Buddhist raised beauty-therapist finds calling as heavy metal frontwoman

Patsy screamed into the microphone, fuelling the crowd of drunk metalheads. Heavy guitar riffs backed the growling of demonic and violent imagery. She sings: “I can’t help myself, but enjoy your demise”, before erupting into a false chord scream. For their second gig, Inferno Noir weren’t holding back. Patsy admitted this gig was better than the first, “mainly cause I was drunk so I wasn’t as nervous”. They announced their last song, as the crowd exploded into a moshpit.

Just like her red and black mane, there is more than one colour to Patsy Collins. I’m greeted by a calm English accent in a rowdy pub, as we make small talk about her wedding plans for the Summer.

Patsy spends her Sunday afternoons “Instagram whoring”. She takes pictures to build her personal page, and publicise Inferno Noir

Before securing a permanent nine-to-five job in beauty therapy and then health-care, Patsy worked as a freelance makeup artist. For a moment her excitement drained, she revealed: “I used to be a starving artist, I know what it’s like to constantly be worrying about where my next pay check is coming from.”

Her routine as a nine-to-five worker and an after-dark metal front-woman is not the only noticeable contrast. Patsy’s singing style alternates between growling and clean vocals, as she appreciates the dynamic of the two vocal styles. She explains: “I’m not always one kind of person, there’s two sides of the same coin.”

It took the band four years to finally get on stage

After relentless persuasion from the drummer and her now fiancé, Ed Pool, she gave in to sing on his tracks; forming Inferno Noir.

Patsy finally had an outlet, being able to write lyrics of what inspired her, “instead of going off what everyone else wanted to do.”

The making of their debut album could easily be described as a tragedy. It involved the lead guitarist leaving because “his heart wasn’t in it”, a two-year failed search for a drummer, and Ed suffering chronic migraines halting all progress for 6 months.

 

A guitarist and a bassist later, Ed finally agreed to drum. Patsy emphasised over football cheers in the pub: “Heavy metal drummers are really hard to find in London.” Sitting next to us, Ed raised his hands and cried: “We’re a dying breed, man.”

Having sung in bands which failed to take off, Patsy was determined to not let Inferno meet the same fate. Aged twelve, she started a pop-punk band with friends from her Thai temple. Smiling, she reminisces: “We just enjoyed rock music, we were twelve and thought yes let’s form a band, let’s go for it.”

Metal is known as a male dominated genre in a male dominated industry. Currently, Amy Lee and Jen Majura of Evanescence are the only female musicians in the top 40 metal and rock chart. However, when asked about being a female in a pre-dominantly male genre, Patsy frankly responds with: “I don’t give a shit. I literally don’t give a shit.”

The “don’t give a shit” attitude is reflected within the band. Ed explained: “We always had the mentality that if people like it then that’s fantastic, but if people don’t then they can fuck off.”

Having only been in the scene for a short time, Patsy realistically predicts: “I imagine that we will definitely face some sexism, in which case I’d probably throw some shit back at them, cause I don’t give a shit.”

“I was a freelance makeup artist from age of 18,

I’m used to having to prove myself all the time.”

Raised as a Buddhist and having attended two Christian schools, Patsy does not have the “greatest relationship” with religion. Being told what to do was not appealing, because “the alternative is I’m going to burn in hell.” She bluntly said: “I don’t give a shit what you do with your life, just don’t tell me what to do with mine.”

Patsy clarified she’s not a religious person, before revealing a fascination for biblical stories and their “pillars of culture”.

The religious poem Dante’s Inferno had lyrical influence on a few of their songs. ‘Existence is Futile’ is based on the opinion of immortal beings on humans. She asked: “Do they think we’re being petty, are they playing a game with us or do they not give a shit?”

Succubus was a monumental song for the band, both lyrically and musically. Written from the perspective of a female demon, the song describes her taking hold of someone, “basically fucking about with their mind”.

It also explores how mental illnesses were seen as demons, and the sufferers were thought to be possessed. Patsy revealed she suffers from anxiety, and the song acted as a personification to help her cope with it. She recalled some of the lyrics: “They see me crawling, scratching inside your head. Is the voice not enough, do you need me to scream instead?”

Succubus also defined the genre of Inferno Noir. It turned the originally planned hard rock/blues band, into a heavy metal outfit.

A family photo of the band before releasing their debut album

Heavy metal is a genre riddled with sub-genres. However, asking where Inferno belonged resulted in a cry of “I don’t know”. Patsy explained that this was partly due to the various inspirations of the band members. Her inspirations drew from nu-metal bands such as Machine Head, whereas the guitarist Maro is inspired by death metal. The band does not even come under female fronted metal, Patsy explained, “because that tends to be symphonic”. She ended her unsure response with a burst of nervous laughter.

The future of Inferno Noir had already been mapped out. Patsy repeated an urgent need to perform more live shows, for “experience of how our live set pans out”, and how different audiences react. She honestly admits: “This is all very very new to us, we’re not sure what we’re doing, we’re just trying to make the best of what we can.”

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