John, the founder of electro-industrial darkwave band RxGF, and captivating frontwoman Angeline, dig deep into their compelling sound and vision and mesmerizing recent album, “Any Other Way”.

Hey there John and Angeline!  It’s a blast to have this chance to chat with you both about RxGF and your recent album “Any Other Way”.  What has the reception to it been like?

John: Thanks for making this happen.

Angeline: Yes, thank you.

John:  Well, the record has certainly received more press than the previous two full-length records and I think it's because the sound has evolved to a place that is both compelling and unique compared to much of the music that's getting attention right now. There was a shift away from male vocals, and that has given this music another dimension.  Angeline's voice is a lovely narrative to the music.

Angeline: There's been a real connection with the audience. Live, the sound has so much girth that it becomes difficult to ignore. Even if the music isn't everyone's cup of tea there's no denying the raw emotion that is spilling off the stage. I think that translated well to the recordings.

John:  “Any Other Way” was digitally released in November, while the CD was physically released in January of 2015 in the U.K. and the States.  The recent Huffington Post article created a new level of public awareness, and it feels good when the qualities that resonate with a music critic are the very artistic pillars of the intended vision. RxGF already has picked up nominations for best album from the year, and “Belladonna Dream” was voted the 12th best song of the year on NBT Radio in Berlin. Brian Lush's RockWired even ranked me in the Top 20 drummers of the year, and selected RxGF as one of his top picks for 2014. And there's a bunch of other nominations that we received as well, such as 3 nominations from AIMA in Los Angeles including best producer and best alternative band. That's incredible trajectory for an album that was only released a few months ago on an independent label. We're humbled and very grateful.

John, since you founded the band in 2010, RxGF has had substantial member turnover.  What is the current band line-up?

John:  So, the current lineup has been Angeline on vocals, myself on drums, and both Matthew Burgess and Jonathan Plum as multi-instrumentalists. Jonathan, however, hasn't played with us live…yet. Previous to the writing of “Any Other Way”, RxGF had been merely a project and hadn't played live, so we've just recently made the transition from project to band. So it hasn't really been member turnover, but rather a solo project that grew wings.  I think it's more accurate to say that RxGF began as a studio album where I performed all the instruments, and then began bringing in other players to round out the sound. When I began recording the debut record, I had just finished some production work in Nashville, so I was already in producer mode rather than musician mode.

I had a long term vision for the sound in the studio, the presence on the stage, and even the way the stories could play out on camera if that ever happened. I've been blessed with the ability to hear the music in my head and then pick up an instrument and bash it and whoop it until it sounds just the way it needs to. Jonathan Plum really sharpened my skill set as a producer and arranger, like iron sharpening iron. The co-production on these records has been some of the best musical times of my life.  Also, I had a chance to meet Nika from Zola Jesus the other day, and we were sharing with each other the importance of pursuing our artistic vision that's been seared into our imaginations. Our discussion was very inspiring for me because we have had similar evolutionary processes, and it validated the approach that I've taken with RxGF from project to band.

You’ve released 3 albums as RxGF, with each one being stylistically (and thematically?) different from the other.  How does the compelling electro-darkwave music of “Any Other Way” compare to your previous albums?

John: I hear “Any Other Way” as a natural evolution of the arrangements from the first two records. The first record, “The Art Of Splitting”, is guitar-heavy and drum-heavy music while “All Blade No Handle” is a strange kind of mellow, and even somber, electro-folk. Artistically I am proud of both of those records, but I don't think I found an artistic rhythm until I began arranging “Any Other Way”. The title track was the first tune I had written and it was originally called "bop click" - it was this purely electronic cinematic song with huge 808s, some clicky loops, and these ominous tubular bells. I originally was all set to have Matt Chamberlain play drums on the record, but the timing just didn't work out. I was really left no choice but to bash out the drums myself so I approached it with this tribal angst-- partly out of musical frustration and partly out of artistic self preservation.  What transpired was electronic music with heavy dirty drums and that was "it" for me - the sound had been staring me in the face the whole time. Of course, after recording the drums all I needed at that point was an unusual and brooding female vocalist who could simultaneously bring mystery and a kind of openness to the music. Angeline certainly has been that voice for the music.

Angeline, from what I’ve read, you had a Garbage-like meet-up, where John was searching for a female front-woman and finally found you.  How did this musical partnership transpire?  Was it through online ads or by word of mouth?

Angeline: It's hilarious because around the time we met, I had been doing a ton of modeling, but I had really wanted to find a band or project where I could sing and grow musically. I posted an ad in search of musicians, and really just had forgotten all about it with my busy schedule. When I received John's email I was a bit surprised, and I didn't have anything professionally recorded. I was working a barista job at the time, and so I just pulled out my laptop in between serving customers and started singing a song a cappella.  I didn't know that my voice would have such a strong impact on John, but my audition file was the only one that didn't have backing tracks. I learned that it was the character of my voice that resonated with him. He called me up right after I had emailed it to him and we chatted for several hours. We just hit it off. We met up, and that same day we met at his home studio and began recording and trading ideas. It just happened very naturally and quickly.

John, you’ve described yourself and Angeline as being like Han Solo and Princess Leia at the helm of the Millennium Falcon – So what does that make Jonathan Plum – Chewbacca?

John: {laughs} Kind of. From the neck up at least-- for years he has had quite the beard! Actually I see Jonathan as Luke Skywalker. I'm definitely not a Jedi Knight.

The gist of that previous Q&A is that you and Angeline have the same vision for the band, but, from what I understand, you come from different artistic backgrounds.  How so and how has that shaped the sound of RxGF?

John:  I think it's mainly the fact that I've been focused on music and music production, whereas Angeline brings her knowledge and experience of theatre and the stage. The way Angeline sings tends to be very open, and she enunciates her words - it's proper and technically much more pure. I tend to write songs with a kind of accent in mind because all of my favorite artists that I listened to, when I was growing up, seemed to have an accent or were difficult to understand. The vocals were either blurred or buried beneath the music a bit. So as we grew creatively together by sharing our influences and approaching the songs with all the possibilities, we found a way for her to be the compelling voice with her unique vocal thumbprint that matched the intensity of the music. As the producer I definitely knew the sound that I wanted to land on, but I also knew it was critically important to explore all the ways to express a lyric. In the end, what was captured was the right combination of pure emotion and passion, with a lingering kind of radioactive energy.

Your trenchant and unsettling lyrics tap into the current societal zeitgeist and you cover issues like the erosion of individuals’ rights, governmental/business control, the ephemeral quality of life, and complicated relationships.  Who is RxGF’s songwriter?  Of the topics that you delve into on your latest album, which one is the most important to you?

John: So far I've written nearly all of the songs, but there's been some collaborations that are being worked out. We're releasing a 12" LP on April 4th in Sweden, called “Blood Moons”, that will contain some exclusive material, and one of those songs Angeline helped write, which I'm very excited about. There's also some remixes by some prominent DJs that may appear on the record too.

I think that out of all the topics the one that is most important is the preservation of our individual liberties. This is a theme that is woven within all of the songs on “Any Other Way”. I want to take a moment and say a few things that may seem radical and shocking to some readers, but are absolutely imperative if we want to keep our freedoms over the next few decades. And the context is not just about the United States. I make these statements about people in any country who value their inalienable right to voice their opinions without fear of retribution. I just don't hear anyone else in the music industry being vocal about this and it's an indicator of the indentured servitude many artists have agreed to.

To illustrate, in too many ways the burdens that have been placed on U.S. citizens are much larger than the burdens that the founding fathers of the United States endured from the British Monarchy in the 17th and 18th centuries, but the difference is that almost no one is currently making the uncomfortable decisions that leaders like Thomas Jefferson suggested were necessary to keep our own government in check. This isn't about Jefferson and it is not a political statement. This dialogue I'm trying to have with the listeners through RxGF's lyrics are about freedom, something that is vastly bigger than politics. So before you naysayers attempt to lynch me for being political I say strive to be a critical thinker, not a zombie.

And to make a parallel, the major record labels are exactly like our 'fixed' government - they create…No, they demand an environment where the puppet-artists must do exactly what the label wants them to do or else their careers and/or comforts perish. Frank Zappa talked about this quite a bit. He knew about it. And this fear-based ultimatum permeates down to the mid-sized labels and even some independent labels. I've witnessed it. The contracts the artists sign are essentially animalistic blood oaths. And the labels, like big government, have agendas to weaken society, so their artists need to tow the company line to be a vehicle to help condition and hypnotize the masses. Read about suggestive hypnosis and you'll find that its techniques are just a small fraction of their tangled web that the entertainment industry has woven.

It's as simple as signing over your soul in exchange for fleeting fame, and maybe some fortune. But in the end it's just a hollow fable full of eternal grief and misery. Most of these artists suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, defending the labels, their positions, saving face, covering up, and attempting to ridicule those of us who have seen what's happening behind the curtain in Oz. That's why we have to wean ourselves off of this "dependency mentality" - as citizens, as artists, as people.

The way I see it, "we the people" can either choose to fight to preserve our liberties now while we still have the right to assemble and express, or we can be forced to fight for it later incurring massive losses on all sides of the equation. There are too many sociopaths running things. More than ever. And understand that they have the advantage - with no ability or incentive to feel, you cannot have autonomy without accountability, or autonomy without a bloody fight. That's what this record is really about if you get beyond the beats, the delivery, and the wall of sound.

True artists don't care about people misunderstanding them, because they know that their expression has value and that validation is fleeting.  And true artists work with other artists that share these principles and try not to let things like popularity or fame or even misunderstanding influence their decisions. The only challenge with an artist remaining pure is that you can alienate your audience. Oh well! So many music fans' identities are tied to ideologies and catch phrases that enslave them that they find it hard to break free and think critically, and sometimes the strong lyrical content becomes bigger than the music, thus diminishing the impact of the music. I want to keep a balance on a record. Not every song should be an anthem.

You released “Any Other Way” in November 2014 on your own label, Orange Allies Records.  Why did you decide to form your own label?

John:   Yes, and we've released the limited edition CD in January 2015 in both the U.S. and the U.K. with more new music coming in April 2015.  Both creative control and collaboration are the main reasons for its creation. I think my carrying on with your last question gives you some insight. But beyond that, I see the label as an opportunity to begin including other artists that are embracing innovation and truly doing something different with their music. The 3 pillars of the label are innovation, independence, and liberty and all the music reflects this in various ways. I'd also like to grow the label and help with production where it makes sense. Since I was 14 years old I've been surrounded by friends and next door neighbors who have owned their own record labels. I've learned enough about it to know that it's a business, but my end-game is not a pile of devalued dollars. My end-game is awareness.  You can't take any of this with you when leave this world. So make a difference with every waking second of your life.

Where are you based these days?  You’re both Seattle natives, but I’ve seen Brooklyn and London listed as other locations of your operations.

Angeline: I currently live in Brooklyn where I am attending school, so I bounce between Brooklyn and Seattle seasonally. There are so many ideas to explore and music to be written from living in Brooklyn. I'm honing my writing skills and exploring artistic expression.

John: I'm mostly based out of Seattle, but also spend time working with musicians in New York and London. I see London as a future home for not just myself, but especially RxGF. Our music is being received very well in Europe and London serves as a natural economic hub. I'll be featuring some musicians from the UK and other countries on the “Blood Moons” LP.

Which artists, musical or otherwise, sonically inspired the creation of “Any Other Way”?

Angeline: During the writing and recording of this album, we both listened to a ton of music that doesn't sound anything like the record, but it challenged us to be inventive with our approach. I found inspiration in Amanda Palmer, and John and I both like the way Robyn Hitchcock tells a story and sings a song. Reneé Laloux's La Planète Sauvage is an amazing film, which I watched during our recording sessions, and the Alain Goraguer soundtrack is super textured and cool.   And moths. Moths are amazing creatures and they are always a unique source of great wonder.

John: Conceptually, I derive great inspiration from long stretches of isolation and silence, and “Any Other Way” was born from some silent times that I took to imagine the merging of the songs I had written with the sounds that I have admired.  I know it sounds strange, but when there's nothing but your own thoughts and there's nowhere to escape you can more easily envision a pure concept without contamination from other influences. So for me, this record was mostly conceived in my siloed  imagination, which was musically inspired from all the great music and art that I've been exposed to over the years. The RxGF sound highly depends on a tribal drum sound coupled with layered beats and dirty instrumentation whether it's electronic, acoustic, or both.

The biggest inspiration musically has been specific records: “Ghost In The Machine” (The Police), “Band of Gypsies” live at the Fillmore East (Jimi Hendrix), “October” (U2), “Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” (Genesis), “Candy-O” (Cars), and “Bubblegum” (Mark Lanegan). The melodies on these records are unique and innovative. Sonically, the music was imagined with the forcefulness of Front 242 and Assemblage 23, and with the dark musical sci-fi depth of VNV Nation. And then there are innovative artists who have combined the unthinkable, which inspired me to reach for the possibilities:  DJ Shadow, Critters Buggin', King Crimson, Bowie, The Knife, Bat For Lashes, Zola Jesus. I also was moved by a recent Picaso exhibit.  Artistically the man truly lived in a different world, and he created so many different new forms of art. And then to my great satisfaction, once I began working with Angeline, her voice and character naturally further inspired us in a decisive direction that would define the sound of the record.

You’ve started playing live as a band in 2014.  What has the live experience been like for you?

Angeline: Our live show is a big wall of sound, so it's a blast singing to music that you know is impacting the crowd. It's easy to feed off of that energy and it becomes this feedback loop of diminishing gravity.  It's like we all float off into space together. We've ended our performances with “Belladonna Dream”, which is the most mellow of all our tunes. The set order has always been important to me, so ending on that song leaves listeners reflecting on the entire performance.

John:  In this incarnation I'm playing drums. This is the first band or project I've had where I've had to play to a click live. It really pushed me to feel the music and it becomes more hypnotic than usual. In my previous bands I was singing and playing guitar, so being behind the drums has been a refreshing experience. I have 2 floor toms that are bigger and deeper than my kick drum (which is over sized), so you can imagine how different it is to hear the primal beats and synths juxtaposed with Angeline's voice. The whole time I am playing I am really wondering what it sounds like out in the crowd. I wish that I could be listening to it in real-time. Maybe we'll get a drummer and I can just wander out into the crowd and enjoy the show from there. I can't wait to play some of these 2015 festivals. It should be a great year for us.

John, the band’s name RxGF stands for Radioactive X Girlfriend.  What is the origin of the name?  Is it based on an imaginary comic book character or is it a description of a past girlfriend?  Just wondering!

John:  {laughs} Yes, RxGF is the new incarnation of the band, reflecting a more futuristic and sleeker sound. I must say that the name does come from a harrowing set of experiences with a sociopath. And at one point this person had been injected with radioactive material, thus the name.  There's crazy and then there's "At least I escaped with my life" crazy.  The name isn't misogynistic by any means. The moniker is more of a process of turning lemons into lemonade. Also, the name was originally coined in jest. I just blurted it out when I was tracking some songs.  The engineer wanted to know what name he should be saving the files under. The response was, "Wow. That's really an amazing band name." I tried it out on several friends (who would definitely tell me if they hated it) and it was all thumbs up.

That's when I began envisioning a specific type of songwriting, a drum-heavy sound, and melodies that were a little darker and the sound a little more futuristic. Even when it was guitar heavy, the fan feedback was that the music had a kind of goth vibe to it. You mentioned a comic book character. That's interesting because I do have an idea for an entire series of misadventures that are real, but stranger than any fiction, and they all revolve around a girl who has the ability to unintentionally turn anything amazing into someone's worst nightmare. Sort of like the female version of the Hulk, only without all the muscles. It's frightening what can happen when the amygdala is unregulated.

What’s next for RxGF?  Is it true that you’re shooting a total of 8 videos to promote “Any Other Way”?!

John: Yes we began shooting a few weeks ago. Angeline and I began with all the live music sequences, and then we moved into shooting several dream sequences. It's looking really amazing already. I've taken up the DP role again and I'm working with different videographers. The next steps are to secure some actors for the storylines. We'll try to release a video per month if we can. It's difficult to find the time to do all these creative things in addition to writing, recording, and performing. I'm glad I have so much drive.

Lastly, can you please list your official site(s) where we can find out more about you and your music?

John: Sure, the official band site is . Facebook is RxGF1.  Twitter is RxGF. Our record label site is As a producer, I'm always interested in hearing innovative and compelling material, so I accept approved/solicited material from artists that reach out through the Contact page.