Today, I have the pleasure to interview Jamie-Lee Smit of Azylya, melodic metal band from Belgium that I qualifies as my discovery of the year, thanks to their first album Sweet Cerebral Destruction.
Even if it’s hard believe with everything that happened to you, the concerts, last year’s PPM Fest and the MFVF in October... Your band is still pretty young and your line-up even more. So, could you please present yourself?
With pleasure. Azylya is composed of five members, and maybe six soon. Our biggest difficulty was to find a line-up steady, motivate and to work in a really friendly atmosphere. Since a few months, the musicians and myself are on the same page and it’s a pleasure to do the rehearsals because we have same goals and it’s a pleasure to see each other.
Our lead guitarist and principal composer of some of our songs is Anthony, he’s the oldest with 32 years and he’s the only one with me from the original line-up. Yohann, our guitarist and singer who’s 26, Polak our bassist of 26 too, Laurent, our drummer of 23 and myself, Jamie-Lee, 20 years old.
Jamie-Lee, you started your singing career at the age of 13 with Skeptical Minds, how was it? Were your parents worried?
Being contacted by Skeptical Minds was a big surprise... At this time, I was taking singing lessons, I had recorded two songs on the album of the musical “Big Bang Blues” and I was doing appearances on small scenes for musical, or singing with amateur bands, like many people of my age do. I had seen Skeptical Minds on stage at Brussels,it was my first confrontation with the metal and I loved it. We shared a few shows and that’s how it happened, to put is simply. I was their singer for only one year, but looking back, I was really young in comparison of these guys who were 20-25 years older than me... I learned a lot about the “business” and on life at that time, it made me become mature really quickly.
In regard of my parents, the break from what I was doing was pretty brutal. I was, in those days, a singing and dancing student, but I had just stopped high level competition in swimming... so instead of following me, the week-end, at the pool... they followed me at concerts. My parents always backed me up in my projects and with the metal music too. What did they do to deal with my desires, my young age and the fact that I was working with men much older than me? They had to follow me around everywhere and that's what they did. They backed, supported and comforted me... In short: good parents.
Since then, a few years have passed, what has changed from the young lady who discovered the world of metal and the music industry from the inside?
Lots has changed. In seven years, I replaced singers in bands and found Azylya. In seven years, I think I was confronted by life a bit quicker than planned. Human relations are sometimes difficult, hard to endure and comprehend. I had been confronted by jealousy, rejection, harsh criticism among some groups to which I belonged. By cons, and that's the only thing to remember, it’s that, when I was 13, I've had people I do not really know who supported me and who are still there. I had to build my opinions, give me a course of action against certain individuals from the profession, build a shell to protect me, continue to move forward and especially, respect myself.
Survive and create place in the music’s world. Everyone knows it, it’s difficult, especially in the world of female metal which is finally a small world.
“Sweet Cerebral Destruction”, your first album, is officially available for a few months, how was this first time?
Making an album is above all a delight. Being spotted by the studio Realsound, in Italy, was a huge surprise and our happiness was equal. And when Wormholedeath/Aural Music contacted the studio, took us under their wing... that was the Nirvana! And everything continues to go very well, so fingers crossed.
What is your favourite song on the album and why?
Incest, because it was the first to be composed, because it’s the one starting the story of Ginger, because she’s full of emotion.
Speaking of music, Jamie-Lee on stage, you play the role of Ginger, helped by a beautiful production. Knowing her past, is it difficult to get into the character?
For me, no, I love everything that’s theatral, visual... when I sing, I really get into the character, I feel the emotions of Ginger even if I never experienced incest, I am precise. I would have liked to do cinema.
As I said before, you were at last year PPM Fest, we saw each other recently at Dames of Darkness and you will be in October at the Metal Female Voices Fest... you really made yourself a place in the business. What’s your secret? How do you stay so friendly and don’t get a swollen head?
We’re incredibly lucky compared to the great places where we played and we’re thankful to the organizers. No secret, either we’re asked without candidature like for the MFVF, or our candidature is accepted, either we try to make bands play here, in Belgium and they invite us back. The latter being more tough since the places are not free.
As for the swollen head, it’s not in my DNA, neither is it in the other musicians, we’re simple, cool, happy of what’s happening and hoping for this to last... We’re only looking for two things, have fun and make the public have fun. Anyway, nothing should be taken for granted, everything must be done everyday, we’re humble and we’ll stay like that.
You have the luck to live in Belgium, home of big events like the PPM and the MFVF, but you also had to move a bit for a few gigs. So how’s the life on road? Is it possible to not eat junk food every meal?
Ahahahah, when we go abroad, things that we had the luck to do recently, we eat reaaaaally bad!! Pizza, French fries, hamburgers... but I’ve got musicians fans of every kind of hamburger... myself, I’m not very into meat, so it’s sometimes quite difficult to follow.
While we’re on the subject of food, what’s your favourite cake?
Raspberry tart without sour cream, I love raspberries and hate sour cream.
But back to the concert, you had the chance to meet your fans face to face and talk with them. And I know that you’re really active on social networks, is communication with the community something important to you, or is it something you feel forced to do?
My view is this: if we are brought to be followed by people it is normal as a "public" person to be in communication with them if they ask. We have things to show, if the public adheres why not be in communication with him. Of course, I like to communicate with these people as long as it’s in compliance. It’s clear that it motivates us when the audience likes a video, a photo, etc...
On the other hand, let's be honest, the net gives us opportunities to let us be known so why deny it. But we never feel compelled to do anything, we do the job of a band whose needs must make themself known and we take pleasure to communicate with people who follow us. But nothing is more fun to talk face to face after a gig.
Talking about fans, what’s the weirdest or funniest things one of them did?
Actually, I do not like the word "fan", I just feel like I have a big head, talking of the people who follow us like that.
So there is a man who follows me since I'm 14 and this in different groups through which I passed. He came from France at a concert in Belgium for the second time with his 13 year old daughter. As the cat could not stay alone they took it with them in the car. The next day we had another concert in Belgium and they were there too, they had both slept with the cat in the car for the concert the next day. They are really nice and we correspond from time to time on the net.
Finally, to end this interview, a few words for our readers?
Dear Muses Of Metal’s readers, I hope that you learned a bit about us, Azylya, we hope to meet you soon in the flesh. And most importantly, keep reading these Muses Of Metal‘s articles and support the young metal scene.
As for you, dear Panda, thank you for giving us this opportunity and we hope to see you soon!!
A big thanks for this interview, I hope it will not be the last I have the chance to do with you. In the meantime, I hope you have the success you richly deserve, in my humble opinion, and I look forward seeing you during a gig.
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