By EVAN MILLAR
If you’re looking for a splash of darkly seductive colour to brighten this period of looming uncertainty, let this serve as your timely introduction to the work of New York-based industrial goth-pop artist Kacie Marie.
Having recently released the foreboding and vibrant video for her latest single “Bad Luck,” we caught up with Kacie to discuss her journey into new musical territory, the creative process, dystopian cinema, and a deep-dive into the complex and twisted duality of human emotion.
“Bad Luck” is a bit of a stylistic shift musically for you. Was this electronic sound a direction you had wanted to explore for a while, or did it just come about naturally?
It definitely came about naturally. I’m honestly interested in exploring and twisting any genre and style that comes into my creative path. Every opportunity to make music is an opportunity to challenge my creative self, and I’m excited to explore a more electronic sound and to see where it leads.
For this single, you worked with Grammy nominated Joel Hamilton, whose previous projects include everything from co-writing and producing Tom Waits material to mixing The Black Keys’ collaborative hip hop/R&B album BlakRoc. How did this partnering come about?
What’s interesting is that when I lived in Philadelphia, I was actually a huge fan of BlakRoc. I used to jam out to that album by myself, and I didn’t even realize that Joel was the producer of that – I was a fan of him without even knowing it! The music world is not so large, especially in New York, and we just had a couple people and studios in common and it sort of manifested that way. We had wanted to try this sort of goth-pop project, so it was a fun challenge. But with any genre I work in, I never want to make straight pop or straight country, you know? If I have an assignment, whether it’s cinema or music, I want to twist it.
You’ve worked on several indie horror films, even alongside one Ron Jeremy (as a Catholic priest, no less!). From a creative perspective, what are some of the major differences between the directing/acting and writing/recording processes for you? Do you prefer one over the other?
Was that Alpha Girls? Yeah, I had some interesting run-ins on that one [laughs]. I don’t exactly consider myself an actress, but I am glad that I got to try those things. I feel that for any artist, especially performing artists of sorts, getting killed in films is part of the artistic journey. I mean for me, music and cinema are sort of the same. My whole career has always been like, “Alright, I’m going to focus on music,” and then some sort of movie or visual thing would pop up and I was like, “Well, I can’t say no to that!” Eventually I stopped trying to make myself choose and find a way to merge them together because I can’t have one without the other, it’s just impossible for me. So that’s why it’s been really great working with Joel, because he has been a supporter and believer in me making films and music videos. He just trusts my visions and we go for it. So that’s been really fun, to work with someone on such an incredible scale, and specifically him because he’s so talented. He’ll be like, “What do you want to do?” and I’ll say, “I wanna get glittered up and twerk!” If nothing else it just feels good to have people behind you who believe in you, and my teams have always kind of been involved in horror. One guy who helped shoot on this music video, Anthony Curry, I’ve been in movies with him since he was 16 years-old. He shot some VHS footage for “Bad Luck” and did such an excellent job.
The video almost reminded me at times of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. What are some of your favourite works of horror or dystopian fiction? Why do you think we’re so drawn to depictions of horrific situations and societal collapse?
The list is never ending, but some of my favorites are Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, Nosferatu, the original Suspiria, The Devil’s Rejects, Ready Player One, 28 Days Later, Uzamaki, The Exorcist, etc. I think as we all grow older and wiser in consciousness, we realize that a lot of our understandings and beliefs about the world and society as we thought we knew them, were built on lies and fear. I believe diving into this horrific cinema and the mythology of societal collapse is a way to look at it straight in the eye and ask, “Does this scare me?” And, if yes, then why? I like asking myself these questions when it comes to horror and dystopian cinema. There are so many different shades of colours in the world and there are so many experiences that we will, or might never have. With visuals and art, we can paint each picture however we want. Exploring our own senses and finding what makes our own hearts beat faster is something that I love to explore.
The imagery in “Bad Luck” got me waxing philosophical a bit on the connectivity between love, death, beauty, and darkness, something conveyed well in the glitter and eerie high-speed chase imagery. The great Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi once wrote in “Love and Death” that nothing gives one the courage to face death like the moments of happiness found in true love, or that unrequited love can render this world unliveable. As a former pin-up model and horror fan, what are your thoughts on this sentiment?
At a core level, my existence is committed to the thought that myself, and others, are here to simply experience this life. I think it’s true what that poem says about love, even if it’s never quite that simple. And, I believe that love, obsessions and sometimes volatile feelings can fan the flames of our desires and drive our own personal passions in this life if we let them. I pour my love, lust, time, sexual energy, anger, fear, and vulnerability, into my art. I will admit that sometimes I don’t know where else to put these feelings. I take a chance on every song and visual expression that I make. I put it all in, because why not?
How important are the visuals that accompany your music to you? What are your thoughts on the current state of music videos in the age of the Internet and YouTube?
I think it’s awesome… someone can put out a masterpiece that’s so emotional and film it on their iPhone, our technology is there. Obviously we can tell when something is shot on a phone, but if it’s good, it’s good. But for me personally, I just use it as an excuse to make a little movie. As I said before, I love the idea that every different visual you make changes the sound of things and I’ll notice it when I’m editing because it’s like the music actually gets louder. It’s interesting, that kind of symbiosis that happens. If I had the time, money, and energy, I’d make more music videos for the same song. I feel like we’re in a time when there are no fucking rules, if you can harness it and figure out what you want to do. Right now I’m interested in just doing it piece for piece, and I’m glad we got to put out “Bad Luck” first, because it was more of a cinematic effort with the vibe that we’re going for.
What’s next for you, musically or otherwise?
After “Bad Luck” my next musical release will be the next single “Captive,” along with a music video that I directed and edited, followed by the full EP that I made with Joel. There will be live shows as well, dates currently TBA. Also, I continue to direct film and video, and I look forward to working on a feature film not too far out in the distance. You can expect it to be dark, beautiful, abstract, and of course a little bit scary.