5. LIKE A VILLAIN
FORMED: Made her first recording in 2008.
SOUNDS LIKE: A congregation of umlauts—Björk meets Arvo Pärt at Steve Reich’s synagogue.
Like a Villain’s Holland Andrews scares children. At least, the scant video evidence seems to bear this out. A torrent of operatic wails from Andrews during an outdoor May Day performance sent a wobbly 3-year-old running for the nearest high ground.
“I like to think that the sheer raw power of my screaming emotions blew her away and terrified her,” Andrews says. “‘Daddy, I don’t want to grow up like that!’”
And sure, the title track of her upcoming album, Bast—the name of the Egyptian cat goddess—was inspired by a deep-throated, wailing Diamanda Galas piece that the notoriously frightening singer performs naked while bathed in blood. But Andrews—shy in manner and, on a recent rainy afternoon, a bit under the weather—says her solo project is geared toward healing.
“Some people see me acting like a freak and screaming and getting on my knees, and they can find some inspiration in that,” she says. “I’m an emotional person. I’d like to hope I’m not the only emotional person ever.”
The 25-year-old started making her own music in California as a teenager, when she got her first Mac computer, after previous time as a clarinetist for her high-school band and, tellingly, as a musical-theater nerd.
Like a Villain has developed into a study in dynamics—simple parts that build into storms. Andrews constructs her songs live with nothing but a clarinet, a glockenspiel and a series of loop, delay and reverb pedals—and, of course, the power of her own formidable voice. Her songs build from woodwind, chime and simple lyrics, looped around to reach crescendos that sometimes come on like a breaking wave. “You’re worth more than what you know,” Andrews belts, and the feeling is somewhere between a squishy therapy session and a desperate howl into the abyss. Her songs are a cathartic game of emotional catch-and-release.
She’s neck-deep into recording her much-delayed new album with producer Mike Erwin, and has commissioned sounds from her own bandmates in AU and from members of Typhoon, at one point asking 10 friends to stand in a bowling alley parking lot singing, “We are never going to die!”
It isn’t true, of course. But the whole point is making you believe it, if only for a moment. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.