Canadian singer Alissa White-Gluz is not only well-known for her impressive grunting vocal performance with her band Arch Enemy, she also visually stands out with her bright blue hair, shredded stage clothing and energetic stage performance. But Alissa is not only a beauty on the outside, she is definitely on the inside as well by living a vegan lifestyle for almost twenty years and being an active animal rights activist.
Alissa with her band Arch Enemy (Photo by Tim Tronckoe)
Is a good appearance important for you, since you are a lot in the spotlights as vocalist of the successful band Arch Enemy?
,,I think that a “good appearance” is subjective. I style my hair and face and body in a way that I like and I do it for myself. Some people might think it’s horrible to have blue hair, tattoos or piercings. I definitely take into consideration the visual aspect of an Arch Enemy show when planning my looks. Every single day I have at least thousands of eyes on me and hundreds of pictures taken of me. I want to look good so that I feel good, but I also want to create an interesting visual for the Arch Enemy audience.’’
How would you describe your personal evolution as a performer when it comes to stage clothing and make-up? Was it easy or difficult to find your own visual identity?
,,Being so constantly in the spotlight over the years definitely helped me learn how to make clothes and do proper make-up. I can’t believe that in my first music videos I wore nothing but mascara and lipgloss! Now, I really enjoy the creative aspect of make-up and like to play around with it, day to day. I think, in a way I already had established my visual identity very early on when I started my first band. Since high school I already had blue hair and piercings and the same clothing style as I wear now. I used to spend more time on hand-making individual stage outfits for shows, but now I really need strong and durable stage clothes because we tour so much and I don’t have much time to make new ones.’’
Who is responsible for your stage clothing?
,,Often I make my clothing myself although I also have a few pieces that I like to wear from different indie designers; Peepshow Clothing makes me my signature shredded white shirts for stage with Arch Enemy, Sis Void has made me a few tops as well, and Ashley Rose couture made me a gown and veil to wear on stage with Kamelot.’’
(Photo left by Jeremy Saffer and photo right by Patric Ullaeus)
What is the secret of your always-great looking coloured hair?
,,The secret is…. I have no idea! I have naturally very robust hair, but what not many people realize is that it is naturally extremely dark brown (almost black) and extremely curly (almost an afro)! So, I think my hair is genetically strong and able to handle the constant flat ironing and bleaching, but it really takes a beating. Even headbanging breaks off my hair like crazy. If I had naturally smooth, blonde hair, turning it blue would be damage-free and extremely easy. I really have to be delicate and careful with my hair as much as possible. The dye I use is Manic Panic, which is an all-vegan line of amazingly bright colours. I mix up my own shades using a few of their blues. On my hair, at least, Manic Panic REALLY doesn’t fade. I barely ever have to re-dye it.’’
What are your tips for a bad hair day?
,,A hat. hahaha! Actually, on stage, my hair is flying around so much that there is no sense trying to make it look perfect. Within five seconds of the start of the show it will be a mess anyway. I really do wear a hat pretty often though when my hair looks weird! I’m Canadian, we love our toques!’’
Revolver Magazine has selected you multiple times as `one of the hottest chicks in metal’. How do you feel about that yourself?
,,I really don’t know if winning a “hottest chick” award does much for a woman’s self confidence. If anything, it draws immense attention to her physical appearance in comparison to other women, and most women will feel inferior to other women in more ways than one, already. It’s very nice to receive these awards but I think the only time a woman will feel beautiful is when she tells HERSELF she is beautiful…and believes it.’’
Who would you like to give the award of `one of the hottest chicks in metal’ yourself and why?
,,Being “hot” to me involves SO much more than physical appearance. Intelligence, personality, talent, compassion, even a person’s voice can affect how attractive they are. It’s really a tough call! I find so many of my peers to be absolutely beautiful (Simone Simons, Charlotte Wessels, Mia Coldheart, Elize Ryd, etc). I guess if I had to choose one “winner” for beauty inside and out, it would be Angela Gossow, since she is strikingly gorgeous both on and off stage, but also extremely intelligent, compassionate, funny and strong.’’
What is the best make-up tip you ever got?
,,It’s pretty cool that my boyfriend (Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein) and I BOTH wear make-up - we can discuss tips and ideas. I think, for both of us, the biggest breakthrough we had in make-up was when we started using tools instead of our fingers to apply make-up. For a while I had no brushes or sponges in my makeup case! A good quality, vegan brush set can really be a game changer when it comes to applying make-up in a flattering and long lasting way. Doyle only recently started using brushes after seeing me doing so and he said it really reduces the time it takes to put on his stage face.’’
Which beauty products are a must for you and do you always bring with you?
,,Coconut oil - I literally put it in my hair, on my skin, on my lips, use it as make-up remover, I eat it… I use it for everything.’’
(Photo by Tim Tronckoe)
How do you translate the fact you are a vegan in clothing and make-up?
,,Being vegan does not simply mean you do not eat animal products; it means you live in a way that reduces or eliminates the need of animal exploitation. Therefore, as a vegan, I do not wear any animal products in my clothing (wool, leather, fur, suede, silk, etc.) and I do not use any cosmetics that contain animal ingredients (beeswax, carmine, gelatine, etc.) or have been tested on animals (I watch for parent companies that conduct animal testing and outsourced ingredients testing as well). More and more I am seeing completely vegan beauty lines pop up; Kat Von D just transitioned her entire line to being completely vegan, for example. There are great indie beauty lines out there and it is inspiring to see some vegan brands gaining ground in this competitive market as well (Kat Von D is available at Sephora, Pacifica is available at Target, etc.). It is becoming easier and easier to find vegan hair dye, make-up, styling tools, etc. these days. There are also “Do and Don’t Test” lists you can find through a simple Google search that describe hundreds of companies and their policy on animal testing. As for clothing, it is pretty easy to avoid animal ingredients as garments normally have the fabrics listed on the tag. No, my boots are not real leather. Neither is my belt nor my jacket. Never has been and never will be. I have been vegan for almost twenty years now - I know what to watch out for. The one tricky thing when it comes to shoes is the glue used in manufacturing the shoe. Some glue is not vegan and often companies are unaware of the glue ingredients. Synthetic glues are more common nowadays though so I hope to see the glue issue become a thing of the past!’’
How do you manage your vegan lifestyle on the road?
,,It is actually quite easy to be vegan on the road. Like I said, I have been vegan for almost twenty years - it is second nature to me, I don't even think about it. If I could recommend ONE tool it would be the Happy Cow app - it is a user-generated database of vegan-friendly stores and restaurants around the world and generates a list for you based on proximity. I have used this in cities ALL over the world and it never fails!’’
How do you prepare yourself for a show? Do you have a certain ritual?
,,Yes! I like to be sort of left alone, or alone with my band, for a good two hours before the show. Doing my make-up helps me meditate and get into the right headspace and I often begin a gentle vocal warm up while getting changed. I’ll do a warm up for about half an hour (nothing strict, I just sort of do what feels good). I also normally do a mini-workout and stretch my body a LOT!’’
What do we mainly find in your wardrobe?
,,Athletic wear! When off stage, I can’t be bothered with buttons and zippers, hahaha! It’s 100% gym clothes when I’m in “civilian mode”. I also workout a LOT so it makes sense to be wearing the appropriate clothing at all times. Even my stage clothes are made from athletic fabrics - my performance is a great workout, after all.’’
Who is your style icon or role model and why?
,,Style icon - it’s hard to say because I really do create a lot of my looks based on day dreams and imagination - I can’t say for sure where I get my ideas from. I do really appreciate Gwen Stefani’s style though - I love how she balances femininity and originality in her make-up, hair and clothing. Over the years she has evolved in her looks but always stands out from the crowd, I love that. My role model, right now, would have to be my boyfriend, Doyle. He is so disciplined when it comes to maintaining his physique and really respects his body (he is straight edge, like me). He is a total weirdo and owns it - nobody looks like him. I love that confident assertion of not fitting in.’’
How do you keep yourself in shape both physically and mentally?
,,Like I previously mentioned, I work out A LOT. My drummer, Daniel, and I tend to work out every day. Physical exercise helps a lot with mental clarity as well. It can get very emotionally and mentally crowded while on tour, its important to live in the moment, feel every word on stage and take some alone time when needed. I also am vegan, eat very healthy and I am straight edge, so that helps as well.’’
(Photo by Tim Tronckoe)
You are an animal rights activist. Can you tell your motivation for that and what is it you do exactly as an activist?
,,My motivation for promoting animal rights is the world’s absolute complacency in face of the appalling, wide-spread animal holocaust going on in our own backyards. I can NOT support an industry that harms animals - human beings included. This is not to say I am pitting myself against those who do - quite the opposite. I want to inform people of the practises that lead to their luxury comforts so that they may also realize it’s time to change our biggest global industries. Being vegan has nothing to do with judging you or me or anyone else - it has to do with a bigger picture. We all know that we will unwittingly commit some crimes against others throughout our lives (for example, I know that the plane I need to take to go to my tours pollutes immensely; I know that pharmaceuticals have all been tested on animals in the past but that I may one day require them to survive should I succumb to a serious illness, etc.). But, that margin of inevitable harm is no reason to give up all efforts towards ethical living. Every single day we all have the opportunity to VOTE for one industry or another using the almighty dollar (or whatever your country’s currency may be). You can directly say, “I enjoy killing cows” by buying a McDonald’s hamburger (it IS “enjoyment”, not “need” because there are other options available) or you can say, “I love animals and choose not to harm them” by buying a veggie burger instead, for example. The single most effective form of animal rights activism one can participate in IS veganism. It is not adding anything nor taking anything away from one’s lifestyle - it is simply CHANGING one’s life to conform to ethical standards that we all know to be true. I have participated in many forms of activism over the years. Fundraising campaigns help to collect charitable donations and provide a platform for discussing animal rights, since often people want to know what the fundraiser is about. I used to go around my high school posting facts about animal agriculture on the walls every week - just a sudden smack in the face of reality that might awaken some critical thinking in the viewer. I have attended protests, which serve to rile up public and media attention towards a specific cause (a rodeo event, a store selling fur, etc.). I have also participated in awareness campaigns, which simply strive to educate a large population of a certain issue, like the Canadian seal hunt or the Japanese dolphin slaughter. I have created and circulated petitions door-to-door to change my local by-laws concerning the treatment of feral cats and presented my petitions at city hall. I have delivered speeches in universities concerning animal rights. This is just to give you an idea of what sort of activism I have participated in.
I find that direct action feels like a bigger, more immediate victory; for example, breaking into a fur farm and freeing two hundred minks. However, I realize that unless legislation against animal abuse changes, that fur farm can easily go acquire two hundred new minks and continue production. So, that begs the question; which is the most effective form of activism? My answer is that it is a combination. For example: Start an awareness campaign against puppy mills. Get eyewitness reports and footage to show the abuse that goes on in puppy mills. Educate the public about how buying from pet shops and breeders financially fuels puppy mills and creates the demand for their supply (once individuals realize they are directly affected they tend to care more). Once you have generated a buzz about the issue, create a petition and circulate it to get signatures. Present the petition to the local lawmakers in as many jurisdictions as possible. Open discussion about amending old laws or creating new ones (for example, in Quebec there is a centuries-old law that declares animals as property, not beings, therefore laws to protect living beings do not apply to animals - I worked on a campaign to change this law). Once you have successfully created a law that makes it ILLEGAL for someone to abuse dogs, you can THEN raid the puppy mill, save the hundreds of dogs from in there AND legally force that business to cease and desist, even possibly criminally charging the business owner. NOW you have saved hundreds of dogs and prevented one puppy mill from ever starting up with production again. To me, this is the most effective way to tackle an animal rights issue. It takes longer so it feels less immediately gratifying than direct action, but every step is essential to the final victory; 1) create awareness; 2) call to action through petition or protest; 3) apply political pressure 4) change legislation; 5) enforce legislation, now with the law on your side.’’
How do you like to spend your free time?
,,Free time is so rare for me that when I do come across it I like to work out, see my friends and family, just relax and stay home. I like learning so I watch a lot of documentaries and read a lot of books and scholarly articles. I keep up to date with different animal rights campaigns and political issues as well.’’
What is your motto in life?
,,HARM NO ONE. (This includes yourself).’’
Official video of ,,Stolen Life'' of latest album `War Eternal'