Claudia's Ashes is a one-woman gothic/industrial project that is currently making leaps and bounds in the gothic music scene. Headed by Stephanie Michelle, a young woman armed only with her multitude of instruments, recording equipment and her passion for all things dark, Claudia's Ashes is a refreshing blend of enchanting gothic fantasy and the machine-like rhythm of hard industrial.
GC: What is the name of your band and who are the current members?
The name of my project is Claudia's Ashes. I am a one-woman band, so I am the only member. I'm Stephanie Michelle, by the way...Ryan Rader and Bug are currently members of the band who will be playing the music live.
GC: How did you become connected to make music?
I started Claudia's back in 2003. I met Ryan in college and asked him to be my live drummer. Bug is my brother, and he took up interest in the band last year, and is now our live guitarist.
GC: What are your musical influences?
Mostly gothic and industrial music, with some metal thrown in there. Bands like Lacuna Coil, Kittie, Rammstein, Switchblade Symphony, London After Midnight, and Bauhaus have influenced me a lot personally.
GC: What is your live show like?
Never played a live show...I am a one-woman band after all. After we find ourselves a suitable keyboardist, we will start playing live, definitely.
GC: Tell us about your own unique style of music?
I describe my music as 'sexy synthetic melancholy'. You can take that for what it is. If I had to sum up my music in one word, it would be 'dark'...definitely dark and dramatic. A mix of gothic and industrial music...you can't go wrong there.
GC: What serparates your band from all the other bands out there?
One-woman bands are few and far between. I think that is definitely one of things that seperates me from the rest of the crowd. I do everything myself, from writing the music to recording it, producing my debut album, and always always ALWAYS promoting...never stopping with the promoting.
GC: How do you go about writing songs?
I normally sit down with my keyboard and map out a few notes, and if I hear something I like, I take it from there. The music I make is completely a spur-the-moment type of thing; I never have any kind of structure when I start writing a song. I normally write lyrics to music, and I try to keep my lyrics as impersonal as possible. For me it's hard to write about my own personal life experiences...I like to write lyrics from another person's point-of-view.
GC: Pick one of your latest song and talk about everything from writing it, meanings, the challenges of recording it?
One of the newest songs I've done actually has operatic-type vocals in it, which was a stretch for me. I found it a real challenge when recording my voice for that song because I've never used that type of style in any of my previous works. I got the whole inspiration from it from the imagery of fallen angels and whatnot...I am fascinated by myths about angels. Oh, and then there's the newer track "The Red Queen"...that was a challenge because it's the first song I've ever used samples on, so the actual recording of that one was probably the most difficult challenge as far as recording for me yet.
GC: What is your latest news with the band?
Well, after almost 2 years, my debut album "Cold Autumn Nostalgia" came out about two months ago and is doing pretty well. I'm always busy writing and recording, and I do believe that towards the end of the year I will have a new EP out as well.
GC: How are people currently reacting to your music?
I am really humbled by the support everybody has given me, from family to friends to fans. Everyday I get mail from all over the world, and it's amazing how well people have taken to my music. It makes me feel very honored to be doing this. I just hope I won't let anybody down in the future.
GC: What would be the top 3 reasons for listening to your music?
Jeez, this is a tough one...people have told me that by listening to my music, they become very visually inspired by the images created by the moods and words of my songs. I think that is a good reason to listen to ANY music...for inspiration, that is. Also another good reason to listen to Claudia's Ashes is perhaps the fact that a handful of people have told me that my music was kind of their 'stepping stone' into the darker genres of music. I take my music seriously and I am as original as I can be, and I think that is what today's music listeners need: originality, definitely.
GC: What is your best experience as a band?
Being able to do everything by myself...it's very empowering. Also the people I've been able to meet through my music have all been amazing and I have had the pleasure and have been fortunate enough to meet some of the most brilliant musicians in the biz. The first two years of my life in Claudia's Ashes have been the best because it was a very long journey and a first step that felt so good to complete.
GC: What is your worst experience as a band?
Having to do everything myself is very fun and rewarding, but there are times when it can be exhausting.
GC: What is most important to you in your band?
Creating for the soul purpose of creating. I treat music as the ultimate art form, and it is very important to me that the music comes first before any other aspect of being in a band (the shows, the fans, the money, etc.). It is important to me to feel like I have done justice to my passion.
GC: Do you have a personal favorite song, could be your own or other, and why?
My personal favorite song that I have written definitely has to be "Chrissa". It's the only song on the album that is deeply personal to me, and during the whole recording of the song I was just bawling because the music itself affected me so much. It's nice to be able to say your own music has an affect on you; I think that is one of every musicians' goals. My favorite song by another artist has to be "Swamped" by Lacuna Coil, who happen to be my favorite band.
GC: What was the hardest song to write and why?
I think the hardest song to write was, again, "Chrissa" because it's very hard for me to write about my personal life. Coming up with the right words to explain what I was going through during that period of time that inspired the song was very difficult because it was hard putting in to words the myriad of emotions I had inside of me.
GC: What do you think of the current gothic/ EBM/ Industrial/ noise/ synthpop etc scence today?
I think that today's darker-genre scene is budding with so many artists and bands with HUGE potential and are INSANELY talented. I could name you right now 10 other one-person goth/industrial/EBM artists who are amazing and I know will make a huge impact on the music world eventually. The goth/industrial scene is growing in popularity everyday, yet a lot of the bands are maintaining underground status and aren't getting caught up in the mainsteam...it's simply awesome to be a part of it all and watching how our little subculture is evolving on a daily basis.
GC: What music do you currently listen to, and why?
My two favorite genres: gothic and industrial...surprise surprise! Lately though I have been getting into powerelctronic/noise, courtesy of Atrax Morgue.
GC: What kind of recording environment do you have?
My recording environment consists of my room and my computer...that's it. I use Cakewalk software for all of my recording, and various other sampling programs I have aquired over the years. Basically I just plug in my instruments and play! Hopefully in the future I'll have access to a 'real' studio, though...maybe someday I will, when I'm not a starving college student.
GC:How long did you spend on your latest effort?
2 years, give or take. It was such a long process because a lot of things were happening with me in my life during the whole thing, both good and bad, and that caused delays here and there. On top of that I was trying to adjust to doing everything myself, which I've never had to do before.
GC: Where do you hope to be in 5 years with your band?
I would like to play at least one nationwide tour in the next 5 years, and, as always, continue to write and produce albums. Hey, maybe I'll be signed by then, who knows? Be sure to check out www.claudiasashes.tk for fully downloadable tracks, photo galleries, and other goodies. XOXO
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