Read the full interview HERE

Lingua Ignota, making a Levitation appearance Friday at Empire, broke out in 2017 with All Bitches Die, a masterstroke of brutality and reprisal expounding on a justifiably vengeful concept: abusing your abuser. 

Lengthy movements entwine drone metal, power electronics, and classical music, while the LP includes tracks titled “Holy is the Name (of my ruthless axe)” and “Woe to All (on the day of my wrath”). You don’t need to speak English to feel the palpable rage emanating from composer/singer Kristin Hayter, an Ivy League-educated artist compelled to confront survivor violence as a voice-of-the-voiceless. She followed up her underground triumph in July with sophomore LP Caligula, issued by Canadian tastemakers Profound Lore. 

Hayter, whose intense performances typically find the San Diego native on the floor of a venue tangled in construction lights, spoke on the phone with the Chronicle in advance of her Austin Terror Fest performance in June, which ultimately cancelled. That discussion – touching on higher education, the concept of violence, and her roots in classical music and metal – remains potent six months later. 

Austin Chronicle: Have you had survivors reach out to you because they identify with All Bitches Die? 

Kristin Hayter: I have had that happen quite a bit and it means a lot. It’s very moving and touching for me. I’ve had a lot of people share their own stories or share how the music in some way helped them process what they’d been through. I can’t think of anything else I could accomplish with my music that would feel more fulfilling. 

AC: Did you see that coming? 

KH: I had no idea. When I put out All Bitches Die, I didn’t think anyone would hear it. It was really just meant for hanging out in the Providence scene, so it was totally unexpected that anyone cared. 

AC: You did graduate studies at Brown in Providence, Rhode Island, which is pretty prestigious. What were your experiences in academia? 

KH: Academia was an interesting place to be a woman, particularly one making music. I know a lot of women of color who find it extremely frustrating to try to work in that world. When I first went to art school for undergrad, it was a way for me to think about how to make things. The way that I learned to think about art [at School of the Art Institute of Chicago] is still a big part of my practice today. 

By the time I got to Brown, I think the work became too confrontational for academia and they didn’t like it very much. I actually wanted to get a Ph.D. and submitted some of the work that I did in graduate school and I didn’t get accepted anywhere. I heard the reason was it was too angry and confrontational. 

AC: Is that in regard to your thesis, Burn Everything Trust No One Kill Yourself? 

KH: Yeah. Parts of that and other work as well, but that was a main piece of the portfolio that went into applications for Ph.D.’s. So it didn’t go over very well, but that’s okay. I don’t know where I reside right now. It’s not academia and it’s not DIY anymore really, but it works okay right now. 

AC: In my mind, when something’s working, that means you have creative freedom. 

KH: I totally agree with that. At this point, I get to make things how I want to make them and I don’t have to worry if it sounds academic or not, or if it has a more cerebral angle, or if it’s not punk enough, or if it’s not heavy enough. Now, I’m doing my own thing with no structures or binding, so it feels good right now.