It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Kim Jennett, the singer having come an awful long way from doing open mic pub gigs in and around her native Manchester. From those early days, her band, Voodoo Blood, hit the scene hard, playing venues and festivals up and down the country.
Interview: Paul Monkhouse.
Around the time things were disintegrating with the combo, an introduction to Skin / Red White & Blues / UFO guitarist Myke Gray opened up a whole new world, the two working closely together and touring as the opening act for a Black Star Riders tour and playing an incendiary set at Download Festival.
Following that, she again branched out on her own and even made an appearance on the television talent show The Voice. With the industry showing its less glamorous and fake sides to her in the past, it was now time for her to take her revenge, and the decision was made to revive Voodoo Blood, the band that kicked everything off.
Known for her earth-shattering bluesy howl and feral stage presence, MetalTalk caught up with the Voodoo Woman for a run-through of the story to date and to find out what the future has in store.
Kim is someone whose soul is inextricably linked to music. “I don’t think I’ve ever stopped singing,” Kim says, “This is all I want to do. I’ve made it my life mission to do it as often and as much as I can. It’s my passion, and it’s my life. I’ve done some great tours, and now it’s great to be in the US and doing Voodoo Blood again.”
Voodoo Blood’s inception was in Manchester in 2018. “It has always been my baby,” Kims says. “I’ve always enjoyed creating a world around it and creating a character. Rather than just a band, it’s always been a separate entity for me and my weird creative mind.”
Kim seems excited to be able to revisit this piece. “I hadn’t done all I wanted to do with it,” she says. “I had that fire for it again and wanted to be creative and carry on. I thought I’d bring it back and finish off what I started and finish off all of the things that I wanted to do. I missed writing music. I love singing, and I love singing other people’s songs, but my main passion is creating, creating music and creating all the visuals. That’s really special to me.”
Off stage, Kim is quiet and introspective, but the Voodoo Woman character allows a projection of someone very different. “I’m not the person I am on the stage,” Kim says. “When I was doing Kim Jennett, I felt like there was pressure for me off the stage to be that person that I was on the stage. There was no room to step out of it. There was no room to be creative.”
Kim says all eyes were on her. “The way I looked, the way I presented myself, I felt like I had to be a certain way,” she says, “so the Voodoo Woman allowed me to be wild and let go of all of that and then step out of it once I’ve finished. It is a character, but then it’s also another side of me that is probably best only being unleashed when I’m on stage. It’s my wild side, my anger, my darkness, you know, all of that emo stuff.”
She says it is nice to step in and out of that character. “From when I was a kid, I did a lot of stage acting,” she says. “I did a lot of musicals, and I felt it was really cool for me to be able to step into a character. I wasn’t the most popular kid in school. I was quite quiet, and I was quite reserved. To be able to turn into somebody else always drew me in. My favourite sort of characters to play were the villains, the bad guy. I loved playing the wicked witch in the Wizard Of Oz. I think it’s fun to let go and unleash that dark side.”
The video for the newly released Black Mirror song is very much an old-school slasher horror movie style, and the piece allows Kim to explore the Voodoo Woman more and unleash her backstory. I saw Alice Cooper recently, and the only time he almost broke character in the whole show was when he introduced the band.
“I’ve always loved like shows like Alice Cooper and Ghost, and the whole stage show,” Kim says. “It’s just epic.” Kieran Robertson, Kim’s partner, played the Monsters Of Rock Cruise recently, and he and Kim went to watch Alice Cooper. “His stage show was really inspiring to me. He’s a big inspiration for all of this. I love that he is not just playing the songs but creating a whole world that nurses the whole audience, and I think that’s incredible. It’s the next level of performance, and I absolutely love that.
“He had sound problems at the start. He was in character, he got angry, and he just snapped his cane in half off the stage. It’s fantastic that he stays in character, and that immerses the audience into this whole other world.”
In Ghost, Tobias Forge is this guy from Scandinavia, but he’s playing an Italian character. “He’s another huge inspiration to me,” Kim says. “I got up on stage with him as one of the sisters of sin a few years back. He has the girls handing out the bread as the body of Christ during Body And Blood. So I got up and did that with them for a few shows, and I’ve been following them ever since. He is another brilliant artist and performer. I love Ghost.”
Kim has fond memories of playing Download. “That was one of the highlights of my career,” she says. “I have always wanted to do that since I was a kid. That was one of my dreams, you know, to go up and play. It was just incredible. I loved it, and I loved doing the Kim Jennett thing.
“I can’t leave Kim Jennett behind because I am Kim Jennett. Voodoo Blood is just another outlet for my creativity and to song write again, to do what I feel like I’m best at, which is the whole performance thing. I loved pushing that for a while. But you know, I like to challenge myself as well.”
A pop-style single was released before Kim’s appearance on The Voice. “I wanted to do a music video and to get my head around editing and video editing because I find it really interesting. And I love pop music too. I don’t restrict myself to one genre.”
The Voice was an experience. “A lot of people were saying that I got knocked out because I was a rock singer,” Kim says. While she has an incredible voice, there has always been talk that the show dictates the songs the performers are able to sing.
“I wanted to do an old blues song because that’s what I’m good at,” Kim says. “I wanted to sing Cry Baby by Janis Joplin. They gave me a few songs to pick from, and all of them were almost the same as Losing My Religion, that kind of vibe, which isn’t my vibe. They push you with what to wear. It was a really interesting opportunity.”
The experience has left some frustrations. “The YouTube video has half a million views, but it isn’t me at my best,” she says. “It made me think, the next thing that I’m going to do, I want it to be me at my best doing what I love, what I’m good at. If I was doing something that I liked and I loved up there [on The Voice], there would have been a lot more soul in it. But it was still a great experience, and it made me realize that I don’t want to fucking do that again.”
Taking Voodoo Blood back into the limelight gives Kim the chance to reassert her control and choices. “The number of knocks in this industry that I’ve had over the past few years, the amount of carrots being dangled, the amount of rejection you do get in this industry… You’re putting yourself out there, and that’s what’s going to happen. But it made me think, what’s the point in doing this if it’s not something that I love?
“It’s such a tough, tough industry, so if I’m going to do this, it’s going to be something that is completely and truly me and I’m passionate about. You’ve got to have that passion. It also made me think, fuck what other people think because no matter what you do, not everyone’s gonna like it. So why try and do something to impress other people anymore when I can just create, and where I’m happy is creating.
“Maybe some of the knocks have brought out that dark side in me again and that anger and that passion, which is exactly who the Voodoo Woman is. Me and my partner, the stuff that we’ve been writing together, we were going to release it under Kim Jennett, but it just moulded into Voodoo Blood perfectly. It just fits the music with this feeling, with this passion, with the sound, with the image. I’ve finally found someone that fits to complete my puzzle, my Voodoo Blood puzzle.”
This leaves Kim in control of her own destiny. “It’s amazing to do this and to put yourself out there,” Kim says, “so that you can actually inspire other people to think, maybe I’ll just do what I want to do. There’s a lot of pressure on young people to look a certain way and be a certain way. I definitely felt that when I was in the limelight with Kim Jennett. There was a lot of pressure for me to look a certain way.
“I got quite ill by doing that. It made me sick, and I wouldn’t want other young girls and guys, too, to do the same as that and make themselves sick by trying to look a certain way. The message I want to put across is you can be yourself and not have to try and fit into someone else’s mould.”
The song Black Mirror has been released, and Kim says there is some inspiration from her appearance on The Voice. The song features the line ‘no one listens till you’re in a Black Mirror.’ “Then the whole video is me smashing up TVs while I’m chained up,” Kim says. “It’s me feeling like there was a beast inside of me that wanted to get out. There are all these wild songs, but I felt chained up by The Voice and things like that.
“You can see another character in the music video as well, who is filming me as I’m chained up. There are so many other directions that I want to go with this. This is just an introduction. She’s come back because she’s been chained up.
“But now she has been released, and the beast is back, and she’s badder than ever.”