Emilie Autumn is a gothic industrial violinist and singer-songwriter. Her most recent album, Fight Like A Girl, has shaped up to be the biggest and most important release of her career, appearing on her new label, The Asylum Emporium.
Autumn will be appearing at New York City’s Irving Plaza on Nov. 27 for a co-headlining date with The Birthday Massacre. She recently chatted with The Aquarian to talk about Fight Like A Girl, her appearance in the 2012 film The Devil’s Carnival, touring, and more. The transcription is below:
You recently appeared in The Devil’s Carnival. What part of the story drew you in so you would agree to be a part of it, and how much input were you able to give on what your character, the Painted Doll, was able to give?
I was drawn to the project mainly because I became good friends with Darren Lynn Bousman and [Terrance Zdunich], who created it. It also seemed that they were doing something similar to what I am attempting, which is to create a complete reality that people can come in and be a part of and not just live inside. Not just go to and leave like The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls. This is all encompassing, this is where we live, so it was the same type of situation.
Now, for the character, quite a lot, because I didn’t know this at the time (pauses), but it turns out at the time that I was the first person who signed on for the project and I was the only one they had in mind for that part (laughs). Being the first person to sign on means I knew about it the longest.
There was a year that we were just working together and just talking about how exciting this was going to be, what we are going to do with this, what she is going to look like… It wasn’t a set thing what her hair color would be until pretty much the day that we started shooting and I went and got my traditionally very red hair completely bleached out. The only reason I kept it this way is because shortly after this tour ends, we are starting to shoot episode two of The Devil’s Carnival, which is why I didn’t want to go back to red and bleach it again. I would be bald by the end of this so not worth it.
Can you speak about what happens in the second installment of The Devil’s Carnival?
I can tell you a bit, hopefully without getting in trouble, and if I do get in trouble, apologies. I can tell you that a lot of it takes place in heaven. You understand hell better because that is what we are really fighting. It’s a very restrictive world, it’s kind of the opposite of the mayhem that goes down below, and it’s kind of a political hierarchy of things that are not so pleasant.
It’s like everybody gathers all about and are questioning who really is the bad guy here, because it’s often not who you think—the devil isn’t always the devil—and that again was a really similar thing to the sort of mission that I am on in my own little world that I have created. It’s like the ultimate question, “Who is really crazy here?” because a lot of the time it’s not the ones behind the bars.
Now, thinking about the song “Prick! Goes The Scorpion’s Tail,” did you receive any help in writing that by the makers of The Devil’s Carnival, or was that all you?
No, none of it was me. That’s the beauty of the project. I played my classical violin on a lot of the songs to provide the music and then for that song, I didn’t write it at all. It’s not my style of writing, which was kind of a huge concern for me.
The thing is that I never do anything almost ever that isn’t completely 100 percent mine. It was a bit of a concern to think, “I just signed on and I will do this and have no idea what you guys are going to make me sing.” That was just complete trust knowing that we had become friends and if there was anything like, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that,” we could have talked about it. That was all them; that was all Terrance and Saar Hendelman, his writing partner. They created that as part of the story, and I recorded it myself in my own studio and thinking, “How am I supposed to bring this thing to life? Like, how do I make it so she is not all bad?” She’s kind of a bitch, scornful, she’s looking down on everybody, in this case, for kind of a good reason.
What kind of images were going on in your head when you were performing that song as well as recording it?
It got a bit crazy for my scene dancing around. It wasn’t like nobody was choreographing me. “We’re all here, stand on that thing, let’s see what happens.” And for me, that’s the easiest. It’s showtime! I don’t think about it. This is what’s happening: “Tell me if it sucks.” They never said it sucked.
What did happen is I got so impassioned on the first run. There’s all these props and things around and there’s this marble column situation and I got really into it. So this was the first run through and on the last note, instead of grabbing the scorpion and pulling him up, I went and kicked over the column and it shattered everywhere, and then realized they weren’t even filming that one. That was just disappointing since they had to pay for that.
We are out in the California desert filming this thing at two in the morning and it was deathly cold and at least I was moving around—not wearing much, but moving around—and everybody else is just dying. I just got worked up. That’s what happened.
In your song “Take The Pill” off Fight Like A Girl, are you speaking about taking illegal drugs or ones prescribed by a doctor?
(Laughs) I’ve never taken illegal drugs. No, I am not talking about illegal drugs. I’m talking about very much prescribed drugs that you are made to take for conditions you may or may not have. It’s about the actual medical system. The antagonist in the song is actually the doctor and the medical community that overprescribes everything.
In a psych ward situation, everybody kind of realizes that everyone is overmedicated, and it’s primarily for the reason of keeping everybody calm and under control. So we are all just happily sedated all the time. People are walking around like zombies and you don’t even know. Is it ‘cause you are crazy or is it just that they have you so completely sedated so you’re not a problem? And the latter is often the case, as is with my experience in that situation.
Do you have anything waiting for any album soundtracks?
Yes, mainly for my own, which is everything: this show, which is meant to turn this in a few years into a fully-fledged Broadway musical; the Fight Like A Girl album is one-third of the soundtrack; and naturally, if you make a musical, it’s got to become a film. That was always what was meant to happen. In my mind, it’s like The Asylum, the movie situation. So naturally that soundtrack goes for that as well. Soundtracks are happening for my movie.
On your current tour, what has been the most rewarding aspect of your live shows?
There are two things that are particularly world-changing. One of them is really sweet: seeing this audience, some of whom have been with us from the beginning to a number of years now. You start out with your minds into goth music or industrial or rock or metal or alternative or classical for people to come to see. To this point where we are now, they are a Broadway audience. Everything is rehearsal for this ultimate end point. I can see that people are completely ready for that.
The second thing is the actual concept: the “Fight Like A Girl” song, which is clearly written from a female point of view about female historical issues. But that doesn’t mean to exclude anybody. When I wrote that, I thought I would have some explaining to do. It would suck if I did, since rappers are saying horrible, misogynistic things. Nobody ever asks them, “Are you concerned about your female audience that you might have just completely offended?” Nobody ever asks a guy that. I thought I would have to deal with this at least somewhat answering for it as well going, “What is your male audience going to think?” Some journalists have asked me about that title about that concept. “What about the boys and all this?” The thing is that the audience and the plague rats have never asked and never had an issue, because absolutely our audience is 50 percent male. There are all of these boys, men, and people of all ages slamming their fists in the air singing, “I fight like a girl,” and they are proud of it and it means that they are onto something. I thought there might be a problem with this and they are like, “There is no problem with this,” so that has given me a great deal of hope, faith, happiness and immense love and gratitude for these people. I think men—at least the ones that we want around—are all on the same side. By us being stronger doesn’t mean anyone else has to get torn down.
Emilie Autumn will be appearing at New York City’s Irving Plaza on Nov. 27 for a co-headlining date with The Birthday Massacre. Fight Like A Girl is available now through The Asylum Emporium. For more information, go to emilieautumn.com.