Melanie Mongeon is best known for her fearsome, visceral performances as the vocalist for Ottawa-based experimental grindcore act Fuck The Facts. Her physical, often violent style of performing and agonized vocals have helped define Fuck The Facts as a must-see live band. While still stalwartly a part of the underground of Canadian aggressive music, the consistent quality and innovation Fuck The Facts’ output displays has been recognized more of late. Their last full-length album, Die Miserable, released by Relapse Records in 2011 along with an independently-released Die Miserable EP, earned them a Juno nomination in 2012, the first year the organization gave out their inaugural Metal/Hard Album of the Year Award. Melanie and band founder Topon Das (also her partner) form the core of Fuck The Facts, and together push the band to experiment, write and record regularly, and maintain a gruelling schedule of touring and performing. Melanie is an extraordinarily talented vocalist and a driven performer, and it is an honour to have her as a part of this series.
How did you first become drawn to aggressive music? What is your heavy metal love story?
I actually come more from the punk scene. As a teenager, I loved a lot of different styles of music, but I did listen to a lot of old punk and punk rock. My tastes slowly evolved toward heavier punk and then I started listening to metal as a young adult. Nowadays, I don’t listen to that much metal, I would say about 25% of the time. Right now, I am going through the The Cure discography, I’m digging some of it for sure.
When did you know that you wanted to be more than just a fan, but a performer, and make heavy metal your career? How did you become involved in Fuck the Facts?
In 1999, a friend of mine just asked me if I wanted to try screaming in one of his bands. I said yes and I was stoked. I had never really thought about it before, it kind of just happened. I had a really rough time with my voice after the first jam but I loved it so that didn’t stop me! For Fuck the Facts, a few years after, I ended up meeting Topon Das (guitar player of FTF) at a show. We started hanging out afterwards. Not long after, the original Fuck the Facts singer could not do a weekend of shows and I ended up replacing him. That singer then left the band and I joined. That was 11 years ago. Time flies!
You have an extremely intense style of vocalization and performance. How did you develop your own aesthetic?
I really became more comfortable onstage over time. I also now have better control of my voice live, at practice and in the studio. I think it’s just the time and the amount of hours spent screaming that helped me know where are my limits are and how to work with my voice.
What in particular draws you to grindcore and experimental metal as a genre?
I would not mind being in a different style of music. I don’t think I can sing; I never tried [a different genre] but I have a good feeling it would be hard for me. Heavy music is definitely inspiring because of its intensity and it is really the style I am comfortable with. I really enjoy writing patterns and screaming over more depressing, heavy songs. I love mostly depressing music in all styles. There is something in really cheery happy music that makes me more aggressive than actual aggressive music
As someone who travels and tours extensively, you have the opportunity to see and participate in a lot of scenes. Do you think women in metal are treated the same pretty much everywhere, or are there distinct differences? How does Canada compare to other places in the world?
From what I have seen over the years, I don’t see much difference. I’ve only seen the American, Canadian and European scenes and I never felt degraded or treated with disrespect because of my gender.
While you and Topon Das are the core of the band, Fuck the Facts has enjoyed a fairly static and solid lineup for the past few years. What has this solidity allowed you to do?
When you don’t have lineup changes, you can focus on the main point of your band: music! It is really difficult for the band and the band members’ morale to keep having members leaving and then searching for new ones. I feel really lucky that we have had the same lineup for 5 years. Our drummer has been [with us] for 8 years now and that is pretty cool as well.
Die Miserable and the Misery EP were released last year; what is the next recording project for Fuck the Facts? What is your role in the composition process?
We are working on a new record and just tracked some demos for some new material. For my part, once all the music is written, I write the lyrics and the vocal patterns and that is pretty much it.
Do you ever find that you put pressure on yourself to perform harder or in a more intense way because you are a woman, to prove that you can?
No, I put pressure on myself because I want to do my best, not because I am a woman.
What is the best piece of advice that you would have for anyone, especially a young woman, who wanted to pursue a similar career path?
I don’t think I have a golden piece of advice for anybody actually! But I would say the same advice for girls or guys: if you love doing it, keep doing it. There is no real recipe to screaming. Everybody is so different!