"I wanted to be that voice for people who feel like they have nothing and have come from nothing." - Megan Targett
'Culling Culture', the debut album from VEXED is scheduled to drop this Friday (May 21) via Napalm Records.
A corrosive blend of tech-metal brilliance, deathcore debauchery, head-splitting attitude and tear-stained euphoria, it is an incredible introduction to one of the most exciting heavy bands that the UK currently has at its disposal. Volatile, vicious and teaming with bile-stained vindication, it's a record that demands your attention and leaves you reeling throughout every second of its debauched run time.
We chatted to vocalist Megan Targett all about the origins of the band, what they hope to represent within the scene and how she set about exorcising the worst experiences of her life in a bid to create something incredible...
Take us back to the beginning. How did VEXED start to come to life, and how has that initial vision adapted to where we are now?
“Me, Willem and Jay had all been in a band before, which had been through so many different line-ups and changes. It just felt like dragging a deadweight around. We tried for so long to make something of it, and nothing was happening. We were all so miserable. Being a musician and as a woman in the music industry, you get forced into boxes where you start to think, ‘Well, maybe I should sing like this’ or, ‘Maybe I should look like that’. I was entirely doing that in our old band, and I hated it and didn’t enjoy it at all. I didn’t have a lot of respect for the music or myself because none of it was genuine to me. I was going through the motions of what was expected of me.
“It got to the point where we felt like we couldn’t do it anymore, and the choice was either to quit music altogether or give it one more try. We kill off everything we did in our old band, and we start with something fresh that has no boxes checked or expectations. We were going to do what we wanted unapologetically. That’s how VEXED started.
"On New Years Day 2019, we laid it down. We were going to wear what we want, and we were going to write and say what we want."
If you don’t take that jump when you feel like you need to, you could be stuck forever…
"Yeah, definitely. We got to breaking point, and we made that drastic change. It ended up being the best thing we ever did."
What would you say at that point the mission objective was? What do you feel as though you wanted the band to represent on that bigger scale? What was it that carried you through the process of bringing that to life?
“For me, it was being told I never could, I never should, and I never would. It was the driving force to give everybody who has ever wronged me and said to me that I wouldn’t amount to anything and has treated me like shit the biggest Fuck You. I wanted to be that voice for people who feel like they have nothing and have come from nothing. You can achieve anything if you put your heart into it and you try.
“I want to say, straight off the bat, that I am a lot more privileged than others. Even though I’ve had a rough upbringing and been the victim of a lot of abuse, I’m still white. I’m still a cis-gender female. I’m still straight. All those things work in my favour, weirdly because I have been through some of the shittiest experiences. I want to speak to everybody and say I know that I’m privileged in those respects, but I did come from nothing, and I have worked my arse off to prove absolutely everybody wrong. Everybody, no matter what, should be able to achieve whatever they want to.”
It all stems from culture at the end of the day, something that this album centres around. Culture has no boundary or border, yet it is so often looked down on by so many, even within genres that say that everybody is welcome…
"Absolutely, and I’ve noticed something a lot more now that we have more attention and from when we got signed. I have felt this real responsibility where I have been given a platform to do something with. I’m not looking to kiss my own arse with it."
"So the metal scene claims to say that they love and respect everybody, but I know for a fact that so many people aren’t welcome in so many spaces. I want to help to change that. You get a lot of backlash for bringing those things to light, but I don’t care because it what I feel I need to do.”
The thing about this record, and what stands out the most, is the vitriol and viciousness that you splatter all over these tracks. What was the process of bringing that bile to the forefront?
"I think that you need to live it as well as record it. Each song on this record is about a person in my life who brought me nothing but pain, toxicity and negativity. Writing the song was me completely writing them out of my life. They’re gone, not let’s go and record it. When you’re writing songs that you know are good, but you may not have found the vindication that exists in that message. It’s still just in your head, and that leaves the gap between reality and make-believe. These songs were actual experiences that I had gone through and that I had seen through to the end. It was off our backs as well, so the paint was at the front in full force as I was screaming it into the mic. I didn’t have a record label at that moment telling me it was great, and to scream a bit louder, I needed to scream so they could hear what I had to say. It was then all about the fight for survival. It was about getting heard."
How did it feel at the end of that process, then? What did it represent for you as just Megan rather than Megan from VEXED?
“It only sunk in recently, to be honest. Every since we record and then went through listening back to it, it was just the fight for recognition. Then COVID hit. Because of that, none of what we had done actually sank in. None of it felt natural, and none of it was really happening. It was only when I was sat in the bath not long ago, and I was watching someone do a playthrough of one of our songs, and I just burst into tears. People actually know who we are. And then everything clicked. At that moment, it was all too real.
“From early childhood, I’ve always been told that I wasn’t good enough and that I was never going to make it, so don’t try. So I’ve had that mentality built into me, so I don’t believe things are real in my head even when they happen. But now, it’s very much real.”
What has it been like sitting with this batch of songs that represent so much pain and hardship for so long?
“It’s been hell, honestly. We have had a couple of days where we’ve been on a high, but then we will come crashing back down again. The thing that has kept us going is that people have been enjoying it and sharing it. It makes it easier when we’ve all just been sat in our rooms, depressed that we can’t go out and play them. It has been really tough.
“Though having year to sit and watch everything grow from my bedroom has been amazing. It’s been a real eye-opener to how we will be perceived when we do come back. It’s allowed me to mature and grow in a different sense. I don’t think I would have had the perspective I have now if things would have been normal. I wouldn’t have the wisdom to act on instinct.”
So within all of this, what does ‘Culling Culture’ represent as a statement for you?
“It means new beginnings. A fresh start. Being true to who we are and not just saying that. We mean it. ‘Culling Culture’ started as a play on words to cancel culture because that’s blown up in the last couple of years. But it became more about getting rid of anybody, be it a family member or close friend, who brings you nothing but pain. Each person that each of these songs has been written about has been culled from my life, and I am now free to be me. It just represents getting rid of anything negative and having that fresh set of eyes on everything. To have this album now coming out in the way that it is, with Napalm, is a real full-circle moment to what it means to us."
And for such negativity to breed such positivity is such a special thing too...
"We’ve all been made to feel like shit or like an outcast, and we have all felt hate, betrayal and rage. But it’s what you decide to do with those feelings that matters. If you can turn hate and pain into something positive, which is ‘Culling Culture’, then that’s so much better than letting it destroy you. I’m feeling so much, but I’m going to go and make something cool out of it rather than letting those bastards get me down."