Athena Hiotis is the voice of Rêve, both vocally and publicly. The Baltimore-based quintet could be described as a unique, musical blend of The Cranberries meets musical theater, with a touch of PVRIS. La Marionnette is the band’s first full-length album, which kicks off with an instrumental piece, which deeply contrasts with the second track, titled “Marionettes.” Overall, there’s an interesting album flow, and we chatted with Athena about the band’s history, the album itself, a unique tour experience in Canada, as well as growing the band’s roots in Baltimore.
Modern Vinyl: To start, how did the band come together? An oral history of sorts, if you will.
Athena Hiotis: Nik [Kosmas] and I grew up together and after jamming, decided to finally pursue something musical together. Shareef [Taher] and I met while he was at Peabody. Alejandro [Fariña] and Nik worked together at a music store and Ben [Hoyt] was introduced to us through a mutual friend in music. The band wasn’t really solidified until maybe seven months ago, but when the five of us first played together, we all felt that this was it.
MV: La Marionnette is set to come out this month. What’s the story/concept behind the album?
AH: La Marionnette tells of the first step in change. It’s pretty terrifying to feel as though something more is out there and that inevitably you have to move away from the comfort of familiarity to get there. The songs are all those emotions and thoughts that go through your head in that time.
MV: It’s the band’s first full-length. What went into recording and creating it?
AH: Oh man! Everything that could have gone wrong during the making of this album went wrong. Lost files, wanting to mix things again, needing to re-record parts a week before deadline. We were all learning during the process of this; learning because it was our first full-length, learning to prepare the budget accordingly, learning about ourselves and each other. We had an incredible engineer that worked with us, Tony Correlli of Deep End Studio. It was a long and arduous process, but I think, now that it’s done, that it was painfully appropriate for the album.
MV: What do you hope listeners and new fans will take from it?
AH: We’re hoping that people will interpret this album in a way that is truest to them.
MV: Are there any plans to release it on additional formats, like vinyl?
AH: We’re not sure. Maybe in the future.
MV: Last month you embarked on some tour dates in Canada. What were some of your favorite memories from it?
AH: Every show had something very special to it. We played a range of shows on this particular tour, from intimate to festivals. One of the shows was a very intimate show at Bistro Culturel Coeur de Village in Saint-Isidore-de-Laprairie. That was just such a good night. Everyone was incredible. The mayor of the town we were staying in was there. They wanted us to keep playing so we ended up writing two songs on the spot. Other than the fact that we were happy that they turned out well, it was the first time that’s happened with us so we were like, “What just happened? Did we just do that?”
Another awesome memory was at one of the festivals we played in Sherbrooke; we met the incredible people at ÉmerAgence, who are now our booking and management team in Quebec. That was pretty special to us because it was the first time someone new came up to us and said, “Wow, we want to work with you.” Other than those specific events, we just had such a great time and we laughed a lot. Quebec has really been good to us.
MV: Are there any plans to tour in the States and/or do a record release show?
AH: For sure. All of the above. We are currently planning a tour for La Marionnette for the mid-Atlantic and Canada.
MV: You’re based out of Baltimore. How did that help shape your sound and your influences?
AH: Baltimore has taught us to hustle. Plain and simple. Be there, be ready, and deliver every time. DDm is a major inspiration in that department. I gained and continue to gain a lot of insight and knowledge from him. It’s about fire, it’s about charm, it’s about connection. On and off the stage. Musically we’ve always done a bit of our own thing, but we were taught to hustle by our city.
MV: What are some of your favorite things about the Baltimore scene (and beyond!)?
AH: There is certainly a pride for our city and that goes across all genres and art mediums. Baltimore has a lot to offer in music and art. There are countless festivals and shows that bring people and different artists and musicians together.
MV: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
AH: Thank you so much for talking to us, we really appreciate it. We’re really looking forward to hearing what people think of this album; it’s something we’re really proud of.
“La Marionnette” was released on Sept. 20, and can be purchased and streamed digitally via iTunes and Spotify. The album is available on the band’s Bandcamp, as well as “The Joanne Sessions,” a three-song EP recorded in 2014 at Joanne Trattoria in New York City, a restaurant owned by Lady Gaga’s parents, Joe and Cynthia Germanotta.