In some ways, I can barely remember what life was like before I joined Mute Prophet. Such incredible things have happened in the last five years, it almost feels like a completely different existence.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in that time, it’s that sometimes angels can be cruel, and demons can have their hearts broken. What we think is bad can be good, and what we think is good can be bad.
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding symphonic metal’s female singers. From Xandria and Sirenia’s revolving door of frontwomen, to Nightwish’s legendary firing of Tarja that even Finland’s Prime Minister expressed an opinion on.
But what you might not know is that we’ve experienced some controversy ourselves. Someone even went so far as to literally scream “misogyny” at us because of the tale I’m about to tell!
Have you ever heard the Epica song The Phantom Agony? It’s partially about being so emotionally numb, so unable to feel, that part of you doubts you’re real at all. You feel like a ghost. Your perception of yourself and the world around you is so dulled, you’d swear your day-to-day life is a dream that you won’t be able to remember upon waking. You aren’t you, you’re just a disembodied spirit observing someone who happens to look like you.
That describes something I struggle with on a daily basis, a very rare mental state where depression and PTSD intersect, called Depersonalization.
I’ve written so many songs about this feeling, but I think Pleasures of the Blade sums it up best: “Crying for but one, one moment when I’m truly living. All I need is one, one instant when I know the difference between pleasures of the bed and pleasures of the blade.” It’s so damn hard sometimes, to keep fighting when there’s nothing but numbness.
As you may know, I was beaten half to death, raped, and almost killed. And the guy who did it somehow convinced people that I abused him. To this day I’m not sure how he explained away my being hospitalized from the injuries, but…oh well, I guess sociopaths can convince anyone of anything.
It left me in a really dark place. I drank heavily, I abused drugs, I cut myself, and I fantasized almost hourly about swallowing my entire medicine cabinet. In the end, singing for Mute Prophet was the only thing that gave me a reason to keep living.
Kevin and Chris stood by me. We all leaned on each other in our isolation, and after I had learned to sing, we threw ourselves into music.
I remember trying to rig up a booth to record vocals in my bedroom. We broke the doors off my closet, stood them up by taping an old microwave to the outside, filled the closet with clothes, and glued heavy blankets to the insides of the doors. Here’s a picture of it, featuring Kevin back when he had skinny arms and short hair!
None of us really had the money for a more professional setup, but I honestly cherish the memory of making due with what we had.
And speaking of making due: To be honest I’m still pretty damn anxious being on camera. Some days I can look in the mirror and Depersonalization convinces me that my face looks completely butchered with cuts and bruises and fractures. The “real me” looks the way I did right after I was nearly beaten to death.
It can actually distort the signals in your brain stem. So I can look at myself in the mirror, or look at a picture of myself, and physically see the wrong image, because my brain can’t process what I’m seeing. But who the hell can be in a band these days and not have a million pictures and videos of themselves floating around the internet?
There’s something that helps me a lot.
I wear makeup and busty corsets and weird-ass cage bras, anything to make me feel a bit more confident in my appearance – and I deal with the subsequent accusations that I’m using sex appeal to sell our music – and at the end of the day, it actually helps me SO MUCH.
To be clear, because well-meaning people have made this mistake many times, I’m not being “forced” to dress this way by the “men” in the band. There isn’t some misogynistic cabal pulling my strings and forcing me to “dress like a slut for male gratification” or something stupid like that.
I’m ALSO not doing it to somehow sell more music. Judging from the number of hate comments I get for “flaunting double-D tits,” I’m fairly sure it would actually be EASIER to sell music if I dressed a bit more conservatively.
But we’ve all talked it over, and…well, we’re no stranger to taking the hard road. Every time I put on a corset I feel like it’s another step toward healing my Depersonalization. It adds another layer of healing to a band that’s all about healing. So it’s well worth the price of the occasional bad first impression to be true to our art!
It’s an amazing thing, a sort of glue that binds Mute Prophet together despite our separate life experiences, this goal of turning tragedy and pain into something triumphant. Ultimately this band is something that literally saved my life, giving me an outlet to transmute things I would otherwise never have been able to overcome, into something amazing. Suddenly the horrible things that happened to me don’t hurt quite so much.
And now, we’ve even been able to find an audience – YOU. Musicians have no other way to judge their impact on the world, other than how listeners receive their music and their story. You show all of us that we aren’t alone, and after everything that’s happened, I don’t think words can convey how much it means to be able to connect with people like you now.
So please, leave a comment below and let me know how you feel about this post, or even just to say hi. It would mean a lot.
Also, I’d love to share a nice uplifting palette-cleanser after this post got kinda dark! It’s a collection of studio bloopers in which Kevin, Chris and myself share quite a few laughs. Having said how uncomfortable I am on camera, I hope you’ll give me the chance to be brave for a minute by checking out the video below 😊
Thank you again for reading, and please do leave a comment below if you feel like saying hi ❤️
And of course if you feel like checking out our latest album Stillborn Reflection, which is a collection of many of the songs that helped me through this, you can do so here.