Evangelista's Carla Bozulich on Animal Tongues, the Economics of Touring, and Exposing Boundaries
Carla Bozulich has a distinct voice, and an even more distinct outlook on music.
"I'm really excited when there are people in the audience who seem to be hating the show. It's like a magnet; I can't help it," she says.
Bozulich's new album as a member of her group Evangelista, In Animal Tongue, bears this fascination with tension and discomfort out. The records tangled sounds are at once eerie, beautiful, and dangerous.
Touring in support of the record as a duo, Bozulich has been afforded a rare chance to explore the dark corners of her catalog, the striking tones of Evangelista, the drone elements that have informed her solo work, and the country and folk elements that defined her bands The Geraldine Fibbers and Red Headed Stranger (with Willie Nelson).
Bozulich took some time out of her day in Los Angeles to speak with Up on the Sun about Trunk Space, where she's scheduled to play Friday, September 9, her new record, and the ultimate goal of live performance.
Up on the Sun: Have you ever been to the Trunk Space where you're performing?
Carla Bozulich: Yeah, I've played there a couple of times. Great people. I've played Modified Arts a lot, too. Which is also cool. It's a really different vibe, especially in the past few years. I think its changed a little bit. But I haven't played there for a couple of years, so maybe I'm not up to date on the whole deal.
They don't even really host shows anymore. They have some shows now, but they switched their focus to being an arts gallery. Did you play there with the Geraldine Fibbers?
I played there with the Fibbers, I also played there with Red Headed Stranger. I played there four or five times. I've done different projects going through there.
I've played Trunk Space with Evangelista -- played Modified too, but we played on a tour with Dead Science. Do you know Dead Science?
I've listened to Villain. That's the only record I've spent much time with. They are you label-mates at Constellation, right?
Yeah, which was really super cool coincidence. Although maybe, when we toured with them, they were playing in Evangelista, and then playing their own set, opening the tour, and that might be where Constellation heard them, because we played in Montreal. Yeah, they are super. Sam from that band plays guitar on the new album. I have a few different links with them, musically. That have sort of crossed over between us.
It seems to me that Constellation is kind of a community. Seems to be kind of an overlap between the creative forces on the records. When Vic Chesnutt's records on the label featured members of those bands. There's an interesting thread that kind of connects the music, while it's all different. But you are just touring as a duo, correct?
Yeah, and we're supporting the new Evangelista album. The reason were are doing it as a duo, John [Eichenseer], who's doing it with me is a big contributor to the new album, but it's just so expensive to tour with a six piece band and I just decided to go in a car, and have a good time, and play the album, and try some new stuff, and also make some new music for the tour.
Not to expose our, I don't know what the world would be, our tininess? But we just can't afford to tour the United States. It's just really expensive to tour the United States. I mean, we tour Europe constantly. But the pay in the United States is a tenth of the pay in Europe, and I mean, even touring Europe we don't come home with a lot of money, but in the United States it's literally pay to play.
That's why it's a duo, I have to [laughs] keep my money in the bank, and hope to put a little more in it. Touring is such a privilege, and I'll talk to people, and they are like, ah, you get to tour all the time, and it is great, but its way more work than people think. And it's nice to get paid a little something at the end. That's why. It's a totally drag, to tell you the truth, because the new album is coming out, and it should be the whole band. But everybody that's in the band, the primary musicians, they need to stay home and work at their jobs, and make money, and our van broke down, so we'd have to rent a van, but...I don't mean to bore you with the details.
On the positive side, is there anything that performing as a duo, any ways in which the sonic space is more freeing? Well, definitely. That phrasing, "the sonic space,"or you could say the "negative space." It leaves a lot of room for minimalism, or fat drone, or whatever it is the song calls for evolves into spontaneously. It's more intimate, and more challenging, frankly. When you have - In Evangelista, I feel almost supported in anything I do. If I fuck up, they are going to catch me...We're sort of a gang. We just tear through whatever it is we are doing.
[Playing as a duo] draws the audience into a more singular kind of space. You can connect with the audience in a very direct kind of way.
You'll be playing music from the new record, In Animal Tongue, and your solo records?
And new music. [The new music is] turning out to be noisy, but folky, kind of going back the country thing a little bit. I don't even know what exactly it's going to sound like. I haven't done a duo tour before, so it's pretty neat for us to do this.
(The country thing) is really sort of soulful to me, John too. A lot of people are really welcoming that idea. I think people want to hear that. We like spontaneous improvisation. I really worship the drone, so it's going to be some weird marriage of genres.
The record has a tangled up web of sounds --
Do you like the album?
I do like the album.
Cool, nobody has heard it, hardly, so I don't know.
I like "Hatching" an awful lot. "Hands of Leather" is really beautiful, too. It made me uneasy. Which I think is a great thing for music to do.
For sure that's true. You know, it's funny. I don't think I have a plan or intent to incite the audience to feel any certain way...Some people almost drag me to them...I'm really excited when there are people in the audience who seem to be hating the show. It's like a magnet; I can't help it.
I don't feel like you're going all the way if you're like, 'I belong here and you belong there.' That encourages...not what I'm into with music. I feel like music in an incredible unifying force. When we are all at a gig, we're there with this common, almost religious urge. It's like we've come together on common ground. A lot of what happens is that it exposes people's boundaries almost as much as this unifying thing. What happens is people don't' touch, don't' talk to people they don't' know. Which is totally normal, I'm not bagging on it. But I do like to blur that separation element. It just feels good. Some people really hate it, and I don't mind that it all.
Sometimes people don't like it, and I find that to be a really important part of making art and music. If it's working for everyone, it's just not working.
Carla Bozulich is scheduled to perform Friday, September 9, at The Trunk Space.