Chain D.L.K.: For those who have not yet heard “Scavenger Bride”, tell us a bit about it.
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: There are three characters: the bride, the Scavenger, and the livery of bachelors (who are really different, unidentified males). Even before I moved to New York City in 1999, I had the idea that my next album would be called the scavenger bride. At that time, I had no idea what the album was gonna be about, or who this bride was. I began to think *too much* about this character, and it wasn’t getting me anywhere. It was actually keeping me from working, because I felt I needed to know her story before I could start. Then I just gave up on having the theme mapped out and started working on music; eventually the theme revealed itself and fell into place.
When I was struggling with the story of the bride, I did a bit of on-line research. I went to different dictionary websites and looked up the word scavenger. Aside from the obvious definitions we know (about animals that eat dead meat or people who pick through refuse), I came to the root of the word. And it’s this:
Alteration of Middle English scauager, schavager, official charged with street maintenance, from Anglo-Norman scawager, toll collector, from scawage, a tax on the goods of foreign merchants, from Flemish scauwen, to look at, show.
And I thought “hmmm, that’s kinda interesting”. Because here is an actual job title, a person who swept streets, and cleaned up refuse, which clicked with my idea of searching through your personality, to find the truer self. That led to the first story in the booklet, about him cleaning the streets, and believing he could see into people’s hearts… but the resolution of that piece collided with another thread I wanted to weave into the album, which was the European torture device “the scavenger’s daughter”. I liked the metaphor of people crushing in upon themselves, and how it could represent the way we allow circumstances to beat us down and defeat us…
Chain D.L.K.: Is the story more intended as a parable or as a story purely for the sake of storytelling?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I think it’s both (as a good parable should be). You can take it purely on the surface as a story about a character that is torn between choices and afraid to take the harder path, which is the one she really wants. Metaphorically, it can be about many different aspects of our life.
Chain D.L.K.: Does it tie in at all to the storyline or theme presented in “As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire”?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I personally don’t feel there is a tie-in between the two. I never felt that “Aflame” had a single storyline, but rather each song is self contained, though all somewhat relating back to desire. Maybe, if I searched carefully and thought about it for a while, I could find a couple of songs that could be perceived as fitting into the scavenger bride storyline, but it wasn’t really something I had in mind at the time…
Chain D.L.K.: Why the decision to name a song after Klaus Kinski, the famous yet infamously deviant German actor? Seems to be rather odd given Black Tape’s pro-female stance and Kinski’s womanizing and sadism.
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Well, I think you need to go deeper than the mainstream press, if you want to really understand Kinski. Where is it that a modern alternative publication is suddenly afraid of someone branded a “deviant? ” Isn’t that pretty much a standard definition for all of us Alternative types? It seems to be a pre-disposed reaction. If somebody said “Marilyn Manson is a deviant…”, wouldn’t you think “Ah, maybe. But then I’m a bit of a deviant myself…” 🙂
Anyway, the lyrics are about the character’s desire for a man, for the strength and torrid passion of her ideal relationship. Then, though, she realizes that he is gone and she is only left with longing. So it’s not really a song about Klaus Kinski’s relationship to women, so much as a song about the bride’s desire for a man personified by Kinski.
Chain D.L.K.: The decision to cover a Sonic Youth song on the CD is quite odd, too, given the seeming opposites of the two groups. Explain.
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I’ve been a fan of Sonic Youth since before Black Tape For A Blue Girl existed. On their mid-80s albums, I liked about 50% of what they did a lot (the more experimental stuff vs. the more punk rock stuff). “Shadow of a doubt” is a song I always really liked. The backing track is very minimal and the words are very appropriate to black tape. A woman who is trying to convince herself that something she did didn’t really happen. It fits perfectly. It’s only the 2nd cover song I have done.
Chain D.L.K.: Why the decision to have it take place in Prague? Is this from the Kafka influence, given that is his hometown?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Definitely. Prague was chosen because it was Kafka’s home. Also, I didn’t think that 2002 America was the place my story was set. It wasn’t about the situation of living in New York. I wanted to paint a landscape that was unfamiliar to most listeners, that was romantic and was sort of “simple” compared to our live today…
Chain D.L.K.: “All my Lovers” would seem like a contradictory point to the story if told from the female perspective, given her detraction from her suitors. Is it from a suitor’s point of view or from the female’s perspective?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Oh, it’s definitely from her point of view. I’m not sure why it would be contradictory, though? It’s one of the keys to where her character heads on the album. She realizes that perhaps she’s not meant to live a monogamous life…maybe polyamorous intentions are more appropriate for who she is. She realizes that from these different moments, she understands a bit more about herself. She grows through these experiences. I hadn’t thought about it at the time, but read Anais Nin’s A Spy in the House of Love to see what I mean…
Chain D.L.K.: If so, what makes her change from domineering (like in “All My Lovers”) to detracting and reclusive to her suitors?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Hm? I don’t see her as domineering in “All my Lovers” so much as growing aware of her desires and what it would take to satisfy them. If I were to define her personality on that song, it would be “secure” and “free-spirited”. You are correct that later in the album she becomes more depressed and wrapped in on herself. That’s because she has gotten stuck in a destructive relationship and she wishes to make it work, even though trying to hold it together is tearing her apart. I don’t quite know what you mean by “detracting and reclusive”. but I would say she’s “broken” in “the scavenger’s daughter”.
Chain D.L.K.: What is the metaphor in the “Little Monkeys”?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I’d think that one is pretty clear… that we are the ones who lock the door on our own cage.
Chain D.L.K.: Ok away from the storyline for a bit, to concentrate on the music. The mood seems to be more uplifting than the last CD. Perhaps Black Tape is going towards a happier state of being musically?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Well, my life gets happier and a bit easier every year. I met Lisa after the songs were written for “Remnants”, so that album was set in a specific mood. During “Aflame”, I was really burdened with all the employees and money woes of Projekt…while “Scavenger” was written during a less hard time: we had already moved to NYC and I had downsized Projekt. I doubt my economic situation plays THAT BIG of a part in the sound of the music: -) —- but I’m just letting you know about my situation at the times…
Chain D.L.K.: What happened to our old friend Oscar Herara?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Oscar decided that he doesn’t want to be involved in music anymore. He let me know before I wrote his parts for “Aflame”, but I begged him to stick around since it was too late in the process to try and recruit a new vocalist. While I’m sad that he’s not involved on “Scavenger”… it did give me freedom to try different things, which worked out nicely. I really like what Bret and Athan contributed to the album. For our live shows in May, Michael Laird sang two songs and Bret sang two. That was nice.
Chain D.L.K.: How was Elizabeth introduced to the group, and what is her training background?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Elysabeth was playing viola for a band in Chicago that Lisa and I knew. When I was recording Nick’s harpsichord parts on “Denouement” from “Aflame”, Elysabeth was hanging out and we seemed to click, in so far as having similar thoughts about which notes to place where. I thought it might be nice to try her out on viola for the live band, but we didn’t have time for it ’cause Black tape went on tour in late ’98, before the release of “Aflame”. When we got back, I knew I had to replace Julianna as vocalist so I asked Elysabeth if she could sing. I had no idea how it would go; we rehearsed a few songs and things went well. Elysabeth was our live vocalist throughout the 1999 shows for “Aflame”, which took us to around 100 cities. It’s unusual for me to “work in” a band member on stage, before recording with them… but it came together really nicely, actually.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever thought of singing a full song? I saw on the new CD where you do some backing vocals.
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I have sung full songs on a few of the CDs, including the first movement of the title track on “As one aflame laid bare by desire”. Generally, I prefer not to sing. People were really enthusiastic about “Your one Wish”, which I sang live at the Projektfest in May. I’m surprised. I generally prefer *not* to sing…
Chain D.L.K.: What influenced the decision to recruit the singer for industrial group Spahn Ranch for “Floats In the Updrafts”?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I’ve known Athan for years, from when I lived in L. A. in 1994 or ’95 and we occasionally bumped into each other at Helter Skelter. When Oscar decided not to be involved, I was thinking of who to ask to sing. Athan seemed like an interesting choice since he has a very warm voice, even though maybe people don’t notice that so much in Spahn Ranch. He lives not far from us in Brooklyn, so I thought “what the heck, let’s give it a shot”.
Chain D.L.K.: Did you think that marriage would affect the music given it’s themes of isolation and love never achieved?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: If you mean *my* marriage… no, I never thought about the two things. Because I am creating something from my imagination, not purely writing an autobiographical narrative. Personally, I think that when you are in a secure and positive place emotionally, it allows you to look further into yourself for ideas and concepts that you might not have time for, otherwise…
Chain D.L.K.: I have read up on some of your early influences like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, which are very electronic influences. What influenced the decision to add classical to the mix?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I started using stringed instruments on my first album, “the rope”, back in 1986. I guess it’s because I knew people who played the cello and violin. Or maybe it’s because Marc Almond did it on “Torment & Toreros” and This Mortal Coil did it on “It’ll end in tears”? I think that all good artists steal liberally from other artists. I guess the good ones are just able to hide their sources, better. I’m sure John Lennon said that phrase better, somewhere…
Hmmm. I just did a Google search. I found something similar: “Good artists copy – great artists steal”. – Pablo Picasso
Chain D.L.K.: What is the training backgrounds of the whole group, including yourself?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I have no musical training. Lisa and Julia have years and years of classical training. Vicki has classical training (including playing in symphonies) plus Indian Raga training…
Chain D.L.K.: Does Lisa ever plan to sing on any songs in the future?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: We always talk about it, but never quite get around to finding the right one for Lisa. Live, she sings backing vocals. And live she sang lead on “Gravity’s Angels” a few times.
Chain D.L.K.: Does it feel odd to hear your music played in dance clubs? Do you think this detracts from its point?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Not at all. One of the points of a more uppity song like “All my lovers” is to have it played in dance clubs. The record label wants a club hit! ! (That’s a joke, since Projekt is my label). I’ve heard other songs from black tape played in clubs, and the reverb is WAY TOO DENSE for the club speakers, and sometimes it takes *me* a while to figure out what song it is (laughs).
Chain D.L.K.: What role do you feel sensuality plays in the role of Black Tape’s music?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I think sensuality and eroticism plays a role. It’s involved in a lot of what I write. It’s not the key focus, but it is there.
Chain D.L.K.: What role does the female spirit play in the music of Black Tape?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I try to write songs from a sensitive and more introspective side.
Chain D.L.K.: Where did the name come from?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I prefer to leave that unanswered. I think that people come up with their own interpretation, which is just as valid as the one I first came up with. It’s not that the name has an overwhelming significance to me as a poetic phrase. Rather, I like leaving the meaning open to the individual. There are many interpretations on ‘black tape for a blue girl’ and I find them all interesting and valid. Why should I stifle your creativity by giving the meaning that comes into my head… you know?
Chain D.L.K.: Any plans to release anymore solo material?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: No, I don’t think so. I never even find the time to work on black tape material. So it would be a wasteful use of my energies to work on a solo CD.
Chain D.L.K.: Would you ever consider signing any of the hard electronic/classical/ethereal crossover acts (ones like Helium Vola and Das Ich) coming out to the label, or any of the electropop/ethereal groups like La Floa Maldita (these are merely examples)?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Definitely not. That kind of stuff holds no interest for me.
Chain D.L.K.: Has your pro-Mp3 stance harmed or improved the shape of your label and music in general?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I believe that it has been beneficial to the artists, because it allows more people to discover our music. The thing that has been most harmful these days is our screwed up economy…and the outrageous price stores charge for Projekt CDs. Who wants to pay $17. 99 for a CD!???!
Chain D.L.K.: I think the Doves may actually help bring the Projekt kind of sound to the masses. Would I be wrong in saying this?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I don’t know if you would be WRONG in saying that, as grammatically the sentence seems sound. I just don’t have any idea who “the Doves” are…
Chain D.L.K.: The demand seems to be for more atmospheric music in general, especially in Britain. What if it brings mainstream success to Projekt?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: It won’t. I’m not being negative, just realistic. We will never have mainstream success. Thinking that way sets yourself up for disappointment. Britain is by far the WORST “civilized” country for Projekt music. We sell more CDs in Poland than we do in Britain. Something keeps England stuck in The Sisters of Mercy mindset, it seems. I don’t get it. I have a number of friends in England who like good music…but sales there suck!
Chain D.L.K.: What bands would you recommend at the moment?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Audra.
Chain D.L.K.: What is, to you, the state of love in your life and for the world in general (your overall view of it)?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: I don’t really have any idea of the “state of love in the world” at the moment… I’d suspect that people generally love at a pretty consistent level, if this is more of a philosophical level. Even at times of great bitterness and angst, I’m sure people still love their kids and their spouse, etc. In fact, you might even love them more when things are rotten, as they are one of the few things that are solid…
Chain D.L.K.: Any words of advise for us out there?
Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Do what you want to do (so long as others aren’t gonna get harmed). Don’t be afraid to make that leap…
[interviewed by Shaun Hamilton] [proofreading by Erica Breyer]