December 1, 2020 Interview – Renee Phoenix of Fit For Rivals & Pink Fly
Rock-n-Roll should be about the freedom to be one’s self and a naturally rebellious attitude. This is certainly the case with Renee Phoenix, a rockin’ lady who is most-known as the leader of hard rockers Fit For Rivals, but she has also spread her talents to other projects, such as solo material, the Punk-driven band The Explicits, as well as Pink Fly. Furthermore, she has taken the bull by the horns and created Freak Machine Records, an independently run label that functions, in part, as an umbrella for all her creative endeavors.
Truly inspirational, Phoenix is known for her electric stage presence as well as her ability to balance smoother and unhinged vocals. Releasing a solo EP in 2020, she now turns her attention to Fit For Rivals, with new material on the horizon. Forever busy, Phoenix took the time to talk about all her projects, plans for Fit For Rivals, being a woman in Rock music, plus a bunch more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in Rock music professionally for over a decade now. Highly motivated, you have fronted Fit For Rivals, Pink Fly, and The Explicits. Beyond such, you also have your own label, Freak Machine Records. To this point, how would you describe your journey in music?
Renee Phoenix – It’s been a wild ride, that’s for sure. Lots of ups, plenty of downs, but I feel more grounded and true to myself than ever. I started Freak Machine Records as a way for me to house all of my projects under one roof, work with people I’ve learned to trust over the years, and bring on some new and exciting bands to help them with their journeys, as well.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear and you have certainly accomplished a lot. As a musician and performer you have a very raw energy that is really fun to absorb. Judging by the sound of your various projects, would you say traditional Punk Rock is a big influence for you?
Renee Phoenix – Thank you so much! And totally. The first band I was ever in, The Explicits, was a three-piece Punk Rock band that was influenced by The Casualties, The Distillers, Lamb of God even. It was an aggressive mix and a lot of fun to play as a band. It was all about the attitude!
Cryptic Rock – That attitude bleeds through in your performance. Keeping yourself very busy, you released some music under Pink Fly in 2019 that was really strong material. Can we expect to hear more from Pink Fly again in the future? If so, what direction would like you like to take the project?
Renee Phoenix – Pink Fly was a throwback to my Punk Rock days. I wanted to dive into that more aggressive, raw energy that that kind of music always held for me. I’d love to do more Pink Fly, but my focus has switched to Fit For Rivals and releasing my own EP, running a label… I need to clone myself, I swear! Getting to perform with a couple of my good friends was a lot of fun. Val and Blake crushed it.
Cryptic Rock – Well, hopefully you can revisit Pink Fly again in the future. Among your work, Fit For Rivals has been one of the most active. You have toured all over with the band, released a bunch of music, and built a large following. Are Fit For Rivals working on any new material?
Renee Phoenix – We are! I’ll actually be in the studio next month with FFR for our next release that’ll be some time in 2021. Right now, we are releasing some B-sides that we always loved but never had a true place on our previous releases.
Cryptic Rock – That is great news for Fit For Rivals fans. Beyond all this, as you mentioned, you even put out a solo EP in 2020. What was the inspiration behind the five new songs that make up that release?
Renee Phoenix – Again, it all goes back to Punk Rock. I had a batch of songs I really didn’t know what to do with but all kind of fit together, so I thought why not? Let’s try something new here. I’m working on another EP that I feel is way more cohesive and true to my sound. I’m really excited about the new music!
Cryptic Rock – Wow, do you ever sleep? (Laughs) There has been a lot of discussion about gender equality in recent years. Do you feel like there is more equality and are we moving in the right direction?
Renee Phoenix – I feel we are slowly but surely getting there. I’ve had an array of both positive and negative experiences within the industry, in regards to my gender and sexual orientation. It really ties into a bigger issue of acceptance of everyone, no matter what they’ve got going on. If you’re talented, you’re talented. I don’t care who you’re fucking because it’s none of my business. I feel a lot of men within this industry take it upon themselves to make it their business, or blatantly promote their female artists leading with sex, rather than focusing on making a great record. I love a confident, sexy female, don’t get me wrong, but when it’s the basis of your personality or persona, it’s boring.
Cryptic Rock – Very valid point. It feels like we have always dealt with ignorant statements such as, “You’re not bad, for a girl.” Do these type of absurd statement frustrates you, do you brush it off as ignorance, or do you simply focus your energy toward more positive things?
Renee Phoenix – Those types of comments don’t even touch me. It’s so dated. I understand it’s coming from a place that has nothing to do with me; I just happen to be the one that’s at the forefront, so I’m getting their ignorant diatribe, no matter the subject. Happy people don’t waste their time trying to make others feel less than.
Cryptic Rock – Right on! So, with such a varied sound in your own music, what are some of your many personal influences?
Renee Phoenix – What I listen to personally can be wildly different from what I write sometimes. I love some Britney Spears, but I’ll also put on throwback Bring Me The Horizon and then switch it to NIN or Garbage. I’m a bit all over the place. If it’s a good song, it’s a good song no matter the genre. I’m influenced by good songwriting at the end of the day.
Cryptic Rock – Exactly, good music is good music. Last question. If you are a fan of Horror/Sci-fi films, do you have any favorites and why are they your favorites?
Renee Phoenix – I loved that movie Tusk (2014) I just saw. That was wild. I’ll always watch the new Halloween movies when they come out and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. I’ve been into documentaries more than anything lately on crime and serial killers, which could constitute as Horror, I guess!