Pagan Vocalist Nikki Brumen On What It Means To Be A Woman In The Metal Scene

By Ben Tyers
12th Apr 2019


April is music month at Urban List and we’ve got all of your music needs covered with this ultimate Melbourne gig guide.

From festivals and big-time touring artists to free gigs, there is a whole lot of live music to get around in Melbourne this month. See you there.

Pagan is a local band that you’re going to be hearing a lot more about. The Melbourne band has been named as a band to watch in 2019 by Kerrang magazine—yep it’s still kicking around—and they’re about to embark on another tour of the UK and Europe in May.

We caught up with Pagan’s vocalist Nikki to talk about their favourite venues, their what it’s like to tour the UK, and what it means to be a woman in the metal scene.

Firstly, how did Pagan start out?

Pagan came into existence, probably about three and a half years ago.

It was actually Dan our bassists, brainchild. He knew Matt and Xave from the scene. They've all been playing music for about 15 years, and i’d been playing in a band with Dan at the time because I've been playing music now for like eight years.

He wanted the four of us to play in a band together. It was his vision. He had ideas about Pagan, like the themes the inverted crosses, and making it a sort of dark music. And as soon as we all got together, we all became best friends instantly. And yeah, the rest is history and now it's the four of us best friends getting to go on tour all the time. It was a very good idea from Dan from the start.

You’ve been touring the UK, and you’re about to head on another tour there. What do you love about it?

We've just got back from the UK in November and that was an amazing tour, it was our first time overseas, we had no idea how people are going to receive us.

And it was honestly so surreal to go overseas and have people screaming the words back to you, and you know, people caring about your shows and buying merch and asking to hear particular songs.

We're going back in May and we're so excited about it cause we get to play festivals this time and play, you know, to the same crowds and hopefully some new people as well.

I just love going over there. It's absolutely amazing to get over there and play in front of people who know your band on the other side of the world.

You've talked in the past about not conforming to stereotypes when you're dancing on stage, tell us about that.

I like to say that I don't conform when I dance on stage because I feel like in the hardcore scene there's a lot of strict rules with the way people move. When you think about the way the crowd participates, you know, there's mosh moves that people have. I've always found that kind of a weird thing for a scene that doesn't really conform to the mainstream and it doesn't really conform to ideals, and is kind of trying to do something that's a little bit, punk.

So, when we started Pagan, I didn't have it in my head that I would dance in any certain way on stage, but, through our live shows and throughout getting used to performing, I have just found my own style of dancing on stage. And I think it's just a reflection of Pagan not conforming to any type of genre of music. We just were a bit of an amalgamation of all of our favourite things. So, as a result, I find myself, you know, getting up there and shaking my bum to hardcore music and so be it.

What are your favourite venues to play at?

My favourite venue in Melbourne is definitely The Tote. It's very nostalgic for me. I've seen some of my favourite bands are there.

In the rest of Australia, my favourite venues are Crowbar Sydney and Crowbar Brisbane. They're the most hospitable venues of any in Australia.

Overseas? After going there once on tour recently, I would say The Old Blue Last in England, it’s a great venue.

How do you think Melbourne has influenced Pagan’s music?

There heaps of great heavy bands here (in Melbourne), which have definitely inspired us. But I think as well, like on the same token, there are a lot of bands that do the same kind of music as Pagan, and that really inspired us to want to do something different, new, and unique.

I think we've really found inspiration there to branch out and try our own thing and not be a specific genre.

I find a lot of, you know, music nights in Melbourne might be like, oh, this is a doom night, or this is a hardcore night, or this is a metalcore night. And while that's good because you know, people, fans will like similar bands in that genre, we have always wanted to do something completely different where we could fit on a number of different bills and a number of different line-ups.

We've found inspiration in good ways like that.

What does music mean to you being a female in the hardcore scene?

When I was growing up, I was really into like the metalcore scene. Some people call it the hardcore scene. I'd say it was a little bit more metalcore music.

And going to those shows—I was really young when I started going to those shows—there were no girls in bands, in any of the bands, in any of the shows.

I felt really intimidated going to the shows. I felt like if I rocked up, and I wasn't like the cool person, that people weren't really taking my myself and my friends seriously because we're all women.

Being a woman who's grown up with that, it's kind of given me like this fire in my belly to want to change it and want to show the world that I am so capable of doing what those people were doing when I was growing up, if not more capable.

I feel like I am a better performer and I can scream harder than most of the men and I've seen do it live. Like, I really do think that.

Starting in a band and being a woman doing it, it was really scary.

Like I didn't want to be patronized, I didn't want to be laughed at, but I felt like people might do that, so it took me a few years to gain the maturity and the confidence to actually do it.

As a result, I'm doing it now and I know that I inspire so many people who are part of minorities and not that is, impetus to keep going with that.

It's really inspiring that I know that I'm encouraging young people to want to do it, and people who might feel like they don't really fit in as well.

What are some local bands that we should know about?

People should know about definitely know about Waax. They're my favourite band in Australia.

They're making waves overseas and they're about to blow up. They're releasing a new album soon, and I'm sure it's going to be incredible because everything they touch turns to gold.

Press Club or another one of my favourites, they're amazing. There are some smaller punk bands in the scene, like DickLord are a great band, they don't take themselves too seriously, which I really admire.

Keen for more music? Hit up our Gig Guide here.

Image credit: supplied

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