"Everything I've learned in Metal is built on opera"
Kristin Starkey talks about her rapid entry into the metal scene, her role in Temperance and about the importance of ignoring online hate.
CHRISTIAN VON DARK DIVAS
12. Oct 2023
Dark Divas: You dipped your toes into the metal scene for the first time during the pandemic, and this year, you've already completed a tour as the lead singer for Temperance and provided backing vocals for Twilight Force. Plus, Temperance's album "Hermitage - Daruma's Eyes Pt 2" is set to be released on October 20. Isn't it a bit surreal how everything happened so quickly?
Kristin Starkey: Yes, it's pretty crazy. I had already planned to join Twilight Force (Editor's note: another band in which she provides backing vocals), and then Marco (Editor's note: Marco Pastorino, guitar/vocals for Temperance) called me in December. Temperance had parted ways with their singer, Alissa Scolletti, and they asked me if I could take over for their tour with Tarja. It coincided with the "Twilight Force" U.S. tour, so I had to decline the first two weeks, but then I flew straight to Spain to join the band. I did a total of 20 shows with Twilight Force and 40 with Temperance, all within three months.
A day after Marco invited me to the tour, he asked me if I wanted to join the band and record the new album with them. The entire album was mostly finished, except for the vocals. So, I had less than a month to record them. I did everything in my home studio. I followed Marco's lead tracks. It was a pretty turbulent time, but we harmonized well.
This new chapter started incredibly quickly for me. The pandemic had brought my opera career to a standstill, and I started making metal covers on YouTube. As restrictions eased, everything revolved around metal, which was a pleasant surprise.
Did you already know Marco?
Kristin: I met Marco on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise in 2019. I was there as a fan, and I absolutely love that cruise. Afterward, we connected on Facebook. I think it was my cover of "Cry Out for a Hero" by Beast in Black that caught his attention. He messaged me out of the blue after about four years and asked if he could call me. Having met him shortly before and found him to be a very nice person was reassuring.
You mentioned your home studio is in Sweden, where you moved during the pandemic from New York. Temperance is based in Italy, and now you're back in New York. Was the recording and touring logistically challenging for you?
Kristin: It's cool how we communicate these days through WhatsApp and Messenger and make it easy. Many bands don't live in the same area anymore. Even with Twilight Force, we all started in Sweden, but now everyone lives in different countries. The members of Temperance are scattered all over Italy, but it's pretty easy to stay in touch. Funny enough, we didn't even rehearse together before our last tour. We know our parts well, and during soundchecks, we run through new songs, but everyone in Temperance is such a great musician that it just works solidly. And even if we make mistakes, we laugh and keep going. Most bands have members in different parts of the world nowadays, so it works well.
What was it like becoming part of an established band like Temperance? I've had the opportunity to listen to the album. It sounds like you've been together for a long time.
Kristin: When they first asked me, I was hesitant because I was used to the band's previous singing style, which is quite different from mine. But after Marco sent me the new tracks, I felt like it was a perfect fit. The new music is progressive, symphonic, and just different from the old sound. While some older Temperance fans might be disappointed, I believe we'll gain many new fans. The initial feedback for the new tracks was positive, and I'm optimistic that joining the band was a good decision. Singer changes can upset some people, but I focus on making the new sound my own and showcasing our creative potential.
You were on stage in various operas for years before entering the metal scene. How does it feel to be on stage with a metal band now?
Kristin: It's a completely different world. I studied opera for a decade and earned a doctorate in vocal performance. I was an opera singer and student my whole adult life, which is an unusual combination with my lifelong love for metal. At least considering the preferences of the opera scene. I've always enjoyed singing metal, but I didn't seriously pursue it until the pandemic.
In opera, there are rehearsals with pianists and public performances, but during the pandemic, I focused on metal covers. In vocal lessons, I also teach the differences between metal and opera techniques. Singers should learn opera techniques to sing rock because it's just a healthier approach. Opera technique, with its centuries-old history, forms the foundation for singing rock and metal. Anyone who masters the basic singing technique from opera can also sing rock and metal on stage without vocal fatigue. Everything I learned in metal builds on opera.
Kristin Starkey is the frontwoman of the Italian symphonic metal band Temperance.
Another significant difference between opera and metal shows is the overall atmosphere and the audience's reaction to you.
Kristin: Oh my God, it's a world of difference! (laughs) I love them both, but it feels like they're completely different professions. I love the energy of metal. It's about having fun, and there's a lot less stress. If you make a mistake, no one really cares; you're just having a great time and being yourself.
In opera, on the other hand, it's about putting on a show. It involves costuming, interacting, and sometimes elaborate stage designs. The music is fantastic, and I love the feeling of singing opera. But it's a whole different world. You're much more nervous because every mistake can be unforgettable, and the pressure is intense. The opera audience tends to be older and has heard great singers, which makes it more demanding.
However, I'm grateful for my opera experience. It has contributed a lot to my metal performances. It has instilled in me a sense of perfectionism, and I aim to give 90 to 100% every night, no matter what happens. It's incredible how much preparation is needed, from stage movements to costumes to memorizing lyrics. So, as much as I love opera, metal is much more relaxing for me now.
Let's talk a bit about Temperance's new album, "Hermitage - Daruma's Eyes Pt. 2," set to be released on October 20. Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
Kristin: I love "Into The Void." It's darker and faster, with a symphonic touch, which makes it one of my favorites. "Darkness Is Just A Drawing," the track before that, is another favorite. "Hero Reborn," the third track, is also dear to me, although its long intro might not make it a single. Our second album single, "No Return," stands out due to its uniqueness and entertaining vocal style. It was difficult to pick just three singles because the songs are integral to the story of a concept album, making the selection challenging.
How do you plan to spend October 20? Does the band have anything special planned for the album release day?
Kristin: Originally, we considered doing some shows, but it didn't work out due to limited opportunities. Instead, we plan to celebrate in February during our tour with Serenity, where we'll be playing many new songs. Right now, we don't have concrete plans. I'll still be in New York, mainly monitoring the reviews and reactions. Of course, we hope the album is well-received and leads to exciting show and tour opportunities.
But I'm pretty confident; I love this album, and the early reviews have been positive. It sets Temperance apart in this genre with its unique and distinct sound. We'll see how it goes.
One last question. We are a magazine for women in metal, fighting against stereotypes. Is there something you'd like to pass on to other women? Something you've learned on your journey?
Kristin: There's a lot to say on this topic, but I would say the most important thing is to be yourself and be authentic. Don't let YouTube comments, especially the negative ones, influence you. It's crucial that one bad comment doesn't overshadow a hundred positive ones. Unfortunately, some people make inappropriate comments, not just about your singing ability but also about your appearance, which can be discouraging. It's frustrating when your achievements are reduced to your looks. I know it's tough, but my best advice is to ignore online negativity and focus on the moment. In this industry, you'll face differential treatment, but don't let anyone undermine your self-confidence.
It's easier said than done, but taking pride in your work and ignoring the minor negative comments is the best approach.
Temperance is an Italian symphonic metal band formed in 2013.
Kristin Starkey - Sängerin Michele Guaitoli - Gesang, Piano Marco Pastorino - Gesang, Gitarre Luca Negro - Bass Marco Sacchetto - Drums