1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the solo project?
Where to start…? I’ve been playing in bands of various genres since I was a teenager. My main instrument is bass, but I can play drums and guitar well enough. I also used to play piano quite well but I haven’t kept in practice. I came to being in metal bands quite late and quite by accident. Before I had enjoyed listening to some metal, but it wasn’t my main style. I was drafted as a pinch-hitter bass player for a live version of Thy Plagues, which was my former husband’s drum machine solo black metal project. Before that, he and I had played in about five bands together over the years so it was mostly just a convenience for him to have someone reliable to pick up the bass and hit ‘go’ on the drum machine for him. But by playing in that project, it made me fall in love with black metal. Then the person who had been loaning him the drum machine for the BM project asked for it back, so I moved onto drums to continue the project, and it went from being a solo project to a duo and we changed the name to Thrall. Then in 2014, my mum died and my husband didn’t stick around through her death and I finished up being in that band. To say I was pissed off about how it all went would be an understatement. It was fuel to the fire.
So there I was, I was newly single, talking to my friend Dav Byrne, the mixing magician extraordinaire, and mentioned I was looking to join a new band and he put me in touch with Mike. I started playing bass in Mike’s death metal band, Oligarch. Oligarch fucking rules and you should all listen to our 2016 EP, Hypocrisy Oath. Mike and I hit it off big time, and now we have two kids together and live a very solitary life with us and the kids. We like it that way, but it makes it hard to have band practice when one of you has to look after the babies, so Oligarch has only played infrequently since 2017.
Which brings me to Fryktelig Støy: I had joked that I was going to write a solo album and call it Disappointment in my bitterness about my ex-band and former husband – but then I started recording a few songs in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdowns (of which Melbourne suffered through a comedic amount of to become The Most Locked Down City in the World) just to keep the musical fires burning while being a mum, and realised – “oh shit, I think I’m writing the joke album,” which I guess gives you an idea of the kind of sense of humour I have.
From there, it grew quite organically. This is well-trodden ground for me, I’ve been doing solo recordings since the 1990s on my 4-track, and every time I’ve taken a band into the studio, I’ve always watched the engineers really closely – so when I put together my home studio and started recording a few experiments, I got to know what I was doing pretty quickly. I had a couple of false starts, I thought I needed someone else to help me, but every time I reached out to someone, they either said no or flaked out on me. So in the end, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this, I did a tarot reading that just pointed me in my true North: do it all yourself. Dav Byrne came in right at the end and helped me tidy up some of my amateurish mixing and mastered it for me, but it all just came out of the ether through me.
Fryktelig Støy’s first release, Disappointment, is my opening gambit. Musically, I want to capture a human element. I am not interested in making sterile perfect sounds. I remember someone showing me perfectly gated drum waveforms and just thinking 'well, it's geometrically interesting, but aren't we meant to listen with our ears?' Clicking on squares on a grid to make drum beats, or making each hit so perfectly uniform it may as well be a typewriter. Now we have people typing questions into AIs to make paintings, songs and poems. Interesting, but… isn't the whole point about the transmission? Isn’t that what separates art from amusements? Without an artist, is this still really art?
So, Fryktelig Støy is black metal, quite clearly and plainly. But to anyone with an ear for other genres, there’s a number of experimental, doom, ambient influences there for the picking.
Conceptually and lyrically, I want to confront personal violence in a way that is transgressive. I want to come out from where I have been hiding as a female in my bands (up the back in the rhythm section, as opposed to a corseted female metal goddess vocalist type) and be seen a creature of love and creation. I want to talk about the frightening realities of female existence – the likelihood of abuse, assault, trauma, madness, illness – and that both your triumphs and your suffering are likely to be omitted, talked over, claimed by someone else or silenced. Mostly by men, but sometimes by crumb maiden other women too.
I also love concept albums, making a story out of a patchwork of poems, making a symphony out of a collection of three-minute songs.
2.In January you had released your first full length, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style that you went for on the recording?
The way I play solo music is mostly improvised and played only once. I just record and layer sounds. I don’t sit down and think “today I’m going to play in this style” – I have a little ritual I do, burn incense, put some dim lighting on, make a pot of tea, do a tarot reading, and then I play whatever comes. The first riff will usually determine the second. I throw a lot of riffs out. I don’t want to be limited by genre, I am more interested in communicating – emotions, themes, physical sensations. There are whole elements of my voice and music that I haven’t even started using for Fryktelig Støy yet. And maybe never will. The drawing down of willow-de-wisps into musical form is unpredictable.
In saying that, I wanted to bring the patchwork together in a really coherent way, so I used ringing sounds and feedbacky reverb to unify the recording. I also used the historical muses to create a framework that draws it together as a cohesive entity, and I think it works well.
3.A lot of your lyrics cover mythological and historical stories, can you tell us a little bit more about the research you have brought into the song writing?
Each of the songs is a page from my own life, but I found myself reflecting on these classical female characters as I was writing the majority of the lyrics. Not researched, as such – though I am fond of reading and I read widely.
The first song I wrote is the last song on the album, Magdalene. I wrote it in the bus on my way from Baltimore to New York after attending Maryland Death Fest in 2015 and I was stirred to make music again by attending that festival. I had finished my time in my previous band, Thrall, not long before, and I felt so bitter about it all. Judas is the most famous of all betrayers, and I imagined the feeling of standing in Gethsemane, reflecting on the inevitability of demise and the feeling of disappointment that Mary Magdalene must have felt.
Not long after, I penned the Queen of the Wasteland, Bé Chuma, because my former band used to use a lot of TS Elliot inspired lyrics, and The Wasteland is one of his most famous poems. I reflected on the Irish legend of Bé Chuma – in which the wicked queen’s influence causes the land to become barren – revelling in the witchcraft, power and destruction.
Cassandra is a constant reference in my life – professional and personal – I see a lot of very fragile men who dislike the truth-telling women. Speaking truth to power is exhausting, but it is important.
Boudica is obvious. People underestimated her. I felt like people had underestimated me. Like I was done musically because I’d had kids. Nope: I’m gonna sack London.
I then wrote Judith, based on the biblical story of Judith and Holofernes – loved by classical artists for the gore and drama of the climax of the story – but I felt there was always a forgotten element to the story, that Judith was a widow, and mourning her husband when she took on the invading army. The strength and sacrifice of being an oldest child of orphans, I have felt that weight of responsibility to try and be strong for your family but also be dying inside from your own grief. I had greedy people try to disinherit me from my parents’ estates. People think an inheritance is a lottery win, but it’s so much more. It’s our inherited responsibilities, our inherited familial traits, the inheritance of historical and societal roles. It’s not just a gift. It is such a trite, lightweight idea, to think about a loved one’s death as being an opportunity for material gain.
Joan is obviously named for the Maiden of Orleans (which is incidentally my ancestral home), but I didn’t want to talk too much about her story, but more about her madness – to draw the strength that she did, I think on some level you need to be mad. It is the same kind of strength that I think you need to overcome coercive control – hence the Deny Attack Reverse Victim and Offender refrain. I work in a job that’s primarily concerned with child abuse prevention, so I think a lot about family violence and child abuse, and I have experienced men who use violence as a child and an adult, and I wanted to dig into this subject matter for my solo project. It is one of the only true horrors left relatively uncharted in extreme metal (sorry, I don’t think nu metal counts).
Philomela is really complicated. I was married in Japan on a rainy day, and the Japanese translator said “ame futte chikatamaru” which translates as: “when the rain falls, the ground becomes hard.” She told me it meant “if you are married on a rainy day, your marriage will be stable,” like the wet ground will be a firm foundation. I looked up the saying later and it was bullshit, it actually means “adversity builds character.” Which seemed somewhat more fitting a description of my marriage, given hindsight. I remember reading the line “raped children aren’t meant to live, their truth should never be heard” somewhere in an article and it just got stuck in my head. Abused children are meant to disappear. The men that rape them want them silenced. To these men, they are disposable, to be used and discarded. For society at large, the truth of the raped child is too awful to comprehend, the betrayed trust and the failure to protect. So, Philomela is a classical Greek character who is raped as a child and then transmutes into a nightingale after obtaining her revenge. I use the bird motif throughout to allude to her. The experience of sexual violence or abuse can result in dissociation, that feeling of being outside your body while you are being violated. The aftermath, trauma, is like a black hole. The growing singularity of silence – until you speak your truth, the trauma just grows. Whispers of a crime that a victim has confessed – child sexual abuse survivors often disclose many years later, utterly crushed with shame, feeling like they brought their abuse upon themselves. Victims confessing the crime committed against them, just speaks to the heart of how abuse can destroy an individual.
And Hope isn’t named after anyone. It’s my album, so fuck your rules, I can be inconsistent. You can put your faith in God, or in your relationship, and you can lose your faith. Hope is about wishing for things to be different, but no amount of wishy thinking will change the future. Prayer is futile. The middle section is about how childhood abuse victims misread their environment. Danger for safety, jealousy for caring, rage for passion, fear for excitement – these misreadings lead people to return to abusive situations in adulthood because it feels familiar and somehow safe. Adults who abuse children often tell the children they love them when they are abusing them. That’s how you end up thinking that abuse is what love feels like. It’s fucked up.
That’s the order they were written in, and then I ordered them to tell a story – a hero’s journey – side A, the side of abuse and oppression, side B, survivorship and empowerment.
4.I know that the bands name means 'horrible noise' in Norwegian, how does this name fit in with the musical style that you play?
For many years I recorded sounds under this name and released none of them because it is for my personal creative journey. I didn’t want to make music to please someone else. If someone thinks I’m making a horrible noise, then so be it – you can’t accuse me of false advertising.
5. Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
I made the crown of thorns myself and took the photo using my phone. Phones have pretty amazing cameras these days.
The symbol of the crown of thorns was conceived as an insult, but it has become an icon that has outlasted empires. The suffering of the martyr and being transformed by that suffering, a spiritual ecstasy beyond the capability of the form of flesh. But I am also into religious mockery and taunting the patriarchal Western canon. It was a perfect image – direct, multifaceted, able to be appreciated as a simple object as well as a symbol of immense power – for everything I wanted to say.
6. With this project you record everything by yourself but also have experience playing in bands, do you prefer to work solo?
I like doing both.
Working solo as a recording artist has been more through necessity than preference of late, and I think if you’re making something as intensely personal as what I have made recently, it would be a huge ask to get another individual to take any of that weight. It gives me an avenue to be completely experimental and follow my whims. I would take no joy in trying to bring other people in on that.
Working in a band requires an energy exchange with the other musicians in the creation of music. I find playing with other people and collaborating to enhance and uplift each others’ ideas to be a spiritual experience. Co-writing and layering ideas with another individual or group provides a completely different form of creativity.
Conversely, I do not enjoy solo live performance. I tried it a couple of times when I was young and I really hated how it felt.
7. Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
I’m speaking with a couple of interesting individuals at the moment. I hope one of them will produce physical copies of the recording. But nothing is set in stone, and if any labels wish to talk to me about licensing the album to create physical copies, let’s talk.
8. On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black and doom metal?
Early days, my friend. While I have been quietly toiling for years thinking about and then creating this horrible noise, to the rest of the world I have only existed for mere months. I’m not much of a networker (oh, I try, but I find it tiring, and I’d rather spend my time making music and art than promoting the art and music I make), so I’m slowly pushing out review requests and artist submissions to labels.
I have had some very lovely reviews from some excellent underground publications and that fills me with hope that this album will find its place in a few people’s collections and a home on a label.
9. Are you currently involved with any other bands or musical projects these days?
Oligarch is still technically going, and we have managed to have a couple of rehearsals this year (which is a 200% increase on last year) – we’re talking with a third musician about how to bring Oligarch’s debut full-length together and return to playing live eventually.
Most of the other musical activity around here is playing unlistenable Metallica covers with the kids. They’re only little. It’s more just tuneless yelling than actual playing to be perfectly honest.
10. Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician during the future?
What an interesting question… I am probably halfway through my life, and I see making music being part of my life for as long as I live. But I don’t hold a young person’s aspirations for touring or other ‘successes.’ As far as a direction is concerned, I see myself heading further into my mind, digging deeper into my poetic abilities and concepts to create music to stir the soul and challenge myself. I want to master playing instruments a bit better with each passing year, come up with more original sounds and ways of putting them together.
A personal odyssey.
11. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
I have listened to a broad range of music over the years, bombastic hot-to-tape sounds of that heavy blues of the 60s, outright weird shit experimental nonsense, music that is “good,” “bad” and everything in between. When I was growing up in Hobart, there were a number of arty rock bands that influenced my playing. I like a lot of really face-meltingly intense stuff like Angelcorpse, Pissgrave, Adversarial or Revenge (it’s like the equivalent of taking a sonic shower) and I also love pop music (particularly old AM radio stuff that you can feel nostalgic about and sing along with).
Bands that I can point to as references for Fryktelig Støy include Zeni Geva, Aghast, Darkthrone, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Swans, Portishead, Killing Joke, Thorns, Kate Bush, Weakling, Teitanblood and Celtic Frost/Tryptikon.
Lately I have been listening to Necromantia, Thantifaxath, Dodheimsgard, Ondskapt, Dome Runner, Worm and Hulder.
I’ve also been on a Prince binge in the last week or so.
Ask me next week for a different list.
12. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Overthrow your oppressors, even if they are yourself.
The Trve Em Støy | Vnstoppable | Indestrvctable | Avthentic as fvkk
Bassicrator of Oligarch | Fryktelig Støy matriarch