photo by: Allen Martin
Interview by: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: Where are you from originally?
EA: Originally, I am from Fayetteville, Arkansas, which is a University City in the northwest corner of the state; far cry different from New York.
DK: What was your early childhood like?
EA: I don’t recall too much of my early childhood. When I was 19, the back of my head was bashed into the floor a few times by a guy I was in a relationship with. Any events that took place in my life before the age of 19 are either a blur or come to me out of order by date (or there are huge gaps and I can’t make the connections). What I can remember of my childhood seems traditional enough – I never really knew my real dad, my step-dad was a jerk but worked hard and helped pay bills, my mother was (and still is) a very good woman who worked her ass off and took care of her kids, my little sister and older brother both got on my nerves, and I spent a lot of time in my room with my radio and my keyboard.
DK: Do you have a big family?
EA: I guess that depends on your definition of big. I grew up mainly with my mom, my step-dad, my younger sister, and my older brother. Once in a while my two older step-sisters would stay over. Long after my older brother and I were out of the house, my little brother was born. I guess I would define my family as “medium-sized”. (I grew up in the south. There were plenty of families there much bigger than mine.)
DK: What were your interests as a child and teenager?
EA: Mostly singing and dancing, but I was into piano lessons, painting and sculpting, and pretty much anything that let me express myself. Television Productions caught my attention in high school (but that was when SVHS was the shit). I liked sports, most especially soft ball. I spent countless months on tournament and traveling teams, and between three kids playing ball, my mother pretty much spent all of her free time away from work watching us play.
DK: Were you a good student in school?
EA: School didn’t bother me. School was just one of those things that I knew was part of life. My teachers usually liked me because I was highly creative and loved to think “outside of the box”. I don’t recall making bad grades or failing. I’m not exactly done with school even at this point. I’m still working on my Th.D.
DK: Did you ever experiment with drugs?
EA: Who the hell didn’t and if you didn’t, why the hell didn’t you? Being a mother, I think I’d find it horribly difficult to tell my son to stay away from something I didn’t know anything about. I never did anything beyond pot and painkillers (which I haven’t done since high school).
DK: Who were your inspirations during your teen years?
EA: I specifically remember Rob Zombie and Alanis Morisette, but I very much liked Nine Inch Nails, Stabbing Westward, Gravity Kills, Garbage, and all of those other 90’s bands and artists. When I was very young, I enjoyed Janet Jackson, Tiffany, Paula Abdul, En Vogue….
DK: When did you start up with the first band that you were with?
EA: I think I went through two or three bands before I settled on Asy9, and I don’t think those bands are worth mentioning. They were jam-bands, more or less, and I usually played guitar and/or bass in them. I didn’t really sing that much until I formed Asy9 in 97/98.
DK: What made you realize that things just weren’t working in it and how long was the band going for?
EA: I realized that I didn’t really care for being in a band, period. Being a solo-artist sounded much more intriguing (especially the part about avoiding band drama). I never really had a point of realization so much as I sort of had a transitional period of time where I went from jam-band(s) to solo-artist.
DK: You sound like you are an absolute perfectionist. Looking back on your earliest works, do you still feel your material was not as good as you originally thought back then?
EA: I think it’s safe to say that what I did in 98/99 (the Blood On My Hands time period) is not half as good as what I did in 2005/beginning 2006 (the Quicksilver/Forlorn time period). I am my own worst critic, but it’s fair to say that over the years, I’ve learned to accept my vocals as they are, I’ve picked up on new software and instruments, I’ve learned new engineering tricks, my lyrics have improved….
DK: Did you (or do you) work with computers for a day job that allowed you the know-how to build your own computer?
EA: Computers have always had my interest, and I’m just recently getting a bit bored of them. To be honest, I learned more about the guts of computer systems via fixing my mom’s broken computers than I did any other way. But also, back when being A+ certified was cool, I had to learn how to build a basic system. Later came using computers for making music and videos, and of course I realized that I needed customized systems to run a studio. As for present, I use computers all day long for graphic design, site build and SEO, website analytics, and you know… Myspace.
DK: What became of your first two albums? Are there any copies floating around for people to purchase still?
EA: The first album, Drunk On Dreams of Shadows & Darkness has been long gone although every album I’ve put out since then has featured a song or two from it. The track Blood On My Hands from DOD has caught a bit of special attention; people have made offers, I have turned them down (one of those a supposed 12 thousand dollar deal from some Hollywood crackpot). Quicksilver sold out over a year ago, and Quicksilver: Rarity Disc 1 (which was picked up by Hastings Music Stores and Projekt) sold out a few months back. Singles sold out about a week ago. Some tracks from Singles have felt some nibbles from companies like Sony, but I’ve never been able to secure anything usually due to the fact that big companies want everything for free and I’m afraid that I’m not willing to hand out my hard work for nothing in return. I am no different from any other artist – it takes big dollars to fund tours and albums. If I hand out my work for free, Asy9 will go under. I am 26 years old, and I understand common business practices perfectly well and big companies aren’t fooling me. I never sell myself short and I don’t think anyone else should either.
DK: How were your shows received when you played on your own (prior to getting some band members)?
EA: Almost everything ran off of a CD-player (sans my vocals, of course). One is a lonely number – very lonely on stage – but to be honest, people enjoyed the shows regardless. A friend of mine, Bryan Crump, jumped in on keyboards at some point during tour (which was much appreciated). On April 17th of 2005, Jeremy and Egypt offered to play for Asy9. Bryan was able to get back to his photography career, and Asy9 moved on as a 3-piece live band. Since showmanship improved, the audience appreciated the shows even more.
DK: Now “Forlorn” is your first album that has met your levels of satisfaction. Why would you say that is? What has changed?
EA: Artists simply grow and evolve with their music; or at least I do. Forlorn is an incredibly emotionally charged album for me as it reflects a) Happiness in finding a new relationship and then b) The relationship dissolving c) The results. It goes through songs like Muster which goes on about how I feel saved and loved by a man, and then into songs like Open, where I basically admit I’m an idiot for loving him but am contemplating revenge; Heroine where I am depressed and beating myself up, Agree To Disagree where I feel like an abused whore; The Very Last Thoughts of an Insane Girl which is written in complete and utter sarcasm.
DK: How long did it take you to put it together?
EA: As long as it took that relationship to start and end – about two years.
DK: What was your life like at each point when you released each of your albums? Was there a noticeable change in your life and lifestyle and an improvement along the way?
EA: To be honest, my life right now is the greatest it’s ever been and it’s only been this great for about 6 or 7 months. Life before then was usually pretty up and down, usually pretty rough and depressing. There were good times and bad ones, but most usually bad ones. My albums tend to reflect my hard times. Most artists work that way, so I guess in that respect, I’m not very unique. But I’m glad I had my music and I’m glad people listened to it and enjoyed it.
DK: Glad to hear things have been looking up for you! Now, in addition to your music, you are also an artist, model, photographer, programmer, and a mom, (did I miss anything?) :-)
EA: True, I like to entertain. Most of what I do revolves around entertaining people in some way or another. Yes, I program, but that tends to come with the job of being a web consultant. I am a mother, indeed. My son is the grand light of my life and he comes before work, relationships, and my own life.
DK: How old is your son or daughter?
EA: My son is eight.
DK: What does he think of what you do?
EA: My son has helped me engineer and record, he’s actually been featured in a few songs (which have yet to be released since they were recorded with a band from Italy), he is a great photographer, and he is learning basic HTML programming at this point. In other words, my son is interested in all the things I do. And of course, he is a boy, so he’s in love with anything gross and gory (my older brother was like that when he was growing up). So not only is he a fan of my artwork but also of other dark artists—mainly Giger. He has a room in our house that’s dedicated to him and his own artwork, within which he spends plenty of time creating. But as a parent, some things are just common knowledge: your children do not go to lingerie shoots with you, they are not allowed to curse and do not get to hear the uncensored versions of songs, they don’t follow along to the night clubs, you don’t invite the party people to your house every weekend… Some things are just best left unknown until your child/children is/are of age.
DK: You are a real Jane of all trades. Do you find it hard to find time for all your interests while still giving your child enough time and attention?
EA: My son is an attention hog. I hardly ever get any time alone. In fact, the time I do get alone is usually when he’s at school and I’m working; however, I’m incredibly dedicated to my family and very much enjoy having family breakfasts and dinners, cleaning the house as a team, working on art projects together, taking trips together, sitting out on the porch after dinner at night, and so on. We’re like the Brady Bunch gone Adams Family. I think I’m so used to juggling everything—plus I grew up with a very, very busy family—it doesn’t phase me to live this way. When things actually slow down, I find that I’m bored out of my mind (as are my son and fiancé’).
DK: Are there particular themes in your art (and music) that you want to convey in particular?
EA: I try my hardest to say something different with every song, with every photoshoot, with every piece of art. At times I will present series sets, most especially in my photography and art like the Broken Doll Series or the Winter Series.
DK: Is the darkness that pours out of you a reflection on what is in your heart as well? Or a purging of and darkness that gets into your heart?
EA: Both. I think it’s on a spin cycle. It comes in, it goes out, it comes in, it goes out…
DK: How often do you work with your other forms of media? (art/photography, etc)?
EA: I tend to swap them around so that I work on all of them an equal amount. I get burned out easily but at the same time, I’m obsessed with finishing what I start. Therefore, balance is necessary. I worked on Asy9, grinding teeth and knuckles, from 1997 to the beginning of 2006. When I moved to New York, I decided it was time to put Asy9 in the background to make room for something new and fresh like dark art. I will work on my dark art until I feel like I’m getting tired of it, and then suddenly I’ll re-launch Asy9 or start on something new. Perhaps I’ll tour again? Maybe I’ll focus harder on school? Modeling? Vacationing (hmmm!)?
DK: What have you gotten more positive responses with, your music, art or photos?
EA: Response levels are all about the same. Plenty of people who like Asy9 really like my artwork and photos. Though sometimes I feel like I’m living the life of two or three different people since there’s sort of a uhm, ‘clique’ for each individual career field.
DK: Do you think you could be swayed in any one particular direction based on people’s interest? Or will you always stay creative in all areas?
EA: Fact: I can’t make everyone happy and I can live with that. I have stuck to my guns to this point and I’ve done none too shabby, so I think I’ll stay on this path.
DK: What is your take on the world around us? (the war, global warming, that sort of stuff)?
EA: Humankind gets itself out of one mess by getting itself into an even bigger one. It reminds me of the frog and the pail. A frog is put in a pail on a stove and the heat is gradually increased. The frog (frogs are very good at adapting) adjusts to each new level of heat. Eventually it boils to death because it is so good at adapting it never thinks to jump out of the pail. This almost suicidal adaptability is humankind’s story. Humans have fighting, destruction, selfishness, hate, greed and jealousy in their DNA — just look at history. They dress it up in noble causes, like religion, freedom, democracy, patriotism, making the world safe for Barbie dolls and so on, and they use institutions like government, church, armies and corporations as the cover, but it’s still an attempt by one tribe or clan to dominate another. What you see going on right now is almost total fragmentation as nations and regions cope with dwindling resources, the pollution of water and food supplies, disease, the population explosion and so on. As to the future, some humans will have one, most won’t.
DK: Changing gears again here back to your music, is there a new album on the way with Egypt and Jeremy contributing? Did they also move to NY along with you by the way?
EA: At this point, there are no albums on the way where E and Jeremy contribute, and no they didn’t move to New York with me. They still reside in Kansas and Jeremy still plays with God Project.
DK: How much new material do you have now since Forlorn’s completion?
EA: Forlorn is planned to have 13 to 15 tracks, depending on a few little details, but beyond those tracks—beyond that album—I have no new material up my sleeve. I’m sure my competitors are thrilled.
DK: I noticed it seemed you would test out some of your songs from time to time on the website MySpace. What are your thoughts towards the site and has it helped boost people’s interest in you?
EA: MySpace. It utterly blows away traditional media and even most Web media. The only thing that’s strange is that all those high priced media types took so long to figure out a) what the Internet could do and b) what the average Joe n Jane wants to do with it.
Anyway, MySpace is brilliant but it’s a victim of its own success. It’s becoming too generic rather than the cool niche venue it was. It’s curious, and vaguely unsettling, to see your mom’s profile, all prim and proper, alongside someone half-naked and covered in blood and body parts called “GoreGasm” (or whatever). Are they really destined to be part of each others’ “network”?! Not sure I’d invite them to the same party. The search functionality sucks (though the Google deal may improve that, so long as it doesn’t degenerate into a contextual advertising free for all). Myspace is great as a distribution vehicle for user-created music and video, because it enables anybody to be famous to 15 other people. Times have changed as stars no longer have their 15 minutes of fame, but rather they are famous to 15 people.
DK: I also notice that you do not currently have any videos on the site YouTube.com; do you think you would ever entice more people with footage of your live shows there?
EA: It’s a thought, but I don’t think I have any live footage of Asy9 from the time Jeremy and E joined in April of 2005. Originally, when I lived in Oklahoma, I was working with a guy based out of Oklahoma City in order to create a video for Something Up My Sleeve. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to find people who’ll stick with projects and actually make them happen. It never ceases to amaze me, the amount of lazy-asses on this planet who drag out projects endlessly. I miss the days where people actually got fired for not doing their work.
DK: Speaking of live shows, when and where can people expect to see you and will you be heading over to Chicago again in the near future?
EA: I’m really not sure at this point. I think I’ve put in a lot of time towards touring over the last few years and it’s been incredibly fun but equally exhausting.
DK: How much interaction do you have with your audiences?
EA: Tons. We hang at the shows, we talk on the Internet, and we stay in touch. I can’t imagine being in the entertainment field and not having any real interaction with my audience.
DK: Now, what is in your (planned) future for the remainder of the year?
EA: I am so looking forward to the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Befana) since I love spending time with my family. Beyond that, I’m booked with modeling, photography, auditions, and events concerning marketing my work.
DK: What goals would you like to accomplish within the next couple years?
EA: To maintain stability is my number one goal. Beyond that, I take life one day at a time and we’ll just see what comes of it.
DK: Thank you very much for your time!
EA: Thank you Dennis!
I started Asy9 in or around 1996-97 with a trashed out Dell and Acid Pro. I had no idea what I was doing, but whatever it was, I thought it was “cool”. It sucked, but for anyone who’s ever been determined, you know what it is to learn as much as you can and to never stop trying. After having done the “band thing”, I ditched the band and decided I wanted to be a solo artist. I came to know Brian at Aromatone Records in 1998 while club-hopping in Tulsa with a friend. I visited the recording studio for the first time. I expected to work a little. Brian mistook me for a complete idiot and decided that if he just threw together a few small Rebirth “beats” for me and put them on a CD, I’d feel accomplished. A year later I decided I had enough of my own (worthy) material to hit the studio again. I recorded “Hypoxtian”, which sounded like it had been recorded in a bathroom with a few extra effects added in. It was then I decided I’d learn how to run the studio myself. That seemed easier than trying to tell someone else what I wanted. So my first “real” album was a learning process, more or less. Before I knew it, I was a studio co-owner and audio engineer.
The two first Asy9 albums, “Drunk on Dreams of Shadows & Darkness” and “Why The Evil Prosper” formed rather quickly and painlessly. I worked about 10-20 hours a day on those two albums, and I guess somewhere in the process realized I wasn’t producing the type of music I really wanted to produce. Two things were for sure: Rebirth and Dell would always remain out of the equation. I had the education to build computer systems for myself and to handle high-end technology, so that’s exactly what I did. I also had enough sense to know that at least 60% of the future fan base wouldn’t accept a girl without a band or at least an audio engineer at her side. I catch a lot of shit from the guys, who happen to get easily offended when I don’t take their technical advice. I never said my shit didn’t stink. I just said I didn’t want it to stink like everyone elses.
I recorded “Quicksilver, the 3rd Asy9 album, in three different places (the studio, my basement, and an apartment) and two different states (Oklahoma and Arkansas). For whatever reason(s), “Quicksilver” gained some radio play and attention. Or perhaps all those years I’d been working on Asy9 had started to pay off. It did finally get to the point that I needed band members in order to make live shows happen.
I went through a fine number of people who swore to be “great managers” who ended up being full of shit (welcome to the usual world of the music industry) and a few potential band mates who turned out to be total wastes of time — time I really didn’t have to waste. But while searching for the right band members, I decided I’d work on the next album, “Forlorn”.
“Forlorn” is the first Asy9 album that I can honestly say I like. I guess I evolve and change so rapidly that I get sick of my own tunes too quickly, but “Forlorn” has stuck, “Open” probably being one of my favorite tracks from the disc. “Forlorn” is dearer to me than the other albums and is a concept album, filled with one big story and several little ones within. I decided I would feature a few great artists, like Satyr of Produkt and Shannon Thomas, but that I would go as I always had as a solo artist the rest of the way through the album.
A friend of mine from Oklahoma City decided he’d be a dear and that he’d jump on the keyboards for me so that I could have at least one other person on stage with me during shows. So off he and I went on a magical tour, which I think was more disastrous than anything. To say the least, it was a hell of an experience. But we saw a lot of places and met a lot of cool people and bands.
After a show with The God Project in Kansas City, Jeremy and Egypt decided to offer their talented services. Jeremy seemed laid back and knowledgeable and Egypt seemed really pumped and dedicated, so I accepted. Though neither of them has played on the actual albums, I feel incredibly blessed to have them along side me for tour. I am no fan of band drama, and I like the fact that I don’t have to wonder who I’m going to be replacing each month. Suffices to say I am very happy with the two of them.
I know where Asy9 has been but I’m not quite certain as to where it’s going. I haven’t worked on a song in the studio since I finished “The Very Last Thoughts of An Insane Girl”. I think with “Forlorn”, I threw so many negative emotions into my music that now I’m trying to separate whatever of me is left from my “negative self” in “Forlorn”. (“Forlorn” isn’t out yet. It still must be mastered.) I like to say that Asy9 is my bastard child. That sounded horribly rock-starish.