Hello, it’s time for another Winter’s Wake band interview!
I’ll repeat once more: with so many people to talk to, I tried to keep these short and sweet — just enough for you (the reader) to get a sense of each band’s history, to learn a little about where they came from and what they’re doing now, so that you can be as excited about seeing all of them as I am!
This time, I exchanged some words with vocalist/guitarist Sharon Bascovsky from Derkéta…
VOS: Hello there, thank you very much for your time! How are you?
SB: Thank you for taking the time to come up with these questions! I’m doing pretty good, thanks
VOS: Would you mind introducing yourself for the readers?
SB: Well, my name is Sharon Bascovsky and im the singer/guitarist of the band Derkéta. We formed here in Pittsburgh in 1988 and were the first all-female doom/death metal act.
VOS: First of all, your band is pretty legendary in the world of death-doom metal. Not only for being considered the first all-female group in the genre, although people always make a big deal about
that fact (and deservedly so), but beyond that, you definitely have a pretty unique and distinctive sound. Who are some of the people or other bands that have influenced you and shaped your band over the years?
SB: I think there are probably a lot of bands that have contributed to some sort of influence but
it was definitely bands with a doomier sound that captured me in; bands like Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Trouble, and Dream Death. But I was also captured into death metal bands like Autopsy, Death, Sepultura, Nunslaughter and Massacre. I think it was listening to those bands over and over that helped me establish the writing for Derkéta.
VOS: Derkéta has had quite a long and interesting history: not too many bands manage to stick around through multiple decades, and there definitely aren’t too many who release their debut album this far into their career. Can you briefly discuss some of the band’s history, starting with how you first came together, and then maybe some of the highlights on the journey from there until where you are today?
SB: Yeah, we definitely had our share of problems throughout the years. I had started playing the
guitar in 1985 and got bored with learning covers of other bands. I started writing my own stuff
and really had a fun time in doing so. I’m not really that good at playing guitar so I never had
the guts to approach anyone about joining a band, but I was writing songs and wanted to hear
them as a finished product. I had met Terri Heggen at a party and just mentioned to her that I’d like to form a band, and she said she was interested in the same thing. She bought a drum set and started taking some lessons and then we started practicing together. I didn’t have any desire
to do vocals at that time, but there was really no one else so I got stuck doing them. Once we
got things going, we started looking for other members. In the meantime, we put out our first
demo in 1989, another one in 1990, and then a 7″ record in 1991.
In 1991 is also when we met Mary Bielich, who is an excellent bassist, and once I met her I knew she was perfect for us. Unfortunately, Terri and I just weren’t getting along as friends and we broke the band up right when Mary was joining. I tried to continue on with other members but it wasn’t easy finding people at that time. I decided to just end the search and focus on my personal life. In 1997, Don Crotsley from Nunslaughter asked me to reform to put out some more releases, so I did. He introduced me to his drummer and with his help I had put out a couple more 7″ records. I had always missed working with Terri because we had such a good chemistry together, so I kept approaching her. I had more songs that I wanted to record but I had decided that I didn’t want to record them with anybody else.
I think it was about 2005 when she started to entertain the idea and eventually did buy a drum set and get back to it. We had mentioned to Robin Mazen that we were going to get together to record, Robin then said that we were going to reform this band with her on bass this time, and Mary on guitar. And that is what we did. We slowly got back to it and started to record the album in 2011. After having some recording disasters, it wasn’t until May of 2012 for our album to finally come out. Since then, Terri has left the band as she only agreed to do the album.
A local promoter, Jon Leone from Allure of the Earth Productions, introduced us to Mike Laughlin who played in Cattle Decapitation and Creation is Crucifixion. As soon as we met, I knew he was a good fit for us. Right now we’re just playing some shows and are writing new material so we can get back into the studio to put out another recording. So yeah, it took us 24 years to put out our debut album!!
VOS: How would you describe the Pittsburgh metal scene, and how would you compare it now with
how things were in the 80s and 90s when you were starting out as a band?
SB: I’ve always enjoyed the Pittsburgh metal scene and think Pittsburgh has one of the best metal
scenes out there. Not only do we have a bunch of bands doing various genres of metal, but
everybody supports each other as well. The only thing that I find different nowadays versus the
80’s and the 90’s is that we have more bands and more people to go to the shows. The downfall
of that is, we have so many bands putting on shows at the same time that people are torn on
which show to go to. It is nice that so many people are into the metal genre, more people are
born into it every day!
VOS: How does it feel, now that that first official full-length is finally completed and out there, to see it get the kind of positive reception you’ve had from the music press?
SB: It was a relief!! During the writing and recording process, I didn’t really think about if people
would actually like what we’re doing. It wasn’t until all of that was said and done and I sent the
recording out to get pressed, that I thought, what if people don’t even like it? I personally liked
it, but after taking 24 years to put out an actual album I was nervous that the people that were
into Derkéta might find it to be a disappointment. Once I started seeing positive reactions from people I felt a sense of accomplishment, and that was enough to get the drive going to do more with the band.
VOS: And so… where do you go from here? Any thoughts about signing with a label, doing any touring, eventually recording a follow-up, any of those sorts of things?
SB: I’m not really sure. It’s a day-by-day thing. We really have no interest in signing with a label
unless the label can do something more than what we can do on our own. With our daytime jobs, we can’t really do any long tours, so playing an odd ball show here and there works for us. We’d like to get to either Europe or South America for a small tour, like a week or two; we’ll see what happens with that.
In the meantime, we’re just going to keep playing, writing and recording while we’re still able to do it. Right now, we have Ola Lindgren from Grave remixing In Death We Meet for vinyl; he is working out some issues I had with the CD and making it even heavier sounding! Then later this year we’ll go back into the studio to record some new material.
VOS: Finally, is there anyone else playing at Winter’s Wake that YOU especially look forward to seeing?
SB: Dream Death is top on that list!!! But I’m excited to see Evoken, Gates of Slumber, Molasses Barge, Liquified Guts, Nomad Queen, Brown Angel and Vulture!! I like all of those bands. I’m not familiar with the other bands so I’m curious to check them out. Especially Meth Quarry, cause I’ve heard good things about them. We feel honored to be included on this fest, so many great bands to play with!
VOS: We will definitely look forward to seeing you on Saturday, and thank you again for taking the
time to do this.
SB: Thank you for contacting us and supporting this fest! We’re all looking forward to the Winter’s Wake Fest; [the folks who run Allure of the Earth] know how to put on a good show, that’s for sure!
Derkéta are playing at Winter’s Wake on Saturday, 23 February 2013, at 6119 (6119 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh).