Christine Davis – Christian Mistress

Interview by Alessandra Cognetta

Today’s interview is one of the first I wrote for Femme Metal and marks one of the most interesting musical discoveries I had the pleasure to make. Christian Mistress formed in 2007 and delivers some very well-crafted Heavy Metal, enriched by the outstanding performance of Christine Davis on vocals. It’s music for ears used to the classics and ears searching for something new. Their last album, “Possesion” (2012, Relapse Records), was followed by a European tour and, unfortunately, a hiatus. But worry not! Christian Mistress is now back with a renewed line-up and is already back on stage.
 
Let’s start off with your latest album: “Possession” is a really strong release, that takes all the good from “Agony & Opium” and brings it to the next level. Can you tell us about the genesis of the new album? What did you want to achieve, both musically and lyrically?

We wanted to make a rock album that was heavy, sad and hopeful at the same time. We wanted to incorporate more production elements such as the acoustic guitar and organ. We wanted a really awesome recording in which the guitars could ‘sing’ and not just fill up space (I think we have achieved this on all of our releases and it is no easy task with today’s digital recording bullshit). For the lyrics, they expressed a dark place that was following me in my life at the time. I hope there is a chance for them to speak for themselves. They are not supposed to be translated, interpreted etc.

You write all the lyrics for Christian Mistress. What are your main sources for inspiration and influences?

Inspiration from the music itself gives shape to the sounds and vocal patterns. I think about what will sound best or be the most dynamic for the song and then I put words to those sounds based on the negative space between objects. The openness and colors of the desert. The trees and the rain. Existing in these places and navigating among other people. concepts of the mind. current events in our lives. Eric’s El Camino. If there is a more specific place the words come from they are drawn from the well of life and death around us.

The acoustic element on some of your songs was a really pleasant surprise. Have you ever thought about exploring this side of your music further?

We use acoustic guitars when it suits the song. We will probably use it again in the future as well as other musical voices such as more organ, flute, and more singing from everyone in the band.

This is your first release under Relapse Records. How was the collaboration born and how has it been so far?

We met Rennie from Relapse at a show we played in Austin, Texas on a short tour in 2010. He was a really nice, down to earth kind of guy and he gave us a good offer. It was a very natural transition for us. They have treated us well and been very professional and encouraging to work with.

In April 2012 you have toured Europe for the first time. What are your feelings about this new upcoming experience? I’ve read in one of your previous interviews that you have high expectations for the Netherlands (which I hope will not be disappointed)… what do you think about Italy?

That tour was RAD! Playing Roadburn 2012 was definitely amazing and one of our other favorite shows was in Chemnitz, Germany. We loved Bologna, Italy but got to the venue too late to play the show there because of a flat tire on our van earlier that day in Switzerland. Even though we couldn’t play that night, we had a blast hanging out with our Italian fans after the show. Very cool folks over in Europe and we can’t wait to get back!

How would you briefly describe your music to someone who doesn’t know you?

Heavy Metal, Heavy Punk style loud ass music: In a cellar where anxiety and blind confidence collide, desperate sounds are set to flame. Marshall law screams out shallow skulls propulsed by human error. Walls of white wash marbled black. This is the freedom as a captive of sin. There’s no future here so let it burn us clean.

Can you tell us about the cover art for “Possession”? Who designed it and what’s the message behind it?

Benjamin Vierling (www.bvierling.com) designed this for us based on some ideas we gave him. The hand is painted from a photo of my hand, the lines in the hand being directly related to the song lyrics for All Abandon “Divination strong in my veins and it’s radiating so with all abandon”. “All Abandon” was a song we wrote that really shaped the mood of “Possession” for us so it made sense to tie it into the artwork. Also, the plants on the painting are wild ginger which grows in the woods in the Pacific Northwest of the US and I was using a lot of it at the time we wrote “Possession”, the 4 m diamond is a classic Christian Mistress shape that we use on almost everything. We just like the simplicity and strength and its association with early deity but also it is immediately unique and recognizable.

How does the band work on new songs? Do you write on specific occasion, plan it somehow, or gather what you piled up after a certain amount of time?

We write one song at a time generally, Oscar brings the parts of the songs to practice and we put the song together over the course of about a month per song. Then I write the vocal parts at the end.

Your voice is one of the distinctive traits of Christian Mistress‘s sound. How do you keep it in shape, especially when touring?

The more I sing, the stronger my voice gets. I don’t have too much problem keeping it in shape at this point. It might be good for me to warm up before shows, but generally I just drink a bit of whiskey and get on stage and go for it. It is easier for me to just transition from hanging out with people at the show and getting gear organized to going straight to the stage for some reason. I really like to just jump into the show and not get too prepared or over-worried about it. It is a coping mechanism and how I avoid getting any kind of stage fright. It is also kind of how I approach life I think, just not giving a fuck or over-thinking things.

Who came up with the name for the band and why? Is it in any way related to your music?

Christian Mistress was born from our former drummer Reuben Storey‘s brain. He drooled the name onto a page while hanging out at the record store he used to work at in Olympia, WA. It is related to our music in that it is our band….uh not sure what else to say here. We like the name because it is a bit rude towards Christianity I suppose.

How did Christian Mistress come together? Was music your aspiration in the first place? Do you find it difficult to be a musician nowadays?

We are friends that are passionate about heavy metal and we have all been musicians all of our lives. It is a natural extension of wanting to do more with music and having a chance to create something that we love. Being a musician is not difficult because the reason we do this is to write killer songs and learn from each other. We don’t take any day for granted and move forward in our endeavor to write good songs that come out of our depths. I have been wanting to do a band like Christian Mistress for many years. Recently, we took a hiatus after our European tour 2012 and now have reformed with a new drummer and 2nd guitar player that have time to tour more so we hope to see you all out in the crowd and meet you someday!

 

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