It’s really hard to say no when you are offered to interview one of the most powerful voices of metal. A lot’s been going on in the world of Canadian heavy/power metallers Unleash The Archers recently, so talking to their vocalist Brittney Slayes was truly a pleasant experience. How it all started? How was the shooting of their new twisted music video for “Northwest Passage”? Where did Brittney’s stage name come from? And are they already working on new material? Continue reading to find out answers to these questions and even more.
MG: After the success of „Apex“, Unleash The Archers have become a pretty well-known band. But how did it all start? How did you guys meet?
Brittney: It all started back in Victoria, Canada while we were going to university. Scott (drums) and I met in the first year when he was in a different band; I used to love going to his shows, so when that band eventually broke up I suggested starting something together. We stole the guitar player from his old band as well (Brayden, ex-guitar) and the three of us became Unleash The Archers!
MG: In 2017, you celebrated 10 years as a band. How do you look back on these years? If you had a magic wand, would you change anything?
Brittney: Yeah, I think I would have started the band earlier! It takes a lot of time and dedication, and for the first five years we basically just stumbled around blindly, not knowing what to do or how to really promote ourselves. If I could have gotten that all out of the way when I was in high school or something like that, learned the ropes back then instead, then we could have really hit the ground running once we graduated university. Other than that, nope, wouldn’t change a thing. We are where we are at now because of all the mistakes we made and things we learned!
MG: You’ve recently dropped a new EP titled “Explorers”. In August, you released the first single „Northwest Passage“, which comes with a brilliant but a little crazy music video. It features several timelines with different versions of you and the guys. You must have had a lot of fun during the shooting process. Which one of these timelines or characters did you enjoy filming the most?
Brittney: I think playing ‘Evil Brittney’ was a lot of fun, and the scenes at the ends where ‘Alpha Brittney’ and ‘Evil Brittney’ finally meet were definitely the best. I had a friend be my body double, and we had to shoot very creatively to make sure you never see her face, and if you look closely she is in a completely different leather jacket and everything, but we tried to light it so it wasn’t super obvious.
MG: In the end, the evil Brittney murders her better version. Who came up with the idea and how did you enjoy the killing part? It’s not every day you get a chance to shoot such twisted video.
Brittney: Throwing myself down the stairs was honestly hilarious. We (Scott and I) came up with so many ideas for ways to kill myself: getting pushed in front of an oncoming car, being secretly poisoned, just straight up getting shot, but the stairs won out in the end! 😉 It was fun, one second I had to be the surprised victim, and the next an evil villain, it was really a test of my acting chops hahaha. Yeah, we were kind of like ‘are people going to think this is too dark?’ and then just said ah well, on with the show!
MG: The new EP features two cover songs. Was it hard to choose these particular tracks?
Brittney: “Northwest Passage” inspired the whole EP actually so that one was easy. We originally recorded it to be the bonus track on “Apex”, but then liked it so much we decided to give it its own release. Finding the track to accompany it as a B-side, yes that was difficult. We wanted it to be a Canadian artist, just like NWP, and we wanted it to carry the same dark undertone with the slightest feeling of hope, so it took us a while. I had discovered “Heartless World” by Teaze about a year before we decided to do the EP, so it was actually my first choice, but the boys took some convincing 😉
MG: I believe you’re already working on your following full-length album. Your latest album “Apex” is a concept album and not your first one. Do you intend to revisit this approach on a future release? Do you have any story in your mind?
Brittney: We sure do! The story is already written, it will be the sequel to “Apex”. It will feature the same cast of characters (plus a new addition) and will be the continuation of their adventure. I am super excited to share this one with everybody, so far the writing process is going really well and we are hopeful that our fans will enjoy it just as much as they have “Apex”. We hit the studio in January and are aiming for an early summer 2020 release!
MG: In 2020, you’re taking part in the “Full Metal Cruise”, which will sail from Germany over Finland and Estonia back to Germany. What are your expectations? Are you excited?
Brittney: Absolutely! We honestly have zero expectations, we just want to have a good time. We did 70,000 Tons Of Metal last year, which is also a metal cruise that sails to and from Florida, and it was an absolute blast. We are super stoked to check out the European equivalent and spend some time partying with our fans! We play music for fun, because we love it, so we always try to enjoy every moment and every opportunity. If you’re not having fun, what the heck is the point!
MG: Who shaped you as a vocalist and musician when you were starting out this journey? What are some of your musical heroes?
Brittney: Well, the first vocalist that really inspired me to leave my classical roots behind and give metal a try was Bruce Dickinson. I didn’t discover Maiden until I was 18, so before that, I didn’t even really know that their kind of fantastical, soaring-vocal-centric heavy metal was a thing. The moment I heard them something in me clicked, and I knew that fronting a band was something I should be doing. In the early years of UTA, I really struggled to find my voice. I had been singing classical my whole life, with a bit of musical theatre thrown in, so I was trying to figure out how I could apply that to metal. One day I heard Lost Horizon for the first time, and their vocalist, Daniel Heiman, changed everything. I started to emulate him and his style, sang along with them every day for months, learned to do what he did with his range and power, and put my own spin on it. Without those two vocalists, the Brittney Slayes you see today would not exist!
MG: And what about some of the new artists that caught your attention or perhaps even influenced you in a way?
Brittney: There are so many! I am constantly being influenced by artists that I hear, and I think that is what makes music exciting. You should constantly evolve your sound, you should grow, you should try new things. Lately, I have been listening to a lot of black metal, and death metal, so I think those have had an impact on my writing style for this new album. Also, folk music will feature a bit, plus I love sythnwave and electro-pop, so you’ll hear some of that too I think. Honestly, we have never let genres define our sound or what we do, so you might just hear a bit of everything on this next one hahaha!
MG: The world of heavy music knows you mostly as Brittney “Slayes”. You’ve been using this stage name for years now. What lead you to this change? Is there any story behind it?
Brittney: There is a bit of a story yeah, hahaha. I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but I think I posted a video of a live show on Facebook or something like that, and a friend of mine commented on the video with “Brittney Hayes? More like Brittney Slays!” and I immediately replied with “Oh, I am stealing that.”, and I did! I changed my profile on Facebook immediately to Brittney ‘Slayes’ which was a play on the word slays and my last name. I then started crediting myself on albums as Brittney Slayes, and just let it go from there! Sometimes I am credited as Brittney Hayes in reviews or interviews, but I prefer the Slayes title because I feel like it is my superhero name, and Brittney Hayes is my ‘Clark Kent’ form 😉 You will never see Brittney Hayes up on stage – she is a quiet, introverted nerd that loves to read and play video games, but Brittney Slayes on the other hand, loves a crowd and is not afraid of anything! Very much two separate people!
MG: I know that you’re a fan of sci-fi genre. What was the last book you read? Can you recommend something good?
Brittney: I just finished the First Law trilogy, by Joe Abercrombie, which is actually a fantasy series, but it is so awesome. Before that, I read the Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel, which is definitely a sci-fi series, and it was also really good. Much quicker read, but a super cool concept. I recommend both!
MG: Thank you so much, Brittney. Any message for your fans?
Brittney: Thanks so much for taking the time to read this interview! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates, and follow us on Bandsintown for tour dates! Thanks so much for all your support and hope to see you on the road in 2020.