DJ Iris Duran
Monday Night Mayhem
Iris Duran was the Death Metal DJ for Monday Night Mayhem, currently she's has been made International NYDM Women's Chapter Enchantress and she goes to many metal shows and festivals and has been a loyal and active gal within the metal community since she was in her early teens.
1. Iris, tell us how long you DJ'd for WSOU (South Orange, NJ metal station)?
I was a DJ for roughly 3 years. I started in mid-1999 and ended shortly after the format change in early 2002.
2. How did you come across the job and what was your task?
At WSOU, the hierarchy that all staff goes through is engineer-->newscaster-->DJ. Then, one may apply for a management position if they wish. I initially wanted to devote my time to music programming and participate in behind-the-scene affairs to make the station more METAL \m/, but then I realized that only those with much broader and more tolerant taste in music, and more openness to current trends in metal are capable of management positions in programming and music directing.
So the best way for me to apply my love of the music was to spin on the radio. In addition, after my good friend Adriana was due to leave Monday Night Mayhem, it was completely obvious to the entire staff that I was the ideal and only person to take over the show, as no one else on the station was heavily into death metal at the time. Thus, I had to get DJ clearance and polish my abilities to be competent enough to handle the sound board and other equipment in order to take over the specialty show by the time she left in the summer of 1999. My primary tasks aside from spinning music were corresponding with labels to obtain and push new releases, coordinating interviews, promoting shows, etc.
3. Who came up with the music to be played and the format of the show?
As far as I know, Monday Night Mayhem actually had been in place for roughly 10 years before I took over. It started out with a DJ by the name of Missy Collazo who would digress from the usual 80’s glam rock to play heavier bands, particularly thrash metal. I started listening in 1994 when Tom Ferrari had the show and he played everything like Malevolent Creation, Demolition Hammer, Cannibal Corpse, and lots of Mercyful Fate. The show eventually evolved to be exclusively a death and black metal specialty show.
4. What bands are you into?
SO many! I still adore the same bands I listened to when I initially fell in love with metal: Megadeth, Grim Reaper, Judas Priest, Armored Saint, Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Kreator, etc. I’ll always have embedded in my consciousness the bands that were flourishing in the early 90’s when I first became obsessed with death metal: Napalm Death, Carcass, Entombed, Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel, Godflesh (the classic Earache catalog). The classic Roadrunner catalog will always be near & dear to me as well: releases from Suffocation, Deicide, Sepultura, and Obituary. I love Swedish death and black metal: bands like Dismember, Necrophobic, Hypocrisy, Marduk, Dissection, Thy Primordial, Bathory, Algaion. To name all the bands I’m into would be impossible.
5. How long have you been a metal fan? I notice you go to a lot of metal festivals. What do you love best about these fests?
Metal music has consumed me since late 1990/early 1991. The festivals are great! I love being surrounded by all aspects of the heavy metal culture, music, people, merchandise, alcohol \m/
6. What would you like to see different about most of these metal fests?
After having seen so many live shows (as did two veterans like ourselves), I believe people start to get jaded with the line-ups and feel as if the quality of festival line-ups is degrading. I would like to see organizers make bigger efforts to put together better line-ups with bands that we haven’t all seen 50x. Of course we’d all like to see quality improvement in terms of other things as well such as sound quality, headliner sets that get cut short too frequently, local bands that pay to play at ridiculous morning hours, etc.
7. What's your opinion of women in the metal scene? What's the difference you see from when you first started getting into the music and now?
I honestly don’t consciously separate the heavy metal subculture in to genders and try to see it as a whole entity, but obviously the ratio of men to women in the metal scene leaves us very out-numbered, so it would be nice to see more women in the metal scene. It should go without saying that women are capable of contributing the just as much (if not more) of creativity, talent, and devotion to the scene as men. You’re a great example!
8. Are there any female musicians that you find inspiring?
Doro Pesch kicks ass! Also, I really admired Jo Bench from Bolt Thrower, as a young girl getting into death metal. She was the first and only woman in a death metal band that I listened to at the time, and thus I really identified with her.
9. People seem to be confused as to what a metal gal should look like and although that should be of the least importance it seems to be a big deal. Not only are you sexy but you have what might be called the "perfect metal look" feminine and yet pure metal. Do how do people react to you? Do people assume you don't know your music or do they right away feel you are "true" to the scene?
How very flattering, esp. coming from you! My sincerest thanks! The way I look and dress is just an extension of how I feel and how infatuated I am with the music I listen to. I think that on a somewhat subconscious level, I try make my physical self be a personification of or shrine to metal, in that I like my jacket/shirt/purse/etc. to proudly display my favorite bands and/or bands whose music had the biggest impact on me. I typically like to be the embodiment of how I think the ultimate woman in metal should dress/look (with killer concert shirts, studded gauntlets, denim & leather, patches, pins, etc.). As for how other people react, they usually compliment my shirts, hence I think people who don’t know me probably assume I am ‘true’ to the scene. However I wouldn’t be surprised if people think I’m just some girl that discovered metal 2 years ago if/when I dress more plain, as many people jump to this conclusion about women in metal.
10. Aside from metal what else do you enjoy?
You mean there are other things to enjoy?? ;-) Being with friends, shopping, eating junk food, swimming, running through the backwoods of New Jersey cranking Mercyful Fate and Emperor on a portable radio (damnit, this overlaps with metal!).
11. Do you miss being a DJ for Monday Night Mayhem?
I definitely do miss spinning the music for people, but I don’t miss the sleep deprivation. I definitely don’t miss pulling all-nighters to screen stacks of new CDs for blatant/audible profanity and best picks, coming home at 4 am and then having an exam for a class in a few hours.
12. What were the best times you had DJ'ing at WSOU?
Interacting with listeners. It was gratifying to have people tell me how much they enjoy or look forward to my show every week. I knew this because they would ask to speak to me on the phone, send letters, sometimes recognize me at places by my voice. Essentially, the best times where any experience during which I realized that people actually cared and benefited from listening to me spin music. I’ve been thanked by innumerable amounts of listeners for turning them on to any given excellent band or opening the eyes of a novice to an entire sub-genre of extreme metal. In addition, it was also nice when people who were familiar with most of the stuff I played identified with my taste in death/black metal and told me that they loved my playlists.
13. Did they ever ask you to play something you didn't want to or to censor anything you were playing?
With Monday Night Mayhem I had just about complete autonomous power over the show and the playlists, as long as there was no blatant profanity. Also, being that the many of the releases played on the air were mine and no one else on the radio station knew much about death or black metal, I didn’t have to worry about management censoring particular bands. Nonetheless, it was very humiliating to have to verbally censor band names and song titles by resorting to endless initials and being forced to say things like “Impaled N.’s 5th track off the 1st full length.” There was one incident that involved a ‘Monday Night Mayhem cut’ which is my choice of a release that gets put into regular rotation WSOU to be played during the day, during other people’s normal-hour shifts (to promote the specialty shows).
One month, I chose Dying Fetus-Destroy the Opposition and got suspended when one of the university officials heard a disc jockey announce ‘Dying Fetus’ and complained to station management. This is the reason why I had to call them Dying ‘F’ afterwards. So at times, it did get a bit tricky running a death/black metal specialty show from a Catholic university!
14. What is your involvement in the metal scene now that you aren't being a dj?
I still attend metal shows and festivals incessantly. Whenever possible, I use the connections I’ve built through my years of Djing and through attending shows to help local bands and help them unite or set them up with promoters, distributors, or other musicians I know. I am a very proud member of NYDM Women’s Chapter!!
15. Any last words?
My immense thanks to the listeners that made me feel like I did something enormously valuable for the scene, and much thanks to Endemoniada for caring and remembering my show! Last but certainly not least, thank you DAD for being open-minded enough to financially support your pre-pubescent daughter’s addiction to extreme brutal unholy metal! I love you!! xoxo!