Hi, Snovonne! You’ve been touring Europe with your band for a bit over a month now. How has it been so far? How is the public responding to your new album?
Sno: We started the first show on 6th of May, and it’s been even better than we thought. We kicked off with countries closer to Slovakia (that’s where we’re from) like Austria and Czech Republic. I think people are responding really well. But we also included a lot of the older songs, to make sure they get what they want. Then we continued down to Italy, through France, and later with Latvia, Estonia, and now Finland. We were excited about France because that was our first time there. The response was great, people were awesome, a very family-orientated atmosphere. The tour has been a lot of fun. It was very much alive.
Can you recall any memorable moments from this tour?
Sno: To be honest, I’m surprised there was no bad stuff. Every show was fun, although the venues changed. And some of the venues were not as prepared for live music as you’d think they would be. But we still ended up having good shows. The tour started interesting because both the drummer and I had teeth problems, and we handled it with antibiotics. My mouth was swollen; the voice was fine, but the pronunciation was bad. I couldn’t do the “n” or the “l”. Luckily enough, it was during our two days off. On the third day, when we were on stage, it got a little better.
Pete: There was a really cool thing about the first show we did. A very young all-girl punk band was playing, and their whole families came to see them. Like brothers, uncles and grandmothers. That was fun to see! (laughs)
Sno: We’re also like a family, you know. The drummer, Tuky and the bass player, Pete have been with me forever. They’re like my brothers. And then Tibor, the guitar player we have on this tour, he is new regarding touring with us. But he’s been a friend of ours for a while. We’re just a bunch of goofs, we love each other, and have as much fun as we can. We’re all funny people.
What’s going to happen next? Are you going home and take a break?
Sno: The plan is to head back to Slovakia, and I’m going to spend some time with my parents. My husband is here as well, he joined in for the last shows in Finland. He’s the one who mixed and mastered the new record, and is also helping us with live sound. After we visit my parents, we’re flying back home, to Florida. I have some new videos and new songs to work on. We’re already planning upcoming tours, but I don’t know yet if they’re going to happen by the end of this year or early next year. I do everything, not just in regards to my music, but also the videos and graphics. It’s non-stop work, and I can’t get much done when touring.
Let’s talk about your most recent release, “The Child And The Bitch” that comes after a 5-year break since “The Nightmare Bride”. What did you want to bring forward with this album? Does it mark a particular stage in your life?
Sno: Absolutely. It has various aspects to it. Musically, I feel that it’s finally a record that represents how I want things to sound. I’m very happy with the previous records, but we didn’t manage to specify the sound that well, in terms of production. I wish I would have done certain things differently. But I guess that each band has some old records that sound like “Ugh!”. We all think that whatever is new is better because we are growing. On the concept level, I wanted to make “The Child And The Bitch” for a long time.
I’m all about duality, and psychoanalytical stuff. It’s just how I am. I have a lot of people in my head, and I’m trying to listen to all of them. They all deserve my attention. I wrote the title song when I was a teenager, probably 15 or 17 years old. There are also new songs I wrote recently. The best way to put it is that I wanted to dedicate the whole album to the psychology of my life.
A fascinating way to put it…
Sno: I’ve always been fascinated with the mind and how our brains work. To me, there have always been two elements: how you were born vs. what the world turns you into. I don’t want to necessarily sound like the world turns you into a bad person. You grow, and there are certain things you have to adjust to and some you don’t have to. I always try to save the child because I think artists are children. Although that makes you very naive at times, or very hard to live with. You have to preserve and listen to the child. The child is free.
When you’re a kid, you don’t give a shit about anyone, because you don’t know any better. You’re guided by an immaculate and innocent soul. That’s how I used to write as well. I remember how I felt as a kid, very free and happy that I expressed something through writing. Although I sounded horrible and didn’t know what I was doing. But the emotional reward was huge. That’s what got me through my life until now.
What about the bitch?
Sno: You grow up with certain values. And then you realise that your surroundings might not reflect them. So you start questioning things. That’s how rebellion begins, depression and anxiety too. You don’t really know who you are. I’ve been brought up to consider everyone’s feelings and put myself in others’ shoes. And sometimes I get so wrapped up in trying to figure out what other people feel, that it fucks me up. You gotta draw a line. I would gladly give you anything to make you happy, but there’s only so far I can go. I can’t give you the best days of my life, which belong to me naturally. There are many people you offer a finger, and they take the whole arm, you know? You gotta start being strict and they start calling you a bitch. I’m not an evil person or a bitch type. I don’t even know what envy is; I don’t get feelings like that. My problem with the world is that I don’t like it when people misuse your trust and kindness.
I hate what’s becoming of the internet; it’s causing more and more troubles and making people go insane. There’s no more identity anymore. People are smart-asses when typing, but when you meet them in person, they’re scared to tell you what they think. And I’m like: “Really? Would you come and say that to my face? Please do. Let’s have this conversation, but let’s have it in person.” You keep yourself anonymous, so you feel safe to say whatever the fuck you please. A lot of times it’s very stupid and uneducated. Usually, it’s people that don’t keep an open mind; they don’t travel or go outside. They stay inside and look at their news feed, which is very subjective. That’s not life.
People forget what real art means. Back in the days, you would pay to go to a theatre, to experience a world created by an artist, a world where you could enter and escape yours. We all need that escape from our everyday reality. Artists provide that escape meanwhile they express things that you can’t; they do it for you. And to this day, many artists do a great job at it, but people don’t appreciate it anymore. They want everything for free, and hardly go out to shows anymore. Everybody takes everything for granted. It often pisses me off. For millions like me, it’s a shit show. It would be very convenient for me to stop doing what I do. But I can’t because this is my way of life. If I’d stop doing it, I’m gonna go crazy. And then maybe I’ll start shooting people because I’m not okay (laughs). Each person has its own ways of expressing what’s inside.
I believe artists give you their world, a gift of unmeasurable value, and they’re very brave to do so. Not everyone has that courage.
Sno: In my opinion, if you’re doing it right, you’re basically standing there naked every time you’re playing a show. And that’s very precious…There are still people in this world, who make art and create the catharsis for those with no artistic inclinations. I have so many tools available to create that world. I have melody, lyrics and the way I can combine the two. Then the instruments and arrangements follow. After, I add the visual effects and create the videos. I think that should be valued. Not because I do it, but for all the artists across the world. People fall in love with different types of artists because each one expresses things in a different way, one way resonates with you more than another. They express things people feel but, are unable to say.
You’re not only a musician but also a videographer and a graphic designer. You imagine and direct the concept of your music videos. Can you describe the process of turning a sketch into a music video? What’s the most challenging phase and why?
Sno: The visual part comes very naturally to me; a complete package that includes the musical side and the visual one. I already see things in my head when I’m writing a song. I see music in shapes and colours. So I don’t tend to have a problem with inspiration. If a song doesn’t have a video, I feel it’s unfinished. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to keep making videos for every song. I have a hyper brain, and it’s fun for me to think: “What would be the best way to turn this song into a video? How can I take the metaphors in words and turn them into metaphors on screen?” I like doing things that are very artsy. Now and then, I’ll do a more simple video, inspired from touring. But with the ones I truly love, I put a lot of effort. Like “Best Days” for example. The video has a lot of meaning even if you don’t understand the song. It’s a challenge, but at the same time, I love it. Whenever I finish a song I’m like: “I want this type of video for this!” That’s my happiest time ever.
Making videos is relatively new to me. I’ve been working on it for the past six years, maybe seven. I’m always learning and trying to figure out new ways of doing things. Now I feel better that I can do things I couldn’t before. While working on this new record, I did lots of studying and practising regarding videos. I worked really hard at getting better, and I want to keep getting better. That’s the purpose of life.
Do you ever get burned out?
Sno: I’m a workaholic, and always two years ahead of everything. I had two mental breakdowns already. But that’s the problem when you love what you do. I try, but don’t sleep a lot; sometimes I don’t even eat because I got to figure something out (laughs). It’s just how I am, unfortunately, and I’m trying to work around it and stay healthy. My brain and soul go into an explosion of feelings. On the one hand, is very demanding on the physical body, but on the other, is where I feel at my best. Again, clash and duality. I think it’s important to know what your weaknesses and strengths are, and work with them.
How do you deal with criticism?
Sno: I take criticism well if it comes from someone I trust and respect. I’m completely fine and open to a conversation with close ones, who explain to me what I did wrong, and what I could have done differently. I don’t like criticism coming from people who do not give a shit about me and what I do. That’s something that will usually trigger my temper a little bit. You shouldn’t really judge without knowing what’s happening. Then there are the virtual egos – they don’t care about that because it’s not based on anything. I don’t even have the time to read all the comments. Now and then, I check my notifications, but I don’t spend a lot of time online. I just don’t think it’s healthy and I have better things to do.
Sometimes, people say something really, really mean, and that kinda hurts. You’re a human being; you don’t need to hear that. But if someone would tell me “Your work is shit”, I’ll be like “Fine, then don’t listen to it. If you think it’s shit, then go and spend your money elsewhere.” I believe in what I do, and there’s no way you’re going to convince me that my work is shit. It’s okay if you feel that way, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to feel the same. I’m not expecting everyone to love it. Some people are going to love it, and some are going to hate it.
I don’t do what I do to measure up to other bands and people’s expectations; I like to create my own. And I don’t do it to prove anything. I do it because I need to express myself in this way, I love touring and the life that I live. It’s a huge plus when people enjoy my work. But if they weren’t there, although my world would be more sad, I’d still have to do it for myself.
You can’t please everybody, right?
Sno: And I wouldn’t want to. If you start wanting to please everybody, that’s where you start making shitty sterile songs. Sterile – because you’re trying to include everybody’s taste, and you clean it out in a way nobody gets offended. And so you’re left with no emotion at all.
I love “Home”. It’s such a powerful song, and the music video for it articulates great strength and vulnerability. What’s the story behind it?
Sno: The song itself is actually a pretty sad song if you listen to the lyrics, but it’s also very empowering. You realise you go through life trying to change things that hurt or you don’t like. But a lot of the negative stuff comes with life. I’m so used to assholes and people not doing their jobs properly in the music business that now it’s almost like home. It’s sad, and it makes you very distrusting. I’ve always been a fighter; I had to go through a lot mentally to get to where I am now. Breaking down a few more walls is not a problem for me. I’ve been breaking walls since I was a kid. My childhood was peculiar, in the sense that I travelled a lot. Children don’t tend to attend school in three different countries by the age of 10. I grew up quickly, I was different, and had a hard time fitting in.
The video, I wanted to keep it elegant because I think the song is very elegant. It has a little bit of vintage mixed with modern elements, just the way I like it.
You lived in three countries during your childhood, and now you’re settled in the States. What is home to you?
Sno: I define home by the people around me, and how I feel about a place. I was born in Slovakia, but don’t necessarily feel like home there. Of course, I feel like home at my parents’ place since they are two people I love. With the band, I feel like home. When I’m in Orlando with my husband, we’re at home. It feels like home because he’s there.
I haven’t quite figured out the home part. But I think it’s all about the environment. It has nothing to do with the country. It has everything to do with people, and how comfortable you feel. The more comfortable you are, the more at home you’re going to feel. Home is a place in your heart.
Who guided you through your journey onto music? Was it easy for you to recognise the path or have you taken any detours?
Sno: It was fairly easy. Never any detours. I always knew I was into art, ever since I was little. My grandfather was a psychiatrist, but in his private life, he was a jazz man. He’d always play the piano with me. I’d always draw and paint a lot. I played the clarinet for years, then I learned the guitar on my own and also studied singing for ten years. For the studies I used to sing more classical stuff. It’s been great training for my voice, but I don’t use the classical voice unless I need it for background vocals. I like singing close to how I talk if that makes sense. I feel I need to get a lot of stuff out, so I prefer singing more soul-y. Classical singing is too one-dimensional to me. I don’t feel I can get enough genuine emotion out that way.
How do you look after your voice?
Sno: I do not (laughs). The first step in taking care of your voice is to know what you can do with it, instead of pushing yourself into different directions without any practice or rehearsal. I used to sing a lot of old religious music, which is ideal for training your voice. It’s so saddled and specific that you learn a lot about controlling your voice and harmony.
You should develop it, but one step at the time. I don’t tend to have a lot of problems with my voice on tour because what I write is comfortable for me to sing. I keep it manageable, so I don’t disappoint people during live shows. Sometimes you listen to a record that sounds amazing, but when you go and see that artists live, it’s an entirely different story.
I try a lot of different things, but I wouldn’t put them out unless I know I can actually deliver them live.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Sno: I listen to almost everything. I’ll have Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, and Marilyn Manson, and Slipknot next to it. I love Manson, I always had. Although I’m not that much into the newer stuff, I’ll always have tons of respect for him because to me, he’s a complete artist and was part of my childhood. Nine Inch Nails, Korn… From the metal side – Cradle of Filth, also Dimmu…Who doesn’t love Dimmu, right? I also love Gojira, Devin Townsend, Raunchy, Issues…
From the other spectrum, 90’s r&b and rap – most of Timbaland’s and Missy Elliott’s productions. I loved Babyface as a producer; I basically grew up on his songwriting. I love Justin Timberlake – the moment he went solo… I went “Thank you!” (laughs). I also like Pharell, Adele, Amy Winehouse and many others.
What else? Creepy stuff like Nick Cave and dark jazz music. Jazz funerals. And of course classic rock, like Boston and Alice Cooper.
You’ve written over 200 songs by the age of 18. Do you ever go back to those demos that haven’t made it to your albums? Are you planning to reuse them somehow?
Sno: I always do. I used some parts of “The Child And The Bitch” record, like, Anatomy, Sally and the title song. I’m very happy about Anatomy because I managed to keep it really similar to what it was. That song is very dear to me.
From all the songs you write, how do you decide which ones are going to see the light of day?
Sno: It’s just how I feel about it, the topic I want to talk about. It’s very interesting to notice that when you were a kid, you were thinking the same things as you do now. With “The Child And The Bitch” song, I thought it would complete the adulthood to childhood circle if I finish it now. It’s always been the same song; I only had to fix up the lyrics a little bit.
Are there any musicians you’d like to collaborate with, given a chance?
Sno: Oh, plenty. I’d love to work with some blues musicians, even street musicians. Working with people is awesome. I spend so much time in my own world that it’s very pleasant to invite someone else in. It keeps an open mind.
Besides music and visual arts, what else sets your soul on fire?
Sno: Matches? (laughs) I love animals a lot, but I can’t have any yet because I keep travelling. I used to be the kid that had everything from goldfish, to hamsters and dogs. I’d love to have a little farm with a horse and some other animals.
Continue this possible scenario in a funny way “One night, as I was laying in my bed trying to get some sleep, I heard three loud knocks at the door. Half-awake and wearing only my birthday suit, I…”
Pete: I would jump out the window, sneak behind the person’s back and tap him on the shoulder. Or I’d first check whose apartment it is.
Sno: Yeah, like where the fuck am I? What dimension is this?
“The Child And The Bitch” Tracklisting:
“The Child And The Bitch”
“All My Ghosts”
“My Poison’s Made For Me”
“Home” (orchestral version)
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