Interview with Jarboe: True Nature

Does all this management interfere with you creatively?

No, things feed off of each other, things fuel. And when you are ambitious and you’re creating your vision, it’s your universe as it were, there’s interesting things that happen because they may not be harmonious. Everybody has an ego and everybody has their opinion, so it’s kind of a trial and error situation that you go through and the people that have a real strong vision that debate with me about my vision, those are keepers. Those are people that I will love to keep working with because they stimulate me.

When you do a lot of collaborations, a lot of projects, what you don’t want are yes men, people that will just go along. That’s what you don’t want, because then you don’t grow, you’re not challenged. I think from the very beginning, leaving Atlanta and going up to New York to get into a very macho, loud aggressive band in the East Village, Swans, I think at that stage of the game I was representing the thing that was a trademark at this point, and that’s loving a challenge. I’ve got to be challenged all the time, and if it’s difficult, I’m all the more interested.

The solo album that’s coming out, would you say there’s a general theme or a general idea behind it?

Well, the main thing that’s happened, which I consider really exciting, for me, as an artist, is the fact that I’m getting away or have moved away from personal, self-referential lyrics. I’m not writing from the point of view of my emotional broken heart or relationships. The focus is more global, more about the planet and life itself. Primordial ooze, that kind of thing, spirits and the earth. It’s the first album where there aren’t love songs and there aren’t songs written from the victim or someone who’s angry, emotionally.

It’s kind of the opposite of the Anhedoniac album. And I’m really amazed and happy and gratified that I’ve moved away from that subject matter, and it just came about naturally where it simply doesn’t interest me anymore. I feel like I’ve exhausted that subject, and I don’t want to write about the pain of a human heart anymore. It’s more interested in mythology and things that are more abstract and less about being a woman with her experience and emotions.

And I think that that’s going to affect the performance too, in a positive way, it will not transform your eyes into something that’s so demonic and horrific that you’re upset for two days (laughs). I don’t want to do that. It’s a challenge at this point to see if I can rein it in, you know, and still feel that you’re giving people everything that they want, but you’re reining it in.

You were working with Colin Marston on this album, yes?

I worked with Colin as well as Kevin [Hufnagel], and they’re both in Byla, did the Byla and Jarboe project, and they’re both in Dysrythmia.

Well, they’re both very calculating guys, if I had to typify them.

That was a very interesting experience, and a learning experience, and I think there’s the perfect interaction for me, and I think it would be that world, but needing the world of an engineer or a producer or someone who would be working with me that may have more technical knowledge in terms of studio that is also someone who has worked with voices.

It’s kind of like I need both, it’s as if you work with people who are in instrumental bands that aren’t dealing with the human voice in their own work, it’s a different animal than me, because to me it’s all about the voice, even if it’s the voice as me playing guitar or the keyboard, which I did on some of these songs. To me, it’s the front narrator and when you don’t have a front narrator, it creates an interesting kind of challenge. I think that I’ve learned from working in Swans or then when I worked with Neurosis, I feel there’s a give and take with guitar and a vocalist. The guitar has to lay out when the vocal is the main thing in your ear and then vice versa.

I’ve talked about this with people in very big groups, like Maynard James Keenan and I talked about this with Tool, that there was a difficulty there two albums ago with them, his voice versus the music. It’s kind of like you have to come up with this integrated world where one isn’t competing with the other.

What you were working with in January, in New York, this is not the Justin Broadrick project.

No, the J2 project was done last summer, and we finished it before he went on tour. There was a sense of urgency getting it done because he was going on tour, so that was a file exchange collaboration where I sent him pieces and then he edited the pieces and it was back and forth with ideas. So he worked in England and I worked in Georgia, and that was how we did that.

And it was really great because we met each other in 2005 for the first time, and I was really enjoying his music and was really exciting to meet him and I think it was vice versa. We got along great, and then I asked him would he man the soundboard during the show in London, and so I did the entire show from the audience, and I could hear through the PA what he was doing, and it was so cool, it was so great. I just decided I trusted him completely and that’s how this whole thing came about with him asking me to sing on Lifeline, he actually sent me the song and actually asked me to write words and record the vocals.

I had a three day turnaround, which is pretty fast, to hear something for the first time and come up with a story and the characters—because I create characters and perform the words and what the song is about—and then record it all and give it back to him in three days (laughs). And then we took it from there with the J2 thing.

But yeah, that’s a different animal than the Jarboe album which was January, and that’s my solo album, that’s my album, it’s not a collaborative. I do have some guest stars, I wanted some singers on there to come on board; one to sing with me on a track, and then another to do a different version of a song, so there’s two versions on the album. I had a really high reach this time, I wanted Phillip Anselmo and I wanted Atilla from Mayhem. So both of those gentlemen are on the album, and they did incredible work and it was very exciting to meet them and to work with them. Those are the guests on the Jarboe album.