8 QUESTIONS FOR MELISSA AUF DER MAUR
March 9, 2011
WILLIAM PARKER: How does Goddess-hood feel in the year 2011, or rather, what becomes Goddess-hood most? Promise me you'll never do a Blackglama mink ad.
MELISSA AUF DER MAUR: What a strange question. Goddess- hood is a timeless and universal place to be for a woman. It's something that dwells deep down in the inside of a woman's spirit, and a way of being and seeing life. It often manifests in an exterior ritual, like garnering, mothering or art making, but it starts and ends inside, and it is an ancient way of being: independent and a woman who is not defined by her relationship with a man, but defined on her relationship with herself.
WP: You ask some pretty interesting questions of yourself on your website http://xmadmx.com/news that pertain to music, creativity and the emotional life of a creative person. Do you think most of these questions would be easier to answer outside of the music business?
MAdM: The music business is clearly on the fritz, and has always been an unfortunate byproduct of the magic of music making and listening. The art world for example, is considered more of a "sacred" or "high" art and music more "pop" art. Music is more for the people than most visual or conceptual art, but it is unfortunate that it is subject to more of a harsh consumer and corporate context, when it is just as HIGH and SACRED as other arts. So to answer your question, would it be easier for me to answer these questions as a painter or ceramicist? Yes, surely it would.
WP: After reading Keith Richards' book, I was appalled to think that after art school he could have ended up in advertising, but I heard you loved it and only left to join Hole. How big a role did music play for you there?
MAdM: Wait, I loved what school or the idea of ending up in advertising? I certainly loved school, and working in visual and conceptual arts in a structured way, yes, but I certainly did not dream of becoming a commercial photographer . I wanted to be an art photographer, who would likely, by necessity work possibly as a music photographer to earn a living and support my love of making art and music. I was very fortunate that music became a viable way to make a living for a while. Harder than ever now, so may have to pick up my camera again very soon! I have not read the Keith book but will. I read the Patti one over the holidays first. That is a perfect snapshot of artistic and personal discovery in our early 20s, framed by finding your soul mate. What a great book!
WP: Is there a gulf between your pop sensibility and your other creative instincts?
MAdM: Good question…. OUT OF OUR MINDS was my first attempt at building a moat across that golf, as they were existing separately which was not a good feeling. Now I feel I am on the path of a more united creativity that is also simultaneously better interwoven with my personal life too. They seem to be all coming together as one, which I guess is part of "finding yourself". Feels good.
WP: Your dealings with Courtney Love have been both creative and contentious and you've managed to establish and maintain an admirable sangfroide on the subject. Is there anything else to say that hasn't already been said or that's waiting to be said?
MAdM: Cold blood eh? That's funny, I feel my blood and openness is rather warm! The "hole reunion" question was one thing, but when I discuss the working with CL, it's another things and usually quite positive. I have expressed a lot of things, depending on the day or the question. I don't have much to hide, but I am somewhat of a private person and don't like to cause drama.
WP: During your time with Hole, when did the posturing/tension end and the music begin?
MAdM: The posturing/tension? Never been asked about that, ha! Well the music was, unfortunately for all of us involved, often second to a lot of other things going on in-and-around the band. Whether it was death, drugs, legal, corporate or what have you, there was a lot of noise to maneuver around in order to make the music. We somehow managed to do it, and I am proud of the hard work put into "celebrity skin", but it took us 4 times as long to write and record than it should have.
WP: Tell us what it's like doing a tour like the Out Of Our Minds tour, mainly playing clubs and more intimate venues, as opposed to monster arena tours like the ones you did with Hole.
MAdM: The monster arenas were only for a small chapter in Hole. When I joined Hole with "live through this", we were playing small theaters too. The Smashing Pumpkins however, that was arena rock, but only one year and world tour for me. I've been on my own for as long as I was with those other bands, so I have a good balance of a more intimate music experience and a large scale one. I fell in love with music by going to club shows, seeing Nirvana, Hole and the Pumpkins in smaller clubs than I am playing now, is how my love for this all started, and that's ultimately where it's going back to. Makes sense to me, I'm just glad I got a taste of all of it!
WP: You're a terrific photographer and you'll be talking about your photography at National Geographic as part of their Music on... Photography series in Washington this April. How can you describe the switch when, as a performer, you're used to being the object of attention, against your putting the focus on the subject?
MAdM: Actually my photography started when I was really young, and I was in fact one of the center subjects of my projects. Self portraiture was the tendency, as I was the most available subject, and I enjoyed the intimate and lone journey of it. It feels similar as when I spend a long while writing a song or playing my instrument alone for hours. An inner search, using a manual tool. So the ritual making of both are quite similar, it's the finished product and the way that the listener and viewer experience it is very different. As I said earlier, I am also finding a way to bridge them even more as of late, combining the themes and trying to put the visual and musical together. I still have a lot of exploring and experimenting to do on that.
I am honored to be invited to present both my OUT OF OUR MINDS film and my photographic work. It's also lit the fire to finally archive my negatives so I can eventually release the book of photos from the road I've had on the back burner for a while.
Thanks for the stimulating questions!
Also see: OOOM TOUR VIDEO TRAILER
And, MEET ME ON THE DARKSIDE music video link, shot in Columbia County!