NIKKI STRINGFIELD – The Maiden of Haunted Harmonies

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has lived the young musician’s dream of moving to L.A., finding a group of like-minded musicians and playing the music of a band she grew up on.  That band just happens to be Iron Maiden and she’s been able to play their music in tribute around the globe.  Stringfield plays the role of Dave Murray as “Davina Murray” in a band that are The Iron Maidens, the world’s only all-female Maiden tribute band.

Like Black Sabbath, the music and influence of Iron Maiden can’t be overstated.  It is timeless, celebrated and worshiped around the world from the iconic group of British lads since the mid-‘70s.

Music’s in the family DNA. “I listened to them growing up.  My dad played Maiden songs in his own band,” she recalls. After earning a degree from the University of Texas in multimedia she made the time honored, West Coast move to L.A. seeking success, starting with an internship with Warner Brothers and joining Before the Mourning.  They released two EP’s, Remembrance (2012) and Damned and Forsaken (2014) along with video for B4TM.

After the band ended Stringfield found a new stage home with the recently reformed Femme Fatale in 2015. “I got to play with them and Lorraine Lewis.  That was a blast.  She’s with Vixen now but those were some fun times.”  The Maidens recently shared the stage with Vixen.

She first met The Maidens as a guest player before auditioning and earning Dave Murray’s spot the same year.  “I never imagined I’d join a tribute band.  I remember the first time I rehearsed for a show.  Kirsten Rosenberg (vocalist), asked ‘do you like Iron Maiden?’  I was like, yeah.  I can’t imagine being in a tribute band where I didn’t like the band.  I’m happy to be playing their music.”

Being in the world’s only all-female Iron Maiden tribute band has its perks as they’ve traveled around the globe playing to the Maiden faithful, bringing a feminine touch to all things Eddie. “We spent five weeks in Europe earlier this year and we’re going back in December.  We have another tour we’ll be announcing soon.”  They frequent Australia and Canada often with trips to South America and India.  “We’re rarely home, which is awesome.  I never expected that.”

For some, the ladies are the closest they’ll come to seeing the real thing so The Maidens make sure their performance is top notch everywhere they roam. They’re not just women playing Maiden tunes.  With props, effects and costumes they recreate their massive show on a club level.  “We constantly try and keep it updated making improvements to make it look cool.”

They’ve also won over skeptical fans, “We’ve had several people come up and say, ‘We weren’t expecting you to be good at all.  You totally changed our minds.’”  Stringfield’s seen Iron Maiden live twice and is humbled by their grandiose presentation. “You see the real thing and you’re like, wow.”

Currently of all things Maiden, their own airliner is on the extended to-do list, “I wish.  Kirsten needs to learn how to pilot the plane,” Stringfield laughs.  “It would probably be a little prop plane.  She’s got to go to pilot school and get her license.”  Whether Rosenburg ever flies the friendly skies remains in doubt, but she does them proud helming the band. “She’s incredible, she sounds just like Bruce, she’s amazing.  We’re very lucky to have her.”

During a gig in Mexico supporting Steve Harris’s daughter Lauren, Harris watched the show and gave them the official nod, becoming Iron Maiden approved, “He gave us the thumbs up, that’s pretty awesome. They know and let us do our thing.”

Their setlist is an always changing beast with Powerslave a personal favorite and material from The Book of Souls in future consideration. “We pretty much play stuff they still play.  I’d love to play Wasting Love.”  Some keyboard heavy Seventh Son tracks are avoided but most material’s fair game.  “There’s not a whole lot we don’t do that aren’t the hits or older tracks.”

A show with an album played start to finish is also on the back burner, “I wanna say before I joined they’d done Live After Death.  We contemplated doing Powerslave.  That’s definitely an option.  I think we could do Number of the Beast.  I need to throw that out there again, it’s a good idea.”

Her life on stage might be engulfed in Maiden but her debut EP Harmonies for the Haunted sounds nothing like Eddie and the boys. “l have a lot of different influences kinda all over the place.” Nirvana, Pantera, Evanescence and Avenged Sevenfold are big influences with the City of Evil record, and Amy Lee’s vocals having a huge impact on her.

The EP was a high priority. “I really wanted to get that out.  It’s hard with how much I’m on the road.”  A full length record will be in the making soon.  “If I can get home, hammer it out and get it done that’s definitely what I want to do next.”  The feedback for the EP’s been overwhelmingly positive.  Macabre interests inspired the material and title, “I’m really into horror movies, anything weird and scary.  We put a lot of guitar harmonies in it.”  She picked the song that stood out the most to her.  “Haunted was probably my favorite because of the harmony, so let’s run with that.”

Harmonies for the Haunted is an initial five song serving of what she has in store for fans and followers.  Haunted has an up and down, hill-like vocal melody line, “That was actually quite a bit longer and we cut it down.  I love the epic songs.  I really wanted that to be guitar driven and have melody.”  Unbroken has a vintage ‘80s groove. “We wanted that to be heavier, more guitar driven with the solo.  That was the last song I wrote.”  It has a little bit of a Bark at the Moon meets Helloween vibe.  “Each song sounds different with a little bit of everything in there.”

When The Devil Comes Down had different results. “That one started out much more straight forward.  We got into the studio and it totally came out different than I was expecting.  It was more radio friendly.  That one just came to me and really showed my roots.”  She plays with a healthy respect for the ‘80s.  “I was born in ’90 so I missed all the good times, but I get to play the music.”

She’s always busy with The Maidens, explaining “We have an album of Iron Maiden covers in the works.  It’s really time restricting.  I like doing original stuff.  It’s fun and fulfilling but also very challenging, we’ll see where it takes me.”

Speaking of challenges, they received some unique exposure when Stringfield and Rosenberg appeared on episode nine of the first season of Beat Shazam, an updated version of Name That Tune.  “We had no idea what it was. The show was looking for rocker types.  Kirsten and I were like ‘sure we’ll try out, why not?’”  Then they got on and heard snippets of songs.  “We knew it would be a lot of pop stuff.  We got Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez and some random disco.  We didn’t make it to the final round. There was no rock whatsoever. It was pretty comical and a fun experience,” she laughs.

She also jokes that you won’t be hearing any death metal growls from her anytime soon, “I wish.  My voice won’t allow that.  Maybe if I went and had training.”

In the opposite direction she made a stripped down acoustic performance video of Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box complete with creepy dolls, candles and flowers, “We did the video with a friend.  She had a studio at the time with creepy stuff, Halloween year round.  Let’s get that creepy baby and put it in the background.  I’ve always felt fascinated with Nirvana.  It was cool to finally do one of their songs.” She’s planning on more acoustic material in the future.

The rest of the year is touring, the EP release and writing new stuff.  “Hopefully the new Iron Maiden covers CD will be out soon, hopefully early 2020.  More new music with all the stuff I’m working on and new original stuff too.”  The Iron Maiden tribute album will be ten songs.

Her advice to aspiring female musicians watching her and others would be, “Don’t ever stop, practice every day.  Do it for the love of the music and not for anything else. Your love and passion has to be there first. Once that’s gone, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.  Never give up, never take it too seriously, practice, practice, practice and anything’s possible.”

Stringfield thanks everyone for their continued support, raising the horns, “Up the irons!  Thanks for reading, thanks for listening! Scream for me!”

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