My Interview With Conquer Divide: The All-Female Metal Band Taking The World By Storm

My Interview With Conquer Divide: The All-Female Metal Band Taking The World By Storm

"A lot of people kind of doubt you as a female musician. They don’t think you can make it."

On Saturday, March 26, I had the opportunity to hang out with some of the girls from Conquer Divide .

Conquer Divide is an all-female rock/metal group that consists of (left to right): guitarist, Kristen Waters; drummer, Tamara Tadic; clean vocalist, Kiarely Castillo; screamer/unclean vocalist, Janel Duarte; bassist, Ashley Colby; and guitarist, Izzy Johnson.

They formed in late 2012 and released their debut, self-titled album in 2015 through their current record label, Artery Recordings.

It’s no secret that these girls are making waves. They’re easily some of the most talented, wholehearted and recognizable females in the male-dominated metal industry.

Izzy, the guitarist, is at home in the UK because she recently had wrist surgery (ouch!) and had to miss out on her current tour, the Us Against The World Tour with Slaves, Capture The Crown, Outline in Color, Myka Relocate and Conquer Divide. Kia was on vocal rest due to her recent bronchitis recovery, but we were still able to hang out and talk a little. Send them your best recovery wishes, everyone. Being a musician can take a toll on your health sometimes!

I met up with the girls in a sports bar across the street from the place they were playing, The Studio at Webster Hall, and we chatted about their band once we got into the venue. We got to talk for a few minutes about life on the road as females. You’d be surprised at what came up -- I know I was.

For those who don’t know you, who/what is Conquer Divide? What would you describe your music as?

Kristen: We are an all-girl metalcore/post-hardcore band, and some of our songs fall more in the rock spectra, depending on which one you’re listening to.

What message does it send to your listeners?

Kristen: We try to take a negative experience that happened to us and turn it into something positive through our music, so we hope that we can reach people that way.

Me: OK, so here are the “real” questions. This interview revolves around the fact that you guys are an all-girl metal group, which is pretty awesome.

Do you ever feel like you guys are given shit for being girls, or have you ever been given shit for being girls? (In this industry in general.)

Janel: We’ve obviously encountered some weird stuff here and there. I know some loader or some local band thought she [Ashley] was a loader.

Ashley: Yeah, I had an experience where I was helping a local band take their gear off the stage and they actually thought I was just a promoter. He threw his drum at me and I was like, “Oh, OK.” Then I got up and played right after and he came up and said, “I’m so sorry,” and I’m like, “You know what? It’s OK, you know, but just next time, think about it.” You gotta think about that stuff. He said, “I’m sorry I was rude to you,” and I’m like, “Sorry? Why were you rude?” He didn’t wanna say it.

What about perks? Have you guys been given perks for any of this?

Kristen: We do get people to help us lift our gear, which is nice cause we’re not very strong. Lots of people offer to help carry things which is a great perk.

Janel: You know, we load our own stuff on stage, and there’s a bunch of girls onstage so everybody automatically watches us load on. We catch their eye, which is pretty cool. We catch their eye and then they’re like, “Well this could go either two ways. It could be shitty or good,” and then we rock their socks off, and then we end up making a bunch of merch money.

Do you think it’s harder being a girl than a guy in this music scene?

Kristen: Honestly, I think it’s probably harder being a guy in some aspects—not in every aspect. Since it is a male-dominated genre, there are more all-guy bands, so it’s harder to get noticed, where in our case, almost as soon as we put the band together we were getting noticed. We put one song out and we were getting noticed. I guess it depends on the situation. There are some aspects that are harder for us, being an all-girl band, but we try to make the most of it and it’s not too bad.

Do you think that being in an all-girl metal band is a feminist statement?

Ashley: I think we’re just musicians like anyone else. I’m new, so when I joined the band I know all the girls told me, “Remember, you’re a musician just like everyone else.” We don’t wanna be like, “We’re girls,” you know? We wanna be treated as musicians and with the guys; we’re all musicians together. That’s how I look at it.

Janel: I feel like calling us a female band is honestly just an observation at this point. We have the same heart, we could do the same shit. I don’t feel like it’s weird if people call us a female band, cause it’s just like I said: an observation. But then again, you don’t go up and be like, “Hey, Crown The Empire, the all-male band!” It’s like observation in my eyes.

Any warnings or advice for anyone who wants to be a female musician?

Janel: Don’t give up. Have the passion burning in you, and don’t let anything else fuck that up, because there’s going to be trial and error, drama, all these internal conflicts; but at the end of the day it’s all about playing your heart out on stage.

Ashley: Just be yourself. Never forget who yourself is, or who you are as a person.

Kristen: Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. That’s the other thing. A lot of people kind of doubt you as a female musician. They don’t think you can make it. I would just keep pushing forward. If we can do it, anyone can do it.

We took a couple of pictures after that and the girls played their amazing set immediately after. I was only able to stay for the first song, but I’m not exaggerating when I say their live sets are probably some of the most energetic and flawless ones I’ve ever seen. Even if you don’t know the band, you’ll be extremely tempted to look into them after listening to a song or two. The girls of Conquer Divide are making waves -- you’ll definitely be hearing more of them when they become one of the most popular bands in their scene.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Klinge

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To the guy that shot my brother...


To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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