Metal Blast conducted an interview with singer Jill Janus of the Los Angeles-based occult-themed traditional metallers HUNTRESS before their November 26 concert in Amsterdam, Holland as the support act for DRAGONFORCE. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Metal Blast: The occult and witchcraft are two elements that are very prevalent in [HUNTRESS‘ debut album] “Spell Eater” and yourself. How serious is all of the witchcraft and occult in the album and the band itself? Not just in you, but in everyone?
Jill Janus: Witchcraft guides all aspects of my life and always has ever since I was a little gal. “Spell Eater” is in a way a tribute to spells and the occult. The boys have seen things and experienced things together with me that you can’t really explain, and we try to keep it a little more private. Of course, there are many people I’ve known for years who haven’t known that I am a witch, because it’s not really something that you speak about. However, when you write an album and al the lyrics and content are woven with alchemy and numerology, it’s out there and you start getting questioned. The boys are very accepting of my beliefs and it just so happens the album guides itself. When we are in the writing process the boys bring the riffs and I’m being beamed messages from deep space and my mouth opens and words come out. That’s just the way “Spell Eater” was born; I just get these visions.
Metal Blast: There was something that I read in which you said, that your inspiration is “like I see a thin blue line coming into the top of my skull, words are given to me, and I wail.” What?!
Jill Janus: [laughs] I’m an artist! The best way for me to explain that is that’s how many of my lyrics come to me. I feel as if I’m very connected to another realm, and often that is just for me as an artist, there are many ways people tap into their creativity, and that’s just one way that I do. Many artists suffer for what they do and go through drastic measures to receive creativity, so this is quite mild compared to many other stories I’ve heard.
Metal Blast: The fact that there is this witchcraft element reminds me of another American band named COVEN. Were they an inspiration for your or anyone else in the band?
Jill Janus: Not really. I really do adore COVEN, and I love a lot of that ‘60s/’70s proto-metal and it kicks ass. But for me I find very little inspiration in other females, especially female front people. I just relate better to men and I often try to “unsex” myself vocally. My goal is to sound sexless. I don’t necessarily need to be called a female front person, but I will be because of my look, the sorcery and the imagery that I use. But there is no other inspiration from other bands necessarily, it’s really something that is organic and is kind of magical with the way it occurs.
Metal Blast: You mention that you like to be considered sexless musically, but at the same time the imagery is very sexualized. So, why did you decide on the one side to do that imagery, and on the other you wanted to be sexless?
Jill Janus: The imagery will always be feminine and always embody the power of being a woman and a witch. This is sorcery, this is what I use to draw you in, and I’m not ashamed of it. Vocally speaking I would like to be remembered as a vocalist; not as a female-fronted band. It’s just something I would like to achieve for myself; something that is timeless and it’s just me and not considered to be a female voice. There’s a lot of work that I do to blend in the melody and pureness, but also bring in the brutality with these lower guttural death metal vocals and screams. So the combination of those I want to surpass sex.
Metal Blast: Regarding surpassing sex, one of the interesting things about metal is that it is always a bit of a sausage fest, so what sort of negative and positive effects do you get out of this very sexualized imagery?
Jill Janus: Well, sure, it can be negative for anybody. Once women decide to show skin and put themselves in a position where they are going to be criticized, you can get burned, so you need to choose your battles wisely. I personally am not afraid of anything; if you got it, flaunt it. I can back it up with the voice.
Read the entire interview at Metal Blast. You can also watch the chat below.