Interview With Nikki Stringfield
(The Iron Maidens, Femme Fatale)
Rockin’ Interviews~What made you want to be a musician?
Nikki Stringfield~ “My parents were pretty musical. I liked rock, but I was born in 1990 so I’ll admit it, I was into Backstreet Boys. My dad got me my first guitar and I picked it up and started to play it when I was 14. Then I fell in love with Nirvana and it hit me all of the sudden that I wanted to play guitar. I’ve always loved music, I’ve always wanted to write or sing or do something in music.”
R.I.- How did you get people to take you seriously as a teenage musician?
N.S.- “I grew up in a very small town outside of Dallas, and there wasn’t really a music scene or anywhere to play. So there were a couple of my friends who played guitar, but not many other female musicians. I think the first thing I did was enter an Avenged Sevenfold contest on Youtube, I think it was to play your own version of the “Almost Easy” solo. I think that’s the first video I ever uploaded on Youtube, and that’s how it kind of started. That was when Youtube wasn’t really popular and not a lot of people were really watching it. Of course you have the guys telling me, ‘You can’t play’ and ‘I’ll show you.’ I was maybe 17 or 18 at that time. I have these people telling me I can’t play and that just fueled the fire. That’s how it started. It wasn’t until I was 22 and moved to L.A. and played my first gig in my first band. It took me a while, but I kinda got my start on Youtube.”
R.I.- How do you feel doing Youtube benefited you?
N.S.- “Now you can do so much with Youtube and so many people have crazy Youtube channels, it wasn’t that way back in the day. I would always post videos playing my Schecter and I think Schecter found me that way. I think the guys in my first band Before The Mourning turning saw my Youtube stuff and that’s how I got into their band. It definitely helped me and definitely helped get my game out there. There were times where I would be at a random show and someone would say, ‘Hey, you’re that girl from Youtube.’ To this day I’ll still have people say they used to watch my videos, and that’s kinda mind-blowing to me. I don’t do too much of it anymore because I don’t really have the time, I’d like to.”
R.I.- Speaking of having no time, what’s the biggest challenge of being on the road a huge portion of the year?
N.S.- “I just spent 3 or 4 hours going to the post office mailing these guitar pick packs out and I still have to go to the store and get things and pack. I leave on sunday for Europe for a month. It’s just finding the balance between you’re personal life and being on the road, and it's hard. When I’m home I like to be with my animals, my roommate and my friends, but at the same time I like to work on my music, so you just have to find the right balance and that’s not too easy.”
R.I.- How did playing live for the first time differ from what you expected it to be?
N.S.- “My first time playing was with my first band, Before The Mourning, on my 22nd birthday. I had only been living in Los Angeles a couple months, and in school everybody always knew me as the quiet, artistic person and it took me a little while to get comfortable, but I loved it. Getting to play music live has been my dream come true, so it was everything I expected and a little more. I learned a lot about myself and it helped me grow into who I am as a person. It was definitely a learning experience.”
R.I.- What does your live rig look like currently?
N.S.- “It’s super simple compared to what it used to be. I use a Kemper profiler and I take that everywhere on tour with me. I also use the footswitch. I use a Shure wireless because I will trip over any guitar cable in front of me, I’m the clumsiest person ever. I use Ultimate in-ears. That’s all there is to it, super simple, super light and easy to take around.”
R.I.- What was the best part of creating your signature guitar?
N.S.- “That was for real a dream come true and I have to pinch myself every time I think about it. It was so hard to decide what I wanted, but I knew I wanted an edgier body, which for Schecter is the Avenger. I knew I wanted to do something that was totally me, but that other people would like also. One of the hardest things for me was the pickups because I have a different Seymour Duncan in all my guitars and I’ve always loved the Blackouts but I didn’t have an Invader in my guitar yet. I ended up going with the Invader and the Sustainiac cause they’re fun to play with live and in the studio. Picking out the inlays was hard too, I could not decide on that.”
R.I.- What do you do to keep a consistent practice schedule?
N.S.- “With how crazy everything is, I don’t have a consistent practice schedule. On the road, basically I play during soundcheck and I warm up before the show and our shows are about an hour and a half so my playing is good on the road. When I’ve been home lately and working on my EP, I’ve been playing all of the time. Sometimes when I’m visiting family, I’ll go days to a week without playing and then I really have to get it back up when I get home. But right now, it’s just all over the place, unfortunately.”
R.I.- How was playing on Beat Shazam?
N.S.- “That was an experience. We (herself and Kirsten Rosenberg) didn’t really know what to expect because it was the first season. We were literally going in blind. Kirsten and I just auditioned for fun and we didn’t think we would actually make it on the show, and we didn’t know how the game worked. I just had a feeling it was gonna be a bunch of music we didn’t know and I had a feeling it was gonna be Taylor Swift, since I wasn’t a big fan of her. So I listened to Taylor Swift over and over and sure enough her category was on the show. There is no rock n’ roll on that show. There was one song that I love that was rock, but neither one of us got it in time. It was very stressful and nerve-wracking, but really fun at the same time. I’m really glad we did it. Our goal was to not go home first and we almost did, but we managed to pull through. It was a miracle.”
R.I.- What do you feel the music industry needs to improve on?
N.S.- “I’d say a big one is streaming and paying musicians what they deserve. That means people would actually start having to buy music again. I still like to buy physical copies of albums, I’m weird like that. I like to have the art and the tangible thing, even though there aren’t CD players in cars anymore. I hope the streaming services will start compensating musicians because you have to go out and tour a lot and sell merch to make more money than your music, that’s probably the biggest one for now.”
R.I.- Last month you played the final Femme Fatale show. What was that experience like?
N.S.- “It was bittersweet and fun. We played in Wales a few months before that, but I feel like we hadn’t played in a couple years. I love all of the girls in that band and I was so happy to see all of them again and play with them again, but it was also sad to think that it was the last time. The girls and I have to keep in touch. I saw Janis because she came out to a Maidens show shortly after the cruise. We’re all good friends and it was definitely bittersweet.”
R.I.- What are your favorite Iron Maiden songs?
N.S.- “They change quite a bit. Powerslave is probably always one of them. I always love Aces High. And maybe Flight of Icarus because my dad used to play that when I was younger. Then Still Life, we’ll do top 4.”
R.I.- Have you met any of the members of Iron Maiden before?
N.S.- “I have not. Unfortunately I just went to my first Maiden show two years ago. It was during the Book of Souls tour in Vegas. I’ve always wanted to see them live, but never got the chance.”
R.I.- How was it?
N.S.- “It was awesome, they sound amazing. It’s crazy that they still have the energy they always had. It’s awesome to get to play their music. I can’t think of another band that I’d rather do it for.”
R.I.-How do you deal with any hate towards tribute bands, or towards yourself specifically?
N.S.- “There are a lot of people who don’t like tribute bands and I never even thought about it before I started playing with the Maidens. I just let it roll off. Everybody has their opinions, and I get it because I’ve done original stuff too and I do that on the side. But the funniest thing is when people ask why we don’t do our own music, when really if they looked into it a little bit, they would see that most of us have done our own music, or are working on doing our own music. It’s hard to be out on the road and do your own music. I’m thankful that this band allows me to travel because I’ve seen places in the world that I never would’ve seen in my life. I feel like we’re really lucky because it’s fun. I think people just read too much into things.”
R.I.- You mentioned your solo music, what was the inspiration behind “Save Our Souls”?
N.S.- “You know, I’m not very political, but that was when the election was going on and I couldn’t stand the whole thing. That’s kinda where that came from. I just couldn’t stand any of it. I actually already had most of the music written for it a long time ago, for my old band Before The Mourning, but we never used it. So I had most of the song, but the lyrics and melody came way later.”
R.I.- What’s your favorite horror movie?
N.S.- “That’s so hard. I don’t know what my favorite one is, I’m looking at my DVDs across the room. I’ve always really loved Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy is probably my favorite villain of all time. That’s probably it for me.”
R.I.- Outside of music, what are your favorite things to do?
N.S.- “I love to draw, which I don’t really get to do anymore. I hope to do more of that on tour. I used to love going to the movies, but I don’t really get to do that either. I really like relaxing on the beach. I’m not too exciting of a person. I do love to travel, but when I get home I just like to chill.”
R.I.- What can fans expect from your new solo EP?
N.S.- “I feel like it’s within grasp. I wanted to get all the guitars done this week, but I’ve had a cold so I didn’t wanna push myself. I’ve set the deadline of finishing it by the end of June, but I think I’ll be able to finish it way before then because it’s rhythm guitar on one song, solos, vocals and then it’s totally done. 5 songs. There’s a pretty heavy song, a couple of really melodic, guitar-driven song, one’s more kinda groovy and catchy. I’m trying to figure out the album art now and I hope to have it out really soon after we get back from Europe.”