The world may be living mostly on music made by guitars, keys, and drums, but sometimes we stumble upon...cellos. An odd choice outside of Yo-Yo Ma, so naturally a cello-embracing ensemble like Rasputina has a message. It's up to you to decide exactly what that message is.) In relying on the strings in question, Rasputina does a fabulous job of promoting an instrument that normally has no place outside of classical music. "Normalcy," of course, has never been Rasputina's comfort zone.
Having just gotten off a bit of touring with Voltaire—who Creager describes to be a “musical comedian riffing on goth culture”-- she was more than happy to keep us up to speed with Rasputina’s past and upcoming features as of March 2011:
First off, how was the decision made to take the original duo and expand music-wise in 1991?
I first envisioned an all-girl electric cello ‘choir.’ I had about 7 cellists, but that didn’t last long. I pared it down to 3 and that sounded much better.
How does the music-making process usually run? Are the lyrics written first or the music?
I keep a notebook of words, phrases, and ideas. I record instrumental pieces and then later I put them together like a puzzle.
With the latest album Sister Kinderhook, where would you say the majority of the inspiration has come from? How would you in your own words depict its different from past records?
I was much inspired by the history of Columbia County, NY, where I live, and the life of Emily Dickinson. I got back to an organic sound. I didn’t give myself my usual album-assignments, like ballad, metal song, cover, etc. I wanted to make something beautiful rather than clever.
What would you personally say is the best part of the recording process? Did you experience any difficulties in working together and agreeing on what fit best?
My favorite part is in the writing of a song. As it starts to come together, it sounds so yummy—I’ll listen to a new song over and over while wearing headphones and laying on the floor. Daniel and Catie [D'Amica] were delightful in every way. We had a really good time recording.
How would you describe the current lineup of members after having made a couple transitions in the past?
Daniel DeJesus has really become my right-hand man. He and I have a magical chemistry.
How would you go about describing your music to a deaf person?
Music is relatable to food, in my opinion—I like to make rather dense, sweet dishes. I love sweet and salty in the same dish. The cello is quite caramel-y. I play it like meat. And then there are sauces... Like Emily Dickinson said, “Everyone needs puddings.”
As someone with a vast knowledge of instruments, are there others you’ve been meaning to pick up?
Do you usually attend shows excluding your own? If so, what are some memorable ones and why did you like them so much?
Not often. I saw Leonard Cohen a couple of years ago, which was wonderful. I liked his interaction with his musicians. Oh! I saw Peaches do a one-woman Jesus Christ Superstar not long ago and I thought that was superb. She was not making fun of the material. She was a great singer and she is about the same age as me. It’s interesting for me to see what my “peers” are doing.
If you were to collaborate with an artist/group for a song in the future, who would you be interested in?
My sweet friend Dawn McCarthy (Faun Fables) and I have wanted to collaborate forever.
Are there any current artists or bands out there much different than your style of music who you enjoy?
Julianna Barwick makes multi-layered vocal pieces and I love her work.
Music aside, what do you do in your spare time?
Since I am the mother of two, I don’t really have spare time. When I get the chance, I’ll take a long, vigorous walk in the country or go to a yoga class.
Can you recommend a good book and film and explain why you are a fan of each?
I like Charlie Kaufman’s movies because, as far as I know, they’re not based on books; they’re independent creations of imagination. (Synecdoche, NY and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Lives Like Loaded Guns is a book about Emily Dickinson and her family’s feuds. She is endlessly fascinating to me. She’s unique, mysterious, and there are books about every little facet of her life—her servants, her clothes, etc.
What are any other plans for Rasputina in the future?
Oh, I think we will get some Kickstarter funding and make a video.