KnightressM1 is out there making music, living their best life and evolving like butterflies. Hopefully, they will inspire you as much as they have inspired me. I want to get out of this mom uniform of a hoodie and jeans.
When I’m ready to get out of the cocoon, my wardrobe will be really beautiful and eclectic like KnightressM1’s music. It will be a wardrobe worthy of writing poetry, goat yoga, and dancing around the country with KnightressM1 blasting on the stereo.
Before all of those amazing transformations happen, please welcome frontwoman/violinist of KnightressM1, Emily Palen, to the blog.
Please tell us about your latest release.
Dreams and Devastation, released September of 2020 is a 12 song full length concept album written from the emotional and spiritual depths of personal and collective awakening. I wrote each song as a method of transmuting a particularly difficult emotional obstacle, using the power of the music to alchemize my own experience and also to provide a sonic template for the audience to journey and grow in their own way.
I designed the album as a soundtrack and strengthening of our 12-strand DNA, our full birthright as human beings. We tuned the album to a 528hz and as the songwriter and lead of the band I made deliberate conscious choices to steer the album into the highest expression I could, as the first record from KnightressM1.
I co-produced and recorded the album at the Foo Fighter home studio, Studio 606 with their chief engineer John “Lou” Lousteau. Rob Ahlers played drums, Uriah Duffy played bass and I laid down the violins, vocals and keys. The album is unique in the respect that the music is driven by the violin, replacing what a lead a rhythm guitar would do. Unless people know it’s violin-driven, they will hear a guitar because of the similarity of tone.
The violin, as my home instrument from the age of 4, is the most natural extension of myself and I love pushing it to this level with rock and metal. It’s an incredibly free expression of myself. It was a privilege to work so closely with Lou on this record. His expertise and studio manner helped to elevate these songs past any level I could’ve accomplished on my own. It’s been well received around the world, reaching new fans and most importantly, is providing a foundation upon which to build future albums.
Where was your first concert as a fan? As a performer?
My first concert I ever went to was Leonard Cohen at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. As a true fan, my first concert might have been Tool, though it’s hard to remember. As a performer, I started playing in recitals when I was just starting violin and piano from age 4. I performed in orchestra’s as a teenager, progressing on to play solo recitals.
I have performed also live with bands, and actually the first performance I ever did with rock music was at a little coffee shop in Midland, MI playing “The Hurricane” on violin with a friend. So, that was the first for non-classical. It’s been a lifelong evolving journey with the stage.
Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?
I don’t actually have a bucket list. I suppose I live with the perspective that every day is irreplaceable so I better follow my dreams. Every day. I don’t get time back. My short list currently is, move to Paris. Collaborate with Gojira. Co headline with my heroes. Play Hellfest. Write and record the most crushing and heartbreakingly beautiful metal album ever done by a violinist. Help the world survive.
What was the last thing that you read?
My French textbooks.
What are you listening to at the moment?
While She Sleeps just put out an incredible album – Sleeps Society. That’s top of my playlist. Also Gojira just released Fortitude which is so organic and deep, a ripping album. Architects put out For Those That Wish To Exist – which is also an incredible album. It’s been a great year for what I hear as conscious music.
Bands who actually give a rip about what’s important and have the guts to write about it. These bands do that in an amazing way, and they are all shredding musicians. Drew York who is another hero of mine, the singer from Stray From The Path, a band everyone needs to know about as well – just put out the single of the summer with JJ called “Cupid Missed” and I just love everything about this song.
Stay tuned as well for a collab I’m doing with Drew York. We’ll be dropping that this year and I’m incredibly excited about it. That’s what I’m turning all the way up these days.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Gojira, Architects. Short list.
What do you want people to know or think about your music?
Whatever they honestly think. If they resonate with the music, that’s an honor to me.
I know that we strive to write honestly and that means some people will like it and some won’t. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and tastes.
I won’t write music to please everyone so, if you do dig it, that means the world to me. I write with the intention to leave this world better than it is now and we have a lot of work to do.
We need to be brave, we need to know we aren’t alone in this fight right now and we need to know there’s more to our world than what we’re told. If you’re digging deeper and have pulled back the curtain, maybe this music will be for you. If you want to keep your eyes closed and pretend everything is ok, or if you live in a way where you harm other people, maybe you’ll hate it. Most of all I want to say thank you, to those who support KnightressM1 and to those bands who have paved the way for truth in music to thrive.
What have you been doing during times of quarantine (music-wise and hobbies)?
I’ve been writing a lot of music, planning the next album, producing videos, releasing Dreams and Devastation. Pushing everything forward while maintaining an emotional center in these absolutely insane times.
Has your songwriting process changed in the past year?
I wrote a lot of electronica songs because that’s what I can create at home in the headphones. So I tapped into my house side. I love making weird space music with synths and sound effects and some more vulnerable emotions. The sound of the band however has gotten much heavier. Vocals are much more aggressive and I’m just embracing my love of metal and letting KnightressM1 go completely in that direction. So, I suppose it’s expanded in different directions.
Is there a message you’d like to share with your fans or soon-to-be fans?
Whatever your dream is, that place that sends electricity up your spine, keep that fire blazing hot. Whatever your struggles and pain, you are not alone and it will get better. If anyone has made you feel unworthy of being alive, that’s their problem and not your fault. If you’re dealing with abuse or domestic violence, you’re not alone and there is freedom on the other side of it.
The world will break your heart wide open, but as long as we stay connected to our hearts, even in that pain, we will get through to the other side with our souls intact. We are sovereign beings. We are beautiful. There is a place underneath all of our divisions where we all truly want the same thing which is to love and be loved. When we burrow down into that, we can connect and stop arguing about the particulars. We look forward to meeting you and playing for you at shows. We look forward to having amazing connections, sharing art and music and moments that inspire us. It’s a privilege to be in the company of good humans and we are everywhere.
What is something positive that happened to you in the past Covid-laden year?
I maintained my own still point in the middle of the external chaos. I’ve gotten to meet incredible people all around the world. New friends. Love. Support.
What are some things you are really looking forward to experiencing after some semblance of normalcy has returned?
Playing live shows, going to live shows, being out of the country. I don’t see normalcy returning though unless people dig deeper into the truth of our world. We live in a world where we don’t take care of each other or the planet. We have to change. I look forward to that.
KnightressM1 Music links:
Dreams and Devastation album link
Wow, I just found my new artist of the moment. Great interview.
Ha, “building guillotines”. And Leonard Cohen as a first concert…neat…