Cradle of Filth vocalist/keyboardist Lindsay Schoolcraft is a nonstop creativity machine. In addition to her work with Cradle, Lindsay has released her own EP, voiced an animated character (Belzebubs’ “Skvllcraft”), and with friend Xenoyr (Ne Obliviscaris) launched classical/goth metal project Antiqva. She is currently on the road with Cradle for the second leg of their “Cryptoriana” world tour. Lindsay was kind enough to sit down with us before their Baltimore show this past weekend to discuss Cradle’s music, her various other projects, and her inspirations. Along the way, we learned a bit of trivia about her (she’s worked in biochemistry!), learned what her favorite piece of music in the world is (maybe not what you think), and heard her message for the young women of metal (you need to hear it).
MG: Lindsay, we really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us today.
Lindsay: No problem!
MG: You’ve been with Cradle since 2013, correct?
Lindsay: Correct, 2013. It’s been 6 years.
MG: They contacted you out of the blue, right? You flew to Mexico, hit the ground running and joined the tour?
Lindsay: Yes, that’s how it happened, the short version. It was overwhelming but in a good way.
MG: I saw that you have a background in biochemistry, and you worked as a vet tech for a while. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Lindsay: Well, being a vegan, I love animals. I fought hard for my music, and always have even when there was other stuff going on. But back in high school, I wasn’t getting a lot of support in pursuing music. So in the meantime, I was doing my co-op at school, working at veterinary offices, and after school, I got a job as a veterinary assistant. I really enjoyed the lab work and assisting surgeries, but my passion for music pushed me out of that. I was working at a cat hospital, and my allergies for long haired cats grew so bad, I wasn’t able to sing. I was going to lessons but couldn’t even get through my homework. So I had to leave the field, but I really think it was the best decision for me. I wasn’t really happy – I want to help animals, but I wasn’t finding the work very rewarding.
MG: I’m so sad you had to give up cats.
Lindsay: Actually it’s OK, I still have cats at home! Our allergies change every 7 years, and at the time cats were what was doing it for me, but not anymore, thank god!
MG: Very cool! A cool piece of trivia about you, your veterinary background.
MG: You also have a classical music background… you were training in opera for a while, you’re also a harpist, and a bassist. What’s an instrument or voice style that you haven’t tried before but have always wanted to try?
Lindsay: I would love to dig deeper into soul and blues. I think they’re really beautiful, and my lower register would do really well with them. I’ve taken what I like from the voice styles I’ve studied – like folk or theater or classical or pop – and use them in my style today. But I always enjoy learning more, and I coach people in clean vocals sometimes. I teach them, they teach me, and we both grow as musicians. But the next big thing I’d like to try is the church organ – I don’t know how deeply I’ll dig into it, but there’s one at my disposal back home, and my black metal side project is calling for it. I just haven’t had the time since I’m never at home!
MG: It’s funny that you mention the blues. I think people outside the metal community underestimate how sophisticated metal music is, and misunderstand what the influences are. Classical is one, and blues is another musical ancestor to metal – and the blues is all about taking the darkness inside and bringing it out. That’s still present in metal music.
Lindsay: That’s totally what metal is, yeah.
MG: So to what degree is that a source of inspiration for you? How much of this is about taking the darkness inside and bringing it out?
Lindsay: Music has been a coping mechanism and a tool for me to survive. I may one day write a book about it. I’ve been through some pretty hard things in my life. Your demons don’t really go away, you just learn how to live with them, how to cope and say “I’m not listening to you today! You’re wrong!” You’re always fighting with the voices in your head, but when I’m onstage I just forget about all that and get to be someone else. I’m still me; just a stage version of me. I love that, and I think that for our fans it’s such an escape. I’ve talked to fans who deal with big problems too – when you do this over and over again, sometimes you forget these things because it becomes the norm, but I’ve had fans come up to me and tell me “Man, you’re really helping me get through a hard time,” or “Your music helped me through a hard time,” and that’s why I do this. I don’t just do it for myself, I do it for the fans, too. It’s a healing thing, for sure.
MG: That’s what Cradle’s music was for me as a teen, and even now today.
On YouTube, and the Birth of Antiqva
MG: You’ve also got your side project, Antiqva, that you’ve been working on. And you just started your own Youtube channel?
Lindsay: Yes! That’s baby fresh. My sister told me, “Every time I miss you I just open your Youtube channel!” I don’t really know what I’m doing with that. It’s mostly for my fans because they have been requesting it. I have a list of over 40 requested topics that I’ve been keeping on my phone. In time I’ll get to all of them – they really want the makeup tutorials, but those are a lot of work. Do you really want to see me making funny faces and poking myself in the eye for 40 minutes? I don’t know, we’ll see. Haha!
MG: There’s one that you posted recently, with your friend [Ne Obliviscaris vocalist] Xen. You’re in Australia, and you’re talking about the birth of Antiqva.
Lindsay: Oh, yes. What a mess!
MG: That story’s so funny – I mean, we’ve all been there, we’ve all had those “hot mess” nights when you just don’t know what’s going on, and everything’s going wrong – but something really good came out of that! Your project, and it was out of a shared love of “Carmina Burana”.
Lindsay: Yes! The BEST piece of music ever written.
MG: So what is it about that piece that inspires you, and that inspired this project?
Lindsay: It’s a weird thing! I’ve never told this story before, so this is a Metal Goddesses exclusive. When I was 12, it was my first time going to Europe, and I went to Germany. I remember on the plane on the way home, you could plug in your headphones into the seat and listen to the radio channels. I picked the classical channel, just trying to go to sleep, but then this song came on. It was an hour of shuffled classical hits – some Beethoven, some Bach, the regulars – and this song kept coming on. I would wait for it to come on every single hour, on this eight-hour flight. That melody… it just hit me. It was one of the darkest, scariest, most powerful pieces of music I’d ever heard. Later, I was in Toronto as a teenager, when there was still this record store called Sam the Record Man, that had a classical section. I was bold, ‘cause I was determined to find this piece of music, and I went up to the guy and said “I’m sure you get this all the time… I’m just going to sing the melody. It’s an epic, evil-sounding choir.” And I sang it for him, and he went “Oh, I know exactly what that is!” and – bless him – he went and got me this CD, back when CD’s were still a thing. It was $20, which was not cheap back then. And I’ve had that CD ever since. So when Xen and I were having dinner, I just said “Man… I wish more people would write music like Carl Orff’s song.” And he said, “That’s my favorite song ever.” And I said, “That’s MY favorite song ever!” And an hour later, on the way back to the train, I just said “Do you want to start a band? Do you want to start a project?” And now, it’s snowballed into this massive project. I’m on the road right now, trying to make sure everyone’s on top of things and they have the files they need. It’s beautiful – I love that piece of music. Every time I go back and listen, it hits me so hard. It’s so good!
MG: It’s so dramatic… it strings you along the entire time. It’s BOOM, in your face, and then it drops off, and then it builds and builds, and then BOOM again!
Lindsay: That’s the idea with black metal drums and guitars. I’m so happy with it. We all love what we’re doing; we’re all really proud of our work. There’s no pressure. With Cradle, I have to to fit within what Cradle needs because Cradle has a certain aesthetic and sound that needs to be upheld. But with this project, I can just be me. The guitarist can just be himself. The drummer – this is her first time doing black metal, and she’s just loving it. There are no rules for her; she’s doing it her way. That’s kind of why this is going so well for all of us, because we’re just being ourselves and doing what we want to do with the music.
MG: That’s the ideal place… that’s your nirvana as an artist. To be in that space where you’re just free to do whatever you want, and the fans will love it.
Lindsay: Yeah! We’ve already got people making T-shirts of our logo for Antiqva and I’m like, “Wait, what if we suck?!”
Joining the Belzebubs Family
MG: Another thing that you did recently is, you’re “Skvllcraft,” right?
Lindsay: From Belzebubs, right. That is so crazy. That’s turned into something bigger than I ever thought it would. [Belzebubs creator] JP Ahonen and I have been in touch for a while. I’m a fan of the comic; my partner and I were Lilith and Sam for Halloween. He contacted me and asked me to sing on the album. I said, “Wow, whatever you need me for!” It was supposed to be just a single, but then it turned into about four songs. It was amazing. Then he said, “I’m going to make a character for you… here’s what she’s going to look like.” I was one of those moments where I had to sit back and say, “Pinch me! Is this actually real?” I just feel so honored, and so grateful. The fans are joking on Twitter, that it needs to be made into a Netflix series. That would be the ultimate dream! Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t. But as it stands, as a comic, as an album and as the animated music videos, Belzebubs is fantastic. I love it. I’ve always loved it.
MG: Your character is so epic in “Cathedrals of Mourning”, with her haunting sound and the wind in her hair. I’m excited to see where that goes.
Lindsay: Me too. It’s all up to JP- I think he’s excited to get back to doing the story, and the comics, which is what he intended in the first place. I think it started as an “Inktober” challenge for him, and snowballed into something bigger than he ever thought. The power of black metal! The thing that you do purely out of enjoyment is usually the thing that really takes off, because it really resonates with other people.
MG: Absolutely. The emotion of it can reach anyone, no matter what culture you’re from or what part of the world you’re in.
Performing (and now Creating) with Cradle
MG: As far as Cradle’s music… you’ve done two albums so far. At this point given your time with the band, how much of a creative role do you have in the formulation of the new music?
Lindsay: I give ideas. Our drummer Martin is the quality control guy; he’s got his BA in music, so he knows what’s up… what works and what needs to be thrown out. I trust him. He cares so much about keeping the sound of this band, and I respect that. So I give ideas here and there… sometimes they stick, sometimes they don’t. I just help out where I can and when I’m inspired. By now, I’m starting to understand what is expected, what the formula is that the band wants. So I’ve started submitting a lot of ideas for the third album, and they’ve been sticking!
MG: What can we look for in the next album that we can point to and realize, “That’s Lindsay’s idea!”
Lindsay: No idea… maybe just a sad piano part…?
MG: Haha, great, we’ll look for it. Cradle’s music is so complex… lyrically, musically, rhythmically. You’ll change time signatures in the middle of a song, which is so hard to do. How do you mitigate that during your live performances?
Lindsay: Our drummer takes care of that, and we just follow. It’s just practice; it becomes second nature. When I first joined the band, I was just a 3/4, 6/8 person outside of 4/4, so coming into… starting with a bar of 9/8, or switching things around… it’s taught me a lot. It’s pushed me to be a better musician. But that’s just Cradle; that’s what Cradle has always done.
MG: That’s what really impressed me on their first album, and why I’ve stuck with them for so long.
Lindsay: Yes, and the tempo changes too. Slowing down, speeding up, and then adding in a bar of 3/4. That’s just Cradle. It’s chaos. Organized chaos.
MG: Right! It’s beautiful, organized chaos.
A Disney Princess in the Making?
MG: Here’s a fun question. I saw that you once said you’d like to work for Disney?
Lindsay: Yeah! Maybe one day.
MG: No reason why not…
Lindsay: Well, I don’t know if Disney will take me after I’ve been in a band where we have a “Jesus is a C**t” T-shirt… but we’ll see. Maybe we can change my name, or maybe they can put me in as a “ghost princess” voice.
MG: Haha! Well, if you could build your own Disney character, what would that look like? Would you be a princess, or a villain, etc.? Can you paint that picture?
Lindsay: I think I’d be the character who’s a princess, but doesn’t know it until way later. She finds out that she had something special all along, but she had to find out for herself. No one else had to tell her. I have these weird stories written in my head… I think she’d be more of a Mulan.
MG: Discovering your inner strength, and then going on to conquer the world…
Lindsay: …or save the kingdom, or whatever it is. Yes, that’s my character.
MG: Well, we’ll look for that Disney film when it comes out.
Lindsay: Haha, give it time… they’ve still got to know who I am. I have some demos written, I just haven’t submitted them. I have to revisit them later this year. I wrote a song and then realized, “Oh, it’s a duet! I need a male voice!” So it’s there, it exists, I love it. But it has to be articulated properly before I can pitch it to them, if they’d even care. But we’ll see.
The Future, and the Importance of the Arts
MG: Who are some artists you’d like to work with in the future?
Lindsay: I’d love to work with Jonathan Davis [of Korn], for sure. He’d be my number one. Maybe Motionless in White, depending on what direction they take musically. I think Chris is a really sweet guy, and has a great voice. I’d really like to sing with him. Or the Weeknd, because I’m a huge Weeknd fan. I actually met him at a house party, in my hometown, when he was 18. I didn’t even know it was him, and then I found out later, and realized, “Holy s**t, that was that guy!” Crazy. And now he’s a superstar. You can come from anywhere… just work hard. He really knows what he’s doing. He’s an artist first. At his core he’s an incredible singer, songwriter and lyricist. That’s the most important thing, at the end of the day.
MG: His early stuff… the common thread with your music is that is so beautiful and dark. Does it have to do with where you’re both from?
Lindsay: I don’t know what it is about that area – it’s a strange part of the world. It’s a great place to live, but we do have our problems, like everywhere else. I think maybe it’s the fact that there’s not enough funding and support for the arts there. It’s the little people who really want to start up and make something of themselves, who are working double time and exhausting themselves, who are not getting the support they need. I think that’s where the darkness comes from, not knowing if you’re going to be the one to make it, and the fact that you’re a black sheep if you’re trying to make it your full-time thing.
MG: I think that’s something a lot of people in the metal community can relate to… being a black sheep. And arts education deserves support. It gets cut where I’m from, too. It doesn’t always manifest this way, where you’re touring with a band and having major commercial success. It fosters all kinds of things, like critical thinking and healthy self-expression.
Lindsay: Yeah, it’s tough. There’s a trip-hop act that I follow, called Elsiane… they’ve applied for grants, but haven’t gotten them due to political reasons. And they’re an act that needs string sections… they’re incredible! I find the best advice in the music industry today is, you’ve got to cultivate your fan base, focus on them, and don’t worry about the higher-ups. It’s all political, and it’s all about who you know. Just worry about your own vision and your own art, and connect with the people that it’s resonating with.
MG: Absolutely. You don’t want to let the essence of the art get lost in the politics or bureaucracy.
A Message for the Women of Metal
MG: As you know, at Metal Goddesses our mission is to support the women of metal. You’ve been so kind sharing with us your origin story, and your inspirations. Would you have anything to say to the young women who are looking up to you right now, who are thinking of picking up an instrument to play rock or metal music?
Lindsay: Totally! I did say something on social media that I’d like to revisit, because now I have a more rehearsed way of saying it. But I’ll start off by saying: don’t let anyone get you down. Just keep working hard, be professional and in control of your emotions when people overstep their bounds. Remember, it’s not anything you did. If people are getting down on you for your gender, it’s a poor reflection of them. Be open minded to growing and working hard. Usually, the people who will teach you something will come talk to you in a kind and loving way. They want to help you and see you grow. Whereas, if people are just throwing insults and being nasty to you, they’re not worth your time.
Another thing for young women: Your talent is good enough. Don’t feel the pressure to show skin just because you see some others doing it. If you want to, it’s fine. But if you see others doing it, and you think “Hey, that’s not for me,” or if you’re on the fence about it, just remember: your talent is good enough. I’ve never felt the need to. I want my online numbers to be the people who are there for my art. I want genuine followers and fans, and a community. Models also use their bodies for art, so there’s nothing wrong with having a side gig as an alt model or porn star or something if that’s genuinely what you want. If you do, just a forewarning: Be ready to deal with some uncomfortable situations and fans who are into your art for the wrong reasons. Education and cultivating your skills are the most important things, because at the end of the day that’s why you got into it in the first place. Just don’t feel the need. I’ve never felt the need, and my idols from the 90’s never felt the need. If you feel it’s unnecessary, then it is unnecessary. Just work on your vision, your voice. Your lyrics and your art.
MG: You have a choice now.
Lindsay: Exactly. There’s a choice. Any time someone pressured me to do it, or asked me why I didn’t do it, I would say, “If I wanted to do that, I would just do that.” But that’s not what I want to do. I’m not here to be a sex symbol, or a sex figure; I’m here to make music. That’s not how I want to rise to the top, or what I want to be known for. I want to be known as someone who made music and art, who helped people. I don’t think I’m helping anyone by taking my clothes off! I’m here to help people with anything they’re going through mentally or emotionally, by giving them art and trying to heal them. That is my mission statement. And if that’s your mission statement too, definitely stick to it.
MG: It’s good to hear from someone in the industry who knows about that choice, has chosen the other way, and is still successful. You’re out there, you’re making it, and you’re reaching people the way you want to reach people, on your terms. Wise words.
Lindsay: I try. Other female artists have suffered greatly, to the point of self-harm, because of the wrong kind of attention. That’s part of why I cover myself up. Don’t touch me! I’ll bite your finger off! Know what I mean?
MG: I do! When I’m at a show or festival, I’ll put on a leather jacket. Because I know that if it gets too crowded, or if I choose to crowd surf, there’s a real risk I’ll get touched inappropriately. It’s the sad reality of it.
Lindsay: Yeah. And I don’t want anyone to touch me. And plus, I’m always cold, so I’m always covering up. It’s unfortunate that that’s the world we’re in. I have been in those situations where I’ve been touched inappropriately. And I’ve made grown men cry. I am my mother’s daughter! I have a sharp tongue, and I’ll tell them! So many [women], in that moment, are shocked. It happens to them and they don’t know what to do… like, do I laugh it off? It’s definitely a topic we have to discuss and learn how to deal with.
MG: Some [people] have lived their entire lives and never been reprimanded for it. They’ve gotten this far in life and it’s taken YOU to tell them they’re being inappropriate. That’s the way I feel when it happens to me – like, “Really? This is the first time that someone’s told you that this is not OK?”
MG: Women like you who are industry, and demonstrating that that’s possible- you’re showing your fans, and the people in our community- you’re living that message. That you don’t have to put up with that. You don’t have to tolerate that.
Lindsay: No, you don’t. Ever. Absolutely. I will call people out. And self care is also not arguing with people who are committed to misunderstanding you. If you can’t get through to someone, if they’re not going to understand you, if they’re the problem, you need to walk away. I try to reproach people in the fairest way possible. Like, “Hey, that wasn’t welcome. It’s not ok. I’m strong enough to deal with it, but if you did this to someone else, you it could be much worse for you. Lawsuit, slander, #Metoo movement will come down on you. You need to be aware of what you’re doing.” But I haven’t dealt with anything like that in a very long time.
MG: God forbid.
Lindsay: Yes. And the guys in the band and the crew, they’re wonderful. They treat me like a little sister. They look out for me, they protect me. They’d punch someone in the face if they ever did anything inappropriate to me. And I don’t want violence, but they care about me. In that regard, I feel really lucky that I am around men who care. And there are a lot of good men out there. I’m not a man-hater; I have a wonderful partner, I have great family. I know a lot of incredible men who see women as equals, and I love that. Times are changing for sure, it’s good to see the positive changes. As humanity, we’re always going to have problems, but it’s focusing on the positive and using that as an example to lead the way.
MG: Standing up for yourself and setting your own boundaries isn’t the same as hating someone. It isn’t taking away from their experience, or insulting them in any way. At least, it shouldn’t be.
Lindsay: Right. And it’s awkward at first, but with practice you can learn how to set your boundaries and put your foot down with how you expect to be treated. Growing up, I was a tomboy. To this day I’ll complain to my mom: “Mom! I wish I was born a dude.” And she’ll say, “No, Lindsay. It’s good you were born a woman, because you speak your mind. And you’ve got to set a good example for women. If you were born a guy, you wouldn’t have these challenges to rise to. You wouldn’t have gotten your place in the band,” etc. etc. And I’m like, “Yeah, Mom, you’re right, I should be proud to be a woman.” And I am very proud to be a woman. I see the beautiful things about womanhood, what we’re capable of and what we’re becoming. I see everyone as people, equally. Nowadays, with people changing their gender: it doesn’t matter what you’ve been given genetically; you’re a person who deserves to be treated the same as everybody else. I hope eventually that’s the way we can all look each other; what you were born with doesn’t define us. We’ve got a long way to go, but hey, we’re getting pretty far!
MG: There are a lot of really interesting developments on that front happening right now. We’re really lucky that we live in a time where we get to see all that unfolding and be a part of it.
Lindsay: Yeah, definitely. Some people complain… “Oh, I was born a hundred years too late!” I’m like, “Yeah, but a hundred years ago you wouldn’t have had the right to vote.”
MG: Right! We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary, next year, of women in the US getting the right to vote.
Lindsay: That’s incredible. I’m getting old, getting tired of fighting, I’m so done with trying to prove myself. I just want to make art. Are we still having this problem?? If people are not understanding these lessons, I am just too tired to teach you this. I’ve already taught enough people. And that’s the thing – you have to be careful of wearing yourself out and not giving too much energy, because that will drain you too. If you can’t make someone understand, if they’re not willing to grow and listen, you’ve got to protect yourself. You’ve got to keep your own energy for your vision, for your art, for your passion projects, or people will just drain you.
MG: Definitely. You don’t owe them anything.
Lindsay: Exactly! You don’t owe them anything. That’s something I’ve been saying a lot lately. Don’t let others’ emotions destroy you.
Teaching, Cosmetology, and Touring
MG: I think you’re a teacher at heart.
Lindsay: I am. I love teaching! Being a vocal coach, and a student. I became a cosmetologist before Christmas – I got my certification. My biology background helped me fast track that.
Lindsay: Thank you! It’s been really rewarding to help people with some of their minor skin problems. And makeup stuff, too. And right now, I’m in school for independently releasing my solo album. It’s just nonstop over here.
MG: Do you get any relaxation time?
Lindsay: No. This tour has been the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life, and I’m exhausted. We’re working on the Cruelty and the Beast re-release, and even on our days off I’ve got to work on a 3 last songs. They are a headache to remember, structurally. We’re writing on this tour… I’m gearing up to release my solo album… I’m coordinating Antiqva. I knew that this tour was going to be the hardest I’d ever worked in my life, but I told myself, “It’s just 6 weeks. Just sleep as much as you can, eat right, keep a to-do list, keep a positive attitude, manage your time accordingly, and you will get it done.” But yeah, I’ve been counting down the days until I get home! I’m almost there!
MG: Lindsay Schoolcraft of Cradle of Filth, thank you so much for joining us.
We were extremely grateful to Lindsay for her hospitality and her generosity with her time, especially given how busy she is! You can catch her on tour with Cradle of Filth through August 2019 in the US, Europe, South America and Russia.
Cryptoriana World Tour: Dates
Keep up with Lindsay: