Midlands noir concrête, aka avant-garde black metal, outfit Denigrata have come a long way in a short space of time. Their commanding recent Birmingham date, when opening for Downfall of Gaia, caused many jaws to hit the floor. The band’s singer and founder, known intriguingly as Denigrata Herself, shares her thoughts with Paul Castles.

Denigrata 1 (FILEminimizer)
Denigrata frontwoman Denigrata Herself

ZT: Before we talk about Denigrata can you just tell us something about your own background?

Well I’ve been a metal fan all my life and started my metal career as a performer in 2000. I’ve been in death metal bands and more recently black metal bands. I’ve never been the frontwoman before so this is a new experience for me. I don’t know why I didn’t do it before, maybe it just wasn’t the right time. But I love this band and it’s been amazing so far.

ZT: What kind of musical influences have the members of Denigrata got?

All of us are fans of extreme metal, particularly doom and sludge alongside classical. My personal tastes at the moment are Der Weg Einer Freiheit who we played with recently, along with the likes of Wolves in the Throne Room. That’s where I’m at musically but all the band members have their own tastes. Our guitarist is really into bands like Deafhaven and you can hear that in the way that we write. His intervallic changes are a lot softer than mine. Mine are more baroque based around semi-tonal structures and I love the way those two clash and come together. If you only solely listen to one thing then how will you ever create anything new? If you start drawing things in from all over the place you’re in this melting pot and can just see what incredible things happen and you can create. It’s a much healthier perspective I think to have on music.

ZT: I know you’re also heavily involved in the world of academia, both as a student and lecturer. How does this sit alongside your musical ambitions?

I’m massively influenced by a lot of avant garde material. I’m a university lecturer in popular music and our singer and keyboard player is reading classics at university. It means we draw a lot of inspiration from Arnold Schoenberg and surrealism. For me it’s very much Pierre Schaeffer, this is why we call ourselves noir concrête, so really fucking with sound. We wanted to take the darkness of Schaeffer and Stockhausen and give it a contemporary existence. I’ve got over a decade of playing normal metal, death metal, black metal. I just wanted to do something left field and weird and that’s kind of where we’re heading with Denigrata which is why it’s so exciting

ZT: What aspirations have you got for Denigrata?

That’s a very tricky question! We’re halfway through the album at the moment. It will be called Missa Defunctorum. The artwork’s halfway done by an absolutely astonishing artist, Matthew Vickerstaff. We’ve got a very trusted producer and engineer who I’ve worked with for over a decade in various forms or another. I’m working on my PHD at the moment and this band got started because of the methodology that I needed for my PHD. I thought I needed to start a new band but little did I realize at the time what it would burgeon out in the way it has. We’re only at the beginnings of all of this but I’m thoroughly excited and I’ve never enjoyed a band as much as this.

ZT: Denigrata sound almost medieval at times. Can you tell us where this comes from?

Both myself and Manea (keys and vocals) are both classically trained which is probably why we connect in that way. What we decided to do with the album is have a requiem format. So I sing all of the lyrics from the original requiem, based on Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor. All my lyrics are in Latin, they’re the original ones used in the requiem. Screaming in Latin is a really interesting thing!

ZT: Finally, what gig plans have Denigrata got coming up?

Well, we need to try and stop for the moment because we’ve got to get the album finished. Speak to any band, trying to write and gig at the same time is so difficult because you’re being split off in all these different directions. Once the album’s finished we’ll have something we can push on.

Thanks for dropping in!

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