D//E Interviews: Lingua Ignota

As demanding as it might be to grasp, Lingua Ignota's CALIGULA is a record of profound momentousness and weight, a violent charge on violence, and a piece of intrinsic and perceptive artistry which leaves and breathes as an entity on its own. Through her brilliant previous releases, Kristin Hayter became an amiable figure within the realm of utterly dark avant garde music. Then CALIGULA comes forth as that kind of release that pushes the consistently rising artist forward to the very front of everything creative that can be considered shocking and groundbreaking.

Kristin Hayter talks to D//E about CALIGULA and more.

Lingua Ignota is such an intriguing name by definition. Do you think of the name as representative of your multifaceted, not easy to categorize sound? What made you select it as your artist moniker, and what does it mean to you?

Lingua Ignota means unknown language and I do hope to create my own linguistic system, my own genre out of many genres, in an attempt to express the inexpressible.

How different was the creative process for Caligula compared to All Bitches Die?

All Bitches Die was recorded completely alone, in a shed in the woods in Lincoln Rhode Island, and I didn’t think anyone would ever hear it. CALIGULA was recorded in a studio mostly, with resources behind it. Bitches was much more organic than CALIGULA, no grand concept behind it really other than being a cycle of murder ballads. CALIGULA is very intricate and almost procedural or conceptual. It harnesses many systems.

How does your classical training intermingles with the rest of the extreme styles in your music?

My classical training and interest in classical music often informs the structure of my music, or the chord progressions, or the shifting dynamics. Despite people often calling my vocals operatic I almost never use a true classical vocal in this project, but classical vocal technique is a huge part of both the sung vocals and the extended vocals (screaming, whatever other garbage I do).

Do you find classical music completely diverse to modern genres like noise, industrial, black metal etc.? or do you think of them as paralleled?

I think they are all parallel, all related. With the exception of noise, all these genres utilize “musical” tenets, and even noise uses concepts such as time, space, form, texture, that you find everywhere else in music except maybe in different ways.

Do you feel pressure conveying your message to listeners? Do you feel like your music can be tough for people to take in and understand completely? That much intensity of your live performances, what does that do to an artist, both mentally and physically?

It is very difficult, and I learned this past spring, when I mentally and physically broke down, that it is not sustainable for me to perform like that. There are a lot of moving parts in my performances and I have to be able to execute each one well — I have to be able to scream, sing tunefully, play the keyboard, and this is all while being very physical or basically beating the shit out of myself, and holding the audience alone, and lighting the performance as well. If any one of those elements gets fucked up I have to use another to compensate, and the ecology of the performance loses equilibrium. I am focusing more on balance this time around.

How is the story of Caligula as a historical figure equated to your own personal experiences?

I think of Caligula as absolute madness coupled with absolute power. This is a dangerous combination at all levels of society and in interpersonal relationships, relating to our current climate as well as the personal experiences of many of us.

Your vocal contributions to the music of other extreme acts like The Body and Full Of Hell have been incredible, so seamlessly matching. It feels like your impact provides those bands' sound with a whole new aspect. Who else would you think as ideal collaborators for you to work with?

I have lots of different collaborations in the pipeline and I’m excited about all of them. I don’t know if there’s an ideal collaborator, it’s more about whether our energies combine effectively. I like bringing what I have to other people’s projects.

How did Aileen Wuornos find a place in your creativity? Who else would you like to sample?

Aileen was a central figure in my MFA thesis, I think of her as the epitome of the victim/monster, as someone who was profoundly failed by the system, someone who had to do terrible things to survive and was then punished by death. She has been a huge inspiration. If there is another voice that speaks to me like that I will see how it fits in, but for now Aileen is the only one.

Are there plans for an album based on your MFA thesis, Burn Everything Trust No One Kill Yourself?

Some of those songs are on my first EP Let The Evil Of His Own Lips Cover Him. I think eventually I want to submit the whole thing in some interesting format, but I haven’t decided what that will be yet.

How about the covers album? Judging from your recent split release with The Rita, we'd love to hear more odd covers from you.

I love playing covers. No definite plan for a covers album right now but hopefully in the future.

As a survivor yourself, what do you think that is wrong with the system in regard to victims of sexual and domestic violence?

Victims and survivors are not given priority or control of the narrative, which is insane because often their cases involve assaults on their bodies, so it is a further violation of autonomy and agency that is often retraumatizing. The system does not work.

You've said before that you have been raised in a religious environment. How is your connection to religion at the moment?

It is very complicated. I don’t practice religion right now, but I have a strong connection to the aesthetics of Catholicism.

Caligula's visuals look richer and more intricate than all of your previous work. How much involved are you in the album's artwork, and how complementary to the music do you think the visual part is?

It is all meant to be cohesive and to be understood together. I did all of the artwork for the record and its promotion myself. I took all the self-portraits as a way to challenge the typical gaze relationship of the artist/viewer and to exercise full autonomy over how I am represented, and also because I have severe self-image issues and wanted to confront them alone. I also created 1000 still lifes as a way to look at post-traumatic stress disorder; the repetition, things appearing real that are not, fragmentation of memory, etc.

What are you currently listening to mostly?

The past two nights I have been listening to nothing but Messiaen’s Apparition de l’Eglise Eternelle for organ. It is one of my favorite pieces of music, it has a very intense chromatic arc and insane dynamics that make me feel like I’m going to die when I listen to it. I’m on an organ kick lately.

All photos courtesy of Lingua Ignota

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