Rarely do we see an untamed artist anymore, rebellion at its finest. The “Victoriandustrial” world-class violinist Emilie Autumn is a masterpiece in and of herself. A brilliant mind with a morbid sense of humor—running off the riffs of bipolar disorder, experience and passion—who creates orchestrations that embed electric violin and dark lyrics within a goth sound.
Autumn is currently on tour performing an album that has yet been released—an album which she calls the soundtrack for her autobiographical novel, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls. The upcoming album, Fight Like A Girl, is currently being performed by Autumn as a complete and total theatrical performance. Her approach to Fight Like A Girl has lead Autumn to create a masterpiece filled with more burlesque, a strong Victorian feel and more gruesome brilliance than ever.
Emilie Autumn took the time to sit down with Red River Noise to discuss her current tour, her new album, her inspirations and where her morbidly ingenious ideas stem from.
Every artist has a certain way of creating—yours is particularly unique and fascinating, because you have produced an album and a book that coincide and support each other. Where do your ideas stem from, and how do they turn into a full-blown song or album or even a book?
Autumn: The story did stem from reality. It’s easier to tell a story that you know, especially if that story is your own. I think what is a bit unique is that I have this story to tell. It’s the story of my book and it’s all my story; the book is all pieces from my diaries entries. There is an alternate reality, but it really is about telling the truth. We have there a huge story in this fantasy world, and it is very expansive. I won’t run out of material.
How is your tour going so far?
Autumn: First off, the tour is fucking awesome; it is far beyond what I’ve ever imagined. I think the first thing about it that I was going at differently than usual was using the score for an album that isn’t even out yet. The album is ready to go, but I wanted to sort of do an experiment to see what would happen if we approached audiences that hadn’t seen or heard the new material—that didn’t know every song and every word to everything. I wanted to see how they would listen and pay attention to the new material.
I had the opportunity to catch your concert at Elysium in Austin, Texas. I found the costumes and set breathtakingly creative. Can you tell me a little about your performance and where you got the ideas for this set?
Autumn: As far as the performance style, kind of like with the songs—they are from the story, from this book. I personally don’t have an interest in building a rock show; I wanted an actual theater piece. I was trying to make a complete, musical experience, like a theater. The idea is kind of like this Broadway musical.
Because this tour is promoting your upcoming album, can you tell a little about how different this tour is in comparison to your previous tours? Are you doing anything differently?
Autumn: When you go to a Broadway show, you often don’t know every word to every thing. You go in, and if you like it, you buy the soundtrack. I was thinking of going at it like that, except I didn’t really think of YouTube—and by that I mean, by the second or third show everybody knew the words to everything. The first show, everyone was freaked. After that, people kind of came knowing what’s up. It’s kind of interesting that my audience has had to work in order to hear the music and learn the lyrics. The tour is really unique. Another thing that is different, between this tour and my previous tour with Opheliac, is that it this one approaches the story from the beginning to the end. The audience follows the characters throughout the show. Opheliac was very much laying out the foundation for all of this world to happen—introducing how I think and how my brain works, and this is current tour shows the world that everything happens in. This current record, as you can tell by this show, has a beginning, middle, and an end. The record was written not as a rock record, but from the beginning it was intended to be part of the soundtrack to the book—to the musical that people will actually see full-scale, with a cast of 40 people. That’s what’s happening. Fight Like A Girl was always meant to be part of the soundtrack. That is something people don’t know: my new album is a soundtrack.
“The story is for everybody, and it is empowering by stating that there is a tomorrow, no matter how crappy the scene.” – Emilie Autum
I really love the message you are sending out to women and men. Can you tell me a little bit more about the album? The songwriting and recording process and whether or not we will be hearing tracks that focus on female empowerment?
Autumn: From the title of the album, you already know that we’re taking back phrases we grew up with that were meant to embarrass and insult boys on the behalf of girls, and turning them into something extremely positive. Fight Like A Girl is about empowerment because it is specifically about a scene in this book when the girls figure out what they need to do. It’s about what happens when the girls realize that they are an authority. That is just like real life, women are an authority. We are the majority of the population on this planet—51%. It’s about what happens when you realize that there is power in numbers and the numbers are on your side. That’s what this is about. There are some tracks that are not as empowering, because they are about a part of the story where the situation is very bad. It all goes into the story, to where at the very end it ties together. The story is for everybody, and it is empowering by stating that there is a tomorrow, no matter how crappy the scene, and that there isn’t an easy answer for anything in your life that is very difficult. But you just put one foot in front of the other and you keep marching. That is the empowerment that is the answer to the ultimate question that we all have.
What are some advantages and disadvantages on being a female musician?
Autumn: Pretty much any role in 2012—even though women have gone far—there are advantages and disadvantages in being a woman in music. That doesn’t mean I would want to be a man. On the serious side of your question, it’s not just music—it’s being a woman in almost any situation. As a woman, you’re definitely not going to be taken more seriously or treated better or get paid more. Especially in the music industry. There is a ridiculous amount of being taken advantage of, of being fucked with in all kinds of ways. It’s really dark and there is definitely a lot really unfortunate things that go along with that. On the good side, we are girls and that is fucking awesome. Another good thing of being a female musician is that we will always look way better.
“I think that what people are starting to really realize is that no matter how seriously I take my work, that I still don’t take myself incredibly serious. If I did, I’d just be really annoying.” – Emilie Autum
At this point in your career with music and writing, what are people still getting wrong about you or not understanding?
Autumn: That is an amazing question, thank you. Goddamn. Most interviews that I do read, there is usually something wrong, or something that someone misunderstood. I honestly feel like I am being much better represented now than I have ever been or ever hoped for. The reason for that is the live show, the tour. When it was only about a record, people can say, “Well this is this genre.” But when you see the show, you realize that this is a theatrical thing that combines dark and scary things, and combines a lot of humor and a billion bad jokes and a lot of burlesque. I think that what people are starting to really realize is that no matter how seriously I take my work, that I still don’t take myself incredibly serious. If I did, I’d just be really annoying. I think people are starting to see the humor in all of it—even if it is a lot of dark, morbid humor. In that way, I would say that it’s getting a lot of the perception of me out there. I owe that entirely to performing at the live shows. More people can see that, and people can understand what this is all about through a musical, theatrical and live experience. The more people that see that, it will make more sense for them when they are trying to understand what this is all about. Thanks for putting that through my head, I feel positive—I feel positive about all of this. There isn’t a lot of crazy-wrong perspectives at this time. I’m shocking pleased about all of this now.
What are your plans for the rest of 2012?
Autumn: I am going to be touring more and more, this is just the beginning of the whole cycle of touring. We’re going to be doing that for the most part of the year. Pretty much any moment that I am not on tour, I will be composing the rest of the soundtrack for this massive Broadway musical that this is becoming. I am going to be working hard and making my work into a three-hour performance. That’s what I’ll be doing!
Emilie Autumn Live from the Cat’s Cradle presented by Gigstream