Unafraid of herself and her personal struggles with mental illness, Emilie Autumn has accepted the reality of herself and through music reaches out to women (and men) suffering with their own internal conflicts. Currently in the midst of a North American tour, Emilie Autumn will soon release her upcoming album, Fight Like a Girl, and has grand plans in the works to turn her beautifully crafted, Victorian inspired world into a Broadway musical.
photographer : Jake Garn
interview by : Gia C. Manalio-Bonaventura
Emilie, we want to thank you for taking the Time (intentionally capped) out of your schedule, especially since you are currently on your “Fight Like a Girl” Tour. I have been a Plague Rat for years so I’m grateful to have this opportunity and am going to try not to overwhelm you with questions. I would like to ask you things that have not been asked, but as you said on The Opheliac Companion, everything has been said or sung. So hopefully I can express the questions in some different ways.
I’m going to try to start from the beginning. In the song “Swallow” you say, “I’m not a faerie but I need more than this life so I became this creature representing more to you than just another girl. And if I had a chance to change my mind, I wouldn’t for the world.” Tell me about the birth of Emilie Autumn as we know her and the Asylum. And what is it about the Victorian age that draws you in so?
Emilie Autumn : Thanks for having this little teatime chat with me! The Victorian era is absolutely fascinating on so many levels. Amongst many other terrifying developments, the 19th century saw the birth of medicine and psychiatry as we recognize it today. It was also the era of the industrial revolution, the gradual shattering of the class system largely due to this revolution, an era of glorified mourning and elaborate death obsession, and so much more. The primary fascination however is what this era has in common with our present day, and how, in a lot of unfortunate cases, nothing much has changed.
Your songs are what initially drew me to you with the melodic (and sometimes intentionally not) harmonies and lyrics, some call them “Victorianindustrial”. When I first heard them, I felt like I connected to them so much I did some research on what was behind it all, especially The Opheliac album. What I discovered was how brutally honest and open you are about your own bipolar condition, medications, and suicidal thoughts. I admire this because it is often such a dirty little secret and any of us who have had the experience have almost perfected the art of faking being okay, which you actually discuss on “The Art of Suicide” track on The Opheliac Companion. There you talk about what happens when you can’t fake it, which I think actually hearing, as personal as that is, is comforting to people. In fact, when I asked a couple of teen girl fans I know what they would want to ask you, they both alluded to these feelings. I understand that writing and performing the songs is something you do for yourself as a catharsis, but how do you feel knowing that you are also reaching girls who are suffering and letting them know that they are not alone in that?
EA : That’s very nice to hear, and it is in fact my most important goal, to help both boys/girls, men/women to realize and truly believe that they are NOT alone. They’re really not. It’s become such a passion for me because I was very much alone in my less than pleasant life situations, and I want to be to others what I myself did not have. It’s a bit like my Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls book… I wanted to write the book I wish I’d had growing up with these issues, to have someone tell me that just because you’re crazy doesn’t mean you’re crazy. But what you mention regarding the honesty in songs and such is equally meaningful in that it comes from a very real place, a place that I find can only be accessed when you have nothing left to lose. A marvelous freedom comes when you have nothing to shelter, hide, protect… when all your dirty little (or large) secrets are out, when judgment is inevitable, and when you don’t even care about this anymore. What has been such an interesting phenomena for me has been that, the moment I stopped caring what other people thought about me is the same moment that others started caring what I thought. That’s how I learned how interesting honesty can be.
read the full interview in the February/March 2012 Issue
additional photos from our exclusive photoshoot…