Kristin Hayter Offers a Glimpse Behind Lingua Ignota’s Commanding Curtain
The clash of good and evil is an archetype that binds Lingua Ignota’s universe. It is also a reality with which its soloist, Kristin Hayter, is intimately familiar. Through her core-shaking accounts of abuse, Lingua Ignota has come to transcend the boundaries of dark and light, channeling the complex murkiness that comes to define time that can never be regained. The anticipation behind her third release CALIGULA is twofold; a different sound is desperately craved while music stumbles into the pits of stagnation, and a different perspective is desperately needed to untangle truth-telling from accusations of mere agenda pushing. Brazenly blazing new trails, Hayter carries the torch, illuminating the ugliness that has been left to fester in the shadows for far too long.
Invisible Oranges was lucky enough to learn how the classically trained vocalist translates this responsibility into compelling art.
While you have been known for ominous tones, “Butcher of The World” particularly goes right for the jugular. Is this level of abrasive grandeur characteristic of CALIGULA as a whole?
Yes it is! There’s a lot of critically self-aware bombast; I knew this record had to go all the way, sonically and otherwise. There were no compromises. I wanted to create something that sounded very large and powerful, consuming and overwhelming.
There is an underlying thread of vengeance throughout your body of work. What is this upcoming chapter’s perspective on the subject?
I think that CALIGULA approaches vengeance with a more critically self-reflexive current, embracing and weaponizing the self with the darkness used against. I am examining the ways in which my experience of trauma has made me dark.
How do you balance being a classical singer and a screamer? Are there any vocal precautions you must take when performing metal-style feats?
I suck at this balance. I am working on becoming better at it, but right now what I’m doing is singing through a lot of damage I’ve incurred from screaming. At the very least, I try to stay hydrated and warm up properly.
Your live performances are often described as “transcendental.” How do you generate your cathedral-like acoustics in venues that may leave something to be desired? It’s almost like you do so by magic.
Reverb! I use Logic to track and record, and I also perform with it, and mostly have two open tracks with different custom reverb patches that work concurrently on the vocals. My piano sound also has…a lot of reverb as well as most of the high end taken out, and most of my other sounds are very wet as well. I try to create a soundscape that is very dark but still legible.
What do you tend to listen to on the daily, like when you’re, say, running errands or going out for a walk?
I tend to have two listening styles. The first is Getting Stuck In Obsessive Hole. That most recent one is Daughters’s You Won’t Get What You Want which I get more out of each time I listen; I the other week I texted Seth (Manchester, of Machines with Magnets studio where Daughters and I both did our records) who is an experimental nerd like me, asking if a lot of the guitars were arranged to sound like Penderecki, and he was like “no, but I also thought that.” That record is wild and terrifying. I also listen to, I guess, a lot of drone and choral music. I love Sardinian and Georgian polyphony lately. And I’ll mix that in with Tim Hecker, Meredith Monk, György Ligeti, and some punk and hardcore from Youth Attack, for instance. I love to make playlists of disparate stuff like that and put it together in a way that makes sense to me, creating weird confluences between disparate things. I guess I do a similar thing in my own music.
Can you describe what your relationship with Catholicism is like?
It’s complicated. I was raised in the church and became an atheist when I was 13, and since then I’ve been in and out. Now I think I’m…mostly out, but I have a really strong relationship to the imagery of Catholicism, the pageantry of mass, the language of the bible. I think that there is something very beautiful about music and art built as an act of worship, and that doesn’t have to be specific to Catholicism, but some of my favorite art has that purity of intent. Then there’s the very impure intent of The Church itself, the corruption and oppression and abuse.
Being on the right side of history in this scene has felt like an uphill battle lately. Some try to make the argument that measures like eliminating hate speech are incompatible with metal, saying that it is not supposed to be a place of comfort. How would you respond to this sentiment?
I think we often give too much space to shitty people being shitty, and shitty people tend to thrive on that kind of attention, and we don’t think enough on how to reform and instill actual change. I can offer, anecdotally, my perspective on my own actions: If you listen to my music you know that it is explicit and often reclaims/recontextualizes tropes of misogyny. So I cannot tell you that I believe in censorship. The material has to be there to be reclaimed and responded to, its existence opens the dialogue; and with my music I choose to very closely confront that hatred, and this is the only way I have attained anything like accountability or justice for what I have endured. The world is not fair, and sometimes the only way to hold someone accountable is to generate something of your own, to take up a bunch of fucking space. I am not comfortable most of the time in the zones where I am, but I exist there because that is where I need to be. I encourage others who feel unseen to put a stake in the ground, claim something where people dismiss you, build it yourself, change some minds. Don’t give up.
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