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Derkéta interview

Derkéta are back! The first all-female death metal act ever is back again with their original members Sharon Bascovsky and Terri Heggen on board, complemented at the bass by the ex-Demonomacy Robin Mazen. Sharon talked to about the past, present and future of the reunited band.

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derketaThe first question is mandatory. Which is the current status of Derkéta? Because the last thing I know about the band is that you were about to reunite with Terri to record and album called “In Death We Meet”.
We’ve definitely reformed and are currently active. Terri and I are rehearsing again and its coming along pretty good. It’s a struggle to remember the songs but we’re limping along alright. Robin Mazen from Demonomacy is playing bass but lives in Florida so we’ll be doing the long distance deal with her.

How nice to know that you are reunited again! How did it go? Who made the first step, it was you or Terri?.
Everything has been great! We still have the chemistry we had 20 years ago and we’re both pleased with the progress so far. I was the one who made the first step, and it took a few years of us talking about it to make the commitment again. I feel if Derketa is going to continue, its only right to do it with Terri.

So you have you finally buried all the problems from the past. Have do you both see them now from the distance?
Yeah, everything is cool with us. When we look back on it all, we just think it was immaturity from us both. No real issues when it comes down to it.

You should have tons of songs waiting to be recorded; Derkéta material left to see the light since 1991, as you never stopped composing. Am I right? What can you tell us about it, and the most important, are they going to be recorded/released some day?
I went through stages with writing throughout the years. Sometimes I wouldn’t even pick up my guitar for over a year just because it didn’t seem like it was even worth the effort without having steady people to work with. But I do have a few unrecorded songs, the problem is just remembering them! I have some of them recorded on tape so I need to figure out what I was playing. Others I just forgot because I didn’t record them. I’ m sure ill start remembering pieces of them as my ideas are pretty limited! ha

Will this new songs keep the old-school style, or have you added some contemporary elements?
The new songs are the old-style, we don’t know how to write any other way! We haven’t progressed as musicians, nor do we want to, so theres nothing crazy that we’re trying to prove. No competing with other bands, or trying to play as good as the guys. We just play what we’re into, which is the same as we were 20 years ago.

derketa sharonIs there any album schedule, any date planned to start recording it?
No definite schedule, we don’t want to feel pressured. We want it to just happen at its own pace and once we feel its time to record then we will. As of right now, we have one new song down and we’re working on the second. We’re practicing once a week and my goal is to get 1 song down a month. If we can keep to that then I guess we’ll be looking early next year to record. After the recording is released, then we’ll start trying to book some shows. Nothing crazy, just an odd ball show here and there. No touring or anything, it would be too much of a hassle with our work schedules. We never played live, and we don’t want to play out before the recording but you never know.

And have you already found any label interested in its release?
Yes, ive talked to Roy from Necroharmonic and would like to stay with him. Roy is an outstanding fella, ha, and I trust him. I plan on sending him up a rehearsal soon to see if he is still interested in releasing it. Hopefully he will be. If he isn’t then I guess we’ll see if there are any other takers. We have no desire to sign to a big label or anything like that. I think there would be too much bullshit with it. Roy is honest and gets the job accomplished, which is what we want.

How would the new Derkéta fit in the current death metal scene? Do you think it’s changed too much since your first days as a band?
I definitely don’t think Derketa will appeal to the majority out there. There isn’t any musical progression between the old and the new material. It’s the same style, just years later. We’re not on the same level as most of the bands that are out these days, musically and probably mentally. We’re pretty basic when it comes down to it and really don’t “get” most of the bands out there. I guess our definition of heavy isn’t the same as most. That’s OK though, we’re into what we’re into so it doesn’t bother us. If people like the new material, then that’s cool. If not, its no big deal. Ill be happy if the people that liked the old Derketa will like the new material.

Derkéta was the first all-female death metal act worldwide, and you are still remembered after 20 years of its birth. Do you think you’ve received the attention/recognition you deserve?
We don’t really think we deserve any attention really, so we don’t care either which way. Its flattering if people do remember us but at the same time we’ve always been somewhat low key.

Let’s take a brief walk through Derkéta’s history. You met Terri Heggen in 1988 and in 1989 you entered the rehearsal room for first time. Terri had no idea of playing drums, so why do you decided to form a band?
I started playing guitar when I was 15 and struggled trying to learn songs from other bands. I mean, trying to learn Iron Maiden when you first start playing isn’t an easy thing to do. Not for me anyway, still isnt. So I just started writing my own stuff, just trying to write stuff that sounded creepy to me. I would toss up the idea of getting into a band but was too shy to approach anyone, and definitely didn’t think I was good enough to play with the guys that I knew. Terri and I were hanging out at a party and I mentioned I played guitar, and we got on the subject of starting a band together. She originally was going to be the vocalist but she didn’t realize that I was looking for death metal vocals, and hers were more on the line of a Fates Warning style. When I asked her to sing like Kam Lee, she said she couldn’t so I asked her if she was interested in learning an instrument and I would do vocals. She wanted to learn drums and that was that.

Was it intended to be an all-female band since the beginning? Because the first bass you hired was another girl, Kim August, who was living far from the Derkéta headquarters.
No, it wasn’t intended to be all-female but as we were asking around for members, people always told us about other females that played an instrument. We were introduced to Kim from Ross of Immolation but we didn’t really hit it off personally with Kim so it didn’t work out past that recording. Don from NunSlaughter actually played bass briefly. He just lived in the next town over from me and it was just something to do. But he thought it would be cool if we kept it all female and introduced us to Mary. Terri and I really didn’t care if the other members were male or female but we were getting known as a “girl” band and so I don’t think guys were really into joining a “girl” band!

00-derketa-premature_burial-ep-1990-back-gwShe was playing the bass in your “Official rehearsal”. Then it came “The Unholy Ground” and later your first EP with Seraphic Decay Records, “Premature Burial”. It didn’t include any new song, and you were not satisfied with its final result. So, why did you finally release it?
Time limits to get the recording done. We had a lot going on at the time and couldn’t get enough rehearsals in for new material so we decided to re-record the demo songs. For whatever reason, we just had a hard time with this recording. We kept messing up and it took us longer to re-record those 2 songs than to record the 4 song demo! We were just tired and wanted to be done with it. One thing that ive learned over the years is you need to take a break before you go in for mixing otherwise its not going to turn out good. We just wanted to get it done.

And then Mary Bielich came in, as did the troubles. Is there any relation between these facts?
That’s when everything went bad but it wasn’t because of Mary joining. Terri and I were just on each others nerves. Terri and Mary started hanging out together so tension was getting worse at the rehearsals because I was the outsider. It just wasn’t fun at all anymore. I confided in Mary that I was looking for another drummer and she told Terri, and that was the end of it. I started working with Scott Phillips who was a local drummer and everything was going along good with that. But once he got back with his girlfriend, she didn’t really allow him to practice anymore, ha.

Being an all-female band opened you some doors, but you kept them opened with your music. You received very good reviews, and maybe then started also the pressure, and stopped the fun. Did it also lead Terri to leave, things where getting too serious?
Yeah I definitely think that played a big part in it. Its not as if I didn’t take the band seriously but I didn’t like being told that I better get some songs written. The more Terri bitched at me for not showing up with new material, the more I held back in showing her the new material just in spite. The band became a chore and it didn’t feel right anymore.

And then they formed Mythic, strongly influenced on Derkéta. In fact they used Derketa’s name to promote themselves in the beginning. How did you feel with your band almost disbanded and watching Terri and Mythic taking profit of its name?
I was definitely pissed off because it seemed like they were just trying to show me up or something instead of just having another band for the fun of it. I really cringe when people think that Derketa and Mythic were the same band, or that I had any involvement with it. Its very hard to explain unless youre in the situation.

derketa You were tired and deceived of the scene back then, so you spent five years out of it but still writing songs, and then in 1997 you tried to reunite Derketa again with Terri in the lineup. Why it didn’t work out? Wanted she to reorient Derketa’s music into a more commercial path?
When we were rehearsing everything was OK, we were both on the same page with it all. The problem was when we went to record at her friends house. He didn’t think Death Metal was “in” and wanted to turn us into a Goth band. Terri trusted his opinions and this guy completely took over. I didn’t have a say in anything so just left. They finished everything without me, including erasing half of my vocals and had Terri sing instead. They mixed it, wrote keyboards over top of it and sent it off to get pressed without me even hearing it. When I found out the next day what they did, I was just in shock. I asked her to re-record someplace else but she said no, she didn’t have time so I had to bail out of the release with NunSlaughter. It definitely was not Derketa. We’ve talked this all out so there shouldn’t be this problem again.

Can we talk of a solid Derkéta lineup since then? Would it be the one with Jared Altamere and Heather Crotsley? Because Jim Sadist helped you in the recordings of a split with NunSlaughter and Jeff “The Troll” to record “Your Rotting Flesh” for the Mad Max tribute.
There really wasn’t a solid line-up at all during those years. Jim Sadist was with me for most of the recordings but travelling to Cleveland was too much. Its about a 3 to 3 ½ hour drive and we really wouldn’t rehearse for too long before we would record. I would show him the songs, he’d learn them pretty quick, then we would record. Heather actually only played on Spirits in the Morgue with Jim on drums but didn’t have the time to really be in a band. Jared was the drummer of Eviscium, the band that I played bass in, so he helped me out but he lived about an hour away so it was hard to get in rehearsals when we were practicing once a week for Eviscium.

And if you could reunite an all-star line-up among all the musicians you’ve played with in Derkéta, who would be in the folder?
Terri would definitely be it because we always had a chemistry together. The others I wasn’t around them long enough to develop a chemistry. I would like for Jill from Funerus to play 2nd guitar with us so we’ll have to see if she is able to do it. Right now shes about to go into the studio with Funerus but maybe next year she’ll have some time.

Are you still receiving fan feedback, are they pushing you to make things to work out again?
Yeah there’s a few people that have emailed, more so from MySpace. Its nice to know that there are some people out there still interested in hearing Derketa after all of these years.

If you could turn back in time, would you change something from Derkéta’s history? Any decision you regret of?
Of course! The biggest regret is Terri and I fighting and ruining our friendship, and to this day, we really don’t know what exactly happened that changed the both of us. Its all cool now, we just figured we were young and immature back then.

Thank you very much for your time, Sharon, and good luck.

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