It has been said that some people eat, sleep, drink and breath music. It may sound cliché, but we believe there is some truth in
that old saying. There are some people that have so much metal flowing through their veins that one touring/recording band
just isn’t enough. One might wonder how they make it all happen. But the truth is, it’s all about drive, determination, balance
and most importantly, passion (which is the key to success). We had the pleasure of meeting someone who is a prime example
of this type of person. Being in not two outstanding metal bands, but her own solo projects as well as a starring roll in a metal
opera, yes…that’s right, a metal opera. She doesn’t do strictly metal, she does a number of side projects and appearances of
other genres of music since she loves music, period. But from all of her goings-on, its clear that her heart is as metal as any
icon we could name. Here we meat Haydee Irizarry.
You were very young when you became interested in music and have had quite
a bit of experience with a variety of music types and styles. Can you give an
order (timeline) of musical experiences/interests that would ultimately become
your path to a musical career?
At the age of 4 I received a keyboard that begun my interest in studying and writing
songs on the piano.
My grade school was a Lutheran School that introduced hymnals and sight reading to me
and prompted me to join choirs at the age of 8.
I realized I had a natural talent and love for singing that was undeniable and I knew I
wanted to be a vocalist.
At the age of 16 I joined the Chicago School of Rock so I could perform and develop as a performing front woman. Through the
School of Rock and my Choral experience I have achieved many honors and have had the ability to play Lollapalooza and many other
local festivals in Chicago. I had learned pop, rock, jazz, blues, metal, and so much more.
All of that directed me to the finest contemporary music college: Berklee College of Music, where I am almost ready to graduate from
with a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production. Throughout my whole college experience I have been developing my artistry
to be a professional performer of all styles, metal being my speciality!
Metal is a big part of what you have become so far. Can you relate to a time when you first discovered metal?
My first record was the Evanescence record “Fallen” that introduced me to Heavy Rock when I was 8-9 years old. That album lead me
down the rabbit hole that would eventually lead me to find Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and all of the icons of early metal. I had also
started to delve into the early punk scene and just loved the aggression.
Can you tell us about your first actual metal experience
as a metal performer?
My first metal experience as a vocalist was the Iron Maiden vs
Judas Priest show at the Chicago School of Rock in 2011. That
was a huge moment for me because it had really transitioned
me from a bedroom performer to a real one. My biggest
excitement was to finally be able to express myself passionately
on a stage. The dance moves and hand gestures were key to
achieving that vision that I had always imagined and I was so
excited to be well received by the audience. It really validated
my dream and pushed me to keep doing it.
How would you say your experience with different styles
of music has played a roll in your development as a metal
I would say it has allowed me to really understand how to deliver metal effectively as an entertainer and story teller. I have a
deep and genuine love and understanding for R&B and Classical music. Both styles have extreme soul and depth that is
definitely important in Metal music in both style and vocal delivery. Having experienced performing many different songs with
different stories and intentions I have a large understanding of what level of emotions, strength, and movements to deliver to any
song to make it as effective as it can be. I couldn’t do that if those many styles had not molded my range to be the way it is now
as well. Every life and musical experience finds itself in each new performance that you share and it’s really wonderful.
Please tell us about the first metal band you were officially in.
The first metal band I was in was a project called Ephemeral Sunrise that I had created before I left for college. It
was a huge learning experience and we had only done a few shows but I was able to get a taste of where I
needed to grow and what the local “scene” was like.
How did you come to be in the band Aversed?
Aversed was a band before I had arrived to Boston for college. I had met a lot of metal musicians through
Berklee and was referenced to audition as their new vocalist in 2015 when they were searching for a new lead. I
had studied gutturals before joining them and it proved to be a great transition to practice performing the new
technique that I had been developing. Now we are almost finished writing our first full length record!
Another metal band you are working with is Carnivora. How did you hook up with that band?
|Haydee Irizarry with AVERSED
|Haydee Irizarry with CARNIVORA
Carnivora is another well established local band that was in search of a new vocalist in early 2017. I had met the
Carnivora members at an early Aversed gig and we had become friends and performed with each others bands
many times. They were interested in transitioning their style and believed my vocal skills and personality wa
compatible and here we are! We are ready to hit the studio and anticipate releasing a full length record in the
What can you tell us about ZAHRA?
Before I had went down the surprising road of melodic death metal and guttural vocals I had thought that I would
strictly be a blues and heavy metal vocalist that would sound more like Evanescence, and other female fronted
rock and metal bands. I have been composing songs on the piano and have had love for Classical
orchestrations and soulful blues songs since the beginning of my interest in music. Zahra will be an entirely
original project that will consist of my compositions. I envision a gorgeous world of beauty, love, and depth and I
am currently creating that world for myself musically and personally. This project will be the most “Haydee”
project that all of my observers will hear and see and I am very excited to be able to share that soon.
Another interesting project is Queen Boudicca Metal Opera. Please tell us how you got involved with that and what
that experience has been like.
Queen Boudicca: A Metal Opera is created by Bob Schlink and Carol Schlink. I had met Bob at a Metal
Ensemble class that he was teaching at Berklee. He mentioned to me that he had created this one of a kind
piece and had asked me if I wanted to be a part of the production and I immediately said “Yes!”. In the original
productions I had played the Queen’s Daughter and over time have understudied the role and have played the
role of the Queen herself! It’s an amazing show with rocking’ compositions and great visual entertainment. I love
how QB celebrates the strength of women in history and modern times. There are a lot of female metal
musicians in this production and they are all badass. I also love how the production features many other talented
metal musicians from the area and really gives us all a template to shine in more ways than one. Queen
Boudicca will be performing in Boston in October 20-22nd and will be a great way to celebrate the spooky
I know you will be asked this a lot but never the less... Do you feel in any way that there are
advantages or disadvantages to being a woman in the metal scene in particular?
I believe that women are becoming more and more prominent in the metal scene in many genres and it is
extremely exciting! Being a growing force, women get a lot of attention that may not be given as frequently to an
all male group because there is something different brought to the table that is intriguing. Women have the same
depth and aggression as men, and to have an artistic platform to display that (as well as our delicate nature) is a
new and amazing thing. The only disadvantage that I see is the play on sexism and creating sex appeal that
purposefully overshadows or interferes with the platform for ones natural talent. With that being said, women are
right and powerful in displaying their femininity and sexuality in metal as long as it is rightfully placed and is
overall respectful to women in a male dominated genre, and respectful to their talents and their deservingness of
their place within the metal industry. Women work hard to do what they do and they do not need to hide behind
sex appeal to be respected for their time, talent, and work. Knowing that and showing that is important.
I see (through your social media pages) you are doing several projects outside the metal scene. With all that you
have going on, how do you make time for all of it?
I will always find time to do the things that make me happy. The reason why I can do many different projects is because I let
myself heal, relax, laugh, and have fun! It's the little things that count.
Are there any funny, rediculous or outragious stories you can share with us that you have seen or experienced in your time with any of the metal
projects/bands you are (or have been) involved with?
At Chicago Open Air 2017 Aversed and I had performed on the last day alongside acts such as Slayer, Behemoth, and Ozzy Osbourne to name a few. Nearing the end of Ozzy's
set our tour bus crew was giving the band a last call to get on the bus or else it was leaving without us! My phone has been dead and I didn't know. By the grace of the metal
gods I ran into my band mates while I was getting a pretzel and ran back with them. Everyone was there besides our guitarist Sungwoo Jeong. After an awful 10 minutes of frantic
calling, searching, and figuring out a way for him to fly back to Boston on his own, we searched the bus one last time and found he'd been asleep the whole time. I had immense
luck and Sungwoo cracked us all up and it made one hell of a story.
Is there anything you would like to say or add?
Thank you to all of the fans, photographers, promoters, musicians, teachers, schools, venues and venue staff, families, band mates, communities, and all who have supported
me and my career as a professional musician. Thank you for supporting the beautiful gift that is music!
|Interview by Dave Henninger