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Huntress Interview

Live Interview with Jill Janus of Huntress 
June 8, 2013 in Tilburg, The Netherlands

When Huntress was announced to play in Poppodium 013 in Tiburg, close to my hometown, I requested a photo pass to do a concert review (in a separate article in SC) . When that was accepted, the idea came up to do a live interview with Jill Janus too. I was hesitating a little bit. Although quite happy with English, I could have done my first interview with a front woman from a Dutch band. On the other hand, now I didn't need to translate the interview into English. When the interview was granted, Napalm Records provided a promo of the new album as background information. You will find a CD review later in SC too. With that I had the full package (concert, interview and CD review).


What I read about Jill when preparing the interview made me more curious to meet Jill but also I but worried (it would be my first interview). But as soon as I met her, I was sure that was no need to be worried. Jill is a nice, friendly and warm person, but also very serious. She knows the direction she wants/has to go.

We talked (or better Jill talked) about some domestic things, the Sweden Rock Festival, Europe and the US and of course the new album Starbound Beast. It might contain some spoilers for the CD review.

After her voice preparation we had a "minute shoot" in the artist canteen with Jill and the band.

And then all went off to prepare for the show.

Ton:  Thanks Jill for giving time for an interview.

Jill:  Of course, thank you for taking time to do this, I always love talking to the media (laughs).

Ton:  Over to my first question. The last time you were on Facebook talking about your woodpeckers, how are they doing?

Jill:  Oooh.... (little bit exited). I'm so happy you ask about how my woodpeckers. You know, they are doing great, they are already gone. Essentially what happened was, I was renting a little room in a house in Arcadia, California and there was a dead tree outside my house. They chopped some of the branches off, down came eight baby birds. So, what I did was I co-parented with their mom's and dad's, so I keep them in at night and feed them worms and put them out in the morning. And eventually there was two that didn't do very well, so I spend some extra care with them and made them strong. Before I knew they were flying around in my bedroom, so I said it's time to let them go. And that was very rewarding. It is quite an art to raise a baby bird, they are very very delicate. I grew up on a farm, so for me this was not the first bird I nursed back to health. So happy you asked. The woodpeckers climbed up the tree and joined his parents and are very happy.

Ton:  The question came up because you had to leave for Sweden.

Jill:  Yeah, luckily. I was so concerned, I was saying when I'm going on tour what I'm going to do with the baby birds and I became this crazy bird lady with the birds sitting on my head, pooping on me. And I was on the computer trying to work and it was funny like, the band was saying you're nuts, but I just couldn't help myself. I'm a little little white witch and I love animals and nature, so for me it is a natural thing.


Ton:  I assumed it's similar as caring little children, if you have to leave them behind.

Jill:  Yeah, they are healthy thank goodness, they are off and being birds now.

Ton:  And now up to Sweden. How was that playing in Sweden?

Jill:  It was such an honor. To be asked to play at Sweden Rock. You know, it blew our minds really. We stepped on stage, it was the biggest stage and the biggest crowd we've ever played before. And the Swedish people are such metal heads and embraced everything we that did on stage and it was amazing. The feedback was great and I always make an effort to meet the fans after the show and there is a lot of hugs and a lot of photos. So for us it was a really good experience and the promoters of Sweden Rock I'm so forever grateful to have been chosen with the band to go and participate in such a line-up. I mean Kiss was playing the same night we played. It blew my mind, I mean Huntress and Kiss on the same day. Life is good.

Ton:  Life is good and then playing here in a very small venue.

Jill:  Yes. And that is what is so interesting about us, is that. It doesn't matter if it's a huge arena or a hole in the wall, or a small stage, we will always give the best show we can give. And we love it. So doesn't matter the scope of it, you know, at all. And there maybe ten people up tonight or there maybe a hundred, it doesn't matter you know, we will always give the best show we can give.

Ton:  In other interviews I read you do your own thing because you think that is the right thing to do. The more people that love it the better, but having the opportunity to do what you want. Jill: Yes. I always said I won't ever compromise on my vision and I will never compromise on doing what I feel I was born to do and that is sing. And I belong in Heavy Metal, I know this now. I finally feel I belong on the planet. I have a band that supports my beliefs and I support their vision and we all work together. Without them it wouldn't be possible. So whether we're playing a huge venue or a small venue we are in this together and have our eyes on the prize and we want longevity. We want to do this for a very very long time.

Ton:  Is there a difference between Europe and the US?

Jill:  Sure there is. There is a difference. It's the cultures. I feel the culture of Europe really embraces Heavy Metal. It's like the blood of the ancients is here, it thrives the Viking and the violence and you know that will never go way because it is part of your history. And I feel that America has shorter attention spans and it takes a lot longer for a band, like Huntress, who would be placed with somebody like King Diamond or ... We get a lot of comparisons to a new album Heavy Metal. It's interesting to see that dynamic and we love both. And it's fun attempting to conquer both, Europe and America.

Ton:  And South America?

Jill:  South America would be ideal, but I like to conquer the world. But not conquer in the aspect of take, I want to earn my respect. I want to work hard to prove that we are a metal band that is legitimate and that will stay the test of time. This will take many years. And the fact that I have so many people that are interested in knowing about the path and the process of this is really exciting because you're joining us on this journey, we're very new. And we're still learning and we're still understand that there is a lot to learn and there is a lot of hard work to put in to this. But we are very inspired and that's why we want to do one album a year. And we are doing an album a year. Yes, the inspiration is very strong.

Ton:  That brings us automatically to the new album. Isn't it strange playing on this show, I assume you will some new songs ...

Jill: Yes we do.

Ton:  From which most of the people never heard anything before? It will be completely new for them.

Jill:  That's the way it was when we started touring with Spell Eater. We toured without releasing our album for a couple of months, we toured with no record. We just toured. And all we had was our live show and a couple... T-shirts to sell, and that was it. And so, that doesn't scare us. I feel that you know, the people that get, get it. And those are the ones that will buy the album later. And so we're here to perform and hopefully leave a good impression and leave the crowd wanting more.


Ton:  For the new album you had Zeus as the producer.

Jill:  Yes, Starbound Beast. He's amazing. We chose Zeus because we knew he was the man for the job. We knew his reputation was that he could bring a band together and create a really amazing album in a very limited period of time. We only had three weeks to record this. We started writing the album in December when we returned from touring in 2012. We did demos, we did the pre-production, we were very prepared and we went into the studio with Zeus for three weeks and we knew exactly what notes we're gonna play. I had all the lyrics done, everything was ready. So, there was never a time that we weren't certain of exactly what would be on this album. We knew. It takes five people being very dedicated to that product.

Ton:  Especially if you want to do it in three week!

Jill:  Sure. And then the producer to come in and put it all together. His work ethic is insane, he created a very modern crushing current sounding metal album without sacrificing our integrity. Which is something we will never allow.

Ton:  We talked about working with Zeus, how is the collaboration in the band, all together or do people have specific things?

Jill:  Uh, well. In the process of writing I inspire the boys, I tell them this is something that ... you know here is the title, this is my vision. I receive messages, I fall into a trance, I get lyrics from another place. And so I get inspired this way. And, they got used to it now. They didn't like it so much when I would bring them ... Yeah, they are used to it now. They are used to my witchy ways. So I bring them tittles and then they'll get inspired and they'll bring me compositions and music. What I do at that point is, I write lyrics over their compositions and I write all the vocal melodies. So we all have our jobs. And it's a very good process together, we work very well together. But I couldn't do it without them. I couldn't write an album on my one, nor would I want to. We're together, they are my brothers.

Ton:  That's great to hear. What surprised me a little, I received the album from Napalm to have some background for the interview.

Jill:  Sure

Ton:  There is a certain balance in the song. The vocals are in the first part and the second part is almost instrumental.

Jill:  Yeah.

Ton:  Is this planned or did it just happen?

Jill:  Uh. I think it is to whatever you would perceive. We didn't plan anything, it just came naturally. So whatever you hear is what you perceive as not like we planned to do it that way, you know. It's definitely far-reaching, it's cosmic and more Galactic this time. And, you know, I feel that we're evolving as musicians and it's a very exciting time for Huntress. We're on a verge of a profound shift as is everybody.

Ton:  A question over your voice. It is used different then on Spell Eater?

Jill:  This album is a little bit more melodic. Perhaps a little bit more accessible. I don't speak much of that because we just do what we do naturally. Perhaps, this is what I'm being hearing just interviewing the people tonight, they think that the sound could be a little more accessible. Do I think so. Perhaps, maybe not. It still stays true to the Huntress sound, this time it's a little more melodic.


Ton:  That's for sure. Anyway I like the melodic.

Jill:  Thank you (laughs). Like I said we're still a very young band, we are still evolving. And what fun is, that we're recording an album a year. So, five albums from now I will look back at Starbound Beast and probably admire certain parts of it that... The same thing with Spell Eater. They are all my children. Each one has a little heartbeat.

Ton:  Everything is something on your path.

Jill:  Yes, it is.

Ton:  You have to evolve and go through certain stages.

Jill:  Yes, it's all evolution. And it's really exciting. And we're very proud of Starbound Beast.

Ton:  Now we are coming to the songs. Two came to my mind preparing this interview. I'm not a lyrics man, more a music man it has to fit all together and the voice is almost an instrument.

Jill:  It is an instrument, without a doubt. Yeah.

Ton:  You mentioned it maybe already a little bit earlier. But one phrase triggered me: "The message inside your head, ain't from the dead". Can you tell a little more on that?

Jill:  (very serious) That's from the song "Receiver" and what inspired me was, last summer I was on tour at Metal Fest and often in the Twilight Hour, basically when night meets the morning light, this is when I get probably the most inspiration. But I would wake up and downstairs on the bus, everybody be sleeping, and I would just start receiving lyrics and with "Receiver" I felt like it was coming from, it wasn't coming from the trances I fall in, into you know, are never from beings that have passed from Earth. I always felt that any content I received or inspiration lyrically is always been from Space. But I was never really able to kind of figure out, prior to, Spell Eater I wrote, I knew this I referenced this on the song "Sleep and Death". Deep Space is the place, because that's really where I get most of my inspiration. However when we were on tour, that's when I first realized I knew exactly where it was coming from. And I knew at that plane, without a doubt, it's not from the death. Anything I ever received, any psychic messages , any intuition, any transmissions, I know now that they've never been from beings that have passed. It's clear to me now that it is from Extra Terrestrials.

Ton:  It triggered me.

Jill:  It's intriguing and I'm not ashamed to talk about it. There are a lot of people who would find that a little off putting or a little uneasy but I know without a doubt that these communications are not from the death.


Ton:  There are so many thing you don't know, so why ignore it.

Jill:  Sure, I'm not gonna ignore it. I'm going to acknowledge it and I'm going to move on. And that's exactly what I do is, I'm bound by these feelings and these ... as since I was a very young child I've been, you know, very sensitive to energies and understood the secret side and finally with this record I understand that it is not coming from ... from anyone that is passed, it's not coming from humans, it's coming from something far greater.

Ton:  The last song is "Alpha Tauri".

Jill:  Yes, this is the answer.

Ton:  OK

Jill:  (again very serious) This is the answer. This is the last song on the record for a reason. Because I feel that we're all, we're all are curious where we're from and we all have this longing to .. to reach beyond the stars and to go home. To find out where we really are from and we're all Earth creatures, we're all bound to Earth. And I'm very proud to be Pagan and I always will be, but I know now that the secret lies within the Bull's eye and that is the Taurus constellation, Alpha Tauri, Aldebaran and Anunnaki. And that to me is the next level and is the profound shift and that is where we can find the answers if we delve into that, particularly Alpha Tauri. So, and the song is about the arrival and also of the fascinating aspect of the VRIL (Jill spelled) energy and using this energy to create different portals and dimensions and star gates to potentially in the future visit these other places that are beyond scope of Earth. There is so much more out there and I don't even know. I just balanced what I've been told, I received that, that's all. I received it and then I researched it and then it blew my mind. And that's what this album, at the core is, it's about Alpha Tauri. That is the secret.

Ton:  Interesting to hear. This was my last prepared question.

Jill:  Wonderful (laughs)

Ton:  Did you think I missed something?

Jill:  Do I think you missed something? I think that you're very intelligent and that you .., I talk to a lot of people and a lot of people have interviewed, I'm really very pleased this time around for this album Starbound Beast, I'm finding people, like yourself, are understanding where I'm going with the lyrics and the content on this album, more than Spell Eater. It's very exciting to see that. I don't think you missed anything, I think there's more you can discover, if you want, within the album. You know, we don't take ourselves to seriously, it is what it is, it's an album, it's music, it's Heavy Metal. But on the other side it can be more if you choose it to be.

Ton:  Thank you very much

Jill:  You're welcome (laughs).

Ton:  Do you have a message to Sonic Cathedral?

Jill:  The message is: Keep your goals away from Trolls.


Photo credit (promotional picture - band): Napalm Records
Photo credit (shoot): Ton Dekkers
Photo credit (live): Ton Dekkers

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