Lingua Ignota is a rising star. Presented as an artistic entity by Kristin Hayter, the project has been receiving adamant high acclaim by association with The Body and Full Of Hell. Two years ago, she released her first full-length album by herself, but after signing to the Profound Lore roster, her debut record will finally be seeing the light of day as a reissue. But it doesn’t stop there. Immediately after releasing the reissue, Kristin began the process for the new entity that is Caligula, which withholds new Lingua Ignota material, released on July 19th. In the meantime, having been assigned a presence at the enormous Roadburn Festival, while in a parallelled tour with Tristan Shore’s Author & Punisher through Europe, there really was no reason to resist Lingua Ignota’s blight.
A day after setting a packed Green Room ablaze, with almost no people being able to get in, we were received by Kristin in her hotel hall to chat a little about some of the things that make Lingua Ignota the life force that she is. Later that day, she would play a second show at the Ladybird Skatepark, at Roadburn. Needless to say, tears flowed like light seeping through the cracks. During our conversation, we talked about not fitting in any scene, her vocal stylistics, the Profound Lore association, shedding light and much more.
You are here with us today but you’re currently on tour with Author & Punisher through Europe. How is the tour going so far?
It’s going really well. Couldn’t ask for an easier person to tour with, Tristan is so laid back and wonderful and kind, and our tour manager is hilarious and wonderful, it’s been really great so far. Tristan is an actual genius, an engineer that has these incredible machines. They’re basically super complex midi-controllers that he’s built out in these really industrial looking settings. But yeah, he’s amazing, he crushes it every night. The tour has been well-received so far.
Isn’t it interesting to think that such a “classical” sound such as yours, is doing the rounds with Author’s very mechanized and industrial approach? How is the pairing working out?
You know, it’s always interesting for me because I don’t really fit anywhere. I don’t really fit with anyone, per se. I get typically billed on metal shows or noise shows and this is industrial, and it works but it doesn’t quite work. There’s some of my stuff that gets lost in translation where people come see an Author & Punisher show. So it’s an interesting pairing, I think it works really well sometimes, I also think that it’s just how it is for me. I’m kind of being used to when my stuff goes over some people’s heads. That’s fine, but it’s also an advantage because I get to kinda snicker around in different scenes and different genres, so it’s cool.
The first time I heard All Bitches Die, I was stunned by the way you can so quickly shift harsh vocals and noise, to just pure classical with really heavenly tones. Tell us about how you had the idea of portraying your music in this.
I’ve always really been interested in the voice and what the voice can do, and when I started doing vocals and doing classical training, that’s kinda it. Like singing in a classical voice there’s like a way to do it. That’s all. It can objectively sound good or bad and it can be properly done or improperly done. No in-between. When I started extended vocal technique, and technically screaming and metal vocals and that kind of stuff is extended technique, but studying vocalists like Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk who do work with the voice that’s different, that was really interesting to me. I also studied jazz a little bit, and that kind of interesting phrasing. I was also interested in different kinds of vernacular folk, like bulgarian folk and how they utilize a very specific tone and I decided to incorporate all that stuff into the work and incorporate it based on what the text needed in that particular time. Creating a help, like interesting phrases where the voice directly speaks to what is being said. I also like to play with that and have things that are very brutal be done very quietly and things that are nothing done very quickly. That’s kind of where I came from.
When and what was your first contact with music? What feelings did it invoke in you?
Ow man… I’ve always just loved music. I think probably my first experiences with music were in church. I was raised catholic and started going to church or being forced to attend when I was really young, around the age of 5, and my first experiences with music are sacred songs, hymns and that kind of thing. I think when you’re a kid you don’t know anything but I sensed that the music was about something else other than singing for your voice, that was for a purpose. So I think that stuff resonated with me when I was a kid and still does today. I’ve always carried sacred music and liturgical music with me since I was introduced to music.
You play quite often by yourself, but has it ever crossed your mind the possibility of playing with a band on a live setting? Is it something that makes sense to you?
In the future, I might have to do it, yeah. Especially with the new record I have coming out. I don’t know how I’m going to do it by myself, but I definitely think about using a band. It’s very interesting to play by yourself, there are pros and cons to it. One of the cons is that I’m responsible for everything and if anything goes wrong, It’s my fault (laughs), and I have to fix it. I don’t have anybody else who can accept responsibilities or take the wheel for a second. That happens a lot when I’m out there by myself and something totally fails. That’s all on me. When something does go wrong, I’m really hard on myself. I did it, I’m totally accountable. Sometimes I get to blame the sound guy, but I have full responsibility. But it’s also a blessing because I can have full control, and that part of the lightning, where I get to control without having anybody pick the lights I get to have. I get control with the light over the audience as well. But I do think about bringing people in but also, the project is so personal, so specific that I feel it would be weird to do it in live context with other people. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.
It’s interesting to see you associated with Profound Lore, but it makes so much sense. Was your new record already laid out before signing or did it come afterwards?
When Chris Bruni approached me about working together, he wanted a new one. I asked him to reissue All Bitches Die and he said “Done”! We did that first and then I started work on the new one, right after that. It was a really different experience for me because I had a studio and stuff I could do (laughs), people I could work with for the new record. That is fully a Profound Lore release that I made for them.
Your shows are known to be crushing and intimidating, yet you use nothing but lamps while almost never being on the stage. What inspired you to use light as another way to disorient the listener and public?
Right, that’s a great question. Light is kind of my weapon, in a performance context, and it has many different layers of meaning, there’s a lot in the work about bringing the light and the contrast between the dark and to actually recreate that environment. It also developed out of this interest in theatre and black box theatre, and performances where people were the actors and directors, individually manipulating light while the set and the scene is going on. So I have total control of how I lit, how It looks like, where and who else is lit. And also, disorienting the people gets to redefine their relationship with me and the audience or the performance and the audience. Who is the actual subject of the performance? Is it giving light to the people or shedding light on people who need light shed upon them? There are different levels to it that I really enjoy playing with. It’s been a very effective tool.
You don’t see that anywhere else, and it does become very physical at times. Because you throw these lamps in the air, at the range of anyone. Not only confrontational but damaging as well.
Yeah, it’s simple and very lo-fi. That’s another thing… everything that I use is trash. I use a trashy midi-controller, I’ve thrown away ten in the last year or so, they just break constantly, and I’ve placed a small fortune on lights, but honestly they’re ten bucks each and I break them at every show. They’re a big pain in the ass, they drive me insane but it all relates to noise and equipment failing, relating to this idea of indeterminacy, and that all of this stuff can break or go wrong in any moment. I get tangled up in the cables, sometimes all the lights go out and you don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s like I have to be in the headspace where I should recover from anything going wrong. So there’s always this improvisational aspect to it where no show is the same at all. Sometimes the lights go out after ten or two minutes and I have to figure out how I’m going to make a compelling set for the next 25 minutes in complete darkness, or sometimes I just electrocute myself (laughs). You never know, that’s part of what keeps it exciting for me. I’m a little bit tired of this music, to be quite honest, and I’m really happy there’s new coming, to do other things. But that’s what’s kept it going for me, is having this performance practice that’s been constantly moving, weird and exciting.
You’re an artist that drives a lot from other art forms. Architecture, literature, painting and music. If you weren’t completely focused on music, what other art would serve you catharsis?
I’ve always been really interested in writing and I have ostensibly degrees in writing, although I don’t really write anything. Writing typical verses is the basis of my work. I take the writing and turn it to other things. But, I think I’ve always been interested in research and I think If I wouldn’t be doing music I would do some sort of weird research based artistry practice, I don’t know, I would find something weird to do, not sure what it would be. But yeah I don’t know, that’s a good question (laughs)
Last question. What have you been listening to lately?
Ow, what have I been listening to? I get really obsessed with certain time periods and I just kinda nerd out on very specific things (laughs), but I’ve been listening to a lot of organ music from the 1500’s to the 1700’s and I just like to hear how different organs in different spaces have sounded and I really love the renaissance form and the baroque and how weird and complex it is. So yeah, I’ve been listening to a lot of weird organ concertos, I’ve been listening to…. I listen to The Body all the time! Because they’re my best friends and I just love them so much (laughs), I’ve been listening to Full Of Hell, the new record. It’s really good and they asked me to do vocals on one of the songs. Yeah, that’s it.