Childe Bride Interview (full, was lost from MusiqueMachine.com due to a server crash)
Originally published at musiquemachine.com
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During this time of year, people originally wore elaborate adornments to ward off demons, took stock of food for the winter. Now maybe they buy more non-perishables and go across that same grocery store for a costume. Around Halloween, I think about paganism or occultism and how relevant it is for people to take part as mystics, since that is the imagery that comes up around this time. Even in the most rural areas there is a super store down the road. I think that the word "ritual", as defined by the dictionary, has lost a lot of meaning. Sitting together in front of the television with family or checking one's horoscope on the internet can be a ritual. Being a midwesterner all of my life, I've been west a couple times. I've looked at the unchanging, forgotten desert and found it hard to imagine people living around there making electronic music, for instance. Still, I feel like there are rare people intrinsically finding a way to approach an urban or concrete environment in a manner that is otherworldly, whether you want to call it spiritual or not. That said, I consider it incredibly fortunate and timely that I was able to do the interview that I did, via email no less.
Childe Bride (with a newly added E) is the solo project of Arizona native, Baltimore resident Shana Palmer. It has been referred to as "psychedelic noise folk", "tribal drone", or "a pagan cyber-witch mourning the death of her shaman", but most often the prevalent adjective given is "mysterious". She's toured all over the US, has releases there as well as the UK (some of which came with an owl's feather), and in the three years since she initiated this project, Childe Bride's been on the bill for the International Noise Conference more than once as well as having played a number of smaller fests. In addition to that, she's been represented within a box set focusing on female noise artists.
It's obvious that Shana has rapidly found a home in the noise sphere. Listening to things that fit under that broad umbrella for me is about how the more reflections of someone's personality there are, which exist in the sound, the more I enjoy the end result. In this case, throughout Childe Bride's discography, there are sounds of explosions slowed down, Indian chants, children's keyboards, sitar, shortwave radios, 70s cult movie imagery, creaky machine loops, and a quite clever sample of the Beatles' "Come Together", among other things. Heavily delayed vocals are prominent; layered, chanting voices with lyrics piled on top of eachother, It's almost as if it is to render their meanings subliminal and make the listener wonder which part of the sentence they have missed (if it was a sentence at all). The music occupies a consistently cohesive strain that might perceivably be simple in application, whether it is a calculated song or a 4-track soundscape. But the attention to detail is so keen, variable, and incredibly ornate; juxtaposed with innocent nuances and chance background noises, that it commands attention.
The end result is, indeed, mysterious.
MM: I read that your performances are improvised; serious at times and playful at others. This isn't the conclusion that I drew from it myself, so I should ask: How much of your project is conceptual? Would you say that your material starts more from an extension of an idea or an extension of yourself?
CB: Well, I would have to say that my material begins as both an extension of an idea and an extension of myself. The mixture of the two can result in an elliptical concept that I then weave into a loosely defined structure. I would have to agree that my sets rarely come across as "playful".
MM: Your voice often seems child-like on your recordings. While there's a healthy balance of organic qualities, it can't be denied that there is a fair amount of preparation and conceptual continuity as well. Would you care to share the meaning behind the name? Is it a movie reference, or something poetic involving the practice of Child Marriage? Is it a thesis statement for your work or is it something that became a good moniker to frame your work with?
CB: The name began as a Halloween performance I did at a Future Haunted Condos warehouse space in Providence, RI. They had sold the buildings of a lot of artists and were kicking everyone out, so the artist converted the whole place into a haunted house demolition party. I hung white mesh around myself and did my first Childe Bride performance there. After that, I kept the name because it was befitting to the sounds; haunting, child-like vocals and an atmosphere where "the things that creep around you" could come out of the shadows to play.
MM: How does being on a label called "Teenage Whore" work for you? Is there some kind of artistic meaning in it that smooths over what the label name implies?
CB: I was never excited about the idea of putting something out on a label called " Teenage Whore Tapes," but was excited that someone else wanted to put my music out after only playing my third show as a solo musician! My dark humor also smirked about the similitude between the two names. As a person and a musician I have evolved so much since then. That is why I changed my name from Child Bride to Childe with an E. I wanted to move myself and my music away from the dark and taboo connotations behind the moniker. Childe is an archaic term referring to a youth of noble birth or a youth in training to be a knight.
MM: Were you in a band before that?
CB: Yeah, I was in one band before that called Sickie Sickie. It consisted of me on drums and singing, a guitar player named Mellisa White and Faye Knutson of The Better To See You Withon vocals.
MM: I like it, and it's funny to see small elements of what came to be in your solo project. Where do you think your penchant for Native American imagery came from, and how did it get into the Childe Bride scheme of things?
CB: The answer to that somewhat relates to my childhood. My family moved around a lot and when we moved to the southwest the Native American symbolism that was everywhere really awakened something inside of me. Yet, using the imagery as part of my aesthetic was never a conscious decision. Gary Stevens of the band Head Molt drew the cover for a tape split we did a few years ago. What he drew was a beautiful totem deer with a rainbow shield. Subsequently, people began to associate my music with that style of imagery. It is not a total misapprehension though, my music does embody a kind of personal spirituality that can probably best be represented through Native American metaphors.
MM: I can definitely see how you would get that imagery. I've spent time at White River Indian Reservation in Arizona. I've seen the Indian Boarding Houses, the Native American Museum, and I've spent the night at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I find the desert to be incredibly stimulating. I remember passing through Sedona with their neon lit sports bar highlighting the "Cosmic Portal" tourist attraction. All throughout my sightseeing I observed what seemed to be visual representations that communicated original Indian beliefs, mutilated by indoctrinated Christianity. I know that there are still some Indians out there that simultaneously believe in Rain Gods and Jesus. Especially after hearing your last response, it seems like your music is a sort of unconscious, spiritually subterranean melting pot at times. Would you care to describe your spirituality? Would you say that your music is a spiritual act in itself?
CB: "White Shamans and Plastic Medicine People," is a great documentary that you can watch online. It speaks about the sacrilegious practices of white people and the misappropriation of the Native American spirituality, like what you witnessed in Sedona, Arizona. I am in no way claiming to have any direct ties to any spiritual belief or religion. What I have developed for myself is a infused brew of different cultural rituals that help keep me sane in the transapocalyptic climate that we live in. I feel that my music used to be more of a personal ritual until more recently, when I have been concentrating on effecting the energy in the room and audience. Daniel Higgs or Nautical Almanac achieve similar effects and they have had a lot of influence on me in terms of performance.
MM: With this new adaptation to the name especially, what does it look like for you in the future? What plans are on the horizon?
CB: Well I have a new collaboration with Mellisa Moore, who does the Whispers For Wolves project. That pet is called Secret Secrets and we will be recording in November for a release on Ehse Records. It is akin to Childe Bride with me singing and playing electronics while Mellisa's drumming intensify's the pulse. I am continuing to record me and my shadow, while preparing totake part in the Los Solo's Female Musician series here in Baltimore. It is a real honor to be taking part in that series which includes women like Maria Chavez and Jenny Graff of Metalux. For that appearance I am building an environment for my music with my own light set up and back drop. I plan to take that set up on the road with me in early December, when I hope to sneak in a small east coast tour.
In further futures, I am really excited about traveling, collaborating and organizing shows in Argentina for the spring. Buenas fortunas!