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Stitched Up Heart At Upheveal Fest – An Interview With Mixi

Stitched Up Heart At Upheaval Fest 2021. One of the bands first shows back in front of a live crowd.
Upheaval Festival recently took place in Grand Rapids, MI, and not only was this festival significant and special for us as it is our first live coverage since the pandemic, but it’s also some of the frist string of shows for many bands that are on the summer festival circuit.

One of the most exciting and energetic bands I had the privilege of shooting last weekend, was Los Angeles-based rock act Stitched Up Heart. Shortly after, I caught up with frontwoman Mixi to talk about the event, as well as the bands return to touring this fall, and what we can expect from them on their third album, which is now in the works.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, Mixi. How does it feel to finally be back on stage?

Well, there were a lot of emotions leading up to it. I think December 2019 was the last time we played a real show. The whole band kinda moved out across the country during the pandemic so we only got three practices together before these four shows. The first show was Rock Fest in front of thousands of people for over an hour. So we’re like, let’s hope that we all practice on our own.

But it all came together, and it was nerve-wracking at first, but as soon as we got up on stage and halfway through the first song, we were like, oh, this is what we do, this is natural for us. So all those self-doubts and those emotions just kind of went away right after the first song was done.

I think you guys nailed it. You would never have known that you guys only had three practices. You guys did great.

Thanks. You can only kind of trust so much that the bass player at home is working on his stuff and the drummer actually didn’t even have a drum kit out in Pennsylvania. So the three times he went through his set, he just nailed it every single time. I was very proud of them.

You guys have a lot of love here in Michigan. And of course, you played a show with Steel Panther in Detroit. Do you prefer playing more open large events like Upheaval or smaller venues?

Steel Panther was an awesome tour. It was so much fun and those venues are pretty awesome. They both have their things, you know? I do love being able to not be confined and into a room of some sort, no matter how big it is. But those shows with Steel Panther had thousands of people as well. They’re both beautiful in their own right.

I do think that big festival events are really cool. You can just hop around and watch all the other bands as well, or perform and run into old friends and stuff from other tours and other festivals.

If you had your own festival, what would your dream lineup be?

I’ve talked about putting like a giant female festival together. Like Halestorm, In This Moment, New Year’s Day, which we did a tour with them, so they would obviously be on it. Pretty Reckless as well as Butcher Babies. Pretty much every female icon for hire. Just a whole bunch of our friends altogether. Lacuna Coil, I know we’re missing a bunch, but yeah, just all everybody has to have a girl in the band.

It sounds like you need to put together your own festival then because that sounds like a killer lineup.

I think it would be fun.

You also have an exciting tour coming up later this fall with a few other great bands, Butcher Babies and Infected Rain. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how it feels to finally have a tour that most likely will not get postponed this time around?

Fingers crossed! We have been friends with Butcher Babies before Stitched Up Heart was even a band. I went to their very first show. We went around the whole LA stomping grounds together and we watched each other grow. We’ve just kind of been side by side, supporting each other. It’s what the females in the heavier music kind of do. We all know each other, and we all just have each other’s backs, but we hadn’t actually been able to do a tour together.

This is 11 years overdue, and Infected Rain, I hear amazing things about. I think the most excited I am is because we all have little puppies. There’s going to be three little dogs on this tour. I’m like more excited about them than anything (laughing)

I know, I’m the same. I go to a party and I’m like, “oh, a dog”! Have you had any thoughts as to what the setlist might look like for that tour? Is it mostly going to be a mix of material, or you’re planning just to play a lot of songs from ‘Darkness,’ as it technically did not get a proper tour?

It’s just going to be a mix of “Never Alone” and “Darkness”, about 50 50 of those two albums. We did play the Steel Panther dates and some Godsmack dates and played some of the “Darkness” record, but we didn’t have it released yet until March 2020. So, it will be finally seeing the light of day, and it’s about 50 50.

In March of last year, the day that everything just shut down, you released your sophomore album. Technically you did get a full release and had some of the songs on your previous tour, but was it disappointing that you didn’t get to put out a real ‘proper tour’ for it, and do you feel like you can finally make that up this fall?

We’ve got some catching up to do. I definitely think that obviously, when you release an album, the first thing you’re supposed to do is tour off it and promote it. And literally, it came out March 13, 2020, the day the whole world shut down.

So the timing was impeccable. I think that everything happened for a reason. And I think that music was needed in this time and even if it just helped one person, then I’m happy about that. I tried to stay as positive about it as possible. I think everybody tried to just look at the bright side of things and as much as possible, and we’re getting the chance to tour off it. Everything was on pause for a little bit, and let’s get back to work, you know?

What was the songwriting process like for ‘Darkness’, I think you had around 70 songs worth of material?

It was our sophomore albums, so it’s kind of a very important record for a band that released their debut, and with the second record, there’s always so much pressure on it. We’re already working on the third record now since it’s been some time, and this third record is just so much easier.

It’s just a lot less pressure on the demand for us, and maybe we’ve gotten better at writing. I don’t know, but so far, it’s moving a lot faster. I just think that there were a lot of high standards for us to make the best, absolute best record we possibly could, and we were throwing paint in a lot of directions as well.

We were trying new things and experimenting a lot too. We don’t want to stay in the safe zone. We want to try to stir it up a little and see how far we can push our art.

What can we expect from your next record? Will there be a shift in lyrical subjects or any new sound experimentation as you said?

Oh, yeah. I definitely want to get heavier. I think that we dialed it back a little bit in ‘Darkness’. ‘Never Alone’ had some really awesome guitarist parts, and I feel like we did have those risks in ‘Darkness’ as well, but there wasn’t enough screaming. I feel like I could have screamed more.

I feel like there could have been more breakdowns and stuff like that which was missing on ‘Darkness’. However, it was very much an introspective, lyrically driven/vocally driven album. This next record will definitely have a little more guitar spotlights.

And are you planning on having any collaborations on it?

We’re in talks with some people, so we’ll see how that goes. But so far, I think that collaborating and featuring other artists and working together is just always so awesome. So hopefully, that’ll work out. We’re just kind of playing it by ear and see what happens.

You guys are quite interactive with your fans, with your Twitch streams, for example. How important is it to stay connected with your fan base on this level?

I think the fans and the people that listen to your music keep the business going. They keep the band alive. They’re the most important people out there. It doesn’t matter what anybody says. If nobody wants to listen to it or nobody’s supporting the music, it doesn’t matter. So the fans keep the band going.

With the Twitch streams, we started doing that in the beginning, and it turned into something just to keep us all connected and build relationships a little stronger with some people playing video games and just chilling.

I think that there is a balance between a mystique versus being so available that everybody just demands it. So we kind of have to slow down a little on the Twitch just because it’s getting busy. The next album is being written. So I’m in between the tours trying to get all that together and it’s a lot on my plate, but it’s been really cool. I got to do a bunch of interviews with some of my friends in bands like John Moyer from Disturbed and, Chris from Five Finger Death Punch. So it’s been really cool to connect with other artists as well on the Twitch stream.

I did notice, over the two days of Upheaval festival, that you were only one of two bands that stayed after the performance to interact with fans. I noticed many people didn’t really want to come up the hill because it was such a far walk but, but for you guys, people were more than willing to make the hike.

It seemed you had more people there, a bigger crowd, a more energetic crowd. People stayed around talking afterward and I saw how excited they were to meet you and Randy and the rest of the guys. You took the time to say hi or take a picture. I noticed that your fans were very appreciative of that. And like I said, only one of two bands did that. And I think you probably garnered new fans between your electric performance and your willingness to meet with the people.

I guess I understand why people don’t, especially in this day, it’s a little scary because even no matter what, if you believe in COVID or not, there are bands that have to cancel tours if somebody tests positive. So, it’s a weird line to try not to get anything else canceled, and also, we very much appreciate every single person that watches. So we want to go and say hi to people. I think about it as like when I was little and I’d go to a show if a band would talk to me or give me the time of day, that would make my world.

I still remember to this day bands like Goldfinger letting us hop up on the stage and sing along some of our favorite songs. Moments like that, I will never forget. If somebody left such a lasting impression on me, back then, I only hope that we can leave a little impression on the little girls that are like, ‘I want to be a rock star one day. And maybe just make someone’s day.

That’s really wonderful. I wanted to ask about the collaboration with Sully of GodSmack for your track, ‘Lost’, which was excellent. What was it like working with him and how did that come about?

Sully is just the most chill, cool down-to-earth, humble guy. He and I got put together in a writing collaboration at the very beginning of the album ‘Darkness.’ When we were working on writing that, and I got flown out to Boston and basically we became best friends almost immediately. And as our friendship grew over a couple of years, while we were working on this record, it took two years to work on it with 70 songs. At the very end, management was like, hey, you should ask him if he wants to sing on something.

And so I hesitantly asked if he would be down. And he said, yes, as long as it’s the right song. I listened to ‘Lost’ and I thought, you know, there’s a really good part in here that he could sing on. So I flew out to Nashville to get him to track his part. And he asked who was going to sing it. And I was like, the guys in the band can do it, or whoever we’re on tour with it, if they want to, or I can sing it, or preferably you. And then that’s how the tour happened with Godsmack.

One thing after it led to another and he really did a huge favor for us as a little band, a big band like that, taking you out, playing arenas. It’s very unheard of and very rare. And so we appreciate every opportunity that he gave us for that run and singing on our track.

That’s great. We are really excited to hear about a third upcoming album, and we hope to see and hear more from you guys in the future. Thanks for speaking with me today, Mixi. Is there anything else that you would like to add or say to your fans?

I appreciate every single person that came out and hiked up that hill and every single person that goes to our Spotify and follows us and listens, every single spin adds up and it really means a lot. And it’s crazy to think even people are listening to our music, but,I just wanna say thank you for supporting us through all this, and I hope to see you out there.

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