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10th March 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: I looked at the lyrics for ĎItís Time for Teaí as well and it seems to have a bit of irony in there by using, I mightíve misread this, but using tea as an empowerment metaphorÖ
EMILIE: No, not at all, you got it.
(Emilie Autumn on creating beauty from adversity)
"...this is all out of something that was incredibly negative so, in the end, I canít really be that mad about it!"
Emilie Autumn backstage at Rock City, Nottingham, UK, 10th March 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Emilie Autumn Official Website:
Your Sugar Sits Untouched (2000)
Thanks to Nina Potthoff for arranging the interview
Enchant (2003)
Liar/Dead Is The New Alive EP (2006)
Emilie Autumn Official Facebook:
Opheliac (2006)
Emilie Autumn Official Twitter:
Laced/Unlaced (2007)
4 o'Clock EP (2008)
A Bit O' This & That (2007)
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun & Bohemian Rhapsody EP (2008)
The Opheliac Companion (2009)
Opheliac - Deluxe Edition (2010)
Emilie Autumn Official MySpace:
MD: I guess irony because you have a civilised cup of tea symbolising revenge; is that supposed to work like that?
EMILIE: Well, what is happening at that particular moment in the story that I was saying is they standÖit is like this anthem; itís much more poppy sounding than anything else on the record at all which is on purpose. Itís supposed to be, you know, taking this very serious message verse-wise in-between the choruses which are very, very catchyÖverse-wise, some extremely strong, daring lyrics and then coming up with this chorus which is like letís fucking sing and dance and celebrate weíre about to go into battle for all the right reasons, and weíre going to win this one. So that is that moment where they realise thereís more of us than there are of you so letís just straighten this thing out.
And then ĎItís Time For Teaí, the second song in the show, is actually when they start running down the stairs and go on their rampage. The irony of that is reallyÖitís a couple of things Ė itís that when they go, the clockÖwhich is why thereís a clock on stage, this whole symbolism, itís this massive clock thatís down below in the entrance hall; itís massive and you can hear it anywhere in this massive building, and so the clock strikes four, classic tea-time, and alright, itís time for tea, letís do this, and they go.
And thatís also story-wise and personally this wholeÖthe kind of sad joke in bipolar is this completely weird fucking phenomenon that is in psychological books and things is that all over the world itís a very common thing to, when youíre in a certain state, to wake up on the fucking dot. Like, you look up and it is exactly four oíclock. And thatís your insomnia, weird hour; thatís when you canít go back to sleep. Thatís what the song ĎFour oíClockí is about, is it keeps referencing this number because it gets to the fact of, you know, in the show thereís this mad tea party that happens and it gets very messy, and itís all about taking what we all know is the supposedly clichť, the archetypal, the proper things about this particular time that we think of as Victorian as being so proper but itís not and itís all about the seedy underbelly of that time; itís not about glamourising it at all. Itís quite the opposite. Itís like letís be honest and see how this has affected where we are now and how weíve not come very far in a lot of ways and thatís a huge problem. But thatís the joke of it and itís also about looking at all this mess and having some fun with it because if we didnít youíd just have to crawl up in a ball and die.
MD: Thatís kind of a nice segue onto my next question Ė you mentioned ĎOne Foot in Front of the Otherí and kind of implicit in that title there seems to be a degree of optimism, like a final message of positivity?
EMILIE: It actually is; it totally is. I thought that was an important thing to come to and include in all of this in that we canít justÖthis has never been, and I want to make very clear this part of the story, this has never been about wallowing in all of thisÖ ďthese terrible things have happenedÖyouíre crazyÖĒ blah, blah, blahÖitís not about that. First and foremost, itís about telling a good story and people shouldnít need to know whether itís true or whether itís anything. They should just be able to listen to the music, enjoy it, go to the show, be entertainedÖif you want to see girls run around in corsets thatís awesome, totally as valid as anything else. If you follow this on a psychological study level, awesome. If youíve read the book and you think thatís fun and interesting and that itís kind of like hereís Stephen King and Harry Potter meshed up, thatís fine. But, in the end, really, it is always about the empowerment of the individual and also of the group of realising that youíre not alone.
Itís a huge message that Iíve learned from Plague Rats over the years and that is something that I often hear from them is that itís not about me, this girl who looks a certain way, who sings these songs or puts on this stuff and dances around. Itís about something so much bigger which makes me a lot more comfortable because if it was all about me Iíd feel very self-absorbed and bad about it. But itís about this whole Asylum world that everybody has a part in and itís this thinking out of my brain that has become very, very physically real. And now, these beautiful people are kind of building real estate on this land and making it very real and part of their lives, and to do that we need to see a somewhatÖnot that there is never an outcome, thereís not until we cross over into something else and even then itís never over until itís over and itís never overÖbut there needs to be some way to go on and not just keep talking or singing about. And itís kind of also another joke on myself which the song starts with: ďHow did it come to this where every song I sing is just another list of pain and suffering?Ē Like at some point, we need to talk about how to fucking move on and accept that itís not gonna get better, but weíre gonna keep going. So, yes, optimism!
MD: Heeey!
MD: Having the acronym of ĎF.L.A.G.í seems quite pertinent, like having a flag as a banner to symbolise somethingÖ
EMILIE: I didnít even think about it!
MD: So was that just serendipity then rather than words deliberately chosen to arrive at that acronym?
EMILIE: I didnít think about it until an actual Plague Rat tweeted something and said, ďisnít that coolĒ, because weíve always had the Suffer flag and then we have this big, red flag that weíre whipping around that symbolises all of this stuff. Thatís my main weapon for the ĎItís Time For Teaí song and the girls hand that to me at the end of the ĎF.L.A.G.í song and now this becomes a weapon. But I didnít think of that at the time at allÖI try to be clever, how did I not think of that?! Itís actually a lot cooler that they have got in this world so much with me that they have begun to see things that I may not even see.
Honestly, it couldnít even be any more gratifying to see this thing grow without me, especially I hear like in Russia where Iíve never been, would love to but havenít, and Plague Rats are having muffin meet-ups and tea parties there where they dance around and do this stuff but itís not just about me. I might have been the catalyst to bring them together but itís not anymore; itís about them and this Asylum world and bringing it into themselves. In the end, thatís the most amazing thing. This is about them and in my ideal world they wouldnít even have to listen to my stuff when theyíre having tea parties or they wouldnít even have to bring me up at all. Itís just about them and their place in this thing. Itís all about individuality, being as different as you possibly can be because, for all of us, I feel that makes us very beautiful and also very dangerous.
MD: It must be very nice to see youíre having that kind of positive effect in the world in all these different places.
EMILIE: Yeah, and itís so small; weíre not curing AIDS in Africa, weíre not curing cancer, weíre not doing all of those things so, in the real world, anything that I can possibly provide is so small but for those people I get to be fortunate enough to share some small part of their lives. Itís very meaningful and then being selfish for me, personally, this helps me an incredible amount just to know that in some way at least Iím accomplishing my personal goal which is always to make something very ugly into something, just like all for me, into something very beautiful. And thatís the thing, not into just something okay or positive, or useful or helpful to people, making it into something beautiful. And thatís whatís happening so I just hope that I can keep on going with that and doing it and making things into some form of art to where you almost donít really mind that they happened anymore because I would never have known people and I would never have known you if all of this stuff hadnít. And now I can wear whatever, and a kitty hat, and sit here and have teaÖ
MD: Öitís very nice tea, by the wayÖ
EMILIE: Öthank youÖand now have a company thatís doing this and this is all out of something that was incredibly negative so, in the end, I canít really be that mad about it!
EMILIE: Yeah, Iím very lucky at this point and at least, if nothing else, at least I realise it.
MD: I know Iíve run out of time now so theyíre good closing words. Thank you very much indeed.
EMILIE: Oh my love, Iím going to embrace you, the old friends that we areÖthank you so much for being here and I didnít know that I was going to see you again today so this is great!