Interview with the Clockwork Dolls

This time musikgraph.de presents an interview with the band the Clockwork Dolls to you. We already wrote about this interesting band (if you want to read it, click here). The two girls are not only special in looks but also in their music style! But read for yourself!

For the first impression, would you like to tell a few words about yourself?

Allison: The Clockwork Dolls are a perfect blend between sweet operetta and the robust, grand epic scores that you hear in blockbuster movies. It’s the perfect blend of delicious music and a rich sumptuous story will lift your spirits and spark the imagination like a succulent cup of fine coffee (or tea, if that’s your thing!) on a beautiful morning. The Clockwork Dolls: The caffeine in your balanced breakfast.

Helene: We’re very excited to be featured on your site! It’s wonderful to be able to reach out to our German fans.  When we started this project, we were just a little band from Baltimore! We never thought that we would get any attention outside of our area, let alone in Europe!

Is your idea of music more one of storytelling or how do you connect both ideas – music and telling?

Allison: As the composer and instrumentalist of The Clockwork Dolls, my main goal is to present a scenario from the story in sound. Much like a soundtrack for a movie, the music provides the emotional backdrop to a scene, and it’s my job to make sure you are immersed in a story or scenario and feel the intensity of the situation. A prime example of this would be Impartial; the percussion, the staccato strings, the noble brass, all aim to paint a picture of an impending battle. The chorus of the song strikes a valiant, jaunty pace which is meant to inspire and rouse, while the verse in the middle conveys the sense of doubt and the internal dilemma of questioning the ethics of asking those who serve to run headlong into a battle you simply cannot win.

Helene: As Allison is writing the musical themes, I will often sit behind her, humming along and jotting down ideas.  Before sitting down to write a song, we discuss what it is about and what the story will be. In general, Allison composes the basic musical structure first and I add the skeleton lyrics to it.  We go on from there, adding piece by piece until the song is finished and it tells the story we set out to tell.

Allison: If you were to think of this as a theatrical production (which, let’s face it, it kind of is), I would be the setting and the backdrop and Helene would be the actor on stage.

What kind of stories do you want to tell?

Allison: I want to weave together stories – grand, epic sagas like Lord of the Rings – in music and song. I want to inspire those who listen to the music to, in turn, tell their own stories. But that’s all really a big dream, and we all have to start from modest beginnings. Dramatis Personae, being our first (and only) album, seeks to introduce the listeners to characters in the universe. Each song is a central part of that particular characters life – a moment which changed them forever – whether it’s a bar fight gone wrong, the moment when a warrior decides to betray his country, or the song of a woman-captain freeing herself from the bonds of marriage and nobility, seeking freedom in the skies. All of Dramatis Personae paints a portrait of bigger things to come, like a train.

Helene: In essence, we are writing an opera. It is the tale of multiple individuals who come together in a grand adventure.  We encourage our fans to find themselves inside our world, to envision themselves traveling along side us and experiencing the things we experience.

Is there a biographical background behind your tales or if not, how do you find your ideas?

Helene: Well, the story is about us and our companions!  We write about significant events, important people, and significant places.

Allison: Usually, before writing a song, we figure out the scenario, the setting of a piece: Where does this song take place? Who are the characters within the song? And from there, I build a scene using instruments and Helene gets started in writing the script in the form of lyrics.

Helene: And quite often there’s a great deal of whiskey involved!

Allison: Whiskey really is a wonderful thing.

How did you find about your connection with music for yourself – especially how developed the preference for story telling music?

Allison: It really couldn’t go another way! You see we wrote the story … BEFORE writing the songs!

Helene: We’ve broken down our complete story into scenes and moments, identifying which key places need the elaboration of a song to bring them to life. When the emotion or development of a moment becomes too great, things cannot be expressed without music.

How would you describe the style of music of yours? Would you count yourself to Steampunk music?

Allison: Steampunk music is essentially a developing style; what started as a literary movement evolved into fashion and, recently, music. We were Steampunk musicians back in 2007 when we began (the third band to really call themselves Steampunk, I might add!), and we will continue to be so as long as the story supports it! If I were to describe the style of our music without using the word ‘Steampunk’, I would say our music is the perfect soundtrack to make anything you do seem like an epic struggle. Try listening to Iron Rose while riding your bike – everything will become amazing.

Helene: I don’t believe Steampunk can be classified simply.  It has a length and breadth that can hardly be measured.  It’s an aesthetic that we’re passionate about and something we’ll continue to support with our music as long as there are people to listen.  I enjoy that Steampunk and this project allows me to indulge in all my artistic predilections, from acting and singing to sewing and crafting.

As the Clockwork Dolls your stage characters are two imaginary characters, tell us about them and their world?

Helene: Helene de Fer is the daughter of a duke who is very unhappy with the life of nobility and the prospect of an arranged marriage.  She runs away from home, convincing her governess to come along and experience the great wide world.

Allison: Allison Curval is a clockwork governess whose origins and creation remain a mystery; she considers Helene De Fer her ward.

Helene: The world they inhabit is both familiar and strange, with a few tweaks to history creating an entirely new version of the Twenty-First Century.

Allison: Just imagine a world of fictional, anachronistic technology – one part history, one part science fiction – with an alternate history that runs parallel to our own. A world of great, crumbling empires, dreamers, clockwork machines, flying fortresses, airships, cities built on top of cities, secret societies, danger in every corner, and you have a hint of the world we are creating for our characters. Also, pie. There will be plenty of pies in this world.

Why these two characters, what is striking about them?

Helene: Helene is like a part of myself that I’ve always wanted to indulge but never could! Portraying her gives me a chance to indulge all of those fun, childhood fantasies. And as our story evolves, she just gets more fun and more interesting.  I do think that other people find her compelling for a wide variety of reasons; her independent spirit, her love of life, her determination.  But the most striking thing about the characters is how they relate to each, in comparison and contrast. They are best friends and foils, opposites and yet two of a kind.

Allison: Allison Curval was a prime selection for me because our personas are an extension of who we are in this fictional universe. I did not choose to be Allison Curval, Allison Curval manifested herself as an entity to me while I was writing the back story to this world. I don’t know, maybe I’ve always wanted to be a robot? That might explain the way I dance.

What’s striking about Allison Curval as a character is that she’s kind of a fish out of water, living among humans, and experiencing the world through her eyes is quite a unique experience. She’s an automaton, but at the same time, she’s human – it’s really hard to explain. As far as her relation to Helene, it’s really striking how the two of them end up evolving as the story progresses, from Governess and spoiled noble kid to First Mate and Captain.

Are you inspired by other artists?

Allison: Nine Inch Nails, Harry Gregson Williams, John Williams, Nobuo Uematsu, Depeche Mode, Enigma, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Emilie Autumn, Malice Mizer, Rasputina, vintage cabaret, Kurt Weill, Edith Piaf, Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, and Wagner. My iTunes playlist is amazing.

Helene: O yes, so many! GIlbert and Sullivan, The Pet Shop Boys, Johnny Cash, David Bowie…  I really the work that Fulber and Leeb have done with Conjure One and Delirium.  And Tori Amos! She’s also from Baltimore, you know.

What is the meaning behind the band name?

Allison: If I told you I would give away the plot of the story!

Helene: And then we just might have to kill you …

I admire your beautiful costumes, are you making them yourself?

Helene: I make some things myself and some I purchase. I like to be able to mix and match.

Allison: I’m about as skilled with a needle and thread as a five year old cutting grass with a chainsaw. I bought my clothes.

Your latest album is called “Dramatis Personae” full with impressing and affecting songs. What kind of story does it tell and what is your message for your audience?

Allison: Dramatis Personae introduces you to the cast of characters, decisions they made, and turning points in their lives. The message? Well, I’m not sure there really is one at this point!

Helene: We’re currently at work on the album that will tell the full story of Act I of our adventure. Goal One is to completely out-do anything we’ve ever done before. I can’t really say that there will be a message, but I like to live by following my dreams and would hope everyone can do the same.

What is your favorite song of yours and why?

Allison: The Ballad of Black Jack Jezebel holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the more unique tracks to work on. I also have a lot of funny stories about things that happened while I composed it. A close second would either be Maiden Voyage or Impartial; both songs presented a strong visual element to me as I was writing them ,especially after watching Last Exile, one of my favorite anime series.

Helene: It was so much fun to write! Jezebel was actually the first song where I wrote all of the words before Allison started working on the music.  I based it on the poetry of Robert Service. It wasn’t until after everything was done did I realize that you can sing the words to the tune of “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town” by Johnny Cash and vice versa!

I read you plan to release a second album along with a novel, is this true? What’s the idea behind it?

Allison: Yep! The second album really is going to be Book 1 of a grand storyline, so it only made sense that we write out the story in book form and release it alongside the album. Book 1 will take you through the grand story and album 2 will basically be the soundtrack to Book 1, only with some sweet fancy vocals and possibly voice acting.

Helene: Our ideas just keep getting bigger and bigger! There just too much to this story to be contained by one album.  The book will trace the story of Allison’s origin and Helene’s birth, how they became friends, and eventual pirates.  You know, all the good stuff!

What is the greatest thing while being on stage?

Helene: I love every aspect of performance! It’s hard to say what the single best aspect is, but if I had to narrow it down I’d have to say its the energy of the audience. I love the feeling of giving everything to the crowd and having them give it all right back.

Allison: Being on stage is nice, but hearing from those who have come to see us is better. I like communicating with our fans and saying hello to them. For those of you out there reading this, if you ever see us at a show, buy us a drink and join us for a chat. We love meeting people.

What are you doing when not performing music?

Allison: Gaming. I’m a hardcore gamer, I’m not ashamed of this.

Helene: Me, too! I think the both of us are rather more nerdy that most people realize.

I also like to go dancing to unwind. Goth, swing, ballroom, salsa … just about anything.  I also spend a rather unhealthy amount of time in Second Life, which I justify with the fact that there are several places there that play our music! I also love old B-Movies, especially Sci-fi from the 1950’s.

Do you plan or want to come to perform in Europe?

Helene: Oh my, yes! I’ve visited several places in Europe as a tourist, but I would love to come to perform!

Allison: I REALLY want to go to Germany.

Helene: Doing a tour outside of the US would be a dream come true. It’s still hard for me to imagine the fans outside of our little home town.

One personal question: Is it difficult to sing while wearing a corset?

Helene: I get that question a lot, actually.  No, it isn’t exactly difficult, it just takes practice!  Allison, do you find it hard to play in your corsets?

Allison: Not at all, after a while the corset starts to feel comfortable, like a bear hug that never lets go or being stuck in a Chinese finger trap.

Do you have a message left to our readers?

Allison: Don’t accept candy from strangers, don’t do drugs, and stay in school.

Helene: Follow your dreams and read lot of books!

Allison: Don’t touch things that are on fire, or you will, in turn, catch on fire.

Did I forget something important which you awfully wanted to be mentioned?

Helene: Thanks for the interview!  Please visit us online at www.theclockworkdolls.com.  And please make sure to check out all the other talented artists on Gilded Age Records.

Allison: You may also find us on myspace.com, reverbnation.com, last.fm, and of course facebook. And if you’re on facebook, make sure you shoot us a friendly hello. We won’t bite. Plus, I usually charge for that service.

Thanks for the great interview too!

Kategorie Interview, Steampunk

Ich bin Janina und komme aus Norddeutschland. Daher stammt wohl auch der Faible für düstere Musik (schlechtes Wetter und viel Wind ;)), die nicht ganz der Norm entspricht. Mit einem schrägen und rauen Sinn für Humor und einer großen Begeisterung für Steampunk und Mittelalter bin ich in diesem Blog für die Seitenblicke auf etwas ausgefallenere Projekte zuständig. (Janina bei Google+)

2 Kommentare

  1. Pingback: Jeremiah R. Morrow

  2. Wenn großes Interesse besteht, das Interview auch noch auf deutsch zu lesen, können wir es noch übersetzen. Ich persönlich lese grundsätzlich lieber die originalen Interviews und da wir gerade viel zu tun haben, haben wir es erstmal nur auf Englisch gepostet.
    Wenn Interesse an einem deutschsprachigen Interview hat möge kommentieren 😉

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