Interview - Emilie Autumn
By Todd Jolicouer
ToddStar: Emilie, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for The Rockpit. We know you are busy, but want to make sure we enlighten as many people we can about your music and performances.
EA: Absolutely! It’s my pleasure entirely.
ToddStar: If it is okay, I would love to jump back and discussing your last release, Opheliac (released in 2006). I knew nothing you as an artist, other than reading bits and pieces in various places. I finally decided to check you out and this seemd to be the best place to start. I find myself keeping it in my normal rotation of CDs that I listen to, as it plays all edges and keeps my interest. What can you briefly tell us about that disc, that most people may not know on the surface?
EA: The most important thing to realize about “Opheliac” is that it wasn’t written for any particular audience. It wasn’t written FOR an audience, in fact, since I didn’t really have a very large one at the time, and the people who knew about me certainly were not going to be expecting something so harsh and industrial. There is a very serious lesson that I learned in this process of working – where nothing was created to please anybody else, because there wasn’t anyone to worry about pleasing. The reason why “Opheliac” hit people so hard and so quickly in a very strong way was precisely because it was honest and uncompromising. Now that there is an audience expecting and waiting for new output from me, going back to “Opheliac” reminds me to always create as though there were no one watching. I think you honor your audience in this way as well, because they will then be presented with the best, most honest, untainted art you can give them.
ToddStar: You have a new album recorded and ready to be unleashed on the world, Fight Like A Girl. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of that. What can you tell us about the new disc? How does it vary from Opheliac? What elements did you carry over?
EA: “Fight Like A Girl” is very different from “Opheliac” in one crucial way – it is not a rock album, not an industrial album, not a collection of songs painting a picture, none of that. It is a soundtrack, and it tells a very clear, cohesive story from beginning to end – a story taken from my book, which, as you know, is the bible of the Asylum world, and the origin of everything I create. “FLAG” was always meant to be part of the massive soundtrack to the Broadway musical that my book, “The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls,” is quickly becoming. Musically, of course, there are many similar elements, because it’s all coming from the same place. But “FLAG” is much more epic, cinematic, dramatic, and fearlessly theatrical. It’s all about telling this time-traveling, mind-bending saga through music.
ToddStar: Several songs are very strong from your catalog. Are there any favorites of yours that you find yourself going back to? Any you wish came out sounding different or that you would like, in hindsight, to tweak a little?
EA: I am still surprised that I can honestly say I wouldn’t change any bit of music from “Opheliac,” or from any of the albums or EPs that have been released since (“Liar/Dead Is The New Alive” EP, “Four o’Clock” EP, “Bohemian Rhapsody/Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” EP, “Laced/Unlaced” double-disc violin album). They were all done exactly as they were supposed to be at that time, and every sound, every tiny little noise, is there for a reason.
ToddStar: Regarding Fight Like A Girl, were any of the songs easier to write than others? You often hear about an artist that sat down to write a song and that essentially the song wrote itself. Were any of the songs difficult to get out? If so, which?
EA: I’ve talked in the past about songs like “The Art Of Suicide” that happened in an instant, appearing in my brain almost fully formed. Of course, it doesn’t always happen like that, and that’s a marvelous thing because, otherwise, where would the fun be – the journey of creating something over time? Indeed, with “FLAG”, there was a bit of a stumbling block, but it isn’t of the sort you may think. It was nothing to do with the songs being difficult to get out, but was all to do with the format of the album being, initially, something of a conundrum. At first, I was fighting my instinct, my urge, to make a soundtrack – an entirely theatrical album meant for a Broadway stage, knowing that there was no precedent for it, and that it might be too different for some. Once I was over that momentary panic and simply accepted that I was going to write a theatrical soundtrack and fuck anyone who didn’t get it, the words and music exploded into life around me. Essentially, I am telling the story of my book, so if I just keep on track with that saga, I can’t really go wrong.
ToddStar: If you had to describe the sound of Emilie Autumn to someone who had never heard of you, how would you do that?
EA: I would simply describe my sound as the music you’d imagine accompanying a bunch of hot chicks in corsets running around and making out with each other. I think that paints a pretty accurate picture.
ToddStar: You have toured extensively, usually playing small theaters. I found this really suited your performance (I was lucky enough to see you perform in 2011). Are there any venues you would like to play some day, or do you find yourself gravitating to the theater scene?
EA: It’s true that our current concert venues usually max out at around 1500 capacity (often a bit smaller, but rarely larger, unless we are in a festival situation). I know that I am supposed to want to grow exponentially until I can pack arenas, but the truth is that I don’t really want this at all. It’s just not the style or genre of performance that is interesting to me. Large theaters are where this show belongs, and where it is going as it transforms from rock show to musical.
ToddStar: When performing live, do you find that you mix the material evenly from your releases, or do you tend to play more of the newer material? Are there any songs from your earlier releases that you feel will always be a part of your live show?
EA: What a great question! No, I don’t mix material evenly between albums because the stage show is entirely about telling a cohesive story from beginning to end, and so a song is only included if it is crucial to that story and to the journey it’s meant to take the audience on. At the moment, most of the music is from “FLAG”, but I do include the songs from “Opheliac” and other releases that are also part of this story, such as “Four o’Clock”, ”The Art of Suicide”, and “Liar”.
ToddStar: What is next for Emilie Autumn after the current leg of the Fight Like A Girl tour?
EA: I know I’m talking about the “Asylum…” musical non-stop here, but really, that’s my primary project over the course of the next year or so. The show must be fleshed out into a three-hour musical plus intermission, and a cast of forty. This will take me going into a cave for a bit and just composing. Of course, my desire for cave time is rarely ever fulfilled… I’ve been lucky to be involved in “The Devil’s Carnival,” a film series by Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrence Zdunich (creators of “REPO! The Genetic Opera”), and play a lead character in the film called “The Painted Doll” (the expected release for the first film is April 2012). More work on this project is to come, as well as the launch of my tea company, The Asylum Emporium, so, yeah…not quite sue how this is all supposed to fit in!
ToddStar: You are also a talented writer who pours her heart and soul in every project, especially "The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls." This perfect blend of autobiographical twisted with a thriller came off well. Any other plans for you as a writer?
EA: I’m actually working on a cookbook companion to “TAFWVG”. And there’s the coloring book as well…
ToddStar: If you had to pick possible pairings for an ideal tour, what other bands would you like to see Emilie Autumn out on the road with?
EA: David Bowie and Queen, with Freddie Mercury of course. I’m time traveling here.
ToddStar: We are just starting a fresh year with 2012 - any regrets from 2011? Do you have any resolutions or goals for 2012 professionally or personally?
EA: 2012 will be the year I learn to throw knives. I know it!
ToddStar: Other than making sure everyone checks out your website and webstore (see below), are there any other current projects or sites you would like to promote?
EA: Well, do indeed keep an eye on www.thedevilscarnival.com. I spent five hours everyday in the prosthetics FX trailer getting ready to shoot all night, and it’ll be highly entertaining to see my Plague Rats’ response!
ToddStar: What is the meaning of life?
ToddStar: Thanks again for taking the time and we look forward to 2012 and more Emilie Autumn!!
EA: It’s been a delight sitting down for tea with you, really! Let’s do it again soon, because you’re in the Asylum now, and it’s much easier to get in than it is to get out…
Photos from Emilie's 2011 tour can be found here