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Interview with Sarah Jezebel Deva

By Dominic Pierce-Toogood

Cradle of Filth come crashing on stage, the layer of dry ice forms, and all you can see are necks of guitars and long hair atop the bobbing heads of the masters of mayhem themselves. However, it is not one of Dani Filth's blood curdling screams that resounds first from the stage but a more beautiful voice, weaving its way through the madness, smoke and clouds of blackness that have descended upon the venue that is being played tonight. Everyone looks left but all we can see is her deep red hair to the side of the stage where Sarah Jezebel Deva clutches her microphone stand, takes a breath and lets out another of her now trademark deeply passionate and always perfectly honed vocals.

Ever wondered who Sarah is? How she provides the backbone and the beauty behind many of not only Cradle of Filth tracks but for other dark masters such as Mortiis and Therion as well? How, when all around us there is darkness and bloodthirsty lyrics, she can stay calm and provide relief in the form of her classically trained operatic pitch? Well now you can find out about this sensitive but hugely talented girl who, just back from singing with COF throughout the entire Ozzfest tour, still cries when she reads her fan mail but hates to be recognized in public, whose biggest influence is a witch and well, lets let her tell us about the bad habits of the Cradle of Filth boys herself ...

"As if I could EVER disclose those!" she laughs. "However, I do believe that this is the best line up ever and I see them all as my Brothers. Adrian (Drummer) is the joker and damn, there's been many days I've been ready to explode and he loves that! Martin (Synths) just loves to drink, drink and drink and when he can't drink anymore, he goes for a drink, hehe. He is one of the most talented people I know though. Dave, (Bass Guitarist), well, as he lost his sanity completely during Ozzfest," (Interviewers' note: I heard Dave had planned to wear a bunny costume for the last gig on the tour! Damn, I wished I had remembered to ask Sarah if he did!). "He also started to drink a lot and what was extremely funny was to watch him hit Dani (Vocalist) with a vacuum cleaner and throw his glasses against the door for a joke and watch them shatter ... of course, it was even funnier watching the regrets and the hangover the next morning." Sarah gets more reflective ... "Paul, (Lead Guitar) coming back to COF has been one of the best things to have happened to the band -- he is a real driving force. And then there's Dani ... not much to say about him. I've known him for nine years, stuck with him for nine years and, although we fight like brother and sister, I love him to bits. As musicians, I've never seen such powerful musicianship within a band."

Staying with Cradle of Filth then, and comparing them to other bands you have recorded with, how much of a creative license do they give you, if any? 
"Not much, it depends, but COF more than any other band. Dani allows me to have a say. He allows me to have a small amount of input but honestly, not as much as I would like. But then it's not my band. I should save all my ideas for my own stuff."

Which brings us to your own career: how frustrating is it to be such a talented session musician but never receive the plaudits of your own work? Can we expect a Sarah Jezebel Deva fronted band sometime in the future?
"It's VERY frustrating but what can I do? I haven't realized this on my own though - it's the fans and the people in bands that I've met. If I had a pound for every time someone said 'You shouldn't be a backing singer, you should be upfront' I would be rich. But who knows what the future holds. I have plans but touring always screws that up for me."

I hear your fans beckoning for a solo album and understand there is a project bubbling away at the moment. Can you please expand?
"Well firstly, you can check this out at The solo stuff is a collaboration between me and a guy called Chris Rehn (his stage name is Lord Rehn) and he is from a band called Abyssos. We met while I was on tour with Therion and we both had the same ideas. There are some samples on the website which I don't feel do us justice but a few record companies have loved it a lot but we haven't pushed this yet. We have had a few downfalls with management, but only temporary hold ups due to them being so busy and me being away on tour but I want to take it slowly anyway because I suppose part of me is afraid. I've been doing backing vocals since I was 15 ... stepping into center stage freaks me out a little."

Can we expect a tour to come out of this project?
"Who knows? That totally depends on who picks us up, the pushing we get and the budget. We would love to though."

Staying with your huge following, I read on your own website that some fans of yours had been turned onto bands like Cradle of Filth and Mortiis because of your voice. How do you feel about that?
"It's amazing. I get a lot of guestbook entries and some people reduce me to tears because of their words. I've had many people also say 'Iím a singer because of you' or 'You inspired me to turn my life around' and I'm like WOW! Then I cry ... ha-ha."

For anyone who has ever heard Sarah sing, you will know that she sings from the heart and now you know how humble she is of her art. Stepping back I asked her how she discovered she possessed such a wonderful voice.
"Well I don't think you ever think to yourself 'Damn, I'm great' so I didn't actually discover anything, it was everyone else. I was always singing in school and I got so much attention from that and also from my Godmother, who comes from a bizarre background including the Circus, modeling and clairvoyance, has entertainment in her blood and of course when she heard me sing, she dragged me up on stage to perform ... if it wasnít for her, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be doing this interview! To this day, people say I under estimate myself and my ability but the moment you think you are good, you lose your ability to progress."

Your vocal style is very unique and very moving but is there anybody you model yourself on? Who are your influences?
"My childhood influence is not only my Godmother who was never wrong and woe betide anyone who crossed her or got in her way," Sarah laughs, "But also Madonna who was an extremely big influence on me growing up. It wasn't so much for her voice, it was who she was as a person and Madonna and my Godmother are very much the same in character and ambition, they are both very driven people. Vocally ... I'm not sure really, early Mariah Carey I suppose but as years went on, I think she lost it. It wasn't about quality of music it was about how many notes she could squeeze into a two second melody. Her passion for music was destroyed by the 'Upper hands' within the music industry. She lost her individuality and I suppose that was due to pressure to produce hits."

You mention your Godmother, I understand that she's a witch. Do you possess any supernatural powers yourself and what, if any, have been your experiences with witchcraft?
"Of course I grew up around this but as you grow up, you get more burdened by everyday worries and crap and you kinda become blind and closed off to that stuff. I've had a lot of experiences with a lot of things surrounding the Occult, ghosts and even UFOs thanks to my Godmother, but as I get older my mind is elsewhere and I don't have time for that, which is a shame, it really is. Once I've gained all I wish to gain, I will go back to it and really go deep. My head will be less messed up and I will be more relaxed I'm sure."

Let's get back to touring then if we can. You recently got back from the Ozzfest USA tour. What were your most memorable moments and did you get to meet the great man himself?
"Who is the great man?? Oh, you mean Jonathan Davis?? Yes! I met him! You know, I don't like people so much for what they do, it's how they are as people, I think that's important but I did see Ozzy a few times and to be honest, he seemed such a lovely man but I'm not a huge fan and what would I say to him? He wouldn't care anyway! Unless he heard me howling everyday Ö" she says, remaining ever humble. "As for memorable moments ... too many. All the bands on the second stage were absolute darlings to me including all the crews. Everyone treated me like a queen and we were all like one huge family, I miss that terribly. One of my closest friends on that tour was Adam D of Killswitch, he was like a big Brother and I loved him to bits. Damn there's too many people to mention and all I can say was, I had the time of my life on that tour and it was so so sad to say goodbye and come back to this shithole.Ē"

Can you ever see yourself settling down and perhaps starring in your own version of the Osbournes ... can we expect to see 'The Devas' on MTV in the future?
"Oh my god! I hope not! I get freaked out a bit when people know who I am as it is and to let the whole world see into my life like that. No, thanks. As for settling down, yes, one day but no kids till at least 35 and I want to adopt anyway, there's too many kids out there that need a home. And marriage? I'm already engaged and I love him dearly ... who knows ... I'm only 26, still too young me thinks!"

I understand your boyfriend Kevin works behind the scenes with COF. Is it helpful to have a person so close that you can lean on when you are on tour and are so far away from home?
"Kevin used to be in Lawnmower Death and Acid Reign and because COF had a lot of respect for him from years back, they wanted him as a tech. We met on the road and we have been very lucky to tour together (with Mortiis, Therion and COF) but it's been very, very hard because of course, he is a tech and works for many bands. He spent about nine months on the road with Pitchshifter one year and about the same amount with The Lost Prophets another year. It didnít help us and when we are on tour together, he is always busy and I'm off doing my thing, like talking to everyone! Hehe! But although there's a lot of pressures, yes it's good to know we won't just be communicating via our cell phones and there wonít be a £1000 bill at the end of it!"

When you are not recording or touring relentlessly what do you do to unwind? What would a typical night in shared with Sarah entail?
"I'm at home a lot actually, either at mine or Kevin's. But I like to see my friends, which doesn't happen as I'd much but when I am home I spend a few hours each day with certain people. I donít have much family so that's not a worry. But I do like being home, I love cooking, the Internet and listening to music and, of course, writing. And the final killer ... SHOPPING! I love it! What woman doesn't?!" 

Before we finish, let's get a little retrospective again. What would you see as the defining moment in your career to this point and which of your many performances are you most pleased with?
"The South and Central American tour I did with Therion was such a highlight for me. Everyone knew me and my work. The response I got was so amazing that some nights, when I would sing, the response the audience gave me while I was singing my high solo stuff blew me away and actually reduced me to tears on stage. It's hard to explain all this but, they treated us like royalty and made me realize that I actually have achieved something. I keep nagging COF to go there, it's easy for me to say 'Come on, guys, we have to go there' because it's not that simple, is it? Another highlight was the Ozzfest tour this year ... once again, the people, the bands, I've never felt so loved. A lot of things were said to me, a heard a lot of people's opinions about many things and got a lot of advice and guidance."

What are your plans now Sarah for the immediate and long term future?
"I'm off to Oslo, Norway to see some very close friends and then my next tour is with Type O. I'm also writing for a Black Metal project. I'm writing the whole thing and I'm working with some cool people from certain bands which I can't divulge at the moment. I am also pushing the solo project a bit harder. I've gotta get it released before I'm 90, hehe."

Finally, for those that had not heard you before I am sure that a whole new audience were wowed by your vocal talents on the recent Ozzfest tour. Any message to all your fans, new and old, that have come to love you and your vocal talent?
"You know, it's cheesy but apart from thank you for the support, I also say remember you can be anyone you want to be and never give up if you have a dream. I came from nothing and as long as I had the ability to dream, I kept pushing and I won't stop."

There she goes then, the girl with the big heart living her dream. If you haven't heard her singing you are truly missing out so catch her live or on record soon ... you will certainly regret not having done so sooner.

For a full discography and other information about Sarah Jezebel Deva visit her website at

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Copyright © 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06 Oct 2019 11:48:50 -0400