Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cue & Ehh? With Acts Magdalena

Acts Magdalena - Download (Tracks From Soundlift)

When I first discovered Acts Magdalena on the Artists IUMA website I was absolutely taken back at the standard of music that I may have been missing out on. If I hadn't have stumbled across them through sheer aimless browsing, my ears would have been the lesser for it. Acts Magdalena, for me, stood as an example of the treasures available through good, old fashioned searching. Gone are the days for impulse buying an album due to it's cover. Gone are the days of scrolling through this month's/fortnight's magazines for inspiration and direction. Music listeners expect everything to be handed to them on a plate, whether that be a Blogger's plate, the newest 'trendy' shop's plate or the biggest temptation of all... the P2P's plate.

Acts Magdalena are my proof of continuing the search. There exists a huge range of amazing musicians just waiting to be discovered. 'Acts' are at the peak of that talent, it's only downhill from here on in...

The band itself, an etherkore duo featuring the unbelievable vocal talents of Christian (Xn), backed by the fretless and peerless musical tamperings of Rick, are worth watching, listening, bookmarking... Whatever it takes to push them forward, to push them up and to push them out. Spread the word.

My introduction to Acts Magdalena was totally accidental. I was making a personal compilation that featured each band that had a book of the Bible in it’s title, (i.e. GENESIS, EXODUS, NUMBERS and elton JOHN), for every book (Old & New Testament). It was an extremely weird collection, but your track stood out (Low). While all the other tracks are now long deleted yours is still getting played, but enough of my brown nosing. Have you ever had a weird music find, who was it and how did you find it?

Rick found this song and I loved it. It’s a song Chuck Berry sings about a man and his Donkey, its pretty cute the way he sings it too. “Him and the donkey take a sip o' da drink,” I think its about a Man and his Donkey getting drunk and dancing, water certainly wouldn’t have the described effect. Should a guy get his Donkey drunk, no, it’s just a cute song and you imagine them dancing down the road…. Whatever was in that jug it let them forget their troubles for a moment. It’s a cute quirky song. I go around sometimes singing “take a sip o’ da drink!”.

Surprisingly I have a Cue & Ehh?’ with the creator of ‘Magdalena’, Image Comics’ character, soon to be feature film (2007). She is the descendant of Mary Magdalene and offspring of a lineage of female warriors. Where did your name come from?

The Acts was inspired by the title of the book of the Bible, I thought a lot of cool art could come from the words “The Acts of…” love hate war kittens etc too. Magdalena was a boat; a boat that the past guitarist, an ex-boyfriend of mine says members of his family came to America on in the past. A boat that brought Jews out of WW2 Germany, the captain did not leave them broke when they arrived, unlike other captains and he would not ship them back to Germany. I also like that it tied in with Mary so I combined the two. Rick didn’t like the “The” in The Acts Magdalena so I removed it. So the lack of a “The” is Rick’s contribution. I think it was a wise choice. Dumping the other guy for Rick was also a wise choice...

Rick, I’m dying to say it myself and I read it a lot. People are obsessed with Christian’s vocals. Does it ever irritate you that people pick out that aspect of the band overall? When you are arranging the tracks do you focus on exploiting Christian’s voice. I often hear that the music becomes quite stark and minimal; as to not drown out the vocal or muddy it. Is there intent there or is Christian just a big channel hogger?

Really, I thought they were all grooving on the bass lines? The arrangements came about they way they did because there’s always been an idea in the band that what’s in the recording is playable live. As a studio guy I found this difficult at first, but Christian was adamant. The upside I found is that if you’re hearing two or three parts in your head, you have to figure out how to make it playable as one, which can lead to interesting things. In the mixes, I always wanted Christian’s vocal to be very clear, because there’s so much subtle detail in her performance. And, she despises reverb. Loathes it.

Christian, I’ve been so discouraged with the lack of strong female vocalists, I remember the Riot Grrl movement, people like L7, Babes in Toyland, Hole. Then the first ever-female metal growl vocals I heard were Kittie with ‘Charlotte’. With ‘New Metal’ there’s been a rise in bands like Evanescence and Within Temptation, basically bad metal with the Corrs singing over the top. What are your thoughts?

I think some women/girls don’t like to be “ugly”, don’t like to sound ugly (and lots of men want their girls - girly sounding), don’t like what some of these women look like and act like. Sadly some of the ones that do have power in their voices seem to think they have to look like and act like the worst macho stereotypes. I suppose to prove they aren’t girly and say, ‘Hey look at me I am tough’. Men who act like that macho type seem silly. Why do some women think they’d look any better? What does being a rude slob have to do with having a strong voice? Just be yourself and roar, don’t try to out-macho the males and don’t let being female keep you from out-roaring other people. You can be pretty and wear a gown and then out growl any man, beast, or force of nature- and still be cute, if that’s who you are *cue girly giggle*. Don’t change yourself, just change what people think is ugly, make that roar a thing of beauty. Maybe shred the lace on your gown and look like an ethereal ghost instead of Miss America, but that’s all I’d advise, otherwise just rock what you are.

Being a musician myself I became aware of the immaturity of the alternative metal scene, this caused me to give up the genre and find the music that old beardy men love, such as electronica and folk. Do you ever look at the fans in the genre and think ‘Let’s dig out the banjo and do some Patsy Cline covers?’

We are spoiled. I like who likes us because we don’t have some major label to instruct people that we are good. You have to figure out if you like us or not on your own. We don’t appear on award shows and rub shoulders with celebs, so there is no reason to suck up to us because we can’t get anyone into any star studded parties, or get you roles in movies or rides on groupie filled buses… so what use are we? If they have found us and liked us it’s because they connect to our music. If they were all we have to ever meet that would be very nice.

I get tired of what’s “out there” and I love folk too, and I love quirky stuff… I don’t have any bands to point to but I like lots of bits and pieces here and there that are not anywhere in the realm of rock and it’s genre variants. I even like stuff I don’t like- Sarah Brightman is an example. I don’t like most of her song choices but I love her voice and can actually listen to show tunes as long as its her voice singing them. I seriously just hear the voice.

Christian has stated that she wishes she had been born in 1900. I often think that I wish I were born in a less luxurious time. I believe that it’s the suffering and hardships that make the person. What historical event would you liked to have suffered through?

So many it’s really freezing my brain up to try and choose. I wish I could be a time travel detective, go back to times in history that have become misty from legend making and see what really happened, what were certain people like in person to have remained in our minds through time, and return with the facts. I read that some folks like Arthur are a combination of several people. (In no meaningful order) Eve, Egeria, Job, Cleopatra, Boudica, Caligula, Arthur and Merlin, The Pied Piper, Anne Bonny, Sappho, and of course the big man himself JC and his babe Miss Maggy... problem is you would probably die finding out what was up with some of them. Some not so known it would be amazing to see like: The Trung Sisters or rulers like Hatshepsut... ladies from the past that weren’t just servants to some family life. I also think I could have had a great time in The Lost Generation era 1920’s Paris.

You have a large collection of dolls and toys. I have a fake Coke can that pops open and unleashes a randy, glowing eyes monkey who sings a bad euro-pop song begging the listener to ‘cum’. What weird toys do you have?

I’d like to see that... Rick brought a gorgeous oak artist doll home for me from Paris, it looks like the child that Jack Skellington and Sally would have had. She isn’t really a toy, but she is a doll, so I guess she is a kind of toy. I have a doll that Ugly Shyla made. Classic features, but with no eyes and skin color from the grave, she is gorgeous. I have a ton of Bratz dolls, they aren’t weird themselves but probably that I have so many... that might be thought of as weird by folks I wouldn’t like, so the opinion wouldn’t matter.

There’s nothing like a block of Dairy Milk Chocolate between two Salt & Vinegar Potato Crisps. There’s no better sandwich. What’s your food of choice?

Crackers and hummus, Envirokidz Crispy Rice Bars (they are all good), and Ravioli at Frank.

Who’s your least favourite President?

Just one? Okay besides the popular ones to hate I have one that bothers me. Thomas Jefferson, if he had been honest about his relationship it might have helped stop a lot of stuff that happened later in history. A man of his influence living and making babies with Sally Hemings (which has been substantiated via DNA enough for me to so far as agree it’s truth)- it might have helped a lot of hatred to dissipate. He may have found that a lot of other people may have come forward with similar families and it would have been nasty for awhile, but the stigma would have been forced to change, nothing ever changes easily, but it would have altered a lot of things, maybe stopped some later horrors in history in the US.

Rick, most famous artists/musicians are uneducated and usually an outsider. Do you think there is hope to learning art and music in college, or are we just selling false hopes to our youth?

I don’t know that I agree with that statement. When I was a kid, many of the artists I listened to had art school backgrounds: Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno. There’s even a passage in Eno’s diary where he quotes Bono saying that while all U2’s peers had been to art school, they went to Brian for a similar experience. You also have to remember that many “pop” artists in every medium come from elite backgrounds and education, but of course that’s not “cool,” so by the time you hear of them an entire story’s been concocted to romanticize their “tragic” upbringing. I can’t speak to studying things like painting and sculpture in school, but if you’re studying music in college, you’re probably looking to enter either the jazz or classical world, both of which require very serious schooling.

It comes down to three things: the student, the school and the teacher. If the student is convinced that his future is set because he’s registered for classes, or that he’s oh-so-special and destined for stardom then yeah, he’s probably fucked. If he’s prepared to work extremely hard, is flexible in his thinking and expectations, and understands the value of the social experience at school as well as the educational one, then something worthwhile should come of it. The result may be exactly what the student hoped for, more likely it will be a variant of that that the student wouldn’t have anticipated. Maybe the student completes a semester and says, “Whoa, this isn’t for me after all” and moves on to something else. That’s still a valuable experience. As for schools, some are brilliant and some suck. Like anything else you might spend a lot of money on, do your research. It’s not hard to do these days. Teachers are another mixed lot. One of my instructors at IAR, Doug Rice, took me out on the first professional audio jobs I ever worked. To be an 18 year old kid tooling around the East Village, loading gear into clubs, setting up bands and assisting him as he mixed was an invaluable experience, but I got that gig because I repeatedly expressed an interest in working and proved in class that I’d be a help, not a hindrance. Years later, he provided an essential reference for an important job. I’ve seen other teachers who had no business being in the classroom, but again, students have to be active. Every one of my students at NYU fills out an evaluation form, and if they weren’t consistently positive, I wouldn’t still be there. On the first day of Pro Tools class, I stress the difference between the person who says, “I know Pro Tools” because he can record something, maybe do an edit; add a plug-in, and someone who’s deeply knowledgeable and professional. It’s my intention that they develop into the latter, and I kick their asses for 10 sessions. The ones that spend hours in the lab each week working with what I’ve taught them are headed in that direction, and if they stay with it, they’ll most likely get there.

My favourite TV show at the minute has to be South Park. The show is absolute genius, it can do no wrong. Series 9 has been staggering, it’s attacks on Chef, Scientology and Gingers. Series 10 looks like it’s going to top it, with it’s ‘Family Guy’ satire. What do you like to zombify to?

I love Project Runway, Top Chef, I like Kendra in that Girls Next Door show, she seems like a fun person, Blow Out, I like medical shows about life saving surgeries, hero pet shows, travel to wild places and crazy locations and the crazy people that live there, documentaries on historical events, documentaries about Lost Generation people, things many people would call depressing but I have a need to know stuff... I liked the Osbournes, still not sure why, but I did.

If you have to some up yourself as an internal body part, what would it be and why?

Well when you close your eyes its internal... that glass pane of the window to your soul, the Cornea. I will complain about my feet and other bits and pieces but I am 100% happy with my eyes. I love to collect visual images, literally going places just because I heard the ceiling tiles were funky and cool or the space was spooky and totally forget whatever the event was that was going on just to check out fun shaped doorways and creepy creaking stairs and pretty courtyards, nice art- then I have the best dreams too, all decorated with this stuff and enhanced into Alice In Wonderland level landscapery (yes I just made that word up). I can also see well in the dark and I can see tiny tiny details in things and over long distances and I have never worn glasses/contacts or had any improvement operations, my eyesight rocks. So when I die whoever gets my corneas will be very very happy. So in a sense I may live on a while longer one day in this body part even when all the rest is ash. So one day “I” may actually “be” this body part. Cornea Merry, nice to meet ya.

I saw a kid in town (Glasgow, United Kingdom) with a T-shirt on stating he hearted Bush. I can only presume that this is George Bush and not the bad 90’s Nirvana afterbirth. Kids will wear anything to get attention, usually in rebellious ignorance. What’s the most stupid T-shirt you’ve ever seen?

One truly stupid one with King Tut’s head printed on each boob that said, “Don’t touch my Tuts”. My father actually wanted me to get that one as a teen girl, and I have no real idea why - the point of a shirt like that is to draw attention to the “Tuts” and he was something akin to Carrie’s mom then, if you know what I mean.

I’m currently in agony with my teeth thinking they can all fit into my small mouth. I mean, I thought evolution was hooked up and in the know? Why can’t it elongate my arms to increase my reach so I don’t have to move from the sofa? What body morphication would you enjoy via evolution?

Tweak my lungs so they could process oxygen in the water too and be a mermaid (with legs though thank you). I want some of those Wolverine claws... People would be ever so much more peaceful if they thought sneaking up on someone might get their face slashed off. If we all had the claws we’d all behave... maybe. Oh and flying would be nice. We have big oceans and lots of sky, it would be nice to be able to have fun in them without planes and boats wrapped around us.

I’m so sick to death of reading boring Q&As that make the most interesting of people sound boring. Apart from this one, what is the worst question you’ve ever been asked?

Personally I have been lucky to be interviewed by cool people. Like I mentioned before the people who like us are great because we have nothing they could gain by being friendly other than music and email every now and then. If people contact us they are more than likely very cool people.

Christian, you are pretty open about suffering from Epidermolysis Bullosa (A blistering skin condition), I am aware what the condition is, and that it’s pretty rare. Has this condition ever brought on any weird imaginative ideas or nightmares? I know my friend who had a phobia of paper cuts had dreams of a paper thin man sliding under his locked door to get him. Have you had any anxieties of sandpaper men or pumice people?

Actually no, because sandpaper and pumice are “my friends”. One of the sick jokes of EB is the surface skin thickens on the feet very fast and then rubs the hard skin on the layers underneath to cause blisters and burns deep inside your foot because every layer of skin is affected where general people’s skin its only the top layer so its different. So people who mean well and don’t know better tell you to walk a lot and get callouses. They are the worst things you could have so I rub my feet with pumice stone and try to keep my feet callous free. I do have nightmares about walking and never getting to my destination which is what it feels like at a job or errands in the summer and you get blisters and can barely walk its like you will never get home since you can no longer walk and you can only sit there and feel like crying. Then you get up and limp slowly home and its really painful and yeah, lots of fun. Even more fun... telling a cab driver to drive you one block... Yeah, I’ve done that before.

Nothing imaginative has arisen related to EB and its condition except violent fantasies - I hate it and want it to die if it were something I could kill I would happily murder it.

If I was to be a monster I think I’d be a Werewolf. I could piss and poo all over the place without a care and lick my own crotch. Sniffing someone’s ass is also a hell of a lot easier than dating, dinners and trying to keep up an interesting conversation. What monster would you be and why?

I only read the book once, an Anne Rice book on a mummy (mummies are monsters right?) and he never had to sleep, he could wander around day and night and looked just fine thank you - now if that’s a monster, then that’s the monster life for me. I don’t like to sleep except for fun and to dream but I hate being and feeling tired. So being a mummy sounds like fun. I am not enough of a “people person” to be a Vampire. Maybe the Moth Man for a scarier, icky, more obvious; “don’t have to show ID at the Monster’s Club” type. Fly, scare and creep people out, eat a lot of wheat and corn I think, don’t have to mingle for your meals and touch people’s dirty necks and get a blood mustache. Just be scary when I want, that would be a nice arrangement.

What’s the band currently up to, any plugs?

We are not on any label so we have no deadlines to produce products to repay label advances we do what we want when we want and right now I am working on my art. Visual art is as important to me as music and it seems like each one wants its time to dominate my mind so now, for now, art has its hold on me. Drawing, dolls, multi-media performance - funny that I peek at your headlines below and see the one about Santa. I love looking for the grain of truth behind the legends and then making up my own histories for some of them. I created a handmade graphic novel of the history of Santa and other hardworking fairy tale folk and what happened to them. There seemed to be a time in history where the magic stopped being real and became a story - this book is about that turning point. I want to have a holiday performance of it and Rick will do the music. I am also doing a series of dolls and a series of drawings. AM is on hiatus for the moment.

Weird & Freaky Question:

What crazy newspaper headline would upset you more; ‘God Raped Me’, ‘Ten Days ‘Til Doomsday’, ‘One Day ‘Til Doomsday’, ‘Doomsday Cancelled’, ‘You Fucking Sicken Me’, ‘No News Today’, ‘Who Reads This Shit?’, ‘Roswell Aliens Demand Welfare’, ‘Nasdaq Plummets’, ‘Shit Won’t Flush’, ‘Hey Kids! Santa Is Fake’, ‘If You Notice This Notice You Will Notice That This Notice Was Not Worth Noticing’ or ‘Nurse Guilty Of Too Murders’ (Spot the typo)?

Strange how when I saw this I thought at first it said “Too Many Murders” and I thought… too many? What number would have been just enough? But then, oh, I see ‘too’, ‘two’... ooooh, where is my head huh?

‘God Raped Me’

I would say before looking at the article. If the plaintiff is a pre-historic monkey, the resulting child’s name was “Link”. Right? I would tell her to demand lots of child support and don’t let him deadbeat out by saying, “air and gravity are your child support honey”.

Ha hah hah ha…

Doomsday was yesterday and no one seemed to notice. Is it bad that none of them would be particularly upsetting and more likely to inspire comments like “well its about time” and “duh old news” and “what else is new…” ?

Encore Magdalena:

Acts Magdalena Portal
Christians Art

Christian would like you to visit:



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