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Lindsay Schoolcraft - Interview


The Canadian singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Lindsay Schoolcraft doesn't really need an introduction, for she is already well-known in the metal and gothic milieu. Since mid-2000 she has lent her talents to an astounding variety of bands, starting with alternative rockers Mary And The Black Lamb, to the masters of extreme gothic darkness Cradle Of Filth, with whom she as a back vocalist and keyboardist recorded two albums, Hammer Of The Witches (2015) and Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness Of Decay (2017). Lindsay has also been leading her own project for several years, and has recently, together with Xenoyr (Ne Obliviscaris, Omega Infinity), founded a black metal supergroup Antiqva. In 2012 she released her debut solo album Rushing Through The Sky, followed by some singles and EP's. Then last year the amazing sophomore album Martyr came out, and just recently, on 9th of October, she released the acoustic/ambient album Worlds Away via her own label Cyber Proxy Records. Lindsay has made no secret of her love for playing the electric harp, which she has combined with string arrangements for a completely different approach to her discography, what all resulted in Worlds Away. For this album, she reunited with Rocky Gray (original drummer of Evanescence, who also co-wrote Martyr). Worlds Away is just so unique, that can't be compared with any of her previous works, and it also shows another side of Lidsay Schoolcraft, but still, it sounds vibrant, beautiful, dark and calming. In this interesting interview, Lindsay revealed many background things regarding Worlds Away and her other solo creations. We also talked about her inspirations, influences, about her time with Cradle Of Filth, and about her new band Antiqva.

Interview with: Lindsay Schoolcraft
Conducted by: Tomaz
Edited by: Jerneja

Tomaz: In October you released a new album, Worlds Away, which is quite different from anything you did in the past. I wonder what led you in this ambient waters?
Lindsay
: I decided to do it because my tenth anniversary of being a solo artist was coming up, and I really wanted to do something to commemorate that decade. Also, I've always wanted to do an acoustic album, but there was never the right time. I was working with Cradle Of Filth for such a long time I really couldn't find the time to put something together. So, it was just the right timing and meant to be, and I was going to take this year off anyway, and then this pandemic hit, and it really made me focus on this album and finishing it. It's been a great experience. I know it's not heavy at all, but I asked my fans if this is something they would like, and it was like 80% yes. So, so far, so good. I'm very excited for people to hear it.


Tomaz: This album consists mostly of old songs from your first solo album Rushing Through The Sky (2012) and from Martyr (2019), but there are also two new songs. Were these two made especially for this album or they were already made, but just never used?
Lindsay
: Interestingly you asked that. One of the songs is called "Dance On The Strings", and it's actually an old song. It was supposed to be on Rushing Through The Sky album, but it never came to be due to the timing. I'm glad I reconsidered that one and work on it again. On the other hand, the song "Worlds Away" was meant to sound exactly the way you hear it on this album, even though it was supposed to be on the Martyr album, but it wasn't finished in time, and we also had more than enough songs to put on that album. I decided to include these two songs on this album because they didn't get their chance on past albums, and it was also their time. They really suited the harp over the piano. It was definitely meant to be, and I was more than happy with how the two songs turned out. I think it was nice to include some new stuff among all these recreations of old stuff.

Tomaz: Working on this album, you collaborated with Rocky Gray, the same as you did with Martyr album. Has he become a kind of permanent member of the Lindsay Schoolcraft project?
Lindsay
: Yes, he's onboard. He is certainly a part of my team, and he is already excited about my next rock album, which he is totally on board to do as well. He is just waiting for me to start writing the music. He is such a gem, so easy to work with, and he is so talented, and I love what he brings to my music. When we were finishing up recording Worlds Away, I just felt like something was missing, that some of the songs need a kind of electronic beats on them, and then I contacted him, and he solved the issue in a great manner. Yes, he is definitely going to be on board for anything in the future connected to my solo work.



Tomaz: There are also other guests on this album, David “Dagda” Sanchez on viola and Spencer Creaghan with additional string programming. How was it working with them?
Lindsay
: It was awesome. It first started with Dagda, a member of Spanish folk metal band Celtibeerian. They are so talented, and Dagda plays so many instruments I've lost track, probably over twelve. He is just a very talented musician, and when I was slowly putting together these songs, I didn't want just a violin and a cello but also something in between. So I thought of Dagda and I asked him, and he got on board for certain songs. Some other songs needed a full string section, and luckily Spencer Creaghan was available. He did a great job, especially with the song "Warn me" - the strings in there are extremely eager and different... But yeah, they both were just so easy to work with, especially with the way the world is this year. I've noticed that people are just happy to hear from you and have work. It was very nice that they were available and they were on board, and I'm really happy about how it came together. I also enjoyed working with my producer Tyler Williams, who was very good about the whole process.

Tomaz: From what I heard, I find this album very original. I suppose there must have been a different inspiration behind it in comparison with your previous albums. What exactly inspired you?
Lindsay
: Honestly, I felt it was time because this was in my brain for a while. When I got my electric harp back in 2014,  I was thinking to make an album entirely on my harp. At the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, I had a two-week-long tour in Australia, where I was performing with my electric harp, and I had a great time. During that time I hang out a lot with my friend Simeon Bartholomew, who is a member of progressive rock band Seims, and his wife. He is great at guitar pedals, and he got me into pedals and effects. We ran my electric harp through his pedalboard, and I think that's where it started. I could just hear what my electric harp can do, and I could have pushed it more on this album, but I wanted it to be more ambient up-front. I think in my future rock albums I'll push to find weirder and cooler sounds. But yeah, that was the inspiration, besides that, I always loved MTV unplugged performances and Björk is a huge influence, she was the reason I took up the harp in the first place, because of her album Vespertine, one of my top five albums ever. She doesn't just perform what's on the album, rather than that, she always finds a way of redoing the performance in her own style, depending on the situation, where she is, who she is working with, and because of that I always had so much love and respect for her. It just felt like it was time, it was something I was really passionate about doing, it forced me to be a better harp player, it forced me to learn the production more then I've ever learned it before, which I'm really grateful for it. Once it came together with all the strings, it just made sense, and I really hope that people like it. I did want to do something different, I didn't want to do it with just piano and guitar like most people do acoustic albums. I just didn't feel like this was going to be me like it could be done, but I feel like it's just been in the realm of gothic/symphonic metal, most of it was female voices. I felt like it was just something it hadn't been done before, and of course, I was unsure and scared at points because I haven't heard anything like it yet, but so far people really like it, and it makes me truly happy that people are digging it.


Tomaz: I was also impressed by the cover artworks done by Anastasia Solti. There is a lot of details, which may not be noticeable at first sight but are rather powerful in presenting the album and probably yourself as well. How much of an impact did you have on these artworks?
Lindsay
: I trust Anastasia, and she knows my style. I sent her the album in advance, expecting her artworks to be the reflection of what the music speaks to her and how it makes her feel. Interestingly, she created a very colourful album cover, and people tell me that I'm the most colourful goth they've ever met. I'm OK with that for I love colours. I think you can express so many emotions through colours. Especially when black metal bands use just black and white because it's moody and represents that style of music... I was so impressed by Anastasia's artworks also because I have synesthesia, every note to me has a colour, whenever I play certain songs, I feel certain colours, and it's like a rainbow. This album is very colourful based on what my brain has assigned each colour to for each note. So her artworks make sense because in my head this album is like a rainbow. I was just so happy, for she got the whole space concept down. She is just awesome to work with and very talented, and I'm grateful she was on board.

Tomaz: You recently established your own label Cyber Proxy Records. What made you do that?
Lindsay
: I tried shopping my Martyr album to a bunch of labels, and now I even wonder whether the labels who said they were shopping it had that intention in the first place. They say they will contact you, but then this doesn't happen and you still wonder. So, I was like OK, no one wants this album. I just decided I'm going to do this independently; I have the team, I have the support, I have all the right things and place. Looking back, I'm glad I did this independently because I wouldn't have it any other way. I think if I signed to a label, I would be in a massive amount of debt right now, especially with the pandemic, and I wouldn't be able to release Worlds Away the way that I did. I'm happy to be an independent artist with a small label with two staff members, and now we also work with other artists, coaching them on how to improve their careers. I'm just having the best time with this label, it feels right, it feels good, and I'm glad that at the end of the day I don't have to answer to anyone on how I want to shape and form and direct my career. It's been rather lovely.


Tomaz: Is this label going to serve just for your releases or are you planning to release other artists albums too? Namely, I noticed you've signed with Gaia Guarda.
Lindsay
: I support her, and she has also been a long time friend of mine, and I believe in her solo music, so I really want to help her push it. Although she has signed with my label, she is still independent, she calls me, and we work out planes together. But otherwise, the only two official artists on my label is myself and my black metal band Antiqva, which is founded together with Xenoyr of Ne Obliviscaris.

Tomaz: In October 2019 you released your previous album Martyr. As far as I know, the critics praised it, and your fans seem to like it a lot. But how do you look at it one year later?
Lindsay
: I'm happy and very proud of where that album has gone and how many lives it's touched and how well it's done. I was just so happy that it was finally out there because from the time we started writing and recording to the day that it was out it was almost three years. It was such a long build-up and a long time to get it out there, and when it was finally out there it was such a sigh of relief, and it truly resonated with a lot of people, and it really got a good response. I'm very proud of it like I can't wait to do the next rock album and eventually bring it all to the stage. But yeah, I was just so happy with how it was received.



Tomaz: You also made two covers. The first was Madonna's "Frozen" that was featured on EP The Dead Of Winter and the second was The Cure's "Lullaby" that was featured on your previous album Martyr. How come you decided to do these two covers, are Madonna and The Cure a big influence on you?
Lindsay
: When I first saw "Frozen" on TV, I was very young. That whole video, the vibe and the sound, I think it was my first introduction to the goth culture or that underground vibe, and I thought: "O-my-gosh, this is just so beautiful." And that song was my absolute favourite of hers. So years later, when I mentioned to Spencer and Tyler that I would like to cover this song, they were both enthusiastic about it. Regarding The Cure, it has been just such a big part of my life, but there were actually my drummers Scott and Rocky who recommended covering "Lullaby". Rocky then made the music instrumental basics and sent it over to me, and it's started making sense, so I put the harp on it, and I thought, OK, we've got this.

Tomaz: Have you already chosen any other song to cover in the future?
Lindsay
: Yes, definitely. I've been working on covering a Björk song for a very long time, but it's Björk and how do you cover Björk without messing it up essentially. I'm slowly proceeding with this cover song on my home demoing computer... I already have a list of songs that I want to cover for I would like to make an album consisted solely out of cover songs basing on piano, strings, harp and choir, just something weird and stripped down because a lot of songs that I want to cover are metal songs, like Katatonia's "My Twin" and "Strawberry Gashes" by Jack Off Jill. These two are definitely on the list, but that list is buried somewhere very far away. When it comes to covering music, to do it right and to release it right, there is so many legalities, permissions and paperwork, which is very exhausting, so I'd rather focus on my original music. I want to get all my original music of my head first, and then I'll go ahead and maybe do a cover album one day.


Tomaz: Maybe you should do a cover of one of Cradle Of Filth's song on a harp.
Lindsay
: I've already covered the "Nymphetamine" song. Covering anything else, that's so progressive I don't think my harp would handle it.

Tomaz: You were a member of Cradle Of Filth for about seven years, then at the beginning of this year, you parted. How it was working with them?
Lindsay
: It was amazing. I'm sad it's over, but I think it was the best decision for both of us. It was an incredible experience, and I will cherish the time I spent with them for the rest of my life, I have a tattoo to prove it. I wish them the best, and I hope that their new album is going great. I'm sure I'll run into them in the future, at festivals and stuff. I'm still a good friend with the guys, and we call each other on occasion. I'm definitely going to miss them. Cradle Of Filth is such a legendary band, has such a legacy behind it, and just being part of that final round recreating Cruelty And The Beast is a huge honour for me. I'm friends with Sarah Jezebel Deva, and she gave me her blessing, what really meant a lot to me because I did have to recreate a lot of her work in the time I was in the bend, and she was really gracious of that, well she is just such a cool person. It's crazy that when I first heard this band in a High school all those years ago, I never foresaw that that's going to be my job one day for seven long years, but I'm so grateful that it happened.

Tomaz: You were also active in some other bands, like Daedalean Complex and The Astroplex. What's going on with them?
Lindsay
: I'm not sure. That's all in Quebec City; I have a lot of friends in that wonderful town, and they are a hidden gem in the music world. I'm not sure what Daedalean Complex is doing now. I haven't been able to contribute to their past few albums due to how things yet been. And Herr Nox from The Astroplex is doing his own solo work now; I've worked with him on some stuff, he is great. But my main focus right now is Antiqva, which is a black metal band with a lot of classical music influence. I'm doing it with Xenoyr, as well as a line of well-established musicians in the more so black metal world, and it's going good, so we should have a single out before Christmas. That's what we are hoping for this year.


Tomaz: Are you also both singing and playing keyboards in Antiqva?
Lindsay
: Yes, I'm singing a little bit differently. There is actually a lower range to my voice, that I've never worked with, and the guys seem to like it. I've never got a chance to display that with Cradle Of Filth because with Cradle was always like speeches, classical music or Liv Kristine style of singing, which is fine and it was great. But now, with Antiqua, I had a chance to play and record on a grand piano for the first time in my life, which was very exciting and overwhelming. So I've been doing piano, and I've also been composing a lot of the strings. In the future, I'll be doing the church organ as well, and we have one accessible to us here in my city, but I need to get some lessons on the food pedalling first. Yeah, I think that that project is really interesting, it's got a lot of chants, like the orthodox Gregorian chant, as well as a lot of Dead Can Dance influence with some worldly aspects, what is really cool, but at the end of the line, it's traditional black metal, which I'm a huge fan of, so I'm very excited for this project. It's very influenced by Emperor, Mayhem, Dimmu Borgir and something like that, so I'm just really looking forward to it.

Tomaz: Is your solo project Lindsay Schoolcraft supposed to play live?
Lindsay
: Yeah, I was hoping to do a bit of that this year, but due to the pandemic I obviously haven't been able to. In the future, I definitely foresee it happened, and my band has been very patient about the whole thing, you know waiting on me, but they are wonderful people, and they know what's going on in the world. I would like to tour, and I'm sure in time that will happen. I don't have albums to hold the tour now, but hopefully in the future, maybe with the next album, I could see that happening.



Tomaz: This pandemic is causing a lot of shit in the music world. Besides the fact that you can't perform live shows, how in general did affect you?
Lindsay
: I understand, and I'm sensitive to how difficult this pandemic has been with people losing their loved ones, jobs and other things. I know a lot of people who are having a tough time this year, but me as an introvert that I am, I really needed to take a year off. This has been one of the best years of my life. I completed an album I get to  write and record I get to release an album and a single, so it's been a really good year for me. Being forced to be at home and not focus on the business or travelling or live shows, has really centred me in remembering who I am and what I  want, and moving forward to that, and enjoying my musical projects. Whenever live music starts up again, we'll do it, but in the meantime, I've just found ways to be productive to make sure that when live music comes back again, I'll have a nice discography and lots of great new music to perform for people. That's essentially my goal.

Tomaz: Your voice was often compared to Amy Lee's, Sharon den Adel's and Anneke van Giersbergen's. But who is your main vocal inspiration?
Lindsay
: Honestly, all of them, but I'm also a big fan of Sarah McLachlan, who is a very famous Canadian singer, and Björk of course, although I admire her more like a performer and a songwriter than anything. She also does not care what people think of her, and I have so much respect for that. But when I was in training, I worked on a lot with Within Temptation, because I really have a similar voice to Sharon. It's such a compliment to be compared to these people because they are all extremely successful, well-established singers, and they all have their own unique thing to add to the metal world. I grew up in the country, and I liked June Carter and Johnny Cash, I guess those are just songs I'll be singing along to all the time. There are so many influences, but those are definitively the main ones.

Tomaz: I'm sure someday other girls will be proud if compared to you. Thank you for the interview. It was really nice talking to you. Would you like to share a word with our readers for the end?
Lindsay
: Thank you so much for being here, reading and supporting heavy metal. Know that musicians like myself greatly appreciate it. You all keep the genre alive.

Lindsay Schoolcraft links: Official website, Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube
Antiqva links: Official website, Facebook, Shop, YouTube
Cyber Proxy Records: Facebook

 

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