MEL: Hi Emilie, how are you right now? What have we caught you doing, and what is happening in your life today?
EMILIE: I’m in the very midst of working on a new screenplay starring myself and Marc Senter, whilst editing down my book into something than can fit into the two and a half hours generally allotted to a theatrical musical.
MEL: What is the one thing that you feel most proud of achieving on life’s rich journey so far?
EMILIE: It is a rich journey indeed…that was a brilliant way to put it. Without a doubt, the thing I am most proud of in my life and work to date is that I have had some small level of a positive effect on girls and women in several countries. My primary goal in my life is to continue to do this, and on a much larger scale, and so, I suspect that, if you asked me this same question at the end of my life, I would give you the very same answer.
MEL: Last year you were in a short, horror/ musical movie, (this really sounds just your kind of thing) playing the role of the poisonous ‘Painted Doll’ in ‘The Devils Carnival’ – what was this experience like? Can you tell us about your character?
EMILIE: Acting and singing in ‘The Devil’s Carnival’ was truly one of the most exciting and beneficial experiences of my career. The people I worked on the film with have become permanent fixtures in my life and art. My character of ‘The Painted Doll’ was brilliant in that she was like a bitchier, crazier, more dominatrix version of me. In that way, playing her was a challenge, but not a stretch. I look forward to Episode 2 (filming soon) where the Doll has a starring role, because I will be called upon to play elements of her that are not like me at all, and thus are more frightening, and that fear is an emotion I fully embrace.
MEL: Is there any direction you would like to move forward in your creative life, or anything you would like to try out – maybe collaborations with other artists?
EMILIE: I have no desire to collaborate with other musicians at this moment, but I am currently collaborating in some extremely daring and exciting ways with director and partner in crime, Darren Lynn Bousman, as well as actor/producer/musician/dancer Marc Senter (who co-starred with me in both my video for ‘Fight Like A Girl’, and ‘The Devil’s Carnival’).
MEL: I guess that leads nicely into my next question - imagine you could perform on stage with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
EMILIE: Freddie Mercury, for obvious reasons.
MEL: Although you are a strong woman, you have been in some very dark places, and been the victim of bullying, how do you protect yourself now?
EMILIE: Once a woman establishes herself in her own mind as a strong female, she automatically projects that and is abused and manipulated much less, I’ve found. Part of being a strong woman is also being healthy, physically strong, quick, and very, very smart. One achieves these characteristics simply by making a commitment to one’s self to do so. With these characteristics, I can outsmart oppression and attack it from many different perspectives, both physically and mentally. I am powerful. All women are powerful. But we can’t use that power if we don’t accept that we have it. It’s time to accept it, and also to get a little bit scary. No oppressed or discriminated-against social group has made significant progress until they became, to some degree, frightening. That may not sound very politically correct to say, but it’s absolutely true, and if you look at American history as well as that of every other country, I think you’ll find this to be the case. If men in power weren’t already afraid of us, it wouldn’t be so crucial to them to repress and enslave us (I speak globally, not only for myself and other Americans, as America is not the world, and American women are not the only women worth helping). If men in power had a real reason to be frightened, rather than an absurd one, perhaps we’d get somewhere.
MEL: Emilie Autumn is such an inspirational assertive woman. What advice would you give to girls reading this, and feeling out of their depth or struggling with issues?
EMILIE: Be kind to yourself even when nobody else is. I won’t lie: There will be times in your life as a female when you are all you have – all you can trust – so get very comfortable with yourself and rely on no one. And, when you feel like you are weak and can’t see the way out, help somebody else. I only began to feel truly healthy and strong, both mentally and physically, when I realized that, if I were all right, I could help other people. The drive to help others literally saved me. And always remember that you are, nor will you ever be, alone. Trust.
MEL: Discussing mental illness is thankfully becoming less taboo these days, due to people becoming more aware about the facts, and its common knowledge that you were committed to a psychiatric hospital, suffering from Bipolar disorder. Afterwards you had your cell block number tattooed on your right arm. Are there times when you regret having this tattoo, and just want to forget all the bad stuff which happened to you?
EMILIE: I never want to forget. I was pumped full of a drug termed within the psychiatrist industry as the ‘amnesia’ drug, and it didn’t work. I’m glad it didn’t work. As I always say to the Plague Rats in my audience every night, if everything hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have a story to tell, and if I didn’t have a story to tell, I would never have met them. For that reason, I regret nothing.
Music has always been a very important factor in your life from a tender age, so when life sometimes gets you down, what music do you play to get you through those times, what artists might you listen to?
EMILIE: Bach. Both to play and to listen to.
MEL: Is it true that you are a big fan of Morrissey – if so what is your favourite song of his, and have you seen him perform live?
EMILIE: I have indeed seen Morrissey perform live. I would have loved to see The Smiths, but they were well over by the time I discovered their music. That seems to be the case with most bands I admire, in fact. I love so many songs, but I am partial to ‘Well I Wonder’ and ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’.
MEL: I am sure I speak for a lot of your girl fans out there, who would love to know your alternative beauty/health secrets – care to enlighten us a little?
EMILIE: The great thing is that my beauty and health regime is just as applicable to boys as it is to girls. For starters, I drink lots and lots of tea, which assists in preventing cancer, boosts the immune system, repairs the skin, and keeps the skin youthful, due to the high level of antioxidants. Tea is no joke. I’m also a vegetarian, and I never put any chemicals or refined ingredients either inside or outside of my body. Treat your body like a temple and you WILL look and feel like a goddess (or a god). I use only natural and essential plant oils on my skin, and make my own cosmetics out of minerals and skin-safe oils. A lot of being healthy is studying nature, doing research, and being crafty. It’s also a great deal of fun.
MEL: We saw you perform on your ‘F.L.A.G’ tour in Manchester last year and can’t wait to sample your delights later this year. What surprises can we expect this time around?
EMILIE: You will certainly be hearing more music from ‘FLAG’ that you did last time around, and you will also be seeing our new stage set complete with the Asylum gates.
MEL: Where does your obsession with all things British come from…Victoriana, tea and cakes in your stage shows?
EMILIE: My immediate ancestry on my maternal side is all British, and I toured there for the first time at the age of twelve, just young enough to really appreciate a different country and culture, and so it of course had a significant effect on me, and my aesthetic. My interest in the culture and history is simply because so many of the elements that affect even American modern culture were established or invented in England of centuries past. England was the leader of the Industrial Revolution for example, and that affected us all in a massive way.
MEL: Who designs all the stage sets, plus the fantastic stage costumes, and hairstyles/hairpieces?
EMILIE: I design the costumes, the sets are collaborations with my excellent manager, Melissa King, who knows more about the actual building equipment than I do, my lighting is designed by the world-class lighting engineer, Beau King, and the girls do their own hair and makeup. We’ve worked for years to develop these characters that are really extreme versions of ourselves, and no one could create their looks better than we ourselves can.
MEL: When you’re performing you almost form an emotional bond with your crowd, I think you actually say they are like family. Does your stage persona come naturally to you, or are you the ‘real’ Emilie on the stage?
EMILIE: I am very much the real Emilie/Emily on stage, completely and entirely. There are, naturally, elements of me that nobody sees, but what you do see represent elements of my true self, both dark and light elements, and also elements that no one in my daily life is allowed to see. That’s why people connect with me, I believe – they subconsciously know honesty when they see/hear it, and people will always connect to honesty, and thus become more honest themselves. That is when real communication happens, and is also when the bond of family is established.
MEL: How do you keep those ‘Bloody Crumpets’ in check whilst on tour, and who is the most mischievous one of the pack?
EMILIE: Great question! We all share the role of both keeping each other in check and corrupting each other on a daily basis. All of us are mischievous in our own ways, some more apt to get arrested than others – I’ll leave you to guess whom.
MEL: How do you entertain yourself on your road trips, and do you keep a diary of your adventures? I know you post some of your exploits on Twitter!
EMILIE: We all keep extensive diaries on tour, and meet each morning for magic, tea, and writing time. With Maggots and Veronica around, entertainment pretty much takes care of itself.
MEL: How important do you consider it is for you to meet with fans after your shows?
EMILIE: I rarely have the opportunity to see Plague Rats after my performances because I am often rushed straight to the tour bus and off to the next city, or I am protecting my health and voice so that I can do fifty plus shows in a row, which is a gruelling and sometimes dangerous existence very few fully realise. I do however have the privilege of meeting with Plague Rats prior to the performance in the form of the VIP hour, where we speak together privately, take photographs, and anything else they’d like that I can grant in that time. Of course, if I meet any Plague Rats at any time at all, I am always honoured to meet/sign/take photos with, and generally smother them with love and ratty kisses, sometimes to a frightening degree. I think I’ve left many a poor Plague Rat quite overwhelmed…
MEL: And my final questions would be …..You have led such an extraordinary life, with many twists and turns. I can visualise a screenplay unfolding in front of my eyes. If your life was played out on the stage who might you select to play YOU?
EMILIE: I would, and will, play myself, as well as my alter ego, in the film version of my book, ‘The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls’, which will be filmed once the story has been successful as a Broadway musical!
See you in Manchester Emilie!
European Tour Dates:
August 23 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Edinburgh Fringe / Picture House
August 24 - Nottingham, England - Rock City
August 25 - Manchester, England - The Ritz
August 27 - Eindhoven, Holland - Dynamo
August 28 - Utrecht, Holland - The Tivoli
August 30 - Berlin, Germany - Heimathafen
August 31 - Vienna, Austria - Szene
September 1 - Krakow, Poland - Kwadrat
September 2 - Leipzig, Germany - Werk II
September 4 - Hamburg, Germany - Gruenspan
September 5 - Duisburg, Germany - Pulp
September 6 - Aarau, Switzerland - Kiff
September 7 - Pinarella Di Cervia, Italy - Rock Planet
Setpember 8 - Munchen, Germany - Freiheiz
September 10 - Wiesbaden, Germany - Schlachthof
September 11 - Paris, France - La Scene Bastille
September 12 - TBA
September 13 - London, England - Shepherd's Bush Empire
Interview by Melanie Smith
Photos provided by Melissa King
Live shots by Melanie Smith (taken in Manchester 2012)