Clean and extreme, Nathalie Markoch from Melodic Death Metal band NMK, can do both. As the vocalist and founder of NMK, she’s delivering some sick guttural sounds blended with a powerful clean voice. Hailing from Peru she started singing in a high school choir and developed her own sound through the years.
2018 started nicely for NMK with the release of your debut full-length, any other big plans for 2018?
Thanks! Yeah, well we released the album in January 27th on all digital platforms and we´re currently finishing all details to start the pre-order of the physical release in a digipak format. We are also filming some “storyteller” videos for our Youtube Channel where we want to talk about the origins, concept of the band as well as a “Making of Ravenous Spectre” series. On March 22nd we`ll play on our 1st live show at the Hard Rock Cafe here in Lima – Peru to present the album and well, we’re thrilled to start this journey to whatever paths it brings us!
How has the overall response been so far from music critics and fans on the album?
We´re stoked about the positive response from both fans and critics!! It’s difficult for a new band like us to be heard/noticed, especially with so many amazing bands debuting right now, you know. We`ve received really great comments from Peru and abroad, it makes us feel very proud of the hard work we’ve done for the album.
Listening to Ravenous Spectre I can’t help to think that you must be exhausted after singing those songs live, how do you keep your voice and overall condition in shape?
Well, those songs are indeed quite vocally demanding haha. Before being able to sing and growl this way I used to do operatic singing and taught myself empirically how to properly manage my breath and support my voice. I try to keep not only my vocal chords well hydrated (alkalinized), but my whole body in general, that’s why I don’t smoke/drink and try my best to not consume acid based foods. I suspect those are the main reasons why I manage to do an entire setlist without needing an oxygen tank
With which band would you like to go on tour with? And to which countries?
I can’t pick one, let me pick 4! I would absolutely love to go on tour with Carcass, Dark Tranquillity, Symphony X or Melechesh to Switzerland, Japan, Sweden or Iceland. I have an obsession with Iceland haha.
How did the name of the band come about?
I was a solo artist back in 2010. I and my live band played a lot live between 2010 and 2014. So saying “Nathalie´s band” or “Nathalie and her band” was pretty tiring and unpractical. A Russian friend of mine suggested we should just call it NMK. So everybody started referring to me and the musicians I worked with at the time as NMK. After releasing my 1st album called “Influences & Connections Vol. 1” and promoting it for a couple of years, I invited guitar player Elias Checco to join forces with me to start composing songs for my 2nd album as a solo artist. When we were at it, we realized the songs were more intense, obscure, fast and with a clear concept that differed a bit from what I originally intended. That’s when we decided to found NMK as a band and I thought that due to the concept of the songs, we needed a deeper meaning to the band’s name,. That’s when I came with the idea that NMK should stand as “Now Mankind Knows”.
When did you start singing and why did you want to sing?
Back when I was in high school I entered a choir but lasted a very short time due to the religious-infused lyrics, which were definitely not my cup of tea. I loved to write stories and poetry and later, lyrics which I have sung along as I created vocal melodies. At the time I listened to alternative rock/grunge bands like The Cranberries, Oasis, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam etc and started singing ´cause I really wanted to transmit my thoughts and emotions about certain topics that were put under the rug society.
Then, in 2004 I progressed to sing along to some heavy, power, symphonic tunes from bands like Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Nightwish, Epica and so on. That’s when the concepts of my lyrics started to shift into more in-depth auto-reflection like ones. I practiced a lot to be able to show the emotions I was looking to transmit with a more classical soprano voice than my natural melodic one, which was a lot softer than nowadays. Although I have sung and composed those type of songs I was in parallel blasting some death/black/thrash metal bands like Unleashed, Carcass, Dark Tranquillity, Bloodbath, Opeth, etc. I wanted to do growls but I just couldn’t manage to do it properly. So I stuck with singing with a soft melodic voice and a soprano like voice. In 2010, while I was recording my 1st album “Influences & Connections Vol. 1” and due to the various music genres I included there, I learned to sing better and more aggressively with my natural melodic voice. “The Fraud” was the first original song I recorded with my natural voice with all that I learned until this point.
In 2015, while composing for NMK, my goal was to be able to sing even more aggressively with my natural voice and to be able to growl. Both techniques would give me the tools to be able to do some death/thrash tunes and to express everything I wanted to write about the lyrics of Ravenous Spectre.
How did you discover your own style of singing and do you have advice for other singers looking to develop their own sound?
While I was recording “Influences & Connections Vol. 1” I learned to sing with different types of voice. I realized that my own lyrics were more suited for a more aggressive approach than the one I learned to use while I was practicing to sing classically. So I took upon myself to sing with my natural voice and to slowly add more strength to it. While rehearsing with NMK, somehow something clicked and growls started to pour everywhere. That’s why we included my growls at the end of the recording process of the album.
My advice to other singers would be to hydrate your body with main fruits and lemon water. Always make sure that you are not straining your voice in any way, be a melodic voice or while growling. Singing should feel effortless. Although alcohol seems to “warm your throat”, don’t get near it, it will burn your vocal chords from the inside out with its acids. And lastly, always sing from your heart, with a purpose in mind, to give a message and to show a unique perspective only you can bring forth.
Back to the album, there’s cool artwork on it, can you tell a little more about it?
Thanks! The artwork was a joined effort by the amazing Colombian artist Juan Camilo Mazutier and myself. Juan Camilo hand-drawn and digitally colored it and I developed the concept. In summary, the concept behind it is the realization of a human being that’s been under various mind control programs his entire life on Earth.
A ravenous spectre (masculine energy, electric, a positive pole, proactive) is seen behind an inquisition-like chair, which is feeding off the energy of a woman, representing the suppressed true feminine (magnetic, the negative pole, receptive) of the universe. She’s managed to almost free herself from the matrix imposed (hence the broken chains and 1-eye bandage). The skulls beneath represent the remains of the unsuccessful efforts to obtain the freedom of her past lives.
The images carved on the chair represent some aspects that those ravenous spectres have taken complete control over a subject’s life. Satanic Ritualistic Mind Control Abuse, Government and Military infiltration, Pharmaceutical take over Natural Medicine and Overall Health, World Banks backhand game disguised as economic aid, and so on. This chair also symbolizes the occult/new age (ouroboros) propaganda against traditional religions as well, etc. All belong to the same dualistic illusive reality most humans living on the Earth’s surface experience through a tampered perception and altered DNA.
Any funny story to tell about something that happened with NMK to close this interview?
A funny anecdote that happened throughout the entire composition process of Ravenous Spectre was that it took us almost 9 months to do it, but out of those, almost 6 months were just about us hanging out doing anything but composing a single riff haha. Let me explain. All music was composed by Elias Checco (guitar) and myself. We would typically get together at 7PM, 3 times a week along with Rafael Nuñez (our manager) and we would just play video games, watch a movie, play music, sing… anything but picking up the guitar and opening the Guitar Pro you know. 11PM arrives, Elias picks up the guitar, plays something, I sing something and Rafael is sleeping somewhere and we are like “OK, we’ll get at it tomorrow”. So in reality, the composition process took us only less than 2 months if we summarize the actual time we were really working haha. We promise the next album will surely be released in a year or so!
More NMK: https://www.facebook.com/nmkmetal/