Genre blending is nothing new to the music industry. Myriad of new genres have come from the innovative melding of facets from differing musical styles into one sound. Uncle Tupelo comes to mind as they arguably gave birth to the Alt Country music scene. But some genres appear completely mutually exclusive and seem to defy the prospect of blending; so diametrically opposed in styles that one would never imagine a marriage of the two.
But for the innovative, they tend to see similarities where most of us see only exclusivity. Such is the case with Austrian songbird, Sonja Perenda, whose blend of classic vocal technique with contemporary rock, has led some to label it “operatic rock.”[youtube SICtxL5EchI]
But long before Sonja began writing songs in her trademark style; she was a novice with a dream. During her very first public performance, a stage mishap occurred that would have chased a lesser person off stage. But at that moment, Sonja got a taste of the innovation that would eventually take to the development of her signature sound.
“I was 14 years-old and I was nervous as hell,” Sonja said. “I had never sang with a microphone before and the first thing that happened… the microphone stand broke. I could either run from the stage or just make it through. So, I sang the song anyway. After it broke I realized that not only do I want to do this; but that I can do this.”
Soon after, Sonja enrolled in vocal lessons. “At first, I was mostly training at home, trying to imitate other singers,” she said. “But, soon I realized I needed some formal technique. I tried out several teachers but it has to fit. The technique has to fit to your voice and it has to fit person-to-person.” Finally, Sonja found the teacher she had been looking for and the result of those lessons would have a lasting effect on her career. “She was a music teacher at my school and she was a former opera singer, I took lessons from her for five or six years.”[youtube UR1ZmuYfz3I]
Though equipped with her vocal education, Sonja had still not found the moment that would prove she could meld her two loves: rock and metal with classic vocal technique. “Rock and metal were always my big two loves, but I always thought you had to have a voice like Joan Jett or Bon Jovi to sing this kind of music. So, I always thought I loved to listen to it; but I can’t sing it. And then I heard Nightwish (a Finnish symphonic metal band) with the old singer. And this was a wow moment because I thought: “Hey, this is really metal but she has a classical voice or at least a clear voice and she can sing this too. Hey, maybe I should work on that; just try it.”
With six years of working and writing behind her what has emerged is a collection of Sonja’s emotive lyrical matter, in fact, melded with heavy rock and metal riffs. Think one part opera (sung in English), another part metal instrumentation with an almost Trans-Siberian Orchestra backing. “Silent Screams” features a taste of Sonja’s operatic vocal delivery over the chug of rock and metal electric riff work. The ethereal, dreamy backing vocals bolster the strength of her own and lends a fantasy feel to the track. “Judgement Day” offers a darker and down tempo spin on the vocal/metal tandem. Again, electric guitar dominates the instrumentation with heavy percussion just under the surface. The highlight feature of this track is that it showcases a bit more of Sonja’s vocal upper range. “Voice of Peace” serves as the softer side of the tracks, with emotive lyrical matter over backing piano and strings. The ballad not only allows the vocals to lead the track but also shows the versatility of Sonja’s songwriting abilities.
Sonja’s album is out and she is actively seeking to surround herself with a new band and label representation. For more information see her website www.sonjaperenda.com.
by Christopher West – firstname.lastname@example.org