Emilie Autumn on Fight Like a Girl: "It's About Taking Back Your Power"
Emilie Autumn's got a seriously bold message: "Fight like a girl." Certainly, like most strong statements, it can be taken the wrong way, but Emilie Autumn is touring the world to prove it's packed with positivity.
Growing up as a classically trained violinist, she always knew that performing and creating music went hand in hand. She soon realized she didn't fit the "classical musician" mold, and went on to pursue a musical career on her own terms. Years later, and with five albums behind her, Autumn's next goal is to bring her story to the theater stage in London and then around the world.
In a recent interview with the New Times, Emilie Autumn discussed empowerment, her new tour, and what it means to Fight Like a Girl.
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New Times: How's the tour been so far?
Emilie Autumn: Ridiculously amazing. It's been another planet. It's nothing like anything that we've ever done. It just so completely wonderful. It's the last step before this thing becomes the full blown musical production, and I think you can really tell, from beginning to end that it's a theater piece.
I'm really proud of how the audiences have been reacting to it because they're so good. They just rock out and freak out, and have the best time at the parts that they're supposed to. They cry at the parts they're supposed to. They're quiet at the parts that they're supposed to. It's beautiful. Somehow over the years we've developed this theatrical audience that knows exactly what to do and enjoy going to all these different places with us.
The musical is set to premiere in London. Why the choice to do it overseas versus the States?
That's the plan. A couple reasons. First, that is where the majority of the story is set. It's in London. It seems like it makes sense for the home base to be that. And secondly, as much of the wonderful time that we're having performing and touring in the U.S., I'm still significantly more popular in the U.K.. It makes sense to premiere something like that in a place where I'm pretty much guaranteed. An endeavor like that is basically like opening up a restaurant. A vast majority of them are going to fail. [laughs] So, I would like to do around three months there, and then bring it over to New York or something, and then tour with it.
Not that you don't have such a dedicated fanbase in the States, but why do you think there is such a difference between here and overseas?
You're sweet, but it's true. There is such a difference. I think it's because, well, I've been told since I started, that I should probably begin in Europe, the UK, overseas somewhere. It was simply because they were more accepting of things that are more eccentric, or at least I'd been told anyway years ago. Low and behold, it's totally true. And the deal is really that scenes that we have here, it's not that we don't have the audience, the scenes are, not that I'm a Goth-y act, but I appreciate all those different scenes and genres that are fringe like Gothic, industrial, here are still very underground. Over there, they're practically mainstream. That's why it pretty much is.
And also, when I think about it, America is just too fucking big. To go anywhere where things are condensed like they are, that's going to be better for anybody. When people want to conquer the states, it's a big deal. That's why everybody from Europe wants to go over to the U.S., it's a grass is greener situation. But really, that's why it can be such a challenge here in the States because the U.S. is just so huge.
The title of the new record, Fight Like a Girl, is such a bold statement. What does that phrase mean to you?
To begin with, it's just the obvious statement of taking something that is usually considered as being an insult and turning it into a compliment. That's the first bit. And then it's also a directive to tell people to do that, and also it just really gets down to the story from the book The Asylum which the album and the show is about. It's a story about these girls coming together and going from being victims to being ultimately extremely victorious by pretty much fighting like these wild creatures that they become. Pretty much if that's how you're fighting, you're fighting like a girl.
Like, if you're a boy, and you're throwing a baseball incorrectly, you're not throwing it like a girl, you're throwing it like a boy who has never been taught how to throw correctly. Ultimately, it's about the story and how things end up. Also, the idea of taking, this is why it's not only about girls, because our audience is 50 percent male, something that is meant to belittle someone and turn it into a compliment. This applies to all kinds of people. This is why our audience has people who are gay, lesbian, transgender, everything in between, and is constantly growing all the time, which is something I'm so excited about because people are realizing that it's about everybody.
It's about taking back your power. And you don't need to be a girl, and you don't need to be bipolar, you don't need to be whatever, you just need to be a basic human being who has had a bad day. [laughs] There is something empowering for everybody in that.
What empowers you?
Seeing that I can have an effect on other people. So, knowing that I can do something outside of myself, that isn't just for me, or about me. Because it's like, I know that I'm OK if I can help someone else. If you're not OK, you can't help anybody. That is really what I've figured out, that when I started to performing and seeing that what I do, if I do it well enough, is having an effect on people in a positive and healthy way, I realized that I must be doing alright. Because, if I wasn't I wouldn't be able to help anyone else. Seeing the audience being empowered is what empowers me.
Do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
I consider any woman to be a feminist unless she doesn't want to vote, then automatically yeah. [laughs] That's just pretty much the way it is.
Why do you think so many girls and women out there take issue with identifying with the word "feminist"?
I think it's a backlash, pretty much. It seems its always going to be this way, like any step forward that we as women take, there is always going to be a backlash. And so by taking a word that is meant to empower us is of course going to be taken as a bad thing. It's the same thing as words like witch, it's not a bad thing but now it's a scary Halloween character.
The gods of the past become the devils of the new. It's really simple, it's been made into a bad word because it's something that's empowering. Something that women could say to identify to one another that we are on this side together. Pretty much any word that we use would turn into a bad thing, and so I think it's just about girls being educated, being really smart and knowing what words are good and bad for themselves. The word aside doesn't matter. If you don't like that word, it's unfortunate, get an encyclopedia, figure out what it means and you'll find that it's totally OK.
If you're not into it, fine, just be that thing, be a strong human being whatever it is that you are and demand equality and demand to be recognized that you are 51 percent of the human population. We are not the minority, we are a majority, and we need to realize that. It doesn't matter what we call it.
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