One of Hamilton’s newest names on the local stage has a cosmopolitan vibe to them. Five years ago, Amina Axi left her native Cairo, Egypt and went to Toronto but while she was searching for a new life in a different country, her musical journey would change when she’d hook up with some Hamiltonians. Planned Dilemma were in need of a singer and Axi fit the bill, rocking out as a four piece — including Josh Agnoletto (guitar), Rob Siroe (drums) and Dan Scime (bass) — for the last year.
“I fell in love with writing, lyrics and music so it pushed me to learn language more — to write poetry I had to reach a higher level of language,” recalls Axi on her early inspirations. “I have lost a little bit of my Arabic since I’ve come to Canada but it’s still there... I was bullied a lot as a kid and that’s why I’ve decided to break free from a lot of the culture back home in Egypt. Through the hardships I’ve had in life, I’ve found solace in rock music. I trained classically for two years and I wouldn’t have half the power or technique that I have now for my vocals without that.
“I had found a band but ended up finding my boyfriend in the band so that band split up and so I went back to Kijiji.ca and found Planned Dilemma,” adds Axi. “Their music was more in line with what I wanted to do. I always seemed to get stuck in classic rock bands but I wanted something more aggressive and angry and they had that anger I needed to write and to release.”
Taking influence from System of a Down, Deftones, Hum, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, Tool and more, the fierce foursome coalesced over their love of heavy rock. The Hamilton trio would meet Amina at Limeridge Mall and decided to see how things would go at a jam. They’d end up writing their first song at that first jam.
“After that first jam session, we were like, ‘this is a done deal’ and not only are we a band now but we’re the best of friends,” says Axi. “We have so many different influences — we wouldn’t call ourselves punk or metal so we have this conflict where we fall into things with our sound. I honestly thing that’s a good thing so we play as many shows as we can with as many different bands as we can and see where it takes us.”
With their debut songs recorded at Halo Studio with Roman Marcone and Henry Moss last fall, the sessions showcase a powerful band but with Axi’s powerful vocals leading the charge. With the band currently recording new music, they’ve organized a summer Ontario tour to feature some of the new songs and this weekend offer a showcase on a bill fraught with up and coming louder rock Hamilton bands.
“We’ve recorded five songs and looking to get them mixed and mastered so you can expect some music videos in the next month or so,” says Axi. “We’ll release a CD for people that like to collect that kind of thing but we want to get it to everyone on all of the streaming platforms. This summer we’ve gone on tour to introduce the band around Ontario. I believe in outreach so our online presence will always be loud. We’re using the technology of the modern world to get more viewers and listeners. But playing live is important to make new fans.
“I currently live in Oakville and I detest it so when I go to Hamilton, it’s a breath of fresh air,” adds Axi. “Every show is important but of course the hometown ones are special. I want people to feel because in the modern day, music has lost that. You don’t have to feel music anymore, just listen to the top hits on the radio or whatever. It doesn’t send a message. It doesn’t speak for anyone or anything. I have a voice and so does everybody else and I encourage them to use it. I was in a some competition and was rejected because they said I had an identity crisis. I’ve learned to take my identity crisis and make music and not tell me to fit into any category whatsoever. For shows, I get up on stage and I forget where I am — it’s that kind of show where you get lost in the music. It’s really what I’d like it to be.” V
Planned Dilemma play this Friday August 2 at Doors Taco Joint and Metal Bar with Mavric, Boxcar Ben, Frantic Lullabies and Leap. Doors open at 8pm and it's a pay-what-you-can cover to get in. Click on planneddilemma.com