Juliette Commagere Talks "The Procession," Books and Fellini
Tue, 26 Oct 2010 14:54:06
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It's very easy to drift into Juliette Commagere's The Procession.
Her voice blankets the songs with an enchanting and entrancing warmth. She can be orchestral, she can be melodic and she can be hypnotically haunting—often within the space of the same song. Those vibrant vocals shade every song on the album, adding color and a dose of good old fashion catchiness.
Juliette's voice has been heard alongside everyone from Puscifer to The Bird and The Bee to Avenged Sevenfold. However, on The Procession [Available now], there's a harmonious discord between the organic hum of keys and the Los Angeles songstress's pristine pipes. As a result, songs like "Hovering in the Wings" take flight, making for some dark organic pop with real soul.
Juliette Commagere sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about The Procession, her fascination with Fellini, some favorite authors and so much more…
Did you have a complete vision for The Procession from the get-go, or did it all come together in the studio?
I never really go into the studio with any pre-conceived ideas. I just let everything happen once we're there. I'd say there's an underlying idea of what I'd like things to sound like or what I'm drawn towards in terms of instruments, layering and textures. It feels like it's already written and composed, and I just need to find it. I never go in with some old records and say, "Hey guys, we're going to make this record today!" That's how I feel when I listen to a lot of music today. It sounds like people are just recreating older records.
What are the stories behind "Hovering in the Wings" and "Animal?"
"Hovering in the Wings" was purely my imagination going wild. I wanted it to be an experience, going through different scenes. "Animal" is the only thing we actually wrote in the studio. I wrote it at 2:30 in the morning. The guys pushed "record," while I was playing the piano. Then they came in and said, "That was beautiful! Let's record it." The lyrics were actually based on my sister giving birth. She has two kids, and I was there with her during both births. That's sort of my take on childbirth [Laughs].
There's a literary quality to the lyrics. Do you tend to read a lot while you're writing?
I'd say I'm always reading. I want to put my best foot forward as a writer. I don't know if I always achieve that, but I love reading. There's a feeling when you read books that's unlike any other art form because it's so personal. It's just you reading the book; you can't read it with somebody. There are so many times after I've finished a book that the emotion is overwhelming. I close the book, and I cry. It's just me by myself having gone through this whole experience. On my records, I want there to be that kind of experience and connection with the music.
What are some of your favorite books?
Right now, I'm reading a book by Pete Dexter. He's one of my favorite authors. Train is just unbelievable. There's also Brotherly Love. I also read a lot of biographies. Savage Beauty is probably my favorite. It's written by Nancy Milford about Edna St. Vincent Millay. There's another Nancy Milford biography called Zelda, and it's about Zelda Fitzgerald. Those are so moving because you read this person's entire life story and, at the end, they die [Laughs]. It's profound [Laughs].
What inspired your aesthetic?
I'm inspired a lot by films. I wanted it to have a surrealist aesthetic like a gothic [Federico]Fellini film [Laughs]. Fellini would be the inspiration! I also wanted the music to have this surrealist atmosphere. For that picture of me with the huge headdress, I wanted to combine Victorian and Mayan aesthetics. I built this enormous feather headdress. Originally, I wanted to be sitting in a Victorian chair, but we ended up going outside and I was climbing all over these rocks. Then the writing on the outside of it is inspired by Victorian sheet music. I wanted to juxtapose those two aesthetics.
So if The Procession were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
I'd go back to Fellini again. Maybe Juliet of the Spirits and Antonioni's The Red Desert…there's this loneliness, but wonder and madness.
Which albums or artists shaped you?
I grew up listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell, and I feel like that will always be a huge inspiration in my life. I have so many different influences. Chet Baker is probably the first person who influenced me as a singer. I also go back to The Pixies and Townes Van Zandt as well as classical music too. It's all over the place.
Have you heard The Procession yet?
Check out our most recent interview with Maynard James Keenan here!