Introducing: Black Orchids

Black Orchids are pitch­ing a new reli­gion with a sim­ple ide­al: sur­vival through cathar­tic, bone-shak­ing rock.

Cal­i­for­nia-born Kay Eliz­a­beth is the front­woman and rhythm gui­tarist of this mot­ley four-piece. All hail from dif­fer­ent parts of the world, but share a deep love of mak­ing relent­less, rhyth­mic patterns.

“Black Orchids allows me a path­way to express my love of heavy music in my own way, with all my oth­er influ­ences. It’s almost like a com­ing home in some ways,” Eliz­a­beth tells Fringe Fre­quen­cy.

On stage, Eliz­a­beth is a rock queen per­son­i­fied: knee-high boots, tat­toos, thick, dark hair and a tow­er­ing pres­ence when she wields her instru­ment. And when she says “heavy”, she means it. The bat­ter­ing growl of bass and drums in ‘Blood Moon’ is like the rum­ble of judge­ment com­ing ever clos­er. But the ethe­re­al and oth­er­world­ly is also a major part of their sound, ema­nat­ing through­out these songs from the psy­che­del­ic rock rhythms to Elizabeth’s stout vocals.

“Growing up in the Bay Area, I was surrounded by loads of local bands. That’s all I did really: drink beer and go see bands!” – Kay Elizabeth

Elizabeth’s love of music start­ed ear­ly, as she explains: “Grow­ing up in the Bay Area, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the east side, I was sur­round­ed by loads of local bands play­ing met­al, punk, hip hop. That’s all I did real­ly, drink beer and go see bands!

“I dis­cov­ered a love for heavy music in my late teens – Obit­u­ary, Death and Hel­met being a few of my favourites.”

Now resid­ing in Lon­don, Eliz­a­beth recruit­ed her fel­low band­mates one by one.

First was British-born bari­tone lead gui­tarist Mag­nus Box, whom she met as part of Latin-funk music project, The Fontanas. “His pro­duc­tion exper­tise and cre­ative ideas have been para­mount,” says Elizabeth.

Drum­mer Bri­an Hede­mann, from Den­mark, was next up. “He was indeed my first choice of drum­mer with his sheer ener­gy and musi­cal­i­ty of his playing.”

Final­ly, Bel­gian-Finnish bass play­er Alain Duch­esne was intro­duced to her at The Blues Kitchen in Cam­den. “Alain has held togeth­er and cre­ative­ly inter­pret­ed my music, espe­cial­ly with his knowl­edge of rhythm and har­mo­ny sub­tly trans­lat­ed amidst heavy riffs,” she says.

“I find the creative process necessary for my survival as a human being!” – Kay Elizabeth

The group’s debut EP, Blood Moon, has been hearti­ly reviewed and got them booked to play Afrop­unk Lon­don. There are echoes of clas­sic rock here, like Ste­vie Nicks and Black Sab­bath. But it’s more than that. Lis­ten­ing to Black Orchids’s bold, rhyth­mic rock is like being part of a summoning.

“I find the cre­ative process nec­es­sary for my sur­vival as a human being!” says Elizabeth.

“Per­form­ing arts as a path­way of expres­sion is equal­ly impor­tant. Writ­ing music allows me to dig into the archives of the self, to dig beneath the sur­face of emo­tion. In my writ­ing, I attempt to dive down, deep into the recess­es of how it’s ‘sup­posed’ to feel and tran­scend through to the oth­er side.”

So far, in their quest to the break out of our mor­tal world, the band has released their debut EP and the sin­gle ‘Still Remains’. They are work­ing on their debut album now, ful­ly inde­pen­dent – as they are with­out a label and man­age­ment at the moment.

Eliz­a­beth has ambi­tions to play Down­load Fes­ti­val and Blood­stock. If they can main­tain the pow­er of their ear­ly music, it’s an ambi­tion she will sure­ly realise. Along with artists like Shin­gai Shoni­wa (Noisettes), Sate, Deap Val­ly, and Nova Twins, she is remind­ing the world that heavy music isn’t, and will nev­er be, “just for the boys”.

“This project is a jour­ney shared between four musi­cians intu­itive­ly con­nect­ed, which makes Black Orchids.” says Eliz­a­beth. “It’s dreamy hard rock for com­pli­cat­ed people”.

Group mem­bers: Kay Eliz­a­beth (vocals and rhythm gui­tar); Mag­nus Box (bari­tone lead gui­tar); Alain Duch­esne (bass); Bri­an Hede­mann (drums)

Select­ed discography

  • Blood Moon (EP, 2015, Self-released)
  • Still Remains (Sin­gle, 2017, Self-released)

File next to: Black Sab­bath; The White Stripes; Fleet­wood Mac; Sate


Social media: Face­book, Insta­gram, Twit­ter, Sound­Cloud

Still Remain by Black Orchids is out now. You can lis­ten to the group play a selec­tion of their favourite songs on a spe­cial one-hour show for Rinse (it’s tru­ly great).

Image: Stephanie Dray