Marya Roxx - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Tuesday, 12 January 2010 20:08



The journey to Hard Rock Hell has been an interesting one for Marya Roxx to say the least. As Maarja Kivi, she twice participated in Eurolaul, the Estonian Eurovision pre-selection contest; the second time as a member of all girl band Vanilla Ninja. The band would go on to represent Switzerland in the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest but this came a year after Maarja had left the band to find her true path....


......a path that would lead her to California and a collaboration with 'The Caveman', legendary producer Kevin Shirley. The '21?!' EP blew a few cobwebs away here at ÜRHQ and the long-awaited album 'Payback Time', for which a number of additional songs have recently been recorded, threatens to shake the foundations.


Über Röck caught up with Marya as she prepared herself for her performance at the Hard Rock Hell 3 festival in North Wales last month....



You've been on tour in the UK - how have you found it? Wet?maryaroxxint


Yeah, it has been really fun, though we've had some trouble with our van - the first gig, it almost burned down! There were some wiring problems and we only got out at the last minute so that was really funny, although we were really happy that it broke down really near to the club we were playing at, the Engine Rooms in Brighton, so we just walked!


Ironic that your van would blow when you were heading to a place called the Engine Rooms?!


Yeah, it was crazy! Then we switched the van and that one broke down also but I guess third time is a charm because our new van is holding up until now...fingers crossed!


Speaking of venues, how are you finding the HRH site which is, in actual fact, a holiday camp?


It's very cool. I have been here before when I played Hammerfest and I really like it here because it is kind of a community thing; people stay here, they get to enjoy themselves, they don't have to drive anywhere, they can drink and have some fun and see a lot of bands which I would enjoy also.


1amaryaintBefore we came to HRH, I mentioned to a friend of mine who is obsessed with Euro Pop and Eurovision that I was gonna be interviewing you and he amazed me by recalling songs from your time in Vanilla Ninja completely off the top of his head. Are you happy to talk about those times or are they something that you've left behind now that you are playing this kind of music?


The thing is, yeah, I've left it behind. I mean, like, I don't care but it's a past thing so I don't usually talk too much about it.


So, tell us how you made the move from Europe to California to reinvent yourself as a rock singer....


I guess it's just a part of growing up and finding yourself, finding what you really want to do. California is the right place to do hard rock and metal and I met the right people who have helped me figure myself out, what I would like to be as an artist. So, California is the place I wanted to be long term, I guess.


Would you say that you've always been into heavier music and the work with your previous band was a career move of its time and now you are getting out the music that you always wanted to make?


Yeah, I would say that. I was always listening to harder stuff, basically thrash metal and reallyroxx crazy stuff, so I basically got a lot of influence from that.


So who were your biggest influences?


One of them that I would point out are Mushroomhead - pretty hardcore. Clawfinger are one of my favourites too. The song of theirs that I chose to do was special to me - 'Nothing Going On' has never been released in the US so I kinda took the honour to introduce people there to Clawfinger. Hopefully people will look it up and get to know them too.


One thing that I find is that female metal singers rarely cite other female singers as major influences, they generally always name male metal voices. Would you say that your main influences as a frontperson would be all male or would you throw some females in there?


Overall, I kind of like to be my own person. Y'know, voice-wise everyone is so different and you can't really imitate anybody or everybody - it would be stupid really (laughs). I have a lot of people who I admire and, yeah, most of them would be male but when I was younger I listened to a German band called Guano Apes who had a female singer and they were awesome. Her name is Sandra Nasic and she has an awesome, powerful voice, knows what to do with it and also, at the same time, knows when to draw it back and do some nice harmonies and I really admired that.


11maryauseJust how did you become involved with the producer Kevin Shirley?


I actually met Kevin a few years before we worked together and I decided to do my new material with him. He introduced me to a lot of people including my current band member Paul Crook who really got into it and we get along really well. Musically, we understand each other really well.


It must have been very exciting for you to go to California, maybe a little naïve as an artist, and then suddenly find yourself working with Kevin Shirley, Paul Crook and people like Joey Vera who also contributed to your recordings, people with vast experience. Were you at all daunted?


I guess at first I didn't know what to expect, maybe a little intimidated too, because they are.....ummm....


Hardened? Road animals?!1maryause


....yeah! Very hardened and they have knowledge being older and experienced in music and everything. But they turned out to be a nice bunch of guys and we just had fun, a ball, doing the studio work and now we're having a ball doing performances together and it has been really awesome that they took me as an equal which was really nice to do.


So who is in the band right now?


Aside from Paul, there's Scott Metaxas on bass who was in the studio with me too and on drums is Jim Roe who is one of Paul's old friends from Jersey. He has a hardcore metal band called Engorge. He's awesome on drums, playing with bare feet and no shirt with double bass all the time and he's like "aargggghhh!!!!!"



Do you think that since working with Meat Loaf and doing the 'We Will Rock You' show working with you is Paul Crook's chance to get back to playing the real metal stuff again?


Yeah, I think so. Maybe it reminds him of the older days or, how should I put it, the crazy days when he was younger. Maybe I remind him of himself a little bit, I'm this kind of crazy person, really strong willed with my own opinions. I don't let people, as I would say, 'sit on my head' with their opinions and be too pushy because I know what I want and, probably, Paul just values it and that's why he likes to be around me and, hopefully, it is a compliment as a singer and he appreciates my singing too.


12maryauseAt Über Röck we waste precious time here on this planet by laughing at Gig From Hell tales told to us by bands. Do you have any horror stories, even from the forgotten days, when something has gone horrifically wrong onstage?


Onstage, usually I don't mind if anything happens, I'm kinda used to it. I just roll with the punches - the show must go on, y'know, no matter what. But it's like after or before the show; vans breaking down and stuff. It's the middle of the night and we're driving and it's freezing outside in Germany and the van breaks down and we're waiting for another one to arrive, but it isn't like the time I mentioned earlier when we were near to our gig, we're stuck in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere and it's like "Oh my God!" because it was really cold too. That was a horrible one!


When you play a festival like HRH do you find it a good challenge when playing to a crowd of people who haven't necessarily come to see you? Being a female fronting a band and, if you don't mind me saying, a good looking female and you find a load of balding 50 year old men dressed as Vikings staring at you, do you find it more of a challenge to win them over with the music rather than have them just looking at you?


Yeah, I also believe in getting people to like you for who you are, your personality, your stage persona, your voice and skills as a performer. I would definitely prefer that. That's why I would never consider ever posing anywhere half naked or something like that, for me it is a definite no-no because that is when people stop taking you seriously. It is stupid to play with that, especially as a female you have to know your steps, how to do it, how to get respect from2maryause people. I don't believe in stripping down and going "Oh, look at me" and that's the only thing that people notice, right? So, yeah, I would prefer if people would really listen to my music first and then if they say "Oh, she's good looking too...."'s a bonus!


Yeah, exactly!!


Are there any other bands on the HRH bill that you are particularly looking forward to seeing?


I've always liked W.A.S.P. and I like Queensryche. Maybe I'll want to check out Lauren Harris....


Check out the competition?


Yeah, you have to keep the competition really close to you (laughs).


So, what's on your iPod these days? What are you listening too right now?


1amaryaRight now I'm really loving the new stuff by older bands; Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam. Loads of bands have released albums that I like, it has been an awesome year, I think. A weird one would be The Prodigy - I just appreciate a different kind of alternative music, I guess. I appreciate different kinds of music, ones that are really 'out there', edgier kinds of music.


Are you prepared for every other interviewer to solely ask you about being a female singer? I've tried not to dwell on it but are you prepared for everyone else to just talk about that all the time?!


I am. I'm like, I'm not gonna try to pretend that's not an issue when most of them are guys around me but I'm hoping that people just get to know me and see that you can take me as one of the guys really...


You're a singer and not a female singer, yeah?


That's how the guys in the band take me actually, they're like "Oh, you're just one of the guys."



Huge thanks to Marya and all the cool people in her camp for arranging this Über interview. Check back later this week for another exclusive as Matt Phelps talks to guitarist Paul Crook.