Lindsay Schoolcraft – Celebrating 10 Gothic Years

Sunday, 27th September 2020

Earlier this year, Lindsay Schoolcraft announced her departure from Cradle of Filth. But she’s also been working on her own for a while, and last year’s Martyr was an excellent example of her gothic indulgences. She is quick to return with Worlds Away, which is a celebration of her last ten years in music. There’s a few new tracks as well as reimagined older songs, all of which in the intimate setting of her and her electric harp (mostly). A collection of gentle beauty that fans should find rather endearing. To that end, we spoke with Schoolcraft about the album, leaving Cradle behind, her appreciation of gothic culture, and more topics below.

Dead Rhetoric: You left Cradle of Filth behind earlier this year. Are you feeling less stressed at this point?

Lindsay Schoolcraft: Yeah, it was a really hard decision to make. It had been such a big part of my life for so long – it became part of my identity in a way. I know it upset a lot of people, because it’s like finding out your favorite couple divorced. But ultimately, I think I was the saddest [laughs]. If anyone was sad, it was me. It was a necessary decision. I came to the conclusion with my health that life is short and I should be doing what makes me happy and building my own dreams. No offense to Cradle, but Cradle wasn’t ever really in my dreams. Now that it’s all settled and it’s cool – we are still friends. It’s probably one of the more peaceful breakups that Cradle has ever had [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: There’s a mix of new and old stuff on Worlds Away. How’d you choose the older songs?

Schoolcraft: I am very analytical. I went through my Bandcamp, where a lot of my old music was. I just saw what people were listening to and buying the most. I also listened to my fans and did my best to communicate with them on social media. There were tracks where people were like, “You have to do these!” and two of the people closest to me really wanted me to redo a really old song. It’s a 20 year old song I wrote in my teens. It’s about domestic violence, and I wasn’t sure about it. I have grown up so much in 20 years, but it’s a bonus track right now if you order from the pre-order. It feels like closing a chapter.

I’m closing on a decade of what I guess you would call my greatest hits, or highlights. Some of it happened, like “Masquerade” and “Warn Me,” they snuck in there last minute. But the rest of it was pretty much determined back in January when I started arranging the pieces to go into the studio. There wasn’t too much thought about it – maybe some last minute impulses but that was about it.

Dead Rhetoric: What did it take to re-imagine some of these songs to bring the electric harp at the forefront?

Schoolcraft: It came really naturally, because that’s sort of how I learned the harp even though I’ve had lessons and I’ve been on a pretty regimented practice schedule. It came through taking my songs and stripping them down into I guess what you’d call an acoustic format. Some of them were a struggle – “Where I Fall” was a crazy big rock song and now I had to break it down. It ended up being two parts on the harp. I couldn’t just bring it into one – I had to have two harps playing it at once in order to fill that song out. It was very touch and go most of the time, and figuring it out piece by piece.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you see this release as a bright spot in a particularly dark year, from a sonic perspective?

Schoolcraft: It was a strange one, because it’s more of stripped back collection of lullabies. I made the decision to do this album between Christmas and New Year’s. I came out of a really hard burn out and depression, leaving Cradle of Filth. I think when you have all of that fog clears and you are feeling better, the first thing that really jumpstarts your creativity – you should really follow it. I so latched onto that and its where I found my love of playing again and less worrying about touring and business. Doing what drew me to this place in the first place – making music. It was an interesting project, which was mostly done during lockdown. I have been very grateful that my producer is also my neighbor. I can walk to his place in 20 minutes and thank goodness for that. My car died one day, and I had to go and record – so I’ve been very blessed in that sense.

Everyone says it’s been a bad year, and it’s so dark. I am very sensitive to people passing away and people losing their jobs. But for me, it has been one of the best years of my life. To stay at home, be a homebody and find what I love again and be able to do it and not have anyone else telling me what I should be doing with my creativity or time – I think that’s the ultimate freedom.

Dead Rhetoric: Was it nice to give the harp a huge role in the music, given your love of the instrument?

Schoolcraft: Yeah, it was a lot easier than doing a rock album. Especially in the realm of gothic metal, where you have choirs and strings, guitar harmonies – it was me, and a small team: my producer and my string guys, and Rocky Gray. I asked him if he wanted to throw a few beats on some songs. Without Rocky Gray, I don’t feel it seems like an album anymore. He was really happy to do it. It was really natural, but it’s a lot of hard work and trial and error. It was like 8 hour days, Monday to Friday if I was feeling it. But for four months straight between rehearsing, the studio, and delegating tasks and things like that.

Dead Rhetoric: When we talked last year, I had said that Martyr had that gothic, Evanescence-like vibe. It’s weird, but I feel it even more with this one. It really has that gothic quality to it.

Schoolcraft: Thank you, that means a lot. That’s where I come from, and the music I like to make. Rocky is a gem, and he’s one who encompassed that original sound. Every day I feel so blessed that he contacted me and wanted to work with me. He’s just a wonderful person to have on your team. It’s like a mentor. He’s had so much experience. We’ve lived the same life, but he’s lived it on superstar level. Whenever something is going terribly wrong and I don’t think anyone can understand what I’m going through, I just go talk to Rocky and I feel like other people have gone through this. He gives really good advice.

It’s nice to have that person in your corner. We still joke about it – the first year of working together we took a selfie and there was a Fallen-era Evanescence poster on my wall. He was like, “You need to take that down, we are friends now” and I was like, “But it’s a collector’s item!” but he said, “There’s a picture of me in your room, that’s weird [laughs]!”

Dead Rhetoric: As a celebration of your time in music, is there a special meaning to putting this one out there?

Schoolcraft: It’s kind of like a reminder. As of my 35 birthday this year, I will have been a musician in the industry for twenty years. I started at 15, which was really very young. I was in two bands before I started my solo stuff. After 10 years I kind of got fed up with being a musician in these local bands where not everyone had the same grit and vision that I did. They just kept falling apart so I decided to go out on my own. Then a year later, Cradle of Filth picked me up. It was crazy. To this day, I laugh because I said I would never be in a band again. Then I’m on a plane to Mexico to play a show with Cradle of Filth and it’s like “Oh crap, I joined a band! What have I done to myself?” So it was a funny moment.

But to go back to those ten years, it’s kind of nice to commemorate them with what I have been able to do with mainly doing heavy touring with an international heavy metal band. It feels good, and it’s the way that I wanted to do it. So many people do acoustic albums on guitar or piano. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to do it. If you can afford a grand piano and a live string section, it sounds beautiful. I wanted to do something different. The harp has been a passion of mine. I got my first harp, I think it was 2009 or 2011 – I don’t remember since my brain is wrecked. I’d have to go find a receipt. But it was something that I really wanted to do, and then last year with my last tour with Cradle of Filth, I actually had a travel harp. I was trying to carve out time to practice. It was very difficult and I was always exhausted. It was an insane tour schedule last year.

But at home, I can just focus on what makes me happy. To do that with a new instrument, it was such uncharted territory. I’ll probably look back in it in 10 years and think I could have done so much better, but you have to remind yourself that in that moment you are just doing your best. It was a really cool experience. My producer, Tyler Williams, was such a gem this whole time. I’m so glad we had each other during lockdown. We really didn’t have anyone. I had my roommates and my partner, and my cat. He had me, the studio, and his mom. It was a very weird time. I think the fact that we could still go and do what we love. Even though the world was falling apart, we were both in the same place, recording music, and we were so happy. It’s a memory that I’ll always cherish.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you see as special about gothic culture?

Schoolcraft: Interestingly enough, a group of my friends and I all did our star chart. It’s written in my stars that I like to express myself through darkness. I laughed! We went by planets, and my Jupiter is in Pisces and said I like to express myself through darkness and I was like, “No shit!” I also found out I’m like 40% Sagittarius, which was hilarious. That explains so much. It’s just always been a part of me. I have yet to do a long-winded YouTube video about it, and the fans have been asking.

But in the beginning days of being a musician, even though I’ve always identified with the darker side of the aesthetic and lifestyle – I put all my money into music so I’d look really derpy when I went to goth clubs and showed up in worn out sneakers and ripped up jeans/shirt with crappy black eyeliner. I wasn’t the gothic queen that everyone has thought I was this whole time. I really sacrificed a lot to make the music happen. Then Cradle happened, and free clothing was thrown at me, which I greatly appreciated and advertised for those lines. That’s when the butterfly emerged from the cocoon, so to say. But I’ve always felt that way and I’ve found so much comfort in darkness. I can admit that I’m a very deeply emotional person and very compassionate and empathetic, and I think that’s where it comes from. I’m also obsessed with the moon and nighttime – I’m just a walking stereotype. But it’s near and dear to my heart and I have connected to so many people in that culture and our shared interests, as well as other artists that are expressing themselves in the same way, with their dark vision.

It’s always been a part of me and always will be. I’ve had this conversation quite a few times with my best friend, Xenoyr from Ne Obliviscaris. We have a black metal band together in Antqva. I’m always told I’m the most colorful goth he’s ever met. There’s so much emotion in color. The fact that this guy, who lives this very noir life with everything – if he could get a black and white filter on our Zoom calls, he would. But the fact that I can go to him and be like, “I love color!” and he still remains my friend says something [laughs]. So it will always be there – there’s ways to be dark through color. It doesn’t have to be black and white all the time [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: Its funny you mention Antiqva, since that was my next question. I’ve seen some postings recently, but are there any official updates about what the band is doing?

Schoolcraft: Because of the state of the world, it’s a lot of organization and I’m Little Miss Bossypants. I’ve been bossing everyone around and I don’t care. But we are going into the studio next month for like three weeks and we will be remotely tracking. We also have the person nailed down for mixing and mastering. We are hoping to release a single sometime before Christmas. That’s the best case scenario. At worst, you’ll hear something before the snow melts…in Canada anyways [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: Is there anything else you have going on down the road?

Schoolcraft: That’s honestly it. I want to get this Antiqva single recorded and out there. In my spare time, I’ve been consulting and helping a lot of artists build their career online. Whatever they need me for, I’m there. I’m really enjoying it. But my big goal is finishing this album for Antiqva and then going into the studio for that. We almost have enough material for a full album and it’s just sitting there. I just can’t live like this anymore – we need to do something about this. That’s going to be the next chapter of my life. I’m very excited to return to black metal in that way.

Lindsay Schoolcraft on Facebook