TRACK-BY-TRACK: VEXED – Culling Culture

Credit: Andy Ford

We’ve finally been able to relax after a few weeks of listening to VEXED‘s furious and fast paced debut record, ‘Culling Culture’, that includes the crushing breakdowns of ‘Ignorant’ and ‘Hideous’, and a brutal performance from vocalist Megan Targett.

To celebrate the release of ‘Culling Culture’, we caught up with Megan who took us on a track-by-track run through of the EP.

01.) Ignorant
This was actually one of the last tracks we wrote for the album. We were beginning to see the end of the recording process and we knew that the album needed an opener. The album is so heavy in places, we wanted a track that would introduce the listener into what was to come. We had the riff for some while but couldn’t manage to ever write it into a song and so when it came to figuring out what to write, it almost just fell into place. As the title suggests, this song is literally just an ignorant, heavy as hell track with all the added gun shots, sirens, vocal wretches, and chaos that we could fit in.

02.) Hideous
I like to write lyrics down in a book. I find physically putting pen to paper is so much more inspiring and therapeutic so I always make sure to carry a pen and paper with me wherever I go. I remember after a long night of being in an argument with the person that this song is about, I woke up the next morning feeling completely exhausted and enraged. I got out my pen and paper and just wrote down the words that I had wanted to say but didn’t. The first thing I wrote was “All I see is hideous”. This individual is incredibly vain and obsessed with their looks. They thought it was acceptable to use their looks and body as a way to take advantage of and manipulate vulnerable people and ultimately toss them away when they were done with them. I wanted to get a point across that it doesn’t matter how beautiful you are on the outside, if your intentions are to hurt others then it’s completely obsolete. You’re just hideous.

03.) Fake
‘Fake’ was the last song that we wrote and recorded for the album. This is when we really found our sound and felt confident in what we wanted to write, play, and say. A band is so much bigger than just its members. It’s your lighting engineers, sound engineers, filming crew, producers, management team, the list goes on… but there was someone very near and dear to us who was in a very toxic relationship and it was unbearable to watch. We regularly spoke to them about it and tried to help them understand that they were being gaslighted and deserved far better. At one point they actually agreed with us but said they couldn’t leave. It was heartbreaking but we had to accept their decision. We love them so much and can’t bare to think about it but they made that choice knowingly and willingly. We’ll always be there for them if we’re wanted, but for now we’re not allowed and it’s incredibly sad. I hope they see their self-worth one day soon.

04.) Epiphany
‘Epiphany’ was a track that was fully written musically first, but I really struggled to write lyrics for. It was one of the last tracks that I wrote the lyrics to on the album and I didn’t actually finish them until the night before tracking. This is because it was a super personal topic about my experience with self-loathing and online ridicule. When it comes to writing about other people or experiences the words just flow out, but when I’m feeling vulnerable or the topic is about myself specifically I do find it difficult to know how much I want to open up. For a while the hate I received after our first single got to me so badly that I wanted to quit music altogether and my mental health plummeted. But the guys in VEXED really helped me understand how to fully not give a fuck about other peoples’ opinions of me. I learnt that the only opinion that actually matters is the one I have of myself and that opinions aren’t facts. ‘Epiphany’ is my way of saying fuck you to all those who choose to preach hate and watch me love myself.

05.) Misery
We started writing this song back in 2017. So I suppose you could say it was the first one we wrote for the album. However, at the time we didn’t know we would be releasing an album, we were just writing for the sake of writing. For a long while this track was just the main guitar riff and then followed by nothing. We couldn’t decide where we wanted the track to go. So I decided to sit at my keyboard and write a chorus. I am no guitarist by any means, but I started playing a basic idea that I then sent to Jay and he turned it into a thing of beauty. The lyrics are inspired by my lifelong battle with anxiety and depression, and how I torment myself with constant thoughts of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and intrusive thoughts. Good mental health and learning to love yourself is so important and is really the main message behind the entire album.

06.) Narcissist
I’m a big rap and grime fan, and I’d been listening to a lot of grime artists and wanted to try and do my own take on it in a heavy way. ‘Narcissist’ is inspired by one of the most horrific experiences and disgusting person I’ve ever associated with in my life. This person couldn’t be summed up in simple verses and choruses, I had a lot to say. So I sat down at my kitchen table at about 2am in the morning, sleep deprived and anxious and just wrote everything down that I needed to say. After a while I found a rhythm within the words and then knew I needed a hook. I knew this person would hear the song and I wanted them to know that I hadn’t forgotten what they’d done to me, and many others. “This is not a warning, it’s a fucking threat. Remember lies have a price and karma’s calling in your debt” is a very real statement and also one of my favourite lyrics I’ve ever written.

07.) Weaponise
For a very long time the album was actually going to be called ‘Composed Hate’, which is the first lyric of this song. The inspiration for that came from watching the Making A Murderer documentary and how Steven Avery’s attorney in one of the episodes explains how she felt the most “controlled rage”. She explains how she had a euphoric feeling in a moment of rage and suddenly everything became crystal clear in her head and she knew exactly what she needed to do. I related to her so much in that feeling of clarity in rage.

I also reference Edmond Dante’s, who is the main character from my favourite book The Count of Monte Cristo, which is also where I got the inspiration for the name of the band. Edmond was also falsely imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and then after escaping from prison, seeked revenge on everyone who had put him in there. This story, book, and character has saved me many times from falling down a hole of self-pity. ‘Weaponise’ is about someone who took advantage of my kind nature and then tried to use it against me. Instead of allowing myself to act in anger or turn on myself, I did an Edmond Dante’s.

08.) Purity
I really struggled to write lyrics for this song. It was almost completely finished musically and all that was left was for me to come up with the vocal parts. Again, it was a personal topic, and so that was the first hurdle. Secondly, it’s got so many technical layers that it threw me off, but is also supported by quite a sturdy and simplistic rhythm section, so I didn’t want to write something easy and predictable. This track actually ended up being the most vocally challenging song on the entire album and stretches across several octaves E2 – F6 I believe. This song is about my upbringing and how all I’ve ever wanted is to make my Grandpa proud, and how I don’t know how I’d survive without him and his importance to me.

09.) Drift
After such an emotional ending to the previous song, we wanted something that would give the listener a small break before entering into an even deeper and more sensitive song. Jay wanted an opportunity to play something else other than just heavy riffs too, so ‘Drift’ is a little oasis of calm and self-expression for him.

10.) Aurora
I have a lot of incredibly happy memories from my childhood. However, I also went through some awful things that no child should ever face. I realise my childhood was far more privileged than many children ever experience, so this isn’t a cry out for sympathy, but, ‘Aurora’ is me finally bringing deep, dark, and disturbing events to light. Things I never thought I could talk about in previous bands. This is a song to my younger self, telling her that although the abuse she’s facing is awful, totally immoral and unfair… things do get better. I didn’t deserve to be abused as a child, but I will come out the other side far stronger, more successful, and happier than any of those vile people could ever imagine.

11.) Lazarus
When we started VEXED, we told each other that it was our last attempt at trying to make a career in music. We’d all spent years in deadbeat bands that were sucking the life out of us and it was incredibly depressing. I got to a point in my life where I genuinely didn’t care if I lived or died. I know that’s an awful thing to say, I’m in a much better place now, but at the time my depression was so bad that I honestly didn’t care.

If things took off, great. If they didn’t, I would give up music, eventually die and that was fine. Both were equal in satisfaction in my mind at that time I was at peace with it. But honestly as cringe as this sounds, VEXED completely saved my life. ‘Lazarus’ is about facing depression head on, in a state of numbness and not caring about the outcome. Luckily it was an amazing one. VEXED.

VEXED‘s debut album, ‘Culling Culture’, is out now via Napalm Records.

You can order the album online from the label’s webstore (here), Bandcamp (here), iTunes (here), and Amazon (here).

You can keep up-to-date with the band online over on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram