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Indie Music interview 2018

Congratulations on the release of your new album, ‘Demon, I’. What is the concept or theme?

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I guess you could say that the theme of Demon, I is female anger. During my 30 years in the music industry I have become an angry person. Born of the frustrations and limitations that society has put on me as a woman, through everyday life, music and glass ceilings. Still, 30 years on, I am still hearing and seeing the same shit from the music industry. Still, we have an enormous gender imbalance across the major festivals. Again, and again in the industry, women are still restricted to certain genres. Punk, pop or country. Music is a culture dominated by men. It’s the nature of the Beast. Women across all of the industry are constantly being compared to one another – they are either covering up too much or not showing enough flesh. The industry is a challenging environment and the pressure on women to conform to an image of being beautiful and sexy can be crushing. Reasons I’m angry… Sexism, Ageism… Why should I be told that I am too old to be in the music business?! FUCK OFF! You have no age limits on men. Again we have a double standard situation. 

Describe the genre of the album, which has been described as PUNK-EDM, and why you chose that instead of rock.

I chose PUNK-EDM because I felt that it best described what you are listening too. Rock wasn’t right because The Electric Temple doesn’t even have a guitarist in the band. The EDM part is obvious – Electronic Dance Music. The PUNK side of it is more down to the feeling and sentiment. My lyrics are anti establishment, anarchistic and in your face. I promote ‘individual freedom’ to a loud, fast moving and aggressive music. I fucking love it! Let’s be honest for a minute. The soundtrack of life has become so safe, so tame. I’m here to balance up the scales. I am the black to you white, I am the evil to your good and I am the honesty to your lies. I love this job! Let’s just say I get up with a spring in my step every morning! 

How specifically has The Prodigy, Knife Party, Infected Mushroom, Tool, and Skunk Anasie influenced you in this style (PUNK-EDM)?

I guess they have all influenced me in many ways. One of the main ones I would say is that they are very individual. They have been true to their music creations and I have loved being moved by them. I go raving quite a bit now and I’m really into Dr Trippington. Absolutely, mind slamming shit that he does. I am constantly amazed at what he comes up with. My music is a result of the melting pot of many bands and sounds over the years. There are no rules. Just make what feels right.
 
 

What is the concept of your new music video for Demon, I? Did you direct and/or produce it?

I think that you might be on about ‘Headmonsters’ on the Demon, I EP. I wrote ‘Headmonsters’ as a metaphor for the ‘period hell’ many women go through every month. It can be a debilitating, life crippling, chaotic hormone hell. The problem is that you can never get out of it – you always have to go through it. Every fucking time. Every fucking month. It also reflects the lack of empathy society has for a woman on her period. People know you’re going through hell and yet they torture you on top of it. Some days we still live in the dark ages. I blame religious people who say that we’re Unclean, Dangerous and Dirty at that time of the month. Fuck ‘em. It’s a joint effort on the video front. Most of my videos simply mirror what I’m singing about. We will both produce and direct the video. Harking back to the Punk ethic, the DIY ethic branches into our commune. People who are not outwardly involved in the music control the Art Attack Agency and Boudicca Records. Without everyone I’d not be able to concentrate fully on what I do! 

Explain your production process.

The first thing I concentrate on is deciding on what the content will be. As mentioned, I like to mirror what I’m singing about in my songs so the core message comes pretty easily. I am not about capturing my beauty or serenity in a video. I am about giving you the real person. I don’t care if I look ugly or frightening in my videos. That’s where I live. I like it to be honest, close to the bone, dirty, grimy and dark. Once that’s all sorted we’ll figure out what kind of backdrop we want for the whole look. Source that, book it, shoot the video, cut and voila… put it up on Youtube. 

You’re a critically acclaimed vocalist described as having a rock operatic style. How did you develop this style? Was it through vocal training or does it come naturally?

To be honest… I’m not sure how I developed my style. I have never had any vocal training. I actually don’t believe in it – I believe that you can generate psychosymatic tensions and problems by telling someone how they ‘should’ be singing and exercising. The voice is a different animal to say learning guitar. You play the guitar through your fingers but with the voice it’s you that’s playing you. It’s weird if you think about it. When I’m touring I DO NOT drink. I have never smoked. And, you’ll love this one… to warm up before I go on stage I drink hot tea. I only really got the deep end of my voice after I had glandular fever. Singing again after that illness was like starting again. And just like learning to walk you learn what you can and can’t do with your voice. I learnt at that point that I must step slightly out of my body to sing so as not to hurt myself. Sounds weird but if I just got up on stage, without changing my head, and sung I could really do some damage. Especially if I had been wound up or upset. Your mind fixates on your vocals and tries it’s damned best to sabotage them. That’s where KROW was born. She’s great – she goes one further for me – she takes any upset I have or unease – grabs it by the balls and crushes it. She drags me on stage, subjects me to loud aggressive music, sings that shit out and I always come off stage with so much energy! I love hanging out with her! 

At the Wacken Festival in Germany you headlined over Motorhead. How did that make you feel?

Absolutely fantastic! Who wouldn't!

Explain how you created the choreography for your stage show. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Just as in the video production side, I draw the ideas from the lyrics and music. If I am singing about the hormonal anger that I and most other women experience every month then show wise I will insert a costume change. The costume I usually wear for that is my white dress with blood on. It’s still taboo. Let’s get it out! Up front and in everyone’s faces. Half of the world is made up of women and the world needs to wake up! Advertising agencies need to stop using blue water to represent blood on a period pad advert. Grow the fuck up!   I’ll also insert a costume change for my ‘witchy’ songs. Here I’ll change into a black hooded cloak. And the choreography will be darker.    

What kind of experience can an audience expect and/or what do you want them to experience during your concerts?

If you go to a KROW concert I can absolutely guarantee that you won’t have seen anything like it. Female anger set to loud aggressive music isn’t what the music industry has been promoting over the years. I can also guarantee that if you have had a shit week yourself, or you’re just looking for a bit of honesty in the sea of fake, your soul will love you. You’ll be totally uplifted. 

In a recent online interview you said that you would meet the challenges of the male dominated music industry better now as compared to when you were a young woman in Rockbitch and MT-TV.  Explain what those challenges are and how you would take them on.

After you have been in the business of anything for 30 years you are going to be so much better than when you started. When I was younger, I was in the process of learning my craft. And, again like any other job you would be finding your feet as you go. When I was younger I was subjected to full on sexism within the industry. I have been patted on the head for doing a good job. I have been refused payment for a concert because they felt that they should pay a man instead. The best insult I’ve ever had was when an agency booker asked our manager if he had trained them (the girls) – like we were fucking dogs! When I look back all I can say is WOW! WTF! Now if that happens to me, trust me, the handbag is hitting the floor and you’re getting a fucking punch in face! Now, I am no longer frightened. I am just angry. I’m perimenopausal and pissed off and NO ONE tells me what to do. 

For the back cover photo of the album, temporary tattoos were placed all over your body. What did they represent for you in the photo?

For me the tattoos represented the magic that a woman holds within. A woman understands life and death so much more than a man. Most of the understanding comes from a woman being plugged into the life cycle through periods. Every month  and we flush an egg down the toilet. We ‘manage’ the spontaneous blood flow from the body. Life carries on and the cycle happens again. The church has demonised women because of this. We have become Unclean, Dirty and Evil in their eyes. The church planted these thoughts so deep in society that we turned on our own wise women and burnt them in the witch burnings. Other religions will curb a woman through Female Genital Mutilation. The unwanted personal attention from religion, to keep women in their place can become oppressive. I guess I just wanted to externalise the beauty that I see in a woman. The tattoos are of flowers, leaves and geometric designs. In modern life put those on a guy and he’s cool. Put them on me and I’m still a weird, disturbing, crazed person in most peoples minds. I can’t ‘win’ being a woman but I can be true to the power have inside. 

What made you decide to return to creating new music after an 8 year hiatus?

The 8 year hiatus wasn’t a set time – that’s just how long it took me to get back on my feet. I have to take you back a bit to 2002 when Rockbitch stopped gigging. We were en-route to a gig I Sheffield when the phone rang and we were informed that the council had put massive pressure on the venue and that the gig would not be going ahead. This had been happening to Rockbitch for quite some time. We called it the ‘last minute cancellation’ tactic. This inflicted maximum financial damage to us because we were already travelled the half of England. You must understand that at this point we were only allowed to do music shows to an 18+ audience. We had lost 44 dates of a tour, and 20 dates of another tour using these ‘tactics’. With that financial loss combined with the abuse from the press we called it a day. We could no longer make a living.   We lived in a commune, still do, and we decided just to turn inwards and love one another. We ventured out to the States for 3 years under the name of MT-TV. We had a great time but were really aware that we couldn’t accept the green cards because it was all a little bit too religious. Jump to Scotland 2008. We basically took time to have some down time. In 2012, Jo our drummer died of inflammatory breast cancer – she wasn’t even 40! That there was some harsh shit. One of us had died. It was a hard time for everyone. Music was definitely the furthest from our minds. I started writing again about 2014 but to be honest listening back over the Rockbitch/MT-TV material was just so fucking painful. I couldn’t really go there. I needed something new. Something loud, fast and fun. That’s when KROW and The Electric Temple were born.
 

You gave up singing for 5-6 years after the death of Rockbitch drummer Jo Heely from breast cancer. Describe how it felt to go back to singing several years later. Had your voice changed? Had it affected any aspect of your vocals (range, delivery, etc.)?

As I mentioned just before, Jo’s death was really heavy on everyone. She was our partner in crime. Mandy, our bass player left the commune and gave up bass guitar. It was all too much for her. Everyone dealt with it differently. I didn’t really sing that much over that time. It just wasn’t there and I was going to respect that. I had fun working on some covers for a Xmas party we had. That’s Life, Summertime, A Wonderful World. That’s when I really started to miss singing and I gently worked my way back into it.   My voice didn’t really suffer from not singing. Just like a dusty bell. It might be dusty but it still sounds the same. I guess I’m lucky in that sense. 

How do you think women artists in the indie music industry can be supported?

I think that’s a hard question. It’s really hard for women to be supported in the music industry unless they largely fit into a pop, country or punk genre. Even within those genres the fight is still hard. So, to step out and do something ‘new’ or ‘not the norm’ is almost suicide. It’s like shooting yourself in the foot before a race. We do need the industry to change but I’m not sure that you can teach an old dog new tricks. In truth I don’t expect support from anyone when I go out. I actually don’t care what people think about my music or stageshow, and that’s because I have written the music for myself. I’m not trying to write the next pop hit before my tits go south. I’m writing the music for me to enjoy when I’m out of my gourd. I own my anger and I own my honesty. Other female bands need to do the same. Don’t expect anything from the music industry and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when someone gives you a hand. You’ll enjoy it all so much more. 

What advice would you give to women thinking of or currently pursuing a career in music?

I’ve been asked this question a few times and I’ll answer it in the same way. The advice I would give to young female musicians is make sure it’s something you really want to do before getting into it. It’s a tough climb and not for the faint hearted. The first thing to work on is being comfortable in yourself – you will absolutely will be dragged over the coals and being at one with yourself will really help you at that point. If you’re going to form a band, get rid of the shit negative people who kill the band spirit. They can take years off your life getting in the way of an otherwise fun time. Get involved with true like minds. Happy but driven people, with enthusiasm and a good work ethic. Lastly! Have fun doing it all! 

What are your tour plans for 2018?

I’m just wrapping up the beginning of this years touring. I still have a few dates in June and July. Then I get time off. Yay! Back to the grind stone late autumn. I always love being on the road. In some weird way I find it quite romantic. 

What other projects are you working on for 2018?

Later in 2018 we have another tour coming up. The agency is just sorting that out now. I also have other plans in the pipeline but I really have to keep them under my hat! They’ll kill me if I let it out! LOL!