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For over a decade Fernanda Lira put everything she had into her black metal outfit Nervosa. It paid off in spades, with the band’s surge of success leading to a devout following, soaring records sales, and performances at festivals all over the world. After four albums, Nervosa was riding high when they began writing material for their fifth album at the end of 2019. But the bassist and lead vocalist started to see the beginning of the end of her time in the band when artistic differences and musical incompatibility caused disputes that stifled the creative process. Making the hardest decision of her life, Lira decided to walk away from Nervosa and start a new band devoid of conflict and stress.

Thankfully, her turbulent times were short-lived, as she found a fresh start with ex-Nervosa drummer Luana Dametto, and guitarists Sonia Anubis and Tainá Bergamaschi in their new outlet, Crypta. The quartet quickly bonded and their collaborative writing process clicked instantly, which led to the band’s debut, Echoes of The Soul. Blending death and thrash metal, Lira’s lead vocals and bass playing comprise a powerful force, as her gritty and gain-driven riffs create towering walls of sound as backdrops for the rest of the music. The album’s singles, “Starvation” and “From The Ashes,” set the tone for a ten-song journey that will make any metalhead raise their fists and storm the pit. Crypta’s first release is an appropriate way for Lira to usher in her new chapter as a bassist and writer, as she’s finding her brightest inspiration in the darkest of music.

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You made a big leap when you left Nervosa to start Crypta. What led to that transition?

Nervosa was my dream band for which I worked so hard for almost a decade, but like any long-term relationship, it started getting worn out. Our vibes were just not clicking anymore, which is pretty normal, but the turning point for me was when we started trying to write a new album together and we simply couldn’t. We didn’t like anything we were creating and the vibe was simply not flowing. That’s when I knew I needed to make the bold and hard decision that would make everything better for everyone. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but now I look back and I’m so proud that I did it. We’re all happy again and writing music that we love.

How does it feel to have a fresh start with Crypta?

It’s been an amazing journey. I now have a new path with a blank page where I am free to create and explore many things freely from scratch. It’s also been a crazy mix of interesting emotions. It’s my first debut album in almost ten years, so I’m feeling things that I haven’t experienced in a while—the butterflies in my stomach, wondering how people will like it, and also the excitement that we have when we’re in the beginning of a new phase. Overall it’s been amazing.

What was the writing process like for Echoes of the Soul?

I must say, it was all pretty democratic. Every song you hear on the album was written by all of us. Naturally, some songs have more ideas from one of us, but most of them are one big cauldron of influence from the four of us. Because we’re an intercontinental band and also because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to write in person, so we had a group cloud where we’d upload ideas and start from there. A song would usually kick off with some riffs of mine or from Sonia, and then we’d create melodic sequences to them. Some songs were created over drum grooves that Luana would upload. 

How did you approach writing your bass lines?
I always try to create very simple bass lines and the reason is that I think of my performance as divided into three parts: 33% bass, 33% vocals, and 33% stage presence. It can feel like three different duties at once. As a result, I try to create simple vocals so I’m able to perform them easily. The simpler they are, the better I’ll perform them live, and that’s very important to me.

Lira in the studio

Lira in the studio

What was the recording process like?
It was intense. I do my best not to have too lengthy of recording sessions, to keep us fresh. I try to maintain a routine before and after the recording that involves good comfort food, meditation, and exercise so I can get in and out of the studio in a calm state. But considering all of the instruments and tracking that we needed to do, it was a pretty intense 21 days of nearly 12-hour sessions a day. Everyone was in the same house isolated because of COVID, but in the end, it was a great experience. 

How did you track your bass to get your tone?
Our producer, Thiago Vakka, was very important in this whole process. I told him what kind of tone I wanted and he didn’t stop trying different things until we actually nailed it. The sound you hear on the album is a mix of a cabinet mic to catch the low end and full bass frequency, a DI line from the Gallien-Krueger 700RB, and a SansAmp DI pedal. That was the perfect combination to get a powerful sound with a lot of presence, but still crystal clear, with the highs I love.

How would you describe your ideal bass tone?
A blend of Alex Webster, Steve Harris, and Geddy Lee’s tone. If I one day can achieve it, I’ll be forever accomplished.

Lira's Aristides Instruments Bass

Lira's Aristides Instruments Bass

What is it that you love about Aristides Instruments basses?
Is it cliché and corny if I say every little thing about them?! [Laughs] Seriously though, I fell in love with Aristides the first time I played one. Not only is it a very light bass, which helps a lot on tour, but it sounds almost “ready to go.” The bass tone is so close to what my preference is, which is crystal clear, with a smooth, present lows. I only need a couple of adjustments to get my sound ready with whatever amp I use. It has such a distinct, particular sound, and I just love it. Also, it looks badass!

To both sing and play bass in this music is a big feat. Has singing while playing always been natural to you?
Not at all. It came on gradually throughout my career. I first tried it out when we were in need of someone doing backing vocals in one of my previous bands, and it worked out. It was not that hard because I would only scream here and there. Then, when I joined Nervosa, which was a project at that time in need of a bassist and a singer, I said I could try and do both and that’s how it started to be an active part of my performance.

The music of Crypta is fast and technically intense. What’s it like to play with that kind of dexterity?
It’s the perfect release and expressive outlet. I consider my music my dearest way of expressing myself, and playing heavy, fast music, somehow makes me feel closer to a climax. This kind of music allows me to vent about stuff in my mind through lyrics or riffs. It’s also very intense, which releases lots of adrenaline when played live on a stage.

Describe your playing technique.
Let’s start by saying I can’t even hold a pick properly [Laughs]. So I’m definitely a finger player. I learned how to play that way from the beginning. My main inspirations as a kid were my dad, Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, and Geezer Butler, who all use their fingers. I used to be more creative and write beautiful bass lines full of notes that explored all ranges, but when I started singing too, I decided to go simple. Nowadays I see myself creating the ideal, heavy background and support for the song.

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How do you physically prepare to perform these songs live? Do you have a pre-show routine?
First of all, I make sure to constantly do yoga because it helps get all of my muscles and nerves balanced. It also helps me to perform with no pain or feeling of being strained. Being in shape and healthy are the main factors that help me be ready for my bass performance. Yoga and stretching is 95% of my preparation for shows. I only get to warm up when it’s very cold because otherwise my fingers just won’t work at all.


Brazil is a place with such a rich musical culture—especially for bass. How has the music of the region influenced you?
I’ve been a metalhead my whole life, so when I started learning how to play bass I unfortunately ended up looking for influences inside metal only. I can definitely mention Luis Mariutti as a metal bassist from Brazil I was inspired by. For a couple of years now I’ve started learning more and more about Brazilian music, but I haven’t had the chance to apply it to our songs. I definitely want to in the future.

How and when did you first start playing bass?
My dad is a bass player, so I was interested in it at a very young age. He didn’t have money to buy a bass when I was a kid, but he had an acoustic guitar he would tune down so it sounded low and heavy. The strings were floppier like a bass, and he would play it all the time. The first band I got addicted to was KISS, and I decided at some point that I wanted to be Gene Simmons. So when I finally felt like playing an instrument, bass was a natural choice for me.

How have you evolved as a bass player over the span of your career?
I started off learning songs by ear, which taught me a lot about different techniques and how to combine melodies. Over the last decade I’ve definitely gotten simpler. I’ve learned how to apply only the essentials on the songs and sacrifice the virtuosity in the name of a balanced vocal and bass performance.

Describe what it’s like playing black metal concerts from your perspective.
It’s the peak, the perfect culmination of all the work. I’ve always enjoyed playing live, but now with the pandemic I’ve realized I need it. It’s not only a great adrenaline release, but it’s also the moment I feel the most accomplished and fulfilled. It has a great impact on my overall mental health and it makes me feel genuinely happy. For me, being able to go up there on stage and do what I love, express myself, and make people smile and forget about their problems for an hour or so is the most complete experience.

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What is something wild that has happened during one of your performances?
Oh man, they are so many. I could list a thousand here, but let’s go with a couple of them. We were playing on some sort of wooden, already very slippery stage when someone spilled beer on it while I was not watching. I went exactly where the puddle was and slipped so hard that I opened a front split while playing! It not only hurt a lot, but I couldn’t stand up. I needed to stop playing and get back up with the help of my hands [Laughing]. Another good one was when I was playing in an amazing squat in Toulouse, France, and the crowd was insane. On the first song, there was a huge pit going on already, and while I was singing, someone was pushed hard and tried to hold the mic stand to brace themselves. The stand twisted and the mic crashed on my mouth and broke a piece of my front tooth. Because I was playing bass and singing at the same time, it was impossible to dodge or protect myself when it happened.

What’s coming up next for you?
There are lots of plans regarding tours, including the Wacken Open Air Festival and a European tour with Deicide and Krisiun in April, which are confirmed. More stuff will be announced soon, including gigs in North and Latin America. I can’t wait to get back out on the road to share this new music with the world! –BM

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Hear Her On: Crypta, Echoes of The Soul [2021]

Gear

Basses Aristides 050 in Matte Black and Aluminum
Rig Ampeg SVT
Pedals Darkglass B7K Ultra
Strings DR Strings Dragon Skin Series

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