Interview ~ MilitiA Vox

MilitiA Vox, a/k/a MilitiA, is a strong, determined and outspoken woman determined to succeed on her own terms without having to dilute or compromise her dream and vision in the process. It may not be the easiest road travelled, but those with integrity know that before they set foot down that path. At one point, she was in front of the cameras as a VJ and music/style expert for FUSE, Much Music USA, MTV2 and VH1. She’s also received praise from critics and fans alike for her work in Swear on Your Life as well as in Judas Priestess, an all-female tribute to Judas Priest. She’s a stunning woman, both visually and sonically, and she recently released the first taste of her upcoming album The Villainess (due out in 2016) in the form of the song ”VOW.” It is part two of a concept album and the follow-up to 2014’s Bait. I sat down with the intriguing power house for what ended up being one of the most insightful and fascinating conversations that I’ve ever had and trust me; I’ve done hundreds of interviews over the years.

I remember reading something not too long ago that you were working on a new album; what can you tell us about that?

MilitiA: This album is a two part album and it’s kind of kooky because I had said that I only wanted to make EPs and singles from now until the end of my life and I ended up making a two part concept record.

Oh well, so much for sticking to a plan!

I know, right? I felt like it was important for me to make these statements now and it should all go together. I felt that it was important to but the bow on them and wrap them together. I made the first album, Bait, to kind of reel people in because I was often criticized in the past for not putting covers with my original music. You know, people love a cover! I decided I was going to get all of my covers out of the way, so that first album was all covers to get people hooked. It was also a way to introduce this new sound that I’m doing because this is actually first real solo effort ever because I had always been in bands. So, it was kind of mandatory to tell all of those people, you know all of that stuff that you heard before? Well, this is going to be very different. I guess it also a warning in a way too to get people used to this new sound that I feel I’ve always been desperate to make happen.

So, what is this new that keep referring to?

The sound is very cinematic, very dark and heavy, but it also has contrasting moments of really beautiful light with haunting textures to it. I’m all about the contrast and creating sounds that aren’t often used in heavy music. It was very important to me to revamp the idea of what heavy music is in modern times. There are a lot of people who might say that rock music and heavy music aren’t that popular anymore because it never really evolved past the 90s. I don’t like that statement and I think it’s time to think out of the box when it comes to heavy music nowadays. It was really important to me to make the album sound like modern metal, whatever that means, and incorporating things that aren’t necessarily traditionally associated with metal and heavy music. So, that album came out in Halloween of last year and the initial plan was to do the second half on Halloween of this year. It’s taken me a year to do the second part and because if the Pisces energy in me, I don’t like to do things the easy way. I guess I like to swim upstream and against the grain.

Well, it’s never much fun travelling the easy road.

That is so true! On this second album, I was able to sonically create the textures that I wanted to go for and I really stretched myself as an arranger and a songwriter. This time out, I was responsible for every single note and texture that’s on the album. I have very specific ideas of what I want and now I am spoiled by doing this solo and I just love not answering to anybody (laughs). I really wanted to make something that hasn’t really existed before by literally creating sounds from scratch and that’s so exciting to me. I hear in my head very specifically the sounds that I want; let’s not even talk about when I’m not able to get those sounds and what that feels like for me or the poor people around me who have to deal with me (laughs). It’s very important to me at this point in my life to make a sonic footprint because I just want to make something that hasn’t been made before, like how do you have an example of something if it’s never existed before? This type of approach really hasn’t existed before and I guess the closest thing that would come to it might be film scoring.

Is there any way to describe that?

Some of the songs tend to have strange intros because I like to make sonic ear candy or headphone candy so people can trip to it and I think you being a headphone person yourself can relate to that yourself.

What was it that made you decide to go down this path?

I had no choice; it’s all the things that I like to put into music and words and sonic textures. I was finding myself becoming very unsatisfied with what’s out there right now. As a singer, unless you’re like Elton John and have Bernie Taupin feeding you lyrics and they make sense to you, I find it much more gratifying when it comes out of my guts. It’s more exciting and exhilarating because I guess I know how to offer it to the world; it’s another form of communicating who I am and how I see the world.

There’s seems to be a lot of style over substance today and it lacks a lot of depth to it.

I find that a lot of artists today who are so desperate to make money off their music that they’re scared to say what they’re really thinking or maybe they just want to be front and center on the stage and have people looking at them.

Why do you think they’re scared to say what they really think?

It might be a scary place for them if they actually dive down deep and write about it. People are layered and if you probe deep down into their soul, they may be afraid that you’ll see that there’s not really that much there. Maybe, there is a lot there and they’ve just been used to covering it up so long that it’s scary to admit what’s down there. That’s why we end up having so many copycats out there instead of artists willing to expose their souls. Here in New York, there are so many bands who are attempting to recreate Pantera and all of their songs sound like them and they will even throw in a Pantera cover into their sets. Don’t get me wrong; I love Pantera, but I’m more interested in doing something original that hasn’t been done before.

That topic came up in a recent interview about how the industry seems to want that immediate return and they aren’t investing time into these up and coming artists and they’re not really looking to sign the next Beatles or U2.

In a way, I kind of blame the hair metal bands and the grunge bands, even though I love that music. In business terms, when you have a band like Nirvana selling ridiculous amounts of albums and at the height of their popularity the singer kills himself. The A&R and label people question why they should even invest in the tortured artist anymore or the artist with drug problems anymore? They’re going to invest in this little fifteen year old girl who is singing to other fifteen year old girls. She’ll grow up and those other little girls will grow up and continue to buy her shit. So, you have this influx of the Britney Spears and the Christina Aguileras and all that shit because people on the business side of things see an investment that they can get behind. This little girl is a fucking a racehorse and this 40 something rocker can’t even get out of the bed in the morning because he’s too fucked up and that’s what happened. The people who had the purse chose to take it to the Katy Perrys, the Rihannas, and the boy bands, take your pick. So, we’re probably going to miss out on some amazing music from those tortured artists and we’re left with mind numbing and painful songs such as “Party in the USA” (laughs).

Excuse me just for a second while I delete that from my iPod (laughs).

A couple of bad apples sabotaged it and ruined it for the bunch. If you were an A&R, who would you be putting your money on? You know, I’ve turned down every record deal that I’ve ever been offered.

Why was that?

I just knew that they didn’t know me and wouldn’t understand what I was doing. After being misunderstood for so many years, you reach a place where you decide that it’s up to me to create my own art so that you do understand.

I’m sure that hasn’t been as easy road because you don’t fit the mold of what they would expect out of you.

Yeah, I’m a bi-racial female who grew up in rural Maryland and liking rock music, I thought I was the only one. I definitely felt like an outsider and felt unusual for liking the music that I do. Now, thanks to the internet and things like YouTube, I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of people out there like me. There are a lot of “only ones” all across the planet. A key part of the Afro-Punk festival in Brooklyn that I helped launch was a lot of these “only ones” getting together and having a great time celebrating music and now the festival is global. Who knows how that would have happened if it wasn’t for the internet.

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I meant to ask you earlier if you were still working on the new album or is it completed?

Yeah, it’s completed and it’s in the can and I’m figuring the best way to release it. In the internet age, you can just release stuff immediately without a label and have it out there, but I find that to be somewhat of a disservice.

How so?

It’s like the saying about if a tree falls in the forest, you know? I think it’s important to do the pushes before it comes out so that it doesn’t just come out as a whisper and it’s more like a stick of dynamite.  I want to release it at the right time and when people are really paying attention and people are definitely not paying attention during the holidays.

So, your live shows between now and then are you as a solo artist?

Yeah, the upcoming shows are very exciting and all of that information is on my website. I’m not really seeking out gigs; I’m letting them come to me instead. I’m kind of being vampire and only going to places where I’m invited; I’m not forcing myself on anyone (laughs). This solo project has been going on for about a year and a half it’s been going great; so far the calendar’s been pretty full.

Ok, I know this can be somewhat of a typical question, but I always love to hear the responses to it. What were some of the albums that influenced you?

I’d have to say the number one album would be Nine Inch nails The Downward Spiral and that was the first album that I bought multiple copies of because I kept wearing it out. That was first time that music made me feel excited, afraid and turned on at once. I loved its abrasiveness and its soft and beautiful moments; I don’t think Reznor gets the credit that he deserves as a songwriter. That’s the album that everyone’s favorite stripper dancing to in the early 90s. Number two would be Alice in Chains Dirt and probably tied for number one with NIN. That’s a go to album for me and another band where people talk about how heavy they are, but their harmonies are so beautiful. Their subject matter was also really deep and dark, but also contrasted by these moments of soft beauty. Another would be Babes in Toyland’s Fontanelle which was something I listened to everyday in my pre-teens. It was the first time that I heard females screaming and yelling while aggressively playing in a way that should seem very masculine, but yet it was still very feminine. I could tie that one with an L7 album like Hungry for Stink; hearing those girls play in such a non-feminine aggressive way and singing what they really think; it just hadn’t been done before. The fifth album would probably be Judas Priest British Steel tied. I kind of grew up in this bubble and was playing classical music at the time and a guy friend of mine introduced me to Metallica and to me it was the greatest thing that I had ever heard. Listening to Master of Puppets for the first time was my ultimate life changing moment. I put British Steel on as its partner and I remember seeing it in Columbia House and I got the album based off of its cover because I thought it was so cool. I remember getting it and putting it on and the first few seconds of “Rapid Fire” opened up a whole new world for me. It was fast and heavy and the lyrics were like poetry, almost Shakespearian. I think Rob Halford is another one of those people who don’t get enough credit for being a brilliant wordsmith.

Well, this has definitely been a very insightful conversation and probably one of the best that I’ve had this year, so thank you so very much.

I’ve enjoyed it as well! I want everyone to be on the lookout for my new album in 2016 and they can go to my website and sign up for my mailing list to up to date on my touring dates and all sorts of news.

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