Beyond the Boys’ Club is a monthly column from journalist and radio host Anne Erickson, focusing on women in the heavy music genres, as they offer their perspectives on the music industry and discuss their personal experiences. This month’s piece features an interview with Tatiana Shmayluk of Jinjer.
Jinjer’s brand of metal offers a spectrum of heavy sounds, from aggressive riffs and rhythms to vocals that switch between deep growls and melodic singing on a dime.
This year, the Ukrainian band released a new EP and album, Micro and Macro, respectively, and recently wrapped up a tour of North America. Jinjer are currently touring Europe, and next year, vocalist Tatiana Shmayluk hopes the band will continue to “grow and prosper.”
During a recent tour stop, Shmayluk spoke with Heavy Consequence for the latest “Beyond the Boys’ Club” column, discussing the musicians who inspired her, rejecting the pressure to be “sexier”, Jinjer’s new releases, and more. Read the full interview below.
On woman taking control and having power in music and beyond
When I’m on the stage, I try to encourage women, and not only on the metal stage — for any music. I haven’t felt oppressed. And I think women should go outside and do bigger things than just standing onstage and performing. There are a lot of things. Our voice matters. But, for me … I don’t understand what it is to be a female vocalist, though. If you are a vocalist, you are a vocalist, man or woman. You are a singer.
On rebelling against the idea that women in metal music have to be overly sexual to gain a following
They told me once, when I was first doing this, that I should be sexier than I am and more feminine. They told me once that I should have bigger boobs! So, that’s why I wear boyish outfits and consider myself a tomboy. That was my rebellion about this idea that whatever you sing or play, metal or popular music, you should be a sex bomb. That’s stupid.
On the advice she would give young people looking to get into music
First of all, you don’t have to be models or whatever you think you should be, because you should be you. You don’t have to undress or expose your body in front of other people just to be a metal singer and just to get their attention. Just make the emphasis on your voice. Make it great, and then everybody will love you and appreciate you for your singing or playing, if you want to be a guitar player or drummer or other instrumentalist. Pay less attention to your own appearance, and don’t try to please anyone with your appearance.
On her early musical influences
My father and brother were my first influences. They taught me how to play guitar when I was 11. My father was a bass player when he was young, and he also played several other instruments. My brother brought a lot of music to our home, and I started from rock music, really Russian rock. I started listening to metal and rock and grunge and punk rock later on.
On the first American bands she remembers hearing
When I heard Nirvana, I was blown away, and I am still a big fan of that band. Then, I heard Alice in Chains and The Offspring, and they really inspired me so much. When I was 12 or 13, I was a huge fan of The Offspring. I would sit back at home and put on headphones and listen to The Offspring and visualize myself being on the stage. I did it thousands of times — every evening. Eventually, I would fall asleep to it. It’s amazing, and that’s why I’m here right now, performing music on stages, because I really, really wanted it to happen. Apart from making efforts, I visualized it.
On her onstage persona
I think I’m a different person onstage. My singing demands a lot of energy, and I need to move physically and then sing and hit every note. It’s quite exhausting! Sometimes I think I should just scream, and that would be much easier. I could dance on the stage and be an absolute wild animal on the stage and be super energetic. But, nope! Or, sometimes I think, maybe I should go for clean vocals only and singing with my microphone stand and not moving at all. (Laughs) I think I’m a different person on the stage; it’s my alter ego.
On her favorite songs to perform live of the band’s Micro EP and Macro album
Because Macro is [new] … it’s hard to say what song I prefer more. For Micro, I love performing “Perennial” and “Ape.” First of all, I think [“Ape”] is something I can deliver right into your face. Because ape is a metaphor or another name for a human being, I love singing it on the stage to huge amounts of humans who once were apes, and try to deliver the message that we are all spiritual beings — so stop being greedy and let this world spin. With “Perennial”, it happens that right now is a fall season, and this song is about it.
On the band’s strong US fanbase and what she loves about coming to the States and playing shows
The way I see the American public and audience is that they are so ready to hear something new. They’re not those people who stick to old-school metal, and that’s it. Right from the start, we had big fanbase in the U.S., even not having played here. They are crazy in the head, and that’s what I like about them! They are weird and crazy and adorable and loud.
On the difference between playing shows in the US and elsewhere in the world
There’s not much difference. Metalheads are metalheads, but in southern parts of the world, for example in South Africa, they are thirsty there, because of the geographical position or whatsoever, they are waiting for you with open arms, and they are going nuts there, because it’s not that often that bands come to play there. I think in South America, the bands come through once or twice a year, so they have more bands coming through there. I find that in the U.S. and U.K., the audience is very progressive and open-minded.
On her hopes for the future of Jinjer
My biggest hope is that we won’t stop. We won’t quit. I’m sure every musician in his or her career, maybe once a year or even once a day, thinks, “I quit. I cannot do this anymore. Why do I do this? I’m sure they have a head full of those doubts. But, I hope that positive attitude will overcome those doubts and negativity.
Our thanks to Tatiana Shmayluk for taking the time to speak with us for “Beyond the Boys’ Club”. Jinjer’s Micro EP and Macro album are both available for order, while the band’s tour dates can be seen here.