– Hello, thanks for taking your time, what’s keeping you busy after having released your newest ‘Lick the Flesh’ last year?
We had an awesome ending to 2022 with a California tour. Our buddies in SPITER from Philly came to the Bay Area and we played some Northern California shows with them before heading to SoCal to play the Charged Noise fest in LA. We had a killer time, got to play some shows with our friends in Pink Mist, Bat, New Skeletal Faces, SPITER, so yeah we ended the year on a high note. We also released a music video for Divine Agony which was fun to make with everyone in the band. It’s streaming on YouTube right now so people can check it out. It’s like a mini horror movie filmed at our practice space in Oakland. Since then we’ve had some down time to write new material and have our first show of 2023 coming up Feb 17th. Stoked to play some new tunes live and get material together for our next album.
-Since this is our first interview with you; how and why was VORLUST born? From what needs?
Vorlust came from a place that was a yearning inside of me where I wanted to express sensations, feelings and primal instincts that I felt were suppressed in me. Which were a result of a type of conditioning I was exposed to. I began exploring this through performance art where I did various exorcisms on my body to release anger, shame and oppression. One of these performance pieces was titled Vorlust and I performed this in Tijuana, Mexico. I did this piece with a collaborator. He was male and he was stationed in San Francisco while I walked across the border from San Diego into Tijuana and performed the piece at a speakeasy in an abandoned shopping mall off Revolution Ave. I inserted an iPhone into my vagina and invited people from the audience to come up to my vagina and speak to my collaborator in San Francisco via a live FaceTime phone call. The piece touched on various things about crossing borders whether they are political, geographical or technological. It also touched on a powerful dynamic between male and female where here I am as a woman completely exposing myself and the portal into my insides whilst my collaborator (a man) is sitting comfortably in his office in San Francisco talking to people with a shield around him that is a shield of space and protection completely removed from the intimate interactions of people. This piece got me more interested in exploring the powers of women, the powers of the womb, the powers of communication through our deep internal experiences and also the powers of the true beast. Woman, here I am, look at me, legs wide open into my soul.
-What’s your music for you?
It changes depending on what I’m channeling. There are times when I’ve taken my anger and transformed it through music. There have been times when music has served as an exorcism for me, when I’ve wanted to expel something out of me/my life. I’ve used it to explore my sexuality. I’ve used it to cast spells. I mean it’s endless. It’s like working with deep inherent magick. A vessel to explore the intricacies of the soul.
-And what is “Beast Metal” for you? Is it something that describes a sound only?
“Beast Metal” is about the animalism within us all. That primal energy that hasn’t been conditioned by human systems of conduct. Tapping into that “wildness” within us all. So essentially it’s about instinct first before it’s about sound.
-VORLUST has a very specific, it not theme, imagery. Where does it come from? What do you want to project? And how is the process of turning an idea into something with a sound and image?
The holy whore, the witch, the fierce powers of womanhood, the life giver and the life taker, the erotic powers deeply connected to one’s sexuality, a reclamation of the soul, embracing anger and transforming oneself through advocation, lust, violence, hunger, desire, confrontation. These are themes I’ve been exploring for a few years and are definitely present in Vorlust and especially our recent release Lick the Flesh. There are so many metal bands out there that base their entire existence on defaming the woman, mother, the whore, the witch. I mean how many album covers can you think of that show the filleted or mutilated female body sprawled open as if she’s been raped and tortured before killed. So yeah, there is still a huge amount of fear around the powers of women. And with Vorlust I take all the above mentioned themes through my embodiment of each and every one of them and I stand in front of you and dare you to look because I won’t back down.
-It feels like sacred femininity and the Womb play an important role in what you do. In it’s most primal and fierce form. How do these kinds of concepts translate into today’s scenario or how can they resonate with Metal?
Well I can only speak about my personal experience and from my personal experience it has a lot to do with the reclamation of sacred femininity and the powers of the womb. Instead of it coming from a place of these men and their tails and fears and projections about women, its coming from me, a woman expressing my struggles, my reclamations, my journeys, and my heroic victories of empowerment and protection. And an embodiment of what is truly powerful about my femininity.
-There’s a sexual element to it as well even if it’s in this violent, bloody kind of way. Nowadays women’s sexuality is still a taboo. Sex from a woman’s perspective is almost an act of defiance. Do you believe in art as a reforming means, as a tool to tear down stereotypes and force some conversations?
Ooh definitely! As you can see in everything I’ve mentioned above, it’s pretty much the main focus of what I use art as a tool for. And over the years I have experienced a variety of different responses to my creative expression. Some people are afraid to look at what I am doing, some people love it and are hungry for more, some people feel like there is a healing in it for them some people think that it’s blasphemous, some people think I am doing childish things or I am attention seeking, some people think I’m possessed and find me disturbing, some people think im not “lady like”, some people admire what i’m doing and have been inspired by it. I mean the amount of dialogue and variety around everything that I have been exploring and putting out is so diverse and to me that is powerful. Because if people’s responses were just the same then the dialogue around it would be the same and people would be stuck in the same place. but the fact that there’s so much diversity around people’s responses to what I’ve been creating is a playground for dialogue which essentially is the beginnings of change.
– Women in art and in masculinized spaces have always been made invisible, that’s why there’s not just less women metal musicians (even though there are tons of them), but less women in any artistic field. Because women artists have to face more obstacles, they have to fight against sexualization, invisibilization, infantilization, etc. The simple fact of putting albums out and recording/writing music is an empowering tool, not just for your but for other women too. How do you take advantage of this tool/position?
Well I use it as a megaphone ha ha. Literally a spell casting a megaphone. The more diversity of voices we get out there the more we de-stabilize a homogenized male centered music environment. I know it can be tough. The road for me has not been easy. I have in many cases been completely dismissed or ignored in a room with male musicians when in fact I have been the person that has written the music that we’re playing. It’s almost like they could not look at me, they had to look through me and then their focus would only be on each other because that is what they were comfortable with. Now, I’m not trying to make this interview like it’s me against men, because there are so many men in my life that I presently collaborate with and have very reciprocal, respectful and equal relationships with. They are absolutely out there and I really want to emphasize this because if I’m focusing on the people that suck that are in our community I am taking my energy and putting it towards something negative. I’ve learned that what works best for me is to take that energy and focus it on where the light is. focus it on where I feel like I’m being seen by somebody. If I follow that energy it starts to open doors for me and I want to be in partnerships that are mutually respectful. Ones that are mutually inspirational and mutually energizing. I don’t want to be in relationships where people cannot see me. So over the years and through many painful experiences I’ve learned how important it is to walk away from the ones that don’t treat me well and move towards the ones that do treat me well and that I feel seen by. Doing this has completely changed things for me as an artist because instead of staying focused on the negative I began to flip the script for myself and focus on where it was positive. And I absolutely still channel my rage about inequities through my music. This is something that is very important to me. And feels even stronger to have a team of supportive musicians that are part of that message and experience with me.
– Talking about such, during the last years there have been more and more organizations and movements in the Metal scenes that take actions against sexism and different forms of discrimination, even if Metal has always been a male-dominated community. Would you say the Rock/Metal community is more inclusive or at least being more aware of certain issues that seemed unaddressed until recently?
Yes. I have noticed the community has become more inclusive, I’ve also noticed that there is a lot more awareness around inequities and there is a lot more of a conscious deliberate intention to address these issues when they come up. I live in Oakland California and it is an incredibly vocal community where people speak up as soon as they see things happening that are unfair. I value this a lot about our community and I feel like in the past this element was still part of our community but it wasn’t as loud. since the pandemic people were put in a situation that really emphasized them needing to speak up and speak out because we were all shut down and that prompted a mass awakening. Whether it was through people’s own internal journeys or whether it was through somebody else bringing awareness to an issue, it shifted things immensely and I think a byproduct of that shift was a much larger and greater awareness of where things were not working in our community. Gender inequities and racism are two things our community needs to work on and they are at the forefront of the changes we have been starting to see.
-Are there any women artists (not just in Metal and/or Rock) who you can look up for inspiration? Maybe not just in their body of work, but something in their attitude, their way of facing the world…
Yes. Diamanda Galás and Lydia Lunch have been two huge influences for me over the years. Their attitude is confrontational. Their liberation of the female body, of sexuality, of sex work, of ritual…the moment i was exposed to both of them so many lights went on for me. They are ferocious, unleashed and whip smart. Diamanda Galás’ work for the AIDS crisis during the 80s and Lydia Lunch’s spoken word against capitalism and misogyny were radically inspiring for me. Both of them taught me how to not be afraid of anger but instead to use it as a tool, as a weapon and a guide for transformation and healing.
-As I mentioned earlier, your latest ‘Lick the Flesh’ came out last July. You worked on this album during the pandemic. While you’re working on it are you actually aware of how a dystopian situation is it? Has this record become some sort of haven for you? A means of escapism?
This album gave me a sense of purpose during a time that was incredibly difficult not just for myself but for so many other people. So, yes there is something very special about this album for me, but as far as escapism goes, right now I don’t feel there is escapism in the album. I am very much a person that needs to stay as present as possible in my life, that is how my spirit thrives and so my actions are very intentional and at the time when we were creating this album my actions were very intentional as well. I feel like I tap into something on a spiritual level where I get messages and visions of things that I need to channel and want to express and even though it might seem as if there is some alternate reality that I am jumping into, it’s very intentional. There’s so much connection in that experience for me and so this album will always hold that type of energy for me.
-In practical terms, how did the whole situation affect the process behind the album?
We did most of the album via shared files when we were working on the structure of songs. Since we were in lockdown from the pandemic we needed to find a way to use technology to help with the creation of the album. This actually was a huge growth experience for me as a musician because I was working with tempo maps and it just skyrocketed my focus and skills as a bass player. Seems counterintuitive because most of the time I have created projects it’s always been in person at band practice with very hands on personal correspondence and this was the opposite but it was very, very beneficial. Dustin lives in Santa Cruz so we would send the scratch tracks to him and he’d learn the parts, then he and Sonny would correspond with guitar solo ideas. After we developed the tempo maps with our session drummer, Avinash and established where all the different guitar parts were going to be and the vocals were going to be, we then had two practices in person where we hashed out the difficulties that weren’t working in the songs. Then after some months went by, we met up and began recording the album. Sonny Reinhardt recorded the album for us. This was all done in our tiny practice space at the Oakland music complex. It took us two weeks to get all the tracks down and the vocals down and the solos down. Then once it was all recorded we sent it to Greg Wilkinson from Earhammer studios to mix and master it.
-You are unsigned. Is it a choice or the only option? How important is for you to have a DIY ethos in underground?
We are actually with a record label. We released our Lick the Flesh record with Transylvanian recordings. We’ve been working with Jimmy for almost a year and it’s been awesome. He is a friend and has been part of the community for a long time and has put out a lot of our friends’ music. It’s been a pleasure to work with him.
-Do you have any other projects going on apart from VORLUST or even outside of music?
I am in a Manowar cover band called WOMANOWAR because the band is made up of mostly women. We played a couple over Halloween and we have another one coming up in March. I am also a filmmaker and have various film projects that I am presently involved with one of them is a new music video for Vorlust for our song ‘13th Circle’ off Lick the Flesh.
-And what’s next for VORLUST?
We have some shows lined up. We have one on 17 February then we have a couple in April and we have plans to do a West Coast tour that’s going to be in the summer of this year. Also more music videos, those have been so fun to work on.
– That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add some final words, feel free to do it.
Thank you so much for the support and for the very thoughtful interview. It’s been really great to dive into these questions and I hope we get to meet you some day and to play in Spain!!!