Death of the Maiden (The VH Interview)

We caught up with Oxford’s Death of the Maiden ahead of their album launch show for a quick chat;

VH: You crowdfunded the album – were you nervous about it, did you enjoy it? Any tips for bands thinking of doing the same?

DOTM: We were hopeful, but yes it was amazing. It shows that we’re giving Oxford something it didn’t already have, that people are hungry for. We get an amazing response at gigs – people are seeing something in us that they often haven’t seen before, even in big old 2019. Not only are we all women, some of us are queer, we’re not stereotypically feminine, two of us are (white-passing) people of colour. We’re not the most diverse band, but unfortunately in Oxford we’re up there… In terms of tips just make sure your pledges are achievable and get creative.

VH: Now that it’s out there, how does it feel?

DOTM: Like a bowel expulsion you’ve been storing up for a while; huge relief, happiness, and then pride.

VH: The album has a really cathartic feel to it – was cathartic to write? Is it cathartic to play?

DOTM: Yes, we all get a lot from playing together and rehearsal is very different to on stage. Expression through music is so essential to us. For example, ‘Tess’ is a very cathartic song to play. While we have so much empathy for that character and her pain, it also feels important to give voice to that figure, that tragic story. She died, but before that she took some control over her life. She was no longer the victim, she changed her story. At the centre of our songs are strong characters and women’s stories. We sometimes embody them on stage, so maybe the catharsis is in the performance.

VH: Tamara, I feel like this album comes with a bit of a reading list – are literary influences an important part of the songwriting process for you?

Tamara: It’s more about the power of stories. I studied drama and have loved reading ever since I can remember. When a story grabs me, I obsess about it for months and can be totally immersed in those characters. The same happens when I write songs. Characters become so real to me and drive the story. One person’s pain or fear can lead strongly into a song that’s job is to capture a moment of that feeling. I think song-writing is the perfect medium for me, I am very impatient and could never sit down and write a novel.

VH: I wanted to ask about the idea of a secret fire – what does it mean to you?

DOTM: It’s about having inner power. The secret fire is something that all women have, that’s ready to be unleashed… It might be an anger, or passion, or something a bit fiery that no-one knows about apart from those that have seen it. It is also a bit of an in-joke. We love it.

VH: You’ve all been around the Oxford scene for a while, how has it been for you, and how does it need to improve?

DOTM: It needs to diversify because it is not diverse. You can’t be what you can’t see. It’s not just about making people feel good or doing the right thing, it’s about showing people that anyone can make music. It’s important to diversify the kind of music that gets made and the type of stories that get told.

VH: What’s your favourite track on the album?

Emma: Dream and Walls – it feels nice on your ear. Soothing piano part. Sparseness.

Jenny: Soon – sad but soulful.

Hannah: Tess – angsty as fuck mate.

Tamara: Waiting for You – I have strong memories of writing it, and its meaning has become clearer to me over time.

VH: What’s next for DOTM?

DOTM: We are busy finishing off the next album and then will look to record it. Tamara is putting on All Tamara’s Parties festival at the Jericho Tavern on 8 June and the band will play that. We are looking forward to playing some festivals over the summer, getting the opportunity to play on more cool and diverse bills.

VH: Finally, and most importantly, Hannah I understand you were disappointed that no one chose the ‘play board games with us’ pledge from the crowd funder. So, what are your favourite board games?

Hannah: Some of my fav board games are Pandemic, Carcassonne, Gulo Gulo, Codenames. Last time we played Codenames together it got a bit competitive and almost broke up the band. Lol. But mainly I’m a bit DandDer.

VH: You crowdfunded the album – were you nervous about it, did you enjoy it? Any tips for bands thinking of doing the same?

DOTM: We were hopeful, but yes it was amazing. It shows that we’re giving Oxford something it didn’t already have, that people are hungry for. We get an amazing response at gigs – people are seeing something in us that they often haven’t seen before, even in big old 2019. Not only are we all women, some of us are queer, we’re not stereotypically feminine, two of us are (white-passing) people of colour. We’re not the most diverse band, but unfortunately in Oxford we’re up there… In terms of tips just make sure your pledges are achievable and get creative.

VH: Now that it’s out there, how does it feel?

DOTM: Like a bowel expulsion you’ve been storing up for a while; huge relief, happiness, and then pride.

VH: The album has a really cathartic feel to it – was cathartic to write? Is it cathartic to play?

DOTM: Yes, we all get a lot from playing together and rehearsal is very different to on stage. Expression through music is so essential to us. For example, ‘Tess’ is a very cathartic song to play. While we have so much empathy for that character and her pain, it also feels important to give voice to that figure, that tragic story. She died, but before that she took some control over her life. She was no longer the victim, she changed her story. At the centre of our songs are strong characters and women’s stories. We sometimes embody them on stage, so maybe the catharsis is in the performance.

VH: Tamara, I feel like this album comes with a bit of a reading list – are literary influences an important part of the songwriting process for you?

Tamara: It’s more about the power of stories. I studied drama and have loved reading ever since I can remember. When a story grabs me, I obsess about it for months and can be totally immersed in those characters. The same happens when I write songs. Characters become so real to me and drive the story. One person’s pain or fear can lead strongly into a song that’s job is to capture a moment of that feeling. I think song-writing is the perfect medium for me, I am very impatient and could never sit down and write a novel.

VH: I wanted to ask about the idea of a secret fire – what does it mean to you?

DOTM: It’s about having inner power. The secret fire is something that all women have, that’s ready to be unleashed… It might be an anger, or passion, or something a bit fiery that no-one knows about apart from those that have seen it. It is also a bit of an in-joke. We love it.

VH: You’ve all been around the Oxford scene for a while, how has it been for you, and how does it need to improve?

DOTM: It needs to diversify because it is not diverse. You can’t be what you can’t see. It’s not just about making people feel good or doing the right thing, it’s about showing people that anyone can make music. It’s important to diversify the kind of music that gets made and the type of stories that get told.

VH: What’s your favourite track on the album?

Emma: Dream and Walls – it feels nice on your ear. Soothing piano part. Sparseness.

Jenny: Soon – sad but soulful.

Hannah: Tess – angsty as fuck mate.

Tamara: Waiting for You – I have strong memories of writing it, and its meaning has become clearer to me over time.

VH: What’s next for DOTM?

DOTM: We are busy finishing off the next album and then will look to record it. Tamara is putting on All Tamara’s Parties festival at the Jericho Tavern on 8 June and the band will play that. We are looking forward to playing some festivals over the summer, getting the opportunity to play on more cool and diverse bills.

VH: Finally, and most importantly, Hannah I understand you were disappointed that no one chose the ‘play board games with us’ pledge from the crowd funder. So, what are your favourite board games?

Hannah: Some of my fav board games are Pandemic, Carcassonne, Gulo Gulo, Codenames. Last time we played Codenames together it got a bit competitive and almost broke up the band. Lol. But mainly I’m a bit DandDer.

 

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