Local Wire

Emelie Autumn @ Nile Theater

Autumn's Victorian rock operas offer surprisingly poppy burlesque-glam — imagine a coned-tit-era Madonna gone goth. Rasputina and Dresden Dolls are obvious touchstones, sharing similar predilections for moody theatricalism, classical music, and Kurt Weill. A violin prodigy, Autumn attended the Music Conservatory at Indiana University when she was 14. She wouldn't bend to classical music conformity or for major-label star makers. Instead, the L.A. teen went it alone in the late '90s and slowly built her career. "I was in the mindset to make the music I want to make, look the way I want, and be a fucking individual," Autumn says. Afflicted with bipolar disorder, Autumn had a breakdown after returning from a 2004 tour backing Courtney Love. She attempted suicide and ended up committed. The horrific ordeal would inspire 2006's breakthrough, Opheliac. The album mixes morbidity ("Dead Is the New Alive") and swagger ("Gothic Lolita") over trilling synths, slashing violin peals, and dark mechanical beats. It imagines Hamlet's Ophelia as the archetypal female victim, beset by men who deny her control. Live performances are as much theater as they are concert. "We have white paint and glitter on our faces," Autumn jokes. "This I the darkest stuff you can manifest . . . [so] I need to look like a fucking cupcake."

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Chris Parker
Contact: Chris Parker