QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Jelena Dobric (Persona)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello Jelena. The most important question right at the beginning. Are you well and are you healthy?

Jelena: Hey guys! Thanks for asking, all is well!

Pix666: You are now a singer in a metal band – but how and when did your music career start?

Jelena: I’ve been surrounded by music – mostly classical though – since I was a child because my dad is a musician. I started singing and playing the piano when I was about 4-5 years old and I never stopped since. I pretty much decided that music will be the most important thing in my life when I was 12-13 years old. Back then all was still mostly about classical music because that was the type of studies the music school I attended was offering, but during high school and university, I realized I wanted to explore other genres and do other stuff as well. After finishing my studies, I didn’t want to follow the expected route of becoming a concert pianist. Instead, I chose to give more attention to singing, while using the piano mostly for songwriting, composing, playing for fun, and accompanying myself while singing.

Pix666: What kind of music do you like to listen to in your private life at the moment and what was the decisive point or factor to become a ‘Metal Girl’?

Jelena: These days I’m mostly listening to some instrumental jazz (Hiromi Uehara at the moment), actual metal playlists on YouTube (enjoying „In This Moment“ very much currently), „Riverside“ live concerts (I happened to listen to this just today). Hmmm the decisive moment when I became a Metal Girl… It was happening slowly I would say, but the initiation could have been the moment I heard Dream Theater and Kamelot.

Pix666: Your band Persona has been around for several years now. What have been the highlights of the band’s history so far?

Jelena: (mostly) chronologically :D: playing on stage with Ron Bumblefoot Thal while winning a local metal battle in Tunisia; the release of our first two albums (which was pretty challenging to do in Tunisia); our first European tour in Sept 2017 and playing at FeMME festival in Eindhoven where we met some of our fans in person for the first time; opening for Myrath in the beautiful Roman Amphitheater in Carthage; opening for Xandria when they played in Tunisia; being the local winner of „Hard Rock Rising“, Tunisia competition 2 years in a row; finding our new amazing bassist and drummer Eike and Simon, and the fact that we managed to introduce ourselves to the audience here in Germany with two successful concerts before the Corona restrictions started.

Pix666: Do you prefer to perform at open air festivals or do you rather love the atmosphere in a small club when the audience is very close to you?

Jelena: I really love the freedom of movement one has on big festival stages, but I also love close contact and the energy exchange with the audience in smaller venues. Actually medium indoor venues kind of offer the compromise between the two, so that might be my favorite :).

Pix666: Where and/or how did the band members of Persona get to know each other?

Jelena: Melik (guitar) and I were the first to meet, and that happened in Serbia. Sometime after that, I moved to Tunisia where we started actively composing as a duo, and then decided to form a full band. Yosri (guitar) has been part of Persona’s line up since the beginning in Tunisia – he currently lives in Paris but we successfully manage with him being a part of the band „long-distance“. We got to know Eike (bass) and Simon (drums) during our search for new members here in Hanover, we simply met, rehearsed and it worked out great. We have this line-up for over a year now, and it will hopefully stay like this for a long, long time :).

Pix666: Have you played in other bands before?

Jelena: My first band experience prior to Persona was in a progressive metal band Inumbro during my studies.

Pix666: A few days ago your new single ‘Alpha’ was released. There is also a great video clip. When and where did you shoot it. Was it more difficult than usual to shoot such a clip under ‘Corona conditions’?

Jelena: The shooting was in September, and the Corona situation wasn’t so tough back then so it felt more or less like a regular video shoot (with lots of extra hygiene precautions though :)). The location was somewhere near Osnabrück and we did it with the super awesome CTG Studios  https://www.ctg-studio.de/ team.

Pix666: Next year your third album will be released. How far has the work on the album already progressed. You have chosen a crowdfunding campaign for the production. That’s not uncommon nowadays. What surprises await the fans during the campaign?

Jelena: We’re getting close to half of the album right now, some songs are completely finished, some in the demo phase, some in the writing process – it’s work in progress! We really wanted to take things to the next level with this new record, so this time we‘re working with the music producer Marco Meyer http://marcomeyer.weebly.com/, who’s doing a great job in helping us achieve our full potential. The crowdfunding campaign will help us a lot with the costs of this new production and is a great way to bring us closer together with our fans. The contributors can choose among the things like outfits from ‚Alpha‘ music video (to own jumpsuits that the guys wore as collectibles), some of my favorite clothing items I wore on stage, Melik’s guitar, handwritten lyrics, signed snare drum head, and drumsticks, private acoustic streaming concert, music lessons with each Persona member, and so on :). Feel free to check out the campaign, every contribution means a lot to us! > https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-persona-s-3rd-album?fbclid=IwAR0nOqHbgJ6MVkA7_sqNYgEMCA9qSQNBs77AVagHKIXvnrQJGKSqLtpZsoA#/

Pix666: When you release new songs, you surely want to play these songs live in front of an audience. Do you already have any plans for gigs in the future?

Jelena: We definitely can’t wait to play the new songs (and the old ones ;)) live! We’re slowly making plans for the gigs in 2021 but of course, nothing can be ever sure in these times.

Pix666: What else did you do besides the music during the contact restrictions? Do you have any interesting hobbies? Or is music simply everything in your life?

Jelena: I read a lot, binge-watched some cool shows, did some house redecorating, took some time for myself, self-care, meditation, journaling, that kind of stuff ;). With music being ever-present of course.

Pix666: Do you have any other news about Persona that you would like to share with the fans?

Jelena: I think we’ve covered the most important topics: the making of the new album and the crowdfunding campaign. I would just like to give a big shout-out to all our amazing fans out there who continuously support us – THANK YOU SO MUCH! And thank you guys for the lovely interview!

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting insights into your present life – Stay healthy and good luck with the crowdfunding campaign!


photos © by Katja Borns