Diving deeper into the dreadful world of Caligula.
Beneath the glitter and gold of LINGUA IGNOTA's Caligula lies a fragmented being torn asunder by the demons of man himself. Though this defies the perception one may get from initial observation of the album cover, it is a representation of the front many put up to conceal the pain and suffering underneath. The album's ability to resonate with many across the globe is an indication of where and who we are in contemporary society, highlighting the critical issues happening amongst us. Caligula may not tell you what you want to hear, but it'll tell you what you need to hear.
The third full-length by multi-instrumentalist Kristin Hayter's LINGUA IGNOTA moniker is the musical embodiment of revenge. Harrowing screams, eloquent soprano, and elements of noise, black metal, and industrial music intersect to deliver an array of tastes perfectly complementing the vengeful lyrical themes beneath.
Heaviest of Art had the privilege of engaging in conversation with Kristin Hayter, who dives deeper into the standout Caligula:
As the latin definition suggests, Lingua Ignota is an unknown language, a language you’ve crafted and have helped define through personal hardships and emotional investment. However, the language constantly changes with every subsequent record and refuses to be categorized. With that said, what was the transition from All Bitches Die to Caligula like for you personally?
All Bitches Die was written and recorded in a state of isolation mostly, and still stuck in one of the final bad situations in a serious of bad situations. When I listen to All Bitches Die today, I hear a lot of distance in it, both sonically (reverb-saturated, dark) and conceptually — it’s far from me. CALIGULA is much more aggressive in a lot of ways I think, and looks back on being stuck, invalidated, and alone from a different position. It is emotionally much more; simultaneously focused and unwieldy, and even though there are many references and sources in it, I am extremely close and present.
Caligula, like your other works, is not an easy listen and will be felt differently across those who engage with it. What, if anything, do you intend audiences to grasp onto after listening to the record?
CALIGULA is at its essence cyclical, and I wanted people to understand the psychosis that accompanies being stuck in abuse, and to be taken into all of its vagaries and vicissitudes — to be minimized, lied to, blamed, mocked, sneered at, raged at, profoundly loved, obsessed over, crushed, seduced, threatened, abandoned.
Given that your music is very intimately composed, did your approach change at all by bringing Lee Buford, Dylan Walker and other collaborators on board?
I knew what I wanted from those two scoundrels, who are like brothers to me. Lee has a fairly recognizable drumming style I think, it’s hard and direct and primitive, and I wanted that on the record. Dylan’s voice is CRAZY and I wanted it next to mine, we roam close to the same timbre in our harsh modes sometimes and I like that. Otherwise having the people I had on CALIGULA was a little like having my close community present, pretty much everyone there is really important to me.
The record is representative of an evolution, which has come alongside your musical output. Who are you now with Caligula compared to who you were with Let The Evil Of His Own Lips Cover Him?
The difference is pretty astonishing honestly. I will probably always be broken, but I am much more of A Person now than I was a few years ago. I had been completely burned down and had to remake myself anew, and so you are watching an identity form itself. I went from situations where I was being totally controlled to total autonomy, and it seems crazy but thinking about stuff like — what colors do I like? What clothes can I wear? Has been pretty huge for me.
What do you attribute this evolution to?
As you’ve discussed before, the story of Aileen Wuornos appears throughout your work for the case study it provides on the failures of the current systems at play for women. In Disease of Men, you allow Wuornos’ voice to resonate throughout, whereas in If The Poison Won’t Take You My Dogs Will, you hold a conversation with her through striking song, elaborating on the cruelties she endured and offering yourself as an ally. How did you approach this track?
Aileen is one of my world-building motifs, she appears throughout the catalog so far and I’m hoping she’ll stay. POISON is partially meant to evoke the ambience of the Jonestown deathtape and Jim Jones’ monologue. He says to one of his acolytes who is questioning the necessity of their imminent suicide: “I’m going to tell you Christine, without me life has no meaning. I’m the best friend you’ll ever have.” I wanted this to be the only moment on the record where a person is directly addressed, and I originally had my own name there, but instead I gave it to Aileen because I wanted to parallel her story and also how I have felt sometimes — that the only way through is out.
Caligula deviates from the somber, black and white themes present on the covers for All Bitches Die and Let The Evil Of His Own Lips Cover Him. Would you say this marks a new era for Kristin Hayter? Or why go in this particular direction?
The first two records, as far as their artwork is concerned, are intentionally influenced by the Xerox aesthetic of noise and certain breeds of metal. CALIGULA is far more postmodern in its approach, far more fragmented, and very elaborate. I wanted the aesthetic accompanying the record to have art historical context, to very clearly say, “I am here to do my own thing.” I wanted it to have fairly elaborate art historical context, to explore decadence, decay, excess, corruption, deceit. The chaos and entropy there, making a bunch of trash beautiful including myself, is as much about personal trauma as a society in decline.
Album covers serves as a proper introduction to the body of music that follows and let’s just say you’ll be scaring a message into many behind the gold chains and glitter on Caligula. Are there any album covers or illustrations that have ever stood out to you as impactful or as inspirational even?
I wanted the cover to be very very unlike any other cover you might see in metal, noise, industrial music, any extreme music zone. I really like a bold cover. Honestly I think less of any one cover in particular, and more how a cover signifies development within the oeuvre. I think a lot about my friend Sam McKinlay’s work, his project The Rita has been going for decades and the aesthetic is consistent throughout — black and white, sans serif text, bold design, the only thing that changes really is the topic of his work. That’s commitment.
Although your music isn’t metal by definition, you have the overwhelming support of that particular community, blurring the lines of what one feels is appropriate to enjoy despite the elitist nature of the genre. Why do you believe that is?
I truly have no idea. I am incredibly grateful for the support though. Perhaps they can tell I am also a metal nerd.
It’s common knowledge now that your music in the live setting is tear inducing, which can only mean it’s relatable and powerful enough to strike a chord in the hearts of many. What does it mean to you as an artist to have this kind of impact?
It’s insane. It really overwhelms me. To have the respect and trust of an audience to an extent where we are all in the same emotional space together is really really special.
With your upcoming tours fast approaching, how difficult is it to translate the anger of Caligula onto the live performance?
I anticipate it’s gonna be weird to strike a balance between sustainable performance of this music and the true intensity it deserves. I’m up for the challenge but I can’t actually die this time, or injure myself to the extent that I have to cancel shows and disappoint people. Once again it’s just me, so I am entirely responsible for carrying it, which makes me nervous. It will be fine. I hope.
Seeing as you endure physical pain and invest an immense amount of heart into each hour or so performance, how much of this takes a toll on you? And how do you relieve this toll, if at all?
It’s a lot. I often don’t realize how much it is as it is happening, I think I’m kind of dissociating or acting out of adrenaline. It might take a few days for things to settle in as reality, and when you repeat that night after night, it gets hard. The past several tours I’ve done, I’ve had some sort of physical or emotional breakdown. A thing I do to alleviate this is only participate in very light hearted, easy stuff when I’m not on tour.
The past several months, I’ve pretty much exclusively been resting because I injured my brain in the spring, and when I go on the road I don’t read or watch heavy shit, I read and watch mindless trash. I think I read “The Art of Seduction” once on tour, which is horrifying to admit, but I thought it was hilarious — that’s the level I need to operate on to stay up.
I came across your Evil Greed Distro Picks segment with Tristan of Author & Punisher where you picked up Amenra’s “Mass VI”. It’s a debilitating piece of music that encompasses beautiful acoustic passages, transcending the listener. Are there any albums that you feel have a particular emotional effect on you?
Amenra certainly does. I listen to that album often, it always takes me somewhere else. They are mind-blowing. I’ve said this elsewhere I think but they are closer to the realm of spiritual minimalism than metal. Although largely I like to take individual pieces of music out of their album context and make playlists for myself that have a specific effect, which again, is very postmodern and kind of exactly what I do in my own stuff.
Caligula is available now via Profound Lore Records. Order yours HERE.