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A Dirty Dozen with ANNAMARIA PINNA from VAJRA – November 2022

| 8 November 2022 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “New York based, alternative dark rock band VAJRA has announced select, East Coast dates for their DESCENT TOUR. The limited tour starts October 20 in Providence, RI and wraps up October 23 in Hampton Beach, NH. New York-based dark rock mavens Vajra originate and radiate outward from the sensual and multi-range vocals of composer and visionary Annamaria Pinna. Pinna and core bandmates, guitarist Dave Sussman (formerly of industrial metal pioneers Bile and the early New York incarnation of Criss Angel’s Angeldust) and drummer Jimmy DeMarco (Soultone Cymbals Artist) conjure music from a diverse panoply of threads. For sure, Vajra have the future pegged to today with the launch of riveting music videos and the broadcast of their striking Tas Limur (Volto, Tool) designed cover art. It’s from here that the adventurous outfit will continue to unfurl angels and demons, light and dark, as they prowl into the future on new indie Thunder Cult Records.” We get Annamaria to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

I was with someone I was planning on being with for the rest of my life. This person turned out to be someone different from who he said he was. In hindsight, he was just different from who I thought he was. I was attached to the image I created of him. Love is like grabbing water with your closed fist. You can’t. It goes where it goes, and your attempted possession of it will only bury you.  What is the relationship between love and sacrifice?  Between sacrifice and surrender? What do we sacrifice for our partners so they can find the threads that weave them into fuller, more connected beings? What do they sacrifice for us? I was exploring these concepts in ‘Crown Or Crucify’ after surfacing from that relationship. The keyboard part came pretty quickly, and that informed the rest of the song. I wanted the delivery to be really intimate, as if I was speaking into my lover’s ear. I still hear the sensuality and the desperation in my voice. The video, Dave and I wrote, shot, directed and edited 100% DIY ourselves.  It is one video in a series of videos with the other songs on Irkalla that fit together into one short film. We are currently editing them all together and adding additional footage. The story is inspired by the Sumerian classic hero myth, ‘The Descent of Inanna.” For the shots where the character is burying her lover, we emptied out our living room and bought 20 bags of dirt that we hauled up five flights of stairs to our NYC walk-up apartment (and then back down those stairs when we were done). It was pretty crazy but we love those shots. We also recreated the album cover in that dirt at the end of the video.  We kept the lyric that Dave wrote as a permanent part of our wall. This wall is a place where our friends are invited to write anything they want, and it’s now becoming a really cool piece of living art. And of course, Dave had crazy fun with the goats head – a lot of condoms and lube….

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Music has always been a part of my life. There is no separation.  All of my experiences in life inform my music.  And my music informs my life.   I studied music theory at Juilliard, played violin from age 6-8 and flute from age 8 through high school.  I taught myself some piano, guitar and bass and took some drum lessons.  Also, I started dancing at age 3, so I was reacting to music from a very early age.  I lived in India for 5 years, Italy, New Orleans, NYC and San Francisco, and all of that geography is imbued in the sound.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

There are lots. Duran Duran, soul music, Prince, Madonna, Tool, classical Hindustani, Deftones, Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Fever Ray, Dead Can Dance, and The Mars Volta.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Danny Carey and the Dead Can Dance folks would be pretty amazing. Danny’s rhythms and performances move me. The Dead Can Dance make otherworldly music.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Aside from the music, I love to travel, cook, drink wine, mountain bike, run, hike, read, learn, write and spend time with friends and family.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Our music has been described as hauntingly dark and hypnotic. It weaves Eastern Indian themes with melodic, progressive rock, creating foreboding and mysterious lullabies. Revolver Magazine said we sound like Evanescence, The Pretty Reckless and Seether.  I don’t think we sound a thing like Seether.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I cook, Dave gets the drinks, Jimmy pulls out the guitar and John cracks the jokes.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

A couple months ago, Dave and I were at the Lingua Ignota show here in NYC. Norman Westberg from Swans was standing right next to us. I was thrilled, and wanted so badly to talk to him but it was the middle of the show, and I didn’t want to start chatting during the music and ruin the experience. So, I periodically glanced over without moving my head, and when he finally looked over, I smiled and gave him a nod.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

This path is the best way for me to dissolve outside of the ego space and into the space that lies in between my thoughts. I’d either work back for the parks department (again) because working in nature is a magical portal to the netherworld; or I’d become an Assyriologist and work with Dr. Irving Finkel at the British Museum translating cuneiform tablets.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Why do we write the music we write? I’d answer: We are travelers who go outside the bounds of a sense-based perception to catch a musical or lyrical idea and then translate it to the material realm. Of course, our life experience is our vocabulary or antenna. But when we get out of our own ways, we are translators or conduits for energies that move through us. Honoring what comes through is important for us. Musically, lyrically, and visually we explore what we are driven to explore. I’m tired of explaining why I don’t growl in our music.  The inspiration for every aspect of the EP came to me in meditation and communion with particular Goddess/divine feminine energies. Women shouldn’t have to throw an aggressive male lens over their art or replicate aggressive male energy to be present or legitimate in their art. The sensual, subtle body aspects are just as beautiful as the rational, directed aspects. One defines the other, and both are aspects of the one. Balance is key. I can only approach that balance from my perspective, and hope that it resonates.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

No.  everything we’ve done has prepared us for where we are now. I wish I had more time to explore other instrumentation and to be a master of multiple instruments.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Prince – Purple Rain. Experiencing Prince’s brilliance and process, especially for that album would be such an inspiration and a great learning experience. A close second is Pink Floyd – Live in Pompeii.  Pure magic.  They were so tapped in when they did that.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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