Twenty years after forming Kittie, vocalist Morgan Lander is still making noises within the metal scene. Lauded as one of the flagbearers for female metallers, the vocalist is currently running a horror movie podcast entitled the Witch Finger Horror Podcast and, more recently, teamed up with South African producer/songwriter Esjay and her band We Are Pigs. We caught up with Morgan to have a chat about the collaboration, her thoughts on the future of Kittie, and whether she thinks attitudes to women in metal are different in 2021.
Thanks for your time Morgan, how is life treating you at the moment?
Morgan Lander: “Not a problem at all! Life is pretty good right now, so I can’t complain. I have my health, and a few projects in the works, so there’s lots to look forward to when life is able to return to some form of normalcy!”
You’ve just teamed up with We Are PIGS for the brilliant “Moot.” Esjay approached you to collab, what made you want to do it?
“Thank you so much for your kind words about the song. All compliments should go to Esjay though, she is truly the powerhouse behind the track. Honestly, before I heard from Esjay, I had only seen a few things on Instagram with regards to the project, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It was really Esjay’s attitude and her track record that piqued my interest with the collaboration. After I heard the song and lived with it for a few days, I found myself humming the melody constantly and that’s when I knew it was something I should dedicate myself to. I’m so glad she asked me to be a part of it.”
She approached you after seeing the Kittie documentary. How does it feel even so long after you first formed Kittie, they’re still inspiring artists like Esjay?
“Honestly, it is a very strange and surreal feeling to know that something we started over 20 years ago still inspires people to create and push boundaries. It isn’t necessarily what we set out to do with the band, but it’s certainly been a wonderful side effect of the things we’ve done and accomplished over the years. And having that kind of impact is really the greatest reward after all we’ve been through.”
What was the whole collaboration like, especially during lockdown, and do you have any plans to do it again?
“Lockdown has been so weird, right? I have found that it’s made a lot of musicians and artists more creative and resourceful, making music in different ways and using more technology than they are used to, myself included. I feel like if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, Esjay would have been like ‘fly down here to track with me!’ because she’s just enthusiastic like that. But we had to work with what we were given because of the travel restrictions, so I ended up using my own meagre recording stuff here at home and sent my vocal tracks to Esjay to add to the song. So the collaboration was really just a lot of back and forth with texts and emails about lyrics and ideas, but when it came down to it, I was just like tell me what to sing, and I’ll do it! It was all really very easy and fun. The possibility for more tunes is something we are both entertaining!”
As we come out of lockdown and life returns to normal, what does the rest of the year hold in store for Morgan Lander?
“Well, I certainly hope to leave the house a bit more! Being able to record again with my Witch Finger Horror Podcast is high on the list, as is finishing up the vocals for the forthcoming Karkaos album, which will be my debut with the band. Maybe Esjay and I will be able to get together to perform ‘Moot’ at some point also! I just hope there is a lot of music and friends in my immediate future.”
Going back over 20 years now to the start, Kittie was seen as a groundbreaking band for “women in metal.” What was the toughest lesson you learned over the years as a “woman in metal?”
“It’s nice to hear that sentiment now, and I feel like time has changed a lot in terms of perspective on the band’s impact, because back then when we were in the midst of it all. We certainly didn’t feel groundbreaking, nor did the press and our critics. I suppose the hardest lesson I learned is that there are people who are going to judge you based on gender, even before they listen to your art, and there are people that aren’t going to like you because you’re a woman, without even giving the music a chance, and that’s a tough thing to grapple with.”
In recent months there have been some high-profile stories in the press regarding the likes of Marilyn Manson etc… Considering how you were seen as a band championing women in metal back in 2000, how do you feel in 2021 that we’re still having conversations about attitudes to women?
“I think as far as these specific types of conversations, it’s been a long time coming, and it’s great news that now more than ever women who have been victims of violence, sexual misconduct, and the like are feeling empowered and safe enough to speak up in the face of their abusers. Just about every woman has some story to tell and it’s important that those voices be heard.”
What advice would you give someone like Esjay from your own experiences?
“Never doubt yourself and your instincts and try and enjoy the ride. Also, don’t let anyone tell you ‘you can’t’ or ‘you shouldn’t’ because you can, and you should.”
On the flip side, it must be good for you to see artists like Esjay making their mark on the metal scene in 2021?
“Representation is so important in all forms of music, and metal is no different. I think we’ve made a lot of progress as far as accepting women in metal, not only as singers but as songwriters, engineers, producers, and the like. We still have a long way to go but seeing people like Esjay making her mark is inspiring.”
You’ve talked about the passing of Trish, along with everyone else moving on with their lives, including yourself. Especially with the passing of Trish, how does it feel from your point of view discussing the band in any form making a comeback or writing new music?
“Well Trish was a part of the band at the time of her passing, and so for me personally, losing a best friend and part of the band has obviously left a space that feels like it’d be tough to fill. For a long time it’s felt like it wouldn’t be right without our sister, but Kittie will always be alive in one form or another in myself, my sister and Tara, so the possibility of making new music isn’t out of the question but the timing and vibe would need to be right.”
Away from music you’ve got your Podcast The Witch Finger Horror Podcast. Can you tell us a bit about that?
“The podcast was started in 2016 by myself and two of my closest friends Megan and Yasmina. Most of our free time over weekends is spent watching hilariously bad ‘80s horror movies while laughing our guts out and having a few beers. We decided that we thought we were funny enough with our own commentary to put it out there for the world to laugh with us, and Witch Finger Horror Podcast was born. We cover mostly ‘80s and sometimes ‘90s horror movies, and the nostalgia is real. We offer up a lot of funny anecdotes and facts about the movies, so its also informative. It’s a wild, fun, and fairly explicit endeavour that we really enjoy!”
You said in a recent interview that you’re turning 40 next year. How does that feel considering it only seems like yesterday that Spit was coming out?
“It feels weird! I remember being 12 years old and thinking ‘Wow I am going to be 18 in the year 2000 that’s so old’ and here I am over 20 years on from that. I think there is unfortunately way too much emphasis put on age, especially in the media, and 40 feels like life is just getting started. I’m certainly the most happy and comfortable in my own skin that I’ve ever been so I am grateful for the wisdom and peace that age brings. I love myself and my body, and the person I’ve become. There is a lot of creativity left in me. In looking back to the Spit days, it’s hard to identify with the angry, insecure person I was then but I do remember how she felt and that fire still lives in me, although I do feel much wiser and more stable these days.”
Thanks for your time Morgan. Just to finish, if 40-year-old Morgan met 20-year-old Morgan, what is the one piece of advice you would give her?
“Don’t take things so seriously!”