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|So... Why Poe?
"It's a decent story, I guess. When I was about ten, I went
to a costume party with my parents where you dressed as
a character from a story, and people were supposed to guess
who you were. I was really obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe's
"The Masque of the Red Death," which is about a costume
party where someone dresses as the plague, and the emperor
ends up dying. So I came dressed as death.
I was right at the age when you're starting to get morbid
and thinking your parents are stupid - and I named myself
Poe to give everyone a hint. And it stuck ever since. They
all thought it was hysterical, but I was so serious - people
were laughing and I was like, this is serious performance
Poe is originally from New York City, but before the age
of eight, she had lived in North America, Europe, India,
and Africa. Her mother is an actress; her Polish-born father
a renowned film director...
We lived in Spain for two years. My Dad was making a film
that the government didn't like, so we were basically kicked
out. India for a year, and Africa for a year. He was making
a documentary about Africa, so we were moving like every
three days for a year straight. My mother was a hero!
Then we moved from New York City to Provo, Utah; which was
bizarre. My brother and I were two of six non-Mormons in
a school of 1,600. It was a gorgeous place, but those school
bus Mormons took one look at my Sex Pistols t-shirt and
hated my guts.
My parents split up when I was 16, so I left home and went
back to New York, and was on my own from then on. I squatted
in a building on the Lower East Side. I made money (I could
be arrested for this!) by making fake subway tokens and
selling them for a quarter.
It gave me a sort of split identity complex. I had great
parents as a child; they were there, you had dinnertime,
you went to bed and then all of the sudden there was nothing.
I think that's something a lot of people in my generation
POE went from a squat on the Lower East Side to Princeton
When I left home, I had sort of made a deal with the principal
of my school. I was really into academics as a kid, and
I was only about two credits short, so he let me graduate
on the condition that I write a paper about my adventures.
I took the SATs and applied to Princeton and I got a full
scholarship - not because I was so smart, but because I
was legally emancipated and I didn't have any money.
Princeton was tricky at first, but it was awesome. I had
been living on my own since I was 16, and then all of the
sudden I was at this fucking country club! There was a full
music studio that I could use, there were theaters, there
was film, there were editing facilities. These kids would
walk around complaining, and I was like, are you crazy?
POE began writing songs at the age of eight...
During my "Poe phase" (laughs), I was always writing little
poems, and somebody taught me three chords on the piano,
and I've got about 40 songs written with three chords -
third-grade bullshit about my teachers! I just kept doing
it, and eventually I hooked up with this guy in New York
who had a four-track. That's when MIDI was just starting,
so I got really into machines. Then, in Princeton, I was
in a band for about five years, which was more organic music
- we did very little with computers. When the band broke
up, I went back to the machines, and now both of those aspects
are in my music; I find it interesting to try to make all
those ideas work together. I think it's stupid to say, "Technology
is going to lead us into the future" or "Technology is going
to destroy us." Whether we like it or not, we created technology
and it's here to stay; it will do what we make it do. So
we may as well try to find a balance, and make the organic
parts of our world work with the technical.
"HELLO" features Poe with eight different co-writers and
three producers. RJ Rice, band member Jeffrey Connor, and
Jane's Addiction/Alice In Chains vet Dave Jerden. Working
in seven different studios in Los Angeles and Detroit, using
a combination of computers and live musicians (including
Guns N' Roses drummer Matt Sorum). It took awhile...
Music is a team sport. I'm always willing to listen to ideas,
but I have the final say. I always write all the lyrics
and then tend to collaborate on the music, but it's never
the same. I could be jamming or recording or; this is what
I'm notorious for. We're in the middle of mixing the album,
and the bass player plays something and I'm like, "Play
that again! I've got an idea!." AND, oops; we're recording
a new song and the mix waits. Other times, songs were created
more from looping sounds and putting things together like
a collage. Sometimes that will trigger off lyrics or a poem.
Poe's voice and lyrics are instantly identifiable. While
the music is eclectic and diverse, moving from loping dance
beats to metallic guitars to swing-jazz to acoustic ballads
The songs on the album are very different. You have a song
like "Trigger Happy Jack," which has a bonehead guitar part
and a kinda funny little groove. Then there is "Hello,"
which has more of an ambient hip hop groove, and feels a
lot more mechanical in a way. I'm interested in combining
different parts of different cultures, because I saw so
many different cultures as a kid. And the one thing that
tied every culture together was music. I prefer this, as
opposed to "I AM a folk singer" or "I AM an alternative
rock singer" or "I AM" whatever, because I am evolving.
I am and have been affected by and inspired by the things
I've come into contact with both creatively and personally.
Two of "HELLO"'s most arresting songs are "Trigger Happy
Jack" and the title track. Both feature equally arresting
companion videos, directed by Paul Andresen and Eric Koziol.
"Trigger Happy Jack" is inspired by two things: somebody
I knew, people can go psycho, and an actual car-jacking.
I was driving down Sunset Boulevard, by myself, at about
two in the morning. I slowed down because I got a weird
vibe from another car, and he turned to cut me off. I knew
if I stopped I could be in real trouble, so I accelerated
around him and he proceeded to bash into me over and over
again, waving a gun. It was like a car chase in a movie.
The only reason I got away was because my car was a hair
Then this security officer escorted me home, and he didn't
want to leave! He asked, "Do you girls live alone?", and
my roomate said, "Yes;" wrong answer! He said, "You must
be worried, so I'll watch you," and he proceeded to sit
in our driveway all night, every night for a month! And
there was nothing we could do, because if we got the guy
fired, he has a license to carry a gun; and he might just
be a nice guy, but he might be a total psycho!
It's basically about the inability to communicate with somebody.
"Trigger Happy Jack's" character is the psychotic, and it's
also a sort of split in me. The one side that's consistently
thinking it's possible to communicate with this person,
and the other side that takes over that's like, "Fight him."
Women have to get better at learning when to nurture someone,
and when to protect themselves. At least I do.
I wrote "Hello" about two years ago, and it uses the imagery
of the internet as a metaphor for trying to reach someone
that seems somehow unreachable. It explores the discovery
of new tools, new ways of communicating, and the internet
is definitely like that. It's a loss of identity, a discovery
of identity, things being fragmented and linked back together
in completely new and unusual ways. I also creatively find
the internet interesting as this mass of sort of public
The first time I ever perused the internet was almost a
disturbing experience, because you know you're talking to
somebody real on the other line, but you can't see them,
and you have no idea if they're telling the truth or not,
and you might not be telling the truth. It's interesting
to see how people react to you if you invent different personas.