Emilie Autumn Interview

Emilie-Autumn 75I need to find a way to do them all at once because life is only so long, and I don’t want to have to choose one genre over the other.

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Classical, dark cabaret, electronica, new age, folk, theatrical: seemingly irreconcilable genres, yet brilliantly blended to create a new variety — Emilie Autumn’s variety — and it’s pretty kickass. True originality is hard to come by these days, but Autumn’s image, seemingly outrageous, is nothing but an example of raw and genuine individuality.

Fight Like a Girl, the artist’s most recent endeavor, is currently touring the U.S. and Europe. Simultaneously entertaining and inspiring fans, Autumn makes a statement with her music and message.

Autumn opened up about her tour, inspiration, and perspective:

First, why don’t you share how the F.L.A.G tour is going?

“It’s going fantastically. It’s been just an amazing experience to bring something that is really such a musical theater performance and have it be completely accepted for exactly what it is.”

How was the Europe portion of the tour?

“Europe is amazing. It’s where we began, so in that way it’s always kind of a homecoming, really. We are doing well in the states, and for that I am always grateful, but because we began in Europe, we are much more established there. Because of this, most people in the States thought I was a British import, which actually was kind of cool because most of the bands I enjoy are.”

Any especially memorable stories on tour?

“Oh god, there are so many. Touring is very interesting with these girls. Once there was a lice outbreak scare. It ended up being nothing, but that didn’t stop the entire band and the entire crew from having, on a show day, to go through the delousing process, which ruins your hair. But everyone loves everyone so much that it was even. OK, there was mild annoyance because it almost prevented a show from going on.”

You sound like you have a very close relationship with your crew…

“Very, very much so. It’s very important because we have a band of girls that stand for absolutely no… no, you know, band or crew guy treating them with any sort of disrespect or overstepping any boundaries. That is never ever allowed, so when we do find a crew that really works with this tour family, it is a gift that we really want to hold on to. We’ve had to fire bus drivers because they were looking at a girl funny. This absolutely has to be our sanctuary.”

You also seem to be very involved with your fans, or “plague rats” as you call them. What is it like to have a more intimate connection with them?

“It’s beautiful because I have always tried to establish a lack of “I’m up here, you’re down there.” I was never comfortable with that way of thinking, to the point where there is no use for the word fan. That is why they are called the plague rats. I wanted an army to march hand in hand with, not be in front of. The idea is I don’t just want people to listen and admire what I’m doing; I want people to be changed by this beautiful, crazy, scary story. Because it’s not just a show, it’s a story … a journey that we all go on. I would love for people to take away from it their own raging individuality, and in order to do that, they need to feel very strong, very empowered, and that is very beautiful to encourage and be a part of. So much more important than having a hit radio single.”

Your music is genre breaking and hard to categorize. What influences your work?

“I have been mostly influenced by things that are not new. To be absolutely honest, I have not been influenced by anyone who has been alive in recent years. Growing up, I was completely immersed in the classical world. My knowledge and expertise is in classical writing and symphonic composition. When I was young, I virtually wasn’t allowed to listen to anything but classical music, and that’s stupid, but it is the way it was. My first outside influence from that world was Jimmy Hendrix, and I felt ‘wow I understand this because it has great instrumentals,’ and that is what inspired me to play the electric violin. I am completely in love with Freddy Mercury, and I’ve learned how to contour my face onstage from looking at David Bowe’s cheekbones, and I love Queen, and I love new rave, and whatever. My sound is really attributed to my desire to do more than one thing with all of these things that I love, and with all of the genres that I love. I need to find a way to do them all at once because life is only so long, and I don’t want to have to choose one genre over the other.”

You grew up in Malibu, Calif.; how did that environment shape you?

“I think just growing up in a place where I could look out every day and see the ocean from my house. I never thought of it before talking to you in this moment, but you know the Opheliac album? There is water imagery in just about every song and perhaps there is something in that that I didn’t realize. That obsession with the sea and going back to the water is because that is where I came from.”

Your music has numerous feminist tones and ideals; do you feel that you are actively advocating for women’s rights?

“I mean … yeah! The F.L.A.G. album alone says it all. It’s about taking a phrase, “you fight like a girl,” which is kind of the ultimate insult from a boy, and it’s turning it into the ultimate compliment. There is no comparison to a woman that should be negative. It’s also not about hating men — an idea that men create about the women who care if they have the right to vote or not. Men think “oh, you hate us” and it’s like, shut up … sometimes it can just be about us wanting what is best. It is okay to just want something for ourselves. I think the idea is just making women aware that we are not the minority; we are the majority. The population on planet Earth is 51 percent women, but we will settle for equality.”

So, what advice do you have for young women?

“Never forget that you are the majority. And, that’s it.”

What advice do you have for young men?

“I have to think about this one. I would simply say, ‘personal note from me to you. Guys, I am so on your side.’ Because the whole spirit of what I am trying to accomplish with this music and the show is magic that can happen when we actually come together. It started out as being when the sisterhood comes together, and now it’s when we all come together for a common, beautiful cause, and that is what’s happening. It is a celebration of everything we are.” | Claire Musial

Emilie Autumn will perform at Pop’s Nightclub & Concert Venue in Sauget, Ill. on Dec. 1.

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