Interview – Lena Scissorhands

It was once said that music is food for the soul… and that is a hard statement to argue with. Music is energy, and for many one which provides a release of emotions that help us cope with our own thoughts. Born in the small Eastern European country of Moldova, at a time when it was still a part of the USSR, Elena Cataraga (Lena Scissorhands) experienced her own hardships. Looking for an outlet to express herself, she would find her calling as a Heavy Metal vocalist and songwriter.

Going on to form the band Infected Rain in 2008, in the time since, they have released five studio records, toured the world, built a following, and now prepare to release their first ever live album/Blu-ray, The Devil’s Dozen. A celebration of the history of Infected Rain, the live release is just one of many projects being worked on. In fact, Infected Rain has plenty more to offer, meanwhile, Scissorhands herself is preparing to release an album with Death Dealer Union. A very busy lady, she has also lent her voice to various other artists in recent years… and who knows where life will take her next. Down to earth, open-minded, and highly creative, Lena Scissorhands recently sat down to reflect on the years gone by with Infected Rain, salvation within music, plans for the future, plus a whole lot more.

Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in music professionally for well over fifteen years. Finding success with Infected Rain, you have also worked with various other artists in recent times. How would you describe your incredible journey in music through the years?

Lena Scissorhands – I think it’s just like any other career path or journey; it has its ups and downs for sure. Now, if what you do makes you happy, which it makes me very happy, and it’s very rewarding, then all the downs are worth it… if that makes sense. Of course, there are certain things if they don’t work out properly, they are in the way of you performing correctly, or delivering properly, and then you have to work on those aspects (people or situations). Many things can be in the way, and not just if you are a vocalist, but in general.

It’s an interesting lifestyle that musicians have to embrace; at least six months a year you are homeless. You have to understand what you need on the road to be comfortable, be able to do your job properly, and feel okay. In short, despite the fact that it has its ups and downs like another job out there… I think it’s worth it. In my case, it’s very rewarding and I can only speak for myself.

Cryptic Rock – Understood. Most importantly, it gives you an outlet for creativity. Not many people have that outlet, and you are able make a career of it, which is special. This said, at what point did you decide you wanted to commit yourself to be a vocalist?

Lena Scissorhands – It is a commitment for sure. Especially in my case, because I was planning my career path at that time. I had already found a job that was very satisfying and very creative before Infected Rain. What made me decide for sure, was the very first show. During and after the very first show we had a band, I knew for sure I was going to try my best to be able to do this for as long as I physically can.

Infected Rain – Asylum/ Self-release (2011)
Infected Rain – Embrace Eternity / Self-release (2014)

Cryptic Rock – And you have done a lot of cool things over the years. The thrill of playing live is like an addition, but a good one, right?

Lena Scissorhands – Yes, but it is not really the only thing that drove me to that decision. Shows are awesome, I love them very much. However, it is not everything this job entails; it’s a lot more than that. To me what is worth the most is the mental aspect of it. I feel throughout my career – in the fifteen years I’ve been doing this – I’m the best version of myself thanks to the music. Why? Because I’m able to write things down. These are all emotions, moments in life, and mental diaries. All I write down, I’m able to have an outlet for, put it in a song, and apply that emotion. I have an outlet for emotions… the good and bad. We are made of thoughts, emotions, situations; and that is what builds us. However, if you don’t have a good outlet for your emotions and frustration, I feel it is eventually really bad for us.

Even though I was trying my best to express myself through creative ways I had before the band, and I was trying to find outlets in life for my mental health, nothing can be compared to when you can physically speak it out, scream about it, etc. Every time during a show you go through it. Even though it’s very painful, because it is like fire with fire, it’s helpful. It’s helpful in making you more down to earth, accepting, forgiving, and understanding of how diverse this life can be. Even though it often brings us pain, if we manage to find a way to keep that pain under control, or to heal it, then that’s the goal in life, right? I’ve found this within music, and that is why it’s so rewarding for me.

Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. Music has been the salvation for many; creators and listeners. It is extremely powerful. The music of Infected Rain is very eclectic; you are not a one-dimensional band. How would you describe the artistic direction and progression of the band through the years?

Lena Scissorhands – Well, I don’t really like labels. I don’t really think Infected Rain can be classified as a movement or a special genre. I like that we do have this freedom to mix things together. The reason I love that so much is because I don’t feel any boundaries when I’m doing my part of composing and writing; I’m sure my musicians will say the same. It is basically – don’t put yourself in a box. There is nothing wrong with sticking with one style, direction, or message… but being versatile in general, especially when it comes to art, opens so many opportunities.

Cryptic Rock – Most certainly. There is a freedom in not limiting yourself, and when you do that, you might surprise yourself. You are not always going to succeed when you try something different, but that is alright too.

So, Infected Rain released Ecdysis in 2022, and now you are back with the live album/Blu-ray The Devil’s Dozen. What inspired this live release?

Lena Scissorhands – Well, initially when we did this, it was for our thirteenth anniversary, but touring was not allowed yet. We didn’t know when we were going to be able to go back on the road and do what we did. So, we decided to put this together to surmise four albums and thirteen years of our career. We did it, and we did it for people who couldn’t go to shows and who were stuck home. It was available online only for eight days; you were not able to download it, you were just able to enjoy it for eight days once you purchased it.

That gave us the opportunity to be heard and seen in places we’ve never played before as well, which is super awesome. It was also something absolutely new and unique that we had never done before. So, all the people who are onboard with Infected Rain were insisting and supporting this idea of immortalizing this live experience that not a lot of people had a chance to enjoy; so, we agreed.

It takes a lot of time and a lot is involved in making an album, DVD, or anything. It requires a lot of art work, third party companies for production, etc. It took us a little bit long, and we also had to give some time to shows… because we were back on schedule touring.

Last year we gave an album, this year we are giving this, and in fact, at the same time we are working on a new album that will come out in 2024. We are just trying to give our listeners something fresh and new almost every year.

Infected Rain – The Devil’s Dozen / Napalm Records (2023)

Cryptic Rock – That is really great to hear. People will have to check out the visual aspect of this live album on the Blu-ray too.

Lena Scissorhands – Yes, I think people will love it. It has a big production. It is something we’ve never done before.

Cryptic Rock – Excellent. So, you are planning on releasing another studio album in 2024… that is three releases in three years! We lived through a very difficult time over the last three years. There were people who flourished and found creative inspiration, while some might have hit a block since they wanted to connect with others to create. You obviously found inspiration because you have a lot of material coming out. Was it difficult for you to be creative over this time?

Lena Scissorhands – Thank you! I personally can only speak for myself, but I went through phases. The first lockdown was insanely heavy on me. I live in the United States and Infected Rain is located in Moldova; which is a very small country in Eastern Europe, insanely far from here. My family doesn’t live here either, so I felt insanely lonely and lost, because nobody knew when things would go back to normal. But, when it comes to finding inspiration, that wasn’t a problem. So much shit was going on in the world! There was so much to write about! You don’t have to encounter it face to face… we were living it and it was happening to everybody. In fact, a lot of the things I wrote about for Ecdysis, was based on what we were going through during the lockdowns.

To me, it wasn’t a problem to find inspiration, to me the problem was I couldn’t work. Remotely you can only do so much. At a certain point I saw this madness was taking forever. It wasn’t taking only a couple of months like people thought; it took almost two years for bands to be back on the road. Show business was the last to be allowed. Everybody was back at work; all my friends, family, but not us.

When I saw this was taking forever, I eventually rolled up my sleeves, and with the help of support from all the fans and band, I built my own vocal studio in my house. I learned how to record myself and do professional things that were only done before that in actual recording studios with producers, etc. Previously I never recorded myself and never used a home studio like that… so I had to learn it. I did learn it eventually. I built the studio around late 2020, and since that time, and until this day, I’ve probably recorded more songs than I’ve probably recorded in my entire career.

I’m talking not only recording with Infected Rain, but as of 2022, I joined a new band called Death Dealer Union. They were immediately signed by Napalm Records and we are working on our very first album that will come out this year. I’ve also done so many features with so many other bands too. Working remotely helped me a lot staying sane and busy.

Cryptic Rock – You certainly have been extremely busy, and it is inspiring to hear how you turned a negative situation into something positive. You touched a lot there. To recap, you are now officially a part of Death Dealer Union, plus have recorded with a list of other bands. It seems like your name is everywhere these days! You have really diversified. What is like working with all these different artists?

Lena Scissorhands – Thank you. I have fun, because before Infected Rain, I never sang in any other projects. I feel like when you open your horizons like that, and hear ideas from other musicians who did not grow up with you, it can be interesting. It can be challenging of course, because I think artists in general are very picky. Musicians I’ve encountered know exactly what they wanted, which can be hard. I’ve had to deal with musicians who also ask – can you sound like ‘this’ vocalist? This is the biggest mistake you can ever make. If you are a musician, and not a vocalist, and you want a vocal guest on your album, you can totally suggest keys, the type of emotion that needs to be delivered, etc. You can suggest many things to the vocalist you are trying to work with, but you cannot ever ask a vocalist to sound like a different vocalist; it is just unfair. Even when you play an instrument, two different guitar players that will play the same instrument, will sound different. They can tweak and put something else into it… and that’s the beauty of musicians. You want them for who they are.

I’ve encountered these aspects, and it was interesting. Honestly, the majority of the people I’ve worked with, their ideas/propositions to work around were fantastic and they were very supportive. I think what helped the most is that I do have one little rule when working with someone, and that is I always work with my own producer. That helps a lot, because my producer is very aware of the capacity of my vocals and what I’m capable of as a person in general. He has been working with me since the very first album of Infected Rain. We work remotely very well, we have a system that really works great, and he is the first person to listen to all my ideas/tracks. I trust him fully and he trusts me fully. He is in fact the founder and guitar player of Seas on the Moon. They are a band I’ve worked with a lot, and he often invites me to something for them; because I guess he likes what I bring to the table.

I’ve done a lot of these songs for free, and I’ve done a lot by being paid. That said, every single thing that is out there, I’m very proud of. No matter how small or how big my part is in the song, I’m very proud of it. I learn a lot from other musicians as well. I think that has helped me a lot to be a little bit more diverse with my vocals and to not be afraid to touch certain subjects.

I like it, I’m having fun, and this is my dream job. Even though I never knew this was my dream job, as soon as I was in the industry, I knew this was definitely for me.

Infected Rain – 86 / Self-released (2017)
Infected Rain – Endorphin/ Napalm Records (2019)

Cryptic Rock – It is exciting to see you continually growing and diversifying. Your widespread features also may attract listeners who might have never heard of or been a fan of Infected Rain prior.

Lena Scissorhands – Of course! Visa versa, I like to help rising bands if possible. I work with some people that are not even bands. They are just family people who have the opportunity to invest in music, and it was their dream as teenagers to do something, and they just hired me to make their dream come alive. They just want to immortalize something that they really want to always do, but life brought them down a different path… and I’ve helped them. That is super cool as well.

Cryptic Rock – That is extremely interesting! You mentioned how you are now living in the United States. You come across as an extremely grounded person. Do you think all the ups and downs in life, and relocations, have given you a good perspective?

Lena Scissorhands – Yes, for sure. I’ve lived in several countries in Europe, and the United States is country number four. All the countries I’ve lived in are completely different; completely different language, different culture, and completely not similar. That definitely helps the knowledge of cultures and people. The different scenarios in different countries definitely helps you, but you have to open your mind to see it. You can travel a lot, and even live in different countries, but still be super closed-minded and not see what is around you.

I come from a very simple, I would even say poor family and country. I come from a country with poor economics and there are no opportunities for the youth at all, whatsoever. This is especially if you are going to be an artist; everyone tells you to go get a job, put your shit together… when are you going to have children and family?

That is kind of how my parent’s generation who lived in the USSR thinks. My parents are from two different countries which are ex-USSR countries; my father is from Armenia, and my mother is born in Moldova. The mentality of people from ex-USSR is a little bit more close-minded. They were not able to travel and see anything bigger than the USSR. They were not allowed or able to go on vacation outside USSR countries. What I’m trying to say is, it’s not their fault, I’m not pointing a finger or blaming anybody, but it’s just how I grew up. That definitely made me see and experience a lot.

I want to think I’m a grounded and humble person… I try to be. I try not to judge anybody; no matter how much I don’t understand their life choices. I try, but of course we are human beings, we often make mistakes, and we are not perfect. The only thing that will make you more grounded is actually just being more open-minded.

Seas on the Moon featuring Lena Scissorhands – The Regress
Infected Rain – Ecdysis/ Napalm Records (2022)

Cryptic Rock – Yes, and that certainly shows with you. Americans also have a very different outlook on life than Europeans. So, how do you like life in America?

Lena Scissorhands – I agree it is different, but there is something that needs to be said… America is very big territorially. People are very different in Las Vegas or New York City, which is on the other side of the country. Just like that, Europe can be different. There are countries in Europe that can be a little bit slower; they don’t work every day, they close their businesses for lunch, and you think, no wonder your economics doesn’t go up… but it is something they are comfortable with. It is part of their culture and it’s beautiful that way; if you choose to live there, you embrace it. There are countries that are also super-fast paced; nobody sleeps, and if you want to make a living you have to always go in the fastest gear possible. It all depends.

I feel very comfortable in America. I think that America has its ups and downs just like any other country out there; they are just completely different ups and downs. So far, I’ve felt welcome and good. I don’t know where life will bring me next, I’m not planning to move anywhere for now… but never say never. I became a citizen of America and I feel like this country adopted me in a way. When I moved here it was something out of the blue. It was something I never really planned, or saw in my future. It was something that made sense at the time and I went for it saying, what the hell… it’s not my first rodeo as they say it. (Laughs)

Cryptic Rock – Very valid points. All countries have different ways of life. Last question. If you have Horror or Sci-Fi films, do you have any favorites?

Lena Scissorhands – I will start by saying I’m just a big fan of movies. I think movies are such an incredible form of art. I love different genres – Comedy, Disney movies, Horror, Thrillers, Dramas. It depends what I’m in the mood for, but it is true, I’m a very big fan of Horror movies. Horror movies are my go-to; those are the movies I like rewatching, studying, etc.

The list of my favorites is big, because just like with music, how can you narrow it down to one band? You have bands for different moods and different situations in life. For Horror, if we are talking about something older, I like The Shining (1980) very much. I think that is just so great. It’s not even such a scary movie to watch visually, as much as it is mentally. Horror combined with a Thriller together is always my favorite.

For newer Horror films, I was actually pleasantly surprised with the movie Smile (2022). It was really great. The main actress was fantastic. I had no expectations, had no idea what the movie was about, and I re-watched it again in less than a week.

Infected Rain 2023 Tour Dates:
5/27 DE – Kronach / Die Festung Rockt
5/28 DE – Oettingen i. Bayern / Camping Battleground Festival
5/30 DK – Aalborg / Studenterhuset
5/31 SE – Gothenburg / Musiken Hus
6/1 SE – Stockholm / Nalen Klubb
6/3 FI – Tampere / Hönö Baari
6/4 FI – Helsinki / On The Rocks
6/6 EE – Tallinn / Sveta
6/7 LV – Riga / Melna Piektdiena
6/9 PL – Warsaw / VooDoo
6/10 DE – Mühlteich/ Chronical Moshers Open Air
7/19 RO – Bucharest / Quantic Club
7/22 SK – Skalica / Orlovna Club
7/24 AT – Vienna / Viper Room
7/26 DE – Munich / Backstage Halle (Free & Easy)
7/27 DE – Cham / L.A.
7/28 DE – Erfurt / From Hell
7/29 DE – Ottobeuren / Schlichtenfest Open Air
8/11 PL – Krakow / Klub Zaścianek
8/12 CZ – Jaromer / Brutal Assault
8/13 PL – Wroclaw / Łącznik
8/14 PL – Poznan / Klub Pod Minogą
8/18 DE – Sulingen / Reload Festival
8/19 DE – Lüdenscheid / Bautz Festival
8/20 NL – Amsterdam / Q-Factory
8/23 BE – Kortrijk / DVG Club
8/24 DE – Trier / Mergener Hof
8/25 DE – Wörrstadt / Neuborn Open Air Festival
8/26 DE – Roth / Wallesau ist Blau Open Air
9/1 ES – Vitoria / Urban Rock Concept
9/2 ES – Vigo / Sala Master
9/5 ES – Madrid / Revi Live
9/6 ES – Barcelona / Sala Bóveda
9/7 FR – Toulouse / Connexion Live
9/8 FR – Crest / Bridge to Hell
9/9 FR – Lyon / Rock n Eat
9/10 IT – Milan / Legend Club
9/12 IT – Rome / Traffic Live
9/14 CH – Lyss / Kufa
9/15 AT – Salzburg / Lake Rock
9/16 DE – Lindau / Club Vaudeville
10/20 Los Angeles, CA / The Whisky
10/21 Las Vegas, NV / Count’s Vamp’d
10/22 Reno, NV / Virginia Street Brewhouse
10/24 Portland, OR / Bossanova Ballroom
10/25 Seattle, WA / El Corazon
10/27 Roseville, CA / Goldfield Trading Post
10/28 San Jose, CA / The Ritz
10/29 San Diego, CA / Brick By Brick
10/30 Phoenix, AZ / The Nile Theater
11/1 Albuquerque, NM / Launch Pad
11/3 Dallas, TX / Sundown at Granada
11/4 Houston, TX / Warehouse Live
11/5 Austin, TX / Come And Take It Live
11/7 Lawrence, KS / The Bottleneck
11/9 Minneapolis, MN / Skyway Theatre
11/10 Madison, WI / The Annex
11/11 Joliet, IL / The Forge
11/12 Bloomington, IL / Castle Theater
11/14 Racine, WI / Route 20 Outhouse
11/15 Flint, MI / Machine Shop
11/16 Cleveland, OH / he Foundry
11/17 Pittsburgh, PA / Crafthouse
11/18 Lititz, PA / Mickey’s Black Box
11/19 Clifton, NJ / Dingbatz
11/22 Spartanburg, SC / Ground Zero
11/24 Winston-Salem, NC / Millenium
11/25 Richmond, VA / The Canal Club
11/26 Leesburg, VA / Tally Ho Theater
11/30 Knoxville, TN / The Concourse
12/1 Louisville, KY / Headliners Music Hall
12/2 Columbus, OH / The Kings Of Clubs
12/3 Indianapolis, IN / Hi Fi Annex
12/5 Des Moines, IA / Lefty’s Live Music
12/6 Lincoln, NE / Bourbon Theater
12/8 Denver, CO / The Oriental Theater
12/9 Colorado Springs, CO / Black Sheep
For more on Lena Scissorhands: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
For more on Infected Rain: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
For more on Death Dealer Union: deathdealerunion.comFacebook | Instagram

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