Masquerade began in late 2012, founded by vocalist Suzi Sabotage and then-bassist Sebastian Holm. Before the end of 2012, Masquerade was quite a long time a vaguer post-punk project with no specific name, riddled with temporary musicians who changed frequently. The first shows were set up under these circumstances, which included playing at Finland’s most famous goth festival, Lumous, the next summer which the band was accepted in already on the basis of a rehearsal room recording of Play Dead (first song Masquerade ever wrote), featuring a drum machine.
The first solid line-up consisted of Markus on drums and Joel on guitar in the beginning of 2013, which both were part of creating Masquerade’s distinct sound. The band started to evolve as a whole followed by such early songs as Needle Through a Bug, Cuts and All Things Hurt. Group soon gathered interest in Finland and even abroad despite having no recorded music or video, ending up on national television in August, new shows conjuring up. Helsinki’s most significant punk venue Lepakkomies held their first official gig, and the event was sold out.
Their first release was a promotional demo on internet consisting of three songs. They were praised and widespread over all expectations and brought Masquerade a lot of additional attention, i.e. being listed in Cvlt Nation’s six best releases of 2013. The first music video was one hundred percent self-made clip for Needle Through a Bug, in which they already had a new bassist. Early in 2014, they got a proposal from Fight Records for a maxi-EP, which they went to record to a studio in Kouvola, Finland for three days in February. After that Masquerade was set for March tour in their Finland, England and Sweden.
A music video for All Things Hurt, the second song on the upcoming record, was released in spring, following the departure of Joel and Markus. In July song Cry Like Birds was published to promote the record. October 2014 held finally the day when the maxi-EP Blood is the New Black was released, and also got a distributor in the USA, Mass Media Records. In January 2015 our current bassist Jacques Saph joined in. On March 8th the band was seen on MTV3 channel as guests in a programme called Tähdet, tähdet. In April the band took William Freyermuth in drums and Anton Välimaa in guitar.
June 2015 saw the band’s first Russian gigs and in August they embarked upon their first journey outside of Europe: U.S.A. and Mexico. Shortly after that, they started to record and mix the upcoming album, releasing a new digi-single Panic Paranoia. In June 2016, the guitar was taken over by Rudy Soininen. Their latest album, Ritual, saw daylight on 15th July 2016, including ten tracks. Aside of songwriting, the band produced the mixing, mastering and artwork of this record.
In August 2016 the band signed a contract with Danse Macabre Records, who later released Ritual in CD format. In September 2016 Masquerade set upon a Europe tour which conquered two new countries, Italy and Austria. The band played at the legendary Wave Gotik Treffen in June 2017, followed by release of their fifth music video (a song off the forthcoming second album) “Too Depressed to Dance”. Professionally pressed CD by Danse Macabre Records. Signed on request – just let them know and they will autograph it for you.
Suzi Sabotage: vocals
Jacques Saph: bass
William Freyermuth: drums
Rudy Soininen: guitar
Let’s shake, rattle and roll…
How did you came up with the name Masquerade?
– There’s a phrase I once heard, “We cover our faces to reveal our true selves”, which appeals to me as a person who wears drastic makeup. It’s like a mask, but not something that I use to pretend being someone else, that so-called mask represents my personality more than a bare face.
Which bands or artists have affected you the most so far?
– Siouxsie and the Banshees, X-Mal Deutschland, Nina Hagen, Edith Piaf, Schoolyard Heroes, Jefferson Airplane & Starship (the songs with Grace Slick), Sex Pistols, Miranda Sex Garden, Indica, Siekiera, David Bowie, Cocteau Twins, to name a few.
What are your songs about and do you hold back things you would like to scream out or do you just go for it?
– For example, Masquerade’s next album’s (which we are currently working on) themes revolve around ostracization, loathing and the surreal. I’m a higly impulsive person, who will voice their opinion about anything or anyone without pretensions. I hate this phenomenon that you should be a kiss-ass and shy away from speaking your mind just to be accepted. There’s actually going to be a whole song about it on that upcoming album of Masquerade – called “Mouths Sewn Shut”.
Have you ever been in other bands before?
– Only in a travelling freakshow.
Pretty awesome to see and hear a female-fronted band since it’s mostly a man in the spotlights of a band. How do you expierence it in particular as a woman? Do you think there is any diffrence in knocking your way up there?
– When you’re young, as a woman making music, they make you look like a little dumb girl who knows nothing about her métier, and when you grow older, they comment on the signs that you’ve aged and speculate whether you should already retire. Male musicians rarely encounter behavior of that sort toward them, so it’s up to us women to tear such archaic attitudes down, now, once and for all.
Would you like to start an another band or project alone or with others? In which genre if so?
– I have already three of them, apart from Masquerade and Virgin in Veil I make music as an solo artist, genre being electro punk (you can listen to it at http://suzisabotage.bandcamp.com) and recently I collaborated with Texas band Tearful Moon on a song of theirs, that is going to be released very soon.
Which instruments do you play and which instruments would you like to learn to play?
– I only play synth aside of singing, and some very (and I mean, VERY) bad guitar. I’m trying to learn violin by myself but it’s such a tough instrument, and unfortunately I don’t have much time for it.
How is the atmosphere in Finland for a band like yours to perform your show?
– They don’t differ from other European countries that much. On our shows people often give us space, being there and attentive but further away from the stage. I guess we can be pretty intimidating at times!
Are you more inspired during the day or during the night to write lyrics and make music?
– Both, my inspiration doesn’t ask time nor place. I like to do it in a solitary fashion, though, that almost never varies.
Are you working on a new album we can expect soon?
– Yes, as we speak we are busy with the second album of Masquerade, planned for the very beginning of 2018.
If it was up to you would you like to release music on cd, vinyl or cassette and why?
– LPs are the most impressive but very costly in many respects. I guess CDs are our preferred format at the moment.
How do you feel about the mainstream audience’s perception of goth, punk or deathrock music?
– They ignore it, which is sad, because we’d like to perform to all kinds of audience.
Who would you like to direct and shoot the music videos if you could choose?
– I’d like someone who was involved in the surrealist/avant-garde/dadaist movement in the beginning of the 20th century to be my mentor while making a music video, but they’re all dead.
Any artist who you’d like to collaborate with for the cover of your album?
– Jean Cocteau and his opium-influenced drawings!
How is it going on stage and what has been the most memorable night and why?
– I love the stage, being a performer is my true calling. Playing a gig itself is like running a mini-marathon. I love the heady feeling, but it’s also tough physical work to keep moving and singing at the same time. I guess our first Wave Gotik Treffen performance, which took place last June, has been thus far the most enjoyable and memorable performance.
With which bands would you like to go on tour?
– Touring with 13th Sky two years ago in the United States was such fun, that I pick them!
In which country would you like to play when you are on tour and do you rather like to play for a small audience or big audience and festivals or in a club?
– The bigger the stage and the audience, the better! I mean, I like to move around a lot, and at our most recent gig in Paris, due to it being a small stage, I accidentally hit our guitarist’s Les Paul and made it detune, that’s why I prefer a lot of room. The most, I’d like to play in countries we’ve never performed in before.
What are you personal thoughts on our subculture these days? What would you like to see differently or do you prefer that it stays like it is?
– I would like people to go out and see gigs more than they do, and invest on music, otherwise the whole thing will wither and die. It’s too difficult as it is to tour these days when people prefer to stay at home and watch videos from the 80’s on YouTube – they forget that “back in the days” the scene was so thriving BECAUSE people and bands were active and didn’t just procrastinate.
Tell us your most beautiful dream or the worst nightmare you had?
– I often drift into daydreams, but day-nightmares, too, the mixture of scary visions and intense feelings induced by anxiety. They have been influencing my lyrics a lot these days.
If you could dress a famous person to your personal taste who would you pick?
– I think celebrities already take enough elements from alternative fashion without me separately dressing them!
Do you see dancing shadows at night that whisper melodies in your ear?
– I see only one shadow moving each night and that’s our black cat trying to kill me in my sleep!
Interview by Sophi Katz