Darkult, fronted by the voice of Katherine Leon
Darkult, fronted by the voice of Katherine Leon
Alan Hinojosa

10 Local Female Metal Musicians You Need to Know

The recent Women’s March on Washington placed a global magnifying glass on women’s rights. One day before that historic march, the NAMM show in Anaheim hosted the fifth annual She Rocks Awards which pays tribute to female music industry leaders. While both can be considered passion projects, the message underlying both events encompass equal gender rights, unity, respect and female empowerment.

Similarly, female metal musicians face the same battles in a male-dominated niche of the music industry. Although acceptance of women in metal has made drastic strides in the last several decades, the struggle is still very real, even at the local band level.

In times of turmoil, political unrest and heightened tension, people find themselves turning to art and music as a release. Those bands – whether they are more mainstream or local – will continue to calm inner storms as the next several months and years pass. Here are some of the SoCal metal shield maidens {in no particular order of skill level} who will guide local metal fans through these troubled times and remain examples – to both men and women – in the underground scene.

10. Katherine Leon of Darkult

Veterinary assistant by day and vocalist by night, 22 year-old Kat Leon fronts the death metal band Darkult based out of Fullerton. Although she considers herself to be soft spoken and reserved, she’ll release her deep-gutted death growls in front row faces and start pits. Leon’s vocals embody androgynous tones so she is sometimes mistaken for the band’s groupie, one of the few commonalities that she experiences as a female vocalist in metal.

“My goal for Darkult is to eventually start touring around the world, and for people to not notice I'm a female vocalist, but to notice our band as a whole,” said Leon.

Darkult’s audiences, as well as other metal crowds at shows she attends as a fan, vary each time when the death metal group play locally. The diversity of the extreme music fan base in Orange County, whether it is punk or metal, is definitive of its support for all local music.

10 Local Female Metal Musicians You Need to Know
Sam Coda

9. Zander Reddis of Sixes
Zander Reddis joined Anaheim’s doom metal band Sixes to explore a new sub-genre and grow as a bassist. Learning to play guitar first over 13 years ago, the 22 year-old eventually picked up bass, ukulele, piano and vocals. Although she hasn’t performed at any OC venues with Sixes, like Leon, she thinks OC’s diversity is unique and the sub-genres of metal and punk mesh well together.

With a gender-neutral first name, Zander has dealt with a lot of dismissals via text, the Internet and even in person from other metal heads once they found out she’s a woman. However, Reddis feels fortunate for having supportive band members throughout the years and never having gender specific challenges inside the groups.

Although Sixes is far from Prophets of Rage in terms of anti-authoritarian content, personally, Reddis wants to make an impact on the local metal community, especially the younger generation growing up right now.

“I think a lot of people in our generation can use this community as a form of expression, to make their statement, find an escape, or bring new people into the community who may not even realize it's there. My life would be nowhere close to what it is now without music.”

Sixes will be releasing a new single called, “A Cross to Burn” on Feb. 28th

Jessica (left) and Jackie Perry of Dianthus
Jessica (left) and Jackie Perry of Dianthus
Patrick Fogarty

8 and 7: Jessica and Jackie Parry of Dianthus
Forming a band with family members isn’t a new concept, but it’s more rare when its identical female twins. Dianthus, consisting of Jessica and Jackie Parry, is a melodic metal band from Riverside. Dianthus’ music strikes hard with scratchy riffs and blasting drums, but like many metal musicians, their roots started with classical music.

Jessica and Jackie were first exposed to music theory and composition at age six when they took private piano lessons. Evidentially, this helped them gravitate toward new instruments.

“After 10 years of classical piano, I got into rock music and became captivated with drums,” Jessica says. I loved the feeling of power I got every time I sat at my kit. At age 16, my sister Jackie and I started listening to metal because we wanted more of a challenge musically. We quickly found our passion in this genre when we began writing original material.”

Dianthus performs with the goal of shedding a positive light on the metal scene and want to keep a clean, respectful reputation for females in metal.

“It can be hard at times to have your voice heard, especially with metal being a heavily-dominated male industry,” Jackie says. However, I don't look at this issue as a challenge. It only continues to motivate me to give my all at every live show and write every song to its highest potential. I don't view being a female in metal as a hindrance, but rather, as a unique opportunity.”

Dianthus just released a new single called “Within Hazel Eyes” that can be purchased via iTunes. The corresponding music video will be released on March 7th.

Sydney Ellen and Moxy Anne (right) of Moxy and the Influence
Sydney Ellen and Moxy Anne (right) of Moxy and the Influence
Jack Lue

6. Moxy Anne of Moxy and the Influence

Moxy Anne considers herself to be “one of the guys” which made her hesitant to be in an all-female band. The message can become convoluted, she says, because some people don’t look past appearances.

“I’ve always been careful to not be objectified just for the way I look - I try not to take off too many clothes, and my stage performance isn’t sexy - it reflects the music and the sound itself, not my gender," Anne says.

But once she found her best friend (Sydney Ellen), Moxy and the Influence – a glam metal, heavy rock quartet from Huntington Beach - just kinda happened.

“We had a male drummer in our band for the first several years, and I really have to say we made it work well,” said Moxy. “ I’ve always worked better with the guys, and Ignacio was no exception. He put up with a lot of hormones and a lot of emotion.”

Titling her personal vocal style as “Motley Crue meets Evanescence,” although learning classical style singing first, her transition to the dark side started in her early teenage years. Now, her mission is to share metal’s “raw beauty” through her voice and transform her life and career around it.

“I want to uplift people and get them singing and enjoying life, losing themselves in the power of art. I want to be able to use my voice for positivity in the midst of a lot of negative hearts and embrace the amazing feeling of singing.”

Orange County’s music venues and comradery offer a lot of opportunities for other future musicians or music enthusiasts to dive deeper into the void. The connections one can make with the local studios and agencies as well as the various awards ceremonies and large festivals regularly hosted in OC provide platforms for growth, according to Moxy.

“We support each other, we help each other out, we exchange connections and ideas and most of all, we share the same goals - to put on kick-ass shows and have a great time!”

10 Local Female Metal Musicians You Need to Know
Jane Doerr

5. Wendy Camargo of GatoFeto and Metal Era

“Turn the hate into dark art,” says Wendy Camargo, lead vocalist for Sana Ana’s GatoFeto, a death metal and melodic metal hybrid, and Buena Park’s Metal Era, a classic hard rock '80s cover band. A lot of the issues happening in the U.S. are affecting families in OC and the neighboring SoCal counties. Camargo wants to use her music as an outlet for some of the tension.

“There are a lot of people who are pretty upset these days, especially in the Latino community,” the 28 year old says.Camargo. “These {metal} sub-genres are about letting it all out with passion and using it as a therapy.”

Camargo was born with musical genes from her father and all of the classic hits serenading her home. However, it wasn’t until her family moved from Mexico City to the U.S. in 2001 when she discovered Iron Maiden, Slayer and Pantera. Even though she had to sneak out in the backyard to go to metal shows and her posters were ripped down by her conservative family, she formed her first band at age 16 in defiance.

Over a decade later, she found her bandmates that would soon become members of Metal Era. GatoFeto is the newest addition from 2016. Being the only female in both bands, Camargo gets questioned frequently about her husband’s feelings toward her performances.

“Some people have asked me if my husband is bothered by the fact that I’m surrounded by men and have male fans,” said Camargo. “This is 2017 and the sexist bullsh*t is in the past. I don't let anyone tell me what I should or shouldn't do. My husband is my number one fan and supporter, and I'm thankful for that.”

Even though GatoFeto is a relatively new project, Camargo continues to stretch her vocal boundaries.

“I'm different styles morphed into one. One minute I will be singing along to Die Antwoord, Amy Winehouse and Lucifer and the next day to Necrophagist, Jess and the Ancient Ones and Lady Gaga. I'm still learning about my abilities and what I'm capable of accomplishing which is an adventure.”

GLAMelToe
GLAMelToe
Stephen Cummings

4. Sara Chains (McLean) of GLAMel Toe, Dead Winter
Feel like drinking and singing your sorrows away? Check out GLAMel Toe at Hennessey’s Tavern in Dana Point for an Iron Maiden medley or party metal. GLAMel Toe as well as Van Nuys’ power metal band Dead Winter is fronted by Sara Chains (McLean). Even though McLean’s vigorous baritone vocals sound pro, she is pretty new to band life.

“I grew up singing in the Catholic church choir with my parents, but I never sang with an actual band until four years ago,” McLean, 34, says. “I tried to put an all-female metal cover band together but none of the girls stuck around so it ended up being all guys. We were called Kickback and we covered all the good metal and punk songs. Then, I heard GLAMel Toe was looking for a new singer so I tried out. I didn't think they would go for a female singer, because their background was all guys, but it ended up working out.”

McLean admits she feels pressured to sound more “feminine” and sing higher notes, but even with a robust metal tone, she still isn’t perceived as equal when she meets certain individuals in the music industry. On the contrary, McLean says she’s “stopped in her tracks when a woman is rocking out on stage” and reminisces about her own stage memories.

“I always want to have fun and hope the crowd has fun too, and to connect with my fellow metal lovers on stage,” McLean says. There is no feeling like being on the stage!”

Although the feeling cannot be replicated entirely, she hopes her bands’ music encourages more kids to pick up an instrument and start playing music.

“I hope that more kids out there get inspired to buy cheap instruments from a local pawn shop and start a dirty garage band with their friends so they can experience the best, and safest, outlet there is – music. I also would like to encourage any 30-year-old out there who thinks there is a slight chance that they would enjoy being in a band to get a wild hair up their ass and put an ad on Craigslist and see what happens.”

10 Local Female Metal Musicians You Need to Know
Jess Rudolph Photography

3. Cassie Morris of Unicorn Death, Ruines Ov Abaddon
“Play whatever feels good, whatever fulfills your spirit and don't let anything or anyone stop you,” says Cassie Morris, vocalist and keyboardist for Unicorn Death and keyboardist for Ruines Ov Abaddon. That, is exactly what she has been doing since she was a kid.

Morris has been playing piano, singing angelically and listening to metal from a young age, but struggled to implement it into songwriting while being a female soloist. Eventually she met her current band mates in the San Diego-based symphonic metal band Unicorn Death, two of which are also women. The connection between all of the band members is strictly musical, though Morris is a nonconformist with sexuality in the metal world.

“There is a lot of pressure to become some kind of sex symbol," the 30 year-old metalhead says. "That's totally out of my element and I refuse to go that route. Some say I'm sacrificing opportunities, but at the end of the day it's all about the music. I'm just fine with where I'm at.”

The future of the band is facing a long road ahead, literally. In between writing new music, Morris wants to schedule tours and meet new musicians.

“I just want to tour. I want to take it out on the road long term where I'll have the chance to meet music lovers and likeminded, passionate metal heads. I just want get on the road and never stop playing.”

10 Local Female Metal Musicians You Need to Know
Jorge Farias of Bleedinggumz

2. Kiyoe-Krista Fluker of Harlequin, Servile Conceptions
Kiyoe-Krista Fluker isn’t a gal of too many words, but under all the gritty overdriven distortion or ambient delays of her guitar is the true portrayal of her emotions. Her therapeutic riff writing has dipped into numerous sub-genres including, death metal, technical death metal, industrial "cyber" metal and even progressive metal. Currently, her virtuosity is being nurtured in Los Angeles’ Harlequin and Covina’s Servile Conceptions. Fluker says the chemistry and fervor matched with both groups is how she knew she was where she was meant to be.

“Never once had I thought {back then at age 11} that I'd be playing in bands, traveling and meeting so many amazing people,” says Fluker. Now, that's what keeps me going. The never ending adventure and building memories with my bandmates, current and former, who I consider my family.”

Having been subjected to a few occasions when promoters refused to believe she was in the performing band and wouldn’t admit her entry, she’s relatively nonchalant when it comes this type of treatment toward herself. But when it comes to other artists’ strong moral beliefs, she dishes out her support.

“I believe musical expression is substantial in terms of getting a point across, so I'm in total support of those who express support of unity and compassion. With everything going at this time, it is important to unite together and embrace the first amendment of freedom of expression and NOT divide. Speak up and fight for those who are silenced and cannot be heard, whether that be in the form of powerful lyrics, music, or getting out there and giving back to the community. Music is a myriad of communicative possibilities, so I'm positive that there will be an uprising of groups that will use music to their advantage.”

Both the LA and OC metal communities fade together well for Fluker, but the universal theme of unity extends even beyond those borders.

10 Local Female Metal Musicians You Need to Know
Jack Lue

1. Rose Deocampo of Infinite Death, Cowgirls from Hell
Rose Deocampo is a SoCal metal scene veteran, having played in several bands since 2010 and currently in the melodic death quintet Infinite Death and the all-female Pantera tribute band Cowgirls from Hell. Infinite Death allows her to continuously write music with melodies that reflect the band’s creative background and come up with the grooves that make people headbang. Cowgirls from Hell is a separate passion project that allows her to express her fandom for the late Dimebag Darrell and challenge her own lead skills, although she considers herself a “solid rhythm player with turbo-riffs as a specialty.”

“It’s a big risk trying to pull off Dime’s solos and I can never get them perfect,” says Deocampo. The love we have received from Pantera fans at each show keeps me improving and learning more songs. We want to keep Pantera’s music alive and I want us to be appreciated as musicians, be it locally or any other place we hit in our journey as a band.”

Similar to Moxy Anne, Deocampo never intended on being in an all-female band with Cowgirls from Hell, yet it rather fell into place. Even with Infinite Death, both bands are relationships in her life and she argues with both, but mutual respect is present and has been collectively developed in the music and business ends.

The skeptics who doubt her musical capabilities still exist outside of her two groups who often stigmatize her as eye candy as opposed to being a talented guitarist. Regardless, she also notices new waves of women making changes in the metal community.

“As a female musician, I always hope to make an impact on young girls and inspire them to pick up an instrument just as The Iron Maidens motivated me to pursue guitar playing the very first time I saw them at The Galaxy (now The Observatory in Santa Ana).”

The Observatory, The Grove, Malone’s Bar, The Yost Theater or any other OC venue have brought together bands, photographers, promoters and designers since their inception and the cycle continues to expand.

“Metal/punk/rock have always been around both underground and mainstream, but I’m rooting for our community to grow. The social issues that pervade our society can be catalysts for a musical movement and can inspire more meaningful lyrical ideas that reflect our current events and situation.”

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