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Last updated: 15 October 2003
The recent release of Emilie Autumn's second full-length album and fourth CD drew significant attention from Musical Discoveries' editors. With beginnings as an accomplished violinist, today based in Chicago, Emilie has broadened her musical artistry to include tremendous singing and songwriting, playing a range of instruments, running a record label and managing related businesses; she completely embraces the term "independent artist," both musically and pofessionally and demonstrates additional creativity in poetry, writing and design.
Our feature includes an in-depth and extremely insightful interview with Emilie. Here you can read about her background and artistic development, her experience with the majors and the formation of Traitor Records and get Emilie's perspective on the music. We explore her alter-egos, and the foundations of, Convent and The Jane Brooks Project. We also review the Enchant album and provide comments on her other recordings. Emilie is extremely gracioius with mp3 downloads and visitors are encouraged to listen to material available online at her website while browsing this article. Enthusiasts are encouraged to attend a live performance--apparently she puts on quite a show.
Musical Discoveries: Emilie, please tell us about your family, where you grew up and your initial experiences with music.
Emilie Autumn: I was raised in Malibu, CA, not exactly a musical capital, but a very nice place to live. I think that being surrounded by nature and sea had a lot to do with my development as a "free spirit." My family was not musical in the literal sense, but there was a great love for music of all kinds from folk to Broadway, so it always seemed present. My mother tells me now that, when she first brought me home from the hospital, she sat holding me and said to herself, "This one sings in a minor key."
I've had perfect pitch all my life, which means nothing more than that it wouldn't be a bad idea to be a musician, and I began musical training at four, with the violin. Life was quite different from that point on, because, once you embark on the fast track to a career, whether you're a child actor, or musician, or circus performer, you're never really the same as the other kids ever again. This is the part where I say, "All the other kids treated me differently, and teased me, and beat me up, and were cruel because I got attention," and everyone reading this goes, "oh, blow it out your left ear," but it's true. That sort of thing really does happen, and it's quite sad.
Still, I was immensely committed to the violin, and all of my training was focused on that, so the piano I taught myself, and as far as voice, I didn't even begin singing at all until much more recently, perhaps at seventeen. I felt I had no capacity to sing whatsoever prior to that.
How did your peers react to your involvement with classical music as compared to what they might have been listening to at an early age?
Well, you'd be right to think that they might have seen my classical involvement as a bit alien, and they certainly did. But to be honest, no one in second grade really understands what "classical" means. The people who really took issue with my tastes were far older, my sister's boyfriends, friends parents, people who thought that I was just weird.
I recall one of my sister's boyfriends coming into my room and seeing the very extensive CD collection I had which consisted entirely of violin concertos, symphonies, chamber music, opera, and a little jazz. He looked at my shelf and said, "Oh, is this your parent's collection?" And when I told him it was mine, he sort of laughed and rolled his eyes. I was overly sensitive as a child because I hadn't built up my armor yet, and reactions like that were disturbing because I was very sincere in my devotion to classical music, it really was the music I loved most, and it still is. I have always had to deal with people thinking that I was somehow sheltered and forced, when the fact is that it was always my choice and my desire to be a violinist, a musician, and a performer.
When did you start performing in front of people and how did the audience reaction change over time?
I had my first recital when I was five, shortly after I began studying. I had a black velvet dress and hair barrettes with rainbow ribbons, and after all my practice, I lost my memory and my teacher had to come on stage and help me through the piece. But I hadn't learned embarrassment yet, so it wasn't so bad. My first serious performance, or my debut soloing with an orchestra, was at eight when I won a competition. The prize was $50, which I proceeded to take my mother out to dinner with at the fanciest restaurant in Malibu I could find (we still came up short).
Another memorable performance was a concert spot performing a piece with orchestral accompaniment, Wieniawski's "Legende." That was also when I got my first review, which was very, very good I might add. It really set the stage for me as a performer, because I was able to make the audience respond, even without knowing it, on several different levels, beyond just the musical appreciation, which is ironic I think as this same thing proved to be the source of much strife later on in my training at conservatoire.
Tell us about your musical training and education.
I had an odd scenario happen to me in that, at some point, around age ten, my musical training and my general education became one. By this I mean that, due to my complete involvement in and commitment to the study of music, the school life was nothing more than an inconvenient distraction. And as I hated it anyway, what with the status as "weird," "antisocial," and the physical threats, there seemed to be no reason to go anymore, so I just didn't.
I stayed at home, took lessons, had orchestra practice, practiced on my own up to eight hours a day, rode my horse, and when I wasn't doing either of those, I was reading everything under the sun from music history to feminist literature to Shakespeare, which is why I'm not a complete idiot at this time.
Who were some of your early musical influences?
When I was very young, perhaps nine, I had my first interview with the local paper, and they asked this question. At that time, I answered, "Itzhak Perlman," because I felt that, when he played, he was filled with so much joy. Soon after that however, I found Nigel Kennedy and my tastes changed forever. For those who don't know who that is, just do a Google on him and you'll see why. I ate, slept, and breathed his recordings, much to the great and oft' noted chagrin of my teachers.
And today, who are some of your favorite artists? Do any of them influence your singing/songwriting?
Today, things are a little different because I have become a vocalist as well and so naturally my tastes now include the world of rock. Beginning when I was 13 or 14 and I began writing music myself, which included songs I never intended to sing, I was drawn to great voices like Annie Lennox, great writers like Sting, David Bowie, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, things that today almost seem like classics. I enjoy them just as much now, though I'm happy to say that new music like that of The Flaming Lips, Belle & Sebastian, Mercury Rev, and many more makes it onto my list as well. I must say however that I am not musically influenced by nearly anyone, at least not in a way that I can consciously tell. I am more musically influenced by the books I read than by the music I hear.
How did the major labels discover you and what was that experience like?
That experience was very unpleasant. One might say, "horrible." I really began working when I was still quite young, and I've had so many managers and would-be producers it's truly disgusting. People in the industry were always, always, always telling me that I would be so very saleable if only I would sing as well as play the violin. This of course only strengthened my resolve to never sing because I was defiant and I felt that my skill on the violin, something I had spent all my life slaving over and bonding with, really ought to be enough.
Then one day I get the bright idea to record one of my songs onto my four track and sing the vocal parts myself, just so that this one record label who had asked to sign me could get the idea of what the song was supposed to sound like. This tape gets to a producer under contract with another label, a major, and I'm called in for a meeting. I play for them. I sing for them. I show them my material. They flip and tell me I'm beautiful, perfect, don't need to change a thing, blah, blah, blah. I'm 18 and not at all sure I want to do this, but now I'm committed to singing, and I'm getting used to my voice, and I'm having fun with it.
But things deteriorate rapidly when another writer is flown in, another arranger is flown in, and suddenly my songs don't sounds like mine anymore, and my violin is being thinned out because the producers wholeheartedly believe that the general public is "threatened" by any reference to what could be seen as "classical." Of course, I balk, and where I was once treated like a princess, I'm now dealt with as a rebellious ingrate who has to be kept in line with constant monitoring and excessive restraints. I go to my manager, my first from the big leagues, for help, and his heart is so set on the cash from the deal and subsequent touring that he tells me I'm crazy for complaining and that he can't support me if I choose to break the deal. I broke the deal.
So how would you compare what they wanted to what you had in mind for your first recording?
Well, the labels and the producers who work for them always have something in mind. They have no vision. They cannot recognize anything which they themselves do not manufacture. You may come in with a great product that may appeal to millions, but the have this psychotic need to rework it until it is theirs, until they tear it to shreds and rebuild it their way, in their own image, and put their stamp of approval on it. Considering the embarrassingly low success rate of albums released by major labels each year, you'd think they'd question their own judgment and give the artists a go at it, being that it's the artists who have been playing in clubs, interacting with the fans, feeling out what works and what doesn't, but no, they are scared to death of the artist, of creativity which is powerful and uncontrollable and abides by no rules, so they smash it, gently at first, under the guise of "artist development," and then more mercilessly when they know they've got you.
In my case, I came in with what could truly be seen as "alternative" material and style: edgy, unconventional, still pop, still rock, still cute girl all too happy to show skin, but with musical and lyrical influences from outside the pop world and a voice to match. This is what I was, and this is what I believed in.
What did "they" believe in? I almost don't know anymore, but I think it was more along the lines of "we go with what's proven, even if it means copying someone else's success, even if it means reorchestrating your songs to me more normal, more gentle, more safe, less blue notes, more dancing, less hair, more microphone sex, more fashion model, less punk, more tits, less rear end, more skirts, less pants, more arena, less club, more accessible, less exotic, more gratuitous, less erotic, more mediocre, less intelligent."
Can you explain what brought you to Chicago?
I came to Chicago for a recording project about two years ago, and only intended to stay two weeks. When the project wasn't finished after two weeks, I stayed longer, and when it still wasn't finished after a month, I stayed longer than that. Eventually, I was sold by the public transportation system and vibrant music scene here, in that order. I'm over the snow thing though. Snow angels are really cool, for about five minutes.
Tell us about the formation of Traitor Records and your vision for the label.
I originally formed Traitor Records as a means to release my classical album, On A Day ... and I've since gone on to release all my music and merchandise through Traitor Records. The title signifies my departure from both the classical industry and from the mainstream rock industry. My initial vision for the label was to house myself and other acts who had similar needs and values to my own.
At present, despite the fact that there are five acts on the label, they are all side projects/multiple personalities of my own. I do still hope to reach the place where I feel it's safe to sign other artists, I just haven't found that place yet; I feel I must really prove that my way of doing things works on many levels before taking on the responsibility for another's success. It's hard when we have independent artists sending e-mails and press kits by the dozen, wanting to be signed by us, because I don't want to be one of those labels that shoot people down and make them feel like they have no talent. But we're just not ready.
We were offered incorporation into a major label about a year ago, something that would assist us financially and in terms of the ability to promote both myself and future Traitor artists, but I found that the losses were too great, or put another way, the price for incorporation was that I would allow my Enchant album to be completed under their production and with their assistance, and frankly, I had no reason on earth to think they knew more about music than I did.
Besides that, putting my CD reproduction into the hands of the major label sanctioned pressing plants would mean that I, without ever desiring it, would be subject to the same RIAA bullshit of copy protection, encryption, and sundry evils I promise never to punish my customers with.
So, as you can see, my vision remains independent, for my label and for myself. We may stay small, but we will also stay true.
When did you begin getting involved with the internet?
I'm a computer geek. I have always been since winning a typing contest in second grade. I am very comfortable with technology, oddly, since I'd be happy in a medieval castle with no electricity, but somehow it works.
I record on my own, I build my websites on my own, all these things contribute to a feeling of independence which I very much enjoy. The internet makes being indie and staying indie very, very possible and profitable.
What drew you to getting so involved?
I've been online since Prodigy and CompuServe, so I've had the chance to see how artists developed the internet into a playground for uniting and celebrating their fans, and in turn how the fans celebrated the artists with shrines of their own.
It is undeniable how the net has played a major part in the worldwide success of new artists, and I think it's a tremendous shame that the tool by which hundreds of thousands of fans have built websites honoring their favorite musicians for no profit whatsoever is also the tool by which they and all of us are being prosecuted by the RIAA.
My goal involving the net at this point is to make a safe house in what is becoming a dangerous landscape for music lovers, and to this end I offer free, top quality downloads of my albums, all of which have no ties to the RIAA, and I encourage file sharing as a means to create new fans.
And how do you think your websites influence album sales?
My website is not only an influence on album sales, but it in fact generates them, as do the free downloads. People seem to feel a sense of gratitude for the trust we place in them, the respect that we endeavor to show them, so that, even after downloading Enchant, the vast majority still purchase it in it's entirety. That the "Enchant Puzzle" is only playable to those who own the album's artwork doesn't hurt either.
Tell us about the first album, including the public's reaction to it.
The first album I released is called On A Day ... after both the Shakespeare song within a play and after the single day in which the album was recorded. It is simply a collection of several baroque violin works with a few pieces of my own, performed by myself on baroque violin, and friends on cello, lute, and harpsichord.
I was seventeen when I recorded this, and I did not intend to release it as a saleable album, it was more of a demo despite its length, but when fans of my rock performances starting asking for a classical album so that they could hear more of the violin, I decided it wouldn't be a bad idea.
I am so thrilled at the response, both by violinists who recognize good technique and also, and perhaps more so, by fans of "Chambermaid," or Enchant, who buy the classical record along with those and who love it just as much. I received a letter from a girl who falls asleep every night to On A Day ... and I am so honored it frightens me a bit.
How would you say that the "Chambermaid" EP departed from the classically influenced material on the first album?
With "Chambermaid," I wasn't intending to be "classical" at all really, but it is so much of who I am that it is only natural for me to put a harpsichord or a quartet or 4-part vocal harmonies into a rock song. I don't notice it, it's just the way I write.
The EP was intended as a single while we were waiting for Enchant to finish mixing, but I packed so much material onto it that we call it an EP now, just because everyone laughs when we call it a single.
The mixed version of the song "Chambermaid" on the EP is far inferior to that which is on the Enchant album, and for that I am regretful, but the rest of the songs, club remixes, and others I am very happy with.
There was no master plan to the concept other than to release the title track surrounded by songs that would intrigue people and give them an idea of what they might expect for the album release. I call the material "fantasy rock" for obvious reasons, though I sometimes refer to the material as "cabaret" when I'm feeling obtuse.
And how about the "By The Sword" single?
"By The Sword" was something that just happened. It wasn't planned, it just became. I think I'm one of many who penned something on the horrible day of 9/11, and I begged my manager to help me release it and he said yes without hesitation. The concept behind the song is simple. A knight for the modern world travels the lands in search of her brothers and sisters in arms, those who serve and protect and fight for right. It is about strength, in the same way that Merlin says, "If Right is not Might, it is Evil." This is not a declaration of violence, far from it. It is merely a statement: We will actively enforce right and good through our thoughts, our words, and our deeds, whatever this may mean to you. We believe that our modern "knights of the round table" still exist, and I can tell you quite factually that they do.
Please tell us more about what you mean.
When I talk about the Round Table and such, I'm speaking metaphorically of course. It's like, after 9/11, you might have gone into a shelter where an old woman was helping to feed parentless children, and for one moment, you might have looked at her and seen her in a breastplate with a sword hanging by her side. The sword is symbolic. It doesn't mean violence. It means strength. And when you swear by the sword, you make a vow, an unbreakable promise to right a wrong, to stay true.
There are so many among us who go unrecognized every day, people who do good and help others and uphold justice in their own way, but they don't make it onto the nightly news, so we feel more surrounded with bad guys than with good.
Going back to the song, it's a promise to band together with all the unseen knights in invisible armor and be as noble and strong as those in legend. It's very important to remember that we have sisters and brothers, it makes everything much more bearable.
Enchant was released earlier this year. Tell us about the concept.
Enchant is indeed a concept album if nothing else. The concept is related to the supernatural world and it's influence on us, incorporating imagery from the faerie realm, and, most notably, presenting the "Enchant Puzzle," a treasure hunt which began on the release date and will not end until someone solves the puzzle and finds the treasure, a collection of gear cast off by the Faerie Queene of lore, including her magnificent crystal wings.
The album covers so many styles it's almost funny, and no two songs sounds alike, something which could be a criticism but which I'm very proud of. The material for the album was written from when I was about 17 to 19, so you can see that this album has been a long time coming.
How would you characterize the material?
Enchant is true "fantasy rock." It's about dreams and stories and ghosts and faeries who'll bite your head off if you dare to touch them. It rocks and I hope it has some soul.
And how has the album been received, both critically and from your fanbase?
Reviews, at least critical ones, are a funny thing because I don't make music for critics, I make it first for myself, and second for my audience and those who may become my audience. I don't actively seek reviews for my work, and, while anyone is welcome to review my music if they like, I couldn't care less if it were critically reviewed at all. Thus I have no idea whether today's critics would like what I do or not, really, not a clue.
My fans tell me anything I could wish to know about the work I produce, and having a fellow rape victim write to me telling me how my song "What If" helped her through her darkest times means everything. If that's not what music is for, I don't know what is.
Enchant. Released in 2003, Enchant is a collection of fourteen highly varied tracks bound together by Emilie's evocative vocals, songwriting and incredible violin playing. Clearly independent in its construction, the material is certain to appeal to a wide audience blending cabaret, a bit of jazz and rock. While one can listen to all of the tracks online, the CD includes the lovely artwork necessary to solve the puzzle. See the interview for further details.
Enchant is a concept album and as such, the tracks are bound together into a cohesive whole both stylistically and lyrically. Emilie provides insight into one of the album's standouts, "Remember," when the interview continues below. The sensuality of the vocal work is certainly echoed in Emilie's photos. Alter-egos are evident in the varied vocal styles heard on the album. Arrangements are lush and extremely well produced. Electronics join traditional strings and other instruments and provide an appropriate foundation for the material. Emilie's stunning voilin work is perfectly used to lead or accent the arrangements.
Emilie's material defies one unique influence. From the opening electronically oriented track "Across The Sky," the album swiftly moves into the pop sounds of "How Strange." The long standing favorite and significantly improved alternative rock cabaret styled "Chambermaid" jumps off the album with layer upon layer of soaring vocals and stunning rapidfire chorus. The violin work that spans the track illustrates the artist's virtuousity. Sung atop a lovely violin backdrop, the standout rock ballad "Rapunzel" follows, Emilie's striking lead contrasted with light layering in the chorus. Emilie sings the bluesy "Ever" in a sultry voice backed by piano and further strings and picks up the pace with the dramatic delivery of "Second Hand Faith."
Backed by acoustic guitar, "Juliet" is dominated by Emilie's violin work. While some will pick up the allusions to the traditional material immediately it will take others some time to recognise the reference. Another standout with violin, vocals, electronics and percussion blending perfectly in the complex arrangement, the vocals and violin work within this rocker are immediately appealing.
The album standout "Remember" begins the second half of the album. Sensually sung vocals pervade the track with lush orchestrally styled arrangements featuring lovely violin interludes and dense vocal layering as accents. The emotional delivery of the lyrical content is everso clear in the production; it must also be a wonderful track to see Emilie perform on stage. Read further comments on the track when the interview resumes below.
Interest continues to build on the album with "Rose Red," with dense vocal layering and violin joining other instrumentation in the arrangements and in the soundscapes painted in "Castle Down" with tender piano and sultry yet rapidfire vocals blending perfectly. Electronic vocal effects emerge in the choruse "Heard It All" develop. But it is the power of Emilie's lead vocal in the verse that gives further insight into the singer's power and raw energy. We especially enjoyed the way that violin and piano arrangements support Emilie's soulful and soaring lead vocal on "If You Feel Better."
The album's concluding tracks include "Save You," a hard-to-characterise Celtic-influenced number. Emilie's evocative vocal work explores her full range and is backed by equally inspirational violin, a lovely whistle part and additional vocal layers. It is simply stunning and works well in its position just prior to the final track, "What If." Tender vocals soar above sweeping violin and piano arrangements in this lovely conclusion.
Our editors' iPod version of the album includes the lushious bonus track by Convent entitled "Find Me A Man" which works perfectly to compliment the rest of the material on Enchant. Characterised by Emilie as slightly new agey, the Celtic influences, rock-oriented arrangements are perfectly joined to the four distinct vocal styles created for the project. The dense vocals blend perfectly with the stunning instrumentals. The Enchant album and this bonus track, available as a download from the Traitor Records website and scheduled for release next year, work wonderfully together.
By The Sword. The title track of Emilie's 2001 single was writtten in the shadow of the 9/11 tragedy and features tremendous violin work and cinematic further arrangements. Sung in Emilie's more sultry style, the accessible rock-oriented track includes a great hook in the chorus and illustrates the artist's virtousity in singing, songwriting and violin playing throughout. The single also includes "Castle Down" from Enchant, the baroque violin instrumental entitled "Willow" from the On A Day ... album and a CD ROM bonus track of Emilie performing "I Know It's Over" (by The Smiths) playable on personal computers. Clearly after viewing the video (additional video work available at Emilie's website), visitors will want to see the artist perform live.
Chambermaid. Released significantly before the version of Enchant presently available, the EP includes eight tracks including three versions of the title track. The first, listed on the CD as the 'album version' simply stated, is not. While it is equally enjoyable, the mix lacks the clarity and dynamic of the actual version that made it onto Enchant. There are two dance oriented remixes. The 'Space Mountain Mix' was remixed by Emilie at Rainwalker Studios with additional remixing by Jim Vanaria. The vocal excursions are as extreme as the rapidfire pace of the delvery and percussion. While much of the original texture of the track is gone, the melody remains and the mix demonstrates the versatility of Emilie's material to dance mix alteration. The violin and harpsichord instrumentals are stunning.
The 'Decomposition Mix' was done by Mykel Boyd of Anglehood and Sanford Parker at Rainwalker Studios. A bit rougher around the edges than the 'Space Mountain Mix,' this effect ridden version is vocally interesting but the omission of the main melody makes it a bit of a difficult listen. The baroque violin led instrumental "Largo" from On A Day ... follows in stark contrast. The EP includes the 'album version' of "What If." As with "Chambermaid," the album version does not appear to be precisely what went onto Enchant so it provides a peek into how the album developed after the material was initially recorded. Lead and backing vocal parts as well as supporting instrumentals have a unique crispness that are extremely enjoyable. The 'Blackbird Mix' of the track is absolutely delightful and an EP standout. Again soaring lead and harmony backing vocals are mixed further up and acoustic instrumentals--including the lovely whistle parts--work extremely well in support.
The a capella multi-layered choral introduction to "Hollow Like My Soul" is another delightful surprise and the track is an EP standout. The number, written by Mykel Boyd for Emilie, develops with evocative and sensually sung lead vocals backed by piano and light percussion. Clearly a piece that illustrate's Emilie's range and vocal dexterity, this track mustn't be missed. Emilie's stunning rendition (and arrangement) of "I Don't Care Much" from Cabaret concludes the EP. One will immediately recognise Emilie's treatment of the instrumentals blending rock and bluesy textures and electronics. Her sultry lead vocal texture and backing harmony layers work perfectly in the delivery of this 60s classic. A ninth and hidden short bonus track is an upbeat violin-led instrumental.
We adore the track "Remember"! What were you trying to achieve with the 'scratchy record' sound effects?
"Remember" is one of my favorite songs on the album. What's funny is, I didn't write it for me, I wrote it for Annie Lennox, not that she would ever care to sing it or that I ever gave it to her, but I wrote the song years ago before I began singing, and I envisioned Annie singing the song as I wrote it, which is how the vocal lines were guided in the particular way they were. It seems odd to say now, but it's true.
As to the record crackles at the beginning and the end, the idea is this: Someone puts on an old record and is instantly transported back in time to, say, the 30s. A ghostly woman in a long satin gown is walking the streets at midnight drawn towards the presence of the invisible time traveler. He is her lover from a past existence, and she taunts him with her remembrance. In the end, he is called away from the ghost back to our modern world to the sound of the record player.
In addition to the solo work we have already discussed, you have been involved with Ravensong. Please tell us more about the group and the music.
Ravensong is a classical baroque ensemble I created some years ago, and it consists of myself on baroque violin and a few friends playing standard period instruments, lutes, viols and such. When I still lived in California (I'm in Chicago now), we performed concerts and were preparing to record an album which had to be postponed due to my leaving the state.
Will Ravensong be recording an album?
We are still preparing the album, but will be releasing the album in live form, via a radio broadcasted concert, very soon, possibly before the end of the year. This will hopefully give people something to enjoy while we finish the studio recording. The material is of course from the baroque era and performed on period instruments, but what really makes Ravensong unique is that we attempt to cross historical boundaries by playing the music not as vessels for composers long dead, but for ourselves and our time, as individuals who transcend eras and academia. We respect the composer enough to let her live on with us, not instead of us. Corsets? Yes. Combat boots? Double yes.
And what about Convent?
As you might have guessed, Convent is just another of my multiple personalities sneaking out. Or rather four of them. The idea is that four women from different backgrounds, of different ages and from different times, come together to blend their voices and create one universal message of beauty and enlightenment. It sounds a bit new agey, I know, but its more exotic and certainly a little scarier. Of course I play the parts of all four women. I hope to release Convent's "Find Me A Man" early next year.
(Ed. Note: Convent's gorgeous track "Find Me A Man" can be downloaded from the Traitor Records website presently and is a must listen!)
Tell us about your plans for the Jane Brooks project and something about the material?
The Jane Brooks Project is very close to my heart in a way that's difficult to describe in one interview. Yet another personality, it's more than that. The music sounds like some warped version of what came out of the forties. The songs are styled in that way, they are sung in that way, but something is wrong, and you can't tell what until you realize that they are not from the forties, they are brand new and original.
Why am I doing this? Well, it's such a long story, but it involves this very real woman, Jane Brooks, who was alive in the 16th century and who was murdered as a witch for nothing more than giving a boy an apple from her garden. She was no more and no less witch than all women are, and I adopted her years ago with the intention to let her live a full life through these different scenarios. One day she's a 1940s songwriter representing oppressed women, another she's a poet contemplating prostitution, it goes on forever.
This album, The Jane Brooks Songbook Volume I will also arrive early next year.
What about your live performances? How do the audiences react to your onstage persona?
Very well I'm glad to say. I perform with the intent to perform, and I think people appreciate that. I'm not shy. I adore being on stage, and it shows. When I'm on stage, I represent a sort of spirit rather than a person or a human or a woman. I am all these things of course, but the faerie wings help to suspend all that for a moment and say, "for this short time, I am a being beyond limitation or self-consciousness or restriction, and you can be too." The electric violin also gets a pretty amazing response, if only because it is still so unique.
Do you plan to release a DVD with music videos or footage of your live shows?
I do plan to release a DVD, it's something I've had to put on hold however as my time to develop it has seriously diminished with the advent of the Courtney Love record and tour which I'll be participating on.
How did your work with Courtney Love come about?
Oddly enough, on the night of my record release party for Enchant,my manager came to me before I was about to go on stage and said, "What's your opinion of Courtney Love?" Apparently he had received a call earlier that day from Courtney's manager who relayed the information that she had come a cross my website and music months before. She now wanted me to fly to France to record with her for her upcoming album and consider participating in the world tour to promote it.
I thought about things for a while and finally decided to take the trip to France. Things progressed very well in the studio, and after a couple of weeks I was officially invited to join the band for the year-long tour. Of course I said yes.
Do you think touring with Courtney Love will provide an opportunity to introduce your material to a broader audience?
It in fact already has. Courtney has a bit of a habit of chatting with fans on her message board, so she gave away quite a lot from the time I was in France onward, thus directing loads of people to my site every day. It was also she who insisted that I install a fan forum on my own site, somewhere for fans to form themselves into more of a community. She was quite right about that, my forum community is filled with wonderful, lovely people.
Aside from that, the world pretty much knew what was going on months ago after Courtney mentioned my name to Vanity Fair and The New York Post. One day my father wrote to me asking if I was playing with Courtney Love, and sighting those articles in which it says something like, "Love has already recruited ravishing 'fantasy violinist' Emilie Autumn, a classically trained musician." I freaked because I didn't think anyone was supposed to know yet, and I was keeping my mouth shut, but after that I figured that if she was talking about it to the press, it must be ok. The day after, I got e-mails both from MTV and Rolling Stone Europe, wanting more info. I'm still hesitant to talk about anything until we actually get out on the road, but it is truly amazing how fast word travels in this industry!
Tell us about some of the others you work with making and performing the music and running the business.
I've got a great team of people who support me every day and to whom I'm extremely grateful, from Graham Brisben of Renaissance Artist Management who manages me, Sandy who sells our merchandise, Melinda who processes our orders, and LeeAnn who assists me and handles fan relations, to Jimmy Vanaria (bass and electronics), Ben Lehl (guitars), Heath Jansen (drums), and Joey Harvey (cello), my band mates.
Recording has been a pretty solitary process up to now, as I needed to feel complete control and hadn't found anyone I was comfortable bringing into my circle, so what you hear on the records is nearly all me, from producing to performing, excepting some of the drums which were masterfully added by Graham, also my drummer, and cello by William Skeen, also of Ravensong. I am opening up to door just a crack on my next album however, Opheliac, which will include co-producer Stuart Holverson.
Are you involved in anything outside of music these days?
I'm always involved in a million things outside of music. I run a web design and couture fashion house called WillowTech House. You can check out our website at www.willowtechhouse.com. I am an avid writer and artist. Another poetry book is in the works at present, as is an illustrated game I'm creating entitled, "Hidden Herstory," which is sort of a Trivial Pursuit made up entirely of obscure female history questions and answers. I have more dreams than hours, but I try to make the best of them.
What are your hopes, dreams and plans for 2003 and 2004?
2003 will see me finishing up some of my side project albums, such as Jane Brooks, and developing the plans I have to open a tea house in Chicago. 2004 looks to be full of madness as I'll be embarking on a year long tour as Courtney Love's violinist, keyboard player, and backup vocalist, but I will find time just the same to make the next rock album and stay sane.
While Enchant is the fouth CD from this multi-dimensional artist, clearly a new-found collaboration with Courtney Love is going to have a dramatic impact on Emilie Autumn's musical career. 2004 holds the promise of a tour with Emilie in Love's band, the release of the next Emilie Autumn solo album "Opheliac," and further releases by Ravensong, The Jane Brooks Project and hopefully Convent. All of Emilie's recordings are currently available from the Traitor Records online store.
As the interview above clearly illustrated, Emilie Autumn is an ambitious and busy young woman. With recorded material that is clearly in our must listen category, its exploration is worth a trans-Atlantic journey.
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