"I initially declined the band's invitation to join twice"

Elena Cataraga, also known as Lena Scissorhands, not only has a firm grip on the microphone as the frontwoman of the Moldovan Modern Metal band Infected Rain but is now also emerging as the lead singer of Death Dealer Union. In a chat with Dark Divas, the musician provides insights into her journey to the band, reveals the background behind her debut album "Initiation," and discusses an operation that has significantly changed her voice.

Amanda Dizdarevic


6. Nov 2023

Infected Rain
Lena Scissorhands
Death Dealer Union, Infected Rain, Lena Scissorhands

Before we talk about the new album "Initiation," how did you become a part of Death Dealer Union?

Lena: Originally, the idea for forming Death Dealer Union came with the vision of creating a collective of diverse music creators who would collaborate on creative works together. This concept is even reflected in the band's name, which CC (note: CC McKenna, drums) came up with. So, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he reached out to me; at that time, he was actively involved in music. He proposed that we work on a song together. After agreeing, I joined the guys along with my producer Valentin (note: Valentin Voluta). During these sessions, the focus was really on having fun, and we did a lot of improvisation.

But this feature then turned into a full membership in the band.

Lena: Exactly. We quickly realized that the collaboration worked great, and we had good chemistry. This made us want more, and we ended up creating a total of four new songs. CC then had the idea to shoot music videos for two of these songs. Since I had written, composed, and sung these songs, he invited me to participate in the videos, even though I was just a guest musician. When we met in Los Angeles to shoot the videos, a closer bond formed between the guys and me, leading to the development of new ideas. Shortly after we released the two videos, we noticed how much people liked our productions. Eventually, CC asked me if I wanted to become the band's full-time singer.

And did you agree right away?

Lena: Actually, I didn't.

Why not?

Lena: I initially declined the request to join the band twice. The offer sounded very tempting, but I was initially concerned. I wasn't sure if I could devote enough time, energy, and material to two bands. I take such commitments very seriously, as I'm sure everyone does. Nevertheless, I was agonizing over it because I wanted to avoid misunderstandings and not let anyone down.

What ultimately led you to accept the position?

Lena: CC alleviated my concerns by explaining that Death Dealer Union wouldn't be a full-time band. He has many other professional commitments – not just as a musician but also as a businessman and actor. The other band members are also involved in various projects. Being a full-time musician and constantly touring is a challenging lifestyle that significantly impacts one's private life and leaves little time for family and friends. Since I've been living this lifestyle with Infected Rain for many years, my loved ones around me understand what it entails. The idea of doubling this lifestyle overwhelmed me.

So, it's a side project – not just for you but for everyone.

Lena: That's correct. Right now, our primary goal is to have fun and make music together. The other guys appreciate my expertise and experience, and in return, I greatly appreciate that my concerns are always accepted and respected.

You've now, just like Infected Rain, signed with Napalm Records.

Lena: Yes, originally, we had planned to release just an EP. However, when you become part of a label, albums take priority, and EPs can be released later. So, we agreed to record a full-length album. We already had some songs in our pockets, but we had to write and record the rest afterward. Since our songs were created independently, each one tells its own story. Of course, there are some common themes, such as a couple of love songs, but the song titles cover a wide range of topics.

Is there a particular song that is close to your heart?

Lena: "Love Me When I'm Ugly." This piece provides a lot of room for diverse interpretations and can find its meaning in different types of relationships, be it family, friendship, or romance. In this song, I encourage people to appreciate their family members, friends, or lovers even when they are "ugly." Here, I'm not referring to physical appearance; it's more about the situations in which we are not at our best, act thoughtlessly, don't feel well, or fail to meet others' expectations.

It's easy to love a perfect person, but true love means accepting all the strengths, weaknesses, ups, and downs of that person. Unfortunately, in social media or movies, we are often presented with only flawless images, which fuel unrealistic expectations. People often can't live up to these expectations while expecting others to do so. We live in a very demanding world, so I want to encourage the listeners to be more humble and show more acceptance.

How have the feedback and reactions been to this song and the other eleven songs so far?

Lena: Phenomenal! We received great responses even to the first songs we released. When the entire album was released, we received even more positive feedback. The only critical voices were that Death Dealer Union sounds similar to Infected Rain. Of course, there are similarities because both bands have the same singer, lyricist, and composer. So, I'm not sure if this should even be considered negative criticism. In my opinion, though, there are clear differences between the two groups.

What are those differences?

Lena: In Infected Rain, my singing is often more emotional because I sing about more specific, painful, and darker topics. While these emotions also play a part here, in Death Dealer Union, they are expressed more broadly. In this case, it's about feelings that are more common and familiar. There is another difference, but it's more personal.

Could you elaborate on that?

Lena: I recorded "Initiation" around the same time as the next Infected Rain album, which is set to be released early next year. During the recording process for both works, I noticed changes in my voice. The reason for this was an operation; specifically, I had my tonsils removed in December 2022. Since this procedure was performed near the vocal cords, I was quite fearful of it, especially in adulthood as such an operation is more challenging and painful. Fortunately, everything went well in the end.

How did this operation affect your voice?

Lena: Many people, including my vocal coach, believe that my voice has improved since the operation. Before, I couldn't sing the way I wanted because the oversized tonsils in my throat literally hindered the expressiveness of my voice. Now, I feel like my abilities have reached a new level. That's why I'm so proud of "Initiation" and the upcoming Infected Rain album; they represent the best version of myself. This is not meant to sound boastful but to show how seemingly small things can have a big impact on one's performance.

Speaking of performance, can you envision Death Dealer Union becoming a full-time project in the future?

Lena: You should never say "never," but not at the moment. For now, Death Dealer Union remains a side project. Nevertheless, we are already being asked by many when we'll finally go on tour.

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