Vexed are quickly becoming one of the most exciting bands in the world of 'core. On their debut album, Culling Culture (out May 21st via Napalm Records), the U.K. outfit create a violent mash-up of glitchy deathcore and proggy metalcore that recalls bands like Jinjer and Spiritbox. The band's instrumentation sounds fucking gigantic, but their not-so-secret weapon is their spectacular frontwoman Megan Targett, who strikes an impressive balance between sounding like a vicious monster and a soulful crooner.
Although she's clearly a trained screamer with a dynamic range that boasts bellowing lows and piercing highs, Targett's clean singing voice blends unfettered power with rich emotion in a way that hints at her eclectic influences from outside of the metal multiverse. We were interested to learn about the singers who Targett looks up to, so we spoke to her about her top six vocal inspirations, which range from deathcore maestros to A-list rappers and pop stars.
Additionally, watch Targett demonstrate her vocal warm-up routine and offer some helpful tips for how to scream and sing like her via the YouTube video above.
To this day, the best live performance I have ever seen was Emmure at the Electric Ballroom in 2017. They were supporting Suicide Silence on their Black Crown tour, but I wasn't hugely familiar with them or considered myself a fan. However, that dramatically changed after watching Frankie Palmeri at that show. If a band can make you an instant fan when you've never fully listened to them before just by a live performance, that's when you know they're the shit.
I vividly remember Frankie walking onstage with the look of absolute rage in his face, and I instantly connected with it. Angry music is my favorite kind of music, so watching a vocalist absolutely rip a venue to pieces and create a mosh pit that'd make most prison riots look cute — simply by using their voice and stage presence — instantly had me hooked. The way Frankie distorts his screams in an inhuman-like way is something I've always taken inspiration from when I'm spitting venom into the mic. It's just pure poisonous, vicious perfection.
There's something about CJ's vocals that rumble through to the pit of your stomach — and it's disturbingly good. Whenever I'm trying to work on my own technique, I often listen to Thy Art Is Murder and try my best to mimic what I'm hearing CJ do. His ability, range and dynamics in his voice are, in my opinion, unmatched, and he writes vocal hooks that make a potentially boring and uninteresting-sounding genre sound ridiculously catchy and somewhat melodic.
David's voice is what I think the devil would sound like. Dark, disturbing and full of years of pain and trauma. You can feel his vocals as opposed to just hearing them. His vocals inspire me to become more vulnerable in my performances and to just allow my voice to crack or waver when it's portraying a painful or vulnerable emotion. David is an introverted performer, but he has the presence of a powerhouse and a clean voice that sends shivers down my spine.
Guilty pleasure? No way! I'm a Cardi B super-fan and not afraid to admit it. I don't only listen to metal music — to be totally honest, I probably listen to rap, grime and hip-hop far more. Fo me, Cardi B was the discovery of unapologetic female sexuality and power. When "WAP" came out in 2020, it took my already positively solid opinion of her as an artist and covered it in concrete. I take a lot of inspiration from Cardi's rhythms, projection and her lyrical content. Although that may not come across in the slightest when listening to a Vexed song, it's more about the attitude of Cardi that inspires me to write lyrics without limitations. There's nothing she's afraid to say, and she openly preaches self-love and self-respect. She inspires me to love myself and my ability as a vocalist no matter what adversity I may face.
Gwen Stefani was the first woman in the heavier scene that I fell in love with. She dressed the way I wanted to dress and she did the things I wanted to do, but I just didn't have the confidence to try. I remember watching a YouTube Video of No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom tour when I was about 13 and just being in complete awe of her. She's often admitted to not being the best singer when it comes to ability, but I have to disagree. The way she sprints around the stage, jumping, head banging, throwing punches and stomping, takes incredible control and physical fitness. I think she takes being a vocalist to a place where not many people will go, which is full, physical exertion. I think she's the reason why I always go mental on stage.
As well as rap and grime, I'm also a huge sucker for pop music. If there's a catchy melody and a strong voice, I'm probably gonna like it. When I first heard "Without Me," I loved it so much that I think I must have had it on repeat for about six weeks. Halsey often gets made fun of for her vocal tone, but I think it's so textured and refreshing. She's another woman in music who is unapologetically herself and isn't afraid to confront topics of discrimination and challenge those who mock her. When it comes to writing clean melodies for Vexed, Halsey is often an artist I will go to for inspiration or motivation.