Canadian artist Ayria is one of the most exciting Industrial musicians on the worldwide scene at the minute. Having impressed the UK on tour with Angelspit two years ago, and made an impact in the States recently on the road with VNV Nation we thought it would be a great time to catch up with the project’s mastermind Jennifer Parkin for a lovely chat about her life, music and plans for the future.
“I release venom in my music so I can function normally in life”
S] How did you enjoy your last European tour with Angelspit and what are you looking forward to most about coming back – fans we have spoken to said they really enjoyed your company after the shows?
J] I get that a lot! For some reason, people think I’m really sweet after shows. They are ruining my bad-ass image and it’s probably because they just don’t yet know me. Just kidding! I just really like meeting people and all the fans that come up to me after shows are usually so positive and friendly and saying they liked the show or my music so how could I not be in a good mood? The European tour with Angelspit and Ego Likeness was fantastic. Unfortunately, it’s now been almost two years since I’ve been to Europe. I’m hoping to change that in the future, I adore the UK since some of our best crowds ever have been there including Wales, London, Sheffield and we have pictures of our audiences – hands raised – to prove it. I don’t only want to get back to play the shows. I really do love it there in both the UK and mainland Europe. As for the UK specifically, I’m looking forward to all the great chocolate you can get plus Jaffa Cakes and Hobnobs. I really enjoyed Poland and Germany too as the culture, vibe and architecture are just so different from North America. There’s history that we do not possess over here.
S] You are known for your great voice and your strong covers of bands as diverse as The Deftones and Depeche Mode, have you thought about stripping the electronics and releasing an acoustic record – would that be something you could consider?
J] I would definitely consider it. Actually, on the box set edition of the ‘Flicker’ CD, the song ‘Disease’ was done acoustically under the title of ‘Disease Remission’. ‘Disease‘ really worked acoustically because it was first written by me on an acoustic guitar many years ago. I love so many different styles and genres of music and I’m always open to experimentation. The dance-electro-industrial style is my favourite genre, though I grew up loving rock music and alternative and I played guitar through high-school. So I guess I would never say never but I’m not making any promises though.
S] What have been some of your best experiences this year, and what have you got coming up?
J] I would have to say The Kinetik Festival in Montreal which was in May which was absolutely amazing, then the Canadian Ayria tour in June where I got to see so much of my own country, including the beautiful nature plus bears and moose. The highlight of my year so far has been the 24-date North American ‘Faith, Power And Glory’ tour with VNV Nation back in June and July where we opened for them. Next up is Dragon Con in Atlanta where we’ll play a long set on the main stage at the USA’s largest sci-fi and pop culture convention. Our friends The Cruxshadows are also playing this so it’s a bit of a reunion since last seeing them back in 2008.
S] You seem like an incredibly happy and positive person, so where does the venom that fuels the majority of your material come from is it simply your past – some examples to look at are ‘My Revenge On The World’ or more recently ‘Invisible’?
J] I release the venom in my music so I can function normally and positively in my real life. Seriously, I am a positive person. I’m saddened by all that the world presents that is so negative. The world around me, plus all of the people and their decisions whether personal to me or just observed, provides great fuel for song writing. I am quite an introvert and prefer spending a lot of time alone when I’m not touring. I laugh at how seriously people take ‘My Revenge On The World’. While it’s true, I was having a really bad day when I wanted to start writing that song. Its purpose was to get out some aggression through music, but also to laugh at it all. I took on the whole world but with tongue-in-cheek style of lyrics, ‘this time no touch backs’ – it’s got a touch of humour that I’d hope people would have understood. It’s like posting something super dramatic because of your mood, only to realise that you’re having a total emo moment and laugh about how silly you’re being.
S] You write in your own space with loads of colourful and “happy” things around you, so how is the writing process for you normally – is it something that you’re always able to enjoy?
J] I actually can’t wait right now, I just painted my studio space bright fuchsia pink this past weekend and am now waiting for my new desk to arrive. It’s going to be great. I really love vibrant colours and find them very inspiring. I’ve already chosen the colour for the next CD and it’s not pink believe it or not. I do enjoy song writing, I just wish I had more time for it as it’s been over a year since I’ve been motivated to write any new Ayria material…but this fall, things will pick up again. I can feel it.
S] We know you like to take a lot of time to perfect the live show; how will you be expanding it now in the wake of releasing ‘Hearts For Bullets’ will there be a certain theme or idea put forward?
J] We’ve added these large vinyl banners all with vibrant printed designs from the ‘Hearts For Bullets’ artwork. They include guns, hearts, pink, black and splatter. Very electro-punk feeling and they look neat on stage. I needed something easy to set up and tear down. As for the live performance, I have my two live guys Mike Wimer on electronic drums and Jeff Mielitz on synths. They add a lot of energy to the performance. The set list is obviously more songs from the latest album since that’s what I’m promoting currently and I adore doing the new songs live. But we always break out a few classics songs from ‘Debris’ and ‘Flicker’ as well.
S] Your music has been described as ‘danceable, bouncy and dark-yet uplifting’ – do you have a song that inspires the same feelings within you?
J] Recently, I guess I get that that feeling of contrasting dark-yet uplifting music, out of bands like Zeigeist, She Wants Revenge, VNV Nation, Depeche Mode and The Presets. Actually, the more I list, the more I realise there’s a lot of bands that do this and I’m drawn to them all. (laughs)
S] You utilised the talents of Destroy-X for the new album art, have you thought about collaborating with her or someone else to create a video for the new album – any ideas on what song you might choose?
J] I’d love to work with her again, she’s so talented. I tend to work with new people on art and design from release to release just so the things are different and stay fresh. I’d be up to seeing what else she could do to a future concept of mine. As for a video, she’s continents apart, all the way in Australia so it’s really not likely, but I’d love to do a video for both ‘Analog Trash’ because I can see a sophisticated black and white imagery working for it, and for ‘Blue Alice’ because there are so many things that could be done with that song to bring out the creepy anachronistic fairy tale elements it covers.
S] You work full-time alongside your music, yet you still have managed to be very successful within our electro-industrial niche, for those who believe it cannot be done (because of tiredness or whatever reason) can you describe how you balance your 9-to-5 job with creating and writing music each day?
J] Yes, I am tired a lot. I admit it. I’m overwhelmed a lot too and have a limited social life but I do it for the love of music and performing. I’ve sacrificed a lot in my life and career to try to push the music further and to be able to tour but I do it because I’m not willing to give up my passions and my dreams for anything or anyone…yeah, I’m stubborn like that. So much has happened to me in the past few years for me to be proven time and time again that life is short. Too short to not live as much of it to the fullest as I can. I mean, no one can live every moment to the fullest, that’s just crazy talk. But you should be happy, more than you are not. If you enjoy what you do, keep doing it.
S] Any survival techniques for being on tour?
J] Try and sleep when you can even though your adrenaline is completely messed up and keeps you up at weird times. Also, pace yourself when it comes to partying. It’s easy to get caught up in people buying you shots of Jager (which I despise – black liquorice…ewww) all night because they were excited about the show, but essentially, this is our job and we have to do this every night for five weeks. Bring a million pairs of socks and underwear as laundry is scarce…as are showers sometimes. Also, If you sing, don’t use your voice excessively at shows over loud music. Eat veggies and take vitamins as often as you can. I think those are the best tips I have for you guys if you find yourself on a long tour.
S] Tell us about the best moments of your North American tour with VNV?
J] Ok, let me go through a top 10 list of some cities and some memories in list format:
1. July 4, BBQ with us and VNV Nation in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We parked the tour bus, cooked up meat and enjoyed fireworks. It was a blast to celebrate it American style, especially since most of us weren’t American on the tour.
2. I love all of the West Coast shows. Especially showing up in LA for the beginning of the tour, seeing the incredible Nokia Theatre venue, and getting a chance to shop a bit on Hollywood Blvd. I actually bought a pair of Mary Jane TUKs – they’re my favourite brand of shoes and they are from the UK no less.
3. Seeing and staying with my friend in Seattle, plus the Seattle show was amazing too.
4. The afterparty in Milwaukee. I just had a really great time that night. We were all enjoying some drinks, hanging out with fans, dancing, and it was just a memorable night overall.
5. New York City – Again, the Nokia Theatre venue was in Times Square and was amazing. We were in the heart of it all and I met so many fantastic people at that show. Oh, and our band had our own fuchsia pink dressing room. You can’t beat that.
6. Day off on the way to Atlanta – we all went shopping at a mall. It was fun getting to do something ‘normal’ again like buy shoes, jewellery, clothes… oh and toys. I was the only girl on the tour bus so I thought I’d be the only one who wanted to shop, but shopping with Ronan was fun. He has great taste. (laughs)
7. Being in Atlanta and Florida for the Tampa show and also going to the castle afterparty. Also, Texas – we really enjoyed the heat and the crowds.
8. Having a night off to see New Orleans French Quarter.
9. In Dallas, Texas we went to the afterparty in a limo. It was a great party too! Again, we met fans, and danced all night until they closed the place and then took the limo to get some chicken tacos. Texas has amazing Mexican food.
10. The last show in Phoenix which was emotional. Saying good bye to the touring ‘family’ that I had spent the last five weeks with was tough but all part of the wonderful experience.
Those are just some highlights of touring with VNV Nation. Ronan and Mark are such amazing people as are the whole crew. They are all such pros and so very talented. I learned so much from them. If I didn’t mention your city in the top memories, I could only list so many. I really did love every moment of the tour.
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Watch the video for ‘My Device’ below:
All images copyright: Zaiden.