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Juliya Chenetsky | interview | metal | Lollipop
Hostess of FUSE TV's Uranium
Photos and Interview by Pia Schachter
Metal is back on television! Thanks to Juliya Chenetsky who bulldozed her way into being FUSE TV's hostess of the daily show Uranium; television's only extreme metal video offering. Unlike other VJs, this Ukrainian-born Brooklyn-raised bombshell steps outside the formality and stiffness of the TV studio and hits the streets and the mosh pits. She waves a camcorder as if it were a gun, asking some of the most obscene yet surprisingly touching questions of bands like Strapping Young Lad, Killswitch Engage, and Converge.
Juliya talked her way onto the airwaves by logging countless hours as one of the smartest visitors to the bulletin boards at the FUSE website. Chosen by viewers to make her broadcast debut on Tastemakers, a weekly FUSE show where fans discuss their favorite artists, Juliya's piercing opinions made her a viewer favorite. After a year, the network bigwigs asked her to host her own show, Uranium. Who said chat rooms were a waste of time?
Lollipop wanted to know what made this extremely sexy woman go to battle to ensure that underground metal had its rightful airplay. What we found under the hard-rockin, outrageous words was a compassionate little gal who only wants to share the salvation that she herself found in the grinding sounds.
Do you get ill when you hear bad music?
Definitely! Our music is so extreme, and it's so emotional that when you hear shit music, it's like "oh my god please, I'm gonna and jump out of the car and die."
I met you at the New England Hardcore and Metal Fest. What a brilliant weekend. Did it feel like the heavy metal scene hit a new victory at that particular metalfest?
YES! The festival made me believe that metal is back. Having all those amazing bands in one spot, with all these kids going so insane, it felt so good. I felt like METAL IS BACK!
What do you think this recreated metal should be called? Or if it should even have a label, like grunge or emo did. How would you categorize it?
I love the word "frustration." I don't know, maybe just brutal metal or extreme metal. I think "extreme" might be a really good one. I do hate it though when somebody categorizes bands. It's like, they're fuckin' heavy and they're good. You don't have to establish these elements with a name. You don't want to be labeled just as black metal, death metal, or just heavy metal. As long as it's fuckin' hard and strong... You know, I think "extreme" is a really good one.
Whose idea was it to use the digital camera the way you do?
I'm not really sure. I don't remember if it was the producer I was with at the time, Joe Lynch, but we felt as if it would be like looking through my eyes verses a proper interview, to make it more personal.
How old are you?
Have you always been this candid?
No, I was actually really shy until the age of 12 when I discovered music. When I was little, I was very quite and timid. As I got older and started developing like a female, that's when a lot of my blood came out. I found myself in the body of a women at a really young age, and that gave me a lot of trouble. I discovered music, and I was like holy shit, you know? Screw all these people, they're all assholes. Why do I have to hide myself? I don't care...
What was the first music you listened to?
Guns N' Roses. My boyfriend liked them. The only thing I listened to before that was Michael Jackson. That was all I knew. I thought he was the coolest motherfucker in the world. Then Guns N' Roses... When I heard Axl Rose, oh my god, I was amazed. I physically felt relieved. I felt so empowered by the record Appetite for Destruction. It completely changed my life. And from there, I went onto The Scorpions and Judas Priest and, you know, Metallica and Megadeth. But it all started with Guns N' Roses. They were the shit. Axl, why did you do what you did?!
What do you mean? The obvious face-lift, or what he did with his personal life?
Axl completely fucked up his own legacy by coming out with a band using the same name. If you're gonna do different shit with a completely different band and call it Guns N' Roses you've ruined your legacy.
Who knows, he might still have a chance... He looks really bad, like an aging Hollywood movie star all pulled tight and super shiny...
I used to think he was really hot. I used to wanna marry him. But I don't like him mentally or physically anymore.
What books have you been reading?
I've actually been reading some of Anton LaVey's work. Usually, I like horror or psychological novels. I love Anne Rice and stuff. I read some Russian literature to just maintain my memory of my language and culture. I also read lots of magazines.
Have you ever been to Russia?
I was born there. I came here when I was eight. So I have memories. I haven't been back yet, but I wanna go. I'm so glad I moved here to America.
I wanna hear the story of how you got to be a VJ. Did you audition for it?
MuchMusic USA had a show called Tastemakers, which was kids on the street talking about the music they liked. I didn't know that much about music at that point, but I loved MuchMusic USA because you can be yourself and speak your mind. So I started doing that and talking about metal, and I got a really, really huge response on the message boards and stayed on for a year. Which is a really long time to not be voted off. After that, they were like, well shit, let's do a metal show, let's see how it goes... It started out really small, you know, like two cameras, no lights, just me. At the time, there was no coverage of all these amazing bands, and it sucked because you were stuck seeing all these generic bands. It made me so sad to see phenomenal bands being poor and struggling and giving up so much for their art. Nobody was developing the scene. Nobody was showing the kids what's going on. That was really my goal with the show. I love the scene and I want these guys to make it. I don't want them fucking working at Burger King.
When you were in school, did you get along better with the girls or the boys?
I was in a school where everybody was into hip hop and shit like that. I was the only chick with the metal jacket with the Danzig skull on the back saying "show me how the gods kill." They'd say "oh you fucking freak, you're a Satanist, do you sacrifice babies!?" All that shit. Nobody ever liked me. I only got along with guys, and I had a little group of like 10 people who liked heavy metal. We would hang out by the staircase smoking cigarettes. I was very outgoing, and I'm not embarrassed of who I am or what I do and I have no problem talking about it and I always dressed the way I do now. So girls would be like, "Oh, you're a slut." It's like, dude, I've been with the same guy since seventh grade and you're gonna tell me I'm a slut?!
So I never really clicked with girls the way I did with the guys. As I got older, there were maybe two or three female friends who were older than me that I got along with. They were in their late-20s/30s and I felt that they understood me.
They're not as competitive...
Right. And guys are more fun. I can burp and act stupid and they hold my hair up when I barf. And I'll hold their hair up when they barf, so it's all good. It's funny, guys are funnier than girls. Guys don't have a problem with being stupid.
You're in a very male-dominated scene, but you've managed to handle these guys while looking sublimely hot. How do you manage to pull that off? To be sexy and respected in what most people see as a misogynist crowd?
Thank you so much. That was my biggest challenge when I started. I was really worried because I didn't wanna compromise my look and my style. You know, I like wearing short skirts, and I like wearing corsets. At first, the way you do it is you come in and you know what you're talking about, and you give off an aurora of confidence.
There need to be more girls in this scene. I wish women would realize that. You can get your work done, the guys are sweet and respectful, and you can have friendships with these guys without being sexualized.
In this industry that's mostly men, all my friends are hot, they're all my type. It's like "ooh, ooh long hair, oh my god," but this is my career, and it's so important to me. To have sex with a couple of guys and then what? I'm the official slut. Who's gonna take me seriously and where is the show gonna go? Nowhere. I'm no longer representative of the scene. I'm just somebody who got in "that way," and become a whore. I mean, if you meet somebody who you really have a connection with honestly, that's cool. I like being respected. I like people coming in saying "what's up, Juliya, it's good to see you" versus "so can we get it on, too?" That's so not cool and so not worth it.
You ask band guys a lot of personal questions. They talk to you differently than they talk to a male VJ. What's your technique?
First of all, I love asking personal questions. Within the interview, I'll be myself, and I think that makes the guys feel more comfortable. I'm open enough to talk about certain issues that most chicks would be like "What??" Dude, you wanna ask me something? I really don't care. Sex, I don't care. It's part of life. So I think when I ask questions of that sort, maybe I make them feel like I'm not uptight. Most guys surprise me and have been really respectful. They don't come on to me. But when they do, I just try to redirect it. But most of these guys have been really cool, especially the European guys. They're so polite. They're all quiet and nice and shit. I expected them to be mean and angry. Like GRRR!!!!
Are guys shocked that you're a chick and you know your shit about music?
Yeah, sometimes. But now I'm getting a little more known, so people know. I think that's where the whole friendship and respect starts. Why shouldn't a chick know about music? I try and tell the girls, just because it's a guy-dominated scene, don't put yourself down. Just be yourself and do your shit; you can have respect and be hot and do your thing.
Stinky tour boys. Do you like the smell? The musky funk, or do you wish they'd clean up their act?
I'm not down with musky funk. A little musky funk is manly, but you just gotta draw the line somewhere, man. Just clean your ass and you'll be straight. Ass and armpits must be clean.
What's with you and ass? You do a lot of ass talking. And what is "taco ass"?
It's a joke that started in the office about me. After the Ministry show, I got drunk and we were at a Wendy's and I ordered a taco salad. I put every fucking sauce there was on it, it was disgusting. I had honey mustard, ketchup, mayo, soy sauce, everything! It was absolutely disgusting. It smelled horrible and I ate it. Then we had to go. So I take it in the back seat and I pass out with the taco salad on my lap and it leaked all over me. It was just disgusting. So everybody's made fun of me for it since then.
You say the most shocking things I've ever heard on TV. But you aren't vulgar or gross. It's hard to define. It's shocking without being crass...
I've noticed that even in this heavy metal industry where everybody's like "yeah, whatever, anything goes," when a chick talks about taking shits, all of a sudden it's like "oh my god, did you just say that?" And I'm like, "Dude? Didn't you just barf on yourself?" They say shit like "Yeah, but girls don't take shits." Yeah we do! I like to say certain things for shock value. I notice that when I meet people I do that automatically; like I start talking about things you wouldn't normally talk about. You just met them, but that's where the conversation is going anyway, right? It's so not typical for girls to talk about taking dumps and stuff, so I talk about it. (wiggles in her seat) My butt is sweaty...
Your butt is sweaty?
Hello? We're sitting on a vinyl couch.
You're right! My legs are sweaty too, okay lift and separate. Phew.
I've shared about my butt, we can go on now.
Who're you listening to these days?
I've been listening to the new Manson, which I think is really cool.
I love Marilyn Manson.
He's amazing. He's a genius.
So, who else do you like?
Strapping Young Lad, who I've only just discovered. They're phenomenal. Opeth, who I only just discovered like six months ago. Blew my mind! I was just like... when I heard Opeth I was like...
Probably like how I was when I first heard Led Zeppelin in the '70s. Opeth is the new Zeppelin.
Yeah, it's just like the stuff from the '70s. It's so deep and dark and intense. I love those breaks that wind you up and release you. It's so beautiful. People complain about how melodic they are. It's like, dude, I'm sorry, I don't like (bangs on the restaurant table really fast) all the time. Heavy heavy fast fast. I would say Strapping and Opeth are the two bands I'm really, really enjoying right now.
Are you into any punk?
Ehhh, not really. I like metal more than hardcore punk because I like my solos. I like the long hair. It's like a family vibe in the metal community. I love seeing that because I think that's what it's all about. In high school, we were this small group, but we stuck together and supported the scene to make sure it survived. The Metalfest was like being in an army. An evil army! And everybody's got long hair, yeah baby. Men don't cut your hair. DON'T ever cut your hair, guys!
So the grooming advice for the metal army from Juliya is?
Don't cut your hair and wash your butts. This Metallica cutting hair bullshit needs to stop, okay? Long, beautiful hair. ARRRGGGHHH!!!!!
Did Metallica sell out?
Their new album sucks. When Load came out, I ran to the store. Then I heard it and was like, "Oh my god, my favorite band has abandoned me. These guys are total fucking sellouts." But then I realized they always wanted to be huge and famous. When you become really rich, everything's easy... You're in charge calling the shots, and you're trying to be this a very angry, aggressive band? You can't do it. You don't have that edge in you, you know what I mean?
Desperation, hunger, and mental distress inspire the best art.
Right. I'm a very strong believer in artists evolving. I have total respect for that. Trent Reznor can't sing Pretty Hate Machine his whole life. But with Metallica, it was kind of different, the evolving... The fact that they had everybody hype up that this record was going to blow the roof off and be heavier than ...And Justice For All... St. Anger is no fuckin' ...And Justice For All. I'm sorry, the two-second intro is brutal, but the rest is what, him singing like he's some fucking nü metal guy...
Well said, darling. What other bands do you like?
Danzig! Danzig! I love Danzig. He's evil XXXX, he's awesome. Pantera! Pantera fuckin' changed my life, and another band is Superjoint Ritual. I heard the record that's coming out in the summer while I was interviewing them. The new one is better than Use Once and Destroy. The new one, Lethal Dose of American Hatred is sick! When I saw Superjoint live, I almost had tears in my eyes and I felt so good, these vibes went through me. The real shit is back, this man has not left us, you know? Phil (Anselmo), be good, we need you.
Favorite singer? Pick one, the voice that melts you.
I'd say Danzig. It's between Danzig and Pete Steele. The way they dip down and are as deep as the darkest side of your soul... they beckon and seduce you.
They're both baritones. They croon to the crotch.
Aaaah yeah. It's like a wave and it waves through your body. Ahhhhh it just moves me completely. Also I love Danzig and Type O Negative so much because when I was 13 years old, I was really depressed: A really miserable little kid. Those two bands were there for me and they gave me revenge, you know? I was fucked up, like "I don't want to live" fucked up, and they were there for me. I remember sitting, just listening to the How the Gods Kill song "Sistinas" about this woman who is just the shit: One look and you're her's and she's all woman. I was like "I want to be that woman. That's what I want to be. I wanna grow up and I wanna have balls." These men gave me that reason, and I'm so in love with them for that. Plus, they were both really cool when I met them. I was really shocked.
What do you mean?
Well, I knew Pete was gonna be cool, but meeting Danzig? I'm like, he's either gonna be an arrogant fuck or he's gonna be awesome. He was awesome! He was so cool and so cute. He was so nice.
It meant so much, man. You worship people, and then you meet them and they're cool. But I'd say of all the singers, Ozzy is the fucking man. Because Ozzy really is my father, by the way. Yup, he was going to a Russian concert about 21 years ago and accidentally met my mom. He just got too high and he doesn't remember I'm his bastard child. I'm just kidding... I think he's amazing because he's done such crazy things. Which I have a lot of respect for because I love doing stupid, crazy things; but no matter how fucked up he was, he always rocked. All his shit rocked. It's awesome. And he's always there for his fans.
Yeah, even when he had that neurotic housewife look.
Yeah, it didn't matter. Ozzy is the man.
Do you think parents should be pumping metal music into their kids instead of Pringles and pills?
That shit makes me so mad! I hate it. All that, "Ooh, you're the devil." No, motherfucker, devil is a metaphor for freedom, for fucking rebellion, for fun. They just wanna pick a fucking scapegoat. Unfortunately, with the whole Columbine thing, the people wore trench coats and acted completely fucking psychotic. So that means Manson's at fault because he walks around on stage in a g-string. Fuck you! The guy almost killed himself over that thing.
Those Columbine kids weren't even into Manson: The media just picked him out 'cause he was the most visible.
Dude, I'm good friends with him, and he was like "I wanted to die, I was ready to really do it." He said "I didn't wanna deal." It was so hard. He's an artist, he wasn't pointing a gun or telling anyone to point a gun at anyone. But everybody was pointing a finger at Marilyn Manson. He's so sensitive, so intelligent, has the finest sense of humor I've ever discovered. He's a different persona on stage, you know? I love every record he's ever put out. I think the message is brilliant and his hostility is very realistic and very proper.
Sweetie, your dedication is putting a lump in my throat.
I feel so passionately about it, you know? So when I hear people say our music is evil and bad... if there wasn't metal music, I would've killed myself. I would've fucking slit my wrists so long ago. Metal music doesn't make me wanna die! It makes me wanna live.
One word: Madonna.
I don't care if you think I'm a fucking cheeseball for liking Madonna, I don't like her music now, but I think she's amazing! She's fucking hot, she's got balls, and she's an artist. When I saw "Justify My Love," I was around seven and I think that's when I became a horny pervert, right then and there. And I like her cheesy songs, you know the True Blue album. Madonna's fucking death metal. I love her.
You ask these really personal questions... You have the ability to get people to talk about very tender, intimate, and painful things. Yet you make it not sound really sappy, like your pulling an Oprah...
That's just how I am. I "feel," you know? I think that's what fans really wanna know, the details of these people's lives, because they look up to them. When I was little, I bought all the magazines and wanted to know what movies the guys from Guns N' Roses watch because you wanna be part of somebody that you look up to. I do research on a band and I read up on them. But I try not to ask anything that'll really put them on the spot or make them feel uncomfortable. I think it's very important that the audiences know more about the artist as a human being. That's why I ask those questions, and I don't see anything sappy about it because it's fucking life. Shit happens, terrible things happen, good things happen, you do stupid things, you do bad things, and it's just life. There's no reason to make a whole big drama over it, just tell us how it is and what you've learned from it. Yeah, they're rock stars, but they're fucking people, and they've dealt with problems that we have too. So I don't wanna just know about the chicks they fuck or whatever, I wanna know about them. We all wanna know and that's what brings us all closer.
Which band was the most fun to interview?
There've been a lot. The Chimera boys were hilarious. Just because I didn't know them and I walk in and they're like "Hey! Family, woo hoo!" Totally easy-going and so much fun. They were cool. Pete Steele was a great interview because he's such a pessimistic, cynical fuck, so much so that's it's really funny. He's not mean. He's just so cynical. But with a sense of humor. I love it, he kept cracking me up.
How do you handle bands that poke fun and goof on you, like Killswitch Engage?
I've been hanging out with guys like that all my life, we're always making fun of each other. If your goofing, it's fine, I can take a joke. With the Killswitch guys, who I really love, they sometimes goof too much and I am like, ok I'm over this joke now and move on. It can get a little annoying. I don't get upset, I just don't like arrogant people. People who think they're god. Dude, there's no space with me for that. You were wearing spandex tights 10, 20 years ago. You had a fucking mullet. You better have a sense of humor...
Any stars who were like that?
David Drayman of Disturbed.
Perfect, Juliya, you're great. He's on my list of people I was going to ask you about. He's so full of himself it disturbs me.
In one interview, he acted like I was a five year old. I would ask a question and he would respond "no honey," condescendingly. Dude, I'm promoting your band, I am trying to help you. Example: My first question was "How much do your balls sweat in those tight leather pants every night?" I'm sorry, that's fucking funny. Then he said "Do you really want to know that? Is that what this interview is about?" Take it fucking easy, I'm trying to break the ice. After we met, he wrote a letter that said "Sorry, I think we got off on the wrong foot, I didn't mean it." So he was cool and tried to be whatever, but I just wasn't feeling that shit.
What's your favorite TV show?
The Simpsons and South Park. South Park is the shit! If Cartmen he was real, he would be my son. My fat little mean bastard son, and I would LOVE him.
Has a band ever refused to be interviewed by you?
Do female musicians show more respect for you because you're a woman, or are they same as the guys?
The only female musicians I ever interviewed was Kittie. They were very cool. I know it sounds really weird coming from me as a girl, but I never found a girl metal band that I dug. I never found one that I liked enough or that was hard enough.
You've asked male musicians, if there was a dildo made after them, what would it be called? So let me throw your question back to you. If they made a fake vagina named after you, what would it be called?
(long pause) THE GRINDER!!!!!