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Black Heart - Interview

Interview with: Corina Cinkl
Conducted by: T.V.

Austrian singer, songwriter and also a producer, Corina Cinkl, known from her collaborations with and as a member of many intriguing bands or projects like are Ghost Actor, Black Egg, Vile Oblique, Normotone, Oppenheimer MK II, Collapsing New People,..., has returned to the dark music scene with her new solo project named Black Heart. In June the debut album, All Is Lost, was released on Underwaves Records and it features eight captivating and catchy atmospheric songs. Her music sounds like a darker version of Lana Del Rey if blended with some lavish post-punk and gothic textures, and a pinch of that luxuriant darkness sometimes similar to Dimanda Galas, but yet there's more. All Is Lost was entirely composed, performed, recorded and produced by Corina, and it seems that every single word, phrase, as well the artwork and other things have a deeper significance that's just waiting to be discovered. It's quite an unique piece of dark pop art, featuring melodic song compositions, bleak romantic mysticism and ethereal atmospheric soundscapes. On this album Corina explores themes of love, loss and longing, inspired by ancient Greek mythology. All of the songs seek out the darker spectrum of human experience, voyaging deep into the abyss of desire and pain. It seems that soon we will be gifted with more music from Black Heart, first an EP is expected later in December and Corina promises that a new full-lenght is already in preparation and it's expected to hit the streets next year. More about Black Heart and Corina's artistical vision, about her debut album, influences and yet much more can be discovered in the following very interesting interview.

T.V.: Black Heart is a new musical project of yours, please explain to our readers what's all about it and why in the first place you started with a new thing?
: Black Heart is my solo dark pop project, it is dark, melodic, intense music. All the songs written for it are deeply influenced by mythology, magick and different musical genres. I had been working on pieces and sketches by myself for a quite some time while still in Ghost Actor and Black Egg. It was so peaceful and strengthening to create alone amidst the chaos and turmoil of so many collaborations and when the other projects ended I took the natural next step to found a label and release the new music that had developped into Black Heart.
T.V.: All Is Lost is your debut album and I wonder how are you satisfied with it? How was the response from media and fans of yours?
Corina: I am very happy with how the album turned out! It is the first time I produced a full length release all by myself and of course there will always be things you feel can be improved after. I can be quite the perfectionist about my work, but I have also learned how to let go and find this moment of balance in every endeavour. So far the response has been overwhelmingly good, some people who are more into minimal synth and the like have been surprised by the pop-song-ish nature of some of the tracks. But I am ok with that. It would be boring to me to keep doing the same things over and over or to stick to one genre only. I would love to reach even more people with this project, though and I am working on growing my audience, slowly but steadily.
T.V.: I love it too, already at the first listen it grew on me. In a way I find it like a darker version of certain things done by Lana Del Rey? How do you feel about this comparison?
Corina: Thanks so much! Happy to hear that you loved it and well, it is a flattering comparison, I like Lana, controversial as she might be in some respects. I really loved some of the songs of her first album and I can definitely relate to bestowing a darker shade upon pop music's glaring light. The themes of my album are quite gloomy as well, so love and loss, and longing and pain are similar to what Lana speaks of in her songs, but she has a very definite American angle on her stories, while I approach things from a more archaic perspective. But I totally see where the comparison might come into play.
T.V.: Yes absolutely! As you already mentioned a bit, can you give me some more details about lyrics of yours, and what inspires you the most?
Corina: I am inspired by many different things usually, but for All Is Lost it turned out to be very specific: Greek mythology and its archetypes, especially Echo and Narcissus, whose (un)love story spoke to me on a deep level. Their myth speaks of a love lost in a most tragic manner. A failed connection. Connections with others is a main theme of my personal life, forever challenging me to change and learn and grow. So I explored this in both, a personal and a collective level through the songwriting process and it ended up giving the album its narrative in a very natural way.
T.V.: Now I see from where the title comes from. Another interesting thing is the front cover artwork, nothing really special, but from what you told me it quite gets some kind of a significance. I believe that's you on the photo in some kind of a distress?
Corina: Yes, it is me in that picture. For the imagery of the album I was going for something subtle, but with depth. All Is Lost is such a clear, to-the-point title, so I wanted to be more mysterious and multidimensional with the visual side of things. All the artwork is taken from an experimental photo shoot with a very talented friend of mine.
T.V.: Now please explain me why starting with Black Heart on the first place as you had also an amazing project Ghost Actor, it was a bit darker stuff but in a way quite similar? As you know if you read my review of it I loved the last Ghost Actor album Unfold...
Corina: Thanks for the kind words on Ghost Actor. The project has long been over due to creative and personal differences. Like I said before, Black Heart kind of was a natural personal and musical evolution for me, a coming together of loose threads that I had begun weaving long before. I really enjoyed working on my own and doing everything by myself. To be fully present and solely responsible for a whole production process which was such a rewarding experience. But I have a few collaborations planned for the future, so I will return to the shared creative process with others, a little bit wiser, though.
T.V.: And what about the collaboration with Black Egg? Is that chapter over for you as well?
Corina: Yes. absolutely. It was very interesting to work with a collective, though. But I will not be working with Black Egg in the future.
T.V.: And if I'm not mistaken you already had one solo project before, Vile Oblique. What's going on with this one, is this one still alive?
Corina: Vile Oblique is on hiatus now, my focus is fully with Black Heart.
T.V.: I see, lets return now to Black Heart. Even if this is your solo project I believe that on the stage you won't be performing alone. Who'll be live musicians?
Corina: I will be performing solo, actually. I have had a live show already to celebrate the release of the album in June and it worked so beautifully. I will be doing  solo performances in the future, with a set up that makes it fun to play for me and interesting for the audience to experience.

T.V.: Oh, that's a surprise. Quite some of solo artists and one-man bands are afraid to perform alone. So, I think that your show it's not only about music but also some sort of a stage performance?
Corina: I have always loved performing live on stage, both with others and alone. Fear is not something that is on the forefront of live shows for me. I am nervous directly before going on stage, but that quickly dissipates after a few notes. Each moment, each performance has its own specific energy and I always strive to be completely present, vulnerable and raw with that. For the Black Heart live shows I will have some striking visuals accompany me, but other than that it will be purely me, the music and the audience - and our shared experience.
T.V.: I would really like to witness one of your shows. Is there any kind of tour planned or something?
Corina: I am planning it as we speak! There will be two December shows in Vienna to start things off and after I hope to be playing in cities in neighbouring countries.
T.V.: Cool, so there's a chance to see you in Slovenia as we are neighbours! In a recent conversaton we had you mentioned to me that you are planning to release a new EP. Can you give some details about it?
Corina: Sure! It is a remix EP, that I am looking forward to releasing this coming Yule on December 21st. I don't want to reveal too much, but let me say that the two musicians who manifested their visions for the tracks are two people whose artistry I respect a lot and I am very happy with their work on this release. It will be digital only for now, but who knows what the future brings.
T.V.: I'm certainly looking forward for it. Beside being a songwriter, singer, performer,... you also produced and recorded the album all by yourself. How do you feel working in the studio with all those knobs and computers?
Corina: I love it! My husband and I have our own home studio that we have been adding to over the years. For All Is Lost I used both digital and anologue gear in the recording and mixing process. In terms of DAW, I have been an avid Ableton Live user for a while now, after working with Logic and Cubase before. It is so intuitive and versatile, I absolutely adore it. I don't have a formal education as an audio engineer, but am completely self-taught, so when I started out producing my own music I quickly let go of any shyness around knobs and buttons and I haven't looked back since. It can get a little lonely, though, working alone in the studio, so that is something I try to find a good balance with. Good concerts that lure you out of your house help a lot with this.
T.V.: Now I'm interested in the label which released All Is Lost, Underwaves Records. I couldn't find any official website, it's only on Facebook, so I suppose that this is your own thing?
Corina: Indeed it is. I founded Underwaves as my own label last year. I was longing for the kind of freedom and indepence that only a self-release-situation can bring. It is more work, of course, but I am fully in control of every part of the process and there are no more delays, disappointments and other inconveniences that working with a label (on any level) brings. Self-reliance is a trait I value much in myself and others. For now I will stick to releasing my own music, but I am having a very open mind towards working with other artists in the future.
T.V.: Do you maybe plan to re-release some other stuff you did before in other projects, bands, collaboration? I think that many of those things have a great artistical value and are quite hard to find.
Corina: Well, maybe, I am not sure about that. I have quite a number of unreleased tracks with each project I was involved with, but there are other people involved in terms of rights, so that can get quite complicated. But who knows, I don't want to dismiss it entirely. My focus is towards the future, for now.
T.V.: I understand. So, please tell me what's next for Black Heart after the EP is released? Do you have some big plans for this project?
Corina: I am working on a couple things already, what I can speak about is the next album, that is coming next year. I have started the journey of exploration and have begun writing for it already and it is giving me such joy! The themes will be different, the sound will evolve but the dark, melodic, intense spirit of the music will persist in the coming release!
T.V.: I suppose  that it's maybe to early to ask, but when exactly can we expect the next full-lenght?
Corina: Wild estimate: next summer, but it can be a bit earlier, maybe May.
T.V.: Oh, that's pretty fast! And I expect another great album! I also want to ask you which artists and bands are your biggest influences and inspirations, beside Lana Del rey of course?
Corina: Thanks, I sure hope to create something that resonates! Inspirations come from many places, I admire strong women like Tori Amos, Björk and Diamanda Galas, they fuel my identity as female artist. For Black Heart the influences include 80s bands like The Cure and Cocteau Twins for their rich sound and lavish textures. The songs I wrote for the project seemed to call for that kind of blurry, emotional atmosphere. I also wanted to be as timeless as possible in terms of the sound. I am pro-innovation, that is not what I am saying, but I wasn't going to jump on any trends or hypes with Black Heart. I felt the songs deserved to be wrapped in the cloth of timelessness instead. And you are right about Lana Del Rey of course.
T.V.: You released two videos for two amazing tracks, "Follow" and "Shadows". Both pretty artistical, a bit provocative as well and with a lot of symbolism. Are you planning to release any new video for any of the tracks from the album? And what does the pomegranate represents in "Follow"?
Corina: The video for "Follow" was very DIY and kind of spontaneous, a very talented friend of mine shot it with me and I edited it by myself. The song is one of the earliest I had written for the album, it contains all the seeds of its story. The pomegranate is such an ancient and strong symbol, with many aspects and angles. In the Greek myth of Persephone, the pomegranate seeds can be seen as a token of transformation. She consumes some while in the underworld and her fate is changed forever, she is changed forever. In this way it resonates with what "Follow" is recounting. For "Shadows" I collaborated with Portuguese visual artist Pedro Inock. His work has a timeless feel to it, that I love and it was interesting to see his perspective connect with mine. I am planning on working with him in the future on the visual side of Black Heart and beyond.
T.V.: And now I'm interested who's Corina in her private life, outside music world? What are the things that enthuse you the most, how do you live in general?
Corina: Music is a huge part of my life and takes up most of my time. When I am away from it, I am divided between spending as much time alone as possible and spending as much time with people I love and doing wonderful things. I wish the day had 48 hours! I am interested in many different things, variety is very important to me, my focus shifts continuously. For example at the moment I am excited about Tarot again, expanding my knowledge, learning and sharing with others, I have also started to read in Spanish again, after letting the language sleep for some time. My interests come and go in cycles, it never gets boring.
T.V.: Ok Corina! Thank you for all of your interesting answers. It was really nice talking with you. In the end, what would you like to say to our readers and fans of yours?
Corina: Thank you for asking interesting questions and for your interest in Black Heart! I am very happy with the resonance this unique project has found so far and I am looking forward to connecting with more and more people through it in the future!

Black Heart links: Official website, Facebook, Bandcamp