Queen Cult is a rock band based in Macclesfield, Cheshire, formed by lead vocalist and guitarist Maisie Johnson, with Brodie Carson on drums and Piers Jarvis on bass.
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We were lucky enough to chat with Maisie, who told us all about their journey as a band from Macclesfield to performing all around the UK. As well as being a queer front woman of a rock band and striving to connect with their audience.
Read on if, like us, you want to learn more about Maisie and Queen Cult.
Can you tell us a little about the history of the band? When did you decide to start a band? Why the name Queen Cult?
Well, it’s definitely been a journey for us. The line-up has changed over the years, mostly down to COVID-19 altering many people’s lives! It started with me and Leila, of whom I am still very good friends with! We started at the back end of 2018 over a conversation about wanting to see more femme and queer people represented in music. The identity of the band has since changed, however, this band still has ME, a femme queer person in it!
I absolutely love that all circumstances brought me to Pi and Brodie. I love me fellas 🙂 Queen Cult as a name? I honestly can’t directly remember exactly now, but I think it speaks for itself.
What are some of your artistic influences?
All three of us have very eclectic music tastes, Brodie drawing influence from a lot of metal but earliest probably Bonham. Piers loves a bit of everything, there’s nothing that man doesn’t like. From a songwriting perspective, I’d say I take it from everywhere. Stylistically speaking I grew up on a lot of Aerosmith, Foo Fighters, Queens of The Stone Age, and Jeff Buckley, but also a lot of pop.
How did your journey with music start?
I was hitting pots n pans from a young age and liked to dance a lot. Drums became my first instrument at 13 then I started writing music and playing guitar/singing at 15. Pi was also a drummer first and Brodie funnily enough was a guitarist!
You’ve been making music together for years now. What is your creative process like, and how did it evolve through the years?
It always stems from me going into a three-day musical hole, where I obsess over a song I’m writing. I arrange it then take it to our studio to work up with Piers and Brodie, where we can lock parts in, humanise it and try out different arrangement ideas, essentially tightening everything up.
Can you talk to us about your new single Sneaky Freaque?
Ahh yes! Sneaky Freaque was the first ever Queen Cult song I wrote. So we wanted to pay homage to releasing it whilst we work on new stuff for 2024. We have opened every single set ever on Sneaky Freaque so it felt nice to just get it out of our system. It’s naively written, but I think that gives it a charm! So I like to think! Hahah
You’ve self-produced and recorded it in your hometown. How important is it for you as an artist to have creative freedom and to be able to record and produce music on your own?
The most important. Something that has always been valued for us is to maintain creative control and work hard at our craft. We’ve co-written in the past and currently co-produce most of our records, which works best for us. With Sneaky freaque specifically, it’s so embedded that it was very straightforward for us to take full control of recording it. And there is every chance we will do this again with a single/album in the future.
Your music is very politically charged with songs like ‘Show & Tell’, ‘A Song About Consent’ and ‘Woman That I Know’. Do you believe it is essential to speak out on those issues as queer artists?
Super essential. I’ll highlight that the first EP was in fact specifically very politically charged, I think due to so much happening during a time when we felt helpless with lockdown in the way of it all. It kinda accentuated EVEN further how excruciatingly painful it was to see the world falling apart. Seems in this current climate it’s doing its rounds again.
Being part of the LGBTQIA+ is in itself a form of non-conformism, of questioning the mainstream societal norms. Did you want Queen Cult to represent that aspect of the community?
100% I mean, as a queer woman fronting a band with two hetero-male members who are allies, it can sometimes feel harder to get that across to people.
You’re getting increasing recognition in the industry, are you afraid, at all, to lose some creative independence?
Thank you for acknowledging this! Sometimes it’s hard to see how far you’ve come if you don’t look back and take stock of what we’ve achieved as a band. We are super proud of what we have done over the last 3 years of being active again since COVID-19. And there’ve been some setbacks, as many bands face, but the hunger has never escaped us. As for creative independence, I have every faith that we do what we do well because we’ve worked hard for it. And if we were ever to go on further or to be in a position of privilege within the industry (aka get a record deal or any form of funding for that matter), that we had got there because of the years of craft and dedication. I would never let anyone manipulate or take that away from us.
How did you experience COVID-19 and lockdown as a band, and how does it feel to perform in front of an audience today?
I’ve probably touched on this above! But it was certainly ropey to navigate! I think every band one way or another went through this!! Performing is always so much fun, we love meeting new people and making that connection with the audience, we often break the fourth wall and just get in there and all have a good time!
You’ve begun your journey in a rather small town, and now you’re performing all around the country, does it ever feel overwhelming?
It feels like we’re well out of the action at times, which definitely has its pros and cons, our town is very much a base for us. And being able to travel up and down the country is so much fun, again for meeting people from all walks of life and forever learning and educating yourself as you experience it!
Can you name a few artists that we could find on your 2023 playlist?
Ooo many! We have a few friends to name a few: Currls, Snayx, The Menstrual Cramps, TASH, Brave Liaison and that’s just to name a few!
What does the future have in store for you?
We hope to get some music out this year that feels the truest to us at this point, a slightly heavier direction. And to gig everywhere honestly, some multi-artist queer nights, but also some headline shows, and it would be a TREAT to be able to support some big bands this year. We’d really love that opportunity!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions!
It’s been a pleasure, thank you for having us! 🙂
We hope you enjoyed our interview with Maisie, we sure did. If you want to discover more queer artists, check out our interview with XANA.
Love Team Nonchalant xx
Last Updated on 19th December 2023 by Nonchalant Magazine