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Singer Banshee Draws Attention to Sexual Abuse, Assault on ‘Birth of Venus’

Songwriter, producer and singer Banshee has a story to tell, and she’s using a broad spectrum of musical styles to put it together.

As her personal and career renaissance, her sophomore album Birth of Venus brings together elements of phonk, hardcore, EDM, mermaidcore, dance, and trance to talk about her experiences of abuse and sexual assault.

As the sole writer and producer, Rachel Knight moved to Los Angeles to start this project and bring attention to the abuse she experienced while playing in metal bands in her local music scene. 2022’s Fairy Metal started this journey and received both positive press from rock publications and saw its songs added to multiple Apple and Spotify playlists. 

She followed this with her first-ever headlining show, Cult of Banshee, where she raised nearly $2,000 for anti-sexual violence organization RAINN.

Birth of Venus continues exploring these themes, particularly the experience of being a woman in a nightclub atmosphere – oftentimes a predatory, misogynistic environment. Knight wrote, produced, performed, and recorded everything herself for the release. The title references sirencore – a sound embodying the feminine power and inner strength emerging from the forces of nature.

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What influenced you as the singer Banshee?

It’s been really hard for me to talk about my experiences with abuse and sexual assault, but my silence was nothing but a weight on my shoulder. Music became my way to talk about it. I’d been producing electronic music and making beats for a few years, and eventually started writing my own lyrics and using my own vocals.

Tell us about your musical background: How did you start writing songs, and who or what has influenced you?

I’ve been in love with music my whole life and I’ve been through many different genre phases, from metal to pop to niche internet microgenres. I’m also really inspired by high fantasy and mythology. When I got into electronic production, I felt like I could create new worlds. They eventually became safe spaces to talk about my experiences. 

You did your first headlining show earlier this year: How did that feel for you as a performer?

The first Cult of Banshee felt overwhelmingly powerful – it’s hard for me to describe. It was a safe space for everyone to let go. It was unreal hearing every word screamed back at me, like a sea of banshees. There was such a strong sense of community.

You’ve also transitioned from metal to electronic. Artistically, what influenced this shift?

I’m constantly cycling through different genres. I just love so many different styles of music that it’s impossible for me to stay in one place for too long. I fell in love with electronic music after I left my local metal scene due to abuse. I was especially fascinated with classic house: artists like Frankie Knuckles, Inner City, and Robin S. You can hear their influence everywhere. House music lets my mind breathe and makes me feel safe; I wanted to recreate that feeling.  

You did everything for Birth of Venus: How did this vary from your debut album?

So I’ve actually been the sole creator for all my albums! I’m extremely detail-oriented, and I always have a very specific vision for my sound, concepts, visuals etc. I think of each album as its own world. 

What challenges, if any, did you experience with writing and producing this release compared to Fairy Metal?

I wanted to bring together the worlds of metal and house music—to show not only their contrast, but also their similarities. There’s so much metal-like rage and catharsis that can be felt in a 4-on-the-floor beat. I had to find the right vibes that would resonate with both house fans and metalheads. 

Personal renaissance is a theme on this release. How does it come through the instrumentation/production and lyrics?

I started exploring a new sound that I call “sirencore” on the title track “Birth of Venus.” It combines harsh metal/electronic sounds with siren vocals. It’s a re-telling of the Birth of Venus story through the literal female gaze, giving Venus agency in her own story. It’s an incantation for strength, finding my voice, and breaking silence.  

Especially as you’ve been grouped with metal, what plans do you have to tour or perform for this release?

No plans currently! Follow my Instagram and TikTok for updates! 

What should audiences expect from you during your live performances?

My sound is constantly evolving, so the shows will, too. I just want to have fun, and I want everyone there to have fun, too. It’s our place to let go.


Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born EDM and synthpop enthusiast and interviewer who recently relocated to beautiful Boston, MA.