During the break Madame Torment took, what did the original members do?
Elsa: After two of the original members left, Erin and I had to re-evaluate the goals of the band, and also find members that are more matching to us. We do not want to waste time by just finding replacement members, and losing our sight of what we wanted for Madame Torment. The break was much needed. In the meantime, I decided to go back to Singapore (where I was born and raised) for about 5 months, to rediscover myself, and also to re-explore the country and the ones surrounding it.
Erin: While Elsa was in Singapore I was still heavily involved in music, but had left Madame Torment on the back burner. I didn't know what would happen with the band, and without Elsa around, I mostly focused on myself, school and work. But, considering Madame Torment was so precious to me, I never lost sight of my goals and dreams for the band. I continued to write songs, and look for new members and brew ideas. Once we had new prospects in mind, everything started coming back together. Elsa came back, and we got right to work.
Since the new lineup was comprised, have you run into any troubles working together?
Elsa: Other than scheduling conflicts, which will happen to anyone even if you're not in a band, we don't have any "serious" troubles. The cool thing about us is that, if we have any issues that Erin & I (being the co-founders, we lead this band) feel might get serious if we do not talk about it, we will discuss it on our private group page immediately.
Communication is the key to all relationships, and that is the same in a band's relationship. If you think having a boyfriend/girlfriend is sometimes hard, try working with 3 or 4 other people to make a band relationship work. So, naturally, little petty disagreements will occur but as long as we don't just sweep it under the rug, all "troubles" can be solved.
What—in your opinion—is the best part about being an all-female rock group?
Elsa: I truly love the surprise gifts, dry jokes, makeup/fashion tips sharing, glitter, some tears, a lot of giggles, and all the things that if you're in a guy band or in a band with guys, you might have to suppress. To top it off, we can still kick ass together, as ladies! So, it is really the best feeling in the world to be in an all-female rock group!
Erin: There are so many great aspects to being in an all female band! Most assume it's a lot of drama/work, but it isn't. We empower and inspire other women to do great things just by being ourselves, which is a huge. Not to mention we can relate to one another and offer advice on a more personal emotional level without judgements. We understand each others female frustrations and empathize. It's basically a sisterhood. But we rock.
Ashley: Being in this band has afforded me the chance to get to know and look into the hearts of each member and learn that we all came from "different sides of the street" yet we all faced tremendous amounts of adversity one would hear about in movies, books, and even school courses. The fact that we can still come back from all of it and band together to play music is what lets me know that I'm not simply playing alongside females, but I'm very fortunate to be in a real rock group that works very hard for what we have.
What are certain advantages and disadvantages you’ve discovered from being an all-female rock group?
Ashley: I noticed that the only advantage I found was from what's happening internally in the band. When I need help with anything going on in my life or can't seem to go about a project for the band, I turn to them. It's good to have other smart ladies to help me get things done. We also trade knick-knacks and clothes whenever the opportunity presents itself. In the public eye; we push for everyone (critics and fans alike) to treat us and give us chances based on our music and marketing in general. We like to be seen as a band for what we do and play. We don't let disadvantage into our world.
Erin: Of course being a musician in general can be a long, hard journey. But, I will say, being in an all female band hasn't made that journey any easier. Admitted or not, there are still sexist issues when it comes to rock n' roll acceptance. We are infiltrating a boys' club, so of course, there will be some controversy involved. But I don't let any of that drag me down, and neither do the rest of the girls. We are confident in what we do, and it shows. When you get up on stage, playing songs you put your heart and soul into, all the stereotypes and sexist thoughts just fall away. I don't think about being a woman, I just soak up the magic of being on stage, and in complete control. Guitar in hand, and electricity flowing through my veins. It's a great feeling. We don't let the advantages or disadvantages control us, we just focus on being ourselves, and following our dreams.
What was the highlight of 2014 for Madame Torment?
Elsa: Releasing the Wicked Bitch of the West EP, played the Portland's Rose Festival, opening up for bands we admire, and also producing our very first music video... All that in 2014! :)
Ashley: My highlight of 2014 was when we opened up for Richie Ramone at the Tonic Lounge. I only say that from my personal perspective. When Erin told us that show was booked it was like I was 14 years old all over again and I could've done a backflip. I'm certain she enjoyed my reaction as much as I enjoyed the news. It was an incredible show and even the week leading to it was a blast because we recorded our EP in the studio and had back-to-back shows in the weekend, ending with Richie Ramone.
Annelise: Well for one, The Tillicum (Beaverton, OR) was a super fun first gig to play with MT because of how we packed that little spot to the point of minimal walking room. Not to mention it scared the crap out of me in a sense, being that it was my first gig on a rhythm guitar. In general, though, I'd say MT has accomplished so much this year that I'd say that in itself is a great highlight.
How do you interact with your fan-base?
Ashley: We keep in mind that we live in a "digital world" now. The websites are always as neat and as updated as possible and each of us take the initiative to share and interact with fans online. We offer and promote online ticket sales to upcoming events and encourage meet-and-greets to check us out via YouTube/Facebook/Twitter/Reverbnation/Madametorment.wix.com and more. We want our fans to access us wherever the latest online hotspot is. In person, the hype rings true as each of us works on our chemistry to keep fans intrigued and entertained. We're still ahead of the times and are always taking new steps to bring the future of Rock n' Roll to the masses.
Annelise: With power!
How do you plan to expand your fan-base in 2015?
Erin: I can honestly say this band is made up of extremely creative women. We are constantly thinking of innovative, and interesting ways to gain new fans. Of course the best way to gain new fans is by playing LIVE and going on tour, but if you don't have the resources to go on tour, there are several other avenues. Using all our digital avenues is one of our strong suits. From free song downloads, to posting fun/silly pictures to IG, to making sure our website looks unique and exciting (Thanks to Elsa) or asking friends and family to share our info, we are constantly grabbing the attention of new people. One of the most important things I've learned, is that people like NEW. New, shiny, pretty things for our fans to enjoy, helps ensure that more will pay attention. New songs, new pictures, new merch, all of it is a great tactic for keeping your band looking fresh and vibrant. We hope to expand our fan base by using a mixture of digital promotion, good ol' fashion word of mouth, and playing new places.
What are Madame Torment’s goals for 2015?
Erin: Our most important goal at the moment, is expanding our fan base, getting ourselves out there, and spreading our music all over the world. Even in a digital era, people still want to see you LIVE (which is a big part of our draw anyhow) and see how it compares to studio sound. So, we really need to physically get ourselves out there by touring. The first step is doing a short west coast tour this Summer/Fall. You never know who will discover you when out touring! It's a great way to pick up new fans and make new contacts.
What stereotypes and prejudices have you had to overcome as an all-female rock group?
Elsa: It's funny that some people in this modern world are still shocked to see an all-female rock band, and that we truly write our own songs and play our own instruments. That is just pure ignorance on their part because there are so many successful female musicians out there that are doing this. The best is to prove these naysayers wrong by actually working hard on your part as a musician, it doesn't matter if you're female or male. You've got to do it well, in whatever you do.
Where do you see Madame Torment being in terms of rock success by this time 2016?
Erin: It's hard to say. None of us can see the future (Tarot card readings is as close as it gets!) but we are all invested, confident, sassy, smart and talented women, and when you put all of that together, I'd like to think great things are in store for us. The three main things we desperately want to happen for this band is a record deal, to go on a national tour, and to open up for a national act at an arena style venue.Madison Square Garden anyone? We will keep working hard, progressing as a band, and envisioning our dreams. Hopefully 2016 will bring amazing things.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Elsa: Know the difference between constructive criticism and insult. You might be surprised that sometimes, your own family members will be your dream killer. Just keep your eye on the goal. The universe listens! Thank you so much for your well thought out questions!
Zoe Adler is a music journalist from Long Beach, California. Besides her website, which is her pride and joy, she works with the GRAMMY Foundation and the Long Beach Independent. Additionally, Ms. Adler is a musician, spending half of her time playing the flute, piccolo, trombone, and marching baritone. She has been with TeenView Music since the very start and hopes to make something of it in the future.