Taking their name from a ritual structure in the Zoroastrian religion used to dispose of the dead and comprised of members with backgrounds as varied as black metal, psychedelic and classical, Daxma have just released their debut full length The Head Which Becomes the Skull. And as expected from their pedigree, it’s a broad-stroke of genius that recalls the likes of SubRosa and Godspeed You! Black Emperor as much as it does some of doom’s heaviest hitters. Big shoes to fill indeed but this five-piece decidedly delivers and then some. The album is centered around the journey of one’s soul from birth to death and listening through these six songs there’s a definite arc to the nearly 50 minutes of emotional and stunningly immersive soundscapes. We recently had the opportunity to ask Jessica T. and Kelly D. our Profile questions so head inside to see what they had to say.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the success that you hoped?
Jessica (violin, guitar, vocals): I started playing piano when I was 4, and violin when I was 8. My goals with music have always been to just keep exploring, growing, and improving. Playing with DAXMA is a dream come true for me, to make music that I genuinely love with people that I love. Any success we have as a band is just icing on the cake.
Kelly (bass, vocals): I’m just happy to be playing music at all. I learned to play piano and guitar when I was a kid and always wanted to play in a band, but life got in the way for a long time. It wasn’t until our bandmate, Isaac, asked me to pick up bass for DAXMA a couple years ago that my goal was actualized. I’ll always be grateful for this experience and, like Jessica said, any success is just icing.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
J & K: We don’t know if this qualifies as “debasing” but our first live gig was pretty awkward. For our very first show, we joined a random lineup of bands that were definitely not metal bands, they were more indie rock – the kinds of bands that brought their own decorative rugs to the show, and played out of tiny combo amps. We played at a now defunct dive bar in San Jose, to a crowd of about 5 people. Once we started playing, we were so loud that most of those 5 people walked out. The only people who were really into us at that gig were the sound person and the bartender.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
J & K: While there are a lot of amazing women in metal doing rad things, it’s still a fairly male dominated genre, and unfortunately there’s a good deal of misogyny that accompanies that. This can be incredibly frustrating. That being said, the Bay Area metal community is pretty inclusive, which is awesome.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
J & K: As a band we are firmly against hierarchical systems of oppression such as capitalism, nationalism, racism, sexism, and totalitarianism. We want our music and lyrics to inspire people to be less complacent, to not just hashtag something and throw some new frame on their profile picture, but actually take meaningful action against injustice.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
K: I’m not sure that my mom fully understands what metal is. I think the first metal band I heard was Motörhead when I was 10 or 11. So thanks, Lemmy!
J: I started listening to Metallica in high school and Iron Maiden in college. From there, I got obsessed with Mastodon’s “Blood Mountain” and “Crack the Skye.” I didn’t find doom metal until my 20’s, but at that point I thought to myself, “Now THIS is my jam.” Like Kelly, I don’t think my parents fully understand what metal is, but they sure are proud of me and will tell anyone who will listen about my “metal project.” It’s adorable.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
J & K: We love when music outlets shine a spotlight on lesser known bands, and are really passionate about serving the underground scene. So thank you again, we really appreciate your interest in us!
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
K: I’d definitely be into starting a cult, now that you mention it. The Bay Area needs
another good cult.
J: Yeah but why stop there. The obvious next step after starting a cult is moving on to world domination.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
K: Bell Witch’s new one “Mirror Reaper.” I’m not the only one in the band obsessing over it right now. “All Bitches Die” by Lingua Ignota is another one I keep coming back to these days, and so is “Teethed Glory and Injury” by Altar of Plagues.
J: Currently spinning “Horizonless” by Loss on repeat. Also been listening to a lot of Elephant Tree lately. I’ve been obsessed with the song “Iron Moon” by Chelsea Wolfe. For whatever reason, I’ve also had the melodic theme from the Introduction in Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances stuck in my head lately. Random.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
J & K: Curmudgeons.
Many thanks to Jessica and Kelly for their time!