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24th August 2013
METAL DISCOVERY: Obviously, the anti-repression and emancipation themes are quite strong in there but gender, sexuality and death are prominent motifs throughout the video as well…
(Emilie Autumn on the overemphasis of sexuality and gender in society)
"...if everybody could get that stupid sex/gender thing out of the way, the world would be a completely different place and then we could start dealing with real problems, because that shouldn’t even exist as a problem; it’s so stupid."
Emilie Autumn backstage at Rock City, Nottingham, UK, 24th August 2013
Photograph copyright © 2013 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Emilie Autumn Official Website:
Your Sugar Sits Untouched (2000)
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Melissa King 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:
Fight Like A Girl (2012)
MD: They’re kind of very enigmatic conceptions in general… three of life’s biggest enigmas, I guess. But would you say they’re enigmatic within the context of your story to get people to think about them more through their ambiguity rather than trying to represent them as more demystified where people aren’t forced to think about them so much?
EMILIE: Yeah, and definitely there’s a purpose to every single detail. Nothing was random at all because, really, when you film anything… every single shot is structured from this angle or that one, so you can’t really have anybody look a certain way or do anything without really having thought about it. Because even while we’re filming one scene, the makeup crew’s coming to me, whispering in my ear, “one second, what do you want this maid to look like; what is her makeup exactly?” They don’t know what to do; they’re just showing up and I’m saying, “make this one look like this.” So then I’m going: “Okay, make her look like this – she has not had sex in forty five years and, when she did, it was probably not any good. And she was once in my position, and she indicates that by being very, very good in this repressive situation, you might get so lucky as to be one of the maids who helps to dress up the girls that you once were before this really bad situation that’s gonna go on onstage for them. What was going to happen onstage and their idea of the costumes that they were going to dress us in was not what we made it into; it was not as pleasant.”
And, so, everybody had this backstory; everybody had reason. Then, of course, it gets ambiguous in that we have the guys in drag onstage; we have the maids that turn around and kiss each other; we have all of these things that are meant to just loosen everybody up to everything and say, like, all the lines get blurry and that’s when it becomes healthy because I believe, as many people do, that we are not all what we think we are. There’s a spectrum and we all fall somewhere along that and very few people are, “I am super gay” or “I am super straight” without any of that. And even if you’re super gay, you’re super gay or this super gay or this super gay.
MD: In terms of sexualities, there’s an infinite number of sexualities… or potentially an infinite number of sexualities.
EMILIE: Yes. And by the time you’re one and a half and, socially, things are put upon you which, I mean, I guess we have to have some kind of construct to go by in order to just know what name to call each other but, in general, it’s really not healthy and a lot of what we think we are, if we really took the time to break it down, we could potentially find that it is not exactly what we always thought or, at least, there’s a bit more room in there. And, I think, increasing the appreciation of somebody that is living a life even mildly different from you increases your allowance to look into yourself and think, “I’m okay, and I’m okay with this, and I’m okay like this, and I’m okay in all these different situations.” And if everybody could get that stupid sex/gender thing out of the way, the world would be a completely different place and then we could start dealing with real problems, because that shouldn’t even exist as a problem; it’s so stupid.
MD: Exactly, exactly, that’s so true.
EMILIE: Like, this is what we’re worried about? What people are and what people do? It’s so embarrassing.
MD: It shouldn’t even be a vague consideration.
EMILIE: It is embarrassing.
MD: Definitely.
EMILIE: It is so laughable and we can take this moment as friends, together, to just laugh about this and say how embarrassing it is.
MD: Indeed.
EMILIE: There are other issues… or even something that creatures talk about. I don’t think that lions talk about that! I mean, sometimes, the lady lion, in an attempt to show dominance in a situation, will mount another lady lion. And that’s just something that they do. I had a dog that did that when I was five – I looked at that situation and I was freaked out because I was like, I knew that was not really her role and then I got to know that, like, who the fuck am I to tell that dog what is her role?! [laughs]
MD: Exactly, yeah! I have a lady cat and a man cat who sometimes exhibit patterns of behaviour different from what you’d expect from being female and male cats… which is great.
EMILIE: Isn’t that interesting, though.
MD: Absolutely.
EMILIE: Okay, so I’m going to mount you in a moment if you’re cool with that!
MD: [laughs] Okay, that’s cool! It’s rampant, it’s everywhere… animals, humans…. well, we are animals anyway, aren’t we.
EMILIE: Precisely.
MD: You’ve expressed a desire, previously, to also transform the book into a film so do you anticipate, at this stage, that would also take the form of a musical?
EMILIE: I think I was unsure, initially, whether it should or not and then it just all kind of came into place when I realised that this needs to be a musical. This should be a musical first; in which case, why would you take it down a notch and lose that for the movie. I think it would completely stand on its own as a story, regardless, but movie musicals are so much fun. Like, why would you not do that?! And they’re kind of all the rage at the moment so come on!
MD: Yeah, they seem to have come back into fashion for some reason, so…
EMILIE: Yeah, I think it’s fantastic because it’s also people letting go that there’s something just completely, like, not cool about that and that’s why I love it. I don’t want to be the only one that thinks this is great, pushing this situation. I want everybody to already be into this and that then, business-wise, increases the market for an audience for this. So, I think, it’s just the question of turning the movie into a musical or the other way around because it seems like that’s what’s happening. I mean, there is now a Flashdance musical… and I totally want to see it because, in my mind, that just doesn’t work. So, prove it to me and I’m sure it’s going to be fucking fabulous! [laughs]
MD: Absolutely! When you have your theatre residencies… you always seem to have a sincere reciprocal connection with your audiences at shows but to sustain a theatre residency for your musical, you’ll presumably have to reach out beyond your established fanbase to a more general theatre-going audience. Do you anticipate the artist-audience relation changing in that sense?
EMILIE: I think it will change. That is so excellent that you asked that because it is something that I don’t have a proper answer for. I’m still figuring out how that’s going to work. I know that I don’t want to lose what… because, obviously, if I’m doing that every day, I’m not doing this every day so I don’t want to lose the… I mean, it’s not as if you don’t have a connection with a theatre audience but you don’t have that where it’s like, “we’re going to ask you questions; you’re going to talk to us; we’re going to have you onstage and Veronica’s going to make out with you, you’re gonna love that.” So, that should probably still happen but in a different context, or it’ll just be an accident where somebody gets arrested… probably Veronica in that case! I think that I want to make it so that there is a difference between this audience and what is expected from them than any other situation but I think that I also know that I do want a very wide audience so just people that like theatre and don’t know anything about me. I mean, that’s where it should become completely irrelevant – who I am and what I’ve done before. It should just be on its own as, like, there’s this new show; would you like to see this new show? It’s as interesting to you and valid as any other musical would be because if it’s not, it would be failed. It’s not meant to depend on anything that I’ve done but it’s meant to bring the people with me that I already have made a connection to.
So, I think, one of the biggest challenges of this - which is why the next time I see you I should hopefully have the proper answer for that – is figuring out the balance of… I think, a lot of the time, performers never give a thought to what they expect from an audience because we’re all very focussed on just pleasing and getting people to show up and getting to slightly pay our rent out of this that you never think what do I want them to do because they just kind of pay you money, go in there, watch me do something, pay to watch me do something and then, I guess, you just go. And we’ve developed, together, over the past five years, a complete relationship with the people that come to our shows that, right now, they are so different. The audience is so different than it was five years ago and they have absolutely grown with us into an audience that responds at, in general, the places they are wanted and expected to; stays very respectful, in general, the places where it is, really, just our time; and knows the general limits of what kind of things you should interject and say, and what kind of things you really should not. And, then, it was just, I think, the situation of building an audience to where, all of a sudden, you come from wanting to hang out in a goth industrial club to wanting to go and hang out at a musical on Broadway or London’s West End. And they completely come with us to that so that it’s also part of that question of, like, you don’t just throw that away. The whole point is that they are the first audience and, maybe, the audience that comes in is the general audience and will have something to learn from them as far as what… maybe it’s not them changing, maybe it’s the new audience finding what’s expected of them. Because, I think, what’s mostly expected of us as an audience in the theatre thing is to not cough as much as possible.
MD: I think your audience is remarkably diverse, anyway…
EMILIE: Thank you, I’m so thankful for that.
MD: You know, people from… I hate the word ‘scenes’ but where you have a goth scene, a metal scene, an industrial scene… people affiliate themselves with these certain scenes but I think your audience is radically diverse. So, I think, initially, you’re going to have your established fanbase there at the musical anyway, which is going to be an inherently diverse audience. Then, after that, hopefully general theatre goers will want to see what all the buzz is about because you’ll already have this diverse audience. I can see it taking off, big-time.
EMILIE: Awwww, thank you so much. Every bit of faith in this project just builds absolute manifestation for this and so your believing in it means more than you know. Thank you.
MD: I have to end now, I think, so…
EMILIE: Ohhh god, you always have the best questions!
MD: Seriously?
MD: I’m sure I don’t!
EMILIE: It’s always such a pleasure to talk to you.