For nearly a decade Emilie Autumn has been concocting a delectable brand of poison fused with a unique blend of the classic. One would be hard pressed to find someone brave enough to wield the violin as their musical weapon of choice, while appearing as a twisted version of a menacing renaissance doll gone mad. She has peaked the interest of not only her adoring fans, but by performers Billy Corgan, Courtney Love, and even Bryan Erikson of Velvet Acid Christ (who did some remixing of her material).
However the road to establishing herself, has been anything but easy. Through her trials and adversity she has remained true to herself and her art. With her own autobiography looming in the horizon, and a past filled with inspiration it seemed the perfect time to catch up with Emilie and see the fuel to her fire. So ladies and gents without further delay I give you the one and only Emilie Autumn:
DeathWish: When you were just four years of age, you began training on how to play a classical violin. What made you want to start with the violin? What composers drew your attention?
Emilie Autumn: I have absolutely no idea. I remember asking for a violin, but I don't remember knowing what one was. I might have thought it was a kind of pony for all I know, but I don't remember being disappointed. As for composers, when I was four, I used to drown out the voices in my head by playing Pachelbel's Canon in D over and over again in my mind every night, which I believe is how I learned to write entirely inside my brain without any instruments, which is great when you're on the road without a harpsichord in front of you. I know the piece now stands for weddings and car commercials (which is worse?), but at the time all it meant to me was beauty, and the repetition really helped me to sleep at night.
DeathWish: You continued your growth in music attending Colburn School for the Performing Arts and Indiana University; where you were met with creative adversity. How did this shape you as an artist? How did you get through it?
EA: Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head. Everything great that has ever happened to me is directly because of all of the shit I've had to deal with. You can get through pretty much anything by focusing on your aim day and night without pause, and daring your enemies to do their worst, while secretly enjoying it. Contemplating revenge also helps during those rough patches.
DeathWish: You are one of the few artists who openly admit their inspiration from classical music; do you hope in some way to spark interest in your fans to study your influences?
EA: I love how any classical influence is a thing to be "openly admitted to," like being gay or a serial killer. Knowing how to read isn't too popular either. I actually have no ambition to influence anyone to do anything. This is all for me, and if I can get away with doing what I love in the way that I want, I haven't any right to ask for more. There are a lot of kids who have written to me saying that they've taken up the violin after seeing me play, and many bring their fiddles to the shows to be signed, but that is all delicious frosting -- I don't expect it, and I don't work for it.
DeathWish: In ‘97 you recorded “On a Day” which has long since gone out of print, and you just last year re-released it to your fans, what made you bring it back out?
EA: I felt that it made a nice contrast to the metal shredding fiddle album, "Unlaced," and there was really nothing I could do that was more at the polar end of things. I also loved that it was the perfect representation of "then" versus "now." By clearing out the closet, so to speak, I also made way for new classical recordings to come, because you know I've always got my sneaky plots.
DeathWish: The second half of the double CD set, “Laced”, while maintaining some of the familiar elements, it broke through with your own approaches to harder and darker edged Industrial. What changes made you go in this direction?
EA: No changes really, I've been writing like that for over a decade now, but I finally had the guts to put it out there and the faith in the audience that they would "get it," which, to my delight, they absolutely did.
DeathWish: Speaking of changes in the last couple of years, a wide number of people have been treated to your music via live TV (Tonight Show and Letterman just to name a few). How did you want to approach such a different and wide audience? Has it made you more resolute in what you do?
EA: I think that it has made me fearless in the sense that, the wider your audience, the greater the odds that people will misunderstand, judge, be cruel, ignorant, and so forth. By embracing the fact that you're going to get fucked with the more popular you become, you miraculously find yourself getting fucked with a lot less. I do think that the commitment to what I do and the way I live my life, however, has nothing to do with music or the public or the industry or anyone else, but everything to do with perspective -- once you live through things that are actually difficult and scary, it's hard to take any of this career/publicity/fame stuff very seriously anymore, and that's when it starts to get fun.
DeathWish: We touched on earlier about the opposing forces you faced when in school; do you smile to yourself knowing they may be seeing your success?
EA: I smile to myself knowing that they may be dead.
DeathWish: Now the “alienated and creative” are often held as a threat in today’s society, and yet they overlook at times the good side, such as you donating the proceeds from your single “The Sword” to the victims of 9/11. What made you do this, how did it feel writing a song for such tragic events?
EA: I did it simply because I felt powerless and I hated that. I'm a little girl with only so much blood to donate, so making music was the only thing I could do.
DeathWish: You spent some time working with Courtney Love and Billy Corgan on a creative level, how did this experience help your growth as an artist?
EA: It didn't -- it stunted it entirely. I gave up over a year of my life and career helping Billy with his flop of an album and designing and building all of the costumes for his music video. With Courtney, we were friends, but I spent years working to record and promote her flop of an album only to find that my value increased every time I peed in an orange juice bottle so that she could fake her way through a drug test. Not exactly a haven for artistic growth.
DeathWish: Your last two albums “Unlaced” and “Opheliac” were given a visual life when you played at M’era Luna, Wave Gotik Treffen. How did it feel for you to give your new material life?
EA: Absolutely gorgeous. I've been flying ever since then, because I actually had no expectation that anyone would even care, so, to find that they did only made me want to give more, and that is how we have come to this point where I am working around the clock to create the greatest show on earth -- there are no days off for me, and I think that the Fall 2008 world tour will show this in great detail.
DeathWish: I understand you are currently finishing a book called “The Alphabet Book of X-Boyfriends” which you have called a “gothic children’s book for adults.” What insight can you give us into this endeavor?
EA: Actually, the book I am finishing now is not that at all, but is called "The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls." It is a massive coffee-table-sized illustrated biography that is scary because it's true, and it tells more about me than I suspect anyone ever wanted to know, so, read at your own risk. It is the story of me, my world, the show, and much, much more, and it explains a hell of a lot. "The Asylum" will be available at the fall tour, which is called "The Asylum Tour: The Gate." People can't come inside the building yet, but they're getting closer.
DeathWish: Just in January you released the single “4 O’ Clock” is a bit of a teaser of new material yet to come? When can we anticipate a new release?
EA: The new release is the book, which, I can promise you, is bigger and more important than any album I will ever make. The "4 O'Clock" single is a teaser for the book, not for any future album.
DeathWish: You have also embraced the world of fashion with your clothes company WillowTech House; does it ever feel to be overwhelming with all that you are doing with music, writing, and clothing design?
EA: WillowTech House was a great starter, but the new company is The Asylum, and its job is to make this mad world as real as possible to those who want to be a part of it. I do everything. Everything you hear, everything you see, it all comes out of my hands, and to have it any other way would be completely unnatural, and would drive me completely insane. This is not difficult. This is not a struggle to work like this. It is also not a choice.
DeathWish: Aside from your hectic and creative life, what else do you do in your time?
EA: Play with the Asylum rats Sir Edward and Basil amongst others, weld things together, and write cookbooks.
DeathWish: So I have to point out you have announced a new addition to the Bloody Crumpets, and I mean of course one of VampireFreaks’ favorite lovely ladies Ulorin Vex. How did you come to work together?
EA: I can't tell you that because then I'd have to poison you, but I will say that, if a girl is born to be a Bloody Crumpet, we find each other, and she gets a cell in the Asylum. There are actually hundreds more Crumpets than anyone has ever met, but we bring them out slowly, for the audience's own good.
DeathWish: Now with all the new music in the works, new faces, and new vision. When can the world anticipate a full scale live assault on the senses?
EA: I had one yesterday (an appointment with a new shrink -- it was fun), but it will happen again on the first day of The Gate tour this fall, and every day thereafter. We had people fainting during the last tour, but I'm aiming for people to actually drop dead at this one. Even before that, however, is the assault known as "Bohemian Rhapsody." I am releasing my double single of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and "Bohemian..." on August 22nd, for no other reason than that I felt like it.”Girls..." was also such a wicked-fun encore during the last tour, "The Asylum: The Plague," that I wanted to immortalize it in my own silly way.
DeathWish: And Finally I am curious what advice would you like to give to all the dreamers and artists who look up to you and want to pursue the arts?
EA: Don't pay attention to me or to anyone else -- get to know yourself and what you want, and work like a fucking machine until you get it.
EA is the best ever. She is so inspirational, whether she likes it or not ^_^. I just wish she toured more in the US. I cannot call myself a true inamte of the asylum if I have not seen the caretaker live. But even if I see her dead, I think I'd be just as happy, though she may not be so. o.O
Anyway, Emilie; if you read this... take pity on me and come tour more in the US! I am forever at your aid. (:
Emilie is inspiring, if only because she doesn't care if she is or not. I love that she encourages her fans to do their own thing rather than trying to follow in her footsteps and hasn't allowed herself to become just another big headed musician. She's grateful for whatever she gets and that's awesome. Keep rocking, Emilie!