INTERVIEW: Guitar and Bass Goddess Sonia Anubis of Burning Witches and Ursinne

Sonia "Anubis" Nusselder has achieved more in her short 20 years of life than most metal-heads ever achieve in a lifetime. A self taught guitarist and bass player, she is not only lead guitar in the Swiss metal band Burning Witches but she also plays bass in Ursinne and has a death metal band called Sepiroth. She already has done so much with a lifetime ahead of her. We had to get to know her better and get advice for being a young woman in heavy metal!

Start with telling us what it was like growing up in the Netherlands. How did you get into metal?

I actually did partly grow up in Spain, later on I moved to the Netherlands. Moving to another country to start high school was very difficult, since my dutch speaking was very bad and the culture was very different. I didn’t like school at all! Discovered metal after being obsessed with hard rock bands such as KISS and WASP. When I first heard of thrash metal bands such as Megadeth or Anthrax, it blew my mind and I kept looking for new metal bands to listen to every day.

Tell us about how you started playing guitar and bass. Did you have teachers or are you self-taught? What is your set-up like with Burning Witches?

I started playing bass after being inspired by Gene Simmons from KISS, his 70’s demonic stage persona, fire breathing and epic bass slides made me want to pick the badass low end. I have had 1 years of bass lessons. A year later I decided to pick up de guitar too. With the guitar I am self-taught. With Burning Witches I play a Jackson Warrior WRXMJ with active EMG81 and EMG85 pickups, as amp I have a Kemper Profiler in which I use Diezel amp profiles.

How did you meet the band? Was it hard to step into a lineup that had already been established?

Burning Witches manager Schmier from Destruction sent me a message through Facebook asking if I had interest in doing audition for the band, I couldn’t almost believe it, it’s was an incredible chance for me. So a week after that I flew to Switzerland and jammed with the band!

The girls in the band and the people helping the band are one big family, being picking guitarist in a band for the first time instead of fingering bass player was a big challenge for me since I consider it to be 2 very different instruments, I did only played electric guitar sitting before I joined them, haha. Thankfully I got the chance to learn a lot since I got many support and become a better guitarist in a band.

Sonia with David Ingram

You have worked with some pretty amazing artist like Schmier, Johnny Pettersson and Dave Ingram. How great does it feel to have the respect from such legendary names in metal? Can you talk about how you got involved with Ursinne?

It’s a big honour to work with great musicians, before I knew them I looked up to them and now being able to talk to them as friends and/or collaborate in music is a dream come true.

David Ingram asked me if I was interested to join Ursinne!

Who do you look up to in terms of other female guitar and bass players?

When it comes to female guitarists, my current favourite is Nili Brosh. She is so extremely technically skilled on the guitar… super shredder! I hope I can ever play that tight.

My favourite female bass players are Tal Wilkenfeld and Jo Bench. Jo has a great sense of groove in death metal and Tal is very smooth and creative with her basslines, she’s legendary!

Burning Witches are an extremely talented and experienced band with beautiful women in it. Do your male counterparts treat you as equals or do you face sexism issues?

We have a lot of great people supporting us and treat us equally as it should, but of course there are always rotten apples. We are just 5 girls who want to play heavy metal and gender is not important for that!

You have been able to tour with some incredible bands. Who has been your favorite? Do you have any good tour stories?

As musician in a band I toured twice, once as headlining act and once with Grave Digger, i’d say the tour with Grave Digger was my favorite since it was my first Europe tour ever and we had a big enthusiastic crowd every day, it was amazing!

My favorite part of the Europe tour was the pre-show ritual. We have the banana ritual in which we say the word banana in many different voice tones, also we play the Taki Taki song.

What was the first festival you played? What did it feel like to play in front of so many people?

The first big festival that I played was Bang Your Head 2018 with Burning Witches. It’s was a mind-blowing first experience, and I couldn’t believe so many people where in front of us. I can’t wait to experience it many times more this year.

You are still so young and you have achieved so much already. What are your future goals?

I have way too many things that I would like to reach… But mostly to become a better musician, release more music with my bands and as solo-artist, have a custom or signature guitar and bass guitar, share the stage or musically collaborate with my music hero’s. Make music my full-time occupation in life!

What advice can you give other female guitar players who are just starting out?

Don't EVER let anyone tell you that you’re limited in your capabilities regardless of your gender, race or ethnicity! And don’t give up. Give yourself the time to think when you learn something, rushing will only make you more tense! I believe the more you play the guitar the more fun it gets!

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