Stitched Up Hearts are Stronger, So it Seems

Cherri Bird sits down with Mixi from the fe-metal band Stitched Up Heart

 

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August 11, 2016 - Trees - Deep Ellum, Texas (Dallas)

So, while I'm a rocker thru and thru - I'm a convert to say the least. I didn't grow up on the whole metal thing - I know, I know - sacrilege, right? I didn't freak out about Ozzy, AC/DC, Pink Floyd or freakin' Led Zeppelin. Y'all, I was a preppy, pop princess that loved to shove a bow in my hair (the bigger the better), wear obnoxious duck shoes and bermuda shorts, curled my hair everyday and - get ready for it...totally was head over heels for John Taylor and Duran Duran. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate...so go right ahead...ok, got that out of your system?

Let's move on...mmmkay? While I love technology - I truly love paper, pens, markers - and I'm a huge sucker for notebooks and especially planners. Ya, I'm that dork...So I'm walking into the Green Room upstairs at Trees to meet one of the most talked about girl rockers since and I walk in with my paper planner and Bam-Bam busts in while pointing at his Mac and says, "Hey Cherri, if you want to put some questions in the recorder app and timestamp it, you can. Oh, ya - I forget - you're a handwriter kinda girl." and points to my black and white boldly striped, arch ringed, completely rad planner thingie I carry with me everywhere.

Mixi glances at my book and is all, "Wow that is old fashioned, like pen and paper! Do you use a #2 pencil with an eraser?" Totally not offended by this line of questioning, I immediately fire back, "No actually, I color code everything and write with pens or markers. I have probably, and I'm not joking, probably 500 - 700 various pens and markers. I have an unhealthy obsession with pens!!" Mixi kinda glances away and says, "I like a ball point pen, with a...well, nevermind, let's..." and I interrupt her like a freaking junkie-weirdo, "Oh, NO, LET'S!! It's like my favorite thing - I love office supplies..." I'd like to say at this point, a normal person might have been embarrassed by my whole OCD and office supplies but...yeah - not me.

Y'all aren't here to read about my odd habits that have no bearing on Mixi's rise to the top of the ever popular FeMetal artists of late - and obviously, I'm not handwriting this (although that might be kinda cool...wonder if my Editor would go for that...). My time with the blonde that can scream like banshee was truly heartfelt and gut-wrenchingly honest. I hope you dig it as much as I did getting to talk to her and really hear the message she is broadcasting with her and her band's music.

Cherri: I'm not a journalist that picks questions based off your bio or just any other press that's been released, really. I want to tell part of your story - or where you are in your story right now, here in Dallas. I pulled a lot of things we’re going to talk about from your music, specifically Never Alone. I listened ad nauseum to the song "Finally Free" for like five days straight!

Mixi: Oh wow! Awesome! So we better sound like the song today, huh?

Bam-Bam: Ya, and you can repeat "Monster" 11 times from Plano to Deep Ellum, in traffic. We just proved that tonight, just watch our live feed on Facebook as we were on the way down here!! (We all laughed at that because it's totally true. I Heart that song sooo much, it's not even funny.)

Cherri: This is a typical question but I’m always interested in when artists started singing or playing, like at what age or was there a particular time you totally knew you wanted to be a singer. Your voice is kick ass - love it! When did you decide you wanted to make a career out of doing what comes so naturally?

Mixi: I just, well my uncle was just recently telling me, when I was little, I used to sing along to all the cartoons and shows. I just remember being in love with the Little Mermaid and I used to sing "look at this stuff, isn't it neat..." (one of the songs that Ariel sings about all of her human treasures) under the water in my grandma's pool as long as I could until I needed to breathe and then I'd jump out, get a breath and go back in the water and try to finish the song. I just sing along to everything. I never took lessons or anything. It wasn't until - well, I played the tuba in middle school…

Cherri: What? How did you hold that thing? You're tiny!

Mixi: Oh, well it was (the kind) that you just sit in the chair, just band. Not like in the heat in Florida for Friday night football games. I was like, nope not doing that. So I stopped playing that - and then picked up the guitar and started writing to the guitar. I kinda taught myself a lot, and had some direction. I really just started learning from ear. It wasn't until recently that I started working with vocal coaches to sing correctly.

Cherri: Ya, you scream and then go into this melodic awesomeness. I always wonder, like how do singers do that? Like how do you transition from those two areas of the vocal spectrum?

Mixi: I have no idea!!! I don't know, when I put the band together in 2010, I didn't plan to scream, I just wrote the parts in for the person but I'd rehearse and do them, and I was like, 'Wait, I can scream!' No idea that I could do it and it just became a thing. When we toured on our own for a couple of years and played about 100 shows a year, you just learn to do it I guess. Somehow your brain just goes to that automatically. Because I never took lessons or anything, I kinda just went with what I felt and instead of all the breathing and using your head voice - I don't know it just kind of happened. When we were writing the record though, some parts - the screaming parts were written separately like we would come up the chorus or pre-chorus and would put the screams in later when when we practiced. We practiced a lot before tour for three months twice a week, for like three or four hours so we drilled it into our brains! It automatically goes where it's supposed to.

Cherri: Y’all had a good run at being a pretty successful DIY band but now that you have label representation (Another Century), how is it different? What are some of the things you like/dislike about either side?

Mixi: The biggest difference, I mean when we DIY’d it, obviously booked our own tours, we were able to like figure out how to get from place to place. But we got to a certain point where we realized that we were going to stay at certain level, or we were going to have to take on a whole new team of people and that means they'd be booking the tours, that they'd be doing all the press and stuff like that. Letting someone else take the reigns, of something that you've created is kinda scary at first but it was definitely a necessity. We thought it'd be a lot easier and we thought we would have less work to do - but in fact there's much more work to do. There's so many more people and so much more for us to do. And we get a lot more accomplished towards our goals in having a team of people working behind us.

Cherri: Ya, like letting the reigns go would be difficult, I get that.

Mixi: Letting them - or listening to when it comes to making this a business. You have to listen to what they tell you to do. We are the artist and it is real as we give our creative input on things, but we genuinely trust in the people we work with. They've worked with a lot of other bands have experienced - these bands have progressed so we listen to them (record label).

 

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Cherri: It's good direction. I have to listen to Bam-Bam a ton, and it's totally hard to do that, but he knows more than I and his experience is invaluable, so I guess I have to (lol). But something I gotta know, like as a girl - when you're on stage and rockin' out and I know it’s hot as shit up there on stage...like I'm sweating right now! I know we’re in Texas in August, but we’re in the Green Room upstairs at Trees and like my pits are tacky, my hair is falling... it's hot AF - how the HELL do you keep from looking like a wet dog when you're performing?

Mixi: A LOT of hair spray and sometimes I do look like a wet dog. I mean I'm sure I'll eventually pass out - I think some of the Gemini Syndrome guys have passed out on this tour with it being so hot in some of these venues! We give 100% to the fans and if we didn't we'd feel like we weren't doing our jobs, ya know?

Cherri: Going back to relinquishing control -

Mixi: Sometimes you just have to leave it in God's hands, you know? And believe that the Universe is the way it's supposed to be and I know that once I started listening...you don't have to be the stubborn one that has to have it your way all the time. You have to always keep learning, we have a lot that we still have to learn. We are getting really good at listening because we are trying to go in a specific direction - knowing when things are a bad decision or a good decision. I think it's going well, us and the label, I think it's working perfectly. I know that some of my friends have bad experiences (with other labels) because they seemed to be working with the wrong people. I wanted to work with the label we are on (Another Century) from the beginning, because I knew it was the perfect team and I knew the people that worked there - we're all really good friends. I saw they were doing a great job, so I always wanted to work with them. I'm really happy. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen in every situation.

Cherri: Not everyone can get along all the time, but Another Century is a killer label, they're a great house, they have great bands and there can be discord with anything - not everyone is going to play nice in the sandbox...it's human nature. I gotta say, I love the name Stitched Up Heart, I know it comes from what I've read, about you having to pull yourself up - and kind of making yourself, from a dark place to having to stitch up your heart and move on or carry on. Is that something that is directly related to an experience? Or how did you you decide that you weren't going to sink - but that you were going to swim.

Mixi: There were a few times that I thought I couldn't do it anymore. But I was the girl that packed up my car and moved from my family in Florida - all the way across the country. I didn't know anyone and lived there for a year, homeless - and found my way. I found the exact route that I was going to take and starting fresh from scratch. I was in a couple of other bands and then decided to put this together and after a year of putting this band together, I didn't pick the right members and I didn't know what I was going to do. Then Decker the drummer came in and I went home for Christmas saying I don't think I want to do this anymore. And my mom and dad want me home, right - but they're like "No, you went out there and you set your mind to it - you have to see it through and finish what you started." I didn't necessarily want to give up; we lost some members from the beginning and he came in and said, "Nope, we're going to make this happen, I believe in you and this."

Cherri: I think all music comes from something that you want or something that you had - or something that you don't even want but that you got, you know? In terms of music, I love music that speaks to something that I am passionate about or something that I truly believe in, like domestic violence - and when I say violence, I am not just talking about the horrors and pain of physical abuse, but the mental abuse that comes from people that we're supposed to love the most.

Mixi: You should listen to "Bleeding Out" on the record.

As I'm writing this, I put this song on - and literally have tears welling in my eyes. Y'all -listen. "Looking into a world that's all but clear, blind and blurry walk the line between love and fear..". Seriously, this is a powerful song. Sometimes our words, they make deeper scars that being literally stabbed. Tread carefully because once someone has been ignored, and their words become empty, eventually they'll decide that enough has happened. It's not about tiptoeing around anymore - eventually truth wins. There is a victory deep within those that have been so wounded.

Mixi: All your friends can tell you one thing and you're going to do whatever you're doing is right. There's that listening thing again. A lot of people go through this (kind of thing) and people have to figure it out for themselves and it takes time.

Cherri: Do you write to your personal experiences or do you write in terms of what you see others going through?

Mixi: Yeah, with this record particularly, anytime we'd go into write something specifically, it would change. We went straight from scratch. I wanted the songs to have meaningful lyrics that could change someone’s lives, or change their day before or after they listened to the music. I didn't really have a plan. "Now that You're Gone" was written on Memorial Day and I did want it to be in memory past people (and animals). We can hardly play that without someone breaking down and crying. "Bleeding Out" is obvious and I have gone through things where it hasn't been a very good relationship - like for three years.

Cherri: I was told to "lean into the pain" you gotta get that shit out, right? Don't hold it in or it just ends up hurting more and for much longer.

Mixi: Imagine having to relive a painful experience every time you perform a song like "Now that You're Gone". You're creating the situation in your head when we perform. We put so much into our performance and the songs we write, we hope that it touches someone and helps them through a rough spot.

All I can say is this young woman totally has a genuine spirit around her that reveals her experiences, joyous and painful are making her and have made her into the person she was intended to be. She's managed to sew her heart back together and give hope and love to those that are still broken; so that they can walk through this life with their own Stitched Up Heart.

The release from Stitched Up Heart Never Alone dropped June 17 from Another Century Records. Find it on iTunes, Amazon or wherever records are sold! 

 

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