Taboo—An Interview With Baphomette

By Alice Vinta

Baphomette, a musical project driven by the Toronto-based Jordana Schmeiser, explores themes of Satanism, the occult, and queerness by blending gruesome lyrics with smooth vocals and folk-inspired ukulele. Her most recent EP, October ‘15’s Satanic Panic (available on her Bandcamp) also features University of Toronto students/graduates Tristan Schultz and Andrew Slate. Jordana is planning on attending Seneca College in order to study independent music production and has been a vocal figure within the Toronto music community on topics such as promoter and venue responsibility.

Demo Magazine: What are you musical influences? 

Baphomette: My influences include all kinds of bands and musicians, ranging from Iron Maiden to Elliott Smith to Joanna Newsom and beyond! I like to draw inspiration from sources that don’t necessarily blend together on their own, because that helps me form my own unique sound that incorporates them all in some capacity.

DM: What music are you loving right now?

B: You can probably tell by looking at my website and various social media pages, but I love the aesthetic of Norwegian black metal. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure because I know that a lot of the people behind this sub-genre can be beyond problematic, but I try my best to separate the art from the artists in this case. Some bands I really dig include Windir, 1349, Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, and despite the fact that I’m super embarrassed to admit that I listen to him, Burzum.

DM: What is your typical process in creating an album or a song; does it come together quickly and then get refined, or is it a longer more methodical process? 

B: My creative process is a case-by-case scenario. Sometimes I start with words, sometimes with chord progressions, and other times with melodies. For my lyrics, I always keep a long list of words and phrases that I like, so if I’m struggling to articulate myself or find a rhyme for another lyric, I refer to that list to help me out. I’d say I’m usually very methodical with my songwriting, but there are exceptions to that rule. I have songs that I’ve finished in one day (for example, my song “Nordica”), while there are other songs that have evolved over the course of a year or longer (like another track of mine, “Blood Sister”).

DM: On Satanic Panic, there’s this really interesting mix between the smoothness of your voice and the stringed instruments, including the use of your ukulele, with images of cannibalism and satanism.  How did this unique mix of sounds and images, all of them seemingly or traditionally opposed, evolve? 

B: To be honest, it all started when I came up with the persona of Baphomette. I began to write some lyrics around it, but quickly realized that I don’t make particularly rowdy music to match the disturbing lyrics I came up with. So I thought, why not work with what I have (a theatrically trained singing voice and a ukulele) then juxtapose them with the dark words I’ve written? I kind of rolled with that thought, and that’s how Satanic Panic came into fruition.

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Album art for Satanic Panic

DM: What draws you to write your music about the occult? What is it about satanism as a theme that inspires your music? 

B: After I thought up my stage name, I decided to do some research on the satanic deity it’s inspired by, and I found the religion really interesting! I wouldn’t call myself a Satanist (in fact, I identify very strongly with my Jewish heritage), but I would say that I’m moderately knowledgeable on and fascinated by the teachings of the Satanic church.

DM: Your songs also use a lot of imagery and ideas from things that are considered taboo.  This includes teenage queerness, which is very refreshing to see represented. The song, Blood Sister, can be interpreted as being about both queer love and also friend love. What do you think is the importance of queer love representation in music? 

B: I’m all about taboos! “Blood Sister” [the second song on SP] was loosely inspired by my first relationship, which was with someone I met at summer camp when I was fourteen years old. Although no blood pacts were actually performed in real life, we had a very deep bond as friends and as romantic partners. I think that explicitly discussing queer love in music is super important, because I find that a lot of songs don’t specify whether they’re queer or not, instead leaving them ambiguous and open for interpretation. While that approach works well for some, I think that it’s equally important to express LGBT+ romance more outwardly, because the world needs to know that these songs have the same validity as ones that are explicitly about straight love.

DM: What do you think makes a great venue? 

B: Besides the technical aspects (sound, lighting, etc), I think what makes a venue awesome is the general atmosphere. My favourite music venue in the world is Massey Hall because, despite being a large space, it feels so intimate!

DM: When are your next shows happening?

B: I’m actually in the process of planning a quarterly cabaret-style event, starting on April 1st of this year! More details (including the venue) will be available in the near future.

 

Photo Credit: Ross Thomson/Facebook

Full Disclosure: The author of this article designed the album art for Baphomette’s Satanic Panic

 

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