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KnightressM1 - Musicians, if it’s in your blood, have to play music. That’s the reason we’re here Aanbevolen

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KnightressM1 - Musicians, if it’s in your blood, have to play music.  That’s the reason we’re here

KnightressM1 is the power rock trio around violinist, vocalist, pianist and composer Emily Palen. drummer Rob Ahlers (50FOOTWAVE, Kristin Hersh) and bassit Uriah Duffy (Whitesnake). For the studio album 'Dreams and Devastation' they enlisted the help of guitarist Mick Murphy; it results in a catchy power rock record, in which Emily's vocals form the common thread.
You can read the full review here
After this release we had a nice conversation with Emily. Of course, we were also looking at the future plans and how she is dealing with this crisis in which we live.

First of all, let us go back in time. How did the band come about?
I started KnightressM1 in 2011 as a way to put my own voice and instrument as the forefront.  I had been a sideplayer for many years and reached a point where I needed to set all of those side projects aside and focus solely on my own music.  I started writing the songs for KnightressM1 then, and quickly thereafter started playing with drummer Rob Ahlers who is on the album we just released ‘Dreams and Devastation’.  The project was unique because I was fronting a rock band with the violin, and there is no guitar in the band.  At first when people hear the band either from another room or they hear the album they assume it’s a guitar driving the sound but that’s all violin.  I have been a violinist and pianist since I was 4, classically trained and also am deeply rooted in heavy rock/metal.  I wanted to combine those two forces so I had to figure it out.  How do I play violin and sing at the same time….that was a whole process to figure out.  Splitting the brain in two and finding a rhythm.  Now that feels natural to me and is my full expression.  KnightressM1 has primarily been a power trio configured with myself on violin/vocals with a bassist and a drummer.  I find that chemistry and pressure to be really electric.  Conceptually KnightressM1 is about bringing a voice to the voiceless, telling the truth, being as authentic and raw as possible in each moment, and constant evolution.  I let the music lead me, off whatever cliff that may be. 

You are described as 'power rock' but I recognize a lot more than just power rock. How would you describe your music?
Power rock is an interesting term.  I classify the band, for lack of a specific genre as hard rock/metal.  Of course it doesn’t fall neatly into any of genre.  It’s not orchestral metal even though it’s based on a violin.  It’s not doom necessarily, it’s not straight up rock.  I love to let the songs come through, to be undefined.  I find that leads to the most inspired and organic music.  However as I continue to hone the band’s sound I do seek a heavier, more saturated and powerful sound.  The harmonic power that classical music has lends such a landscape of emotional overhaul, then you have the absolutely crushing foundation of the best of metal.  That is the marriage I seek now.  That level of power, balanced always by beautiful tone, harmony, eathereal aspects.

I do recognize influences of for instance gothic rock, or am I wrong?
No, you are correct.  This is not a genre or influence I consciously sought however the subject matter I suppose is quite gothic.  I have gone through, as many of us have, some very dark times and I find music is the greatest way to transform those moments so, a lot of the songs are written about dark aspects of human existence.  I am not shy to go into the worst of the emotions and the most corrupt aspects of our society.  Especially now we are dealing with such vast levels of dishonesty and harm that I find it imperative to tell the truth about it in my music and lyrics.  I never liked music that just made you feel good, or just skims the surface.  Be brave.  Make me feel something.

Which music or bands are your biggest influences?
Currently, and this is a pretty consistent list : Architects, Bring Me The Horizon, Gojira, Sleep Token, Massive Attack, early Tool, DJ Shadow, Foo Fighters, Björk, Queens of the Stone Age, Brahms.

On the new record 'Dreams and devastation' we hear the story of a female galactic warrior, who comes to Earth to bring justice, chase away corruption and restore the truth. It is just that mystical, mysterious and extraterrestrial comes to the surface in my opinion. Where does this inspiration come from?
Is it the mystical, mysterious, extraterrestrial….yes.  For many years I felt as if I was from another planet, another world.  I’m fascinated and drawn to our origins past Earth.  I am more grounded in my human self these days just because I have to get the work done in this physical world, and possibly I’ve embodied more of those star aspects so I don’t think about it so much.  I do feel that we come from the stars, that we have higher aspects of ourselves, that our consciousness is so much more vast and enlightened than we typically give ourselves credit for.  You know when you meet someone or see someone perform and you think….they’re a visitor from somewhere else.  David Bowie and Prince are like that.  So pristine, so powerful, so deeply connected.  They are unwavering.  I feel, however bizarre this sounds to some people, that there are so many of us on the planet now because we knew we would be in a crucial war on consciousness.  We have information, legacy, consciousness, love, all of that we have to bring through to help this great turning.  We come through as artists, musicians, energy workers, whatever work we do, we are bringing through star consciousness.  It has this butterfly effect, sending ripples through of change that will help us get through the eye of the needle.  So with KnightressM1, I created a galactic avatar, what my own star being might be ~ but as a universal mythical superhero.  Hence the name KnightressM1.  A female Knight.  A warrioress.  M1 is code for unity, her identifier.  The songs are all rooted in that consciousness, and at times or perhaps most of the time if I’m lucky the words, sounds, codes in the colors, they all mean something in this greater truth of music as conscious power. 

It's that mystical, mysterious and extraterrestrial that is constantly surfacing; And your vocal input that makes the jet float away like a blanket in warm winter days. attracts me the most. Your opinion about this thesis please?
Thank you for that.  Embracing my voice was and still is certainly a process.  I find it settles in the best when I am free from my own internal criticism, when I am most comfortable being myself.  It took a lot of self love for me to be able to sing.  The voice is so transparent.  You can hear all of the vibrations of someone in it.  Their inflections, their lies, their shame.  I could hear my own terror and shame in my voice and practicing it through this band has helped me to release so much embarrassment just about existing.  Everyone has a voice and its our birthright to use it. 

Is this galactic battle often a subject within your music? Or are there other ideas bubbling up?
That galactic battle was definitely a major contributor of material for this first album, Dreams and Devastation.  It was on my mind a lot, and definitely from that star aspect.  As we get deeper into the nitty gritty of how that battle is actually playing out on the physical Earth my music has gotten more grounded in the human behavior.  The battle looks a lot like psychopathy, government corruption, relational abuse, all the ways that our whole species is really under a spell that we need to break.  We are in competition with each other to survive yet our survival depends on us being in community, the opposite of competition.  Our lives really do depend on us waking up to that fact now.  Every day is crucial now.  What decisions will we make, do we follow the truth or stick our head in the sand?  Are we being kind or cruel?  Are we taking care of all sentient beings or are we being careless and harmful?  It all matters now and the consequences of us being careless with each other are really piling up.  It’s deadly.  I think I am just so over glossing over the truth, and the truths that a lot of people will make fun of and attack.  So I try to go into those subjects in my writing and be bold.  We are all being lied to, gaslit, abused within this extremely deceptive culture we have and we have to break out.  We have to.  We don’t have time to lose.

What were the reactions to this new record?
The reactions have been amazing.  So many amazing people worked with me on this album and it’s extremely fulfilling to be able to release it into the world and to be surprised by it’s reception.  I get to meet people such as yourself, whom I would have never otherwise met, through this music.  It’s nerve-wracking for sure to put out an album.  I was freaked out the first few weeks, I think I just collapsed within myself.  First off it was so much work, for a good 5 years.  I really fought, through a lot of personal and professional situations to make this album what I thought it deserved to be, and now to have it out, and to look at the incredible artist I got to work with, it’s so moving to me.  It has changed my life to go through that process and it’s just humbling, honestly to have someone, anywhere, listen to it.  There’s a lot of music out there, and everyone wants to be a star.  If someone hears it and gets it, really takes the time to listen to it and hears that internal message, that’s a huge honor. It's also been great to create violin as a front instrument.  It’s interesting when people do hear the album and think, hey that guitar is great….it’s violin and it’s cool to put it out there in a different way.  Violin gets pigeon-holed into a lot of weird places, but it’s actually a really powerful instrument, in rock and metal.  You can drive a band with it.

I suppose that because of the corona crisis many of your performances could not take place either? What plans did you have to cancel?
Yes, I had to cancel a couple trips to Paris, but I keep trying!  I was expecting to book a European tour to promote the album primarily.  That’s what I had to cast aside obviously.  I continued though with the record release and am just trying to navigate, stay up and prepared, keep producing music.  This is not a time to rest or wait for things to go back to whatever we called normal.  I can’t wait to go out on the road and play.  I miss it so much.  It’s also been a great pressure cooker to write, to push myself personally.  What’s happening with the music industry though is crushing.  The fact that every festival, every band booked, every major touring band, that’s all cancelled and it seems it will be the last thing to come back, with a threat from Ticketmaster to mandate vaccines, that’s been really hard to stomach.  Life is not the same without going to shows.  It’s awful.  It’s really impossible to fit the energy of a live metal show through the cable of a livestream.  I’ve seen some incredible broadcasts, but I know we all wish for shows to come back, sooner rather than later. I know for me and so many others our lives depend on it.

How do you as a musician (but also as a human being) deal with such a crisis?
I have to keep a sharp focus on my musical goals.  If I can’t too deep into the weeds of the long term outlook of this I get really overwhelmed.  Also frankly the government overreach of control and the level of basic dishonesty about what is really going on right now, especially in the United States is so overwhelming and depressing.  So I have to keep my feet in the fire.  What is the next song, what’s the next recording, what is next, what is next.   Keep going.  That’s what I do.  I’ve used it to make myself strong, focused, casting things overboard I don’t need.  Also if you have your finger on the deeper pulse of what’s happening, there’s so much that needs to be written about.  Some of my favorite bands are dropping albums right now and I hear what they’re saying and thank god.  They’re so good.  It doesn’t matter if thousand of people are at the gig or not.  Musicians, if it’s in your blood, have to play music.  That’s the reason we’re here.  So we’re here now.  It’s time to push, to work, to create, to cut out the bullshit and to get to the point.

How do you personally think that music and culture, which are particularly hard hit alongside the catering industry, will survive this crisis?
It’s devastating.  That’s my first thought.  I was crushed to see all the amazing festivals, cancelled.  All the tours these major bands had booked, cancelled.  Tours booked by acts that are just breaking through, cancelled.  That’s hard.  I think that bands will survive though, who are seasoned in their own survival.  Some of the most powerful bands have already gone through so much tragedy and hardship and it’s pretty clear they’re not dumb to what’s happening. They know shit is going down on this planet and they’re not going to let this mess stop them.  Perhaps people or bands that really don’t have their emotional or interpersonal selves together will struggle.  I find people who are creating, surviving, making it through are made of people who have done the internal work to be on solid emotional ground.  You can’t traverse this landscape very well if you’re a narcissist or an abuser with skeletons in the closet.  The time for that is pretty much over.  The veils have lifted.  So, I think it’ll be a filter that supports those creative people who are invested in evolution.  If you’re not grounded in truth, a truth of collective wellness, perhaps you’ll struggle a bit more.

Live performance is not possible, are there any plans for live streaming? And how do you feel about concepts like that?
I’ve live-streamed a few times and it’s definitely weird.  I always love playing, the players I have in the band are great and it’s always amazing to play together.  It’s weird to fit all that energy into a screen and it’s nerve-wracking.   I honestly hate the concept of live-streaming however, perhaps I’m warming up to it now.  I just hate this situation and get so frustrated but, we have to adapt so I’m playing around more with the idea of live-streaming from home, creating a Twitch channel.  There’s also something about being comfortable in your own skin, you have to get used to it.

Are there any plans for the future? And which direction are they heading in?
Another intergalactic journey is fine for me :) Yes, future plans are, recording the second album. Video for that album, the concept, what that story will be.  Releasing that album and hopefully we will be able to tour by that time.  The sound of the songs post Dreams and Devastation are already much heavier and I’m looking to really push into that arena.  It was always be an intergalactic journey J I think there’s a lot of room to explore in tearing genre definitions down.  Putting sounds together that we once thought belonged on separate albums.  I’m currently wrestling with how to combine my own ends of the spectrum onto this album and to make it what my heart truly desires.  I have a bad habit of denying myself that which I desire the most.  Hopefully with this album I’ll be able to just surrender into the depth of what wants to be created, not what I think will be acceptable. 

What are the real ambitions with this bond, outside world domination?  Outside of world domination….what else is there?  Just kidding
Real traction, a wide audience of people who resonate with the message, music that really takes off, that constantly evolves and challenges.  I wish to be fully in my own expression of my art, at all times, and supported to be able to do that.

In order to elaborate on that, is there some sort of end goal?
I really don’t know about the end goal.  I suppose I hope it’s never the end. 

Thank you for this pleasant conversation, in these times it is difficult to buy your record and other merchandise at concerts please put some links below where fans can buy your merchandise?
Thank you so much for the gracious interview.  I appreciate your time and attention so much. 

My links are below
Dreams and Devastation is available on all music streaming and downloading platforms under KnightressM1: Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, iTunes, Deezer, Tidal, TikTok, etc
The album can also be bought on Bandcamp with is the most artist supportive website to purchase music from:
Official Website as well as merch store:
Instagram: @knightressm1_band
Twitter @KnightressM1
Linktree link for all links in one.

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