CHARLES SOULZ: "With each release I explore new sounds, new colors, and I’m very happy with the result of "Trilogy of Mankind"
When I started Mostly Metal \m/ back in 2020, I couldn't have imagined where this new chapter would take me, but seeing several artists I had the great pleasure to connect with along the way releasing new music right now again made me realize how time flew by... The Brazilian keyboard wizard Charles Soulz already mesmerized me in 2021 with his solo debut album "Split Mind" (find my review here), and is set to share his new EP, "Trilogy of Mankind", on November 24th, which offered the perfect opportunity for a chat.
Feel free to follow me to Rio de Janeiro and learn more about his musical background, current work and future plans:
Hey Charles, thanks for making time to answer my questions. How are you today?
Thank you for all your work in this scene, it’s my pleasure :-) I’m fine and hope you too.
You're most welcome :-) Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I'm Charles Soulz, a prog lover with a 30-year career working as a musician, sideman, producer, composer, session musician, mixing and mastering engineer.
That's a lot! You’re set to release your new EP on November 24th. How do you feel about it?
I’m so excited! You know, with each release I explore new sounds, new colors, and I’m very happy with the result of "Trilogy of Mankind". Hope you all have a good time listening to this EP.
Speaking for myself - Oh yes, absolutely :-) Charles Soulz Project is your brainchild, but you also have some great musicians on board. Besides yourself, who else can we hear on this new release?
I was lucky (once again) to have great musicians who loved the songs and agreed to participate, like the singers Gui Siervi, Tiago Masseti, Alessandra Lodoli, and also vocal support from Rafael Rassan and the genius Fabio Caldeira from the band Maestrick. Instrumental-wise, you can hear Gabriel Veloso on guitar, Paulo Ribbeiro on bass, and Gui Pinheiro on drums.
Let’s take a look at the mystical cover artwork: What can you tell us about its origins, and how does it reflect the EP thematically?
This artwork was made by Ricardo Janke with some images created by Gui Siervi, and there is also a flying picture of mountains and valleys taken by my father.
We see a human child holding hands with a humanoid within a dystopian setting and an image in front (somewhat blurred) of mountains and valleys, showing that the world was once beautiful. They walk towards what could be a hologram, a portal or a mirror symbolizing the past, to tell the child that there is still hope for us to live in that scenario again, which, because it is ahead, also gives us an idea of the future, creating an infinite loop of order and chaos.
Music-wise, “Trilogy of Mankind” is a powerful progmetal record, a good pinch heavier than its predecessor, and even though one can hear lots of your wonderful key wizardry, your compositions are a strong, yet diverse unit instead of offering a “keyboard solo album”. What is your musical background, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Good question. I grew up listening to regional latin music and bands like Pink Floyd, Queen, Beatles, Iron Maiden... I've always been passionate about instruments, and I love the human voice too. The ways you can express with your voice, adding harmony. Since I was 8 years old I've been playing in bands. So it was kind of natural for me to write music in the band format and not just something keyboard-oriented, you know. But, yeah, I also intend to release something with that vibe someday.
Oh, that would be awesome! (note: get a little instrumental impression with "Borderline" from Charles' previous album here)
Since "Trilogy of Mankind" is a concept record, what was first on your creative journey: the theme or music? And could you briefly describe your writing / recording process, please?
My music always comes from some point where I'm improvising on the keyboard (sometimes guitar) and I have this glimpse. So I analyze the direction this composition is taking and then, the ideas about the lyrical theme come.
I record all the instruments on my computer, with VSTi (virtual instruments) and then start to get in touch with musicians who have the right profile for a particular song.
I leave it up to the guests to put in their own ideas, but normally they follow mine haha. Tiago Masseti modified some melodies and added some backing vocal counterpoints, which was incredible! And Gabriel Veloso wrote the guitar solo, he’s a little monster.
I see :-) Speaking about you playing live: What was your most memorable show so far?
Good question. My most memorable show is yet to come ;-) I've played big shows with a band called Imago Mortis (from Brazil), we played big festivals with Sepultura, Orphaned Land, Exodus, Paradise Lost, etc... so I can say these were really great moments.
While we’re travelling around the world musically for three years now, this is actually our first stop in Brazil. How would you describe your local rock/metal scene, and is there anything special about it? Did you notice changes over the past years?
Yeah, the metal scene here in Brazil is very big! You know, it's a huge country, so I'm not surprised that there are so many great bands, and I'd recommend you to listen to Maestrick as a good example.
The metal scene in Brazil had its peak in the late 90s and early 2000s, then it slowed down, but over the last 5 years it has been growing again, with lots of websites and blogs, YouTube channels, etc. The reach is still small compared to the size of the country, it's still very underground, but I hope it will continue to grow. We already have big festivals like Summer Breeze and Monsters of Rock coming here, which is great!
As an independent artist: What are your experiences within today’s music business regarding the biggest chances and challenges?
Nowadays it is easier to release a work and make it available to listeners, but it is still very difficult to promote it since there are many shelves being filled all the time. It easily happens to be left behind if you don't have powerful tools to bring the word out. I do everything almost alone, so I need to split myself into 500 parts haha. Press vehicles like yours are essential to keep the scene fresh and the wheels turning.
Much appreciated, thanks :-) What can you tell us about your future plans?
I have 8 or 9 songs in progress that I intend to finish as soon as possible and start recording a new album that I wish to release until June or July. In addition, there is some work with other prog bands and many productions to come. Stay tuned!
You bet :-) Sounds highly promising. Before we wrap things up: Do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
I would like to thank you for this great interview. And thanks to all the fans and friends who support me all the time, you know who you are!
If you don't know me, feel free to follow and message me whenever you want.
The pleasure was all mine :-) All the best for you and your musical plans \m/