Interview: Lindsay Schoolcraft of Cradle of Filth

By Anna Rose

It’s such a hook to discover a musician in a heavy metal band is classically trained, more so if that musician is a woman. Lindsay Schoolcraft is largely considered one of the best musicians in the industry today. As of five years ago, she is the keyboardist for one of the greatest bands in metal, Cradle Of Filth, who have just touched down for their Australian tour.

When she set out on her career in music, she never envisioned she’d be playing with the band today. “In high school I actually thought Cradle Of Filth was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard,” she laughs. “I started in punk music, an all-girl band back in Canada in my teens. I think you can blame Kittie and Evanesence for my wanting to do harder stuff – that’s when I went in a classical direction.”

“I started getting symphonic ideas, they were my own expression. I had an incredible vocal coach, she kicked my butt into shape. My first semester at university, Cradle Of Filth got in touch with me – at that point, I really started getting into heavy metal!”

“I fell in love with the album Midian [2000] and Cruelty And The Beast [1998] because in my mind, these were classically driven albums.”

Global venues, festivals, audiences in excess of 10,000 members, even at this point it’s still overwhelming for Schoolcraft that her talents have enabled her to enjoy such opportunities. “I never would have thought being classically trained would get me to the place in heavy metal I’m in. A few years ago I started learning the harp and on the last album Hammer Of The Witches [2015], the fact the guys were considering I write a song on the harp for the band… ‘What? The harp in Cradle Of Filth? Okay…’” she says laughing, still an air of disbelief as she looks at her life. “It’s been a wild ride and I would never have expected it!”

Working on solo material in addition to her contributions to the bands, Schoolcraft has been given a lot of create freedom and expression in other areas. “I’m a very creative person, it’s one of those few things I can do right in life,” she says. “I’ve been able to contribute to Cradle Of Filth in terms of make-up and costume design, and visual direction.”

There’s a good deal of balance to be had in Schoolcraft’s life. She’s been able to expand her creative ideas because she’s been allowed to combine these two distinct genres. A regular chameleon, Schoolcraft has dipped her fingers in all the pies. “It’s strange, yes I’m classically trained but I actually started in country music as a child! I can contribute all these different ideas from very different outlets.”

“With Cradle, there’s only a small amount I can contribute [musically], so I love to sing and song write as a solo [musician], and as a classical composer, I have Antiqua, where classical music meets traditional black metal.”

“There’s still a lot of ideas I have that I want to give and a lot of these ideas don’t necessarily fit Cradle. I love creating, the only problem is the organisation, I think it is for any artist.”

Schoolcraft is nothing if not driven, active and talented. Today, there’s a lot of speculation around the position of women in the music industry, indeed, in any industry, and unfortunately for Schoolcraft she has experienced her share of discrimination and negative connotations toward her craft because of her gender. Sombre, serious, Schoolcraft contemplates her fight to achieve her position. “I like to think it doesn’t exist but as a woman, it’s something that shouldn’t be silenced. I’ve been experiencing it since high school, guys just don’t like the idea of women being as powerful as them within their industry.

“I definitely have had to prove myself, stand up for myself, earn my respect. In some situations I’ve had to bow out and give up because I wasn’t getting anywhere because I was met with ignorance and bullying.”

“It does exist – I’m lucky now where I’ve found my place with Cradle and we all know our boundaries and we all work well together. [Discrimination] it’s there. To say it isn’t would be a lie. It’s a huge problem.”

“A sister genre to Cradle Of Filth you might say, would be symphonic metal, where a lot of bands are female fronted with usually a classically trained singer. There is this pool of bands who just continue to hire and fire this circle of singers like we’re these replaceable dolls – it’s really wrong.”

“I feel we’ve done well as women, we’ve made our place in the metal genre, but then as I look at all other genres, I feel women suffer the same kind of hardships. I did have to stand up for myself, it wasn’t always easy.”

Naturally there are many women and girls out there who love music and want to break into the industry in some capacity – for them, Schoolcraft has some sage advice. “Know exactly what you want, specialise, let the world know exactly what you are so you can specify and get those jobs.”

“Educate yourself about this industry – you can train, and train, and train, but if you don’t have the basic skill in business management, without that information, you can find yourself in a bad place.

“In the industry, not Cradle, I’ve been taken advantage of. I’m only seeing it now and it’s potentially damaging. If I had some understanding of the business aspect I would have been able to save myself sooner but you know, you live, you learn.”

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