The members of Edge Of Paradise has spent the past five years during their blood, sweat and tears into their work, elevating their already impressive game and carving out a place for themselves on the scene. The story of the band begins with it’s formation in 2011 by Margarita Monet and Dave Bates. Few months after formation, the band released their debut album “Mask” featuring a rhythm section of bassist Tony Franklin (Blue Murder, The Firm) and drummer Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth Band). “Mask” came at the sixth most added on national CMJ radio, right behind Machine Head and solidified existence of Edge Of Paradise. An album chock-full of industrial-tinged metal, coupled with soaring vocal hooks, was greatly received by critics and fans worldwide. After the release of “Mask,” the group immediately began writing to showcase the band’s maturity and define the direction that was pre-empted by “Mask.”
In 2013, the band started working with legendary Michael Wagener on the mix of the new songs and recording with grammy winning producer Bob Kulick (Kiss, Motorhead). “Perfect Shade Of Black” was the result. The EP was made available only via physical release, before the worldwide full-length album release in 2015. The EP received rave reviews, painting a vivid picture of the bands staggering growth, and if public perception is any indicator, the lyric video for one of the songs, “Breakaway,” quickly reached 200,000 views with the debut on AOL’s “Noisecreep.”
2014 served as a heavy touring year for the band, Edge Of Paradise toured West Coast and East Coast, as well as hitting some states in the midwest. After playing in more than 18 states and signing with German based label Pure Steel Records, the band released their second full length studio album. “IMMORTAL WALTZ,” produced and recorded by the legendary Michael Wagener, was released in May 2015. Right away the album started to receive great reviews from online and print magazines. Revolver magazine took note of the band and released their music videos for single “In A Dream” and “Rise For The Fallen.” The album was voted album of the week by Revolver’s readers.
Debuting at number two on CMJ metal radio, “Immortal Waltz” quickly secured its place in the top 20 of the national CMJ loud chart. Lance Hall of 90.9 WJSCFM stated, “This is one of the most unique sounding albums I’ve heard in a long long time. True craftsmanship on all the songs and with a person the stature of Michael Wagener producing and mixing, there’s no doubt that the only grade to give this project is a full five stars!” With a solid lineup, Margarita Monet on vocals, Dave Bates on guitars, Nick Ericson on bass and John Chominsky on drums, the band looks forward to jumping into the future, full speed ahead!
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Margarita Monet to discuss her musical roots, the influences who helped shape the artist we see today, Edge of Paradise’s most powerful and dynamic album to date, ‘Immortal Waltz,’ and what the future holds for this band on the rise!
Going back to the beginning, what are you first memories of music?
I think I was about 4 years old and my mom taught me a song on the piano, it was some waltz, and then she brought me to a music school, so I played piano ever since! Also, we used to go to a bunch of plays, ballets, operas, concerts. I grew up in Moscow, so it was full of that! There is a theater on pretty much every block there. I was very lucky to be exposed to that and I really loved it all!
How did you first get involved with the arts and pursuing music more seriously?
It was from very early on, I started going to all the piano competitions. I also did theater, ballet, I was pretty much immersed in performing arts. I remember we toured Prague with the ballet school I was in, it was really awesome! When I was 11 we moved to Houston, TX and there I continued to participate in piano competitions. I got a cool medal collection. My dad is a scientist, but he pretty much accepted what I wanted to do a long time ago. [laughs]
What can you tell us about the process of finding your creative voice as an artist?
I think the main thing is to be honest and authentic, not to chase trends. I’m lucky that I have a strong foundation that gave me a lot of skills so when I have ideas I can bring them to life. And I feel like I have a lot to say and express that people can relate to. At the end of the day, we all go through similar things, so I use music to channel that. And of course it’s a never ending evolution!
Who were some of the performers and people behind the scenes who helped to shape the artist we see today?
I always loved Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury, Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson, they are all true icons who created something that is timeless and that’s what we strive to do. Also, my teachers, my parents, people we work with like Michael Wagener, Chuck Johnson, I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to work with such amazing people because they fuel and inspire you and enable you to grow as an artist!
When did you decide to take the plunge and pursue music as a career?
Before I could even realize how crazy I was to do this! No, I always knew I wanted to be a performer and music was always a huge part of my life, I never thought that I would be fronting a metal band, since my background was more classical piano and musical theater, but being in a band is everything I love to do, combined. I get to create music, perform, be creative, meet awesome people, travel. It’s not easy but I love it!
You are driven when it comes to your career. What kept you inspired through the years as an artist and fueled your creative fire?
I really love creating and performing, it’s such a rush to work on a new song and then hear it back once it’s all done. I’m pretty addicted to that! I’m always inspired by life, people and emotions. I think life is such a great mystery and it’s always moving forward and changing! There is so much to explore, so many questions and so much to say, so I love expressing this all through music.
For those unfamiliar with Edge of Paradise, how did the ball get rolling?
When I moved to Los Angeles, I met our guitarist Dave Bates in 2011 when we were both hired to work on a music project by a local producer. A month later we decided to form our own band, and that’s how Edge of Paradise was born. Dave had songs left over that were never released from his previous band Bleed, they were co-written with Robyn McCauley from MSG. So we took the songs, I sang them and we put out our first CD “Mask” as a foundation to build from. We sound nothing like that album now, just because it’s me and Dave writing together, but it gave me a chance to figure out what I can do with my voice. We went though a lot of lineup changes, until we found bassist Nick Ericson and drummer, John Chominsky in 2013. They are amazing bandmates, people and musicians. We’re very lucky to have them. There are a lot of challenges in being in a band, and having a solid lineup makes everything easier and fun!
Edge of Paradise recently released “Immortal Waltz.” What were your aspirations or goals for this album as you started the process?
We were really trying to find our sound, we always strive to create something unique that can stand the test of time. And “Immortal Waltz” was pretty much our debut album. I put my heart and soul into each song! Also being a new band, we wanted to put something out there to say that Edge Of Paradise is here to stay!
Was there anything you wanted to try you hadn’t been able to in the past?
I think when you are an artist, it’s a never ending evolution and the further you get, the more stuff you want to try and do! Hopefully as the band keeps growing we’re able to do more. I always wanted to have an orchestra on stage to play our songs with us!
For fans familiar with your work, how does this album compare and contrast?
It’s very different! Dave and I have very different backgrounds. He is from a more traditional heavy metal guitarist and “Mask” was written by Dave and Robin McCauley, so the songs are more traditional heavy metal. There are also three instrumental tracks on there and Dave is such a phenomenal guitarist, I think “Mask” really showcases that. “Immortal Waltz” was written by me and Dave and I’m a classical pianist, so you will hear a lot of classical and theatrical influence on the music on “Immortal Waltz.” And we made it more about creating songs, rather than showcasing our skills, and I think when we started to write together, we really figured out a way to bring our two styles together and have that compliment each other. And of course having John and Nick adds a whole nother thing. “Immortal Waltz” is a solid CD with a common theme and a sound that defines the band.
You worked with producer Michael Wagener on “Immortal Waltz.” What did he bring to the table?
He was amazing to work with! So inspiring! He really guided us and allowed us to grow into our sound. There are a lot of layers to the songs on “Immortal Waltz” and Michael found the right sounds so every instrument has room to breathe with everything complimenting each other. He has an incredible studio in Nashville, with so much awesome gear. He is a like a scientist of sound, he can get any sound you want! We didn’t have to worry about anything, just delivering the best performances and it was a great environment to do that. We were pretty much separated from the outside world, just us and the music!
You worked alongside the other members of the band for years. What do they bring out of you creatively?
We’re lucky to have a great lineup. We’re all very supportive of each other! When we have ideas, John and Nick help develop them and bring new elements to the songs. We all feed off of each other, especially when we play live. It’s a really cool dynamic!
What can you tell us about the songwriting process for your music? What changed and what remained the same through the years?
It varies with every song. Sometimes it’s me having the song on the keyboard and then we start developing it together as a band. Sometimes Dave comes up with guitar parts and I work on the melodies and we arrange the song. We have pro tools at home, so it enables us to fully demo up the song before we take it to a real studio. But we always arrange the song at home, then bring it to rehearsal and have the whole band play it and the song evolves. After we have the final demo we take it to the studio. On the new songs we’re working with Chuck Johnson and he’s been a great help with some vocal melodies and finding the right sounds and guiding us to find what’s best in the song! And he worked on Korn and Slipknot, so you will hear some of the heavier influence on the new songs!
What were the biggest challenges in bringing the album to life?
Being a new band is very challenging in the sense that you have to do everything yourself! From a creative standpoint, business/marketing standpoint. Creatively, we had a blast, it was a great experience creating these songs and working with Michael Wagener! But when you have the album ready, we gotta put it out and market it, and we had a great team of people helping us with PR, radio promotion. We got a label that’s based in Germany and they helped us with the European market a lot. But still, making wrong decisions is easy, because of the industry we’re in, and those band decisions can put some serious roadblocks that we have to work really hard to mow down, but definitely learned a lot from our mistakes!
You lived with these songs for awhile. Which of the songs on “Immortal Waltz” resonate with you the most?
I’m very attached to all of them because I put so much of myself in every song! But I guess “In A Dream” because it’s the first song that we wrote together as a band and it set the way for the rest of the songs!
You learn something new with each project you undertake. What were the biggest lessons you learned this time around?
You can’t force the music. You’ve gotta allow the song to guide you!
You will head back out on tour this August. What can music fans and concertgoers expect from your live show?
Massive sound, epic visuals, high energy! We will take them on a sonic roller coaster ride! We love playing live and sharing our music with people. It’s a real rush!
How has your approach to touring changed? Any secret to surviving a summer on the road?
As the band grows we are now playing bigger venues and going longer distances! We’ve already toured over 25 states and going to add to that this August! When we started the band, we invested so much of our money into it, we still do, but really, that’s what it takes and you gotta be great every time because that’s how you build a fanbase! You gotta be prepared for challenges on the road, like hitting a dead deer on the freeway and busting your radiator! I’m lucky that the guys in the band are real problem solvers. We don’t freak out, we just take care of the problem and move on. It’s a challenge touring, especially as a new band. There is no secret, you just gotta have a great show, be prepared to work really hard on so many levels and love every minute of it!
Looking back on all you created and accomplished, how have you evolved as an artist since you started professionally?
I’m definitely a stronger vocalist and front person. I learned a lot about my voice and I know what works and what doesn’t! Also I’m not afraid to push my boundaries, I always want to become better. I don’t think there is a limit for greatness but that’s what’s so exciting about music, there is always room to grow!
What are the biggest creative milestones for the band?
“Immortal Waltz” and our two new songs that are being released this summer! One of them, “Shade Of Crazy,” is premiering on Revolver Jul 22. Check out the trailer! It’s a bit heavier and I’m excited for the evolution of our sound! Also, we put a lot into our live show. We want the visuals to match the music, we work really hard on our live sound and I’m so excited to share our show with more and more people!
As an artist, so many things can be said about the current state of music. What excites you most about being a working artist today?
Yes there is definitely a lot to say! But in a way, all the challenges make you work harder. I’m very inspired every day to create something great! And having the internet makes our music accessible to people all around the world, it’s super cool to hear from someone on the other side of the planet saying that they really like the music!
Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future — both short and long term?
We plan to do this for a very long time! We’re still a new band and a lot lies ahead! We look forward to touring more, bringing the band overseas to other countries and of course keep releasing new music and evolving our sound and striving for greatness!
What is the best way for fans to help support you?
Come to our shows and buy our music and we always have cool signed items and giveaways! I know a lot of people are all about Spotify now but that makes it hard for artists because to make quality music it costs thousands and for a thousands of streams on sites like Spotify, artists get cents … so whoever you like, just support them by buying the music and enabling them to create more and to bring the show to your town!
Many young artists can look to you for inspiration. What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey?
Be true to yourself. Create something that’s honest and that holds great meaning to you and people will relate and connect! Be prepared to work very hard but do it because you love it! Don’t follow trends and never give up!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.