Interview with Jelena Dobric

 After the release of Helenium’s debut EP “The Elements” I wanted to talk a bit with Jelena Dobric, to find out more about the music, and the inspiration behind the songs featured on the EP, but also ask her about Persona and about herself. She was kind enough to provide me with the answers for this in-depth interview:

“How are you doing today?”

Jelena: “Doing well, thanks :). I feel a new wave of composing inspiration but there’s a lot of things happening and I still can't manage to find time to start.”


“Let’s start with some background info. When did you first started singing?”

Jelena: “I started singing when I was very young (probably 4-5 years old) but I continued doing it in a bit more focused way when I started singing in a children's choir that my dad was conducting. I think I was 7-8 years old at the time.”


“Do you have any formal training?”

Jelena: “Yes, I took singing lessons for maybe 3-4 years during my studies but not very regularly. Since I've never been a great fan of classical operatic technique, I mostly focused on early music (medieval, renaissance and baroque).”


“What band(s) / artist(s) have inspired you to become a musician?”

Jelena: “My father is a musician, he taught music, composed, performed and did lots of stuff in the field, so I just naturally plunged into it from an early age. It was classical music at first, but while growing up I started discovering different genres and from the moment I got introduced to the music of Dream Theater and Kamelot, I started wishing I could be in a band, too :).”


“How difficult is it to be a musician (metal or otherwise) in Tunisia?”

Jelena: “It really depends on the genre one plays and on what are one's goals. If one wants to play commercial stuff, and by that I mean more or less traditional oriental music, pop with oriental influences or hip-hop, that's quite popular in Tunisia. So I guess those musicians can find engagements and other musicians to work with fairly easy. It's much more difficult with less commercial stuff, and especially with metal – there's practically only 1-2 venues that could be interested in organizing a metal concert, it's also difficult to find a studio for practice and that discourages many young people who would like to form a band.”

“Persona is your main band. What can you tell me about the band’s history?”

Jelena: “Persona was initially formed when Melik (the lead guitarist) and I met, started composing together and realized that we could probably come up with some interesting stuff, because our music tastes were slightly different, though still within rock/metal genre and quite compatible. We spent some time just exploring to see where it would lead us, and at some point decided to make an official band and look for other members. Since then we've come a long way, played on many stages in Tunisia and some in Europe – one of them was "Female Metal Event - FEMME" 2017 in Eindhoven (https://www.facebook.com/femalemetalevent/) and released two full-length albums and one single. It’s true that we've been a bit quiet during the past several months but we're just planning our next step.”

“You released ‘Metamorphosis’ in September 2017, so when can fans expect a new album from Persona?”

Jelena: “Nothing's been officially decided yet, but we would definitely like to release something in 2020.”


“In the meantime, you kept busy with Helenium. How did this project come to be?”

Jelena: “I had lots of drafts and ideas that stylistically couldn't fit in Persona's music, and at some point I have decided to finalize that, and release it as a solo project.”

“With side-projects, we get to see a different side of an artist, compared to what they usually do in their main band (see Auri, My Indigo, or Northward). With Helenium, what side of Jelena are we going to see?”

Jelena: “Helenium is the place where I can just let my ideas and music flow freely, without worrying about genre, form or will it be sufficiently commercial or not. I'm pretty interested in the mind and psychology, self-reflection as well, so lyrics wise, it might go into direction of some metaphorical descriptions of inner states. Musically wise, I have to be honest that I have no idea what will come out :). I can only say for sure that the piano will always be the ground on which I created, but where it would go from there – we'll see in the next EP or album :D. I would also like to make it more than a one-person project and have some guest musicians in it.”


“When I heard the name ‘Helenium’ I thought about Greek culture (the Hellenistic period). What does the word helenium mean to you?”

Jelena: “When I see ‘Helenium’, I imagine a kingdom and some kind of magical world. The word certainly has roots in Greek language and must be in a way related to the Sun and sunlight (sun god Helios) and to the name Helena and Helen as well. My name is actually a Slavic version of that name – Jelena. There's also a flower named Helenium, but I didn’t have that in mind when choosing the name.”


“Why was it chosen as the name of this project?”

Jelena: “I could relate to it because of the connection to my name, its connection to the light and since I wanted to create some kind of a special and only my musical world, I just felt that it fits.”

“The EP is inspired by the natural elements of our world, hence the title “The Elements”. What are some of the themes presented in the songs? Can you talk about one in particular?”

Jelena: “The idea to make the songs about the elements came to me while I was still composing, so I haven't decided that beforehand. Though they are the natural elements, I focused a lot more on their symbolic and hidden meaning than on what they actually present in everyday life. I can say a little about each one of them because there are only five. In ‘Beyond the Stars (Aether)’ I described a moment of meditation, self-reflection, letting go of thoughts and arriving to a place where one achieves complete clarity and understanding of oneself and the world. ‘Fly (Air)’ brings a breath of freshness and lightness, encourages to let go of negative patterns and have courage to go forward without fear. ‘Innocence (Water)’ reminds that female and male principle have and will always belong together in a balance, and that rejecting one or the other can only bring unhappiness. In this case, it's female principle (water) who sings to male principle. ‘In Flames (Fire)’ brings a lot of energy, it fuels inspiration and passion, but this song also warns about the destructive effect that fire can have if one decides to give in to it without any restraints and thinking about consequences. That’s all in a figurative sense of course, and the interpretation can be completely individual. ‘From the Ashes (Earth)’ is basically about the cycle of life, about things that die but then are born again in a different form, but in a very metaphorical way (I love metaphors, what can I do ;)).”


“In terms of musical style, I see it as a mixture of ambiental and acoustic music. What made this style the perfect outlet for your creativity?”

Jelena: “Must be the fact that I use the piano as the main composing instrument, I guess it's bound to go in this ambiental/acoustic direction.”

“You have released a music video for the song ‘From the Ashes (Earth)’. How does the video tie in with the overall theme of the EP?”

Jelena: “This is the song for which I had the clearest idea when it came to the music video, so I decided to just go for it. Since it's about the element of earth, the shots in the nature should show the connection with the element, and from there, with the whole EP.”


“Will there be another video?”

Jelena: “I would love to make another one, but it depends on time and most of all, on budget. I have some ideas for ‘In Flames’, but I don't know if I'll be able to realize them or not.”

“What is your favorite song from the EP, and why?”

Jelena: “It's really difficult to say and it changes with time :). It mostly depends on my mental and emotional state which one I'll favor. Currently I enjoy the most ‘Beyond the Stars’.”


“What do you think is the unique selling point of the EP?”

Jelena: “I am a completely wrong person to be asked that since I didn't have any particular commercial idea when I decided to make this project (except the fact that I wanted it professionally done). I don't even know the market very well and I'm not sure that I'm able to look at my music from a distance with a merchant's eye ;). For now, I’m only planning to share it as much as I can through social media and hope it reaches people who will enjoy it.”


“Which song was the easiest / hardest to write?”

Jelena: “I gave them time to mature, so I didn't feel any of them particularly difficult to shape. What I found a bit tricky because I've never done it before is composing percussion. But I'm happy with the result.”  


“Generally, the artwork is the visual representation of the music. Do you feel this is true when it comes to Helenium? Who created it?”

Jelena: “The artwork perfectly describes the EP, also corresponds to Helenium and I'm really happy with the result. It's made by the talented and professional Gustavo Sazes ( Facebook & Facebook Page).

Working with him was a huge pleasure, because he's also a very nice person.” 


“How pleased are you with the end-result? Is this what you envisioned when you started creating the music for Helenium?”

Jelena:  “Already replied in the previous question :).”


“Is Helenium a studio project or will we see it on stage someday?”

Jelena: “Hopefully all the music I created and will create with Helenium will someday also be performed on stage, but I would love to have real musicians playing it and not a backing track, so I think it will take time until that becomes possible.”

“How would you continue the sentence ‘Music is…’?”

Jelena: “ ‘Music is my life’ :D Might sound cheesy but it's really the first thing that came to my mind ;)”


“What are your goals and ambitions in life, both personally and professionally?”

Jelena: “Professionally: to continue to make more music, both with Persona and Helenium, and maybe some new projects will come along as well because I love collaborating with other musicians. Personally: improving myself on every level, every day :).”

“And finally the last question, do you have any kind of life advice for our readers & us?”

Jelena:  “Here I'd quote 2nd verse from Persona's ‘The Seeress of Triumph’:


You are the ruler of your thoughts,

You are the master of your deeds,

You have the power to decide and forge your beliefs!

Nothing's engraved and cast in stone,

Predestined roads can be transformed...

Your own awareness shapes your destiny!


I wrote the lyrics, so I hope it still counts as an advice :). Thank you for the great interview, Andrea!”

On this note, I want to say a big ‘thank you’ from my part to Jelena, for this wonderful piece of advice, that we should keep in mind more often, and for taking time out of her busy schedule to do this interview. Really looking forward to more music from Persona and Helenium. For more info, follow her online at:


Official Facebook  | Official Instagram  |  
Helenium   | Persona


Review for Helenium’s EP “The Elements can be read at this link


Find Helenium’s EP online on:

Bandcamp (Physical and Digital)

iTunes (Digital)

Apple Music (Digital)

Spotify (Digital)

Deezer (Digital)

Amazon music (Digital)

Google Play Music (Digital)

Tidal (Digital)

Napster (Digital)


By Andrea

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