Interview with Judas Priestess Founder & Bassist Gyda Gash
COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Gyda! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.
Gyda Gash: Great question and I’m so happy to address it. I am fortunate in that as well as being a musician and songwriter, I am also an organic artist, an experienced graphic artist, and my dad was a press agent…so I have some promotional talents by nature. I have brought all these skills into Judas Priestess, designing our brand image, logo, posters, etc.
Our amazing singer/front woman Militia Vox and I brainstormed on the look and concept for the band. We sought to build a brand image that is uniquely our own while referencing that of the iconic Judas Priest.
Social media has created accessible platforms for artists to build their brand, share their music and advertise their shows. It has enabled us to reach a worldwide audience without being at the mercy of outside companies. However, with all commerce now being dependent on social media, we are constantly asked to promote harder. The social media algorithms have changed, and the only way to broaden your reach is to purchase ads or “boost” posts.
It is a sad world where a venue books your band based not on your musical talent but on how many “likes” or “followers” you have on social. Black mirror! It is a time sucker. All this energy could be much better spent playing your instrument in my opinion.
GG: I struggle to balance it out by permitting myself only a certain amount of time on the computer. When I get overloaded with computer work, my playing definitely suffers. I recently took a break because I had to give more attention to playing my bass guitars. All musicians should have a partner, friend or employee to handle this stuff!
CV: Gyda, while paying tribute to one of the most iconic Metal bands ever, so many aspects can be considered when using the word iconic to describe them; their sound, their style, their look or their attitude. What particular aspect of Judas Priest do you see is forefront in your tribute version of the band?
GG: Judas Priestess is not your normal tribute band. We are comprised of accomplished artists in our own right and we maintain our individual identities. We are not “Roberta Halford” or “KiKi Downing” for example; we are Militia Vox (vox), Gyda Gash (bass), JoSette (guitar), Rena Sands (guitar), and Hillary Blaze (drums). We dress in black pleather, studs, and Heavy Metal gear in our everyday life. We are naturals and I believe it is this authentic aspect to the band that makes audiences keep coming back for more. We’re the real deal and they can feel it.
Each band member is extraordinary. All the players are experts at their instrument, delivering the goods on some of the most complex Priest arrangements. Our secret weapon is our singer, Militia Vox, who has a 5 octave range and has been dubbed “the perfect blend of Rob Halford and Tina Turner”.
|Photo by Trish Newberg|
GG: I think that is based on the individual. Certainly there are numerous musical artists who are role models for a variety of reasons!
CV: Do you see yourself at all, as a role model on some level?
GG: I definitely see myself as a role model! I am someone who became who she is against all odds. I’m a self-taught musician who rose up from the ashes with a bass guitar in her arms slaying all nay-sayers! I am an empowered woman of the highest degree. So many ladies come up to me at shows and tell me how much it means to them to see the performance of a badass adult female. They bring their daughters to show them “see, you can be anything you want to be”.
CV: Does covering just about the most influential Heavy Metal band of all time, Judas Priest, add to the pressure of performing for you? Are Priest fans hard to please...do they expect more?
GG: There is only pleasure in playing Priest music. I love the challenge of some of the more complicated tempos and musical arrangements. The heavier the tune, the more I like it. Dissident Aggressor is my favorite song to play and perform live. Judas Priest fans love us! Especially the old school ones who saw Priest back in the 80s…and tell us how much we sound like them!
CV: Gyda, have you always been a Judas Priest fan? What prompted the idea for you to co-find an all female Priest tribute band?
GG: I have not always been a Judas Priest fan. I had been in a series of original bands throughout the 90’s, the most reputable one being ANGEL ROT with Tom Five, ex- WHITE ZOMBIE guitarist. We had toured the USA several times promoting a release on Man’s Ruin Records. After playing small clubs for years, I wanted to be in a local band that was guaranteed to earn good money and play big stages. I was very inspired by the success of Lez Zeppelin (all girl tribute) and hooked up with one of their ex-drummers to form an all-girl David Bowie tribute. It was at one of our shows where I met a guitarist in another female tribute band. We got together and decided to do an all-girl Heavy Metal band. The legend is that I wanted to do Black Sabbath, and she wanted to do Judas Priest. I honestly had not been that familiar with the extensive catalog of Judas Priest, so I was happy to learn that they had many songs written in my favorite style; blues-based mid tempo heavy stuff ! Priest won, and JUDAS PRIESTESS was born.
CV: Many up and coming original artists have criticized the massive rise of tribute bands in recent years, feeling that such rise in popularity has started to diminish not only the original scene but the new artists' ability to properly grow a solid audience to build a career. Do you agree with this assessment? Is there a need for such concern or has it all been blown out of proportion?
GG: Another interesting question! There has been a rise in tribute bands in recent years - some are really mediocre unfortunately, and they make it harder for more expert tribs because they will work for peanuts.
It is not easy for an original band. Rock ’n’ Roll and Heavy Metal audiences love their “founding fathers”: Zeppelin, Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, and the like. Nothing sounds better because nothing IS better. Either you’re derivative or you’re covering the original material. A kickass band will grow an audience if they are a kickass band, period.
CV: How would you compare your bass playing style to that of Ian Hill? Are there similarities or have you had to make modifications?
GG: Ian Hill has a very precise style…playing root eighth notes with a pick. His bass lines are heavy and driving and invigorating.
I came from a more riff oriented bass style…playing mostly with my fingers. While I very much enjoy Ian’s bass lines, my finger technique started to decline after years of Judas Priestess…which is why I started my side project SABBATHWITCH, a 3 piece heavy band playing some of my original songs mixed with deep cuts - all with riff bass lines. I needed to get back to digging my fingers into the strings!
|Photos by Daniel Guertin|
CV: With playing someone else's music, how do you approach adding your own personal touch to the song? Or is preserving the song's original intent and arrangement key when being in a tribute band of this level?
GG: I always give my own personal touch to a Priest bass line. Mine may have more bounce, a little more soul, and are perhaps a tiny bit looser. The difference is extremely subtle. It does not compromise the original intent of the music in any way.
CV: If you had to choose your favorite Judas Priest song and favorite Priest album, which would they be and why?
GG: Favorite song to play as previously stated, Dissident Aggressor but Deep Freeze is close second. This deep cut off of Rocka Rolla is straight Sabbath-doom, the style I love the most.
It is hard to choose a favorite album. I love the album Screaming For Vengeance…British Steel because of Rapid Fire… the list goes on.
|Photo by @betahal9000|
GG: Judas Priestess is celebrating a “Ten Year Anniversary, a Decade of American Steel”. We will be touring to honor this accomplishment heading to the West Coast in January…Midwest and Canada in March.
We have just released the first of a series of recordings, “Screaming For Vengeance” available on Itunes, Spotify, and Amazon Music. Please check our website judaspriestess.com and social media for dates and updates.
In addition to Priestess I also play bass in the world famous Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. You must Google them, they are legendary! I will also be continuing with my side-project SABBATHWITCH, please stay tuned.
CV: Thank you again Gyda for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. It was a pleasure. I wish you all the best and continued success.
Check out Gyda and Judas Priestess at:
Check out Gyda and Judas Priestess at:
Like The Cosmick View on Facebook at:
My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word. Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.