Emilie Autumn's website describes her as “famously bipolar.” In 2004, she was hospitalized after a suicide attempt. The experience inspired her to pen a five-pound tome, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, now the basis of her new pop/industrial record Fight Like a Girl. A former violin prodigy and member of Courtney Love's backup band, Autumn composed, sang, played and produced every note of the album, which drops today.
(And here's a fun bit of gossip: The only other person who worked on the record was Swiss metal guru Ulrich Wild, who mixed and mastered it. Autumn met Wild when she was living with — as in, dating — Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small in 2006.)
Originally from Los Angeles, Autumn was here putting the finishing touches on the record — and we're the first to hear and talk with her about it.
During your shows, do you really throw tea on the audience? Or is it “tea” in quotations?
It used to be “tea” in quotations … prior to maybe a year and a half ago. It wasn't because of an alcohol thing — like we want to get the audience drunk.
My manager started reading the fan forums. … She saw that a couple underage kids were saying that they weren't allowed to get tickets to my new tour because, when they had gone to the last one, and they had been in the first three rows … their parents got upset because they came home smelling like whatever was in the teapot!
We hear you have plans to turn your album into a musical in London by 2014.
That's exactly right! What is on the FLAG record is certainly not by any means the complete musical, but most of the material that is on there is in this three-hour-long, cast-of-forty-people musical. And so, on the FLAG record, I'm singing a few songs that other characters are supposed to be singing.
Your lyrics talk about “eradicating the enemy.” Who's the enemy?
It's this Victorian insane asylum meant to illustrate what [mental hospitals] are like today. They're not necessarily that different, in a lot of really unfortunate ways. The enemy is the staff and the doctors who run this establishment.
Female empowerment seems to be an important theme in your work. To say that you need to be empowered suggests overcoming a sort of victimization. How do you find a balance between pointing out injustices versus actually being a victim of them?
I think the primary thing is to realize — it sounds cliché, but it's true — that there is a problem. That's something that a lot of women don't even know or think about. It's almost like the really offensive Marlboro ads from back in the day. They're like, “You've come a long way, baby.”… But that whole idea that we've come a long way is really just something to placate us and pacify us against asking for more. And I think that's the whole problem. You don't ask. You just do it. … What changes the victim mindset to something of empowerment is action.
My technique is not to go and make speeches on it but to do something that I've found, personally, a lot more effective, which is to make it entertaining … to make it something that will reach all the corners of somebody's soul on all these levels, to where they just absorb this truth. And they go out and fucking do something about it.
Emilie Autumn's Fight Like a Girl is out today.