Lindsay Schoolcraft – Finding Beauty in Darkness

Thursday, 3rd October 2019

While most are surely familiar with Lindsay Schoolcraft due to her tenure in Cradle of Filth, contributing keyboards, harp, and her voice to the band. But she’s also brimming with other projects, such as Antiqva, and most importantly at the moment, her own solo career. Her full-length debut, Martyr, is just around the corner, so we grabbed the multi-talented musician for a round of Q & A. Get ready for an honest conversation about everything from Rocky Gray’s (ex-Evanescence) aid in the album to what she’s learned from being the music industry, as well as balancing her time – even digging into her thoughts about her Belzebubs character.

Dead Rhetoric: What started you off in the direction of a musical career?

Lindsay Schoolcraft: It’s really weird because I’ve had music in my life, for my whole life. I was in children’s choirs when I was little. I always had this need to want to sing. In high school, when I was exposed to alternative music – we are talking about punk, pop-punk, alternative, grunge, and that fun stuff – that’s when I realized that [singing] was what I wanted to do with my life and I will find a way to make it my full-time job. So it started around when I was 15 when I formed my first, all-girl punk band in high school, and never looked back [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel that working with Rocky Gray added to the music?

Schoolcraft: He definitely forced me to step up my game. You don’t question someone who has won a Grammy, that’s for sure. He was really someone who brought it to the next level. He’s done work that has the recognition of major labels. He knew exactly how to direct things that way. I had all of the people in place – I wanted it to be as professional as it could get. We also had a lot of fun. He was really patient with me. I definitely have some learning abilities. I suffer greatly from dyslexia. There’s actually a disclaimer on my Twitter that there will be spelling mistakes. He was so patient and lovely – we had a really good time. He’s really humble about his career, and told me a lot of crazy stories from his days with Evanescence. I really admire and appreciate him for all of that.

Dead Rhetoric: Does your dyslexia make for any added challenges for you in terms of writing music?

Schoolcraft: It definitely challenges people who have to read my written lyrics, because the letters are everywhere. I have a word that I have made up that is like ‘with” and “the,” it’s ‘with’ with an ‘e’ at the end and people just laugh. I don’t even think about it, because in my head it makes sense. But when it’s on paper, I don’t allow people to read my lyrics until they are typed up. Then you have the autocorrect telling me that I’ve been spelling things wrong, like the ‘I before E except after C’ – as long as the “I” and the “e” made it in there, we good [laughs]! It doesn’t affect me – I have my own world and my own little language. But when I have to work with other people, that’s when I have to prepare myself a little bit for the rest of the world [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel was most important to portray in Martyr?

Schoolcraft: I just felt that it was time to do the music that I always wanted to do. Though it might be from a dated time period, which is the early 2000s – gothic/symphonic rock with some type of nu metal implemented into it. I always hear about how Rocky [Gray] is the peanut butter to my jam musically, because I know how to write lyrics, piano, harp, and basic strings, and I can play the bass guitar, but he knows the guitar and drums, which I think are so essential to a band. They play such key points and he just brought that to the next level. That was really important that he was able to bring the element that I wasn’t fully there with.

So this was what I wanted to do, and want to continue to do in the future. These are stories that I felt that people really needed to hear, because I went through a lot of horrible times when I was writing this album. So I’m hoping that when people hear these stories, they don’t feel alone in whatever they are going through.

Dead Rhetoric: It’s funny you mention that time period, because when I listen to it, you could draw that idea that it was written during that early 2000s period.

Schoolcraft: I’m totally okay with that. I like the nostalgia – if they kids these days don’t get it, I don’t care [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: Could you discuss the concept of beauty in darkness that is featured prominently on your webpage?

Schoolcraft: I was talking with some people at a musician academy, where you could kind of say I am currently going to school – I am taking on this release independently and am my own record label. It’s very exciting, and they asked how I would describe my music and I identify with the goth culture. We see the beauty in the darkness, and the people in this course said, “That’s your music. Your music is dark, but it has a beautiful message behind it.” So I decided that’s what I should say! I honestly find nothing wrong with that – in trying to explain my lifestyle choices to my mother I always kind of described it that way. My mom is an artist too, but she is just like, “What is your life? Why is it always Halloween all the time?” When I told her, she thought it made sense. So I’m okay with saying that – I think I can claim it just fine [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: Outside of your own work, most will probably identify you through your work in Cradle of Filth. What have you learned from your time in the band?

Schoolcraft: When I got the call, I thought, “This is it. I’ve made it. This is all going to work out.” I was very young and naïve. I was 26 when it happened. I was going to work hard and prove myself. Working in Cradle of Filth has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done with my life thus far, besides my solo album of course, but it has been the hardest, most eye-opening thing I’ve done in my life. It has been so different than I thought it would be. You are dealing with five other people, you travel the world – we all like each other and get along, but no band is perfect. We have problems to work through. I’ve traveled the world and know the street names in Paris, London, Tokyo, Melbourne, and Hamburg. I’ve been so many places so often that I know the street names, which is insane! It’s cool – I feel like I have homes outside of Canada.

But I never knew that it was going to be so incredibly difficult. In the beginning, my mental health was not prepared for it. But I have been very fortunate to have some extremely loving people in my life, both in the music industry and outside of it, who have been able to take the jumbled mess inside my head and figure it out. As an artist, I’m a very emotional person, and business has no room for friendship or emotions. Business doesn’t care about those things. There have been times where I have been treated very poorly, and it’s just business. But me, as a business person, I believe in decency, integrity, and I treat my team with respect. I would never put anyone who works for me through what I have been through. When I see people acting so ruthlessly and disrespectfully, it makes me question their integrity like, “How do you go to sleep at night? Do you not see what you are leaving behind for the world.” Even to send an apology, like “You didn’t get the job” or “This didn’t work out, we had to cut you from singing that vocal line.” Communication and an apology would be nice. But some people didn’t even give me that. They didn’t have the respect and integrity enough to do that.

So being in the industry has been extremely eye-opening for me. Cradle was my step into the door. Don’t get me wrong, that line-up we have now, we are like a family and we have been through some incredible things together. I wouldn’t trade those things for anything.

Dead Rhetoric: I saw you have a biology/biochemistry background – how did you make the jump from that into more music? I’m coming at this question, to give you my background, as someone who teaches biology every day.

Schoolcraft: That’s so cool! I love your job. You’ll find this hilarious then. When I was in high school, my parents were middle class workers and they came from the times of the 1950s. They told me that I needed a back-up plan if music doesn’t work out. I always loved animals, hence being vegan and an animal rights activist, and I decided that I found biology fascinating. I decided to go into veterinary science and become an assistant. So that’s where it all stemmed from. About my second year into being a surgical assistant at a cat hospital, I grew this nasty allergy to long-haired cats and was seriously in so much pain. I would go into work, and you can’t have a runny nose over a surgery table and a cat is split open and you are doing say, rib surgery.

So I was forced out, and it was just a sign that I wasn’t meant to be there, and should be singing. After that happened, I started going to lessons and saying, “Screw what my Eastern European family wants me to do, I am becoming a musician. I am not meant to be here, and doing this.” But I am also a self-taught make-up artist, and I went back to school last year to get a cosmetology certificate. When I was sitting there, learning about biochemistry, I was nailing it [laughs]! It’s like a second language – I love biology, I really do!

Dead Rhetoric: This brings up a different question, as you just mentioned the cosmetology and you mentioned music school earlier. How do you balance time for all of these different avenues, including music as well?

Schoolcraft: Honestly, last year was really eye-opening for me. I realized that I couldn’t be everything to everyone. Something really stupid that I did, but it was kind of a coping mechanism at the time. When times got hard, I used make-up as an escape, and I thought make-up could be a side job. But when I made it a side job, it was extremely unfulfilling. I enjoyed it for what it was worth, but I realized that I should just do one thing, and do it really well. So for 2019, I decided just to do music and I have been [just doing music]. It’s been incredibly rewarding!

Last fall, I was teaching vocals, going to school, working a part-time job as a make-up artist, tours with Cradle of Filth, and shopping my solo album to record labels. I wore myself very thin – I barely saw my family and friends. I still barely see my friends, because I’m not really home long enough to see them. So I decided that it was stupid, and needed to decide if I was a make-up artist or a musician. I chose musician, so I scaled down. This is so mean to say, but when I see people on Instagram that say, “I’m an actress/model/blah blah blah” I say, “OK, sure you are! But no you ain’t, because I know that you are just doing one little job here and one there and you aren’t getting good at one thing.” So I decided I was meant to be a musician. I will do make-up for fun for me, or on the side when my friends need it. But it’s not my calling in life. My calling is to be a singer/songwriter and to write/perform music and release it. It’s cool to be multi-faceted and versatile, and I feel very lucky in that sense to have that gift. I got it from my momma – that woman has like 6 job titles and she doesn’t want to retire. I get it, and I know where I get it from.

I’m honestly really good at micro-managing my time. Putting aside hours in the day and plotting it out. I work from home, so I have to structure it – like I am doing interviews for an hour, I am answering emails for an hour, I am playing my harp. It’s hard to take it on the road with Cradle of Filth. Our schedules do not make sense, so I squeeze in an hour or half-hour to do work or writing on the road because I also look at people who go on the road who party and feel like crap, and they don’t really accomplish much outside of the band because they are wasting their hours doing something counterproductive, in my eyes. So that’s kind of the method to my madness. It never made sense, but I make it work [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: What was it like to have a Belzebubs character designed after you?

Schoolcraft: I never thought it was going to happen. When JP Ahonen picked me, I was shocked. He could have picked anyone else. He have picked some like Cristina Scabbia or Chelsea Wolfe, or so many more incredible and established names than me. But he wanted me! I’ve been a fan of the comic for a long time. There’s two characters that look a lot like me and my partner, which is the daughter Lilith and her boyfriend Sam. It’s cute – she’s the gothic, black metal chick and he’s the nerdy prog kid. That’s totally me and my partner. A lot of people would keep tagging me and pointing it out.

Then I got ahold of JP and we started talking and he asked me if I wanted to be a character. I nearly fell out of my seat. I was like, “Are you frigging kidding me? I would be honored!” So then he put me on the album for a few tracks on the album too. I’m excited to see when she will show up in the comic strip more. I’m really excited to see how my character evolves. I’m really honored and blessed to be a part of that. I love Belzebubs and I love comics. It’s something that my partner and I bond over. I love the artwork. Whenever anyone draws me fan art – when you make me a cartoon character, I’m just over the moon!

Dead Rhetoric: What’s going on with your solo material or other bands for the remainder of the year?

Schoolcraft: The goal is to finish up the shows with Cradle of Filth and get the album out. I have to get the shop ready for people to buy CDs and stuff. My side project, Antiqva – with Xenoyr from Ne Obliviscaris, we will be meeting I think in November in Montreal to finish composing the album. It’s really exciting, and then I plan to just enjoy the holidays and get back to playing the harp. I do want to start composing for my second album soon, but I want to focus on playing my favorite instrument and maybe playing a few acoustic tracks for people. That’s the plan coming up, hopefully it all works out.

Lindsay Schoolcraft on Facebook