Nicki Jaine

June 14, 2004

You've been doing many things since the last time we talked. You finally released your CD Of Pigeons And Other Curiosities. When did you start working on it?

I started working on it in November of 2003 and that's when I first started getting together with my producer discussing the different concepts that would go into creating the album and then we started recording shortly after that and it was released in May.

Some of the songs on here of course are the ones that were on your demo. Did you write the other ones after you did the demo?

There's a pretty good mixture of songs that were written before that time and during the time of the demo and then there's also stuff on the album that's new. Some of it was written before and some was written after the demos both.

Did you specifically choose Jason Rubal to be your producer?

He contacted me. He had seen a video of me performing and he approached me because he was very interested in making the album and that's how we came to work together.

For some of your songs you just did them solo and then for others you used a full band. Who did you select to be in the full band?

Jason had worked extensively with a band called Hiersosonic and he was very familiar with the abilities of the bass player and the drummer. He thought that they would work really well with my album. He found them and they filled in there. I also had a good friend write the string arrangements for one of the songs and he recorded that so it was fortunate I got to pull creativity from a few different sources.

Some of the songs that I liked were "Animals Crawling", "Antarctica" of course because I like hearing about the penguins, and "Octopi". Do you relate a lot to animals?

Yes, I think it's funny how frequently they turn up in my lyrics. It wasn't something that was premeditated at all. When I get into writing mode for some reason the imagery of animals comes out really frequently. I'm starting to work on material for my next album and I'll be interested in seeing how many animals are in the lyrics of the next album. I'm not so sure at this point but we shall see.

Maybe you'll have a song like "Dogs Urinating On Fire Hydrants" or something.

Who knows? I don't know where this stuff comes from.

You're the first artist that was signed to Shaman Records.

Yeah, Jason Rubal is the producer that works with the company. When he approached me about doing the album, he also wanted to involve me with the label. He seemed to have a lot of good ideas about my music and just about production in general. That's how I came to work with the label. Through him.

They formed last year and they're an independent label.

Right.

Tell us about some of the tracks on the CD.

"Pretty Faces" was the first song that we recorded vocal tracks to and it was my first time recording my vocal tracks for the album. It's where everything started so "Pretty Faces" meant a whole lot to me to get that song right. Start everything off on the right foot and I'm really happy with how it turned out. "Pretty Faces" is about the decision making process that everyone goes through when they want to do something bad that they know they shouldn't do. Weighing the consequences of how much fun will this be but how bad will it be after I've done it. Just making those sorts of decisions that we all make. "Animals Crawling" is about that weird phenomenon that happens when you swear you see something out of the corner of your eye and then you turn and there's nothing there. "Animals Crawling" is about that weird thing that happens to I think everybody. I hope that's not just me.

I'll think I saw someone or something and look around and nothing's there.

I read an article in a local Philadelphia newspaper also about how exorcists go out asking people questions who claim to be possessed so they can weed out the people who are looking for attention or who are just a little bit disturbed from the people who think they really need to be exorcised. I found it really interesting that one of the things that they mentioned was the people who they really do think need an exorcism frequently hallucinate and see animals. I thought that that was so odd. I never heard common symptoms of demon possession was seeing animals so I found that really, really interesting. That article played a big part in the lyrics of that song.

I can't imagine why anyone would honestly think that someone can be possessed by a demon. Could it be that they're just mentally disturbed?

Yeah, there's plenty of very scientific ways of explaining a lot of that stuff so I don't know. I don't even want to touch that. Who the hell knows?

That's just too weird.

"Disaster, You're Beautiful", the whole song isn't about one particular event. It's about a lot of different things that were going on at the time when I wrote it. I guess the main thing is almost just laughing at all the things that were going on in my life that just seemed to me like so trying and so upsetting. Almost just making light of it because I can think of things that maybe five years ago meant the world to me and now looking back on it, I see them as so trivial. It's stressing that kind of a perspective on the things that seem huge now. It's five or 10 years. They now seem like nothing.

Your perspective changes as time goes by. I notice as I get older that my sense of humor gets more developed and more warped.

You have more to draw off of. Like life experience I think definitely adds to some of the depths of our sense of humor. You have more that you can relate to.

I've finally come to the conclusion that most people are totally insane anyway.

Pretty much. I think the sooner that we realize that it's just futile to try to communicate with some people, the better off we are. It's just not worth it to try with some people.

When you recorded your first vocal tracks, you were thinking about Marlene Dietrich.

I think she's amazing. I had been compared to her on quite a few occasions by people who had seen me perform at different shows over the course of I'd say a year or so. Finally someone said her name again and then I just thought I have to find out who this woman is because I was not familiar with her. I had never heard her sing or ever seen a movie that she was in. I rented a few of the movies that she was in and I got a CD of her songs and I absolutely loved her. I just take it as such an immense compliment that people would be comparing me to her. There's one movie in particular called The Blue Angel that she starred in and a lot of scenes took place in like a brothel in the '30s so it just had this amazing feel to it and just think that the mood of that place was very much in the mood of the song "Pretty Faces". You're here doing something because you ought to be doing it and not necessarily because it's the right or the best thing to do but because it'll be fun right now. It's kind of that mischievous sort of fun. It's the whole nature of the song "Pretty Faces". The Blue Angel is perfect for that.

It was the best thing to do at that time.

Exactly, I say.

How did you decide on which songs you wanted to be solo and which ones you wanted a full orchestrated band on?

Some songs just really lend themselves to a full band like "Octopi" and "Antarctica". Other songs could go either way like "Pigeon Named Crow" and "Disaster, You're Beautiful". I wanted to achieve some sort of a balance between solo songs and band songs so the ones that could go either way, I decided to develop them into band songs. I don't necessarily know that I'll do it on my second album as much but it was an interesting thing to work with.

I like the combination of the two. I thought that was really cool.

Yeah, I usually go back and forth about my next album. If I want to do the same thing or if I want to stay more solo. I don't know. I don't know just yet.

It will come to you. You play a lot in the underground goth circuit.

It's great. I've met so many intelligent, creative, interesting people in the whole goth subculture if you want to call it that. I enjoy playing all different sorts of events and I like meeting all different kinds of artists but the whole goth community has just been really, really receptive to my music and just extremely, extremely supportive. There's definitely a special love that I have for those events and for those artists.

I think you find out some of the most interesting things when you take a walk on the dark side. I've been interviewing some of these Norwegian black metal bands and we have some of the most amazing conversations about philosophy and religion. Everyone is like "oh, that's such evil music" and I'm like "those guys are pretty bright."

Yeah, I really have just met some of the most wonderful, interesting, intelligent people that I could hope to meet. I've been really, really fortunate and that I've been able to form so many good relationships with people that I can really, really enjoy respect like that.

I was playing your CD and this one friend of mine thought you had a haunting kind of voice. He was like damn someone pissed her off. He really got off on that.

Well I'm glad that he felt what I was saying.

Have you been doing a lot of gigs here of late? You had your CD release party on the 17th of May.

Yes, I had my CD release party on May 17 and that went amazingly well. I was able to do it at one of my favorite events. It's called Alchemy and it's every Monday at the CBGB Gallery. It's a really long running goth event and it's just amazing. It's just an absolutely wonderful group of people that support it and run it so I was so happy to be able to make that night my CD release party. I was able to play it with Ego Likeness which is just an absolutely brilliant band so everything went exactly how I had hoped it would. I'm going to be playing a show here in Philadelphia on Friday at an all ages event called Union which I'm really happy about because I don't think there are nearly enough all ages events around so it's always great to be able to participate in one of those. I'm really focusing on writing new material and some plans that I have coming together for the fall which I can't actually announce yet because I have to wait until the other individuals involved are ready to announce it. I'm almost bursting. I have to keep this big secret.

It still has to come together.

It's something like that. It's together. I can't announce it until I've been given the okay by other involved parties. I have to keep this secret but I have something really, really, really fabulous planned for this fall so a lot of my time this summer is going to go into writing and preparing for this fall. I feel like a little kid. Like I have to not tell someone about a surprise party. I'm being good though. I'm being as good as I can be. It's crazy. Within the next couple of weeks or so I think we'll be able to announce it so I just have to bite my tongue for a little while longer.

What else do you have going on?

It's mostly the writing and preparing for the top secret mission this fall. Those are the things that are keeping me pretty busy. I'm also working on reading and writing music because that's something that I really want to be able to do and I haven't taken the time to get as proficient as I would like to be with the more technical side of music. I'm actually deciding that it needs to happen now because if you don't decide to just do it, you'll just push it off forever so I feel really good about that. It's something I've been really wanting to do for a long time.

That's like learning a new language.

It is. It's a totally different way of thinking. Yeah, it's just like a new language. It's just looking at new symbols and making them immediately register to mean something. It's absolutely like learning a new language so it's an interesting experience. It's unlike anything else that I've worked on so hopefully I'll be literate soon.

It's amazing how many people are into music and they have bands and they sing but they can't read the first note of sheet music.

Yeah, I'm working on it.

You've had the opportunity to play with bands like The Dresden Dolls and Unto Ashes. I'm familiar with Unto Ashes.

Yeah, they're really, really amazing. They use so many unique instruments in their arrangements. It's just absolutely so different than anything else that I've ever really worked with so it was a really great experience to be able to watch them in their creative process. It was very different than anything else that I had done and I also recently opened for Black Tape For A Blue Girl and that was also a really, really interesting and amazing experience.

I call their stuff erotic goth.

Yeah, I guess that's a pretty fair description of it.

I have one of their CDs and I think it's so cool.

Yeah, they are really, really great. I've been really interested in just looking at other bands that I'm able to work with and really taking a look at how their creative process comes along. It's really interesting to see how different people work and one of the things that I really love so much about Black Tape For A Blue Girl is the vocal melodies just play such a huge part in the song and it sort of seems like the rest of the arrangement frames the vocal melody I almost want to say. It just seems like a different way of writing than I'm necessarily accustomed to so it's been really interesting to take a look into that and they're just talented and amazing people.

Any other thoughts or comments?

I definitely encourage anyone that thinks that they'd be interested to go to the website and check out the MP3s that are on there and see if anything strikes them.

Nicki Jaine