Los Angeles-based rock/metal act Edge Of Paradise has been quite busy throughout the pandemic. The band recorded a new album, ‘The Unknown’, which is set to launch on September 17th, 2021. During the build-up to that release, they put out many fantastic singles and visually stunning videos.
The album follows up on their previous release, ‘Universe’, but this time around, they’ve added a bit more ‘Edge’ to some of the tracks as they brought in producer Howard Benson.
I caught up with frontwoman Margarita Monet to talk about the album, what inspires the concepts and themes, as well as what the group has planned for the future.
Thanks for speaking with me. First, how are you and the guys doing?
Thank you. We’re doing good, we are excited for the new album, and our fourth single just came out yesterday.
We are just a little under a month away from the release of your fourth album, “The Unknown,” and I’m curious, what’s it like waiting for an album release? The feelings, the anticipation, the unknown of ‘The Unknown’, so to speak.
We are excited, but I think for us, it’s hard to focus on that because we just did four music videos, and we are just always on the go. We are always trying to create more content, and we’re kind of in the midst of being very excited because it’s our best music by far. Which is why we wanted to create many videos and create something people could experience the music through that.
So you’re just too busy even to be concerned about release dates, it seems.
A little bit!
The singles that you have released have been getting a massive amount of positive feedback. How have you felt about seeing that type of response from fans?
It’s always great. The biggest compliment to us is when people express that our music has some meaning to them. That’s why I always want to make songs that have some meaning and are thought-provoking. It’s great to see everyone enjoying it and having fun with all of the songs.
As you mentioned, yesterday you released a new single along with a video, ‘False Idols’. Can you tell us a little bit more about that song?
‘False Idols’ is definitely a heavier track from the album. It’s high-energy, and it’s more of a metal track. It explores the idea of why people follow certain figures. Whether it’s throughout history, or right now, or what’s going to happen in the future. The video shows ancient Egypt, and it also has a futuristic element to it. So I thought, why not, as “Idols and ancient Egypt go hand in hand.
Because Egypt was built on a lot of human pain, and there were those that idolized pharaohs, and it’s just really fascinating when you look back on that history with how certain leaders emerge. These days, if you look at something like Tiktok, It’s all about those who has a lot of followers. The song plays on all these people and it sparks conversations.
In the late Summer/Autumn of 2020, I think you had a US tour scheduled with Hammerfall, which got canceled. Was this album written in and a result of the pandemic?
Yeah. We came back from a tour with Sonata Arctica at the end of 2019, and we knew we had a couple of months to work on a new album, and I have this thing where I’m always writing. It’s something that I like to do. So we started working on a single, and we didn’t even think that our tour would get canceled because it was not until September. Then, after messaging back with Best in Balck, we kinda figured out that everything was going to get canceled.
So we started recording music, and with our producer, I got inspired by where the music was taking us. It was a really weird time, especially in Los Angeles. The freeways were deserted, and that sparked a discussion about the different possibilities of the future and also spark some ideas for the songs.
You mentioned that you’re always writing, and what’s the writing and music-making process like for you guys? And was that difficult during the pandemic, assuming there were lockdown protocols?
Over the years, we kind of figured out our process. Dave and I guide the ship, and I will come up with something over the keyboard, and the melody will inspire the words, so I have to write at the same time. I love cinematic music, so I go crazy on my keyboard, which inspires the melody and the words for the vocal melody. Then after I have some idea, Dave goes to guitars, and then I add something back; the guitars can lead me into a certain direction, then we keep evolving the song until we have everything demoted up.
But then there are times Dave will have a riff, which will inspire some thoughts up in my head, then I’ll go around and play with the riff and put some words and vocals over it. So that is kind of where the song starts. Then once we have it demoed-up and put industrial elements into it, we then take it to a drummer who solidifies the rhythmic part of the song. Our crew is pretty small, it’s just Dave, Mike, and I, and Neil zooming in from Canada. Basically, we spent the pandemic in the studio making this album, and then Howard Benson came into the picture later on.
What was it like working with Howard, and what do you think he was able to bring to your music?
It was really interesting how things played out because Howard and Neil had recently started their own label, Judge and Jury records, so Howard heard some of our songs, ‘Digital Paradise’, and ‘The Unknown’. Because those songs were pretty much already ready, and he got interested in the band, so he became a part of the project.
And since we were already on frontier records, they were able to come up with an agreement where we were all kind of working together now. Then I recorded a lot of the songs with Howard, and he had some input musically, but Howard is mainly always focusing on vocals. I think he saw a different side to my voice, that edge that I don’t think I’ve seen before. And he was able to bring that to the forefront; I think he pushed me as a vocalist. We had two versions of ‘Digital Paradise’, and the one that I recorded with Howard is definitely different on a whole new level. He brought the song to the next level, for sure.
The album takes on these dystopian fantasies styles themes, which are connected to the concept of the overall album. But the songs also simultaneously stand out individually, almost like something that everyone can relate to in some form. Did you go in with a conscious decision on making an album like this, or is that how things just unfolded?
I think it’s just part of my personality. I always try to escape this reality and create some new dimension. So I think this is just me creating that world that I also want people to be a part of. But I’m also human, and we all feel the same thing.
For example, if you think of a movie like Star Wars, they take place in this larger-than-life setting, but the characters are all very emotional and human. I think that’s a little how the songs came to be. With ‘Universe’, we had a little bit of that. I think that’s what put us on the path to discovering who we are as a band was our EP, “Alive’. Because that sparked an interest for me to play around with those themes, where technology can take us in the different dimensions and exploring if there’s more to reality than we can see.
My dad is a scientist, and I’ve always had an interest in that. And with each new discovery, the lines between reality and science fiction get blurred. So the songs, from ‘Alive’, to ‘Universe’, tend to be set in this larger-than-life environment, or dimension, whatever you want to call that. But the experiences are very relatable there also very close to my heart because I put my heart and soul into each of the songs.
In terms of technology, I think that can be applied to the pandemic with the explosion of live streaming and zoom album recording sessions. The unknown of where this is going to go for the music industry. I’ve heard artists both say that this is positive and a negative. What do you think it’s going to be in terms of a lasting effect of the pandemic and is it a good thing?
Personally, it was interesting for us because we kind of observed from behind the glass. We were so busy with our album, we never did any live streams, but we were observing what was happening with other bands. I think that we as humans love the feeling of experiencing something in real life, so I don’t think it’s ever going to take over the real thing.
Even in virtual reality, you can put a headset on, and yes, you can experience that for an hour, but I don’t think the technology is there yet to replace what we experience in reality. So live streams are not going to replace a real-life concert, nor the human connection in general.
I was thinking about this a little bit; when I grew up, I’m 30; I miss that experience where kids now have cell phones, and they could communicate all the time. We played outside; we did a lot of crazy things; we didn’t have cell phones or YouTube to rely on. The world is changing so fast, and it’s very interesting to see where everything is going, but I’m just a big believer that people need other people, and we need to experience things in reality.
The album has a lot of infectious courses, and these giant bombastic riffs, and many great moments. While listening to the song ‘Leaving Earth’, There was this great guitar solo, and then shortly after it, there is a very brief keys solo that I thought was a really nice touch. I wasn’t expecting it and it kind of caught me off guard. What makes you decide to put little details into songs and experiment with different sounds?
I grew up playing classical piano my whole life, and I think since I do write a whole lot of songs on the piano first, it’s more natural for me to have those ideas. I definitely don’t want to overpower a song with the keyboard or piano sounds. We are a rock band, and I like what we have, such as the guitars and those elements. So we always try to be careful in what we introduce, like the keyboard or any sounds in particular.
We strive to do that, at least. Sometimes I’ll just be listening to a song and have an idea. I remember that part because I think we already had the structure, and there was a space there, like an instrumental break. So I actually put that stuff on the keyboard before, and then Dave put the solo in front of it. So it just kind of worked. And since I do play piano, sometimes it’s nice to include an extra element that’s maybe not as expected.
It was very subtle and had a nice little touch. As far as the visual aspects go, you’ve now had four videos, and they have been fantastic, especially ‘Digital Paradise’. What was the production like for those videos? Because it looked like they were shot on this grand scale, but was this more a DIY kind of thing?
The videos are always very important to me, and we wanted to have a few that truly represented the album. ‘Digital Paradise’ and ‘The Unknown’ are very important singles to us. We did have a crew for it, and they were our highest budgeted videos so far. We worked with Scott Hansen, who is a filmmaker, and he understands my ideas, and how to bring them to life. When I first approached him and sent him the songs, he shared the visions. So it was really great to work with him.
We actually filmed ‘The Unknown’ first, and that was on location, in the desert, which was a very interesting place to be during the pandemic. The crew always had masks on, and some of them also worked on ‘Digital Paradise’, and I’m a big face person, I know them very well, so it’s kind of funny saying that I remember them by their eyes, though I didn’t see their face.
With the digital paradise, we from the inside, and it was with the same crew and Scott. It was really interesting because they put a crystal on the camera lens, which created some of those effects that you see in the video. I make a lot of costumes and props myself, so I plan out the concept, I love to do that.
So with the other videos like ‘My Method Your Madness’, it was completely do-it-yourself. And with ‘False Idols’, we worked with an amazing filmmaker in Los Angeles; I found the location and did all the concepts. So it’s always a mix for us, half DY I, half-real crew.
Speaking of visuals, you are a multitalented individual, and you also do paintings and artwork. And I know that you’ve done a few cool ones already for some of your songs. Do you plan on releasing other art for the rest of the tracks?
Yeah, I already have one for ‘My Method Your Madness’, and I have one for ‘The Unknown’, and I’m actually giving away that one. The original art is going to be a part of a giveaway. And I’m going to be making a piece for each song.
Do you plan on taking the album out on tour soon, assuming tours are still happening?
We were supposed to go on tour to the UK, but those restrictions are preventing us from doing so. We might have some shows in the US before the end of the year. We’re working on some right now. But I think that touring will start in the new year. It would be really bad to have a tour and then have to cancel. I think for now we are going to keep promoting the album, and then release more content in the year.
Well, that sounds great, and we are looking forward to that content and future tours. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans?
Thanks to everyone for checking out our songs and becoming a part of our world. We’re a very social band on our Facebook and Instagram pages, and we have a guitar giveaway going on right now. The winners are going to be announced in September. So go to our page and find out how to enter.