and it is also seen many times before (same goes for music. All the genres out there are also seen and heard before). Although, just because horror movies existed as a genre for many years and just because it is seen before, it is still very possible for the director to point it in a direction of their own style - or to come up with a new or more personal approach on it by adding a different plot, visuals and twist it in the way it builds up by going against the typical formula, right? Exactly the same thing goes for the music and that is what we aimed to do with this. There are the genres there are out there so it is what it is.

We wanted to be creative and set our own personal mark on the expression, without being bound to certain rules and our sound is what came out of it so far, but I am definitely not done with experimenting and the development of our sound. Let�s see what the future brings.

PS: Please tell me 6 CDs you never get tired of listening to.

SG: Questions like these are really hard to answer. Hmm�

Nile � Annihilation Of The Wicked
Lord Belial � Enter The Moonlight Gate
Marduk � Panzer Division
Ozzy Osbourne � The Ultimate Sin + Diary Of A Madman
(actually most of Ozzy�s albums I�ll never get tired of!)
Arch Enemy � Doomsday Machine + Wages Of Sin
Morbid Angel � Domination
Carcass � Heartwork + Necroticism � Descanting The Insalubrious
Gorgoroth � Antichrist
Bolt Thrower � Those Once Loyal

Fuck, that was too many..I have many more actually, but let's stop here.. You see? It�s hard to pick out only 6 albums� But there you go!


All photos are copyright their respective owners.

Table Of Contents