Born in the Ukraine and raised in Brooklyn on a steady diet of pierogies and metal, Mistress Juliya has risen to be the modern-day Riki Rachtman of Headbangers Ball. After hosting music programs on Fuse like Uranium and Slave to the Metal, she has graduated to the network’s Top 20 Countdown (Fridays at 5 p.m.). Off-camera, Chernetsky riffed with her Top 20 Countdown cohost Allison Hagendorf about music, tattoos, and her icon, Bettie Page.
What was your earliest memory of music?
Michael Jackson. My parents used to listen to him all the time when I was little. He was huge in Russia in the ’80s—as he was all over the world! When I was 12, I was turned on to Guns N’ Roses, and I’ve never really been the same since then.
Who was your music idol as a teenager?
Was and still is Ozzy. Mostly because he lived an insane rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle while creating amazing albums and having a family. I’m not saying every album is perfect, or that his family is normal, but that’s the beauty in it for me. He is the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll. And he’s still alive and happy, which is more than most can say or hope for.
Is talking about music and interviewing musicians what you always wanted to do?
Actually, no, I wanted to be a psychiatrist—though hanging with musicians all the time isn’t far from it. It’s kind of funny: I used to sit around what we called the “metal staircase” in high school, and wonder how I’d ever get to see metal interviews and videos once Headbangers Ball got canceled. And then, three years later I started Uranium. The stars aligned, I suppose—right place, right time, right station.
When I had the opportunity to interview Judas Priest’s Rob Halford with you, you were so pumped to speak with the metal god. Do you still get nervous to interview your heroes?
Absolutely! I mean, I of course realize we’re all just people, and I’ve done this now for about 10 years, but people who create art that changes lives fascinate me. Art is the most sincere form of expression; that is why it touches people’s lives, opinions, states of mind, and emotions. Rob is definitely one of those people. I get nervous from excitement. It’s very exciting to get a chance to sit down with real artists that have changed people’s lives.
Who has been your most special interview thus far?
So many have been special, because when I started I got to do a music show with my favorite music genre. So most of my interviews were with people I really looked up to. My Dimebag Darrell [of Pantera] interview really stands out because he is such an icon. On the way to meet him, I just prayed that he would be the same way as I imagined him, and he was so much more.
When you interviewed Travie McCoy I could see you guys were bonding about your tattoos. Is that a common way for you to build rapport with artists you’re about to interview?
Well, art for artists is always a common ground. As a journalist, I always look for ways to connect with the artist because they are often shy or are expecting a generic media experience. I like to make them feel comfortable and know that I am interested in what they are about. A lot of artists have ink just to have it, because it’s cool. Which I don’t support at all. But with Travie, I saw that it was more personal, so that’s why I brought it up. When ink is personal, it is definitely an intimate issue to discuss and makes people feel good to be understood on that level.