I was trying to interview Kristin Hayter for over a year.
When I heard her EP All Bitches Die for the first time, I fell in love with the severity of the material, a difficult message given in an emotional way. Even before I read the lyrics, I knew that it had a huge burden. I was not wrong – powerlessness in a violent relationship was the main motive of this release. I started to read even more – it turned out that the artist creating under the pseudonym LINGUA IGNOTA was classical music educated and she like using her knowledge and mixing it with an overwhelming noise. Some time later it turned out that Kristin is singing on The Body’s latest album – since she found herself in such company, I no longer had doubts that it is worth to talk to her. When her concerts in Poland were announced, I arranged an interview in Warsaw. Unfortunately, she did not play the concert planned in Warsaw, as well as the subsequent ones on the tour. Almost two months later, I tried once again. This time it worked. Up to three times the art – it was worth waiting.
Okay, for starters, I’d like to know … what happened? Why did you have to cancel the last concerts on the European tour?
I feel bad because of canceling the last three concerts on my tour … But it turned out that I had quite a serious concussion. It happened about halfway through my tour, I wanted to play concerts anyway. But my symptoms got worse… when we got to Warsaw, I barely stood on my feet. I could not stay in the concert hall, because all the sounds caused pain in my whole body. And I lost my voice.. I was not able to continue the concerts. I had to cancel the rest of my tour. Since I came back home, I’m trying to rest.
Many people wanted to see you because your performances already have iconic status. Especially after this year’s Roadburn, where you turned out to be a dark horse of this festival.
I know that many people in Warsaw were disappointed. I promise, I’ll come back and reward you. I will do something special.
All Bitches Die received many positive reviews. Were you prepared for it?
No, not at all! When I released this EP in 2017, I did not think anyone would be interested. My friends from The Body repeatedly mentioned me on their social media and someone picked up the topic, and then the real avalanche started. I had no idea, I really did not think so many people would appreciate it.
What can we expect from the upcoming album CALIGULA?
CALIGULA is more developed in every respect – concept and instrumental. It is also much longer than All Bitches Die. And I’ve already dumped half of the material (laughs)! I was at a different stage in my life when I was writing CALIGULA. I think that it has more power, while being gentler. I limited electronic and industrial, and added more stringency and acoustic instruments. It will be completely different from what I showed on All Bitches Die.
Current fans will not be disappointed?
I hope not! I’m never really sure what people will like (laughs). I will put it this way: the new material appeals to the old one and I think that you can feel the progress on it. Development is simply a logical consequence. So I think people who are fans of my music will understand and appreciate it. I hope!
I have the impression that everything related to CALIGULA is more “professional”. You have a proper photo shoot, you are shooting a music video …
Yes, I am now in the record company, so I have resources for such things. However, it is very important for me to control the entire process. Everything that appeared under the name of LINGUA IGNOTA, I made myself. Each element is well thought out, has its own meaning. I wanted the new record to give me a sense of autonomy and power. We’re shooting a music video now, I’m really excited because it’s the first clip in my life! It’s fun (laughs).
Can you tell me more?
I work with Mitch Wells from Thou who is my good friend. I like to work with people who have always supported me and have been in my community for a long time. The music video is for the longest song on the album, it has about 10 minutes. It will be an epic journey, at least I hope so. I can not say anything more than that it will show some kind of transformation…
Every mention about you on the internet starts with the fact that you were a victim of domestic violence. Aren’t you afraid that it will be the first thing about you forever?
Oh, yes … I know exactly what you’re talking about. I often think about it, I do not want my entire artistic output to be closed in this one sentence. People want to talk about it the most, it’s true. I’m honest when they ask me about it, I’m not afraid to talk. Escpecially because I get that the subject of domestic violence is very uncomfortable. I am happy to speak openly, I think that people should feel comfortable and this topic should not make them embarrassed.
I just hope that music will allow me to develop and that this topic is only the beginning of my journey. Because I have not been in that place for a long time. I am no longer in a violent relationship. I hope that people will want to grow with me and will accompany me after I change. I no longer need to create on this subject, I do not feel it anymore, it would be inauthentic. But my last recordings definitely testify to the fact that I needed it. However, I hope that my music will defend itself.
In Poland, people who have experienced domestic violence can not count on State aid as well as under-funded non-governmental organizations. How does it look in the States?
I must say that I am terrified of what is happening in your country. I am very sorry, it’s terrible. We have a system that unfortunately does not work. Women are returning to violent relationships because the country has nothing to do with them. It is not able to guarantee them a safe haven. When someone is arrested, a lawsuit is obtained from the State and fortunately, the victim does not have to do it personally. Such a lawsuit may end differently… There are shelters for women. Certainly it looks different than in Poland, we probably have more resources, but we need more of them. But what I hear about Poland… it seems frightening.
Well, US is not doing the best either…
Yes, literally last week in many states abortion, which has been legal for decades, has been banned. It’s all a nightmare, I do not understand what’s going on.
You come from a metal scene that is very hermetic and dominated by men. Was it possible to feel the consequences of the #metoo movement in such environments?
Yes. I see that women are less scared and able to set boundaries. A lot is changing. Personally, I did not spare any comments towards various bands that I used to play with and who in my opinion did not behave in a good way. People pay more attention to it. I see that men try to understand, try to change their behavior. But there is still much to do… misogyny on the metal or noise scene is extremely widespread. In total, you can meet with it everywhere. It’s hard to officially stigmatize, but on the other hand, you can sense that women are becoming more and more bold.
In the music industry, the subject of gender parity is also getting more and more attention. Have you heard of attempts to achieve a 50/50 gender balance in festival line-ups?
This is a great initiative, I think it is a great action and it is very necessary.
It’s interesting what you say, because when I talked to Sarah from the Youth Code, she totally disagreed. She said: “If people would book us at festivals because I was not born a guy, it means that in their opinion my band may be weak, but they have to fill up the line-up with women. I do not want this treatment! Music should always be in the first place. ”
Hmm … I understand her perspective. It’s a difficult topic. On the one hand, I want more women to be taken into consideration, but on the other, none of us wants pity. We do not want to be invited somewhere just because we are women. We want to be invited because we are good at what we do, we are talented. And because we work hard. So I understand what Sarah is all about. However, I believe that women need visibility. Give them space in situations when this space is not given to them.
I had a similar situation myself recently. A newspaper offered me a cooperation, and then I read their statement that the editorial staff was “more feminent” now.
It’s terrible, really. How did you feel then?
My self-esteem suffered. Why does everything have to be reduced to sex? Why can not we just be good enough to invite us somewhere?
It is absolutely important what you say. I understand you and I have felt exactly the same as you once. I feel invited to different places just because I am a woman. I want to be seen as equal to men as equally good. Just like you. We probably are (laughs). But you know, if you occupy a space as a woman, it is difficult to accept. I am very sorry that you felt so and I understand you perfectly… I think that you should still take advantage of these opportunities and crush them all (laughs).
Let’s get back to you! You were very lucky with the bands you cooperated with.
Yeah, I’m very lucky. Most of these wonderful people are also my friends, but guys from The Body have a special place in my heart. They supported me from the beginning, they took me on the tour four times and we are planning another one. They invited me to sing on their album, they took care of me when nobody was interested, when I did not have an idea for myself. They have become my relatives, I talk to them every day. I love their approach to their community and how they care for their friends. If it weren’t for them, I certainly would not be in the place where I am now.
And how did the tour with the Author & Punisher go? Tristan himself, in an interview with Undertone, admitted that his audience could be demanding…
(Laughter) The tour went well! Above all, Tristan is a great guy, very talented. And we live in the same city! We grew up in similar conditions, maybe that’s why we understand each other so well. I think that fans of industrial music do not quite coincide with my fans. I know that a lot of people were not happy about the fact that he took me on tour. I could feel the impatience of some people at concerts. There was also some negative feedback. But you know, this is something that I have to reckon with when I go as a support act.
Tristan is very concerned about his performances and whether everyone is having fun. How is it in your case?
I tend to react to the behavior of the audience. If I see people who are not involved, then okay. I realize that I will not reach everyone. But if I see someone behaving in a disrespectful way, I try…
Hit them with a lamp?
(Laughter) Honestly, I’m amazed that I’ve never hit anyone! Only myself! But I do not want to touch anyone, I respect my and others’ space. Although sometimes I try to draw their attention, play with their energy. It all depends on how I feel. I often play on the floor. But for example, in Prague, at one of my last concerts, I felt very bad. In addition, the room was really stuffed and people almost walked over my head – they touched me and my gear, I didn’t hear myself well and just walked onto the stage. People were outraged – “Why don’t you play on the floor?!” – and it was not just a safe place for me at the time.
I wonder how did you get to the point, where your performances looks like now. Where did you get the idea for such efficient lighting, why did you go down to people?
At the beginning I performed with projectors and my performance was part of what was displayed on them. But then I was going down to the audience, I liked it right away. With time, I began to go out to people more often and I wondered how this relationship influences the dynamics of the performer’s contact with the audience. Then I also started to play with light. Initially, I only illuminated myself, it gave me control over the shape of my performance. Later, I’ve already moved quite to the floor. I started taking this light with me, I loved it, how many meanings it can have. I could have illuminated it with individual people, the whole audience or just me, but it gave me total control. For me it’s very important. In addition, it allows me to involve the audience, because just as they are watching me, I watch them. As you can see, it hatched slowly. First a regular show, then a change of the relationship between the performer and the public.
Will your performances change on the tour promoting the CALIGULA album?
Oh yes, definitely. First of all, I realized that I can no longer perform in such conditions as before. It is too difficult. I can not afford situations like on the last tour. I’m working on a show that will be just as intense, but it will not be so burdensome for my body. I am very excited that I will be able to try something new.