By Nicole VilleneuveIt's been six years since Melissa Auf der Maur released her debut solo album, but from ongoing photographic work to multiple artistic collaborations to completing her latest solo project, the album/short film/graphic novel trifecta, Out of Our Minds, the time has been well spent. "It's been mind-blowingly time- - and brain- - consuming, but in some ways I feel like I've been making up for lost time," Auf der Maur says.
The Montreal-born multi-disciplinary artist spent ten years touring and recording as a member of Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins, but felt like she left part of herself behind. "OOOM was the best thing I could have done for my commitment to expand and explore. During the making of it, everyone at my label was fired in one day, and that was the official breaking point where I thought 'Okay, now I really can start from scratch.'" A dark, beautifully indulgent, Danzig-ified ambition, the self-financed and released project also signifies for Auf der Maur greater change in the industry as a whole. "We've got all the tools we need to make whatever we want, and to share it with whomever we want. I'm so excited to be part of this wave."
What are you up to? I'm definitely in the midst of SXSW mayhem. And I spend my morning doing European phoners because of the time difference, so the past few days from 10 a.m. till noon I'm talking to Poland or Italy, Portugal, Holland, et cetera, and today, this morning, someone asked me like, "Describe this project in three words." So maybe what I'm up to is psychedelic heart survival. That is what I'm up to. I feel like I'm just about to float to the top of this life-after-death experience. I'm coming up full-winged. Also coming up, I've got a couple little album release parties, which I'm looking forward to. Sort of showing the film, playing the music, and just generally celebrating the release finally. Nothing's set in stone, but I may have just confirmed possibly yesterday, Heavy MTL, a Montreal metal festival. When I heard the bill - which is everything from Slayer to Mastodon to Rob Zombie and Megadeth - and I thought wait, there's not one lady on this? Then they saw me play at CMW and I got an invitation the next day. So I feel an obligation to fill the feminine spot on that bill. Nothing firm yet, some other festivals. Also, what I really want to develop, I'm developing it for the U.S. and for Europe, a package tour of like-minded bands and projects travelling together with maybe some short films and graphic artists, and working with local artists, and developing that for a fall tour plan.
What are your current fixations? I have an interesting dilemma, which is that - because I still haven't really learned how to discover music by buying online - I still like to go to record stores. But I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, so I only get to go to record stores once in a while. So the way that I've been discovering music has just, like everybody else at this point, sort of morphed. So the way that I find a lot of music is through music videos online. And the last year, two of my favourite projects that I've found via amazing videos were Fever Ray, which of course everybody loves. I find her exceptionally exciting, a futuristic female musician. And Late of the Pier, from England, one of my favourites. They should be much more loved than they are. Toronto people I believe would really like them. They're from the woods of Nottingham, where Robin Hood is from. They're like these magical elf boys. Quite exceptional. Film-wise, I haven't had a chance to yet but I really wanted to see the new Lars von Trier film, with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Antichrist. Fuck, I've been like, dying to see it. I'm predicting I will love it. And books, there's a stack of them next to my bed, most of them are historical or psychological, like a Carl Jung dream analysis book, or a biography of some unknown Russian woman writer. Biographies and real information. I escape in the music and I get real in the reading.
Why do you live where you do? I'm currently living geographically centred in between Montreal, Canada, and New York City, my two cities. I refuse to choose one or the other so I've chosen to live in between them.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art: There's this amazing contemporary artist from Brooklyn, he's a collage painter, very very celebrated, big contemporary artist in the museum world. His name is Fred Tomaselli, and he's one of my favourite modern-day visual artists that is not a photographer or filmmaker. He's a collage worker and it's absolutely mind-altering. I saw him speak at a museum opening of a show and he spoke about just how actually a few acid trips in his life completely changed his visual perspective, so, I would say he is a perfect example of mind-altered art, too.