I have always found classical music, in particular, to be a perfect match for extreme visuals.
story by Carrah Bechtel
photo by Angst-Im-Wald
Every once in a while, clichés be damned, there emerges a performer who cannot be categorized. This goes well beyond the non-conformist, pan-genre non-category. Emilie Autumn is not about rebellion or sticking it to the man. She’s not even trying to be weird, she’s just herself.
Right off the bat on her most recent album, Opheliac, you’re thrust into her world. It begins with a harpsichord, (yes, that most rock and roll instrument of the Baroque era), then breaks free into an angst worthy of Fiona Apple. Autumn’s music speaks to other talented females like Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Marina Diamandis, mixed in with the darkness of Trent Reznor, Florence Welch and Marilyn Manson. All this from a classically trained violinist and poet. This one-of-a-kind human spent a few moments answering questions for Chicago Innerview…
Chicago Innerview: I could play your music to a conservative person who loves classical music and then if I took him to your concert, he might gasp at the surprise of how you look. Tell me a little bit about your look, how it evolved and why it is essential to who you are.
Emilie Autumn: Certainly! I have always found classical music, in particular, to be a perfect match for extreme visuals. That was a large part of the problem I had growing up in the classical world — nobody else seemed to see it that way. Instead, [the classical world was] preferring that we all wear paper bags [and] shield any of our more pleasant physical attributes from view as physical beauty was supposedly “distracting,” and in general be as unattractive and uninteresting and un-individual as possible.
Chicago Innerview: Do you find that you have some perfectly crafted idea in your head and when it comes to putting it together, it changes and shifts in ways you didn’t expect?
Emilie Autumn: A shift in what I originally imagine in my head, which is where everything is written — meaning not in a jam session or on instruments or anything — certainly can happen, and it’s lovely for me to be surprised by my own self and where a thought turned into something else like alchemy. Although, I will say that much of the time the immediate vision in my head is near exact to what becomes reality. My best example of this is ‘The Art of Suicide’. That song was written from start to finish in a cab on the way home from a party that I was so intensely depressed during that I just had to escape. What is on the record is exactly what happened on that ride home.
CI: Do you get frustrated with how the world sets people up into categories, expecting them to conform to only one thing or at least one thing at one time?
EA: It is indeed a frustrating reality that what is most acceptable is what can be marketed and understood by the lowest common denominator of the public. The lowest common denominator is definitely not who I aim to please or to appeal to. This is why I don’t concern myself with record labels, or anyone’s opinion really, and refuse to conform to any external pressure because I just don’t care.
CI: What is the most beautiful song you ever heard?
EA: I heard a song in a dream once that was absolutely the most beautiful piece of music I’d ever heard. When I woke, I couldn’t remember anything but that it had happened. I hope that someday I will remember that song and get to share it with the least common denominator.
Emilie Autumn :: House of Blues :: February 25.