A sexy Japanese black-metal chick who records topless, drinks blood and eats bugs, you say?
Combining her given name, Mika, with cannibal and applying the Dr. after she received her Ph.d. in physics, Dr. Mikannibal was born 10 years ago while fronting a death-metal band. However, her stage persona is much different than her home life in Florida, where she works as a scientist and has lived for the past year and a half.
She’s known for wearing skimpy leather skirts and lingerie on stage and dripping hot wax from candles seductively on her body. With her long silky black hair and a saxophone draped over her slinky body, she headbangs menacingly while belting out the fiercest black-metal lyrics. Dr. Mikannibal is visually and aurally a significant element to the intriguing sound of SIGH.
SIGH has been going on nearly 20 years and has continuously been pushing the boundaries within the black-metal scene. Their eighth studio album, Scenes From Hell, will be released Jan. 19. This release also marks the original album debut from the Dr., who was recently named one of the “Sexiest Women in Metal” by Revolver magazine.
Speaking from her home in Florida, Dr. Mikannibal talked about her recording rituals, eating bugs and SIGH’s new album.
First off, I can’t help but comment that you are rather attractive and have a sexy stage persona. How do you feel to know that a lot of men, and women for that matter, feel this way about you?
I don’t mind at all. I am glad that people look at me that way. I do wear sexy costumes, and I wear less clothes than other metal chicks do in other bands. It’s not intentional. I don’t do it to try and get attention from men. I just wear what I wear because I like it. I love myself, my looks and my body, and I like to show it off on stage. That’s the whole idea.
So you don’t mind being called a sex symbol?
No, I don’t mind being called a sex symbol at all.
Tell me about your rules while recording.
About getting naked? Well, I’m not totally naked, but I’m topless when I record at home or in the studio. When I come home, the first thing I do is to take off my clothes. It’s just normal for me to take off my clothes at home. When I’m recording, I’m just more comfortable that way. I don’t like to sweat a lot, it makes me uncomfortable.
So are you naked now?
(Laughs) No, I am not naked now.
And what about you eating bugs?
Well, I feed roaches to my pet lizards, my geckos. Crickets stink, so I feed my lizards roaches. I love my pet, so I was curious as to what my pet eats. I started to research things about bug eating on the Internet and I attended a bug eating party by a bug-eating pioneer, and I learned the proper way to cook roaches and other bugs. Some people in Japan traditionally eat grasshoppers. In the north part of Japan, they eat bugs. Eating roaches is not common in Japan, but it’s not a made-up story to get attention. It’s just something I do.
More women are gaining popularity in extreme metal bands. Is it empowering for you to be up on stage, in command?
I do enjoy performing live. Before joining Sigh, I was in death-metal bands, and I have been singing for a long time. Arch Enemy was getting popular when I started doing death metal, and now we’re seeing more women in heavy metal. I understand I get attention from people just because I’m a woman in a metal band, and I take advantage of being a woman heavy-metal singer. It’s good to see more women in heavy metal. It’s more common, it’s not just a heavy-metal boys club. It’s the same with being a scientist. You have more female scientists now and I’m glad I’m seeing more female scientists as well as more metal chicks.
“L’art de Mourir,” the first song to be featured on your MySpace page, is brutal and massive. It sounds even more extreme than anything off “Hangman’s Hymn.” Is this the direction the band wanted to go in?
The sound of the band keeps changing with each album. We didn’t really think about the direction it was heading in. This album is describing war, death and hell. A lot of people die on this album, so we are brutal. Mirai did the writing and the music, and his inspiration came from paintings by Bosch, Bruegel and from the war era. I didn’t write any of the lyrics, Mirai writes all the lyrics, but my contribution was singing and playing the saxophone.
Can you tell me what some of the themes are on “Scenes From Hell”?
As I said before, war, death and hell. We are athiests, and when we say hell, there’s no religious meaning behind it. What we mean by hell is, human beings going through hell and acknowledge that when describing things from hell, like people do with paintings, describing scenes from hell. We just do it through music.
What made you sign with The End Records?
That was before I joined the band, I don’t know the whole story about how we joined The End from Century Media, not sure what happened about their promotion or the way they treated us, but Century Media is a label that’s too huge to take care of small bands like us. The End is perfect for us. With the size of their label, we get good promotion.
Can you tell me how the band as a whole worked on this one?
Well, Mirai wrote the music for all the parts, including horn instruments, guitars, bass and strings. He first writes everything down and then using a MIDI, he records a demo and gives it to all the members to add our music to it, our individual contributions, like my saxophone solos. Yet, on a lot of the tracks that I first heard on the demo, he told me to make them more powerful. So as well as playing the alto sax, I played the tenor and baritone sax to make it more powerful. It’s more difficult than playing just alto, but they’re basically the same, I’ve been playing the sax since age 12.
Tell me about your upcoming video for “Prelude to the Oracle.”
It was filmed while we were in Maryland for the Maryland Deathfest. Director sysyHall had a great idea to have a lot of cameos and extras for the video. We shot the video around town and in a parking lot where all the extras were doing a circle pit, and inside the circle were Mirai and me. It was fun.
Sigh was doing Venom covers live as far back as 1992. How thrilling was it to record a whole album of covers on last year?s “A Tribute To Venom”?
This one we did for our own fun by recording covers. I’m not a big fan of Venom, but the rest of the members are. The purpose of the album was to have fun and to introduce myself to the fans who didn’t know me already and to get used to the recording process and making songs for the new album.
What are your touring plans after the new release?
Next year, we’re mainly doing Europe. We’re playing at the Brutal
Assault festival in August next year in the Czech Republic. And this hasn’t been officially announced yet, but we’ve been asked to play Hellfest in France in June. Then we’ll do a short tour.
What do you hope to achieve with “Scenes From Hell”?
More people to listen to Sigh, more fun, more tours. We played a lot in North America in 2008 and hope to again, but we’re hoping to do more touring in Europe this time.
You’ve been a pleasure to talk to. Any last words for your adoring fans?
Buy the new album!
By Kelley Simms