As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 14 – New York-inspired (Dec. 2020)
Whether it’s solo works, video productions or her duties as stage-commanding frontwoman for Judas Priestess, the New York-based artist Militia Vox fearlessly moves from idea to manifestation. The pandemic and stopping of most live music events have obviously presented new challenges to the ever-changing world of music, but she is not willing to be complacent.
This year has been tough on everyone. How have you been holding up with how the world has changed for music?
I’ve been great so far. As an artist and a New Yorker, I am used to being highly adaptable. Not performing live in the traditional sense has been annoying because I miss its energy and the people that I meet. So far, I loathe doing at-home concerts, but I’m making the best of it when I do them. I’m spending most of my time writing, recording music, creating content, streamlining my socials, reading, hiking, visiting local weird or haunted places, having cyber tea with friends, and feeding my head.
How has the pandemic changed your idea of what music is and how you make it?
It’s definitely changed how I make it. I’m more self-sufficient now. I can write, play, record, mix, and master completely on my own. Quarantine was very useful for me. I may not have learned to do all these things otherwise. As far as the music itself, I’ve become more experimental with what I make and the sounds I use. I’m not bound by style, sounds, words, vibes, rules, or limitations of any genre. I am the genre.
With so many different types of things you are involved in, what have you been spending most of your time on during these strange times? It’s not like we all haven’t had enough free time lately . . .
I always feel like I never have enough time! There’s so much that I want to do and be great at. To some, it might seem like I have ADD, but I do all of these things because I’m a naturally curious person. I’m always pushing myself with new challenges, whether it’s writing new songs, composing, learning about music, creating music videos and visual art, or just creating for fun. 2020 has been an awakening for me—about the kind of world I want to live in, the life I choose to have, and what I want to offer people. Thanks to this break from touring, I’ve marched in protests, become a Harvard-certified music nerd, am officially graduating from college after being kicked out years ago for “insubordination” and some truly sketchy circumstances, and finessed my home studio and recorded myself guest singing on some f**king amazing projects. I sang and recorded an obscenely cool song and shot the video in LA. I’ve been writing and recording with a new metal band. I created, organized, and added to my music library for licensing. I created and recorded my first spoken word with music project. I kept a houseplant alive for more than five months, and I finally learned to play chess.
You have talked about musical artists needing to up their home studio game since the shutdown took place. Do you think artists have responded well to the new challenges?
Thank you for actually reading my posts! Some artists have responded well to the circumstances of this era. Others have not. Some are grappling with depression and other issues, such as isolation, affecting them negatively. Most artists are typically used to ‘flowing with the go,’ and the upside is we have music as our creative outlet.
What have you improved in your skillset during 2020?
I’ve learned to master. It’s a b**ch—LOL. And I like my mastering guys, but I needed to teach myself instead of constantly outsourcing the job. I’ve also been upping my writing game—going into new territories rhythmically, lyrically, and sonically. I’m writing some of my best work right now.
You have an extensive background in the video aspect of music, being on both sides of music video creation, and being a VJ. How do you feel about bands video streaming virtual shows?
Thank you for doing your research! I think virtual shows are great if they look and sound good. Right now, it’s still in the preliminary stages, kind of like the early days of MTV. The art of the video had not been perfected yet. Early music videos and live footage look kind of weird and clunky. Virtual shows are NOT going anywhere. They are going to be part of the new normal. Most people will never get to see every band they want to see live and in person. You can reach way more people through virtual shows.
You have always had a diverse set of projects going on. Do you think other artists and musicians have been doing a good job of diversifying to survive during the collapse of live entertainment?
Some artists have really taken to this new opportunity to adapt and evolve. Others have sat back and complained about how they miss playing shows. It’s a choice.
You are the frontwoman of the all-female band Judas Priestess. What made you take on such a huge task as channeling the music of Judas Priest? Did you ever feel like people would be too critical of your tribute?
I wanted to do it because I didn’t want anyone else to! I discovered Judas Priest’s music in the ’90s, and I loved how intense, theatrical, dynamic, and smart the vocals are. I knew that if the band was killer, it would be an excellent opportunity to make a real statement in heavy metal. We wanted to challenge the stereotypes of women in metal: “women can’t play,” “they’re just eye candy/decoration,” “women are groupies,” and the “just a panty band” thing. We got hate mail before we played our first show. We knew people would be critical—until they saw us play.
Do you think stereotypes are less prevalent nowadays?
The stereotypes are probably always going to be there, but I’ve got no interest in them. I think things are better than they were, but that’s because there is more representation and awareness.
You’ve worked with another artist who has championed the change of stereotypes and biases: Corey Glover. He and his band Living Colour set the rock world on its heels when they came on the scene. He raves about you and your work. How does that make you feel?
I feel great about it. I adore Corey so much—he is my friend. He’s brutally talented: singing, songwriting, performing, acting. I’m so thankful that we know each other, and I want to do lots more with him in the future. We are such kindred spirits.
Switching gears a bit, tell me about Mecha Sonic. I have a B.F.A. in metal sculpture, so I’m intrigued by the concept.
I cannot claim any kind of responsibility for the astounding aesthetic of Mecha Sonic. I was merely being brought in as a guest singer, and they were going to play some of my songs while clanging on metal percussively in an ironworks shop and setting things on fire. Unfortunately, COVID had other plans. We will do it once it’s safe and sanitary. Stay tuned . . .
You went to the Boston Conservatory and you were also part of a band that had a great following on the east coast. How did your experience in that music scene influence who you are now?
The Boston scene was a blast when I was there. My first band was an industrial-dance band called Disciples of Astaroth (DOA). Our sound was in the vein of My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Lords of Acid, but more gothic. I was barely legal when we started. We played some great shows—our first show was at the legendary Middle East, and our last Boston show was at Machine. Our audience was this funky splay of college kids, club kids, goths, and drag queens. We used to have local drag stars as our opening acts. It was wild, and by the end of our shows, everyone would be dancing together like mad. Goth, industrial and club culture are my roots, and it’s definitely embedded in my sound. I learned how to create songs in that band.
Did you hear that they closed the iconic Boston-area spots ManRay and Machine to build luxury apartments on their footprint? It’s getting harder to find spots to expose the arts to the masses and provide a safe space for all people to hang out.
Living in New York City, I know this all too well. It’s a shame. ManRay and Machine were legendary. I had many delicious nights at both. But I hear that currently, wealthy people are moving out of the cities in droves. That will leave the artists and creatives that thrive in urban environments to rebuild. It’ll be up to artists to keep the cities alive and initiate new spaces. And then three to five years later, it’ll happen all over again!
What’s next for Militia Vox? What can people expect from you in the near future?
I just released my first spoken word with music “THE RAVEN” by my muse Edgar Allan Poe. This was huge for me because it’s the first project that I narrated, engineered, mixed, and mastered by myself. That was a b**ch, but so worth it. It’s out now on Bandcamp and streaming sites.
I’ve got a very cool ‘guest sing’ coming out soon with The Vaticants out of LA. It’s an orchestral hard rock song called “Living For Nothing.” Wait till you see the video—it’s badass.
I also will be releasing an album of solo songs that feature various remixes by Shane Boulos (Toxic, Militia Vox), Blak Emoji, legendary Detroit techno DJ Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale, and CX KiDTRONiK (Atari Teenage Riot, Saul Williams). It’ll be out at the end of 2020.
I have a new solo EP called HISS coming out sometime in early 2021.
I’m also working on a new progressive doom metal band with old friends of mine from Berklee College of Music. It’s f**king killer; I can’t wait for people to hear it.
And last but not least, Judas Priestess’ European tour which was originally scheduled for 2020 is now slated to happen in the spring of 2021.
Where and how do people find you and your projects?
If you made it this far, reading this interview, cheers! I applaud you! You’re hardcore—let’s connect. I’m on @militiaismyname on all socials. Definitely check out my Bandcamp to get music, merch, and join the ‘militious’ community. Thank you.