07 April 2007

Interview: Melora Creager

Behold! the Incomparable Melora Creager of Rasputina. Cellist extraordinaire, artist, mommy, former designer, muse and Kansas native. Now living in New York, she was nice enough to talk to the Church about her style and what goes on in her one-of-a-kind mind. Photo from www.rasputina.com.

Q. Who and what inspires you?
For visuals: movies from the 1930s, collagist Henry Darger, Native Americans. For music: Michael Nyman, Nina Hagen, Leadbelly. These are just a few examples.

Q. When you started your band, did you have the performative historical aspect in mind—or just playing the cello? Did your pre-existing sensibility inform what became Rasputina?
I wrote a manifesto to start the band. I had theories about girls who played the cello—that they (we) would have to be prim in a way, having studied such a thing since childhood. There are so many movies with a scene where a whole lot of girls are in a big bedroom in their corsets and bloomers (Gone with the Wind, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, etc.) I wanted to make a cello rock band of that scene.Yes, it's what I think looks good. I'm using my personal aesthetic. It has changed and expanded over time. Rather than a "Victorian thing," we now dress to embody something vaguer and more iconic: cowboys and
Indians, medieval Maori swashbucklers.

Q. Do you have a cat?
No, I'm not much for cats.

Q. What do you wear as you go about your "everyday life?"
I'm an every-season layerer. I've been big into leg-warmers and skirts over pants this winter. Marilyn Manson taught me about the pantyhose t-shirt, which is a Rasputina costume staple that I wear in everyday life.

Q. Is there a fashion figure in history you identify with? Do you have an idol from history?
No one person—I mix it all up. The costumes from the original Rite of Spring—I’ve always wanted to imitate that, but it's hard to find pictures of.

Q. Do you wear jeans?

Q. What contemporary or past designer's work do you like?
Designer James Coviello is my best friend. I am his muse, but he won't admit it. I wear his clothes all the time. I like Vivienne Westwood a lot. I have a lot of designer clothes from a job I had long ago, and I still wear those—Ghost, York & Cole. I carry a crazy Dior bag with spikes and buttons.

Q. Does costuming (in its performative aspect) inform your music/songwriting?
My songwriting is very visual, but not about clothes. I've stopped wearing a corset so much because I just want to sing at my best.

Q. Are you much into the New York fashion scene?
I used to be when I was a jewelry designer for Ericson Beamon. Not anymore. I just go to James' shows and Anna Sui.

Q. Did you grow up sewing? Were you in 4-H? Which town did you grow up in?
Yes, I used to do a lot of crafty sewing as a kid. My mom helped me. I made a purse out of jeans butt, you know? I wasn't in 4-H. I was too "town" for that. I'm from Emporia.

Q. Do you knit, crochet, sew or otherwise "craft?"
My daughter goes to a Waldorf school, where the handwork is most important. So I just learned to crochet so I could help her. I can't stop doing it! That's why it's taken so long for my new record to come out. I only want to crochet!

Q. Do you do work in other media—like visual art?
I fancy myself an artist, and believe that an artist can work with anything. I draw, paint, work in the computer. I make dioramas, silhouettes and felted pictures.

Q. What do you listen to?
Right now, Robin Williamson (from the Incredible String Band), Hildegard von Bingen, The Smiths and brain entrainment tapes.

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