Interview with Emily Palen a.k.a. KnightressM117th February 2021 0 By John Deaux
Hi there Emily! Please introduce yourself and your music, including your latest release.
Hi! Thank you so much for the interview. I’m excited to do an interview about my cats, they are my life right now! My band is called KnightressM1 and the makeup is a bit different than your typical rock/metal band. I front the band on violin and vocals and play with a bassist and drummer, so essentially, it’s been a power trio. We just released the debut album: ‘Dreams and Devastation’ in 2020, featuring Uriah Duffy (Whitesnake) on bass and Rob Ahlers (50FOOTWAVE) on drums which went really well. It was a concept album based upon principles of personal reclamation and collective revolution and little did I know, it would be perfect timing! Thankfully the video production for the three singles we put out and the album release, along with my cats, have all kept me sane this year. So, no burning buildings yet!
That’s good to hear that you’re not burning buildings YET haha.
You’ve just mentioned you have cats. Tell us about them
My two cats are Madeline and Nepa. Madeline is about 10 years old, she was a stray kitten, super cute fuzzy black cat. The story with her is that she walked in off the street into an AA meeting and laid down on my friend’s lap. My friend shot me a picture of her and I had to take her. So, she’s my sober kitten. Nepa’s full name is Starlight Starbright but since I’m a fairy geek I gave him a fairy nickname which is Nepa. I speak cat to them as well as fairy and I think we understand each other pretty well.
Nothing wrong with being a fairy geek. We have a few fairy enthusiasts and magical sprites in our office too.
Madeline is very regal, very royal so she got the name Madeline. They are super close to each other and the three of us have bonded a lot this year. They box a lot with each other. I’m not sure who wins. It seems they both win, they both lose. They are typical night kitties. Every night like clockwork they run from one end of the apartment to the other and make all sorts of noises. But I’m also a night owl so it works out. They are also very supportive and make sure to watch over me when I do my training. Though they can’t spot me with the weights they push me to always do my best. Mostly they keep me from losing my mind and we have a lot of fun together.
What is your pet’s response to your music? Do they hang out near you when you rehearse or record?
They are funny with music. When I first started practicing violin around Nepa he would run and hide under the bed until I was done. I tried not to take it personally. Now they know not to bother me when I’m playing so they sit by and watch over me or take their catnaps. Nepa seems much more comfortable when I play metal though. He loves my favourite bands as much as I do.
Madeline is always just cool calm and collected so nothing much will knock her off of her high beam. So we listen to a lot of Architects, Stray From the Path, BMTH and Gojira in this house. Our musical tastes are totally synced, thank god. That would be a problem if they really liked, like, say, Metallica or Cardi B. I would not be able to handle that.
What is the weirdest thing your pet has done or what’s the weirdest thing you have done with your pet?
This morning Nepa licked a bunch of bananas. I don’t know why. He also likes to chew on plastic so I have to make sure plastic isn’t out lying around or he’ll just straight chomp on it and swallow it. Madeline will groom Nepa though that’s not weird, its just super sweet.
Madeline drinks water out of the kitchen sink, only! They have a beautiful porcelain fountain on the floor but they really want nothing to do with it. So she will go sit in the kitchen sink and drink from the tap and she gets all wet, then if she goes to the litterbox after she’s pretty dirty. So, that can get weird. Wet paws. Fancy grass litter. Makes a mess. She also likes human vegan food more than cat food.
What is the best trick your pet can do?
Nepa is a bad ass fetch player. He will jump maybe 6 feet straight into the air to pocket a paper ball. It’s pretty amazing. He’s definitely an athlete. He also like to hide paper balls in my Vans and then pounce into the toes of the shoes to get it back out again.
Thanks to Covid we’ve all had a lot of time on our hands to contemplate why Kamikaze pilots wear helmets. You touched briefly on how Nepa and Madeline have helped you. Is there anything specific?
Luckily for me we’re super tight. I think they like that I’m home a lot because I can tend to their every need. So they’re very vocal now. They know that I try to give them what they want because I’m a sucker! They are also just incredibly loving, pure, funny, full of soul and personality.
Animals, in a very serious and genuine way, I think have taught me and showed me what unconditional love and joy is. They don’t hold on to anything, they just flow. Also, they are excellent at self-care. I learn a lot about how to put my own needs first. I used to be pretty bad about neglecting myself. I would bend over backwards to make other people “happy” at the expense of my own well-being. So I look at them and see how they take care of their own needs and then just roll with the punches. They are my self-esteem models.
It’s amazing how much having a pet improves mental well being.
Have you always been an animal lover?
I have always loved animals. We had a tabbie growing up, Daisy and a few amazing dogs. I had a dream once where I visited one of those dogs in dog heaven which I think was Stinson Beach in California. I feel very close to my animals and see them as equals. The only exotic animal I ever had was a Bearded Dragon. He was great but I had to feed him crickets and that was gross. So, cats are my zone.
Cats are so much easier to look after than dogs.. They’re much more independent
Have you tried to put Nepa and Madeline into costume?
Actually, this year I did start dressing my pets up because I needed some way to celebrate my birthday! Since we are in this weird shut down world, and everyone is isolating, I decided that I would dress my cats up and we would eat whip cream together and that would be my birthday. It actually gave me immense joy.
They tolerated the costumes for long enough to totally cheer me up and then I took them off. Maddie had a pretty red ruffly dress that poofs out because she has poofy fur and Nepa had a really sharp striped t-shirt. They don’t like dressing up but if I have a really really really bad day, I dress them up for 5 minutes. It totally works.
It’s the little things that makes us smile or laugh are the most important right now too.
Has your pet had any influence on your music? Do they seem to prefer any particular genre of music more than another?
I have briefly considered making a cat album but I have too much work to do getting the second album prepped. I think I would have to go full alien synth for that album, and very ethereal violin. It would be dope. When I have time maybe I will do that.
Other than that, they just support me unconditionally in my vision for rewriting violin in the metal world. We are unified in that dream. They really prefer metal over anything. But good metal. If it has bad vibes they are out of there. It has to have beautiful harmony, rich tone, good drops, sick beats, some interesting rhythm and obviously meaningful lyrics. They say to me, “Mom, I feel nothing for this song. It is dead vibes.” We turn it off.
Then we put on Royal Beggars and they totally vibe. We don’t say anything at all. We just listen and become superheroes.
Who looks after your pet whilst you’re away?
I have a good friend and neighbour, who’s basically a cat whisperer who looks after them. Somehow they are better fed and more calm then when I’m there. I trust them implicitly in her hands.
Speaking of practising, any new music in the pipeline? IF so when is it due and what can your audience expect?
Yes! I am in the writing stages for the second album and am so psyched. It’s really going to push the limits on the metal genre as well as how violin is viewed. I’m also coming into myself more as an artist and giving myself permission to write the music that I truly truly want to write. The heavier, the more epic the better.
Hopefully by the summer, when me and the cats move to Paris, we will get into the studio immediately and be able to put out the record by the end of the year. I also have a dance/electronica record I’m producing now of songs I wrote during lockdown when I wasn’t able to yell and scream and play through my super loud amp. That will be out soon as well. End of the year.
Wow Paris, that’s a huge leap. We wish you all the success for that relocation.
Have you anything you’d like to say to your fans/followers? Where can they find you online?
Thank you so much for being part of this world with me, for supporting KnightressM1, for being who you are in this world. It takes more courage than ever to be true to ourselves now and to anyone who has gone through or is going through a hard time, please know that you’re not alone and that it will get better. We are in this together and you are worth all the love and happiness and dreams that you seek. Never settle.
Thank you for your time. It’s been a pleasure. We look forward to the new album.
Thank you so much for having me!
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