Interview by Eric May
Victoria De Mare needs no introduction, especially if you’ve seen the Killjoy films or Werewolf In A Woman’s Prison. But other than her acting skills, Victoria has also been known for performing everything from R&B to punk and has done multiple session vocal stints, as well as her endless work in the world of dance. She’s also had her own talk show in the UK, which certainly says a lot for a scream queen. As a matter of fact, she’s still filming movies and working on new music as we speak – her latest effort is an alternative pop/rock album simply entitled Victoria De Mare and features a smorgasbord of many different styles and sounds. It’ll remind you of the days when pop music was in some form listenable and when new styles were being tried out, instead of the endless dance-club madness that we’ve got these days. I spoke with her about all of these things and many more. Chances are that if you haven’t heard of her yet, then you will very soon.
You’ve considered this a “new slate” for you as a singer, yet you’ve done several other types of work in the past. Can you talk a little bit about your past work and how you worked your way up to this solo debut? How is this work different from your previous efforts?
This new album, Victoria De Mare is a new beginning for me as a solo pop/rock artist because it is the first time in my musical career that I have had the opportunity to call all the shots and carve my heart out and then serve it on a platinum platter without someone else who is signing all the checks saying, “No, you can’t do that”. I’ve been performing, singing and dancing – one or the other or both at the same time – in all different kinds of groups from all girl R&B to 70’s style rock to and all girl punk rock band to cover bands for ten years – all of which broke up or ended for some reason or another. And I’ve done five years of steady session work as a vocalist (lead, backup and harmony) for a ton of independent artists as well as several different independent and soundtrack record labels including BSX Records. This album is actually my third attempt to release a debut album as a solo artist. It’s been a long journey.
You’ve been acting for quite a while and singing for a good bit as well. How do you approach singing differently, then from acting in a feature?
I started studying dance in the first grade, music in the fourth and voice followed in the seventh. My first professional (paid) gig as a performer was as a dancer at eighteen followed by television and film work as an actor. Professional singing gigs started in my 20s, so I’ve been performing my whole life. Singing is a completely different experience altogether for me than acting. When you are singing, the soul of the character you are portraying in the performance is only coming out one way – through sound. Your performance as an actor is coming out in a multi-dimensional way – through sound, movement and appearance. So, I don’t even think you can compare the two fairly in any other way except to say that they are both performing arts.
Let’s talk about the recording of the album. You had the opportunity to work with several different musicians who each helped to make your album the strong debut that it is. What was it like working with these individuals, and what was the overall recording process like for the disc?
The recording studio like a dance studio to me is like my church. It is where you create the moments that people buy tickets to come see your experience on the stage. It’s the recordings of that magic that live forever and it is more than thrilling to me to create those moments. And no one cares what you look like in the recording studio, unlike working as an actor. It’s all about how you sound and the sound of the music and how it makes you feel when you listen to it. There was fewer musicians’ work that actually made the final cut of the album than you might think. As a producer, it is more than frustrating when a musician is unprepared and can’t take notes during the session. All the music on the album was co-written by me and my “co-genius” as I like to refer to him; Michael Sean Colin. I am mostly referring to him in my liner notes on the album, and I guess only he would really understand my comments in those notes because he was there. I love the music we create together. It is magical to me. This album was a strong debut because of Michael and I’ll never forget the experience of creating this album with him. It was one of the highlights of my life.
You’ve been called one of “Hollywood’s Hottest Scream Queens.” What is your opinion of that title and do you consider it a compliment? What advice do you have for young women following in your footsteps?
A writer and reviewer tagged me “Hollywood’s Hottest Scream Queen” when he wrote an article about me and a review referring to a film I starred in called Werewolf In A Women’s Prison many years ago. He loved me and my work in the film and couldn’t wait to follow my career. After the release of that article, the tag stuck and more and more writers began to refer to me as such in their articles. I think it is an absolute compliment and an honor. I would advise other young aspiring “scream queens” to understand that working on films is a serious job – not a fantasy. It’s definitely not goof-off or play time. If you are not going to take it seriously, then please don’t waste your time or anyone else’s.
You started out in ballet, but have moved on to the world of acting and music. How do you think your work in ballet and dance has helped you in your current fields? Do you think that it gave you a sense of grace and discipline?
Yes, my study and work as a dancer has definitely helped my work as an actor and as a vocalist/musician. I have played many different kinds of dancer roles in films and TV shows and have performed with many different kinds of musical singing groups like all girl R&B mentioned earlier above. I think you are either born with grace or you are not. In my opinion, true grace is not learned and discipline depends on your mind set. If you really want something, you go and get it.
The topics on this album all seem to revolve around one individual. It personally sounds to me like you were cut very deep by this said person, especially on tracks like “Deadly Sting” and “Haunted.” Can you speak briefly of this? Would you consider your approach here equivalent to the phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?”
The songs on this album were NOT written for one individual. Yes, all songs are written about someone or something, but let me be crystal clear here and clarify that the songs on this album did NOT revolve around one individual. Three of the songs on the album were written for my brother and three other songs were written for an extremely dear person to me in my life because the first track to be written and recorded, which started this project; was inspired by him. Two of the songs were written about one of my former record producers. One was written about Michael’s eldest daughter and another one was written about how you never escape your mistakes in life. One was written about meeting my now ex-fiancé. And honestly, I won’t even say what the other song was written about (which would total twelve) because you would never believe it. “Deadly Sting” and “Haunted” were written and inspired by two totally different things and not the same person or thing at all. And I don’t believe in “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. That was not my approach here at all.
When you were working on this album, did you have a set sound in mind for each of the songs, or did you simply utilize your vocals to fit the music that was presented to you?
This project began because of a record producer who heard my first debut album in 2011 called Actress (produced by Kim Fowley) contacted me with an offer to sign me to his label if I could write him a new song that he liked. I proceeded to write and record six songs that he apparently loved and played for an A&R rep at a major record company, who said if I could get a music license for one of my songs- he would want to sign me and buy whomever out of whatever contract I had with them to get me. But, somehow when I kept delivering, they all abandoned me or were fired from their company, so I proceeded to create this album on my own. Again, all of these songs were written by me and Michael Sean Colin both musically and lyrically. No one presented me with a song and said, “Here, sing this.” for the first time in my career as a musical artist. This is the first album I am really proud to put my name on. That’s why it is simply titled, Victoria De Mare.
What do you want people to take from this release? What is your personal opinion of the album? Do you like how it turned out, or is there anything that you would change?
I want people to rock out and enjoy these songs as much as I do when I listen to them. This album was written and created at an extremely dark time in my life. One of the songs on the album was actually written in the literal dark (smiles.) One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Even in the darkest time…the lights must never go out…the music must always play.” This album was the light in that darkness for me and I love how it turned out. I feel like creating these songs was almost like an out-of-body experience. I don’t even know how they came out – they just did. And, all of these songs came from the soul.
Let’s talk a bit about the movies. You’ve worked with several directors and producers, from the great Roger Corman and of course; Charles Band among others. What do you think is your personal favorite role? What role of yours do you think that fans most admire? Do you have a favorite film?
I’ve worked with a ton of different directors so far in my career of over seventy film and TV productions. Roger was the executive producer of Slaughter Studios and DinoCroc, and Charlie produced Killjoy 3 & Killjoy Goes To Hell. I have two personal favorite roles – “Batty Boop” from the Killjoy series and another role that I can’t talk about yet because the film has not been released yet. I think the fans enjoy me best as Batty Boop & Sarah Ragdale from Werewolf In A Women’s Prison. I’ve actually been recognized in bars, grocery stores and at parties for my performance in Werewolf In A Women’s Prison, believe it or not. (grins.) But it is too hard to say which film is my “favorite” as I’ve loved working on them all.
Having worked on a quite a few bizarre underground and independent films, what is the strangest role that you’ve ever had? Can you talk a bit about it?
The strangest role I’ve ever had is actually the other one of my favorites that I can’t talk about yet because the film has not been released yet. Sorry. But, when it comes out, you will see why. Then I won’t have to explain it. [smiles]
You explained having filmed a few movies that no one has ever seen or were never finished, or never screened anywhere. Can you talk a little about these films? Do you think that they all had potential? And what were some of the reasons behind them never being released to the public? What is your honest reaction as an actress to putting your soul into these roles, only to have them never witnessed by a single human being?
Your job as an actor on a film exists only during the production time of the making of it. You have absolutely no control of what happens after you’ve been wrapped. Sometimes they run out of money. Sometimes they have technical difficulty and are destroyed or lost on a computer drive. Sometimes they never get distribution anywhere or are never accepted and screened at film festivals. A billion different things can happen. I think they all had potential and believe the ones that weren’t lost, etc. will eventually be released someday. In the summer of 2011, a film that that I was cast in and started working on in 1999 was finally released in theaters in Los Angeles. And when you work as an actor on set, dozens of human beings are witnessing your performance who are there to do their respective jobs before it goes into post-production and more human beings like editors and composers witness it, so I never worry about that.
Where will you go in the future? Would you like to see yourself in Hollywood, or perhaps on a major record label? Or do you enjoy working in the independent film scene?
I will continue to pursue accomplishing all my dreams & goals in the future. I will continue to work in Hollywood and write, record, produce, and release music as well as dance until my dying day. In January of 2013, all twelve of my songs from this album, Victoria De Mare were accepted into the Warner Bros Film and TV Music Catalogs. I have been auditioning for studio films (or films that were picked up and released by a studio like Paranormal Activity) for seven years now. And, I was cast in the upcoming drama/action film Chavez Cage of Glory opening in theaters nationwide September 13th, but I didn’t get the message in time and missed it, so my so-called “big break” is right around the corner. (smiles with anticipation.)
As a human being, what is your opinion of society? What do you think of the way that people live these days? How do you think things have changed since you were a child?
I believe society needs to understand that if we all focus on spreading love and happiness that we could literally heal all the problems of the world. But unfortunately, most people don’t believe or understand that a mass of pure, positive energy is powerful enough to do just that. And if you don’t believe it, it doesn’t work. Everyone on Earth should watch the documentary film The Quantum Activist. Since I was a kid, I have seen technology basically take over the world and people’s lives.