This is the accompanying article to “From the Sea to the Stage“, where you can read the full, unfiltered interview of Malia and ElipTic‘s journey in her own words. In addition to everything written in the feature article, we also discussed at length her love of art, the fine details of glass sculpting, the band’s influences, upcoming shows, new material and a little bit of everything else.
You have previously stated that, being born in Hawaii, the ocean and the wind were your teachers, with the dolphins and whales being your pupils. What did they teach you about life that you may not have learned by being raised in an urban area?
Being raised on a sailboat was a very unique way of upbringing. Nothing came easy. Everything was earned, even warmth. Many nights when we were at anchor, we would have to take our ten-foot zodiac across the breaking waves of the Santa Cruz harbor, battle wind and whitecaps through two miles of unpredictable coastal night. When we reached our boat – anchored off the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – the boat was freezing, and it took an hour of boiling water and hoping our little battery heater would work. This taught me, at an early age, an appreciation for something as simple as warmth. On other days we would be in the tropics, and I’d awaken in a beautiful bay, with dolphins greeting me every morning for my morning swim. I was so young, and would just jump into the ocean with my mask and fins and swim and play with over fifty spinner dolphins daily.
You began making a living through artwork at the tender age of 12, with your specialties being glass sculpting and watercolor. What led to your interest in these kinds of art and how were you able to learn at such a young age?
I have been an artist since I could pick up a crayon or pencil. This focused my skills at an early age. At 12 [years old], we had the rare opportunity to live in a beautiful house in Kona, Hawaii. My father’s girlfriend owned the estate. One of the rental houses was being rented out by Howard Richie, world-renowned Disney glass sculptor. He saw my paintings and sketches and said he wanted to apprentice me to be a glass sculptor. He did, and I was creating and doing live sculpting performances from the age of 12 to the age of 18. I then finished my apprenticeship and created my own glass business.
For readers who may not be familiar, can you describe what exactly goes into the process of glass sculpting?
Glass sculpting is done with Pyrex glass, a very strong durable glass. When heated at the perfect temperature, one can manipulate and use gravity to pull and drip it into perfect sculptures of animals and flowers. I also mastered gold fuming, which captures gold in a light flame and pushes it onto the glass surface, creating gold luminescent of phenomenal colors!
I can tell you have a great fondness for animals and they have appeared in a lot of your work. What is it about them that inspired you to create so much animal-themed artwork?
Animals I love, because they are truthful. They don’t deceive and they are loyal. If they don’t like you, you usually know right away. However, people are tricky; some are good, some are not. The not-so-good ones can be very deceptive. It is harder and harder to find people with high moral standards, and unselfish motivation.
Could you talk a little in detail about the condition that suddenly forced you to fight for your life in 2009 and its lasting effects?
The procedure I cannot be too detailed about, because I am in litigation. I will say, I went in with a cavity and left with much, much more! The lasting effects are way too many to mention, and I can’t. I’ll just say, almost every system of my body was affected. I will have to take heart medicine and nerve medicine every day for the rest of my life. I have more surgeries to go, and have already had four.
I live life to the fullest every day! Every challenge, I say “fuck you, I’m on it!” My rage is untamed and deep within my soul. Every scream is for me, and all those who face their fears and fight for their own authority.
You had three out-of-body experiences during the four-year battle. What were the experiences like? What did you see, and did you consciously have the choice between crossing into another world/staying in this one?
Woo, that’s an interesting and great question. At my most ill, before a much-needed surgery, my heart was having a lot of trouble; it would race to over 200 BPM [beats per minute]. I laid in bed, as I had been for almost a year. Suddenly, out of the blue my heart just went from 60-200+. I thought I was having a heart attack or a stroke. There was not a lot of time to think. No one was near me to help. My body froze as my heart beat out of control, then, a very quiet calm took over. I didn’t feel my heart beating anymore; I didn’t feel any pain anymore. I opened my eyes to a feeling of lightness, like I was floating – I was! I was hovering above my own body and drifting like a bubble towards the beautiful clouds. There was no roof as I floated upwards, it just disappeared.
I felt like I should be terrified, but I was so calm. The clouds parted a perfect beautiful blue sky, and a feeling of comfort and warmth took over me. Then, I heard very harmonious voices that sounded almost musical. They said, “Come with us Malia, we love you, and you will be in no pain now.” This was so soothing and enticing to just let go, and drift into the clouds. How you feel when you are sleep-deprived or hypothermic; you just want to close your eyes and fall asleep. I suddenly realized in that split second of conscious thought, I was dying. This angered me! I was not about to leave this world and my loved ones. I had battled too hard to survive! I just about yelled, “NO! This is not my fate! I decline, I want to live!”
At that instant I felt my body falling back towards the earth. The decision was made! This was not a word, but a thought that was given to me, by something divine? As this fraction of a moment went by, with all this happening, before I could comprehend anything, I felt electrical pain and the sudden heaviness of my body. I immediately took a huge breath and felt my heart start beating again. It was so painful to be back inside the very ill body I [had] just fought so hard to return to. This happened two more times – that week – before my much-needed emergency surgery. Glad I made it, however, this experience had changed me, forever.
Your illness left you unable to continue sculpting, but you’ve found a new form of art through making music. What made you decide to be in a band and, more specifically, the lead vocalist of a heavy rock band? Had you ever previously considered being a singer?
I had never sung a lick before, except in the shower or alone driving. I was too shy. There is something to be said for going in front of people and wailing your heart out, with your own breath. It takes BALLS! You either have to have a huge ego, or not give a shit at all. I’m the latter. I fear nothing anymore. I’ve seen death; I’ve met evils and angels. They are among us. We are all devils and angels; we are in heaven here on Earth, and we just choose to make it hell. If we got our heads out of our asses, we’d be in bliss, Nirvana!
So, if you really wanna know what actually got me to let go and sing, it was three things. The first was an uncontrolled rage that emerged from my experience of being injured, and the cover-up that ensued. A welling of disgust was about to explode within my creative mind. Only people close to me could see the change. Joe, my husband [and] soon-to-be guitarist for ElipTic, knew if I didn’t vent my anger soon, I might implode. He had been asking me to sing. Since my injury I wasn’t doing my art, [and] this was having a negative effect.
Now, the second occurrence that led to “my change” was, on a dark and starlit night, I was driving across the Island; a star was following me, twinkling like crazy (Sorry ElipTic, but I’m telling the truth, the whole story, just for Mind Equals Blown)! So, the darn thing literally twinkled a Morse Code, (like I could really understand). It said something like, “You have your life back, now, whatcha’ going to do with it?” As if taunting me. I said,”I dunno?” It said, “It is the time! You must sing! You must not be afraid, and tell it like it is! Open your mouth loud! Just DO IT!”
So the third thing was just to do it. I did. I will also say, when you hear my voice there is a bit of a supernatural sound. This is not effects. I get a lot of people thinking I use a lot of effects. I only use accents of echo on choruses or detailed parts. I have a hint of delay on some tracks. But, I layer my voice one to three times. Just like the greats like Layne [Staley] did, from Alice in Chains. The evil voice in “Dirty Tool”, “Kumara” and “Chaos” and others are all me baby, no effects. Deal with it! I can sound like an angel and a demon! Has there ever been this [kind of] sound in rock before, from a female? Remember, I differ from Otep because I also sing and hold calm, alluring melodic notes. Though I love that she opened the doors for women with a good scream, cause that makes it all fit together to have the combo!
Since my NDE [near-death experience], it’s like I’m just a portal of sound. I hear tones as I see color. When I sing to the music, I am painting a picture with sound. And rock, of course rock! Nothing could satisfy me more. Complete rebellion to what we are conformed to; behave, submit, be quiet? NO WAY!
Your husband Joe is a guitarist in the band, but how did the rest of ElipTic first meet and come together?
Joe Rideout is a maker of over 100 extremely well-made songs. He had created his band ElipTaph many years ago. Incredible stuff. When I hear his music and tones, words and harmonies just fly out. When we perform live together the chemistry is amazing. We completed recording ElipTic’s first seven songs very quickly, about a song per month. Then we were getting radio play and a lot of great feedback. Everything began to snowball. We realized we had something special – if we were willing to put a lot more time into it – so we made the decision to find phenomenal musicians locally to form the band. We were picky; they had to have a special edge to really work for us. We ended up cruising YouTube. We found our female drummer, Kristin Johnson. A sweet, earthy girl with wild, crazy drum skills. She wasn’t sitting and playing, she was running in circles around her set, smashing cymbals in perfect unison. Loved it! When we met her, she told us her boyfriend is a thrash drummer, and [he] loved our stuff. They weren’t sure who we wanted. Kristin had mad artistic drum skills, but Jeremy Smith was all about full-force thrash with massive power!
Now let me not forget Erik Avery, our bassist. We were fortunate to snatch him up before he became famous. He is a hidden treasure in Hawaii. We found him because he played in Kristin’s softer rock band. He had been itching to get back to his roots of rock. He just needed to hear ElipTic once. He’s like Jimi Hendrix but on bass, playing with his mouth, and cosmic petals! Fucking psychedelic as hell. When we get together and jam, it’s like the universe is opening up. A strange aura and feeling comes over us as we get ElipTic closer to perfection and our World Tour!
The band’s self-described sound is “heavy molten lava rock”. How do you feel your sound stands out from the rest of the heavy rock/metal world?
We are heavy molten lava rock because there’s never been an epic metal band to emerge from Hawaii, much less a female-fronted one! We’re not on fire; we’re melting, like molten lava! ElipTic lives upon an active Volcano. There are some supernatural sounds going on here. We are burning ElipTic into your mind!
You guys are quite unique in that you have two official drummers in Kristin Johnson and Jeremy Smith. What does having both of them do for ElipTic’s sound that perhaps isn’t possible with just one drummer?
When they play together, they complement the yin and yang of heavy rhythm. Kristin’s creative female percussion, blended perfectly with Jeremy’s aggressive male drive and intensity. They play Tatum drum style, and the sound is a perfect harmony between artistic percussion and full-armored aggression, which is now the foundation of ElipTic’s sound.
Your debut album is titled From the Dirt to the Sky. Is there a personal/special meaning behind this title?
From the Dirt to the Sky was titled by Joe, he said it sums up life.
ElipTic wins the chance to go on a “dream tour” with any three bands of your choosing. Which three bands would you pick and why?
Now when you say tour, these bands come to mind, because they have a similar sound: Pantera, Machine Head, and Alice in Chains.
Those three bands are the biggest influences on our sound, but to not name a few more would be unjust. Our influences span dozens of bands…. Otep, OverKill, Eurhythmics, Arch Enemy, The Cure, Suzie and the Banshees, Korn, Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, Mastodon, Anthrax, Tool, Death Angel, Soundgarden….and many more!
However, as far as touring or recording with, hell, I’d love to tour with Marilyn Manson, but, do we want to be roughed and anally probed? No. Yet, to experience his genius first hand would be a dream come true.
What is the ultimate message you and ElipTic hope to convey to the world through your music?
ElipTic would like to convey: take a chance, tell the truth….say it load and clear! Don’t fear being yourself! Fight for your own authority, and never let ‘em bring you down!
What are your plans for the rest of 2014? Any upcoming shows or perhaps some new music?
Yes, ElipTic will be doing shows in Hawaii. Veterans Day Weekend at Mad Marlin’s Bar in Kona, and the Fourth of July at Wiapio Horse Ranch in Honokaa. ElipTic’s Independence Day, one year birthday bash. Be there or be square!
ElipTic will also be recording in June. New material [called] Island of Misfit Toyz and re-recording original songs with our new members! Stay tuned on Facebook for our newest upcoming video [for] “The Menacing”. It will include real live footage of ElipTic and the beautiful scenery of Hawaii!