DATE OF INTERVIEW: 27th August 2019
Cradle of Filth keyboardist for the past six years, Lindsay Schoolcraft is gearing up to showcase a more autonomous side to her creativity. And it's an autonomous venture in more ways than one, as she's opted to self-release her debut solo album, 'Martyr', two years after it was completed. A collaborative effort with onetime Evanescence and We Are The Fallen sticksman and multi-instrumentalist Rocky Gray, 'Martyr' is characterised by a sublimely melodic set of songs. And they're all loaded with the succulently smooth tones of Lindsay's singing; an emotionally rich and expressive voice which she's always teased as being capable of so much more through her vocal contributions to various Cradle tracks. The evidence is on 'Martyr, which also features, along with Rocky's guitar, bass and programmed drum contributions, her affectively compelling harp and keys prowess. Ahead of its release, Metal Discovery quizzed Lindsay about her rather magnificent full-length solo outing...
METAL DISCOVERY: Hey Lindsay! So, your debut solo album, ‘Martyr’, is due for release at the start of October. How do you feel about that right now? A mixture of nerves and excitement in how your music might be received?
LINDSAY: I’m honestly just so happy it’s finally going to be out! It’s been waiting on the shelf for almost two years now! So far, from what I have released to public ears, the response has been really good. Before I teased any music I definitely was really nervous.
(Lindsay Schoolcraft on being approached by Rocky Gray for a potential collaboration)
"He did get in touch with me and asked me right away. Of course I couldn’t say no! When he asked me, I had to pull over my car and have a little freak out and cry."
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2019 - uncredited
Thanks to Curtis Dewar for offering and arranging the interview
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MD: Do you feel more emotionally naked in presenting your solo material to the world, compared to a new Cradle of Filth album, for example?
LINDSAY: I did with my first solo EP, but now I’m more confident. Especially because of the ensemble of talent I had help me with this record.
MD: I gather the album was completed back in 2017, and the delay has been partly down to shopping around for a suitable label, but you eventually opted for the self-released route. Does it feel emancipating to be autonomous in that sense?
LINDSAY: It’s honestly very liberating but also a total jumbled mess doing this release independently. I have so much respect for label people and behind the scenes admin in the music industry. It’s just nice to know that everything the fans are getting, no matter where they hear it or gather merch, is coming directly from me and I like that connection.
MD: How did the collaboration with Rocky Gray come about? Am I right in thinking that he was the one who first approached you to work on something together? Did that take you by surprise, and was there an immediate, inherent chemistry when you first started working on material together?
LINDSAY: He did get in touch with me and asked me right away. Of course I couldn’t say no! When he asked me, I had to pull over my car and have a little freak out and cry. I was nervous and excited when we started composing, but the collab went so smoothly it was almost a little too easy.
MD: Are we talking about a remote, online collaboration, or did you manage to both get in the same room at any point to work together? Do you think there’s an advantage to the latter over the former in any creative process, in having that sense of direct human contact when working on music?
LINDSAY: Sadly, we haven’t met face to face since 2010 and back then I was just the fan. We did it all over the internet and I hope to work with him more in the future in a face to face setting. But it worked out really well. I’d send a demo with a few notes and he would just work his magic. I rarely disliked anything he sent me once he put his magical touches on it!
MD: Collaborations between different musicians can, of course, always help progress, push and develop someone’s creativity into new areas of expression. Have you learnt anything or developed in any way through working with Rocky?
LINDSAY: Rocky pushed me to learn how to strip away old melodies and rewrite new ones. Sometimes, my first attempt to write a melody line wasn’t always the best. He would tell me, “go back and rewrite that because I know you can do better.” You don’t question your mentor or idol. He was also very kind and polite about it. He has a lot of patience too.
MD: Are you aware if he’s progressed with his own sense of creativity and musicianship by working with you?
LINDSAY: Uhm, I doubt it. That guy is a machine and works from home all the time with many other artists. I’m a different type of artist and humour so maybe he took something from that. But I know he had a good time.
MD: All music and art in general is, of course, a reified expression of someone’s emotions. So, do you find it as easy to express yourself through keys and harp as you do singing? Or would you say they’re all correlative, so a passage of music you’ve written on the harp, for example, might emotionally inspire accompanying vocals and keys?
LINDSAY: It’s all over the place here. Sometimes piano chords inspire a lyrical melody. Sometimes the whole song comes to me in my head at once and that’s the most painful! The harp definitely helps me express more of a sad ethereal side of my writing, which I’m still exploring.
MD: Lyrically, the songs strike me as very personal to you. That can be heard in your vocal delivery, too. Does lyric writing ever prove to be a cathartic experience; in conveying personal subject matter through words?
LINDSAY: It’s the best experience. I’m telling my story in hopes that someone else struggling hears it and doesn’t feel alone.
MD: It’s a fantastic set of compositions on ‘Martyr’, brought to life in various engaging and affecting ways, from the instrumentations to your rather wonderful vocals. Were you surprised by how amazing it all turned out, or did you have a concrete vision for such, right from the start? Did Rocky and yourself continue to surprise each other along the way by what you each came up with?
LINDSAY: Thank you so much! We definitely did impress one another at points during the demo stages. I think when I went in to track the vocals for the song ‘Where I Fall’, my producer Tyler Williams went quiet and, by the end of it, just said, “wow”. It was his first time hearing it. This album turned out beyond what my dreams and visions were for it. I’m so happy Tyler and Rocky were open to my weird ideas and subtly implementing other genre influences like lounge, trip-hop, and nu-metal.
MD: In one sense, it’s an album loaded with contrasts - mellow and heavy; gentle and aggressive; richly layered and minimalist; etc. When composing music, do you start with those kinds of contrasts in mind, or do you prefer to write in a more stripped-down way, and then see where the compositions lead you in terms of what arrangements and layers the instrumentations might warrant, based on what feels right for each piece?
LINDSAY: I consider the overall picture in telling the story. The first thing heard has to be a statement and draw the listener in. I also believe the melody and lyrics are the most powerful messengers and the music has to compliment and aid the story delivery. I always approached my song writing with a psychology in hopes of turning into a therapy for me and others. Plus I always enjoy a new challenge!
MD: You’ve opted to use programmed rather than live drums. I think they work ever so well within the context of the compositions, so did you feel the songs required incisive, clinical underpinnings, rhythmically speaking, rather than the more organic essence recording actual drums could’ve brought to the music?
LINDSAY: We honestly did that because my broke ass couldn’t afford to track live drums! But I’m happy we did it because there is an industrial influence on this album and it brings forth that element. Plus most people don’t notice anyways, haha.
MD: There are many moments throughout the album where all instruments seem to combine in perfect synthesis with a true sense of orchestral grandeur. Spencer Creaghan has been credited with orchestration on the album, with additional orchestration by Matthew Van Dreil, so in what ways did you work with Spencer and Matthew to orchestrate everything to realise your overall vision for the songs?
LINDSAY: Spencer and I have worked together many times for many years. He just had to be part of this album or else it wouldn’t have been complete. I gave him my simple ideas and just trusted him. He did so incredibly well. It was an easy collab, just like the one I had with Rocky.
MD: Tyler Williams is credited with producing, engineering and mixing the album, but did you work closely and collaboratively with him along the way, to preserve the essence of how you wanted each song to sound? Was it a nicely reciprocal relationship?
LINDSAY: Tyler was my cheerleader and also my problem solver. We did things on that album that sound massive, but were done with so little budget. He let me take the reins, but when I didn’t know or understand something I let him take over. I tried to push for more reverb, but he helped me not turn the album into a sonic mess, haha. Maybe next time.
MD: You released a solo EP, ‘Rushing Through the Sky’, back in 2012, and the opening track, ‘Into the Night’, has made it onto ‘Martyr’, with a bigger, better sound. Why did you deem this one worthy of being revamped? Do you have a particular affinity with this track in any way, over all others on the EP?
LINDSAY: I just felt it fit the mood of this album. It was also a song I wrote that was heavily influenced by Rocky’s other band We Are The Fallen so it only made sense to include it! I also felt the track deserved more than I was able to offer it in the past.
MD: You have Xenoyr guesting on ‘See the Light’, and you’re in a work-in-progress band with him - Antiqva. Can the genesis of that collaboration be traced back to when Cradle toured with Ne Obliviscaris a few years ago? Did you perhaps talk about doing something together back then? Any Antiqva updates?
LINDSAY: I started writing ‘See The Light’ about my views on how greed is affecting and hurting the world as a whole. When I started writing the guttural vocal lines I heard them in Xen’s voice and then I realized a lot of the lyrics were our shared opinions on political matters. What it comes down to it, the song is about a cruel person who refuses to face the truth and do the right thing and, instead, hides in ignorance and continues to hurt others. I never thought I’d write a political anthem, but here we are!
MD: Just when do you find the time to work on all this stuff, amidst what seems like a perpetually busy Cradle schedule?! Looking at Devin Townsend, for example, there seems to be something about Canadians and creative fertility on overdrive! Is this the Canadian way?!
LINDSAY: Haha, possibly! It’s good multitasking. I bring a lyric book with me when I travel and make melody line demos on my phone’s voice recorder. Then, when I’m home, I jam on the piano and try to make a quick demo before Cradle whisks me away again. That’s how I was able to complete Martyr around tours.
MD: Will you be looking to get a band together at any point to take your solo material out on the road, during Cradle downtime?
LINDSAY: Absolutely! I already have a guitarist, bassist, and drummer, and in the future I hope to add a keyboardist and string quartet. Maybe even a live backing vocalist, too, because why not?
MD: Finally, seeing as it’s taken a while for ‘Martyr’ to see the light of day, is it natural to presume that you’ve spent some time over the past couple of years composing for a sophomore solo album? Another collaboration with Rocky on the cards, perhaps?
LINDSAY: I have demoed quite a bit for a follow up album. It’s just getting into that headspace and having the time to dive in and focus on that set of songs entirely without any distractions. I hope to get to that ASAP, once this first album gets the release it deserves.
MD: Thanks for the interview, much appreciated. And the very best of luck with ‘Martyr’ once it’s out there. I hope it goes down a storm!
LINDSAY: Thank you so very much!