When we got in touch with Kim La Chance of VIXEN/MALISHA and later on DRIVEN STEEL, I went like aaaaarrgggghhhh!!!! This is the lady, who sang “Angels From The Dust”. Already in my tapetrader years, I was madly in love with her voice. VIXEN, with Kim’s great vocals and the speedy guitar riffs of Marty Freedman, was the perfect US metal band for me in the early ‘80s. When Kim left the band and formed MALISHA, she still kept alive the very high standards in her music. Then she suddenly disappeared and went back into the underground scene with the all-female heavy metal band DRIVEN STEEL. And finally, when the compilation album “The Works” was released in 2004, we were able to do an interview with this blonde super vixen. What a perfect timing! Here’s the voice behind “The Works".
When did you start your musical career and do you play any instruments besides your great voice?
Kim La Chance: "“I began singing in cover bands in early 1980. I tried playing guitar, but couldn’t stand the callouses on my fingertips. Next I tried the piano, but felt tied down to an instrument. I currently play live with the Korg Kaos Pad and I’m looking into the new Edirol video rig to bring some improvised visuals to the show.”
Did you play in any bands before you joined VIXEN, and what music style(s) did you play?
Kim: "They were cover bands, that were cool to get my feet wet as a performer. I really can’t remember the names of the bands, since they became completely irrelevant once I hooked up with VIXEN.”
Did you record any music before your time in VIXEN?
Kim: "I covered nearly all the BLACK SABBATH songs off the “Heaven & Hell” album.”
Please tell us how you became a member of VIXEN?
Kim: "I was looking through the classifieds for bands and came across an ad for heavy metal guitar lessons. I thought this guy might have a lead on a band, that needed a singer. Marty answered and said he had a band minus a singer, so he invited me to rehearsal to check them out. I did and really liked what I heard. It was new and challenging joining a group writing original material.”
Was the band already called VIXEN, when you joined and why did you actually pick that name?
Kim: "They didn’t have a band name, when I joined. We considered the name MET’L, but then I came up with the name VIXEN. I thought it was a cool name for a female fronted band.”
Who was in the band when you joined them, and were there any line up changes in these early days of the band? Were you the first singer of VIXEN, or did you replace somebody else?
Kim: "The original line-up with Marty on guitar, Jeff Graves on drums, and Paul Escorpeso on bass lasted several months. I was the only singer of VIXEN.”
What was the first song that you wrote together as a band, and how did a VIXEN song come together. In other words, how did the writing proces go within the band?
Kim: "The first song we co-wrote was “New Age Rock-n-Roller”. At that point in time I wrote quite a bit of prose (free-form poetry), but nothing in a lyrical format. So, Marty came up with this cool riff, which he developed into an arrangement and I wrote my first lyrical composition to it. Jeff and Paul came up with their parts and the song was usually taken into the studio soon after. But “New Age Rock-n-Roller” was left till last to record and remained unfinished until August 2003, when I finally cut the vocals.”
Which bands were your major influence back in those days, and who can we see as your biggest personal influences? Can you also point at any guitarplayers, that Marty liked in particular?
Kim: "I was drawn to bands with powerful singers, such as LED ZEPPELIN, JUDAS PRIEST, BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, SCORPIONS, VAN HALEN, FOREIGNER and later on QUEENSRYCHE and HEART. The whole NWOBHM influenced me. All we had here in the States at that time was disco and new wave, which was as bad as dragging one’s fingernails across a chalkboard to me. I know Marty was highly inspired by ULI JON ROTH.”
“Angel From The Dust” ended on the well known “US Metal II” compilation LP, put together by Mike Varney. Did you chose this song yourself, or did Mike make this choice for you?
Kim: "Angels From The Dust” was our very first recording. We submitted one of our demos with the original version of “Angels From The Dust” on it for consideration on a “U.S. Metal” compilation album. Mike liked it, but wanted more guitar work. So, we went back in the studio and recorded the second version.”
After that you recorded the world famous “Made In Hawaii” EP. Why was this EP only recorded on one side, while the other side was left blanc. Wasn’t it better to wait until you had more material to fill a complete album? What was the main reason why your material was put out on a one side record?
Kim: "Made In Hawaii” was handled by Dave Richards of Azra Records. He decided on the album cover artwork and the one-sided EP. It was cost effective to put all the tracks on one side.”
I have a copy of the picture disc of this EP, which comes in a cardboard box with a biography of the band and a signed picture, in a limited version of one hundred and fifty (150) hand numbered copies only. I know that it is a very rare item. Who came up with the idea of releasing this EP as a picture disc, and have you got a copy of this item yourself too?
Kim: "Dave at Azra was heavy into the picture disc thing, so that was his doing. My favorite VIXEN disc was the clear blue vinyl edition. I also have the picture disc, as well as all kinds of press media in many languages, photos, press kits I made in 1981-‘82 and letters from fans all over the world.”
Have you got any idea of the value of this item?
Kim: "I have really no idea.”
On one of the demo tapes there’s a cover of the old ANIMALS classic “The House Of The Rising Sun”. Why did you chose to cover this song?
Kim: "“House Of The Rising Sun” was one of the first covers we started jamming on. In rehearsal, while deciding which original to work on next, we’d start jamming on a cover, and a few stuck. We had “House Of The Rising Sun” down tight and knew we could lay it down in the studio quick, so we did.”
Let’s take a closer look at the live shows of VIXEN, if we may. Which songs did you play live and which song was the most difficult to play?
Kim: "Marty and I created the set for each gig. I never really looked at a song as being difficult to sing. There were songs I liked to warm up on and some I preferred to sing because of the feel and content.”
With whom did you share the stage in the early eighties?
Kim: "In Hawaii at that time, there was no demand for heavy metal bands. The USA was deluged with disco and new wave music. Metal was totally underground. We played private parties, military clubs, and battle of the bands.”
Did you play any other covers than “The House Of The Rising Sun” live, and if yes, which songs?
Kim: "We played “Somebody To Love” by JEFFERSON STARSHIP, “Red Door” by THE ROLLING STONES, “Mystery Achievement” by THE PRETENDERS, “Living After Midnight” by JUDAS PRIEST, and probably a couple more I can’t bring to mind.”
We get back to the song “Angels From The Dust” now. It must have been one of the favorite songs of the band, because it appeared on a few compilation albums, on your demo, etc. etc. It was adopted from Marty’s former band DEUCE, and it was also the first VIXEN song I heard through the tape traders scene. It has become one of my favorite VIXEN songs over the years. Which song is your favorite song? And why is this song so special to you?
Kim: "“Angels From The Dust” is definitely one of my favorites. It was the very first song we recorded along with “Living In Sin”. The only compilation album it appeared on was “U.S. Metal Vol. II.” “New Age Rock-n-Roller” is my other favorite. When it comes to favorites, I always have more than one!”
Are there any gigs, that you have fond memories about?
Kim: "Any time I didn’t have to drag my P.A. system out was a good gig! There was an audition for Battle Of The Bands, that was memorable. We had just lost Paul and didn’t have a replacement yet. We decided to audition without a bass player and see what would happen. So during the audition, Marty and I were headbanging and cracked our heads together! We were a little stunned for a second and came out of it with nice lumps on our heads! We passed the audition!!!”
We always talk about VIXEN as being a band orginating from Hawaii. Did you also record and play in Hawaii, or did you operate from the continent later on, too?
Kim: "We were solely located on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. All recordings were made at Rendezvous Recording in Honolulu.”
We know a few bands from this beautiful island, like HAWAII, ALOHA and SACRED RITE. Can you give us more names of bands from Hawaii, and what was the metal scene like there? Were there many clubs, where you could play live?
Kim: "I remember SACRED RITE and SABRE, and of course HAWAII and ALOHA were Marty’s bands after VIXEN split up and MALISHA was my successive band. There was no metal scene except for us few bands, who were kicking it out in the few venues open to us. Honolulu clubs wanted Top 40 and Hawaiian bands to play for the tourists.”
After the release of “Made In Hawaii”, it becomes rather quiet around VIXEN. What happened and did you actually write and record new songs for a follow up album already?
Kim: "VIXEN had already split up by the release of the EP.”
What exactly caused the split between you and VIXEN, who continued with another singer called Lisa Ruiz?
Kim: "I just think our time was up. We had done what we were supposed to do at that point, and here “The Works” is released in the new millennium! Go figure! In 1982, I was feeling the push to move to Los Angeles, CA. So when I left VIXEN, I formed MALISHA with Delian Shishido and Randy Hano, who wanted to move to Los Angeles as well. In the last few months on the island, we recorded five tracks.”
Did you actually get in touch with Lisa, when she joined the band and do you have any idea how the band got in touch with her?
Kim: "I never met Lisa. From what I heard she wasn’t into being a lead singer, let alone a metal singer, and never did anything else in music. Whether that’s accurate, I don’t know.”
You started a band of your own after you left VIXEN. Was this because you wanted more artistic freedom or did you leave because of the usual musical differences? Or perhaps there were other reasons involved?
Kim: "I got a really good vibe when I met Delian. He showed genuine excitement about metal music, as well as being a cranking bass player. I did feel MALISHA to be a cool collaborative vibe.”
How did you actually get in touch with the members of your new band MALISHA?
Kim: "Delian returned to Oahu from Los Angeles, when he heard VIXEN was looking for a bass player. He called me for an audition. I told him VIXEN was over. I gave him Marty’s number to check out what he’s doing, and mentioned I wanted to get some recording done before heading for Los Angeles. He met with Marty, then with me and we started MALISHA.”
Why did you name the band MALISHA, and what does it actually mean?
Kim: "We thought it had a metal edge to it. No meaning really.”
Did you also play live with MALISHA, and with which bands did you share the stage?
Kim: "We concentrated solely on writing and recording.”
Did you also play any VIXEN songs, while playing on tour with MALISHA?
Kim: "We only had enough time left on the island to write and record five tracks before moving 3,000 miles across the ocean to Los Angeles… I’ve never played VIXEN songs with anyone else. When I’m done with something in my life, I move on.”
Did you play any covers in your live set perhaps?
Kim: "No covers. Only originals.”
We only know about the great album “Serve Your Savage Beast”. But did you write any more songs with MALISHA, that were never released?
Kim: "All the songs we recorded went on the album.”
How did the press react on this debut album? I believe, it got some very good reviews worldwide!
Kim: "Paul Suter, writer for Kerrang! magazine loved the MALISHA track “Love For The Day”. He said "it would make your grannies eyes mist over". It was in this article, that the comparison of one of Marty’s riffs in “Escape The Night” appeared in truncated form in IRON MAIDEN’s “To Tame A Land”. One of our fans was an IRON MAIDEN groupie, so as it goes, she shared a VIXEN demo with Steve Harris and whoila! I know for a fact, that Marty didn’t cop the riff from Steve! Whether it was an overt act or a subconscious event, I don’t know. It was great publicity!”
I guess, there were also some very negative reviews in the press. How do you handle negative reviews in general? Do you try to learn from it or do you want to forget about it as quickly as possible?
Kim: "No one can please everyone all the time. So what’s to handle? I read all reviews that come my way and I don’t let good or bad reviews affect me. Everyone is going to have an opinion. I don’t base my opinion of my art on the opinion of others. Besides, I’m my own worst critic anyway!”
Why did you never record a follow up album to “Serve Your Savage Beast”?
Kim: "I was done for a while. Putting the album out was all on my shoulders and I needed a break. I took time off to put my attention on other things.”
How did you actually get in touch with the relatively unknown record label Shardan Kane Records?
Kim: "Shardan Kane Records was an indie label here in Los Angeles, who took interest. I think the project was discussed at a party.”
The opening track “Valkyrie” on the album “Serve Your Savage Beast” is dedicated to former OVERDRIVE guitarplayer Janne Stark. Any particular reason for that?
Kim: "Janne and I wrote a lot of letters back then sharing our thoughts and music with each other. I felt a kindred spirit in Janne. Being of Scandinavian ancestry myself, I wanted to write something related. So I chose to write about the Valkyrie. The Valkyrie represent a powerful image of the female warrior, which I admired so I wrote the song and wanted to honor my friend who was an inspiration to me.”
Why did you actually leave MALISHA, and did the band continue to play after you left the band?
Kim: "There were actually three line-ups on the MALISHA album. I worked with the second and third lineups to finish the album, not to have as a long term band.”
It’s 1992 now, and you join the ranks of the all-female metal band DRIVEN STEEL. How did you get in touch with these metal ladies?
Kim: "I found guitarist, Julia Roberts, in a musician’s directory. We set up a rehearsal with bassist, Kelley Heckart and drummer, Wade Brown. We liked each others music and continued playing together for a couple years.”
Did you actually record anything with these ladies?
Kim: "We only did pre-production tapes, nothing to release. Our focus was on performing in Hollywood and various clubs around Los Angeles…”
Why did this cooperation last so short?
Kim: "DRIVEN STEEL had bad Spinal Tap-itis. Drummers were blowing up everywhere! I left, when the last drummer blew up.”
After 1993, we lost track of Kim La Chance. Can you please give us an update of what you did between 1993 and let’s say 2003?
Kim: "When I dropped out of sight, I began an intensive study of the healing arts. I’ve had innate healing abilities and metaphysical experiences most of my life. For instance, I’ve seen auras, felt energy emanating from living beings (i.e. people, plants and animals), witnessed a physics theory event with my own eyes, etc.. I created over eighty Aromatherapy formulations that heal and promote health naturally, that are used by healing professionals such as accupuncturists, energy workers, chiropractors, naturopaths, massage therapists, homeopaths, Shamans, etc. On the music end of things, I wrote a rock album with keyboardist, Joe’ll Bortkewicz. We made a preproduction recording only. Then I met up with my keyboardist/programmer in SPACEDRUMS, Jim DeCicco, and we recorded two fully improvised new age chill out albums on location in the environment with a battery rig to power our equipment. The first album was recorded on a sandy beach of Big Sur on the California coast and the second album in the ancient Sequoia Forest in central California. We took our favorite tracks from the two albums and combined them on a CD, which will be commercially released sometime in the near future under the name KRYSTALWERK.”
What are you up to now (in 2004), music wise? We hear, that you’re in the band SPACEDRUMS, and we know you’re also involved in a project, called KRYSTALWERK (which sounds kinda German to me!!). Are there more projects or bands, you’re involved with nowadays?
Kim: "SPACEDRUMS! I love this band!! Jim DeCicco is so intense and percussionist, Chaim Gueta, is really amazing! Our new album of progressive psychedelic trance music, will be released internationally late June 2004, on Pyram-Axis Records. For more info, surf to: http://www.pyramaxis.com. This new SPACEDRUMS release is by far my best work. Yeah, KRYSTALWERK does sound eine bitte Deutsch! I got an offer to work on some heavy rock material recently, but I felt it would need more development, than I have the time to put toward it at the moment. If the right metal project came around, I’d consider it.”
When I look at the songtitles of SPACEDRUMS, I start to believe that you have a big interest in ‘new age’ related things. Am I right here, because this feeling is getting stronger when I saw that one of the unknown songs on the VIXEN compilation album is also called “New Age Rock-n-Roller”?
Kim: "I believe I named only one song on the SPACEDRUMS album. The rest of the originals were named by Jim and Chaim. But, yeah, I feel really close to the metaphysical world. I’ve seen and felt so much more in life than what we normally experience through our five senses.”
How are the reactions of “The Works” so far?
Kim: "Critics either love it or don’t. There was a self professed pop-rock writer, who reviewed it with less than favorable remarks. Writers of the metal genre and 80’s underground scene are usually enthusiastic.”
You finished the vocal parts of this new song “New Age Rock-n-Roller” only a couple of weeks before the CD was released. Was this song already existing or is it exclusively written for this album only?
Kim: "“New Age Rock-n-Roller” was written during the VIXEN days, but only the music had been recorded before we broke up. All I had was a rough mix of the music on a normal bias cassette tape for twenty years. So, I thought I’d record the vocals and see if the music could be tweaked with today’s technology to bring it up to par to place on the album. It all worked out. It was so cool to finally hear it!”
How did Marty react, when he heard this new song for the first time?
Kim: "He said if he didn’t know better, he would have thought I recorded it back then in VIXEN.”
Does “The Works” capture all the stuff that is available of VIXEN, or is there more material, that might be available in the future?
Kim: "“The Works” is all there is. We had more songs, but they never made it to tape.”
Don’t you long for those days, that you were part of the heavy metal scene, esp. after getting so many favourable reviews with “The Works”?
Kim: "Of course! I still feel the fire. But I have to say, I feel so much creative freedom in SPACEDRUMS.”
Do you have plans to promote the CD by means of any live shows with VIXEN?
Kim: "No shows are planned.”
Are there plans for a VIXEN reunion, or did you ever think about getting the band together for a certain occasion maybe?
Kim: "We’re not prepared for such an event. Marty & I each have our own projects to focus on.”
Maybe you can answer the same question for MALISHA? Is there any other material of the band, that might become available in the future, and did you ever think about reforming MALISHA back as a band?
Kim: "That’s all in the past. Everything that was recorded was put on the album.”
Is there any good video footage available of both bands, or DRIVEN STEEL?
Kim: "I think I have a five minute 8mm reel with VIXEN on it somewhere. There’s no sound. My video equipment was rather primitive in those days! We have a SPACEDRUMS video of a four and a half minute remix version of our single “Feel Your Love”, that will be done in the next few days.”
Do you have any other interests or hobbies besides music?
Kim: "I do healing and energy work, create aromatherapy formulations, cook, bake, garden, ski, pilates, throw parties, and go clubbing. I love to go to the Rainbow, a legendary Hollywood rock hang on Sunset Blvd. I see Lemmy of MOTORHEAD, Billy Sheehan of NIACIN/MR. BIG, and Dave Shultz of THE GOO GOO DOLLS there all the time.”
We are a metal magazine, that is totally dedicated to all the female musicians in the (hard)rock and (heavy)metal scene. Do you think that female musicians still need the support we are offering them, or do you feel that women are already treated equally in the music scene?
Kim: "I still think it’s a rough go for women in heavy rock. So, not only are you giving us tremendous support, but your readers can get all the up-to-date info on their favorite Fe-Metal artists and find new ones they may not be aware of. If you don’t know how important Metal Maidens is to us, I’m letting you know now - Mega!”
Our magazine is based in The Netherlands. What do you know about our country besides the fact that we have beautiful tulips, windmills and that we all walk on wooden shoes (just kiddin’here!!).
Kim: "Very funny! I know a friend, who insists I must go to Amsterdam next year. He loves your coffee houses!!! Seriously, I’ve probably gotten more mail from my Netherlands fans than from any other country on the planet. You guys totally rock over there!”
To what music do you listen to nowadays? Any metal stuff too?
Kim: "I like a lot of different stuff. Metal, trance, all kinds of rock, new age, blues, jazz, etc.”
What do you think of the metal scene of today, or haven’t you got any idea at all what’s going on in the metal scene right now?
Kim: “I would say you’re probably the authority! I’ve been focusing on trance music for the most part lately.”
What’s the latest good joke that you heard?
Kim: "Man, you’re really stretching it here! Knock, knock . . Who’s there?”
Most of the time we try to get in touch with the bands that we want to interview, or the bands that we think are interesting enough to pay attention to. But with you it was the other way around, you got in contact with us after reading our ‘Back To The Past’ article, we wrote about KIM LA CHANCE/VIXEN/ MALISHA/DRIVEN STEEL. What did you think about this article and were you surprised that we wrote about these bands, so many years after their existence?
Kim: "I thought your article was killer! At the end you asked for more recent information on me, so I thought I’d let you know what’s up. Yeah, I was surprised that you took the time to research and write about my former bands. Thanks for doing that!”
Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview? Maybe there is something that we forgot to mention here that is essential for the whole story of KIM LA CHANCE/VIXEN/ MALISHA/DRIVEN STEEL?
Kim: "My story continues with . . . SPACEDRUMS! If your musical tastes extend beyond metal, be sure to check out my new June 2004 SPACEDRUMS CD release. It’s brilliant electronic music, that pulls from the late 70’s, early 80’s experimental electronic rock/Euro progressive rock genres, and by far my best performance. You’ve got to hear our singles “Feel Your Love”, “Spike Up”, and our trance versions of “Scarboro Faire” and PINK FLOYD’s “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”. There’s a lot of depth to this album. You should check it out! Available from http://www.pyramaxis.com. Also, www.spacedrums.com will be up and running mid-May. SPACEDRUMS won ‘Best Trance Album Of The Year’ and ‘Best Electronica Band’ by the Los Angeles Music Awards.”
Do you have any personal messages for the readers of our magazine?
Kim: "Have fun. Be fun. Play. Enjoy life. Have a light heart. And, rock on!”
The last words are for you Kim……
Kim: "Many thanks to all my fans, former and current band mates, media, and especially to my friends Toine & Rita at Metal Maidens magazine, who bring us all together!!! You rock!!! For distribution and licensing inquiries, go to: http://www.pyramaxis.com.”
Interview by: Toine van Poorten / copyright METAL MAIDENS magazine
This interview was published in Metal Maidens #37/October 2004
*The Works('04; Pyram-Axis Music)
*Serve Your Savage Beast ('86 Shardan Kane Records)