Metal Chick of the Month – Kayla Dixon

Death falls so heavy on my soul… Death falls so heavy, makes me moan…

Things are about to get doomed, heavy and extremely sexy here at The Headbanging Moose with our metal chick of the month of May. Trained in classical, jazz and musical theatre vocals, as well as acting and dance, the talented and stunning Kayla Dixon, frontwoman for Doom Metal institution Witch Mountain and for Alternative Metal outfit Dress the Dead, is among us to prove once again that black girls do have a place in the world of heavy music, and she has been doing that in great fashion with her beyond powerful vocals since joining Witch Mountain in 2015. Hence, after listening to Kayla singing for the very first time you’ll get absolutely addicted to her voice and performance, no doubt about that, therefore going after everything she has already recorded in her career, it doesn’t matter if it’s metal or not.

Born on March 20, 1995 in Glendale, California and raised between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland (as you can see, she moved a lot when she was a kid), Kayla has been singing since the age of five, joining a Jazz band at the age of 13, when she began to hone her vocal skills and discovered her passion for performing. Having studied ballet, modern and contemporary techniques at the American Dance Institute, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Maryland Youth Ballet, among others, not to mention she’s a trained actor of Stanislavski and Meisner techniques (which contributed to her deep understanding of the importance of storytelling on stage), Kayla has already participated in several projects in her career, such as productions at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Levine Music, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, also making an appearance in in the Sundance award winning movie I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, on Netflix, as well as in the TV series Portlandia, Grimm and Outlaw. In addition, she said in one of her interviews she doesn’t sit at a keyboard or think about intervals or scales, unless she’s writing harmonies. She usually writes the melody first, thinking about “what words match this melody and how can I put this melody into words?”

Kayla got her first contact with heavy music during her teens due to her sisters, who used to listen to bands like Marilyn Manson, Tool and Nine Inch Nails, and she fell in love for that type of music. After straying away from that for a while, she said it was when she was in the ninth grade that she rediscovered all those bands, later turning her attention to other heavier and more complex bands such as Meshuggah. She mentioned in one of her interviews that it was the intensity of metal music that really caught her attention at first, as she feels she can express all her emotions and feelings through metal. In addition, she also said that the energy coming from the audience while you’re on stage is also what makes heavy music so special for her.

Regarding her career with both Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, everything started back in 2015 when Kayla, who had recently discovered the music by Witch Mountain, saw on their Facebook page they were auditioning for a new vocalist after the departure in 2014 of the amazing Uta Plotkin, prior to the release of the album Mobile of Angels. She then decided to take a shot at that by submitting a video audition, admitting she was a little nervous as she loved Uta’s lyrics and the vocal melodies, but fortunately for all of us fans of rock and metal Kayla became the band’s new frontwoman (and let’s not forget she was only 19 years old at the time). Four years later, this excellent Portland, Oregon-based band formed back in 1997 released their first full-length album with Kayla on vocals, self-titled Witch Mountain (which by the way she was responsible for all lyrics), not to mention their 2016 single Burn You Down, impressing not only the band’s diehard fans with her potent voice and her ability to easily switch between clean and harsh vocals,  but also her own band members. “When she laid down a scratch track in the studio and was going back and forth between the cleans and the dirties, our producer Billy and us were just sitting there laughing with joy,” recalls guitarist Rob Wrong. “For her that was just a scratch track, and we’re just like ‘most people in the world can’t do this.’ For Dixon, the possibility to cross styles and alternate between clean and screaming vocals is ‘a breath of fresh air.’”

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Then in 2018, one year after parting ways with former The Haunted vocalist Peter Dolving, Dress the Dead announced a new lineup with our goddess Kayla on vocals in an unexpected move by many. “A mutual friend reached out to me about Dress the Dead.  One of my first thoughts was, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready or even at an appropriate talent level to be replacing someone like Peter Dolving for these guys.’  I’d battled with the idea in my head for several months before finally reaching out.  I had listened to and loved 1969, but what really hit me hard was when I heard the other songs that are still unreleased that they sent me.  I had no idea how musically diverse this band would turn out to be,” said Kayla about joining her second major band, but as what happened with Witch Mountain her vocals matched Dress the Dead’s music flawlessly, as you can enjoy in the excellent songs 1969, There Goes The Sun and Promises & Kisses. In addition to that, just to give you an idea of how healthy her relationship with her new bandmates is, take a look at this fun YouTube video titled “Dress The Dead – Crappy Comments”, where Kayla and the rest of the band read and discuss about the most ridiculous comments they received from fans via social media.

Our hardcore vegan (yes, she’s a vegan) had also been involved with several other bands and projects before joining Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, each one offering Kayla a chance to showcase all her highly developed vocal skills. For instance, she was (apparently) the vocalist for a Cleveland, Ohio-based Groove/Death Metal band named Demons Within during an unknown period of time, and the lead singer for Sacramento, California-based Power Metal act Helion Prime from 2016 until 2017, with whom she recorded the sensational single Remnants of Stars, in 2017. Apart from that, she also started lending her unique voice now in 2019 to a British/Romanian Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band named Clouds during some of their live performances, and she also appeared as a guest vocalist in the song Buried In Sand, from Clouds’ 2018 release Dor – Bonus Album;  in the electrifying title-track Terminal, from the 2017 album Terminal, by British Melodic Progressive Metal band Divinity Compromised; and more recently in Living Light, from the 2019 album Divided by Darkness, by Phoenix, Arizona-based Doom Metal act Spirit Adrift, to be released later this month.

Touring is always one of the most difficult and demanding tasks in the life of a musician, and as a talented vocalist that Kayla is she obviously warms up her voice (and mind) properly before going on stage, sometimes meditating for a few minutes to reach her desired state of mind prior to performing. As a matter of fact, Kayla mentioned that meditation was one of the main activities she discovered through the years to fight her childhood traumas, to work on her spirituality and to remain strong when facing any type of adversity. She also said that, to keep her body and mind healthy while touring with Witch Mountain, who by the way have a very aggressive touring agenda, she tries to eat well and work out whenever she can, avoiding things like partying and drinking. Even with all those precautions to stay in shape, Kayla said that due to her incendiary performances each show ends up being fairly exhausting for her but energizing at the same time, saying it’s another form of “meditation” for her. “Music is a way for me to express that negativity and get it out. There’s also a positivity about it. So, it’s very energizing. Music is what makes me happy and I believe it is my life’s purpose,” commented Kayla, and if you take into account the fact that when she’s not on tour she can be giving vocal lessons or acting (albeit she hasn’t being doing a lot of that lately due to her busy schedule), it’s the utmost proof she was born to be an artist.

As curious as this might sound, Kayla always mentions in her interviews that she considers herself an introvert, although she’s not actually afraid of talking to people. Despite having introverted tendencies, she confronts that inner fear by working really hard on it, saying that fear doesn’t have to be who she really is or her story. And even more curious than that, she mentioned that one thing she loves doing for relaxation and fun is watching horror movies, with her favorite one being the 1982 cult movie Poltergeist and also mentioning Suspiria as another movie she enjoyed a lot (I just don’t know if she’s talking about the 1977 original one or the 2018 version). She said Poltergeist really freaked her out, that it was extremely scary in her opinion, so how can this be a relaxing activity, right? Anyway, still talking about ghosts and paranormal activities, she said she had a few paranormal experiences in her life, as her mother was really into that kind of thing and would tell her about ghosts she saw. She mentioned that when she was seven years old she was sitting in the living room around Christmas time watching the classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and when she went to her room there was this white figure of an old man standing. In addition, her dad, who’s by the way a pastor, also claims he’s seen a ghost in his church, which used to be an old-fashioned one-room school house back in the 1900’s, describing the appearance of the ghost in great detail. If ghosts truly exist or not, no one knows for sure, but if Kayla channels those encounters and experiences into her music, and we all know the unknown has always been a magnificent inspiration for all genres and subgenres of heavy music, we can rest assured she’ll keep providing us first-class rock and metal for decades to come.

Kayla Dixon’s Official Facebook page
Kayla Dixon’s Official Instagram
Kayla Dixon’s Official Twitter
Kayla Dixon’s Official YouTube channel
Witch Mountain’s Official Facebook page
Witch Mountain’s Official Instagram
Witch Mountain’s Official Twitter
Witch Mountain’s Official BandCamp page
Dress the Dead’s Official Facebook page
Dress the Dead’s Official Instagram

“When I get on stage, I lose control and there’s not much I can do about that.” – Kayla Dixon

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Interview – Dimenzion:Psychosphere

Enjoy this “cold apocalyptic interview” with Norwegian Industrial Metallers Dimenzion:Psychosphere, where they talk about their career, the importance of the message in their music, the Industrial Metal scene in Norway, among other cool stuff.

DIMENZION PSYCHOSPHERE band photo 3The Headbanging Moose: Let’s start by talking about the band and your brand new album, the excellent Collapse. Can you tell us who Dimenzion:Psychosphere are, your history, goals and plans for the future? Also, how was the creative process for the new album and how did it differ from your previous releases?

Dimenzion:Psychosphere: About us first. We are five guys who’ve been playing together for quite a while, and for many years it was kind of a side project, since most of us had other bands with higher priority. But around 2010 we decided to put more time and effort into Dimenzion, first of all because we all felt this was the band closest to our hearts, and second, because we had more time. So we started working on our first full-length album DNA Phantom Effect, which was finished and released early 2012. Unfortunately we are not very good at promotion, so the album didn’t get the attention we hoped for, and we didn’t get very far. Hopefully will those who like Collapse check out DNA too, cos we still think it’s a great album. As far as the creative process goes, it has always been the same, but this time we had way more material to choose from, which made it easier to shape the concept and feeling of Collapse.

THM: As mentioned in the review of the album, songs like The Machine and Slaves deal with important issues our society is facing nowadays which can lead to some serious consequences in a not-so-distant future, maybe even to the apocalypse. However, despite all that negativity emanating from the lyrics, your music is very melodic and pleasant to listen to. How do you guys work on that balance between “good” and “evil” in your music?

D:P: It all comes naturally really. We like to work with different moods and styles. Though I think when it comes to the important issues you mention, they’re all pretty provoking. So the feelings about it ranges from anger, to sadness and to plain apathy sometimes, and the music is shaped thereafter. We are still angry even if we’re not screaming or growling all the time, and there are enough bands out there who do that already. Harmonies make everything more powerful if not overdone I believe.

afterlight (14)THM: Your “cold apocalyptic metal” sounds perfect for being part of the soundtrack of futuristic movies such as The Terminator, Blade Runner or The Matrix. I’m pretty sure you’re all huge fans of that type of movie and you probably get inspired by those (and many others) when composing new material. What else, besides futuristic movies, inspires the band to create music? Are there any specific books, movie genres or any other sources of information the band likes to go to for having some insights and fomenting your creativity?

D:P: The sound effects, the music and the dystopic feeling of those movies and others like them inspire us, yes. But lots come from documentaries, history, books and of course by watching/reading the news. The world is becoming a police state, with surveillance and new laws made to make us “safer”, which when you think about it, is just a way of limiting our rights and freedom. And it all makes you wanna fuck some shit up, which comes out musically instead of physically in our case.

THM: What about your code names and apparel, which seem to be inspired by bands such as Slipknot and video games like Call of Duty? Could you tell us something about how Dimenzion:Psychosphere decided to add those elements to the band, the original inspiration for that, and what they represent today to all of you?

D:P:  We have always tried to add something extra to our shows, and the all over black uniforms remove the focus on us as individuals, just leaving it to be this unit that is the show. The names came recently to fit the whole concept, by not drawing attention to who we are, but to the whole concept. Not inspired by anything particular, it just felt right to do.

THM: Collapse is your first release signed to a record label. How is it to be working with a record label for the first time in your career, and what can you tell us about your relationship with Crime Records?

D:P: It’s great to have someone to back us up with the promotion and stuff, since as we mentioned, we’re not so good at that. Our relationship with Crime started over a year ago when they heard the DNA album. And they pretty much followed the entire process up to the finishing of Collapse, and signed us even before the final mix. We liked their attitude, so we didn’t even bother to send anything to other labels either.

DIMENZION PSYCHOSPHERE - Collapse cover art

Album Review – Dimenzion:Psychosphere / Collapse (2014)

THM: How is the Industrial Metal scene in Norway, a country known for being the cradle of Black Metal? Do you face any issues sharing your space with Black Metal bands and/or bands from any other music genres there, or is it a very peaceful and even productive coexistence?

D:P: The industrial metal scene in Norway is very small, especially compared to black metal.

We haven’t had any issues sharing stage with black metal bands or any other bands, so I guess you could say it’s a pretty peaceful coexistence. We know several people who play black metal, and all of them have a pretty open mind when it comes to music.

THM: Who are your main influences in music? Which bands and artists helped define what Dimenzion:Psychosphere are today, and which bands would you love to have a “dream tour” together?

D:P: It might be a cliché, but we get our influences from nearly all styles of music (with some exceptions). From all eras too. So naming bands is maybe not so “us” I think. It would have to be a very long list then. A dream tour… Meshuggah perhaps. Devin Townsend, Entombed. Someone not so far from us musically.

THM: What bands and artists are part of your playlist in your free time, when you’re not with Dimenzion: Psychosphere? Do you have any new or underground bands you would like to recommend us?

DIMENZION PSYCHOSPHERE band photo 1D:P: I guess we have our different favourites within the band, so like the previous answer, all kinds of music. We can recommend some bands we work with now and then. Deafmazjiin, Ground Zero System and Among Gods. All from Southern Norway.

THM: How about your current tour plans, especially now that Collapse is fresh out in the market? Which countries are you planning on visiting, how do you choose your setlist, and can your fans expect from your live performances? And are you going to play any dates in North America in 2014, especially in Canada, or is the focus going to be solely in Europe this year?

D:P: We have no tour plans at the moment, but that is something we’re going to start working on as soon as collapse is out. Unfortunately we don’t have a management/ booking agency yet, so that’s probably going to be our next goal. We love doing live shows, so if someone invites us to come to Canada (or any other country) we’d be more than happy to come. I think if you like our albums you’re going to love what we do live.

The setlist we pretty much make before every show, depending on how much time we have. We do try to mix old stuff with new stuff, but I guess lately the majority of songs come from the Collapse and DNA Phantom Effect albums.

THM: Thank you for the interview, or I should say “takk for intervjuet”. Do you have any final words for your fans in Norway, Canada and all over the world?

D:P: First of all thank you for giving D:P some attention and we hope that the readers will check out our music. If you want to get the latest news from Dimenzion:Psychosphere you can join us on Facebook or check us out at dimenzionpsychosphere.com.

Links
Dimenzion: Psychosphere Official Website | Facebook