If you know CRADLE OF FILTH, then you (should) know Lindsay Schoolcraft who has been taking care of the keyboards, backing vocals and harp since 2014. What you may be unware of (and shame on you) is that Lindsay is also very active as a solo artist (aside from ANTIQVA) and, in fact, has released her first full-length album titled “Martyr”. METAL KAOZ checked the album and liked it so much, so the next step was to get Lindsay on the other side of the Skype line to discuss the making of it and take a look behind the curtain to learn what she has in store for us. Check out our really nice discussion below.
Hello Lindsay and welcome to METAL KAOZ! So, let’s get started; “Martyr” will be released in about 5 days so how does it feel?
Oh, on Monday! Aaahhh [screaming / laughing]! Yeah, I’m like nervous, excited, scared, happy, very emotional (laughs)!
So, when was the idea of releasing a solo album born in your mind?
Actually I became a solo artist back in 2010 and I did put out my first EP in 2012 but I really wanted to do a full album. And when I joined CRADLE OF FILTH it was very busy and hectic and I had a lot of involvement with the first album, “Hammer Of The Witches”, so it was crazy like trying to do a full album around CRADLE OF FILTH responsibilities. But then, Rocky came along and he’s like “let’s work on music together”, and at one point had almost 17-18 songs we were working on, so we needed to cap this off and pick like 13 for the album.
So, in the meantime, while working with CRADLE OF FILTH, did that help you at all, or did that guide your songwriting hand at all?
Definitely. Working with CRADLE OF FILTH just opened my eyes to a whole new world in the sense of like, everything; writing, production, stage, performing, singing – everything. Like my whole world changed. The experience I gained through CRADLE OF FILTH is invaluable. It really is. And when it came to producing this album, I had more of an idea of what I wanted and like writing-wise, and CRADLE OF FILTH felt this very strange because they’re like an extreme Gothic Heavy Metal band, right? While my solo stuff is more like Gothic Rock with a little bit Nu Metal in there, so it’s a bit different but I did take definitely some influences from CRADLE OF FILTH when it comes to some styling, sometimes at the piano, the lyrics or the structures, so there’s that.
In fact, looking back at the history of CRADLE OF FILTH, they have more Gothic foundations than Black Metal but we cannot say that as metalheads, right?
We can say what we want, I’ve given up. You know, some people are like “no, don’t use labels, don’t use subgenres” and I’m like “who cares?” (laughs).
Well, you know better than me that people online do care about that stuff and they can be even mean, but we are grown people so we can say whatever we want. You already said that Rocky Gray kind of pushed you or helped you to get the product done.
He did, he was such an integral part of the writing process. He plays guitar and bass and drums and guitar and drums are not my strength so it was so helpful having him there. He would be like “oh, I think you can do this better” so we went and rewrite this. He really pushed me honestly to be a better writer and a better arranger and I appreciate him for that. I really, really do.
Why did you call the album “Martyr” though?
I was thinking about what to call it and I was collecting the songs and I was like “ok, what’s the overall theme? What’s the reoccurring theme?” and a lot of it was really just staying true to what you believe in and I kind of saw that theme repeating a little bit depending on the song and then at the time I actually had a scare and I had cancer but now is ok, everything is fine and I was told “you may have not long to live” – obviously I’m ok so here we are right now – and if anything I had to go and have a talk with my producer and be like “you know, if I don’t make it, just make sure that this album gets released”. And it was really hard for him to hear because I’ve never been through this before but I said I’ll finish this up you’ll finish these last things, you won’t be making any money, and just make sure it will get on the internet, so people can hear it. But then obviously everything was fine so I was like “yeah, I have to call the album “Martyr” because I really was willing to die for what I love and what I’ve believed in and would be like my last thing if I didn’t make it”. But, you know, here we are (laughs).
Yes, here we are, and it’s a big deal; I mean, I cannot even imagine what was going through your mind during those days but I’m glad that we are having this conversation.
It was scary. Same here.
Ok, I derailed a little bit but I’ll get back. So, I think I read in the promo sheet that Rocky did program the drums, right?
He did, yeah. So what happened there is that tracking drums in the studio is so expensive and it was one of those things that we just don not have the budget for. He was like “I can program the drums because it will add an Industrial feel”, and I do like how it sounds because I like electronic music. So, the only people who notice this is those who have read the credits or if they are a drummer or if they understand for themselves – it’s only being a 5% of people who have heard the album, so it doesn’t bother me but maybe one day we’ll be able to afford live drums but not on this album. The budget just wasn’t there.
Well, in all honesty, if I hadn’t read that, I would not have an idea.
Ok, that’s good to know.
I cannot pretend that I know stuff (laughs). So, how long did you actually work on “Martyr”? Especially, as you said, since your life schedule has been so busy?
Yeah, honestly it took two years around touring with CRADLE OF FILTH – like I would song-writing on the road every now and then. I started back at the beginning of 2016 when we went to North America touring with NE OBLIVISCARIS and BUTCHER BABIES and then I found sometimes where I’ll just be in the back of the bus working on a song or two. And that kind of carried throughout. But if like CRADLE OF FILTH wasn’t touring, it would probably have been taken us about 14 months to get everything finished.
And you said that you had more songs available that didn’t make it in the album; are those songs worthy to be released at some point?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, one of them is the song “Emily” which is from my old band and I did do a rework of it but I wanted to work on it with Rocky in the vision that I really have for it. When we were like putting together the songs for this album we decided to take out more of the industrial-sounding songs which were super-electronic - still like Nu Metal / Hard Rock but more electronic – and then we took out “Emily” because it was just a little too dated and sounded almost like NIGHTWISH-Symphonic Metal. Just didn’t fit the vibe of the album. So there’s those two songs and there’s a batch of other ones that I’ll say the next album is like songs I wanted to work on. Half of it is like stuff that already exists, and the other half is stuff that’s entirely new which is great. I’m looking forward to working on that album, whenever that happens.
Ok, because that was one of my questions; how do you consider “Martyr”: as a one-time thing or the beginning of something new trying to be more consistent with your solo album releases?
Ideally I would love to put out a new album every two to three years because I love writing music – that’s a big part of me. I love creating it, I love recording it in the studio, bringing it to life, adding choirs or chants or whatever, the harp piano, strings, all that to me is just the most cathartic and meaningful thing to do with my life. I love writing music and singing. So, that’s something that I never want to stop. Before the big album I was always releasing like a single here and there as a solo artist because my solo music is very different from CRADLE OF FILTH. And my involvement in CRADLE OF FILTH is very, very different than what I do for my solo repertoire or my other side project which is Classical music and Black Metal, it’s called ANTIQVA. So, everything I do is very different depending on the project but at least I have three different outlets where I can express myself and I’m very, very grateful for that. But as a solo artist I don’t wanna stop because honestly when we filmed the music video… I’ve known my drummer for a decade and my partner was there and some people who have known me for a long time were there and helping and they’re like: “Holy crap! You are a front person and you are always behind a keyboard with CRADLE OF FILTH but you’re definitely a lead singer” and I’m like “thank you”, so because of that the world can get to know me as a lead singer and if anything I think that’s a really great place for me to express myself. I really love it even if the next day my body is destroyed. I’m not in my 20s anymore, so definitely I can feel that, but whatever (laughs).
Yeah. And to be honest, now that you mentioned it, standing behind the keyboards is always tough to take a photo of you (laughs).
Oh yes, I know and I apologize for that – it’s just where they place me onstage I am not closer to the stage.
I know. And you also mentioned the word ‘cathartic’ so how cathartic is writing lyrics because some of the lyrics feel at least personal while listening to music.
They are; it’s very cathartic for me to even sing them. I was singing the song “Blood From A Stone” in the car the other day and it’s just like... [interrupting herself] sometimes you can say things nicely to people without hurting their feelings but if you can say it in a song and say that’s what is hiding behind saying what you really wanna say, but I love putting words to melody, I think it’s such a natural thing for me to express myself. But you know, I’m kind of being a little shady, like I can’t say this to your face but I can sing it to thousands of people which is just hilarious. A lot of that album was written about kind of a friendship that almost dissolved, falling in love with someone who didn’t feel the same way and a lot of it, like there’s the song “Stranger” and “Into The Night” they’re like more fantasy-based, they can be about anything. I usually write my fantasy stories about elves and try to disguise it as human problems but I’m a big nerd like that, you know (laughs).
You’re sneaky too (laughs).
I am, I am, I really am (laughs).
As you were answering my question, “Savior” came to mind, “My Way Without You” came to mind, of course “Blood From A Stone” too, and when I started listening to the album the weather was moody, the temperature had dropped, so it was right at the right mood.
Amazing, same here! It definitely is a Fall / Autumn; I never really planned it to be but it was supposed to be released in the summer but now that it’s been shown to the world in the Fall, I think that when people may think of Autumn, they’ll think of this album too.
Yeah, it’s more fitting. And you chose to cover THE CURE and you did a lyric video for “Lullaby”. Thank you for that because if you did a music video, I would hate it because the original one has spiders that I scared of (laughs).
(laughs) I know! Even the original song is creepy. Honestly, THE CURE and Robert Smith is just unreal; his artistic expression, and as a person and singer and lyricist, he’s so amazing! And I was really nervous to cover it but my drummer Scott suggested it and it was like no. 1 on our list and then I told Rocky and Rocky was like “yes, we absolutely have to cover that song”. But yeah, I don’t think I could ever top the classic music video.
I remember when I was young and they just had released that, I couldn’t stand watching the video clip. It was insane! But I tip my hat to you because you managed to capture another level of creepiness because even if I don’t like the word ‘Gothic’, it really is Gothic-esque, let’s say.
Oh, thank you. That’s cool; you could say like atmospheric (laughs).
I’ll put that in my album review, so thank you.
What about releasing “Martyr” on a physical format; what are your plans on that?
Everything online and I put together a really nice limited edition storybook version of the CD, I also have a very limited edition on vinyl for one of the singles. It’s all very much like pieces of art because I feel that that’s what people really want and I’m willing to provide it but there’s a regular CD that will be available. The work for this was done by a fantastic Russian illustrator and animator, her name is Anastasia Solti – she’s just incredible. And she did all the artwork for the album and I feel it really matches the music. So, I’m really excited about that.
Oh yeah, it does. So, just to confirm; will you release the album on vinyl?
Not the full album, just one single. It was super expensive to get the full album on a double disc like printed so I was like “let’s take it back and maybe in the future when there’s money and can go to tour, we’ll afford to print these”. I’m doing all myself, I’m my own record label now – it’s crazy! I have to say ‘no’ (laughs).
My next question was about that; what are the pros and cons of doing everything on your own?
You know what? It’s honestly the most exciting – I’m getting emotional even talking about it, because it’s been the most exciting and painful journey but liberating that I’ve ever being through. I never thought that I would become my own record label and I say the term ‘record label’ loosely because it’s more of a digital thing. But it’s so amazing because I have hired five people on my team that answer to me daily and that’s fun but sadly will go away when the album launches and then will hire them back when I will do another. So I have these people working for me and I call them my team, and not my employees, I have 14 people that do different jobs at different times and I’m very grateful for them. It’s just very liberating; I mean, it was really funny because I’ve had artists approached me and be like “hey, can I be on you record label?”, and I’m like “well, actually I’m only doing it for me, I don’t have money for extra artists. Go to https://savvymusicianacademy.com/ and they can teach you how to be your own record label” and it is amazing because this is the way I learned to do this. At the same time my health hasn’t been amazing and I’m being slow and tired and CRADLE OF FILTH have been very busy this year too. But yeah, it’s a lot doing it all on your own merchandise and press and everything, like building a website and a webshop and making sure that your bios don’t suck online and everything just runs properly. I think I’m losing my vision because I’m staring at the computer screen a lot (laughs).
I feel you (laughs).
It’s insane but the people at SavvyMusicianAcademy.com have been really supportive and they remind me “even though you’re doing all this digital stuff right now, you’ll come back to playing your harp and singing more and writing your next album, so don’t worry”. But it’s just been incredible having full control of my career and guiding it in the direction I wanted to. I don’t have to answer to anyone. I’d like to think I’m very smart and responsible when it comes to my art and business decisions, like I’m not doing this to make millions of dollars doing this because I love art and the fact that I can give people something that enriches their life and I get paid in return so I can feed my cat I think that’s a pretty fair trade, if you ask me. So, I think I’m on the right path.
Especially when considering that back in the day the record labels were getting the biggest piece of the pie or the whole pie if you may.
And I don’t think that’s right. I’ve seen so many bands falling apart and quit and give up and it’s like they have to just new digital age of being a musician. When you just sign over all your rights and control and decisions to a record label (and not all the record labels are bad because I’ve worked with Nuclear Blast with CRADLE OF FILTH and they’ve been amazing to CRADLE OF FILTH), sometimes the record label doesn’t have your best intentions in mind. And with a little bit of extra work and may take you three months, six months, a year, you can become your own management and your own record label, and you just go through seasons; three months of this, three months of that and in time you can do it. It’s a lot of work. I’m so tired of marketing, I don’t wanna do marketing anymore, my brain hurts but it was fun, it was an experience.
So, as we wrap this up, I know that you want to do this but are there any solid plans to take this on the road?
Yup, definitely. Once this album is out, we’ve already talked about getting side stage banners printed and all of that fun stuff and my guitarist Cody is working on the set running order, anything extra that needs to go on a live performance, so we’re looking to do two shows locally, like Toronto, Montreal in December and then we’re looking to see what comes in the spring when CRADLE OF FILTH is kind of in a down-time writing the new album, so we shall see how it goes.
Or you can open for CRADLE OF FILTH (laughs).
Oh my God, I would be so tired (laughs). I’d need like a personal assistance to carry me on and off stage after CRADLE OF FILTH because I would probably not be able to walk (laughs).
And last but not least; I watched your ‘assumptions are toxic’ video on YouTube and my immediate reaction was “oh man, she shouldn’t care about online comments and rumors” but then, the way you extended your experience to other people who actually get extremely hurt by such behaviors, I said “it makes sense”.
I only ever do anything with intent and purpose, like I wanna have a good intension in a way I can educate and help people and I understand not everyone wants to be educated but everybody wants to be helped and I find through telling my own stories people can relate and don’t feel alone and I think the most important thing for humans to heal – and it’s something we don’t do is we don’t talk about things. And the truth is we need to talk about it because once we talk about it, we get it off our chest, we feel better, we get a little bit of confidence and we heal and I’m ok being the conversation starter so that doesn’t bother me (laughs).
Although conversation is used in a stretched-way online because it’s really not a conversation; sometimes people like to put some words out just to be “that guy”.
Yeah, but at the end of the day it’s a bad expression of them; it makes them look like a shitty person, you know, they can attack people all they want but at the end of the day they are the attacker and they are the ones who look like a jerk. No one else acts wrong for that person. I find the people who are the meanest online they’re actually the loneliest and they just don’t know how to act, like ask for love and a conversation.
Thank you very much Lindsay for your time. I hope that you’ll release “Martyr” on vinyl because the artwork will look great and it’ll make sense.
Oh, thank you, Dimitris! I plan to; give me some time. I promise I will eventually release it on vinyl.
Hopefully we’ll see you live soon in Chicago with your own band or with CRADLE OF FILTH.
Awesome! Thank you so much!