Gypsy-Punk, Selfmade-Artists and Europe-tours

Our big interview with Voltaire

To the german translation

Voltaire

Because of the release of "To The Bottom Of The Sea" we had the pleasure to question Voltaire about his new work. After the first auditions and the coverart, which was presented in advance, it was to presume that a lot had changed. And there were some rumors concerning a tour across Europe the musician plans at last. But just read it yourself.


Part 1: Inside

Cabaret-Noir.de: My first impression of your new album "To The Bottom of the Sea" after seeing the coverart and hearing "Happy Birthday My Olde Friend " on your site at Myspace was, you´re trying to bring up some more piratestyle into your music. But after listing to "Coin Operated Goi" and "Death Death" I´m not sure about that point anymore. So what is the CD about?
Voltaire: When I was writing melodies for this CD, I found that they fell into two groups. Some of the songs sounded like they were from a musical about gypsies revolting against an evil tyrant in the 19th century. The other batch sounded like pirate sea shanties. There was a moment where I feared I was going to have to make two separate records! But then the songs suggested a way for me to meld the two together into one story where a gypsy, after a revolution, goes out to sea.
I think the final result is a gypsy-punk CD with a pirate feel.

CaNo: In your new songs you make much use of an accordion. As far as I know this is the first time you use that instrument for your music. In return it seems you have pushed back the guitar-parts in the songs. What is your idea behind that exchange?
V: On Ooky Spooky, I added horns and I felt that it gave the CD a very American and Mexican sound. At times it sounded like dark mariachi and at others like Cab Callaway. This CD was in my mind, from the beginning, a return to the more gypsy sound of my first CD, The Devil´s Bris. And because of the sea shanties I had written, I felt I really needed accordion. The accordion bridged the gap between the gypsy and the pirate feel I was looking for. And that´s how that sound developed.
Also, I have been listening to a lot of Gogol Bordello and Firewater and other gypsy-punk bands as well as my old favorite, Tom Waits, so that really influenced the sound as well.

Voltaire CaNo: Let us talk about some of the songs on "To The Bottom of the Sea". Song 5, "Coin Operated Goi": What gave you the idea to parody "Coin Operated Boy" from The Dresden Dolls? And what is the reason for choosing that jewish theme?
V: Like most of my ridiculous songs, it was born of drunkenness! I was at a bar and the Dresden Dolls song Coin Operated Boy came on. I was drunk and thought it was funny that boy rhymed with goi. And moments later, I had a verse. I forgot about it moments later and it wasn´t until months later, while on tour that I remembered about that whole thing. I ended up writing the lyrics in the car and playing the song at several shows in Texas. Every night the song got a little longer. By the end of the tour, it was done.
The same story is true about my song "Cantina". I was at a Klingon party at DragonCon Filmfest one year (yes, a Klingon party!). There were all of these crazy people in full Klingon costumes walking around. Suddenly, I realized that the music that was playing was Garth Brooks, the American country-western singer. I was completely drunk and found it amazingly funny that Klingons listen to Country music. I started singing a county western song off of the top of my head where Luke Skywalker goes into the cantina and gets raped by every monster in there. If I wasn´t so drunk the song would have been about Star Trek but at that point I guess I couldn´t tell the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek. I completely forgot about that night and a year later I wrote "Cantina". When I played my "new song" for my friend she looked at me and said, "you stupid drunk! You wrote that song last year at that crazy Klingon party!" heh heh.

CaNo: Are there any reactions from Amanda and Brian of The Dresden Dolls about the song yet?
V: I think Amanda and I share this weird phenomenon, where fans talk to us about each other more than we speak to each other directly. heh heh. I guess it´s because we are always on tour and sadly, we have not toured with each other. I hear stories about her from my fans where she said this or she did that. And I guess the same is true about me. So I have no doubt that she heard about Coin Operated Goi from our mutual fans long before I ever got around to telling her about it.
Recently she wrote in her myspace blog that she thought it was hilarious and she posted a link to my page. So there you have it. I´m glad she likes it. She´s amazingly talented and I really love and admire her so I would have been pretty sad if she wasn´t happy with Coin Operated Goi. Amanda sang a duet with me on "Ooky Spooky" and she was a real joy to work and hang out with.

Voltaire

CaNo: The tracklist you posted on myspace does not name Song 6 (it just says "TBA" (to be announced)). What is its name now and what is the song about?
V: I´ve since posted it. The secrecy was because it was a cover of a song by Julia Marcell, a Polish singer I found on Myspace and have become a big fan of. She now lives in Berlin by the way. In any case, I had invited her to sing a duet with me called "This Sea" (track 7 of the CD) and I wanted to lead into it with a cover of her song "Accordion Player". But it was a surprise for her! And I couldn´t really tell her until it was finished because I wasn´t sure if I´d pull it off. Once it was done and I was happy with it, I could share it with Julia and then the world. But I recorded it as a present for her, a sort of "thank you" for being so talented and inspiring me. So naturally, I couldn´t tell anyone I had finished it and she had heard it. Julia was really excited with the song and she was really surprised so I was very happy about that.

CaNo: Let us talk about the 12th Song "Death Death (Devil Devil Devil Devil Evil Evil Evil Evil Song)" at last. What is the story behind this unusual title?
V: Well, it sort of speaks for itself, doesn´t it. Those are the lyrics in the chorus! heh heh... The song is really based on a true story. As the lyrics say, "My granny while on her deathbed, she turned and said to me, "Why must you view life so morbidly? I tried to teach you right, but somewhere I went wrong. ´Cause you sing those death, death, devil, devil, evil, evil songs."
She actually said this to me.. and then she died! If that doesn´t deserve its own song, I don´t know what does! And naturally, a lot of people relate with the song because so many of my fans, like me, are always being called "evil" by people who don´t understand them.

Voltaire CaNo: In "Death Death" and other songs (like "Hell In A Handbasket") you´re singing about going to hell after dying. Is that just a joke or a provocation for religious people? Or is it your belief?
V: If there is a hell, we are already in it. I am a very secular person. I don´t believe in anything I can´t hold. But I love singing about the Devil and demons. I´ve always loved monsters and the macabre and when I went to church as a child, the illustrations in the bible of hell and devils being killed by angels ignited my imagination. If those illustrations were there to scare me, they had the opposite effect! They inspired me. I don´t know that I´m a provocateur but I do find it amusing watching people get all riled up by something so silly as devils and demons. I mean really, what century is this that people still believe that shit? heh heh.

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More Info:

Voltaires Site on Myspace
Voltaires Webstore
Buy "To The Bottom of the Sea"

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