Emilie Autumn is a musician and world-class violinist. But there is so much more that makes up Emilie including her dark lyrics, metal-shredding violin solos, and industrial-strength voice. Emilie also co-stars in Darren Lynn Bousman’s new film “The Devil’s Carnival” as the Painted Doll. Emilie took out some time from working on her new album entitled ‘Fight Like A Girl and extensive touring to chat with MTedia Mikes about the film and her new album.
Mike Gencarelli: How did you initially get involved with working on this film?
Emilie Autumn: It was completely by absolute chance. I was on tour a couple of years ago and my tour manager at the time got an email from Darren explaining that he was making a movie, it’s going to be a crazy thing and he really thought I should play a part in it. We get those kinds of emails all the time and I usually don’t pay attention to them because usually they’re not real or I’d rather focus on my own musical world and aren’t interested in being in a bunch of people’s movies. But he was very, very persistent. And what I didn’t know until later, when we got together at a meet and greet and somebody asked him how he started working with me, was that the story is much more elaborate. He said he basically became a stalker (laughs). I didn’t know any of that. I thought he had just sent me that one email. But it turned out he had been trying to get in touch with me for ages through all sorts of different means. And because I was touring at the time I wasn’t on line a lot and I wasn’t getting his messages. So in the end he just got so obsessed with me playing this character. Which is funny since I had to endure four hours of makeup and prosthetics every day which pretty much made ME invisible. I have to admit that when they first contacted me I had no idea who Darren was, mainly because I hadn’t been exposed to “Repo” or anything else but it’s weird because I actually have (2) songs on soundtracks from films that Darren directed! I really enjoy good thrillers but I’m not very big on films with long, gratuitous torture scenes. There’s enough crazy shit in my head already! I hadn’t seen those. But lucky enough Darren understood why I hadn’t seen them. Amazingly we’re still friends, even after I said “I don’t know who you are and I haven’t seen any of your work” (laughs). I sent him a note saying, “I have no idea what this is…I need some more information.” And he sent me a reply back saying, “please go watch THIS.” I thought it was going to be a link to one of his films but it was actually a link to a compilation site of what the fans – the “REPO” army – were doing. Dressing up and watching a movie that had been completely panned and having gotten the worse reviews ever. And that was good. He wanted me to see the actual audience response to something that was completely underground yet became such a huge community that was really about being creative. And that is exactly what I, with my own career, am doing. That was pretty much the exact right thing he could have sent. When I told him that he said to go on my next off day and watch “REPO.” So all of my band girls and I got into one hotel bed, Netflixed it and watched it. We didn’t know ANYTHING about it. And then all of a sudden the opening credits come up and it’s Sarah Fucking Brightman! And I was like, “what the F??? Are you fucking with me?” I sent him an email back saying, “you got Sarah Brightman. Who am I to say “no” to you?” I mean, if it’s good enough for her I’ll do it. So that’s how it all began. And you have to realize, this could be a movie that nobody gets. It’s a project about people using their own money and their own connections and their own skills to make something happen. And that’s the only way I have personally ever done anything. So to me it was a beautiful thing. To work with people who are doing things the exact same way I do. We made it in six days. We recorded the soundtrack in one day. It’s really amazing and I love talking about it. With nobody else’s money they do what I do…they go on tour. They rent out theatres as they go across the country living in a van. I’m actually getting ready to join them for the rest of the tour. I’ll do some of the premiers and some more meet and greets and Q & A things. And it’s great because half of them who come to the show are wearing Emilie Autumn T-shirts! So for me this is a great crossover audience. A few weeks into this tour it looks like a mad fucking success. And I’m so proud to be a part of it. I’m so proud of so many things. I’m not embarrassed by my performance. I adore all of my songs. But I’m proud most of Darren. I mean I was reading about “Rocky Horror” a while ago and I noticed that, just like “REPO,” it was given horrible reviews. Nobody gave a fuck about it. Then it suddenly exploded into a cult thing that hasn’t died yet. And I think “REPO” can become something like that along those lines. That being said, I’ve yet to see a fan review of “Devil’s Carnival!” Maybe you will write one after you see it.
MG: This was your first film. What did you enjoy most about the process of making a film?
EA: I still get smiley and giddy when I think about it because I did not expect to have that much fun. I did not expect it to be so easy and yet so challenging at the same time. It was like Christmas every day. Especially because it was freezing every day. We shot in a town called Riverside, California, which is kind of like the carnival wasteland. It’s where old circus’ and carnivals go to die. It’s like two football fields of old ferris wheels and tents and carnival attractions and rides and wagons and games. And from it we actually built a theme park. I wish you could have seen it before it was put together. We were doing night shoots but in mid-May it’s still deathly cold. And I’m wearing very little. Of course Lucifer gets to run around in a cape and a giant bathrobe so he was fine. So the cold was really the only thing that was remotely unpleasant about the whole experience.
MG: I just saw a 12 minute teaser trailer for the film. What can you tell us about that?
EA: It’s funny on a couple of different levels. What I didn’t know, what I found out at one of the Q & A sessions, was that I was the very first person they asked to be in the film that had signed on to the project. Which makes sense why I’m the main one in the teaser because I had signed on before anyone else. But what we didn’t know at that time was the direction they were going to take with the Painted Doll character. So we just pulled the crew together, set up the cameras and made that 12 minute teaser, which was basically compiled from 35 minutes of me walking around doing nothing! Plus I don’t really look anything like my character, I look like Emilie Autumn. So it was me and all of this old stuff. Darren would tell me to walk around a corner and pick up an apple. NOW SPIT IT OUT! Now pick up that weird giant doll-thing. Now dance around with it. And of course what I don’t notice when I’m doing it, but what I see later, is that the camera is mostly zooming in and focusing on my ass. I mean, I totally approved. That’s not a problem for me. But I was like, ok, I know what’s going on. But it’s funny. When it came out it was pretty much the first thing anybody had seen on “Devil’s Carnival” on the web site. What’s funny is that I can’t read articles or interviews about myself. It just weirds me out. I can’t deal with that much information about ME. But I set up Google Alert for “Devil’s Carnival” because THAT I can read about all day long. So I was getting all of these little bits about what people thought about the 12 minute film. Half of them were like, “wow, that’s real cool and tantalizing. I can’t wait to see what this is.” And then some other people were like, “well, that’s 12 minutes of my life I’m never going to get back!” And the thing is they were both right. They were both absolutely right. Because NOTHING is going on. And when we shot it and Darren called me out there I asked him what he wanted me to do and he said “NOTHING!” And I asked him what the point was we were making and he said “NOTHING!” He really wanted something where you would watch this girl walk around for 12 minutes picking up stuff. You would be waiting for someone to say something or somebody to get killed or somebody to come in…some punch line or something at the end. But he just wanted you to watch and wait and then think “FUCK!” at the end! And he got what he wanted.
MG: How do you feel the songs in the film differ from your own original songs, if they do?
EA: Not a lot. My own music has always been dramatic and the songs on my last album have even gotten into musical theater territory. In fact some of the songs on my new record are part of a Broadway show that is being written right now. So it is all verymagically coincidental in that way. That I would be asked to be part of a musical theater project and to sing a song in a very dramatic way. To run around a tent and sing…”yes, this is Hell.” That is what I’m supposed to be doing. And of course, three days after we shot that scene I’m out on tour doing my own thing. And I should say the story starts out bad but it gets better. But I did the film the week before the tour and didn’t rehearse. I didn’t rehearse for my own tour. But the good thing is that I had two of my Bloody Crumpets – my girls who sing with me on stage – also with me on the film. And so at least we could sit in our dressing rooms and talk about the tour. We didn’t rehearse but we talked about what we were going to do for our shows.
MG: Since you brought up your new album, tell us how you chose the new direction your music is taking?
EA: Well the song “Fight Like A Girl” is not only the title track but, to be honest, it is deceptively “poppy.” And that was intentional. To say these really forceful things and basically go to battle but with a really catchy beat. To be scary and beautiful and fun all at the same time. And then the second track, “Time for Tea,” that one really starts the story. Both in our live show and on the record. I mean we have a big clock and when it’s four o’clock it goes off and we say, “four o’clock, it’s mother fucking time for tea, and it’s time to eradicate the enemy.” Then we just run down the stairs with medical tools and we start slaughtering. And the rest of the album just gets more epic and symphonic. So what makes it different from the others is how everything is together and complete in a story.