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January 11, 2008 / riotgrrrlrevolution

MilitiA is Coming…(You can run, but you can’t hide)

Craigslist…your ultimate source for finding roommates, used furniture, an apartment, a few laughs in the “Missed Connections” section and…starting a brand new metal band that will quickly take over the mainstream consciousness?

It can happen. And has. Just ask MilitiA and the rest of the guys in the band Swear On Your Life.

Swear On Your LifeIn 2005, Ed Strohsahl (bassist) and Marc Reischer (guitarist) placed a notice on Craigslist for a singer and soon found MilitiA-who’d already been heavily involved in the music business (which included appearances on MTV2 & Fuse).

In 2007, with the inclusion of Chip Thomas as drummer (the original SoYL drummer left the band in 2006) the band recorded the “Burn My Crosses” EP-a hard hitting, rhythmic tour-de-force. With heavy bass lines that will make you think of Skunk Anansie’s bassist, Cass (ok, if you don’t know Skunk Anansie, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. So pick up Paranoid & Sunburnt. Like, NOW.) and remind you that bass isn’t *just* a supporting instrument, SoYL shoots straight for the gut. With cleverly written lyrics (including the song “Hate Out Loud” which actually contains the words “textual deviation”) and the vocals of MilitiA–forceful and dominant, she will win you over–SoYL is posed for definite success. So, go look up their EP, “Burn My Crosses” and check ‘em out for yourself.

In case you need a little more persuading–here’s an interview with the goddess of metal herself: MilitiA.

1. How’d you go from classically trained pianist to bassist to metal
queen extraordinaire?

I started taking private piano lessons when I was 7. I played mostly
classical music: Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart… Over the years, I won
awards and placed in several state competitions, played a ton of recitals,
etc. By the time I got to college, I “tested out” of piano. so then I
would just play for my own enjoyment in my school’s practice rooms. When
I moved to New York, I didn’t have room for my piano in my apartment and I
despised the feel and sound of keyboards. So I said, ‘fuck it’ and
decided to learn to play an instrument that I could carry. So, I picked
up the bass. I finally started writing heavy music and it was like aMilitA rocks out
drug. I wrote songs, played bass and did death metal vocals (aka cookie
monster vocals.) Now, mostly I sing without playing an instrument because
I love to move and use my whole body to get the song out. But that’s
always subject to change…

> 2. What attracted you and keeps you in the heavy metal genre?

It’s not just “the heavy metal genre,” per se, I generally like any kind
of music that is heavy, has an edge and some originality: whether it be
metal, hard rock, grunge, industrial, punk… Yeah, if you were to look
at my iPod you would find mostly metal bands on it. But what I crave is
intensity. The massive sound. The raw power of it. Something that feels
good when it’s loud.

> 3. While music is *mostly* equal in terms of male/female performers, metal and rap have both managed to keep a heavy emphasis on male musicians(=the norm) while female vocalists/musicians/rappers remain a novelty. What has your experience been like as a bi-racial female in the world of heavy metal?

Often, people look at me as some kind of novelty: “Ooh, ahh…wow, look!
It’s a black girl who sings metal!?!” I’m pretty used to that reaction,
because, yeah, I guess it is a novelty. Interestingly enough, I’ve had
plenty of black and bi-racial kids who say that they wish that they could
admit that they like metal and rock music because at their school or in
their neighborhood it’s looked down upon or they would be looked at as
“less black” or something. That shit isn’t fair. You can’t help what
turns you on. It’s no different than liking redheads or guys that wear
eyeliner or girls with plastic titties or whatever. Certain things are
just in your nature and metal is in mine. It’s male dominated, for sure.
Musically, perhaps it’s too intense for a lot of females. In rap music, I
feel like there is more of a female representation than in metal, but, it
seems like the numbers are starting to grow.

4. Are you a feminist/riot grrrl? :)

Absofukkinlutely.

5. There’s a video on Youtube of you covering Madonna’s “Ray of
Light
“–though I know Madonna is an important pop culture icon, it still
surprised me! what impact has Madonna had on you?

What child of the eighties DIDN’T worship Madonna? She definitely raised
the bar as to how a pop star should look, act and be. And also, she set
the benchmark for how to put on a larger than life live performance and
what an artist can do to reinvent themself while staying cutting edge.
That, and she knows how to sell freakin records!

A good friend of mine, Cathy Cervenka, puts together a Madonna tribute
every year on Madge’s birthday, appropriately called “The Madonnathon” at
BB King’s in Times Square. She invites some of best NYC artists and
musicians to perform and each year it seems to get bigger and more out of
control. I bring the hard edge interpretation to Madonna’s music. I
chose “Ray of Light” because it is one of her more vocally dynamic songs
and I knew I could make it rock really hard. I even do a heavy metal funk
version of “Human Nature.” heh.

6. Speaking of influential people–who do you feel has influenced you as a
person? As a musician, who are some of your influences?

As a person- definitely my parents, even though they might wonder about
that sometimes…Swear On Your Life

As a musician- I guess I’m influenced by everything I see and hear- good
or bad, in my opinion. I am definitely inspired by the classics: Mozart,
Chopin, Berlioz… Musical and film scores- Steven Sondheim, Danny Elfman,
Ennio Morricone. As far as bands/artists, consistently: Nine Inch Nails,
Metallica, Tori Amos, Depeche Mode, L7, The Cure, John Lennon, Tool…

Vocally, my muses are: Freddie Mercury, Janis Joplin, PJ Harvey, Dio and
Tina Turner.

7. You worked on Dee Snyder’s heavy metal/opera Van Helsing’s
Curse–what was that experience like? and is Dee Snyder as cool as he
seems to be on the VH1 metal-related document
aries? :)
Van Helsing’s Curse is an unbelievable experience. The music is very intense, very evil and sooo fucking cool. I’m lucky enough to have been a part of it since the first touring production in 2004 and each year it continues to grow and gain popularity. Our last production of it was at The Joint in Vegas- ooh, what fun! We set that place OFF. If you haven’t heard any of the music yet- you’re really missing out! Go to: myspace.com/vanhelsingscurse. And yeah, Dee’s a cool motherfucker ;)
8. How did Swear on Your Life come together?
Ed and Marc and I met via Craigslist and Chip and I met through mutual

friends.

9. Describe the band in three words or less! (creativity counts ;-)
Existential Funk Metal
10. How does the songwriting process work for the band?
I write the words and the melodies and as a group, we bang out the music.
11. When can we expect a full length album?
Most definitely!
12. For all the musicians out there, it’s always interesting to know/compare gear–so what kind of equipment do you use?
Right now, in rehearsal and onstage, I use an Audix OM 5 microphone. It can take a good beating without getting bent outta shape like other mics.
It’s great for capturing my live sound without crazy feedback and helps my
vocals cut through our wall of noise. I carry it in a Coffin Case microphone case.
13. What’s your favorite live show experience?
For me, there is nothing more exhilarating than being onstage singing my own words, telling my own stories and playing our music. I’d do it anywhere, at anytime. Sometimes it’s hard for me to enjoy other artists live shows because it just makes me want to be playing in that moment as well!
14. What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring musicians/ others working towards some far off goal?
If you’re a musician- you gotta play. If you’re a singer, you gotta sing. A lotta good it does you if you’re all talk and no action. You gotta do it. Make your noise. Own your craft. Each step you take in the right direction will add up. Then, your goals won’t seem so far off.

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