December 1, 2020 Interview – Gold Frankincense & Myrrh
Hopefully most of us were taught never to judge a book by its cover, but most of all, never to allow ourselves to be shortsighted by meritless stereotypes. Take the all-female band Gold Frankincense & Myrrh (GFM): a less open-minded individual might dismiss them or make a careless assumption they are something they are not. Well, to that individual and those like them, GFM will more than likely crush any preconceptions with their blistering Metal sound.
A mix of melody, heaviness, emotion, and brutality, GFM consists of three sisters – CJ Sanders (guitar/vocals), Magdalene “Maggie” Rose (bass/vocals), and Evie “LuLu” Louise English (drums/vocals) – with an undying love for music. Releasing their debut album Identity Crisis in 2016, followed by Oh, The Horror! in April 2019, on September 4, 2020 they dropped their exciting new EP Operation Take Over. Continuously growing as songwriters and shattering their own expectations, the ladies recently sat down to talk about their approach to music, their latest EP, plans for the future, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – You ladies have been going strong for over a decade now. What initially brought Gold Frankincense & Myrrh together?
Maggie English – Well, we are all sisters, and our parents wanted to involve us in music lessons when we each turned five. If we ended up hating, we could quit after two years, but we all ended up falling in love with music.
LuLu English – Yeah, so we’ve just grown up playing music together. We really started touring in 2017, so that is when we really started to push GFM.
Cryptic Rock – Very interesting to hear how it all began. So, Gold Frankincense & Myrrh are dubbed as Beautycore. What does that title mean to you?
CJ English – Beautycore was actually initially just a joke we had between us girls. We didn’t really fit into any genre, and we were tired of being told we were the wrong genre. So we decided to make our own genre to poke fun at the fact that we’re little girls playing Metal. Now Beautycore is helping girls see that Metal, Rock, whatever you want to call it, is for everybody. It’s adding on to that women’s empowerment movement.
Cryptic Rock – That is a very positive thing. Beyond any title, Gold Frankincense & Myrrh can rock heavy! You have a sound that is heavy yet refined, crispy and still powerful. What has been like crafting your style as a trio throughout the years?
Maggie English – It definitely has taken a lot of experimentation to get the sound we have today. We try to always have another writer on board for each individual song, so we don’t get stuck in one sound. We’ve been expanding what influences us, so that we can pull inspiration from all genres, not just Rock. Because we do want the riffs and screams to hit hard, but we also want the melodies to be incredible, and we want our stage performance and outfits to be eye-catching.
LuLu English – We also have become stronger writers. We are still very young, so when we started we didn’t know we wanted our music to sound how it does now. Through writing with all kinds of people and performing on stage, we’ve learned what our voices like, what challenges us, what connects us to the crowd, and ultimately what resonates with us and our listeners. Having that confidence to say “this is what our song needs to sound like” or “this is the message that needs to be heard” is such a breath of relief. We actually semi-know what we’re doing! (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Well it is all working well. You recently released your EP Operation Take Over in September. Six stellar Metal songs, what was the writing and recording process like?
CJ English – The writing process for Operation Take Over was unlike any writing process. We had the privilege of working with Joey Sturgis, as well as some incredibly talented writers, and our best friends/producers Eric Varnell and Billy Decker. We worked with Eric and Billy on our EP Oh, The Horror! so we were already comfortable with each other. We connect on that same wavelength. Eric brought in some heavy hitters for collaborations, and it was just an exciting process.
Maggie English – With Oh, The Horror! we had written songs about these struggles and hard times we were facing, and letting people know that they weren’t alone and that there is hope at the end of it all. So when Operation Take Over came around it was very much a work of confidence and power. We were a unified force, and we wanted our listeners to know they were part of that too. We were planting our feet down and saying this is who we are for better or for worse; we are here to fight and we are here to stay. And it’s really given the fans something to resonate with. You can see the energy at concerts when we take the stage, something big is happening.
Cryptic Rock – And the music sounds fantastic. With Operation Take Over out, can we expect a full-length album in 2021?
LuLu English – You honestly never know what to expect with GFM. We always have a few tricks up our sleeves.
Cryptic Rock – Alright, well it is good to keep people guessing. You have already braved the road and done a good share of touring. What have you learned from your experiences?
Maggie English – We’ve learned that we are extremely blessed to have our family on the road with us. We don’t get homesick because everyone is with us.
CJ English – We’ve also learned to keep each other accountable, and realized that we hold a stronger responsibility now. The bigger our fanbase grows, the more our family grows. But we do also have the responsibility to be good examples and to be there for our fans. We never want to take them for granted.
LuLu English – We’ve also seen so much of different countries now too. The amount of traveling and sight-seeing that we get to do on tour is something that we probably would not have been able to do if it weren’t for the band.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like you have learned a lot. People often make assumptions about others, and more often than not, they are wrong. Have you received any backlash from naysayers, and if so, is people’s narrow-mindedness a motivational tool for you?
Maggie English – You’re always going to have haters or people that don’t understand, and we totally get that. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and not everyone has to like us. We always try to focus on the positive and use any comments as motivators to try harder. When people think women in Rock music is weird, we work to make songs that they can’t help but like. Situations like that have turned into great songs, like our newest single “SMILE.” We try not to take ourselves too seriously, so anytime something negative happens we turn it into a positive.
Cryptic Rock – That is a great outlook. Still having many years ahead of you, where would you like to see Gold Frankincense & Myrrh go in the future?
LuLu English – We definitely want to tour in many more countries. We’d love to tour with bigger bands, and eventually be headlining sold-out shows. The main focus of our band is to help people, though, so if none of that happens, we’ve learned to be content with helping others. We are all Christians, and we want to share our faith with as many people as we can. We never want to shove it down anyone’s throat, so we present what we believe and if you don’t agree, then we don’t harp on it. Our goal of growing is to expand our ripple effect of positivity and hope, so that if you don’t hold the same beliefs that we do, at least you will feel better after listening to us or coming to a concert.
Cryptic Rock – With a positive outlook like that, and your talents, everything should fall into place. Last question. Cryptic Rock covers movies as well, particularly in the Horror and Sci-Fi genres. If you are a fan, do you have any favorites in these genres and why?
CJ English – We are actually extreme scaredy-cats when it comes to Horror movies. (Laughs) There are a few that we’ve been convinced to watch, but we mainly are Sci-Fi lovers. We grew up watching movies with our parents on the SyFy channel and we do love all things zombies.
LuLu English – I think one my favorite Sci-Fi movies is A Quiet Place (2018). I feel like technically it was supposed to be a scary movie, but it was more of a Thriller or a creature feature, which is why we enjoyed it. (Laughs)
Maggie English – I really like the Alien series. We watched that with our parents growing up, and I didn’t sleep for a few days, but I’ve grown to really love the entire movie franchise.