is without a doubt one of the most charismatic, innovative and
most expressive musician I ever met. She’s the grande
dame of extreme music! With a carrier spanning of 25 years and
more it is not an easy task to do an interview with her since
all the up and downs, things and thangs, dreams and visions,
works and collaborations in her life could fill a book. Many
questions were already asked, many left, yet to be answered.
After such a long time in business JARBOE is
even busier than ever before, working on several projects right
now, entering new fields of emotional expressiveness.
As you may notice, many of my questions are multi-layered; going
deeper and more detailed it’s enough to fill sheet by
sheet with every single question. Especially, since many answers
invite to discussions and even more questions...
Time passed by quickly since your final show at London’s
Scala last year (November 7th) where I wanted to do this interview.
Now it’s March, Equinox passed too and many things happened
and changed. How are you doing these days, what’s the
actual state of affairs?
Jarboe: Since London, I have sung in two wedding ceremonies
of friends, completed a 3 week West Coast U.S. tour involving
Blixa Bargeld, Red Sparowes, and others and did a spoken word
festival in Seville, Spain and visited my friend Lydia Lunch
in Barcelona and did a spoken word CD called The
End as part of a friend’s expedition to
Antarctica, recorded vocals for the new Byla CD in New York,
and began my new band project entitled The Sweet Meat
Love And Holy Cult in Olympia, Washington. I have been
commissioned to do the music for a video/computer game coming
out of Belgium and I have been selected to perform at Bumbershoot
Festival in Seattle, which is one of the largest arts festivals
in America. I also recorded vocals for the new Cobalt CD. I
was recently contacted by the assistant a’ L’action
Culturelle in Casablanca to be in a festival there so I hope
that something will work out.
You have been utmost busy last year and you still are for the
first months of 2006. It’s quite late to look back and
reflect on 2005, so please just sum up the most important things
that still have an impact on you nowadays.
Jarboe: 2005? I met some very cool people in Europe.
I especially enjoyed meeting the people at Terrorizer Magazine
and all the fans who said hello to me on the tour.
Going back to your very first one month running European tour
since Swans in 1997, please give a short summary of what happened;
your experiences, impressions, good and bad things, things that
might have changed compared with earlier live experiences. That
you have left many and many fans being stunned, I guess I don’t
need to mention. The response you got everywhere tells its own
Jarboe: My objective is to break down the barrier between
performer and audience. The tour of Europe helped inform that
It was great to go to Moscow, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The
people were very good to us. I also loved Portugal and Hungary.
It was good to go to Spain for the first time.
You just released your first spoken words album The End.
How’s the response so far? What made you doing such art
and what brought it to you at the end? Are you satisfied with
Jarboe: The first spoken word project is The
Conduit which involved Nic Le Ban, Joshua Fraser,
and my mailing list subscribers, but The End
is the first full-length narrative CD, yes. It has not yet been
released so I don’t know any reactions other than my own,
so far. It sounds excellent as it has music produced by Cedric
What ties The End, the Jarboe Flag Project, Shackleton’s
Unfinished Journey and Amnesty International together and why?
What drives your long-time visual and music collaborator Cedric
Victor-DeSouza to join a team walking to the South Pole during
December 2006 – January 2007, the worst season in this
area? What does it mean to you seeing your “hook-flag”
getting flied there? What you think you can achieve with this
Jarboe: Please ask Cedric to answer that question.
[He didn't answer yet - Cal]
Let’s talk about your latest full-length album The
a two-disc compilation of 20 collaborations you have done over
the past six years. Why it took such a long time to finish this
album? What connects you to all these artists? What was the
most special moment during this phase? Any other artist you
would like to work with one day – not only musically (I
read about a collaboration with Justin Broadrick of Jesu/Final)?
Jarboe: Yes, I am singing a song on the new Jesu album.
The Men album took six years because
there so many collaborators and it reflects my life during a
six-year period. Special moments? Yes. Listening to Iva Davies
production of To Forget and Blixa Bargeld’s vocals
for Feral and Nic Le Ban’s whispered lyrics on
Your Virgin Martyr and inspired guitar work with Blixa’s
voice on Into Feral.
While searching the net for information about JARBOE, the past,
history … etc. I noticed that there are sort of 3 eras
where you attract a lot of attention: when you were in Swans,
shortly after the break up, when people got aware of your solo
activities and with the Neurosis collaboration. Between the
last 2 eras there is not that much to find out about JARBOE
(especially in Germany), except what was written on your own
Do you think the attention in the post-Swan chapter came from
the fact that Michael Gira mellowed, while you got much more
Jarboe: 3 eras like “3 faces of Eve” !
There are numerous links on my discuss page on my site in the
online section to many Internet articles etc. about me. I have
a select press section on my site as well in media kit.
I don’t know about the reasons behind any attention but
I would say I have always done extreme music. After Swans I
went very underground and self manufactured and self released
my CDs only through my website. I was disgusted with the music
business and so I just made CDs exclusively for my personal
fan base. I had no money for a publicist and so I think I was
quite obscure as a result. I made the decision to get on a label
again so that there would be some interviews and reviews and
distribution of my work and people would then book my concerts.
It is very difficult for a completely independent musician to
get booked. You have to have a label and a licensing deal and
a good publicist. This all costs a lot of money. The publicist
is maybe the most important person in a musician’s career.
This is one of the reasons I support the concept of MySpace.com
as it is helping unsigned bands network to get shows and travel
and get their music heard outside of the old machine of the
music business which was actually very elitist and uncaring
about music or musicians.
You have done many interviews with exceptional people. Do you
have a journalistic vein? You talked with many musicians, especially
female artists you asked about their way to concentrate, focus
on their music, performance, expression… etc. How much
could you learn from them?
Jarboe: Well, I remove interviews and add interviews
as they reflect something worthwhile to me or not at all. It
is not an attempt to be a journalist. It is an attempt to hear
voices that expand, inform, and inspire me. I am currently looking
for someone other than myself to conduct more interviews to
be posted on my site. I will be involved in follow-up questions
As you are interviewing many women, talking about womanhood,
working in a man-dominated business etc. … do you think
there is a need to shed light on their experiences to “help”
yourself and other ones? Thinking about this brought me to the
following quote: John Lennon once said “women are the
nigger in this world”. What you think about? (I think
so and I’m sure it won’t be better in the near future…)
Jarboe: My attitude is for the individual and not the
group. I do not like separatism. This is why I don’t like
phrases that begin with “woman” in front of them.
I do not see myself as a woman in rock or a woman breaking down
barriers. I see myself only as an individual doing my work.
Having said that, rock is still a male dominated, male owned
domain. As for the bigger picture: ”yes, John Lennon.”
All your early albums got re-issued, re-mastered and come with
bonus tracks, enhanced booklets, making many fans happy since
at least Thirteen Masks was oop and your albums are
hardly available, especially here in Europe. Was it yours or
a label decision to do this? How much of business-freedom do
you have in matter of release policies?
Jarboe: It was my decision. It is important me to keep
my work in print. I am unhappy, for example, with the fact that
the collaborative Blackmouth CD is
still out of print.
That’s something you wrote: “There was a time
you were utterly immobilized by emotional hell (Swans had ended.
Michael and I were separated. My mother - who was my best friend
and like a sister to me- had developed an Alzheimer's type illness
and had to be institutionalized). One night, a friend took me
to an exhibit of large scale paintings by a woman here in Atlanta.
The paintings entered my consciousness in a way unlike any art
had ever done...” Who was this painter? What kind
of art she did? What memories you still have on this time?
Jarboe: Alice Nesbit. I have a very large scale abstract
painting of hers on my wall. When it was first brought into
my home, I sat in front of it for hours and lost myself inside
it. It is reds and oranges and reminds me of fresh blood. The
shapes are similar to a vagina and the entire surface of the
painting is textured with the knife marks of the paint.
You already went through a vast array of experiences, pushed
borders in many directions musically, artistically, tried out
and mixed 1000 styles and elements. I guess as more as one try
new things as more one is aware of the possibilities yet to
discover? What are your visions (anytime to be achieved)?
Jarboe: The Sweet Meat Love And Holy Cult
is a reaction to the sterile digital age and instead embraces
communing with fellow musicians in a spirit of kinship and family.
The CD is being recorded live for the most part instead of separate
multi-tracking. That is my current work. The first release will
be in 2006 on Paradigms Records, London. We have a MySpace
page and soon there will be some music on there as well as photos
of the “cult” members.
You are a very spiritual person. Do you follow any special religion/doctrine/practice
in this matter? Where draw you your vibes and energy from? What
means: “I’m a conduit” … in
your daily life?
Jarboe: If I am to name a philosophy that resonates
most deeply in me, it is Buddhism.
Dajana: I guess you are very close to “Mother
Earth” (in its entirety). How much it touches you to see
all this being destroyed step by step by ourselves (only two
creatures on this planet destroy its own living space –
viruses and humans), especially in the context seeing the USA
as one of the biggest polluter, warmonger and dispraiser of
human’s and animal’s rights.
Jarboe: As sincerely as this subject touches me, I
must say that no one expects Noam Chomsky to be a spokesperson
for music. Ask JARBOE about war, but the war
of the human heart.
You are very close to your fans through your website’s
artery and putting a lot of personality in your lyrics and performance.
Don’t you fear that people get too close to you? What
kind of input does this closeness give to you?
Jarboe: The people who enter my work are thoughtful
people who are the kind of people who read books and listen
carefully. I don’t fear people knowing me through my work
because as I stated earlier, one of my objectives is to break
down the barriers between performer and audience. The more open
and trusting I am, the more my fans understand and embrace my
work. They would sense - and be very disappointed - if I was
false and closed in any way.
You once said, if you are working on new material you don’t
allow any “foreign” music to cross your creative
flow. What are you listening to outside of this phase?
Jarboe: I am in the midst of writing new music now!
As for some of the music I like, it is listed on my MySpace
Do you have any other creative outlets? Which ones?
Jarboe: I make decorative boxes one by one and sell
them on my website. I call them Fetish Boxes. I read The World
Of Interiors magazine and I love decorating where I live so
that it resembles a theatrical set for a play or film. I love
fashion design – especially Martin Margiela. Again, I
have a long list on MySpace of these things.
To finish this questionnaire my final question: If you had to
create a sculpture reflecting of what JARBOE is about, what
kind of would it be?
Jarboe: I used to think it was “The Mourning
Woman” with her head in her hands as you see on a grave
in a cemetery. But now, I think it would be more abstract and
Zen and made of a stone that has textures from hundreds of rainstorms
falling upon it.
Thank you very much spending time on so many questions.
Jarboe: Thank you very much for asking me.