Lilith Czar is the positive, empowering force that Juliet Simms needed
Check out the full interview with the artist in AltPress Issue 392.April 26, 2021
More than a decade ago, Juliet Simms entered the rock industry emitting unimaginable strength, perseverance and radiance. But like a venomous snake ridding itself of a skin that no longer fits, Simms has risen in her most powerful and purest form as Lilith Czar. Let’s make one thing crystal clear, though: If it’s a man’s world that we’re living in, Czar is ruling the galaxy clad in a thorn-covered crown on a throne of sapphires and steel.
Armed with a voice that commands attention and ownership of her body and sexuality, Czar is dismantling gender stereotypes one by one in both the music and entertainment industries. While Simms always recognized her strength as a woman, Czar has allowed her to ascend as king. Through her ups and downs, Simms metaphorically walked through hell to ensure the future and positive force of Czar. She has propelled her confidence, empowerment, magic and soul to a transcendental form. Don’t be fooled, though. Czar isn’t here for an apology, but she will show you how revenge can taste so sweet.
You were under the name Juliet Simms for so long. And you have now taken on this new version of yourself as Lilith Czar. Where did you come up with the strength to feel empowered and to be reborn?
With Lilith Czar and this whole new character or persona, this new version of myself, I’m an artist, so everything I do, I want it to be artistic, and I want it to have color and imagery. I want it to communicate, and I want it to mean something to people. This was my way of saying, “I need to be OK so that others are OK.” This is my way of saying, “If I can fucking reach deep inside myself and pull out the best, most confident, powerful version of myself and give it to you, you can do it, too.” Lilith is not only a symbol of power and confidence and knowing who she is, but she’s also a pillar. She’s a pillar of strength for me. I constantly find myself having a bad day, or I’m like, “Fuck, I hate the way I look today, or I hate the way I sound today, or I don’t really like this poem.” Whatever it is that I’m not feeling so great about, it’s this pillar of strength that I’ve created. Everybody has the ability to find their version of Lilith Czar.
The world is telling you that you are on the right path. How did you know it was the right time to transform?
This is something I’ve felt happening for the last few years. I just noticed a shift in who I was. I grew up in the music industry. I grew up in the rock scene. I have lived that crazy rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. I got to a point where that was going to destroy me. So I decided to get my shit together, get healthy, get my mind in order, get my goals in order and lead a much more positive, productive lifestyle. When I decided to make that change, it was hard at first, [but] I wasn’t alone in it, which was great. I had my husband also go through it with me. He went through his own metamorphosis. Throughout the years of really focusing on your mental health and your life and being the best version of yourself—when you really practice that every day, being your best version, you really start to get into the habit of it being very natural. You don’t have to think about it, and it just snowballs. You ultimately are just living in a state of confidence and calmness, knowing who you are and what you want to do and what you want your life to look [like] 10 years from now. It’s a lovely thing. I think people have the ability to change by themselves. I really do. I think people have the ability to increase their abilities and create their happiness.
So last year when COVID hit, I found the silver lining in an awful year. I had the time to really decide what it is that I wanted, what I wanted my life to look like. It was over the course of a couple of weeks where I was reading a lot and listening to podcasts and writing a lot. I was like, “Man, even though this year sucks, life is great right now. Me and Andy [Biersack] are so happy, and I’m making this record that I really, truly love, and I feel like I sound better than I’ve ever sounded with a really great fucking record label and these new managers that are so fucking great.” Everything felt really good except that something was missing. And I realized that I had shed the skin of my former self. I felt like I didn’t know who Juliet Simms was anymore. I felt like it had been so long that I had been practicing this better version of myself that I had left her behind in order to become something better. Not to say that she was a terrible person, but I just didn’t feel like I knew who she was anymore. As artists do, I wanted to put that into my work and into my album and into my art. It was some crazy synchronous, cosmic Lilith Czar force where this album—and I know this sounds crazy—but it’s like it’s been guided. Some of the songs were written, but pre-me discovering Lilith Czar, it just works with the concept, the whole rise and fall and power and confidence. And it’s like some weird force was guiding me into this because the album is Lilith Czar. It’s really quite magical.
So it was last summer when I was just like, “This is the time. It’s now or never.” I had this whole pitch to tell the record label and my manager. I’m like, “Look, this is going to sound crazy.” And then I gave them the whole pitch of who Lilith was. There are so many different interpretations of Lilith. In some religions, she’s considered a demon and a night ghost monster. In others, like the occult and Wicca, she’s considered this symbol of feminism and strength and power. And she’s a deity and a goddess and is considered the first mother. I related to her story so much, from both ends of the spectrum: being the worst version of yourself to being the best version of yourself. [After] experiencing a tremendous amount of sexism and subjugation and oppression, especially in the entertainment industry, I was so drawn to her as a symbol of strength and magic and power.
I actually want to get into that a little bit about “King” because you said it’s a tale of man versus woman. First, I would love to talk more in-depth about why you created this visual and what it means for your next chapter as Lilith. But additionally, is there a way that rather than man versus woman, it’s just a community working together?
Yeah, that’s something we’ve been screaming about for hundreds of years! I know that’s what I want. I’m sure that I can speak for you when I say that’s what you want. I think the music video for “King” tells a lot about the conflict between men and women. In the video, you’ve got moon pinned against Earth. Moon is meant to be pleading with Earth to stop and relent, just pleading for Earth to love, essentially. You’ve got me on the dining setup, having men rip through my ass. And there’s a setup that is supposed to stand for fire and chains and ripping through the chains. Funnily enough, the music video was extremely excruciating to film. The water was like 39 degrees. It was the most painful experience in my entire fucking life. I thought my heart was going to stop. I went into shock. I thought I was going to have a seizure. It was unbelievable. So all those scenes you see of me underwater or walking into the ocean were the worst. I was actually living art. I was actually experiencing Earth going, “I’m going to kill you. This element is going to fucking destroy you.” So anyway, throughout the music video, moon is pleading with Earth to stop, and when all is said and done, moon has the option to destroy Earth. Instead of doing so, she forgives, and she continues to love. That’s what makes women king because the most powerful thing on this Earth is to be able to love. And as cheesy as this is to say, if we all conducted ourselves with love, we’d have less problems…
I love the fact that you’re normalizing that women can be king as well. You’re breaking this gender stereotype.
Well, that’s another thing I wanted to say with this music video. This isn’t a music video just meant for women. It’s a music video meant for humans. You get to decide who you are. This music video was a breaking point for me. It was my vindication. This was a product of being told who I was, what I am, what kind of music I should put out, how I should dress, how sexy I should be, how not sexy I should be, how female I should be, how androgynous and tomboy I should be. This video is about not being told who you are or what you are and deciding for yourself who it is that you want to fucking be. If you’re a man and you want to be a queen, fuck yeah—be a queen. If you’re a woman and you’re like, “No man, I’m the emperor. I am the ruler of my world.” You’re a goddamn king. I want to so badly give this feeling that I have to other people. You can be a fucking god or goddess, whatever you want to call it.