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Vexed Vocalist - Megan Targett

Review Zoo catch up with "Vexed" Super talent, Vocalist, "Megan Targett"

Vexed Vocalist - Megan Targett

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Photo @200ios

Hi Megan, Welcome to Review Zoo

Hi, thank you so much for wanting to chat with me.

Megan, as the vocalist for the metal band Vexed, how did you get into heavy metal music, and what inspired you to become a singer in this genre?

I grew up listening to so many different styles of music as my mum loved so many different genres, but she especially loved metal. That meant it was a completely normalised part of our upbringing and didn’t seem to be a big deal to me, until I had friends over ha ha.

I was bullied really badly in secondary school, so I left, was homeschooled for a while and then went on to a specialist school for kids who had quit mainstream school or suffered from health issues. It’s there that I rediscovered metal music and how it can make you feel like you’re part of a group when you’ve been treated as an outcast. I finally felt seen and understood, that’s when I knew I wanted to start a band. Originally I wanted to be a drummer but after months of not being able to find a local vocalist, I was peer pressured into doing it. After a while I learned to love it but for a long time I really didn’t want to be a vocalist, I was an incredibly shy teenager.

For new listeners to Vexed, which song would you say best represents the Vexed sound?

That's a really difficult question to answer as we like to take influences from so many different places when writing, so each song feels very different to us. I think anything off our latest album ‘Negative Energy’ is a true representation of us. Our first album we were still very young and struggling to find ‘our sound’. If I had to pick one song though I would probably go for ‘Anti-Fetish’.

Which bands are your current favourites and what’s your favourite album of all time?

To be totally honest, at the moment I don’t have any current favourite bands. I’ve drifted away from listening to metal music and much prefer listening to drum and bass or EDM day to day. I listen to a lot of Becky Hill, The Prodigy, Charlie xcx and Chase & Status.

My all time favourite metal albums are ‘Look at Yourself’ by Emmure, ‘La Petite morte’ by King 810 and ‘God Hates us all’ by Slayer.

Being a frontwoman in a metal band, do you find that the music industry presents unique challenges or opportunities for female musicians compared to your male counterparts?

Yes, there are definitely unique challenges for women. The first thing that comes to mind is the constant expectation of perfection we face. There does seem to be this unwritten rule that if you’re going to be a successful woman in metal, you need to be very attractive, incredibly talented and only stay in your metal lane. Talking out about anything that may ruffle feathers is a big no no. Look good, perform good, keep quiet.

I'm yet to personally experience unique opportunities but that's not to say that hasn't been the experience for other women. My own journey has just been a very difficult one where I've faced a lot of sexism and bigotry.

Can you share any personal experiences or anecdotes that highlight the specific challenges you've faced as a female singer in the metal scene?

My gosh there's so many. Years ago now, we weren't allowed to play a festival after touring and promoting it because the organiser said he only wanted ‘traditional’ metal bands. Even after several bands pulled out and were replaced he still refused to let us play because he didn't like women fronted bands. He was happy for us to spend all our own money promoting his festival though!

I listened to your chat with Harvey Freeman on his PodCast, “F#!ked up just like me” and I totally understand the struggles bands have in keeping a band going financially, as most of what a band does is paid for by themselves. What’s the best way fans can help support a band?

Buying merchandise directly from a bands’ own store is really the only way to support smaller artists now. We don't make anything from music streams or ticket sales as we’re not at a level to negotiate that yet. We do have a Patreon account where you can sign up to a monthly subscription for exclusive content though. It’s a lot of extra work but it is really nice to connect with fans and give them more of us than what's just on social media .

In your opinion, do female metal musicians face unique expectations or pressures regarding their image and presentation?

Yes, sadly I really do think it is unique for women. I'm sure that men in the scene struggle with their appearance and will also get people being cruel trolls online. I don't want to take that experience away from them as it's valid and still very hurtful.

However, from personal experience, where it differs for women is that we aren't seen as individuals. When a woman expresses herself she is automatically put up against other women to be critiqued and poked at. You’re always not as good as her, not as pretty as her, not as thin as her. There’s a gross fetish within the industry that loves to score women against one another constantly. You've only got to go look at youtube comments on a music video of a woman fronted band to see multiple other women being mentioned. Usually derogatory comments or gatekeepers expressing how they are not as good in comparison to a different woman. However, that's something I've never seen for male fronted bands.

How do you balance expressing your artistic identity with industry expectations?

I just don’t think about what the industry wants any more. When I was much younger I used to care about that sort of thing, but nowadays I couldn't care less. Creating art you love and care about will naturally bring out an identity that is genuine and unique. If others don’t like it then it really doesn't matter. People will always pick apart artists for the most minor things so you may as well be true to yourself.

Metal has often been criticised for its male-centric culture. As a female singer, how do you see the role of women evolving in the metal scene, and what changes would you like to see in terms of inclusivity and representation?

I think things are slowly changing but it will take a very long time. Womens’ voices are now being heard and not just from a vocalists perspective but from those deep within the industry too. Women behind the scenes that are responsible for making bands as successful as they are, are finally getting a chance to say ‘hey, I did that’.

Sexism will always exist, but it's how it's dealt with by our peers that matters.

There's only so much women can do and then it has to come down to others standing up for us. Be an ally to women and other communities that face discrimination. If you're a woman in a room full of men, you should stand up for yourself, but men should be standing up for you too. They should be calling out unacceptable behaviour and attitudes from their male counterparts. Sadly, many men don't speak up in fear of being made fun of or seen as less masculine, that's where i would like to see change.

As a vocalist and a woman in the metal industry, what advice would you give to aspiring female musicians looking to break into the scene and overcome any barriers they might face?

Be kind to others and be true to yourself, but don't allow that kindness to be taken advantage of. If you stay true to your own values then you will have nothing to feel bad about when you say no to people. ‘No’ is a powerful word and you should feel confident and justified in using it.

Which hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not behind the Mic?

I love just being at home with my pets. Growing up on a farm I had the luxury of being able to have lots of unusual pets and my grandpa taught me how to look after them. Rescuing and caring for animals is so rewarding and therapeutic. I don’t think I could survive without my pets!

Have you got any funny tour stories you can share with us?

There's so many funny stories, most of which I probably can't share ha ha. But the most recent one was when we were out on the Great Decay tour with Cabal. We all ended up in an underground German rave together. It was like something out of a movie, it didn't feel real. Dozens of metal heads in our hoodies and joggers surrounded by hundreds of theatrically dressed neo-goths, who were dancing on podiums and standing several feet away from one another. We had no idea about the rules or etiquette of the goth rave scene, so we were just laughing and dancing together whilst getting several complaints about being too happy. It was such a fun night, for us anyway!

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