Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal of Metal Assault recently conducted an interview with singer Jill Janus of the Los Angeles-based occult-themed traditional heavy metal band HUNTRESS. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Assault: The most notable thing about the music is the dark, occult vibe. What’s the reason for your liking of the occult?
Jill: I have been pagan since birth. I grew up on a deer farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York, a region known for its ties to the occult. My family is quite eccentric and always encouraged my secret sight. I’ve never had to speak of my beliefs until [the release of the HUNTRESS debut album] “Spell Eater”. I will always hold close my mystery. However, many secrets will be revealed within the songs.
Metal Assault: You have displayed a great vocal range on this album. When did you start learning to sing?
Jill: I was born with a four-octave coloratura soprano range. My mother realized I had a big voice and took me to auditions as a child. I was performing in opera productions while recording thrash songs in my basement. It just took me a little longer to break free of theatre. My classical training is now the foundation for my screams; it helps me to maintain the voice.
Metal Assault: I read somewhere that you toured Europe as a teenage opera star. Would you say you’ve brought some of those theatrics to your on-stage performance as part of HUNTRESS?
Jill: Absolutely. I love theater. I feel a strong bond with the stage. But I have spent many years stripping away the classical inflections in my voice. HUNTRESS is not musical theater, it is metal. Opera was never dark enough for me.
Metal Assault: But did the opera experience at such a young age give you the confidence to perform on stage?
Jill: Yes, but I’ve always been confident. I’ve always known my purpose, which is the voice. My family said I had a focus and drive as a child that was beyond my years. At the age of five, I told my father I was born to sing and I would do nothing except sing for the rest of my life. I’ve never lacked confidence.
Metal Assault: It’s great that HUNTRESS plays traditional heavy metal. What made the band gravitate towards playing that style?
Jill: Traditional heavy metal is simply the best. We aren’t throwbacks or retro, we keep our sound marching forward and are influenced by black metal, death and thrash. But the heart of HUNTRESS will always stay true to the roots of heavy metal.
Metal Assault: I’ve been following the band’s Facebook, and it seems like HUNTRESS is getting constant attention in magazines. Are you surprised by the rapid progress you’ve made in the press?
Jill: Yeah, it’s been a whirlwind and a bit overwhelming at times. But we can back up the hype. We are fearless and ready to conquer. We’ve been waiting a very long time for this moment. I’ve visualized much of it, seen it play out like a movie. I’m sitting here writing this interview on our tour bus, from Metalfest Loreley in Germany. It’s raining. The band WITCHCRAFT is playing right now. One year ago exactly, HUNTRESS fell apart. I fired the original drummer and almost lost my band. I had a nervous breakdown that put me in the hospital. But I asked the remaining members to have faith in me, I told them we must share the same vision for HUNTRESS. I would not compromise. I never will. And now we’re touring Europe in a fucking nightliner and have two U.S. tours under our belts. If you can dream it, you can be it. Believe the ways of the witch.
Read the entire interview from Metal Assault.