Tag Archive: Denigrata


staff card pic_200x300A Lecturer in Popular Music at a British Higher Education institution, Denigrata Herself is undertaking her PhD in women in extreme metal. She is also the front woman/guitarist in Denigrata, an experimental black metal collective. Denigrata have coined the term noir concrête for their music, meaning the avant-garde dark noise initiated by Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen finds a different rhizomatic existence within their contemporary black metal performance space.

Denigrata Herself is a gender theorist whose research and publications to date focus on body performativity, reclamation of female space, tattooing, graphic novels, death metal and black metal. She is part of the International Society for the Study of Metal Music (ISMMS) and sits on various academic and equal rights boards in the UK.

For over a decade she was a lead guitarist in British death metal bands, she was signed to and worked for various independent record labels and now devotes her time to lecturing, researching and performing. She is choir master for her departmental chamber choir and presents annual post-modern renderings of canonical classical pieces with her choir, a string quartet, a contemporary band and Ableton performers.

The Problem With the Music Industry: Where Women Fear to Tread…

By Denigrata Herself, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music and Contributing Writer, HorizonVU Music

https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/i-felt-so-trapped-in-indie-music-sexual-harassment-is-an-accepted-nightmare

Anybody who has read the above link (if you haven’t, please do) will be as shocked as I was at the content. I AM shocked, but not at all surprised. Whilst this is a different genre than the one I’m involved with, there are glaringly frightening parallels…10 Hottest Women in Rock or Metal or Indie…what does it matter what the genre is?! Why is this even a thing?! There is a system in place that protects abusers whilst the women who have to deal with shitty behaviour are often too scared to speak out (Dr Luke, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Saville, that Saudi millionaire who said he tripped and fell into a girl’s vagina http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/12/saudi-millionaire-rape-charge.html# ). Will we lose our jobs, will we get punched in the face or worse, will we lose everything we have worked for?

Simply put, the music industry has a serious problem with sexism and misogyny, anyone who has been following the Kesha situation can see that. Our society is engineered to believe men, to listen to men and to protect and defer to them. There is a terrible and very damaging ethos to not listen to women or believe them. It is systemic, it is institutional and it’s a massive fucking problem. I was stunned that Sony chose to hide behind their ‘contractual obligations’, rather than realise they are protecting a rapist. How can they be ok with this?! Sony, if any of you happen to read this, WHAT THE FUCK?! Seriously, what on earth do you think you’re doing? A woman should be free to have creative control over her art, without having to deal with her abuser. And yes, the clatter of the keyboard warriors shouting ‘what if she’s lying?!’ Because that’s easier isn’t it? To blame the victim rather than open your eyes to the far greater problem of a systemic and very well protected masculinist structure.

Honestly, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of women being assaulted, of not being listened to, women not being believed and women having to prove themselves before anyone will take them seriously. We have to prove our musical worth, our academic worth and also be willing to play the sexualisation game. I just want to be me, play the music I love and not have to worry about being targeted at a gig or to worry for the women who come to the shows. At some point, men are going to need to step up. As Eve Ensler says. I’m tired of good men doing nothing.

It is far too easy to say ‘but I’m not like that, I don’t behave like that or treat women badly’ but when you look at the stats (97% of rapists receive no punishment, 1 in 3 women are murdered a week by a current or former spouse – here is a link to some more stats – http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/06/us/domestic-intimate-partner-violence-fast-facts/ ), then we have a very serious problem on our hands. In short, this is femicide and as provocative as this term is, we cannot shut our eyes to it anymore.

The following diagram demonstrates, in an echo Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs, how something as throw away as a joke contributes to the damaging culture we are forced to exist within.
The Pyramid of Misogyny
The moment you start to debase someone through language, you start to chip away at their humanity. The more you objectify women (yes, dear Media, this rests with you), the more you turn women into objects. And when that happens, you can treat those objects any way you like, because they are nothing, they are worthless.

The hegemony’s job is to reproduce its own structures and ideologies consistently, so it gives the impression of an institution in perpetuity, that ‘it’s always been like this’. No. It hasn’t. And it needs to stop. Women should not have to worry about their safety because they are musicians, or journalists or audience members, or WOMEN. We are reaching a crisis point that will mean there is either a revolution or there will be no women left. At a rate of 1 in 3 women murdered a week that is precisely the direction we are heading in.

I am done with patriarchy, I am done with men not willing to step up and I am done with women who internalise the misogyny. Wake the fuck up. The time is now.


Header_DenigrataA Lecturer in Popular Music at a British Higher Education institution, Denigrata Herself is undertaking her PhD in women in extreme metal. She is also the front woman/guitarist in Denigrata, an experimental black metal collective. Denigrata have coined the term noir concrête for their music, meaning the avant-garde dark noise initiated by Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen finds a different rhizomatic existence within their contemporary black metal performance space.

Denigrata Herself is a gender theorist whose research and publications to date focus on body performativity, reclamation of female space, tattooing, graphic novels, death metal and black metal. She is part of the International Society for the Study of Metal Music (ISMMS) and sits on various academic and equal rights boards in the UK.

For over a decade she was a lead guitarist in British death metal bands, she was signed to and worked for various independent record labels and now devotes her time to lecturing, researching and performing. She is choir master for her departmental chamber choir and presents annual post-modern renderings of canonical classical pieces with her choir, a string quartet, a contemporary band and Ableton performers.

Denigrata Herself – All for Love: Creativity and Emotional Investment in the Composition Process

July 2015

Is it possible to fall in love with the music you make? This is a question I regularly ask myself. Is it purely a solipsistic endeavour, all bound and tied with arrogance and self-proclamation or is this kind of deep engagement necessary in order to produce work of any serious quality? Anyone musician who feels what they do, and when I say feel, I mean feels an impact that strikes right at the heart of who you are, will understand what I mean. Yet it is very difficult to articulate because music contains an enigma, as the Structural Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss suggests,

Since music is a language with some meaning at least for the immense majority of humankind, although only a tiny minority of people are capable of formulating a meaning in it, and since it is the only language with the contradictory attributes of being at once intelligible and untranslatable, the musical creator is a being comparable to the gods, and music itself the supreme mystery of the science of humanity, a mystery that all the various disciplines come up against and which holds the key to their progress. (http://www.quoteland.com/author/Claude-Levi-Strauss-Quotes/1397/)

He states some pretty significant, albeit lofty sentiments here but knowing whether he is correct or not is another matter. Gauging content is no easy task and surely a vast degree of that decision making process is subjective. Is Lévi-Strauss suggesting that all composers/musicians are comparable to gods or merely some of them…

Social media seems to rather like attempting to compare the lyrical content for example, of say Led Zeppelin against that of Nikki Minaj, suggesting of course that the latter holds little to no true musical qualities against that of former. However, how can we compare the two when their aims are so vastly different? The subjective experience of Plant cannot be compared of Minaj because they are different people with different pressures and experiences so to my mind, regardless of whether you actually like them or not, it is simply irrelevant to attempt this type of comparison. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, fruitless…or something…

However if all artists can fall in love with their creativity, then why wouldn’t they? You could never accuse Kanye for example, for having no passion in his music even if he has a particular disregard or inattentiveness to Queen? And I’m not entirely convinced it is actually the job of the listener to deride or castigate those they simply find no value in, when it is clear that others do.

To be clear, I am only talking of the music. I am not talking about ideological positions or label interests or fiscal incentives. All of these are very separate and problematic issues and muddy the creative engagement, skew the intent and pull things into different realms.

To cut back all of the crap and to solely focus on the musical engagement only, seems to be something that should be the main impetus, but gets side-lined. Whether you are famous or not, whether you are signed, touring, whatever, when it comes down to the substantia of why you write and perform music, it should be because you are in love with it. When you play your music, it should fill every single sense in your body, mind and soul with fire, your entire being should feel like the gods themselves are coursing through your veins and in that singular performance moment, there is nothing else. There is only the music.

I have just finished in the studio with Denigrata and this is exactly how I feel. When I pick up my guitar, I feel the power of the distortion sparking through the ends of my fingers, I feel the scream explode through my body and blast down the mic and I know, as a musician, there is nowhere else I’d rather be. On stage, with Denigrata.

There is a special bond with the people you make music with and it’s something that being a singular artist in previous incarnations, I missed terribly. The members of Denigrata are astonishing, intuitive musicians. They are phenomenal human beings and they know what they’re doing. I trust them. This creates the foundations of creativity because if you don’t trust someone, you will never be able to let your creativity out. We create vistas of beauty and destruction, coexisting in the void that shakes the foundations of reality and mirrors the pain of existence. Lévi-Strauss goes on to suggest,

The musical emotion springs precisely from the fact that at each moment the composer withholds or adds more or less than the listener anticipates on the basis of a pattern that he thinks he can guess, but that he is incapable of wholly divining. If the composer withholds more than we anticipate, we experience a delicious falling sensation; we feel we have been torn from a stable point on the musical ladder and thrust into the void. When the composer withholds less, the opposite occurs: they force us to perform gymnastic exercises more skillful than our own. (http://www.quoteland.com/author/Claude-Levi-Strauss-Quotes/1397/)

And this is exactly the point – attention and connection. If you pay attention and connect with music, then you have discovered something extraordinary, something so special that nobody can take away. The crucible of creativity gives us everything we could ever need and so I urge you, if you feel that creative pulse, that drum beat in the pit of your stomach, listen to it, obey it and let it consume you until it is done. As Bukowski says, ‘when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you. There is no other way and there never was.’ (http://www.rebellesociety.com/2012/10/22/writing-lab-advice-from-charles-bukowski/)

Comments are welcome. Denigrata Herself can be contacted at denigrataherself@horizonvumusic.com


Header_DenigrataA Lecturer in Popular Music at a British Higher Education institution, Denigrata Herself is undertaking her PhD in women in extreme metal. She is also the front woman/guitarist in Denigrata, an experimental black metal collective. Denigrata have coined the term noir concrête for their music, meaning the avant-garde dark noise initiated by Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen finds a different rhizomatic existence within their contemporary black metal performance space.

Denigrata Herself is a gender theorist whose research and publications to date focus on body performativity, reclamation of female space, tattooing, graphic novels, death metal and black metal. She is part of the International Society for the Study of Metal Music (ISMMS) and sits on various academic and equal rights boards in the UK.

For over a decade she was a lead guitarist in British death metal bands, she was signed to and worked for various independent record labels and now devotes her time to lecturing, researching and performing. She is choir master for her departmental chamber choir and presents annual post-modern renderings of canonical classical pieces with her choir, a string quartet, a contemporary band and Ableton performers.

Denigrata Herself – Reflections from the Recording Studio

Sorry for my absence of late, Denigrata have been in the recording studio and whilst this process historically has not been something I have enjoyed, this time has been completely different. We opted for Initiate Audio and Media, based in the East Midlands, UK which has Neil Hudson, an incredible engineer and musician, at its helm. As such, he has made the recording process more of an opportunity, rather than a laborious task.

However, because our set up is different from a great many bands, I think we underestimated how much longer the process would take because of it. Having no drummer may seem like it would make recording easier, but because of the sheer amount of files we use, it has actually meant we have been encouraged to really focus on every single tiny aspect of our music.

It would be easy to categorise this as annoying or perhaps, cavalier regarding attention to detail because some people enjoy this process, others don’t. I am most certainly in the ‘don’t’ category, or at least I was. Perhaps I used to think about it as time = money and so to spend a long time in the studio simply meant racking up a huge bill which wasn’t at all preferable. But what this particular recording process has done has been enlightening.

Through using Ableton, it has meant that every single sound, timbre, texture and time signature has been accessible, put in stasis if you like, in order for us to carefully analyse its inclusion and function. This has meant a different engagement with our music as well as how it will be recorded.

The usual is there, guitar and bass tracking, laying the keys and vocals and whilst I’m used to recording guitars, this is the first time I have recorded any vocals. The morning I was due in the studio, I was quite anxious as I genuinely didn’t know what to expect, from me or the process. I hadn’t warmed up particularly (not something I would recommend!) but got straight into it as soon as I got there.

After various fuck ups, laughing fits and minor alterations, I nailed all the tracks and before I knew it, my day was done and it was time to sit back and listen to what had been captured. I can honestly say I sat there in complete shock! I couldn’t believe it was me! I heard evil, terrifying screamed vocal lines and from someone who sings opera and choral music during my teaching, this absolutely blew my mind!

Having only heard myself at practice and only vaguely at gigs, I was not really able to obtain any objectivity on my ‘sound’ and articulation but hearing this back now, I am able to do so. Having spent so long singing expected gendered songs, vocal lines, soprano tessituras, I was unprepared for the way my vocals for Denigrata would alter my own perception, not only of gender roles but of capabilities. I think well if I can do it, anyone can. I have often held extreme metal vocalists (mostly men) in high regard, thinking that it must be exhausting; it must ravage your vocal chords and be very hard to maintain; naively I was worried I didn’t have what it takes. However, perhaps because of how much I enjoy being a vocalist, this has helped my evolution and commitment to making the sound I have in my head. I suppose in those terms, it’s no different from finding a guitar distortion that meets the sound you want to use. But unlike a guitar pedal or head, you can’t just fix your settings, doing the vocals requires something more.

In order for me to do this, I have to feel. I need to feel the darkness in my soul in order for that sound to come out. It is a cathartic process as well as terrifying. Staring straight at your own fears and being willing to bare your soul is a scary prospect. That being said, I hadn’t thought it would be as empowering as it is. When I scream my vocal lines, I find it almost transcendent. I know this may sound daft, but it’s true. I don’t know if other extreme metal vocalists experience something similar or not, but being able to scream out all the pain, the misery and sorrow is a very valuable gift that I am deeply thankful for.

Needless to say I am very excited to hear the final cut of the album! As H.P. Lovecraft wrote, ‘madness rides the star winds’ and it is time we join them.

Comments are welcome. Denigrata Herself can be contacted at denigrataherself@horizonvumusic.com


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