NATURALISMO: Your parents were members of a religious cult called The Holy Order of MANS. What were the guiding principles of this “cult,” and how did your involvement in it, even as a child, influence your outlook today?
LARKIN GRIMM: The people who joined “The Order” were looking for an utopian community that protected their sensitivity and spiritual growth without isolating them from society. It was an urban commune, and people considered themselves spiritual healers, healing the environment and everyone around them. Many people living there had different belief systems and spiritual practices. This was encouraged because in general the group believed that all spiritual paths are leading to the same kind of revelation and enlightenment, seeing separate facets of the jewel that is ultimate truth and reality, so to speak. Basically it was a communist society in which all resources were shared, any kind of attachment was discouraged, and it wasn’t supposed to matter where you were or who you were with because all beings are just one small part of one supreme universal consciousness, so no person was really any greater than any other and the differences were seen as shallow, superficial. Lucky for me I got to live with my biological parents, which was nice because they had an instinctual imperative to protect me from abuse etc. In general I was protected from all forms of human cruelty and selfishness. I simply did not see or experience these things until I was about 7 years old. I was very, very shocked and disturbed when we left the commune and entered “the real world.” I am still very idealistic and believe very strongly in the power of kindness, openness and love and I try to maintain good health in a holistic, honest way and I fell a responsibility to help others to do the same. This is not as easy and flowing and peaceful as you might think. I’ve been accused of all sorts of witchcraft and told that I am a perverse and disturbing influence, and have been kicked out of churches, schools, hippie communes, and the town of Skagway, Alaska and in general been persecuted for most of my life because of perceived difference. I do not see myself as being so different, but in general rules and laws and customs hold no weight and are not real to me, and when people are really burdened by these things, they find my freedom infuriating.
N: Aside from music, are there any other mediums through which you express yourself? What was your first experience with the act of making music? What is it about music that appeals to your unique sensibilities?
LG: I have been a painter and a sculptor and a writer and a performance artist and I am learning how to be a dominatrix and a comedian these days. Music is unique in that it does not create much environmental waste, it is of the moment, and it is primal and emotional in a way that brings people in to experience these things alongside the performer. The audience and performer make it together. It’s immediate and powerful and subversive if you want it to be. People cry when they hear beautiful music. It’s powerful. I cry when I see a great Gerhart Richter painting, but that’s a rare disease.
N: What was the writing and recording process like for Parplar, and how did it differ from your process of creating previous work?
LG: First of all I wrote the songs before recording them,which I had never done before. Then I welcomed a notorious pervert to have his way with my songs, and he ended up just wanting to help me make them as beautiful as they were inside my head. I didn’t fight with Michael Gira nearly as much as I expected to. He is a psychic, seeing deeply into my own personal vision, and he was very respectful and helpful and useful. We did a lot of surrendering. We said yes to everything. We did it quickly and we didn’t question ourselves. There was total confidence and joy in the making of this album. It practically created itself.
Making this record was different from the others also in that I
invited a man to balance my feminine energy somewhat and banish the
radioactive pink unicorns from my ovaries. Michael thinks I became a
woman in the process of making this record, like I was a little girl
before. He is partially right, but I wasn’t a child, I was an alien
and genderless creature. Now I am a Femme Fatale. Watch out.
N: Though I haven’t yet heard them, you recorded some improv/freeform records for Secret Eye Records. What influences, both internal and external, motivated your musical growth into its current incarnation?
LG: War, heartbreak, trees being cut down, seeing the world more clearly, trying to escape my ego. Making friends with humans. Hanging out with Appalachian string bands and experimental noise musicians, learning to be a human, getting to know the universe in the biblical sense, committing psychic suicide.
N: The human body, and specifically sexuality, dominate the lyrical imagery on Parplar. You seem both fascinated and repulsed by the act of sex, by its potential to connect our spirits but also its ability to corrupt them. In your own words, do you think that the idea of human sexuality has influenced your songwriting, and if so, how?
LG: I am one of those people who doesn’t understand gender and I am often confused by the power of the inner workings of my own body, disturbed by the idea that people judge me based on preconceived ideas of femininity and physical beauty. Yes, I find sex with men to be both disturbing and transcendent. It is always transcendent for me to be bathing in someone else’s pleasure energy, however it is disturbing for me when so many men don’t seem to feel or understand the potential of that connection and simply wish to dominate and possess the female for selfish reasons. Yuck. Like peeing on a post. There are undeniable problems in our culture. I identify as a transgendered person and while I was writing this record I was wishing for a sex change operation, saying a most glamorous goodbye to my female parts and thinking about how I relate to female archetypes as they present themselves in Hollywood and in pornography and music. I don’t have the money for that kind of luxurious violence of cutting and sewing the body to fit my internal vision, so I was doing it in my imagination. I made my peace with outer and inner femaleness while making this record.
N: The music on Parplar seems to be influenced by the “folk tradition.” How do you define folk music? Does folk music have a special meaning to you?
LG: Bob Dylan said that the definition of a folk singer is someone who has a good memory. I have a terrible memory, and have never been a folk singer. My mother and father are folk singers. I don’t know how to play a single chord on a guitar, and I’m proud of that. I became a musician by taking speed and hallucinogens and singing in a dark room. I work in vibrations and colors. Atmosphere and storytelling. I make art music.
N: You’ve spent a large portion of your life in in transit, in motion. What are the merits and the drawbacks of a life spent in freeform flux?
LG: I just do what I have to do. Traveling keeps me safe, free from the judgment of others, free and clear above the petty squabbles of everyday society. In general I am grateful that people leave me alone and that they appreciate my ability to entertain them. Traveling constantly puts me in a special category of human being. I can always be the breath of fresh air. I think I also have a good handle on the concept of justice because of all the different things I see. If I settle down, I’ll lose that ability to be impartial. I am considering it, but won’t do it just yet. I have a big tour planned that will last all year.
N: Throughout all your travels, is there one place that holds the most magic for you?
LG: Alaska and Switzerland. The mountain air is so clean. Alpine meadows are so safe. Lying in a field of tiny flowers, listening to echoes, watching the sun set and the moon rise, feeling totally at peace with my solitude, being comforted by the earth and the sky as though they had human arms, falling asleep under the sparkling stars, waking up covered in dew, these are the things I love the best.
N: How do you define a perfect record?
LG: Perfection is boring! It’s the imperfections in man that grab my
attention, that interest me the most. In order to make a great record
I am willing to immerse myself in the glorious filth of human society
for as long as it takes to lose myself, and then if in the process of
writing about it I find Me again, it is probably a great record.
N: What contemporary artists have inspired you most?
Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt, two magical painters: Lauren Beck and Sophia Dixon, The sculptor/filmmaker Matthew Barney, Arrington De Dionyso, Tom and Colin from the band USAISAMONSTER, Michael Gira, Frida Hyvonen, Beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Phil Elverum, M.I.A., Two white shamans from New Hampshire named John Perkins and Llyn Roberts, A handsome and flashy Zen Master named Adyashanti, An energy healer/beat poet named Brett Bevell, My crazy friend Sam Grossman from The Wowz, Bjork, and a band called Lucky Dragons. Most of all, since childhood I’ve been competing with/inspired by my brother Joseph Grimm who has a minimalist noise band called The Wind-Up Bird and my sister Annelise Grimm who is a leatherclad biker chick and plays drums in a Balkan Brass Band called What Cheer? Brigade.
[ download ] How to Catch a Lizard from Parplar