Beyond the Boys’ Club is a monthly column from journalist and radio host Anne Erickson, focusing on women in the heavy music genres, as they offer their perspectives on the music industry and discuss their personal experiences. Erickson is also a music artist herself, recently releasing the song “Eternal Way” under the moniker Upon Wings. This month’s piece features an interview with Fernanda Lira of Crypta.
The heaviest of sounds are reserved for death metal, and one of the genre’s newer bands features four talented women who hail from a handful of notable metal outfits.
The Brazilian and Dutch outfit features singer-bassist Fernanda Lira and drummer Luana Dametto, formerly of Nervosa; guitarist Sonia Anubis, formerly of Burning Witches; and guitarist Tainá Bergamaschi, formerly of Hagbard. The band crafts a dark mix of death metal, with touches of extreme and black metal elements, to create a notably unique sound.
Crypta will release their debut album, Echoes of the Soul, on June 11 via Napalm Records. Lira checked in with Heavy Consequence for the latest “Beyond the Boys’ Club” column to discuss the new LP, her experience as a woman in the heavy metal genre, life in Brazil, and much more.
On the genesis of Crypta’s death metal sound
I think among the four of us in the band, death metal is the one metal genre we have in common. All of us listen to many different genres inside and outside of metal, but in metal, we all agree that we our main preference is dealt metal. I feel really drawn to extreme music, and now since I’m a grown up, I’m also very connected to the social and political aspect. Mainly, living in Brazil, which is very challenging — living in a Third World country. I think playing death metal helps us with all the anger we feel living in a country like this. We see so much wrong stuff going on in this society here in Brazil and so many bad political decisions, and it’s such a harsh reality. So, we can count on music as a vent. Music is my greatest tool of expressing myself. It’s a good way to transform anger into something positive.
On Crypta attracting a strong fan base, even before their debut album is out
Even for us, it’s surprising. We knew we come form other established bands already, so we knew there would be people curious about listening to us, but we never expected it to be such a solid fanbase. Even though people know us already, we’re a new band and releasing our debut. It’s amazing to have people playing our songs and eager to buy merch. We never expected it. We’re so happy, and we’re trying to deliver quality material. We knew there were high expectations, so we did our best to produce lots of high-quality video and audio stuff and the artwork, so we could deliver something impactful. And, we’ve been trying to have close contact with our fans.
On the journey of creating Crypta’s debut album Echoes of the Soul
We had this common sense that we want to do death metal, because the four of us like it very much. Also, we thought, let’s try to do something different, like old school death metal. As we stared writing the music, we saw that our death metal evolved to black metal, some epic melodic death metal, raw old-school stuff, so it evolved into some sort of hybrid death meal. We eventually removed the old school label form our socials, even, because we couldn’t control what we were creating. We were focused on writing death metal but saw it was flowing into something else, so we figured, let’s just do whatever metal we can come up with, and we like the result. It’s something original in the final outcome.
On the word “death” actually being in every song on Echoes of the Soul
I’ve spent 10 years of my life writing thrash metal and protest songs, and I love doing that. I really feel comfortable when writing that, so Ii felt that since I was going to another genre and something different, I needed to adapt. Also, our current situation of living was so hard, so what I tried to do was link every song and every lyric in there to death in a certain way, because we were writing death metal.
I managed to link every song to death metal. I also felt like exploring another side that was more physiologically oriented. I love exploring the human mental abilities. I felt like exploring that, and I’ve been on a journey of self acknowledgement. I thought we’re going through such a hard time, and lots of people are going through this, so maybe my experience can inspire people to endure this difficult time. So, many songs talk about intimate process inside of me and many are strictly related to psychological processes I’ve been though and studied. Still, some protests going on in there. There are three tracks that are protest songs, where I talk about hunger, which unfortunately here in Brazil, people are starving.
On the heavy track “Under the Black Wings”
It’s probably one of the most simple of all the songs, but it’s so raw and aggressive and so much the way I like writing music. Every time I listen to it, I’m totally headbanging! It doesn’t matter where I am. I can’t wait to play it live! This is the one song off the album that’s not really connected to death. Our drummer, Luana [Dametto], can really have some weird nightmares. When we’re on tour with other bands, she would wake up at night and tell me her nightmares. I was like, one day, I have to write about this! So, I think this is the most death metal of all the songs, because of the death metal lyrics with demons and things like that.
On the changes she’s seen for women in metal since she first started out
I definitely think it’s been changing a lot for the better since I started 10 years ago playing professionally and touring. I see way more all-girl bands or bands with female singers. More and more girls feel confident being in the metal scene. I think the fact there are more girl bands helps strengthen this even more in the metal scene. We girls know the feeling of going to a show and seeing girls on the stage and how it inspires us to believe the scene is safe for us, because if they’re playing on stage, it’s safe for us to the same. If this girl is following her dreams, maybe it’s safe for us to follow ours.
On the power of representation for women in metal music
I think it’s important to even keep the label “all-girl” bands, because we know the struggle to live our dreams. It’s all about representation, and the more we have, the better. There’s still a ways to go, but we’re getting there. More girls are feeling comfortable being on stage and in a show production and in journalism and music media, so I think we have taken big steps, but also have to be patient, because our society has been forcing women to have designed specific roles for centuries now. This is deeply rooted in our society, so it will take a while for us to finally find the equity in the metal scene, because it’s deeply rooted in our culture. Baby steps!
On the experience of playing shows as the only women on the bill
There’s definitely still a struggle. Every time we step on the stage, we need to kind of prove ourselves more than men. Sometimes we step onstage, and there’s something like people trying to show us how to set up our guitar or people think you’re groupies, not musicians. But, I think in a general way, it’s way more welcoming today from the guys in the metal scene and production and fans everyone noticing we’re not just beautiful faces. We’re not just objects. We’re not here to make the scene more beautiful, which we gladly do! (Laughs) But, everyone is noticing that we’re more than that, and they’re getting more supportive and welcoming and nicer to girls in metal.
On the advice she would give women looking to start a rock or metal band
Just go for whatever makes you happy. We live in a society — and I think this goes for everyone, but especially women — that as a whole really makes us think that in order to be successful, we have to do something that gives us lots of money. But I’ve learned that being actually successful in your core and actually being happy means more. I see many people out there getting a lot of money, and that can buy stuff, but not really being happy where they are. Stick to something that you’re happy doing. We need money, of course, but but try not to abandon your dreams. Try to follow whatever makes you happy in the core, and believe in that. Try to ignore whatever people say about it. Do whatever makes you happy, and feel like you’re living with purpose.