-Hello Stéphanie, thank you for your time, is a pleasure to have you. First of all, could you please introduce yourself a little bit to our readers?
Hell- o to all of you! My name is Stéphanie and I am the bassist, vocalist, archivist and all around Empress of the band November Grief. I am an Aries with a Scorpio Rising, a passionate military historian, a lover of the best things in life and all around class clown. I shall leave it at that, for now.
-You first known band was NOVEMBER GRIEF (originally called MISTRUST). Back then where weren’t that many women artists hailing from Canada into your style, I’d dare say most of them were into the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal styles, while into Death Metal you had ACROSTICHON or BOLT THROWER in Europe, DERKETA in the USA, etc. Were there any woman artists that inspired you in your music journey when you were starting? Or any bands with female members you could look to for inspiration?
Yeah, Canada and Québec were desolate wastlelands of atomic wreck as far as women in extreme metal at the time. The Canadian pioneers in awakening my love for music were, in no order whatsoever: Lee Aaron, Diane Dufresne, Marjolaine Morin from the Québec legends Corbeau, the Wilson sisters from Heart ( yeah, from the Washington State in the USA, but they were expats living in Vancouver in the 1970s). Some of my biggest inspirations at the time were Jo Bench, Joan Jett, Crissie Hynde, Lita Ford, Debbie Harry, Becky Bondage from Vice Squad ( I do love my hardcore ) , L7, Phantom Blue (RIP Michelle Meldrum), Girlschool and the almighty Dawn Crosby during her Détente days. RIP. Most of my death metal inspirations are males, anyhow…
-Can you remember any extreme Metal band with female members that existed as the same time as NOVEMBER GRIEF?
Humm…Not a lot, but I shall always have fond memories of : Demonomacy ( their 2nd death metal demo ‘Chaos Incarnated ‘ is , imho, THE best all female extreme metal release of all time ) , 13 from Brooklyn NY , Promisqes (awesome girls and a SICK SICK SICK band), Nuclear Death, Witches (from France ), Nice Cat ( a killer stoner rock band from Toronto ), Thorr’s Hammer from the West of the US via Norway, Astarte from Hellas, Demonic Christ, Vocifération-… And obviously the 3 bands you mentioned in the 2nd question.
-And in general, what bands were inspiring you to play Death Metal back then?
Grave, Bolt Thrower, Immolation, Autopsy, Napalm Death, Massacre (US), Cannibal Corpse (early stuff ) , Celtic Frost, Black Sabbath, Led Zep, Carcass before Heartwork, Deicide, the almighty Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Blasphemy (Canada), Obituary, Beherit (Hails Suomi ), Fu Manchu, Electric Wizard, Demigod (all the Finnish death metal bands, actually ) , The Cramps, The Sisters of Mercy, Marduk, Wasp, Motley Crue, Bathory, Terrorizer, Cathedral, Winter, Venom, Dissection (Sweden), Death (Leprosy) and my personal heroes : Immolation, Manowar, Asphyx, Pestilence, Slayer, the almighty Possessed, Voivod, Sodom, DBC & Incantation. And the 80s hardocore bands in my collection.
Fuck Yeah !!!!
-Was it easy to find other women willing to play that music style to form the band? If I’m not mistaken you had some struggle and that was why you ended taking over bass duties besides singing.
It was a very arduous task, trying to find other women wanting to play extreme metal in the late 80s early 90s Montréal . Annie and I were getting fucking desperate before we found Véro, so desperate that we actually thought about , ZOMG, getting a dude to play guitars 4 us. Now, mind you, being fully fleshed females , aka young and horny, it wouldn’t have been appropriate to have a dude join our coven Ω. Don’t fuck with the payroll, my friends! Is a maxim to be taken very seriously in all domains. Especially in bands. Warning to all musicians out there.
-Until that moment you were called MISTRUST. Why did you decide to change the band’s name for NOVEMBER GRIEF?
We thought that the name November Grief reflected more the doomy, gloomy, moody, dare I say bipolar, atmosphere that we wanted our music to convey. Besides, we were in November so it was very appropriate. Hails to Québec autumns!
-In 1994 you released your first demo, «Evil-ution». How was the reactions it got? Since after releasing it you played several gigs around Québec.
Ah, here we are : the infamous 1st demo. Urgh. I repudiate it, I loathe the thought of it, but hey, I have to stand by everything I did . Lemme just say this : reactions were mixed, as it should have been. The local punk degenerates loved it. Yup, the local dive bars and barns around Quebec saw us a lot during that time. One particular, very memorable gig was the one in some basement in Chambly, a very fun albeit unhygienic house party that was broken up by the police right after we finished our set. No one in our band was arrested, thankfully. We didn’t care as we had just finished playing our set and loaded. Ciao bye, Adios! We were gone like a big gale of Québec blasty winter icy wind that we call here “de la poudrerie”.
-After the demo came out you got found a second guitar player. How did tis affect the sound and what did it add to it?
Finding Chantal was a dream come true. She added the full aural dynamic that we wanted to convey. She had a killer tone, a real La Jefa ! Finally, we had a 4th Blonde Beast with us. Onward !!! Advance !!! En Avant!!! Avanti!!!
-So in 1995 you put out your second demo, «To Live… In this World of Chaos». Which was produced by KATAKLYSM’s Jean- Francois Degenais. What are your memories from the songwriting process and the recording sessions for it?
Ouf, memories are hazy…I’m getting old, haha! All I can say is that it that the whole thing about our second demo was a dream come true: everything. Even the bad stuff was awesome in retrospect. The 2nd tape’s composition process was intense, lots of blood , sweat & tears. Many fights, many hugs, it taught me lots about my own personality and shortcomings. It is not evident to learn to compose something so intense and good in such a brief amount of time. I had to crack the whip a few times, figuratively speaking , of course. But it gave NOVEMBER GRIEF’s magnum opus, so at least we have this to be thankful for.
There is no darkness without light…No light without darkness.
-Your song «Spine Worm» was only featured on the «Awakening: Females in Extreme Music» but wasn’t released anywhere else. Did you write that song specially for the compilation?
You are right, it was not released anywhere else. As I recall, nope, it wasn’t written specially for that compilation, but it sure was at the right place at the right time.
-Do you know how did that comp. work? It’s amazing that back then there was some label trying to make women in extreme music visible.
If I recall it was Rayshele from Century Black at the time who contacted us, through regular snail mail. Yeah, it is amazing when you think about it that a label released this way back then !! Killer bands on it, also…
-You were then through some line-up changes until you split up in 1997. What prompted that you disbanded?
Just regular band bull shit, which I shall not get into. Sorry.
-After that happened, you and Annie went on to form ELIXIRS, which would later become POTION 13. What motivated you to form a band into such a different style? Why did you left after doing one album?
I must correct you: Annie and their singer formed that band. I just hitched myself along like an old wagon to their train. I left because I don’t play well with others and am an incorrigible Aries with a need for domination. Thankfully, everything went well in the end for all concerned. RIP Natalie, btw.
-Have you done anything else (musically) after leaving POTION 13? What are you up to these days?
Nope. I haven’t done anything concrete musically, but that didn’t mean I didn’t stay in the scene, albeit periphically, like a bird of prey. I helped, and will continue to do so according to my capabilities, with THE best black metal festival in North America : the Messe des Morts & the label-distro Sepulchral Productions.
Stay tuned for upcoming news ! It shall be glorious. What a time to be alive!
-Now I would like to go back to NOVEMBER GRIEF a little bit to touch on your lyrics. You had a really strong social/political message dealing with feminism, ecology, veganism… Did you have any hindrances due to your lyrical/political views?
I shall correct you on this : we were vegetarians that ate chicken wings, smoked salmon, sushi and lobsters occasionally. Vegans, oh fuck no we were not. Nowadays : I am a total omnivore. Long live meat, veggies, fruits and the glorious sea food. With many glasses of beers, sangria and wine. Btw, Spanish wines are amazing. I love the way you guys celebrate life . Salud!
-How do you feel when you realize songs you wrote 25 years ago are still relevant today? Songs as «Equality Means Respect» are still necessary two decades later.
I don’t care one way or another, as the great Debbie Harry says.
-You were a Death Metal band formed by women only in a time where women artists into thus style hadn’t been around for too long. How easy was to get gigs and not being discredited for a band formed only by girls back then? Do you think you had to work harder than if you had been men?
The fact that we were chicks didn’t help or hinder the gig situation. The rough thing was trying to find THE right gigs, without playing too much & overextending ourselves. Plus we had to deal with our school, work, domestic duties, boyfriends, pets…And of course, we had to work harder than men ! But as a great current statesman says : when I keep busy my mind doesn’t wander & plan crazy shit.
– Do you think things have changed that much into the Metal scene since then? As into this community gender roles seem to be quite rigid.
I dunno. There are more female musicians of course, which can be a blessing and a curse. You know how we women are! We are like Americans : capable of the best AND the worst. There are certainly more women musicians in extreme music than when NOVEMBER GRIEF was around that is for sure.
-Talking about the current Metal scene, are there any new bands that have caught your attention lately? What bands and albums have you been listening to as of lately?
Define old? What is old is new, and vice versa. I can recommend : Sargeist, Phobocosm, Metalian, Gevurah, Oath Division 666, Barf, Imprecation, Cult of Luna, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Forteresse, Ultra Raptor, Cauchemar, Starlight Ritual, Magic Circle, Atroce, Nokturnal Mortum, Svartidaudi, Neige Eternelle , Cht’ Illist, Délétere, Mgla, Oranssi Pazuzu, BARF, Regarde les Hommes Tomber, Grand Magus, Outre Tombe, Angantyr, Funeral Mist, Blut Aus Nord, Vulgar Deli, Molasses (the new project of Farida , vocalist extraordinaire of one of my own favourite bands of all time, and one of your too, if I’m right , The Devil’s Blood) . Please make me stop or else I will name all the CDs in my record collection.
As far as album goes I shall name these that have been spinning here lately. In no order whatsoever : 1) Anton Bruckner : Symphonie Nr 7 at the Berliner Philarmoniker conducted by Maestro Herbert von Karajan 2) Beherit : Electronic Doom Synthesis 3) Rush : Exit…Stage Left 4) Macabre : Sinister Slaughter 5) Obituary : Slowly We Rot 6) Graveland : Prawo Stali 7) Christian Death : American Inquisition 8) Aversion “self titled” 9) Harmonium : l’ Heptade 10) Agnostic Front : Victims In Pain, 11) Monarque : Le Dernier Souffle 12) Desolate Shrine : Deliverance from The Godless Void 13) Black Sabbath “Master of Reality” 14) Aureole “Alunar” 15) Paul Chain “Alkahest”
-That’s everything from our side Stephanie, thank you again for taking the time to answer to our questions, if there’s something else you’d like to add, it’s your turn.
Thank you very much Tania for this interview. It was a blast to do and it’s an honour for Véro, Chantal, Annie & yours truly to be a part of your site. We (NOVEMBER GRIEF) are on Temple of Mystery’s official Bandcamp if one is interested in our reissue. As soon as our page is (finally) ready to go, I shall send the link so that it can be added here. May I add that as of now we are in a sad situation due to the COVID-19 epidemic, so it’s important to keep social distances while still living the best we can. It’s easy to lose perspective, to lose our sanity while we have to stay still…But it will , and it SHALL make us better, stronger, more independent, more connected to our roots. A special message to the beautiful country and people of Espana from me: “ Espana Persevera, aqui! “ Sorry, but my Spanish language skills are almost non existent. Stefxx