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METAL DISCOVERY: I wanted to talk about Scott Reeder, as well, obviously from Kyuss back in the day. He seems like quite a random guest to have on there?
LOUISE: Well, because he’s from Kyuss, which is a very different world from everything else, and he’s so far away, geographically, from all of the rest of us, I’ll tell you how it came about with Scott. Scott and I have been friends for years and he had expressed, once I started writing for this album, he had expressed an interest in contributing to it in some shape or form. And because he’s a multi-instrumentalist, and he’s a singer himself, and he’s put out some really beautiful solo music, which actually reminds me a bit of David Gilmour’s vocals and stuff like that; he’s got that kind of beautiful Gilmour-ish, breathy thing going on. But Scott and I became friends because my past as a trained falconer came into play.
(Louise Patricia Crane on being inspired by 'Valerie and Her Week of Wonders' and the works of Angela Carter)
"There’s no fear in expressing oneself and femininity of being a sexual entity or a sensual entity. And there’s a certain strength in that, and a real allure to me, and it’s just really beautiful..."
Louise Patricia Crane
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2020 Ester Segarra - www.estersegarra.com
MD: Wow!
LOUISE: It’s so sort of bizarre and so leftfield, but he lives on a ranch in the desert in Banning, out in California, and he discovered a baby owl, like a great owl, so it was a big chick that had fallen out of its parents’ nest. He put this thing up online, saying, “I’ve just got this bird of prey, this owl, and I’ve no idea what to do with it, can anybody suggest anything?” Because I grew up with falconry and we had maybe thirty or forty different flacons, hawks, owls, eagles, everything, I told him how to take care of it; how to feed it; how to nurse it back to health… but how to do that in such a way that it doesn’t become imprinted, where he believes that he’s the parent, so it has to be introduced back to the parents again. Yeah, that’s a very surreal reason how we became friends!
MD: That’s possibly the most random story I’ve ever heard regarding the meeting of two musicians!
LOUISE: [Laughs]
MD: Potentially the last thing I expected you to say! I thought you were going to say you were a fan of Kyuss back in your teenage years and just asked him to play.
LOUISE: [Laughs] It’s a good story, Mark!
MD: That’s an anecdote and a half, isn’t it!
LOUISE: It’s an anecdote and a half, yeah. I mean, if you edit everything else out of this conversation, at the very least you have to put that!
MD: That’s the headline!
LOUISE: That’s the headline, yeah!
MD: It’s also good to see Troy Donockley’s name not being associated with the uilleann pipes on a record, which I think I wrote in my review, because you’ve got a guy called John Devine. Obviously Troy’s doing Nightwish fulltime now, so all the other uilleann pipes guys in the world are getting more of a look in, I guess! But, yeah, he’s a great pipes player, too.
LOUISE: He’s fantastic, so I’ll tell you how John Devine came to be involved. He knows Jakko; they’re from Berkhamsted, they’re both from the same part of England. Jakko’s known this guy for many years and I said, “Listen, I really want uilleann pipes on ‘Painted World’. I want to have that romantic… harking back to some of the Kate Bush stuff.” I just thought it would create this Celtic, folky, kind of romantic sound. And he said, as he does, because he knows everybody, he said, “I know a great player, this guy John Devine who lives in the same town as me.” So, yeah, basically, Jakko got this guy and he recorded it in Jakko’s studio and I was very, very chuffed with what he did.
It’s so beautiful. I mean, it definitely… this is something people won’t have experienced until they get the album, but I guess people, so far, have heard two pretty upbeat tunes and they’ve heard a much more progressive sounding song in ‘Ophelia’ but, by the time you put the record on and you hit track three and it’s ‘Painted World’, I think it’s when you’re starting to realise that, when I talked about the sun, the sun’s getting to that point in the sky, when it’s warmer, and it’s that lovely time of day. And then, by the time ‘Cascading’ comes around, I envision that as being twilight as the sun sets.
MD: That’s a far less random story about John Devine… no falconry involved!
LOUISE: No falconry involved with John, just with Scott Reeder from Kyuss! [Laughs]
MD: I wanted to talk a little bit about ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’, too, because it’s mentioned in the press blurb as one of your non-musical influences and there’s a lot of imagery from the film in the ‘Deity’ video - earrings; the weasel; the flowers; the cloaked figure, amongst other stuff. In what ways would you say the film’s inspired you artistically and fed into your music?
LOUISE: I think it’s this notion of sensual femininity, like the kind of seductive, dark, erotic aspect of definitely ‘Valerie…’ and, obviously, I get that as well from the Angela Carter stuff. There’s no fear in expressing oneself and femininity of being a sexual entity or a sensual entity. And there’s a certain strength in that, and a real allure to me, and it’s just really beautiful, I love that. The marriage of folklore with these ideals that are quite alluring and seductive, and there’s an element of the macabre running through it. You know, these kind of fairy tales told in an alluring way, for someone slightly older.
And yeah, I think I’ve always just been completely captivated by ‘Valerie…’. The first time I saw it, I was fourteen or fifteen. My English teacher, I was very close to my English teacher and I was very close to my art teacher - they’re married, actually… which doesn’t surprise me, at all. They’re both very cool people. But my English teacher at the time, she lent me the VHS of ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’ and I just became obsessed with the film. I just thought the score; the visuals; the kind of undercurrent of occultist, sensual erotica; the coming of age - you know, this young woman who’s fighting off vampires and all kinds of things are going on… burned at the stake… it just really ignites so much of my inspiration.
MD: Oh, the film is just pure escapism isn’t it. It’s visual poetry.
MD: I was a similar age to you when I first saw it, actually, on VHS, too. I’ve always been obsessed with the movie, I think like most people are who’ve ever seen it. I think when you’ve seen it once, you just become hooked.
LOUISE: Yeah, I kid you not!
MD: When I saw ‘Valerie…’ mentioned, before I listened to ‘Deep Blue’, I thought it might’ve also been a more direct musical influence. I think I mentioned in my review about Broadcast… I don’t know if you’ve heard their song ‘Valerie’?
LOUISE: I have, yeah.
MD: Obviously they wrote that around a key motif from Luboš Fišer’s score, so were you not tempted to write something around any cues from the soundtrack?
LOUISE: I was tempted by it, because I was listening to that around the time that I wrote ‘Deep Blue’. I think I took my inspiration slightly differently and I think I took it more from the imagery and the aesthetic, not so much from the actual score. But definitely, the vibe I wanted the listener to feel when they were listening to my music, I wanted them to feel in a similar way to how that movie makes me feel. So that was definitely this feminine charm that runs through a lot of the lyrics, and weaving in ideas of flowers and this dreamy, surreal quality. I think that was more the angle that I went down. But it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t want to explore that aspect of it in the future because it’s something that’s actually woven into my DNA at this point, like how much I love this film; how much it influences me. It’s just huge to me.
MD: Maybe do a ‘Valerie…’ concept album in the future. That’d be like my dream album! But there you go, I don’t want to be putting ideas your way or anything like that!
LOUISE: That’d be my dream album, too!
MD: I was going to ask about the shoot for ‘Deity’, too. Was that a well-behaved weasel?
LOUISE: Well, that was actually the neighbour’s ferret.
MD: Oh, it’ a ferret… okay.
LOUISE: Yeah, it’s a ferret, so she was the neighbour’s ferret, next door. What I did was… looking at my hand now, I can visualise the… there was malt paste, which comes in a toothpaste type tube and it’s tasty to ferrets, I guess. So I put that on the palm of my hand and you can see her licking it very enthusiastically. She’s really into it so she’s being very well behaved; she’s very sweet. Her other friend that lives with her is a dog ferret, so a big, chunky boy; he’s a lot bigger than her. I went to visit them… I really love ferrets, I grew up with them and they’re an animal that I love. They’re like a cat-snake!
LOUISE: But I went over to see the ferrets one day, maybe a year or so before I did the video for ‘Deity’, and the neighbour was there, chatting away to me, while I was handling the dog ferret and he just bit down on my finger like it was a sausage… and I mean bit down, like nearly to the bone. I’m sitting there and my face is going whiter than usual and… “This is so painful!” But I remember, whenever I needed to borrow one of his ferrets for the video, I said, “Can we please not use the boy one?”
MD: The non-bitey one!
LOUISE: “Can we have the least bitey ferret, please?!”
MD: Another good anecdote!
LOUISE: Yeah! [Laughs]
MD: You have the video for ‘Ophelia’, as well, which was released a few days ago, and I think there’s some very sublime imagery in that video, too. Obviously inspired by Millais’ very famous painting, when you’re in the water, but what inspired some of the other darkly romantic imagery, with the moonlit fields and the moonlit woods? It reminded me a little of… I don’t know if you’ve seen the film ‘Melancholia’ by Lars Von Trier, but the highly stylised opening scenes in that film… and that has its own pastiche of Millais’ painting, with Kirsten Dunst in the water with flowers. I thought it looked a little like a sort of Hammer Horror aesthetic, too.
LOUISE: Oh, absolutely, I’m a complete Hammer Horror nerd.
MD: Oh wow.
LOUISE: Yeah, I’m a complete fanatic of Hammer. Everything about my personal aesthetic, like how I style myself and dress, the sort of things I find visually appealing and beautiful, so much of that stuff comes from 70s hammer. I just love Hammer glamour, like the Hammer women. Those pinups, as a child, as a blonde, curly haired kid, I watched these films because my parents are big, avid horror fans. There wasn’t such a thing as a certificate or a rating when I was a kid, so I just watched everything with my mum and dad.
I remember watching these things and thinking I just want to have black hair and pale skin and red lips, and I want to look like these women. That kind of aesthetic is the epitome of beauty, to me. So, when I came to do the video, because it’s from the moon side, I wanted it to be the other side of the coin to ‘Deity’s kind of summery, ‘Valerie…’, provocative vibes. I wanted something full-on, like a moon in the sky and stars and, because the album’s called ‘Deep Blue’, I wanted a very blueish hue throughout the entire video.
And yeah, what the music says on the instrumental break, that’s Ophelia succumbing to death and I wanted that portrayed in the video, to see her walking down to the water, walking into the lake and then, of course, the Millais reference of her lying in the water with the flowers. The rest of the video, the hands… the hands are a running theme from, of course, the ‘Deity’ video, as well. You see the gloved hands which is a reference to ‘Valerie…’; the lace gloves running across my face and stuff. I wanted to have that kind of reference in the ‘Ophelia’ video, and the hand symbolise her being seduced by death; being beckoned into the water. It’s almost kind of nymphs, getting back to folklore and mythology and stuff, which fed into a lot of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings. But, yeah, I just wanted to go for it in terms of imagery. It’s really worth mentioning what an amazing job Full Moon Media have done.
MD: I was going to ask about your collaboration with them because both of those videos are absolutely beautiful. And in terms of atmosphere, ‘Ophelia’… the whole aesthetic of that is just incredible. Were they familiar with ‘Valerie…’ and stuff like that? Did you insist they watch stuff that inspired you before working with them?
LOUISE: Yeah, I had a really strong idea of what I wanted for both and I asked Lorena (Carey) - she does it all herself - to watch ‘Valerie…’… she went and watched ‘Valerie…’. She is amazing. Everything I wanted visually, I sent her GIFs and clips and things that weren’t even fully related; you know, stuff that was more the kind of Hammer stuff. It was all 70s kind of things, and I said I want to recreate these kind of scenes, and I want to tell this kind of story.
When it comes to the break in ‘Deity’, from the moment the wine spills, I wanted it to become a lot more sinister… that’s almost like the character in ‘Deity’ moving over to the occult side, if you will. So, yeah, Lorena really, really gets… when I show her something and I say, “This is the aesthetic I want to go for, and this is the idea I want”, it’s really harmonious. It’s not like there’s any area where she doesn’t really get what I’m asking for. She works so well with me; we work so well together. It’s a total dream.
MD: That’s amazing, in that you’ve found all these different people to collaborate in ways which I’m guessing are beyond your own expectations, which is…
LOUISE: Lovely!
MD: Yeah! Out of interest, then, what kind of Hammer Horror references did you send her?
LOUISE: Well, I think it was probably images of some of the women who acted in them, like Caroline Munro… those kind of things and ‘Kronos’…
MD: Ah, ‘Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter’, yeah, that was Caroline Munro, wasn’t it.
LOUISE: Yeah, exactly. And she’s known me for years so she knows that’s a big influence, but it’s good to create a story board of imagery and idea, so that you get an idea of the aesthetic that someone’s going for. It doesn’t always work but I’m super fortunate to work with someone like that who just completely understands what it is I’m going for. She loves that kind of feminine aesthetic, as well. And, you know, creating something that is dark but, at the same time, the important thing to me is to keep those feminine ideals; keep it beautiful; dark but beautiful.
MD: The whole thing about the aesthetic is that it’s inextricably associated with the feminine and representations of the feminine. The aesthetic, originally, I think it’s Greek in origin, is to do with the body, and people are only capable of aesthetic experience because of their bodily experiences. And, over the years, that’s been associated with representations of the female body and the feminine. You know, you can’t have representations of that and aesthetic experience without having a feminine slant.
LOUISE: Yeah, absolutely, you completely get the things I’m going for; you really do. It’s really refreshing to talk to someone who understands these things on so many different levels, across the board. I don’t know… that, for me, is like a total dream.
MD: Well, it spoke to me in so many interesting ways, emotionally…. in very interesting emotional ways.