Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
KM1: Hi Pete! Thanks so much for the interview and I hope you’re doing well! Today I would describe myself as a morphing artist, developing into the next phase of my expression. I’m a violinist, pianist and singer and front a metal band but I also write house music if I need a lift up, or electronica synth based songs. It really depends on the day. I love expansion, authenticity and being absolutely open to evolving as an artist. I crave pushing myself to new difficult levels as well. I never want to do the same thing twice. Each day is new, we can always become something more free than we were yesterday. That leading edge is what I chase.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc?
KM1: I’m from Midland, Michigan. I lived there until I was 19, then I moved to California. I started playing violin when I was 4 and piano when I was 5. My mother was my first violin teacher and that was so powerful for me, growing up in a musical household. She’s a professional cellist and a violin and cello teacher. My sister is a professional violinist. I grew up hearing all this beautiful music and fell in love with it very young. So once I was old enough my mother started giving me violin lessons. It was like my first language, a way for me to be totally honest in the world. Then later I moved past the classical world and started playing rock music. I was a violinist in other people’s bands, then I realized I had my own voice and that I needed to create my own band. That began my journey with KnightressM1. I’ve been building this band since 2011 and it’s been an incredible growing experience and I feel very fortunate to be able to create the music that is real to me and to work with so many deeply talented musicians and artists along the way.
KnightressM1 – Polarity Integrate
PD: Can you tell us about your latest music release?
KM1: Yes, I was so excited to release KnightressM1’s debut album ‘Dreams and Devastation’ last year. We produced three music videos to lead up to the full album release as well. The album was about 5 years in the making including video production and editing and we got through it all finally during the year of the pandemic! What timing. We recorded the album at Studio 606 with John Lousteau as my co-producer and engineer. He’s incredible and I learned so much from working with him. Rob Ahlers came in to play drums on the album and Uriah Duffy laid down the bass tracks. We worked carefully on this album to really develop each song to its potential. Once it was mixed I switched gears and started the video production. Along with Shena van Spronsen of Van Spronsen Productions and an amazing team we filmed the majority of the footage for three videos in one very long day. I directed these videos and I have to tell you, video is a whole different ballgame. I loved getting into all the visual aspects, the story-telling. We made a trilogy, a sort of biography and origin story of KnightressM1 who is a superhero character. She goes through her very lethal confrontation with dark energies in the world and ultimately comes out triumphant. This is the story of the album. Bravely facing the darkness both in our own personal lives and also in the collective. Once we honestly see and deal with that darkness, then we can move towards a healthier place personally and as a planet. If we hide from that pain, we will only destroy ourselves. The music is ultimately about that courage to evolve through the pain and into transcendence.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
KM1: The core inspiration for my music is how deeply I can express myself through my music. There is no other activity or experience in this life that allows me, that gives me the space to fully become myself. I imagine I struck a deal before I entered into life on this planet that I had to have the music. Without the music, I would not be here. There is no other way for me to exist on this plane. Musical influences have ranged obviously over the course of my life. They are rooted in classical romantic composers such as Brahms, Mendelssohn, Stravinsky, Beethoven. Currently I am inspired by Architects, Stray From the Path, Gojira, Sleep Token and BMTH. All of those bands tell the truth lyrically and write about what really matters. I grow instantly tired of bands who sing about nothing. I feel like so much of music unfortunately is copies of itself. We are maybe told or supported to become a product, a brand, some sort of iteration of something that is already working. However, the true expression is being oneself and I think it is so beautiful and moving when band’s are truly themselves. Otherwise, what’s the point. I think the industry itself is to blame, not the musicians however. I don’t mean to disparage anyone in saying this. It is rooted in, who are the gatekeepers of the industry, what makes the money. I think this will all change however given that the entire industry has essentially been gutted and will be forced to evolve now to survive. More and more these authentic, powerful bands are on the rise and I just love to see it. Speaking truth to power.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
KM1: My aspirations are to realize and embody my full potential as an artist, to reach a worldwide audience, to bring a message of truth, female empowerment, authenticity, justice out into the world. I seek to always push myself to evolve and to not hide. I have to push myself out of my own hiding spaces, out into the public eye. That is always a challenge for me. I would like to absolutely dominate the metal world with a music that is moving, beautiful, real, inspiring. To forge and strengthen the path for female artists to have equity in the music world. To forge a path in music that is completely authentic every step of the way, breaking down these tired tropes. To reframe music genres. To break them open. To put violin out into the forefront of the metal and rock world not as a side instrument, not as the sprinkles on the cupcake but as an essential instrument as powerful as the guitar. These are my aspirations.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
KM1: Perhaps when I started screaming my head off. Is that a moment I could say I’m the proudest of? I’m proud of playing with The Foo Fighters. I’m very proud of the record we made. I’m maybe most proud of being myself now more than ever. Of putting myself through the paces of working hard for this band, showing up for the music, for myself in a way that has changed me. It’s the way that I have really learned to love myself, to not hide. I have these fears that if I put myself out there, as I truly am, in the public eye and actually ask from the universe and demand my dreams come true…..if I take those steps to make them happen, then I will be ridiculed, bullied, shouted down, laughed at. I have that fear all the time. So I have to take the action anyway. I am most proud on those days when I do something that I’m afraid to do and my worst fears are proven to be wrong, again. Someone very kind and supportive will show up on the other side of that ask. That is happening quite a bit now and it’s extremely gratifying, on a soul level.
KnightressM1 – Lock and Key
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
KM1: Shauna at Shameless Promotion PR ( http://www.shamelesspromotionpr.com/) is an absolute magic-maker. She works so hard and I trust her implicitly with PR. She genuinely sees me as the artist I am. I don’t have to babysit or wonder if anything will happen. Sometimes PR is like shooting your money into a black hole, hoping something comes out on the other side. Shauna is the real deal and I am very grateful for her. The coverage has been massive and constant. I am not good at self-promotion, or rather, it’s not natural for me and I have to swim upstream to do it. So working with Shauna has been so helpful.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
KM1: We were playing a lot of shows before the lockdown happened. I book shows myself and also a good friend and former bassist for KM1 Danny Sando was doing a lot of booking for us. Now I’m planning a move to Paris so I’m branching out and connecting with venues and bookers over in Europe. As far as promotion, I guess I’m a bit of a purist. If people like the band and want to come see the show, I’m thrilled. I won’t twist anyone’s arm and I’m so happy when people become fans. I feel it’s more real that way. You find your people and your authentic audience. So, I just play, rehearse, make the band as powerful and crushing as we can be and play as often as we could. Never give up, never stop. It’s a long game and I’m ok with that.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
KM1: I think they haven’t necessarily done musicians any great favor financially. It’s very hard and even harder now for musicians to make a living. Spotify is especially egregious with their pathetic level of payout and the sentiment the CEO expressed last year that musicians just need to churn out more music, like we are robots. I would challenge him to write a decent song. I really don’t like that attitude. He’s making so much money off of the backs of artists who get pennies. Bandcamp has been a great support for releasing the album. I really like the way they run that business, it’s very supportive to artists. These huge companies though, Apple music, spotify, etc….they exist and we have to use them, but what can we do about it? I don’t know the answer to that question. There needs to be a different consciousness in that business model. You can’t treat artists like product. It’s art. If you don’t understand the difference or refuse to see the difference than you have no business owning a music company.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
KM1: I would definitely say any Architects song from their last three albums. My all-time favorite’s all of them. They’re so good.
PD: What are you particularly passionate about?
KM1: Making sure humans are taken care of and free to determine the course of their life and the manner in which they express themselves. Truth. Changing a huge system that’s abusive at it’s core, keeping people under the control of either government, media or big tech. I think we need a huge revolution of consciousness, now. People en masse have been so heavily gaslit that we are now turning on each other, mistaking our enemy for our fellow human rather than these undeservedly powerful people who own the majority of the wealth, pull the strings and make the rules so they stay in power and the rest of us perish. It has to change and we have the power to change it if we realize who is actually causing the problems.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
KM1: The most personal problem I’ve had with the music industry is twofold, one being gender dynamics and this constant undertow of resistance on base because you are female. It’s systemic and an invisible kind of constant backwards pressure. The other one is a lack of inroads for up-and-coming bands into the avenues that would provide real power and sustainability for them.
KnightressM1 – Butterfly
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
KM1: I’m currently working on the songs for the second album and I’m really excited about that. I’m aiming to be in the studio for that album this summer. I’m also working on a dance album because we need to dance. We need to preserve our human nature during this time.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music online?
KM1: You can visit the main KnightressM1 website and the album is available on all the streaming platforms: Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, Amazon etc.
Band/Artist location – San Francisco Bay California
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