Persona is a female-fronted newcomer from Tunisia that has just released its debut album. In order to find out more about this upcoming new band, Grande Rock got in touch with the vocalist & composer Jelena Dobric. Read below what the beautiful singer told us…
Persona band pic
Hi Jelena and welcome to Grande Rock. Do give us brief bio of Persona at first.
J: Hi Thanos! Thank you so much for this interview. Persona started in 2012, first as a project between Melik (lead guitarist) and me (Jelena – vocals). We were first experimenting and composing for fun, but eventually decided to form an actual band. Yosri (guitars) joined soon afterwards, followed by our drummer Youssef, then Walid (keyboard) and Nesrine (bass), who is the newest band member. Now we’re a 6 piece metal band, currently situated in Tunisia.
If I’m not mistaken you are from Serbia, right? How did you get to Tunisia and the whole thing with the band started? Did the band first take its form in Serbia?
J: You’re right, I’m from Serbia. Melik and I met there some 5 years ago, and a year later I decided to move to Tunisia. Our project together started soon after that, so our beginning as a band was here, not in Serbia.
Is there much of a rock/metal scene in Tunisia? How easy or not was it is for a rock /metal band to be in Tunisia and try to reach a wider audience in Europe or in the US?
J: It’s not very easy starting and managing a metal band from here, because we lack all conditions that are considered normal in Europe and US. There are no labels, recording studios or producers that specialize in rock/metal, there are no festivals, and there’s a serious lack of venues where concerts for this kind of music could be held. The metal scene exists despite of all that, but it needs to grow and develop more, especially because there’s a demand and audience for it. Reaching a wider audience outside of Tunisia is now easier because of the internet, but not quite simple because of so many bands out there.
How did you come up with the name Persona? Are you aware that there are a few other bands with the same name?
J: I love psychology, and in our case Persona refers to the psychological concept of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung. He explains Persona as personality that one displays in public, as opposed to inner self, a kind of “mask” that one wears in everyday life, which helps in interaction with other people and conceals one’s true thoughts and feelings when necessary. We chose it because it’s what we experience when we compose and perform on stage: each song must be given its particular identity and therefore we must go through different emotions and states of mind that sometimes don’t really represent how we feel in that particular moment. Of course we’re aware that there are bands with the same name, but considering how difficult it is to find a super original name these days (and a name that means something to you as well), I just chose to go with a meaning and not with weird words, weird spelling or weird sentences just for the sake of not having the same name as another band.
Which are the band’s influences and which are your personal ones?
J: Our influences are quite diverse; Melik prefers thrash, death and heavy metal (Metallica, Megadeth, Death, Pantera, Led Zeppelin). Yosri is more progressive/djent (Opeth, Tesseract). Nesrine, Walid and I all love classical music, but Nesrine’s more into gothic/symphonic metal (Nightwish, Xandria, Tristania), Walid into symphonic (Nightwish, Epica, Within Temptation) and I mostly prefer progressive/power (Dream Theater, Kamelot, Myrath, Leprous). Our drummer Youssef loves everything with rich and complicated drum work (I think Mike Portnoy is one of his absolute favorites). But besides metal we all listen to many different kinds of music, personally I love jazz, progressive rock and classical music.
What are the “Elusive Reflections”? Is there a hidden message behind the album’s title?
J: “Elusive Reflections” stands for the conflict and duality within human nature that sometimes distort how we perceive the world and ourselves.
What does the cover artwork with the lady in black (you), the ravens and her reflections in the mirrors symbolize?
J: The artwork is connected with the album title. Ravens symbolize challenges that we face with in life. You noticed that the reflection in the mirror is not the same as the “reality” before it, and symbolizes our fears and how we often see and understand things differently than they really are, and how everything we must face in life sometimes seems more complex than it really is.
Do give us a hint about each track…
J: I’m guessing you’d like me to say what these songs are about? Here we go:
“Somebody Else”: Stay genuine, stay yourself…
“Blinded”: Realization and reflection after an abusive relationship, thinking of revenge…
“Forgotten”: Don’t let yourself to be restricted with any kind of fear, follow your dreams…
“Halley”: Being stuck in a relationship that doesn’t work anymore.
“Ageless”: Coping with the loss of a loved one who’s departed…
“Torn”: Realization of conflicts within ourselves and trying to figure them out.
“Monsters”: Thoughts after experience with dishonest and deceitful people.
“He Kills Me More”: Being in an abusive relationship and feeling confused and lost…
“Persona”: Hurt and realization after trying to change for the sake of others and go against one’s real nature.
“The Sea of Fallen Stars”: A legend! smiley
Where did the recording of the album take place and who did the mix, the production and the mastering?
J: We recorded all tracks at home and then sent them to Slab Studio in France, where they have been re-amped and mixed by Gwen Kerjan.
Do you have in mind to locate in Europe or the US at some point? Do you think that the place matters when it comes to music?
J: Europe would certainly be a better place strategically, especially because of festivals and touring. Distribution of physical media is also a lot more developed in Europe than here and there’s a lot more demand. Considering those things, place matters and it can make some things a lot easier for a band. We don’t have concrete plan to relocate in the near future, but it might happen when being here becomes a serious obstacle to our progress.
The video for “Blinded” has more than 200k views and counting! That’s a great achievement for an independent newcomer. Do you plan to release any other video at some point? If yes, for which one of the tracks?
J: Thank you! We’re very pleased we reached out to so many people and got such positive reactions! More than one music video are currently in preparation process, but I think the first one after “Blinded” will be the video for “Somebody Else”.
Do you have any touring plans? Any live shows that will take place in the coming months?
J: We just finished a series of five concerts here in Tunis, as a part of our album promotion. Now we’re getting ready for the official worldwide Hard Rock Café competition that will take place in Sousse (Tunisia). Wish us luck! Besides that, we’re planning more concerts in Tunisia during the Summer and hopefully some gigs abroad in Fall and Winter.
How would you describe your band’s music style to someone that hasn’t heard of you before?
J: Since you have seen how diverse our influences are, our music is a mix of symphonic, power, heavy, thrash and maybe some progressive metal, where you can hear some classical music influences too. No opera singing.
What are the expectations from “Elusive Reflections” and what do you wish to achieve with Persona in long term?
J: This was only our debut album and it’s an introduction to everything we plan to do in the future. We’ll continue making more music and we’ll do our best to share that with as many people as possible, especially by playing live concerts.

Time for our “weird questions”!!! Which one of the Goddesses from the ancient Pantheon would you like to be and why?
J: I guess I’d rather be one of the Muses. Euterpe of course! wink
Top 3 horror movies of any era?
J: “A Tale of Two Sisters” (2003), “Ringu” (1998) and “Poltergeist” (1982).
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
J: A thought like that have never crossed my mind, but let’s say “Damnation” from Opeth.
What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
J: Consumerism is absolutely the worst (but that’s what rules today’s world in general). It also comes with lack of good taste (it’s subjective I know), lack of genuine personal expression and demand to sound and look like something already heard and seen.
Which do you consider to be the best female vocalist in music history?
J: In the entire music history?! Rather difficult to choose, the first one that comes to mind is Kate Bush, because she’s one of my favorite female vocalists.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
J: It’s impossible to choose only one album that is absolutely perfect, so it must be a ‘best of’ compilation. For me that’s Queen and their “The Platinum Collection” album (2000).
Fill in the phrase… “Female fronted rock/metal bands wouldn’t have evolved the way they did, if it hadn’t been for…”
J: Netherlands…
If you could be any historical person, which one would you be and why?
J: Hahahaha the first one that came to my mind is Buddha! cheeky
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
J: To the future, I’m curious to see if we’ll become wiser at some point and avoid the destruction of our home planet.
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms?
J: Arya Stark! smiley
Which one of the Seven Deadly Sins you consider yourself to be?
J: Definitely Wrath…
That’s all for now Jelena. Thx for talking to Grande Rock. Say anything you feel like saying before we close. Take care!
J: Many thanks for this interview Thanos! It was fun and thank you for the opportunity to introduce my band to your readers! Greets from Persona! (i.n.: The pleasure is all mine!)