Interview with Ofilia Bartuś-Staszak of Arshenic by Jen Van Houten
I got to speak with Ofilia Bartuś-Staszak of Arshenic. She's the lead vocals and lyricist of the band. Arshenic is a gothic melodic metal band from Poland. The name of the band is a reference to arsenic, which is a poison and also a cure. That combination can be easily heard in the group’s songs.
Hi, Ofilia. Hope you are doing well. My first question will be: When did Arshenic form? Hi :). I started the band somewhere in 2006. The name and the first squad was formed in 2007. Bartek came to Arshenic in 2009, Vlad – soon after that. We had the band suspended in 2012 for about 2 years, and the Arshenic as it is now started to play in 2014 when we got back to doing music. Who were your influences when growing up? When I was a child there was no internet so I had music on cassettes. I had Roxette, Scorpions, Tina Turner, Ace of Base and Michael Jackson :). When I was a teenager and was more aware of the music I listened to my first rock bands – HIM, Rammstein, Paradise Lost... and some polish goth rock. How did those influences mold you to be the artist that you are today? Pop rock definitely helped me with writing good vocal melodies. Singing with my favorite artists for 14h a day, motivated my parents to get me a vocal teacher, so it all started with that. Your lyrics are very poetic with complex deep meaning. Like, "Dear Remorse" for an example. What helps you to get inspiration for such lyrics? Mostly it's the music itself. We work two ways – I write lyrics and melody, and boys do the music to that (Unspoken was made this way), or boys give me the riffs and I then write melody and lyrics. As for Dear Remorse, it was a song that Vlad came up when we all went to my parents summer house to chill and play for few days. He showed me the riffs after few hours of isolation, I fell in love with it the second he played that so I knew I want to make it personal. I had to dig up few of my demons to write the lyrics, and this is a painful process. I always try to write something that would be meaningful to someone who feels the same way, so they can find comfort with music, as I did when I was growing up. Were your parents supportive in your dream? Even too much. How did you meet your band members? I played with the first squad, we were very active with concerts, so we were really known in our area. When we was looking for a new drummer, Bartek was told by someone that we are searching for one. As for Vlad I think there was some kind of ad in music shop... I can't really remember :). Who are they and what are their roles in the band? Bartek is my husband and the drummer. Vlad is a guitar player, he also writes the electronics, and sometimes supports me with the screams – as in Dear Remorse. We also started work with a new bass player, but gatherings are illegal now because of the coronavirus epidemy, so we don't really work together yet. Where were some of your first gigs? We are from Gdańsk which is a part of 3city area, so we mostly played there. You recently covered "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" by Nirvana. What was it about that song that made you want to cover it? I like the melody and the lyrics of the song, it is so dark! Those two things are so close to my style, that when the song stuck with me again few months ago I could not stop singing it. I started to think how it would sound if we were the ones who wrote it and when I heard the song first time in my head I had this feeling that I need to do it because it's gonna be something big. Boys don't argue with my intuition, so when I told them exactly how I hear it, they did their best to help me make the matter of the thought. What's the best memory you have of touring? There is not a one memory I just love touring. Spending time together with 2 guys I feel most of myself with and playing for people who resonate with our sound and emotions... oh I miss it so much... Your album "Final Collision" was released August 20th of 2019. It's a solid album from start to finish. What was your method to achieve the exquisite flow of that album? We started to work on this album 3 years before release. We were writing many songs and those on Final Collision were picked of all of that material we wrote. You own a business called, Star Project. What does that entail? It's a vocal school. I teach people how to sing and scream. I provide a one year training, where people learn how to sing proper, healthy way, how to perform (my vocal studio has a stage and vocal gear), how to write songs and bunch of other things. I organize their concerts in music clubs few times a year so they can practice with an audience. I started to learn how to sing when I was 11, so I had over 20 vocal teachers through my teenage years. When I was thinking about starting a school my goal was to give my students all I needed as a beginner. I've also learned that you have a master degree in journalism and science. Were those things that you wanted to have as an addition to your musical career? When I graduated from high school I didn't know what I'm gonna do next. I knew I didn't want to go to a musical school, because those often kill spirit. Beside that I needed to have a choice, if I ever burn out. Journalism was something creative enough and it lead me to study public relations. I use those skills for Arshenic and Star Project as well. What do we have to look forward to in the future with Arshenic? I would really want to know the answer for this question. My plan was to tour abroad, but now that the epidemy is still an option that is not going to happen. I will have to start bands patronize, or something, because without playing gigs we don't have money for more recordings, and Sliptrick still haven't paid us for Final Collision sale...
Final Collision will send you on an emotional journey. The melodies will guide you through the dark ride. You'll be enchanted by the vocals of Ofilia Bartuś-Staszak and be left with a sense of personal relation. Their music is on all streaming formats.
"Where Did You Sleep Last Night"
Cover band photo by Ada Nikelewska