Classically Trained Flamboyant Violinist
By: Jett Black
Photos By: The Mikey
Classically trained flamboyant violinist, LOURDS; wielder of voice, talent, and looks to maim and kill, personifies the upcoming motion picture "And She Was", directed by Frank Rainone scheduled for debut this spring 2002.
A veteran of both Glitterdome and RockrGrl www.RockrGrl.com, and countless performances since the age of three, LOURDS'incomparable exhibitions shake loose the ties that bind us to droning pop radio routine and monotony through theatrical music erupting with youthquake rebellion across the edge of the stage and into the hearts and hips of every attending fan.
LOURDS swoons like a colorful songbird from high operatic vocals into deeply melodic, emotive brooding with such passion and poignancy that it sweeps the soul into a merry, tribal dance from which dreamy fireworks of brilliant stars may emerge.
And now, LOURDS...
IMWT: From whence comes your influence for make-up and costuming?
LOURDS: When I was 6 years old, my father took me to see a KISS concert at Madison Square Garden. My father was pretty out of touch so I think he saw an add in the paper, saw crazy looking guys in make-up and thought ... "Wow! Look at the clowns! How nice! I think I'll take my little girl to this circus called KISS for some good wholesome fun!" When we got there, we saw fire and blood and tongues and loud thunderous flamboyant rock and roll. My dad was horrified. I was completely enthralled. At six, I understood that and I wanted that ... not just the music but the pomp and glamour of the stage show. I had a huge crush on Paul Stanley so I drew stars on the right eye of all my pre-pubescent doodles. If I drew a puppy, it had a star on the right eye. If I drew a kitten, there was a star. If I drew a house, there was a star for a window. Soon after seeing KISS, I would play concerts with my youth orchestra (I was the youngest member) and whenever I had a solo, I would start off with the orchestra on stage and then half-way through the concerto, I would jump off the stage and start wailing on my violin up and down the aisles of the auditorium. I remember there would be times when my tongue would be sticking out like Gene Simmons as I rock out some classical tune right into the faces of the audience. Yep, it all started with KISS to bring out what was inherently in me. I knew from then on that if you're ever doing a show, make it BIG ... and sometimes that means doing interesting things with your make-up and wardrobe ... and not just to entertain the audience but more importantly, to keep it entertaining for yourself.
IMWT: Who are your make-up artists? Do you employ one or several?
LOURDS: Actually, I'm so grateful and honored that I don't have to "employ" anybody right now. Any artist, whether it be clothing designers, make-up artists, hair stylists, body-painters, etc. are involved with me right now because they are honest to goodness fans of my music and because it's fun and liberating to work with someone who allows them the opportunity to really get wild and creative. I work with real make-up professionals like Kristofer Buckle from NYC who also does Vogue covers with all the top supermodels as well as Dan Henigman from Atlanta who apparently just recently body-painted N'Sync. Both of these amazingly talented make-up artists offer their services when their schedule permits. Eventually, when I have a bigger budget, I'd love to whisk them away with me for every show but alas, I can't do that yet. Most of the time, I just have to fend for myself and create my own make-up fantasy.
IMWT: Surrounded by music and so much high energy, what do you do in your "down time"?
LOURDS: I love sleeping. I go to the dog run and look at the puppies, even though I don't have one. I love watching people ... like the little kids holding hands in two's crossing the street with their teacher following closely behind, the guy in the Santa suit all year around, the little old lady crouched way down low with the three flopping pompoms bouncing from her purply-blue hat. I try to notice the sun streaming through the few trees on the streets of NY and soak in the smell of the crisp air. I stare at the sleepy yellow glow reflecting off the buildings when I wake up and the amazing pinks and purples behind the buildings of the sunset sky. I try to find a body of water somewhere, whether it be at the pier or at a beach. Did I say I love sleeping? Yah, sleep is good. I talk one on one with a good friend or two for hours to catch up. Oh ... and I buy colorful socks and pajama bottoms.
IMWT: Tell us about silence. What do you appreciate about the sounds of silence?
LOURDS: I've always heard music in silence. I listen to silence more often than I do actual music because my head is constantly filled with songs. If I just listen, a song will creep out of the silence and sing to me... and it lulls me to sleep, or it keeps my butt shaking while I do the dishes, or it bites on my ear enough for me to want to get out a pen and a guitar to finish it ... but I always hear music in silence. I embrace silence whenever I can find it.
IMWT: I'm the kind of person who likes to hang about at the edge of the stage of Glitterdome, intently watching the performers. Tell us about your experiences at Glitterdome. What are your impressions as a Glitterdome performer?
LOURDS: Hey, you were at Glitterdome? Did we meet? Yah, Glitterdome rocks the fuck out. I like to call Pat Briggs the ringmaster of the most incredible circus side-show rock and roll spectacular in all the land. It's the melting pot of all the beautifully talented freaks, geeks, misfits and queens from various hot spots across the country who share a stage, sing a song, and spit fire (sometimes literally, sometimes not) at the hungry Atlanta locals. It's pure fun for me because I get to be that little 6 year old girl at my first KISS show all over again and know that however wild I am, there's ALWAYS wilder. Glitterdome EMBRACES wilder. Rock and roll is alive and kicking in Atlanta ... and it's glamorous and decadent and BIG. Days after the show, I find that there are still parts of my body that are still caked with paint and glitter that I missed during the two-hour-long Noxzema bath scrub down. What can I say? I love Pat and I love his events. He knows how to throw a party.
IMWT: In reviewing LOURDS press releases 3-4 inches thick, names like Melissa Etheridge, Alanis Morrisette, Kiss, Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Pat Briggs, and Freddie Mercury emerge. That's the fanfare and the glitz. Let's hear it from you. How would you describe LOURDS?
LOURDS: Hmmm ... sometimes I like drawing on the bottoms of my feet.
IMWT: The violin underscores all the glamour and the make-up. Tell us about your relationship with the violin and the music you unleash.
LOURDS: I started playing the violin when I was 3 years old. In a few years, I was playing Carnegie Hall. My strict Russian pedagogues had high hopes for me in the classical world. They wanted me to conform to the classical rules and go down the classical path. But I had my own thoughts in mind. In general, I ALWAYS have a tendency to rebel when I'm being shoved into a box so when I was six, as I mentioned in an earlier question, I started jumping off of stages and pressing harder with my bow to get a crunchier, more distorted sound. I would change the ending to concertos and write my own to express myself ... and eventually just to piss my teachers off. I went through my own share of rock and roll rebellion in the classical world and my teachers were utterly disgusted with me. They thought I was throwing my talent out the window. Instead of embracing whatever made me unique, they reprimanded me. So I stopped practicing 5 to 6 hours a day. It is for this reason that I tell people that I think I was technically the best violin player in my entire life when I was 6 years old. I peaked at 6 and then it was downhill from there. After that, the violin became a tool for me to express what I wanted and how I felt. I made it weep or scream or stab or play ... but it was MY rules, not traditional classical rules ... and I stopped playing in the traditional classical way. When I discovered that there was such thing as an electric violin, I traded my Yamaha keyboard and 2 Fender guitars that took me 3 years to save up for when I was a teenager, so I can get one. Then, my world completely opened up. Suddenly, I could REALLY distort the violin with pedals and octavers and phasers ... and sometimes, oddly enough, I'd WANT to play the electric violin with that classically pristine natural tone because sometimes that's what the music called for. Now, I write a song and let the song dictate the instrumentation. So if it feels like there should be a violin, then I play it. If not, I won't. I just don't wank away because I can. It's actually really counter-intuitive for me to take huge solos.
I remember one time at a Glitterdome show in Atlanta when I did "Freebird" on distorted violin ... I'm sure you know that solo ... It goes on for hours ... Anyway, I played this extended violin jam, which is completely against my nature so after a few minutes, I remember turning to the band to cue the ending but to my surprise, they all shook their heads. They kept playing so that I could keep soloing away. I turned to the guitar player who mouthed to me; "We gotta give the people what they want!" So I just kept playing and actually spoofed the whole wanking solo Rock God thing by playing my violin behind my head. It was actually pretty fun and the crowd went nuts ... I guess every now and again, a long show-off violin solo can be a pretty cool spectacle but in general, the violin, for me, is a color that I can use or not use to best express the song, just like the piano is, just like the acoustic guitar is. I play whatever instrument the song needs.
IMWT - SPOTLIGHT: "And She Was". Let's take a moment to examine "And She Was", the music and the film, and your roll in both. Take us behind the scenes, and give us a preview of coming attractions.
LOURDS: There was this full page article/interview in the NY POST written about me about a year ago with about a handful of pictures of my different "looks" and the director of the movie happened upon this, was intrigued, and came to my next show. He accosted me right after the show and upon meeting with him and reading his script, I was inspired to write a song, which became the title track called "And She Was." It's a sweet little romantic comedy about a quirky, free-spirited girl who acts as the classic comedic "fool." She breezes into peoples' lives, turns their worlds upside down, somehow makes them wiser and better for it, and then she disappears. Only the remnants of her "magic" remains. It's cute. I appear in two scenes with my band singing my own songs. Look for it in theatres soon and tell me what you think.
IMWT: What is the story behind "The Circus Song" from "Limited Edition Basement Tapes."
LOURDS: I knew this guy. He was nuts. He was one of those guys who was wildly intelligent, charismatic, extremely talented ... yet unfortunately certifiably insane. He was a freak, a clown, a caricature of himself and whenever he was around, the circus was in town. Of course, I loved him and cared for him with all my heart and there was a huge time period when I would drop everything to help him every single time he would call. But somehow, things never felt right. Though I was attracted to whatever made him different from the norm, I realized that he was slowly but surely sucking me into his sick co-dependent psychotic-merry-go-round spinning out of control until I myself felt a little nuts. I couldn't reason with him. I actually lost all ability to reason. When he was depressed, I was depressed. When he was manic, I became manic. I needed to cut the chord. So, I did. It was a year full of obsessive hang-ups and "random" fancy-meeting-you-here encounters, but I finally washed my hands of him. A few years later, he suddenly called out of the blue and it was as if not a single day had gone by. He didn't miss a beat ... same rap ... still completely insane. My stomach was in knots ... and all I heard over and over again in my head was the circus theme loud and clear as he rambled on the phone without taking a breath. All I could think of is: "I'm free! I'm free! I don't know why you're calling me. It only drives me crazy once again. I'm free! I'm free! There's a little bird inside of me that tells me not to talk to you again." ... and out came the Circus Song, which ended up being a huge fan favorite.
IMWT: "The RockrGrl Conference", Seattle 2000. What impressions do you bring away from this RockrGrl/IndieGrrl www.Indiegrrl.com presentation, the audience, and the atmosphere of the Bad JuJu Lounge? Describe the intensity.
LOURDS: It was an amazing experience ... Talented female musicians from all over the country coming together for this one event, sharing stories, rocking out, being bad ass. It most definitely is a worthy cause because after the whole "WOMEN IN ROCK" explosion that took over the media a few years back, there was a definite backlash, as I feared. Most of the female artists out there now are dance/pop acts in their teens. There are very few female rock musicians on the radio or on MTV these days so to be in a situation where being a female AND rocking out is CELEBRATED, it's always inspiring. Anyway, we were scheduled to play at the Bad Juju Lounge on Friday so we decided to check out the place the night before. It was big enough place ... certainly LONG ... but there was no stage, no lights, the floor tom was on a milk crate, there were only two dry mics for the whole band, and the sound system was just awful. The band playing on Thursday was shoved up into a little corner for the whole long bar to pretty much ignore if they wanted to. I knew if the bar got packed, people standing just a few feet away from the stage wouldn't be able to see the band at all, let alone people standing in the back by the bar. This wasn't going to work for me.
We had 24 hours to create a fantasy out of this little dive bar and my manager and myself were determined to do so. Anyway, when we got back to the hotel, there was a picture in the Seattle Times of me spotlighting my show as a "must see" for the next night at the Bad Juju in an article about the ROCKRGRL Conference ... and from listening to the chit chat of folks at the hotel, it became clear that my show was the "hot ticket" for the conference on Friday night. I remember running into the Carla, the creator of ROCKRGRL and head of the conference, in the elevator. She was really nice and she said, "Uh, hey LOURDS, people have been talking, I think we should've placed you on a better stage. So sorry about that ..." I just smiled at her and told her that it wasn't a problem because I knew in my gut that somehow, some way, we were going to make this work for us.
The next morning, my manager and myself got up early and scoured the hillsides of Seattle looking for basic and affordable no-muss, no-fuss stages and lights that we can rent. We hauled them over for sound check and every band that played with us that evening got the advantage of staging and lights along with us. My manager also stayed persistently on the phone with the stage manager of the Bad Juju to bring in more mics, more monitors, perhaps a reverb unit, and at least a floor tom with a stand instead of a milk crate ... nothing that fancy, but something a little better than what was pre-existing in the club. Stephanie, the kick-ass drummer from Kid Rock, offered to personally do sound for my show so I knew with just a little bit more gear to work with, we could sound thunderous.
On the night of the show, the Bad Juju Lounge was PACKED to it's maximum capacity ... you couldn't even move. I think most people came to the show out of curiosity based on all the hype I seem to get. The energy of the crowd was thick with anticipation and truthfully, I think most people actually expected me, perhaps event WANTED me to suck because very rarely does the talent match the hype. But, in the end, the Seattle locals, the rocker grrls, and the musician celebrities embraced us and cheered enthusiastically the entire show. It felt so gratifying to win over a crowd of mostly musicians and people that I respect. The next day, the Seattle Times put a picture of me with my violin on the front cover of the entertainment section, there was also a feature story in NY Newsday and other national periodicals about it ... It was just one show in a little hole in the wall ... But when we were done with it, it was BIG and a lot of new connections and opportunities came from this one experience ... AND I got to talk with and see a lot of inspiring female musicians and movers and shakers ... so overall, it was an unforgettable experience. And the moral of the story is ... Anything you do, do it BIG and with all your heart ... Oh, and chicks rock! That's the other moral.
IMWT: "Always", the first track on The LOURDS Promo EP, a catchy song to which everyone can identify, has me bouncing, gyrating and grooving with the music. Tell us about the motivation and influence for writing this song.
LOURDS: Can I just say that I love that you bounce and gyrate?!! Yay for bouncing and gyrating!!! OK ... The little melodic hook of that song was something that I was humming to myself for years. But the crazy thing is that I found myself humming that melody only when I would meet somebody that I felt like I had a soul connection with, somebody who I knew that I had a special relationship with in lives before this one. It's like I would shake that person's hand or look at that person for a second too long and then "BAM" ... the melody would creep into my head. So one day, when I met someone that made me feel that way, I went straight home with the melody and finished the song, keeping true to that inspiration ... "Ten thousand years ago, I felt the same. I love you now. I love you always. When we come 'round again, I'll know your name. I love you now. I love you always."
IMWT: What amazes me is how names like Mariah Carey and Britney Spears permeate American Pop Culture, when true talent, beauty and stage presence, captivating audiences the world over, resides in LOURDS. Does this frustrate you as much as it does your fans and reviewers?
LOURDS: Thanks, sweetie. No. People around me get A LOT more pissed and frustrated than I ever do. As for me, I just keep on living, writing, and enjoying every day that I wake up with music cluttering my crazy little head because as far as I'm concerned, I already "made it". I may not be a household name, but I'm doing what I want to do, lots of people nationally and internationally are moved by my music, I have the most amazingly devoted hard-working team of people who give me their time and their passion for little or no money because they believe in me with all their heart, and I'm having a hell of a lot of fun. I have a full life with good friends, my own share of adventures, and mischief, and freedom ... and I'm happy. It's been a slow gradual build for me ... and every month that goes by I get a little more acclaim and perhaps, just a little more fortune. I just take it as it comes and in the back of my mind, I know that these hungry East Village days will be days I will always cherish ... so while I am actually living them, I do my best to keep living, loving, and cherishing.
IMWT: Personal question. When do you plan on playing Portland, Oregon?
LOURDS: We're trying to hook up a West Coast tour for summer ... maybe then. I'll keep you posted.
IMWT: "I'm a Queen" speaks to people of all ages seeking to triumphantly overcome personal insecurities. Tell us, my queen, what plans does LOURDS have for taking over the world?
LOURDS: How much do I adore you? Take over? ... hmmmm ... I don't think about taking over. I just think about singing and playing with all my heart to every person who wants to listen -- show by show, song by song. It's a day by day process for me, one person at a time. If one day, 20,000 people are suddenly listening in some stadium somewhere, singing every word to my music, I'll embrace them with the same amount of passion, energy and love that I give to a crowd of 2000 people or 200 people or even just 2 people. As for now, it really isn't so bad having this devoted underground thing happening where I can be this cool rock and roll secret that keeps on evolving and making/breaking the rules without the pressure of big business or the pop media culture ... AND I can still skip down Avenue A when I'm feeling giddy with my pigtails, my overalls, and no make-up without people stopping and taking pictures.