Lead vocalist for The Hallowed Catharsis and Expain, Leda Paige, was able to sit down and chat with me about Vancouver’s local music scene and what’s been going on in the world lately. We discussed the inclusivity of the Vancouver music industry and ways we can improve our community even more. We talk about becoming comfortable in your own skin and what our shows may look like in the future.
How long would you say you have been involved in the Vancouver music scene?
I guess I’ve been a part of the scene since around 2013. The Hallowed Catharsis started officially in the summer of that year, which is right after I moved here from Hong Kong. I met Kyle pretty much straight away. We’re still here, doing the same stuff!
What is your favourite memory of being in the scene?
There are so many amazing memories. The funniest thing I’ve ever seen at a show was recently when Despised Icon played here. They were about to dive into a massive breakdown, and for a moment there was no pit or anything at all. Just an empty circle in the middle of the crowd. This one dude went into the middle of that circle, did a botched backflip and landed flat on his face. You could hear everyone go “oooo” as this poor guy just scuttles back into the crowd. That’s maybe one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, period. My favourite part of the scene here is seeing it move and grow. I still feel like the new kid in the scene, you know? It feels scary to step into it but once you’re there, it is very inclusive. Once you go to a few shows and meet a few people, it can be great. There is always room for more.
How have things been for the bands lately?
Expain is on a bit of a hiatus right now. We’ve been slowly working on a full-length album and it’s a very Expain-thrash-stadium-rock kind of thing. You can write to us anytime and we will send you something amusing. I promise. THC on the other hand has been super busy. We’ve been fortunate as a band, while the music world has been in such a shitty situation. It feels like we’ve constantly had things happening! We have partnered up with Lacerated Enemy Records to put out Killowner and they have been fantastic to work with. Between the label (which is based in Europe) and our independent online store, we have been busy shipping merch to all sorts of awesome countries. In a way, even without shows, we’ve been busier than ever. It’s kind of been a reset for us and we have learned a lot about how to function in a world without live music.
Killowner was released back in June, you mentioned you guys have the print version of the story available. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what the inspiration is behind the story?
So… back in 2014, we played our first out of town show in Kelowna. It was a “battle of the bands” type of show and the winner got to record three songs in a new studio being built. At this point, we had only played maybe 5 shows so we were super stoked on going out there. On the drive there, our drummer Kevin told us he had an idea. He said something along the lines of, “if we win, we should record an EP and call it ‘Killowner’. Because the studio is in Kelowna.” So we laugh and he goes into this detailed sci-fi concept and… that’s what we wrote the album about! So you can read that story in the illustrated novel we put out if any of you like. It’s available through our Bandcamp. Since then it became our goal to have a song that screeches “Killowner, Killowner, Killowner” because it sounds like “Kelowna, Kelowna, Kelowna”. We stuck to the inside joke pretty hard.
Everyone has been experiencing the effects of COVID differently, how have you been passing the time?
I live with my younger brother and we’ve always been pretty tight. We’ve probably watched 100 movies together since March and we’ve been cooking a lot too. I’d say that we’re much, much closer now! I’ve been busy with the THC stuff, but the rest of the team really pushed to get things done. Huge shout out to Kevin and Kyle and Claire and Michael. Kevin and Kyle did a fantastic job manifesting the ideas for the book and putting it all together. I don’t want to say COVID is a good thing… because it is a terrible thing. But I have to say, I feel like that break from the world was a bit of a reset for me. I feel that I took advantage of that time alone and did some soul searching and reflecting. I hope this all ends soon and we can go back to seeing each other at shows! But I will definitely remember this as an extremely vital time in my life.
You’ve recently just come out as transgender, what are you most excited about for the future?
Playing shows and touring! I’m the same person, though now I feel 100% more open to express myself more honestly! I am really looking forward to performing these songs as my authentic self and with my mask off. I’ve been wearing a mask for years and I was scared to take it off in front of my music family. I was afraid to come out to my family and to my partner, but the music community for me was the most intimidating hurdle. It was so exaggerated in my head. I thought a lot about how what I do with Expain and THC is about being yourself and being real. About not being a poser. I was preaching that while being terrified of being myself, but I’ve always been bad at taking my own advice! I am so, so fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible support system of the most amazing people. I’m elated to just be me and continue to destroy stages with my best friends and anyone who wants to dance with us. All we want is for our shows to provide a chaotic and ultimately positive environment. And to make weird skronky music, of course.
You always hope that your friends and community will be accepting and along with you for the journey. While that won’t always be the case, I am so grateful for all of the acceptance and support within the scene and for everyone who reached out to me. There are some really real people in our city and I’m beyond proud to call so many of you my friends.
What’s the story behind the name Leda? If there is one, can you tell us about it?
It’s not too crazy of a story. I spent a lot of time over the past few months going through names. I was so cynical of every name I came across. It wouldn’t fit, I wouldn’t like how it sounded or there was an association with it that I didn’t like. My amazing partner came across Leda in a book she was reading and it just felt right. It originates in Greek mythology and I imagine anyone familiar with the name is likely familiar with the story. Freaky swan business. I really clicked with that name and I really liked it. I also asked my parents what they would have named me had I been born female, and Paige was a part of that name. I loved how they sounded together and it just feels right to me.
It’s been an interesting process getting used to hearing people say it and saying it myself. Thank you to everyone who is on this journey with me! I love you.
Is there anything you would say, or advice to give to help make the Vancouver music community a safer and more supportive space?
I feel like metal is such a broad genre and is so accepting within the boundaries of metal itself. It is definitely still opening up step by step and I fully support opening the gates to all sorts of new life. New stylistic influences, new cultures, new attitudes. I really feel like that could change the whole perspective of the genre both within as well as from the outside looking in. Metal tends to have a bad reputation and gets displayed in such a poor manner far too often. There are a lot of hard conversations to be had in every facet of life right now, and I think that this should include music communities of all genres. Overall, I really do believe that the music world is extremely open-minded. That being said, we all have room to grow even further and learn more. I certainly have so much to learn!
Fuck fascists. Fuck racists. Fuck TERFs. Fuck SWERFs. Fuck white supremacists. Fuck homophobes and fuck transphobes. If you feel offended by any of that, fuck you too.
Stay tuned for more news on The Hallowed Catharsis, links for the new record “Killowner” and merchandise is linked below. Stay safe friends, and support your local artists!