DATE OF INTERVIEW: 10th April 2018
Krow was vocalist for arguably one of the most culturally significant bands in the history of music, Rockbitch. After years of being subjected to incessant and ugly prejudice, fuelled by ignorance and hypocrisy, for their openly sex-positive ethos, they sadly called time on the band in 2002. An ephemeral stateside rebirth followed, from 2005 to 2008, under the MT-TV moniker, although it wasn't until 2016 when Krow re-emerged onto the scene with brand new music, in the form of her debut album, 'Kromance'. Two years later and we now have the release of her sophomore work, 'Demon, I'. A self-proclaimed style of 'Punk-EDM' sees hard-hitting, looped percussion fleshed out with raw and gritty, anger-fuelled sonic dissonance. And, adorned with Krow's ever-magnificent, wide-ranging vocals, delivering all kinds of refreshingly anarchic provocations through a sense of self-catharsis, the overriding affect is one of unadulterated, emotional power. It provides not only a compelling dose of unmitigated entertainment, but also a sincere blast of sanity and candour within an increasingly fucked up world, where absurdity seems to be ever more the norm. Metal Discovery had a lengthy natter with Krow on the phone, to learn more about her return to music...
METAL DISCOVERY: Firstly, huge congratulations on ĎDemon, Ií. Incredible stuff in terms of production, performance, and composition. Are you satisfied with how it all turned out?
KROW: Thank you very much. Yes, I am. I put a lot of effort into it so Iím quite pleased about it. ĎKromanceí was the first album out and we were still kind of finding our way on that one. I love some of the tracks on that, but ĎDemon, Ií has really come together and I think some of the messages, as well, are quite heavy. I guess I wanted to go for a kind of really heavy, grainy sound to it.
(Krow on her return to music after an eight year hiatus)
"Iíve trodden this path before, but this time itís different. The difference is that Iím not scared anymore. I wonít be bullied; I wonít be taken for a ride."
Krow - promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © [unspecified year] - uncredited
In punk, youíd usually have two guitars really going for it; nasty and dirty. And, obviously, I donít use that in EDM so, I thought, how can I do this? I want to make this as big and nasty as possible. So, basically, I used all of my analogue sounds I added in; to stick in that graininess. And then, we basically brought in stock loops and wrote everything there. Then I took it to Bad Dog, who is the producer and we worked on Pro Tools, and just figured out what extra stuff we wanted to go on there. Itís pretty much a kitchen sink productionÖ [Laughs]Ö but I quite enjoy it!
MD: I think itís got a great balance between the polished and the grit. The grit comes out, but in a polished kind of way.
MD: In a similar way to how The Prodigy combine those elements, I guess.
KROW: The Prodigy are one of the bands I really love. Theyíre kind of one of my heroes. When we came away from Rockbitch and wanted to do something else, I kind of thought, I just want to do a completely different thing. And I kind of decided that I also wanted it to be music that I really fucking liked. Thereís a lot of music that, to me, just doesnít get me there. I need something double busy; I need something to take my mind off of life, if you see what I mean.
Even when Iím going to a gig, Iíve got to have a show; Iíve got to be seeing a show, because, otherwise, I find it a little bit boring. I need to be taken away from normal life and all of your problems. I like to really immerse myself in there. And, if thereís a band up there, and theyíve spent all that time working on their music and theyíre now projecting it out on stage, I also like to be old school about it; I like to give them my full attention, and not stand there with a phone, taking a film of it so I can watch it back later on. I like to fully immerse myself. I guess Iím kind of old school, as far as thatís concerned.
MD: Yeah, itís escapism what youíre describing there, I guess.
MD: Being in the moment and feeling the emotions of it, which is what engaging with any good art should be all about, be it music, a painting, a film, or whatever.
KROW: Yeah, absolutely. Itís entertainment and so you should be entertaining.
MD: So, you mentioned Bad Dog, which is Finn, I gather?
KROW: Thatís correct, yeah.
MD: On the back cover to the album, heís credited with co-writing and co-producing, so what did each of you bring to the table?
KROW: Well, I start off. I bring in stock loops and I write all of the lyrics and the vocals, and I do the actual structure of the song. And, then, I take it to Finn, heíll stick it on the Pro Tools, and thatís when he brings in the synths and the analogue sounds. So, we kind of work it that way. And we just figure out what way itís going and what itís trying to say to us, to try and breathe life into itÖ [Laughs]
MD: Which obviously works very wellÖ the evidence is there on the album! The cover is very striking, with all the henna painted on your body, so who was responsible for that fine artwork?
KROW: Well, theyíre actually transfer tattoos! We did a photoshoot and the lovely lady who came along did it. It took about three hours to get them all on me. Quite a long photoshoot. But it was lovely and, the weirdest thing was, I couldnít get them off! You know, they say, ďOh, just rub a little bit of oil on itĒ, and, so, I tried that and they were not coming off. I got the weirdest of looks when I went down the local pub! Bless them. At least they knew me and know that Iím an artist, so it wasnít surprising, but it was a little bit odd for the people with their dogs that came in for a pint! [Laughs]
MD: A few eyebrows raised but not the entire pub!
MD: So, what reignited your desire to return to making new music once more, as I gather 2016ís ĎKromanceí EP was the first thing youíve done, musically, since MT-TV called it a day in 2008?
KROW: 2008, thatís right, yeah, so that was ten years ago. What made me want toÖ? I think what it had been was that MT-TV had been hard on the heels of Rockbitch who, obviously, stopped sixteen years agoÖ 2002, I think. Weíd gone across to the States to do MT-TVÖ we could have stayed there for as long as we wanted but, to be honest, it was a bit difficult living there with our Pagan tendenciesÖ. letís just say that. So, we thought, this isnít the place to settle down.
MD: Too many mad Christians!
KROW: Yeah, exactly, yeah. So, the community then just upped and left in 2008, and we landed in Scotland. I took a kind of hiatus there. Unfortunately, Jo [Heeley] died, our drummer; she died in 2012, so that was quite a heavy time. I mean, she wasnít even forty. She had really aggressive breast cancer and nobody knew, because she didnít want to fucking tell anyone that she had it. It was like, for fuckís sake, and then it was all too late. So, that was sad, and that kind of put a dampener on any creativity. You kind of go through the grieving process and, at that point, Mandy [Smith-Skinner]Ö I mean, Mandy just couldnít handle it anymore and she left our community because of it. It was just all too much, you know. A great partner in crime there, and sheís not there anymore.
So, coming up out of that, I guess it wasÖ I think I was just noticing that, for me, music just kind of dumbed down, and society has dumbed down. Iím a really angry person. Iím born of the frustrations and limitations that societyís put on me as a woman, through everyday life and music. And it was like that back then, and it still is now. And thatís the thing, itís like fucking almost fifteen/twenty years and itís getting worse, as far as I can see. And I guess, for meÖ why did I want to come back? Iíll tell you why I came back - Iím not a girl anymore; I am a forty seven year old, perimenopausal woman, and Iíve trodden this path before, but this time itís different. The difference is that Iím not scared anymore. I wonít be bullied; I wonít be taken for a ride. I think that was my thing; Iím just angry at everything. Iím still angry so I thought, fuck it, Iím just gonna make it really cathartic and sing this shit out. So, I think thatís what a lot of my messages are about. Itís the angerÖ weíve become so controlled, itís very frightening.
MD: Oh yeah, and without knowing. I agree.
KROW: I feel that something or someone has to be out there to change the scales, and thatíll be me, basically. Iím happy to stand there and do it because Iím angry and no one can hurt me, anymore.
MD: Good words!
MD: Musicís like your exhaust pipe as a human being, kind of thing?
KROW: Yeah, I guess so, yeah! [Laughs] But I think itís what people need, as well. Itís all very well, weíve all become so touchy-feely and so upset aboutÖ youíre not allowed to say anything, anymore, in case you seriously offend someone. Itís great to do therapy and itís great to talk through things but, at the end of the day, if youíve just had a shit day, all you want to do is you just want to shout, ďWhy donít you fuck off?Ē
MD: Yeah, exactly.
KROW: I mean, just go and lose yourself at a gig, so that you donít have to think about anything. I think thatís the lyrics that I try and put in there. I want people to be able to come alongÖ when you come to my gig, it is certainly not a safe space. If youíre sensitive, donít come through that door. But, for those people who are looking for an outlet, I can give you that outlet. Itís just fantastic, and you will feel just so much better afterwards. Itís musical therapy, letís call it that.
MD: I guess thatís kind of the punk ethos of the seventies, some of what youíre describing there.
KROW: Well, yeah, because itís anti-establishment, basically. And, the whole punk thing, it got the promotion of the individual freedom across. The ironic thing about punk, when it came up in the 1970s, is it actually encouraged women to participate in music. It was in total contrast to the heavy rock and heavy metal scenes of the 1970s. You had The Runaways, The Slits and the Mo-dettes, and they just worked together. I think itís just gorgeous, the punk subculture.
MD: Did you ever see Penelope Spheerisí documentary film, ĎThe Decline of Western Civilizationí?
KROW: No, I havenít.
MD: She made three, but the first one is about punk from that kind of era, from a female and male perspective. Itís worth a watch.
KROW: I will watch that. I love the do-it-yourself ethic, as well, of the punk thing. I think thatís probably where Krow comes in, and MT-TV and Rockbitch. Weíre a community and weíre still together, thatís the thing. After Rockbitch got turned off, so to speak, we just thought, fuck it, and we just turned in on each other and just loved each other even harder. But, you know, shame on the world; itís actually got worse. I mean, the other day, there was a ĎFree the Nippleí rally and everybody had to actually cover their nipples up!
MD: At a free the nipple rally?! What?!
KROW: Seriously, this is just so wrong!
MD: Thatís the world fucked up right there, isnít it, really!
MD: You still have that amazingly powerful, wide-ranging voice, so Iím guessing youíve made sure to keep it in good shape over the years, despite being away from the scene for so long?
KROW: Truth was, no. After Jo died in 2012, I pretty much, for a good five or six years, I didnít sing at all.
KROW: I didnít sing at all. It just wasnít there. But, Iíll be honest, Iím not a person that does my scales and shit like that. I literally just go out and sing; I donít warm up or anything. My actual warm-up is I drink hot tea for about half an hour and that is it. I guess Iíve just got a really, really freaky voice that does that. So, yeah, I didnít sing for at least five or six years, at one point.
MD: Wow, and there was me thinking you were going to say, ďOh yeah, I carried on even though I wasnít doing it publiclyÖĒ! I guess voices change with age, too, but yours is in such amazingly great shape, and with all that raw emotion; itís incredible.
KROW: Thank you.
MD: And great to hear again, I have to say, after so many years.
KROW: Thank you.