Vicky Psarakis (The Agonist) – there is confusion between talent and hard work


Vicky Psarakis came to the forefront of heavy metal when she replaced Alissa White – Gluz, who joined Arch Enemy, in the Agonist is 2014. Since then the band has released three full length albums and two EP’s. At the same time she joined another band, Sicksense, and is very active on Youtube and Twich releasing songs, both originals and covers.

Talking with she reveals some of the reasons that made her leave Greece. “There is a misunderstanding between talent and hard work. Talent is not the only reason why you are where you are, hard work is. You can’t work once a month, you can’t sing once a month and expect to have the same results with someone who is doing it every day and works hard”.

As a female singer she’s facing sexist behavior, as well as bias and prejudice for her gender and her role in the band. “There’s prejudice against the kind of vocals I am doing, and women do in general. That “oh, you’re good for a girl’s level”… which is hilarious! Actually, at this point in my life, I think that my brutal vocals are way better than many brutal vocals done by men. So, if you are thinking like this it’s tragic. The saddest thing is that people in the scene deal with me as a woman first and secondly as a musician.

On “Blood Is My Guide”, from their recent studio album “Orphans”, you can listen to some lyrics in Greek language that fitted with the Eastern melody of the song: “the theme and the lyrics of the song reminded me of Greece. I didn’t think too much about it, I was inspired and wrote it…” as for if Greek lyrics match with heavy metal the answer was easy. Check out the video to find out and watch the chat to find out more.

The Agonist play in both Athens and Thessaloniki on October 21 and 22 respectively along with Hypocrisy, Septic Flesh and Horizon Ignited.

Interview: Yiannis Dolas

FULL TEXT TRANSLATION IN ENGLISH: Do you think that you could have lived and worked in Greece?

Vicky Psarakis: I think that nowadays that you can do everything online I could have done so. Because, 90% of the stuff I am working on can be done with a computer… And for the rest, touring etc, you just hop on a plane and go wherever you wanna go. Things have changed so much since I was 18 years old and went to university thinking that I had to live in Athens, because it’s a big citywhere I was supposed to meet other musicians from the metal scene, that was in 2006. Facebook and social media in general were just starting out then it wasn’t like today when you can do everything through a computer even if you are in the middle of nowhere. You can even live in a small village, as long as you have internet access. So, I believe that I could live anywhere. To tell you the truth that’s a bit sad and it’s probably one of the reasons why I left Greece. There is a confusion between talent and hard work. People that sit and go “so what”? What did someone do that was so important, or why is he there and I am not? Most of the times it has to do with if you are good enough. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have that chance. But, that’s not the only reason for being where you are, it’s the work.

Vicky Psarakis: My way of thinking is: “i’m not going on vacation”. I am not going, because I always think that I can do more work. It’s work for me, but I love it. I bet that the average Greek that sits and thinks like that is the kind of person that goes on holiday every year. You can’t work once every month, or sing once a month and expect to have the same results with someone who is doing it every day. And works hard… I think that’s the difference. It doesn’t matter how talented, or how good you are… Of course, that’s a couple of parameters, but these are not the main reasons. Do you experience bias, because you are a female singer?

Vicky Psarakis: Of course we do, but there is also prejudice because of the kind of the vocals I am doing. That women do… They say “you are good, for a girl’s level” and that’s hilarious, because on this stage of my life,I think that my brutal vocals are way better than several men’s. So, it’s tragic if you are thinking like that.

The saddest thing for me in the scene is… Is dealing with me as a woman first and as a musician secondly. For instance, I post a photo , a selfie and write a text below that has something to do with music. And the comments I receive are: hearts, “I love you”, “will you marry me?” And someone might tell me: “so, why do you post a photo with your face, and don’t you use something else?”

The problem with social media nowadays is that if you post something else, then the algorithm won’t push it forward. So no one will see it. So, you can’t win in this situation. What can you do? What can I do so someone can listen to my new song, watch my new video? You want to promote your music and the system forces you to use your looks. On the other hand, if you are a guy and post your face and say: “we have a new song”, you won’t see a lot of messages saying “oh, marry me”, or hearts etc. So, this is very sad to exist nowadays.

Because, you see people talking about female empowerment and changing the situationand how women are treated. But, this problem still exists and will exist for ever and ever, in my opinion. I don’t know, men are responsible for this and not women. You have used Greek lyrics on one of your songs. How did this come up?

Vicky Psarakis: From the first moment I listened to that part, it reminded me very much of Greece. It has that Eastern melody, which you might say that you listen to it a lot in metal. But, for some reason it matched the songs’ themes  and lyrics. The lyrics talk about war. So, when I listened to that part, which was more ethereal and had that Eastern melody, I thought  that it would be better to write lyrics that are not direct and in your face…  like the rest of the song but more ambient and “what’s happening now” in a way. A bit more spiritual. I don’t know… I was inspired, I wrote it, it came out like that. I didn’t think too much about it. Do you think that lyrics in Greek match with heavy metal music?

Vicky Psarakis: There is no doubt about that at all. And I think I wasn’t sure 100% about how… About what people were going to think about it. Listening to a language that no one can understand. Because, it’s Greek, a unique language. It’s not like Latin. Latin languages like Spanish, Italian, French which have some similarities. Greek is a thing of its own. And there is nothing else that sounds like that. So, I wasn’t sure, but I kept believing that it was going to be a part on this track, where someone would stop and go… “Wait a minute, what just happened?” And what I liked the most was the feedback that I got from people who don’t speak Greek. They liked it so much, and actually there was a couple of people that tried to sing it. While they don’t speak Greek. I don’t know. I was so inspired. There is people asking me if I will ever do it again. And of course, as long as we write a song, where I think that it fits. Why not? And I think that, and maybe that’s a tip for Greek bands: don’t be afraid to do this if you feel inspired. I’ve heard a lot of intros and monologues in Greek, but I haven’t heard a lot of bands singing heavy metal in Greek. I think that’s  a shame, because it’s a beautiful language and fits to heavy metal very well. You are also involved in Sicksense, which something different. How did this come up?

Vicky Psarakis: That’s why I did it. What’s the point? I am already in The Agonist, who play extreme death metal with some melodic elements. Am I going to make another band that sounds like them? I think that’s stupid. and what I also think it’s stupid is when I see a guitarist and a drummer being involved in four or five bands that sound similar.  What are you doing with your life? I would never do something that is similar with what I am already doing. So, when I started this I was a bit hesitant, but then I woke up one day and told myself: “you’re stupid if you are thinking like that. There are not such limitations. Everything is in your mind.” I also remember that something that inspired me was that the director of the movies Mad Max and Happy Feet is the same guy, so I thought to myself “that’s perfect”. You also have that side of your musical identity, as well as the other one.Which are also opposites. Yeah, why not? And there is also huge prejudice against rap in metal. Which I also think it’s hilarious. But, now at this stage of my life, at 33, I don’t care what anyone will say or think. Is what you’re doing good? Is there some quality? Does it have a meaning? Is the mix good? Are the lyrics decent? No matter what you do, as long as the product is good, it shouldn’t make any difference. What are your five desert island albums?

Vicky Psarakis: I can’t give you album titles, but maybe bands? I’d definetely take some Opeth with me. Some Pain Of Salvation… Some Gathering… That’s three. And four? What else?  You know what? You know why this is so hard? Because you always think about the stuff you were listening when you were young. While I’ve been listening to some music that I enjoyed very much over the last five years for some reason, not any album title comes to mind. There is always this kind of nostalgia. “What was I listening when I was younger and moved me?” I guess some Linkin Park. And last but not metal at all, a soundtrack from “Final Fantasy”. There you go, these are my five picks.