Epic frames: An interview with Melissa Auf der Maur
By Alan Kelly.
Melissa Auf der Maur: Uniting conceptual story telling, music and visual art has always been my deepest desire. OOOM is my first step in that direction, and it has been a sensational experience.
3:AM: OOM began as a song – now there is an album, comic and film. What was it about this specific song that made you push the concept so far, to make a song an epic?
MADM: Songs have a magic way of presenting themselves, and it’s the way this song came to be, and the ease in which it came out, that I could tell it had epic roots that needed to be explored. Analogy: If a musician is an antenna, and a song is a frequency we channel, then OOOM comes from deep eternal place in the centre of the universal heart, and it required an epic frame to exist within.
3:AM: Quite a lot of ideas seem to have seeped into the film – parallel worlds, mythology – though the one thing that really stands out is that the entire thing is fuelled by music, which isn’t so much an intellectual device as a passionate one. What do you look at when creating something, whether it be film, music or other?
MADM: All of my inspiration sources are rooted in an emotional, passionate, subconscious place. The intellectualising only comes after the creation, as a tool to communicate the overall intent of the project. As for the film and the choice to not have any dialogue and only music, that was based on a desire to communicate in a universal language, and to be able to invite anyone into the world of OOOM no matter what language and culture they live in. The goal is to connect with others emotionally before intellectually.
3:AM: You’re a photographer as well as a musician. What are the differences between working within the parameters of these mediums. Which do you find more freeing or restricting?
MADM: To me, the main difference between music and photography is: music, you make in collaboration with others, and photography, you make alone. The collaborative nature of music offers more freedom of possibilities, which is very exciting. The limitation of a still photo and the frame is what I love about photography. I have never cropped a photograph, where as every song has gone through a chopping process.
3:AM: You’ve worked with Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins. I know you get asked this a lot, but could you see yourself working with Courtney Love or Billy Corgan again somewhere down the line?
MADM: Courtney and Billy are like my big brother and sister. They took me under their wings, and opened the door to my life of music. I spent very intense chapters of musical and personal development in their bands. Those chapters are very sacred to me, but they are over. Not many days go by without me thinking of one of them, so they are very present in my life and work, but I don’t see us working together again. I think we have all moved on to new chapters of our lives.
3:AM Can you tell me about your plans now – tours, albums (or films) you’re working on and what are you doing next?
MADM: I am looking forward to presenting OOOM live in 2010. In form of music tours but also in form of film screenings and art installations et cetera… Half way through this year, my next project will surely present itself, and it will definitely involve music and visuals.
3:AM: Could you give me a rundown of some of your influences – whether in literature, film, music, and comics?
MADM: Alan Moore, David Lynch, Anais Nin, Kyuss, H R Giger, J W Waterhouse.
3:AM: Do you prefer working with others or by yourself? I’m always curious about an artist and their working relationships.
MADM: As answered above in the photography versus music process, I enjoy both. To elaborate a bit, although my music process is collaborative in execution, it always stems from a lone moment, like a dream, a diary entry, an emotion or a 4-track demo recording.
3:AM: Finally, any New Year’s resolutions Melissa?
MADM: To chant “I LOVE LIFE” a little bit everyday, so it hears me coming.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Alan Kelly [centre] is 3:AM‘s Film Editor. He has worked for a number of specialist magazines, Film Ireland, Pretty Scary, Penny Blood, Bookslut et al. He lives in Wicklow, Ireland, and is partial to pulp, noir, hardboiled, brainy erotica and horror fiction.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, January 18th, 2010.