Novembre-Décembre 2008, Paris, France
Interviewer: Yannick Blay for www.elegy.fr
In February 2012, Yannick wrote to say he moved to Premonition magazine, France.
Your cats Djinn and Dulcinea are the two muses of this album. Is it also a way to pay homage to them and to share with us all what they gave you?
Yes, our feline companions give such joy, inspire such respect and spark such whimsy, they’re kindred souls. Our songs evoke lions, panthers, tigers, leopards, jaguars and other wild cats, along with sphinxes, elementals and whirling genies. Deep in shadows of history, Egyptian cat gods Sekhmet and Bastet… command this passion. Djinn and Dulcinea rekindled my interest in literary cats, like the Cheshire Cat, Edward Lear’s sailing Pussy, and Puss-in-Boots.
Can you tell us about them ?
They entered our garden as abandoned strays. We adopted them, with all the medical procedures. (This is an issue in Australia, where feral cats kill native wildlife.) Djinn is a petite black pantherlina, my Familiar. She enjoys songs in the garden. Dulcinea is a snowy lioness, my Totem. She prefers having stories read to her, especially tales by Dunsany, Lang and Cervantes.
Don’t you have the feeling that it’s not a chance when a cat comes into your life, but rather destiny ?
Yes. I believe Faerie folk led us to each other. Djinn first became trustful when I whispered “Are you a Djinn?” A year later, Dulcinea arrived in a storm, as if she’d fallen from the sky.
You began to work on this album with your husband in 1983. Why a so long time to finish it?
1983 was when I wrote ‘Tree’. Most songs were written with Mark, whom I met 1991. It takes years to find the right album for each melody or theme. The other reason is that there are so many great albums released by other artists, it feels ungracious to request more attention.
I feel serenity and sweetness when I’m listening to Djinn. What was your own feeling when you were composing it?
In some songs, like ‘Blue Beyond the Sky’ or ‘Jinn Jinnee’, I felt deep, sad joy. That’s a paradox, but it sometimes happens when listening to my favourite music, like Stoa. (Olaf Parusel and I have often discussed this. You can hear it in his new album Silmand, which includes our collaborations.)
I also feel there are a lot of symbols and icons in this album…
Yes. It possibly stems from our love for poetry, where economy of language may bring heightened intensity through metaphors or subconscious echoes, rather than verbose description or polemic tirades. It’s possible to transcend ego to some extent through symbolism and iconography. Maybe we don’t need to be scholars to access the kollektives Unbewusstes, what Hindus call the Paramatman. Yet such a realm can be illuminating to explore and contemplate.
Can you tell us about your collaboration with Frédérique Henrottin from Keltia and Nicholas Albanis + Naomi Henderson from Dandelion Wine?
These artists, like my producers Brett Taylor and Harry Williamson and our other collaborators, are talented, sensitive souls; one might say in fey language, “people of grace”. I recommend their albums to lovers of ethereal darkwave, ethno-trance, dreamrock, gothic or contemporary medieval genres.
How did you meet them?
I met Keltia at our Bruxelles shows, 2003. Dandelion Wine is a Melbourne duo. We met online, shared a gig here and I hope they will meet Keltia with me at the 2009 Trolls & Legends festival, Bruxelles, where I look forward to working with enchanting French singer/pianist Nehl and reuniting with label mates Daemonia Nymphe… (Subsequent note: all this did wonderfully happen!)
Can you tell us about instruments played on Djinn?
They include dulcimer, flute, harp, piano, charango, harpsichord and bowed psaltery, along with my mandolin, guitar, indigenous firesticks (handmade by Aboriginal musicians with the Koorie Heritage Trust) and Tibetan Shanti Chimes, sent by my French label Prikosnovenie. You can also hear them in the new album Satya by Lys.
Can you comment on the painting by your mother for us?
Her painting is entitled Peace. My mother Belinda has long been exhibiting and selling works in oil, inspired by the bushland, still life, people and art history. Her father was a brilliant draughtsman who designed one of Australia’s legendary cars. There have been many painters, potters and landscape designers in her family. She is now back at university, honing her technique. This is the first time her painting connected with my music directly – through Djinn. (Mum had earlier sketched the French village of Clisson, resulting in a series of exquisite little water colours.)
What are your favourite cat’s paintings or drawings? What do you think about Louis Wain and his Catland?
I like Louis Wain’s picture Early Indian Irish. I am keen on Black Bamboo Blue Cat (Meow and Zen) by Ivan Chan, Blue Butterfly Cat by Cathey Osborne and cat watercolours by Michael Jurogue Johnson. As a child I fell in love with the original illustrations of Aslan in the Narnian chronicles and an early cover of Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat. As for Sabine-Adelaide’s art: it’s always superb. Now, the cats that she created for my newest album surpass any of her expression of my music so far… as if we encountered similar dreamscapes, in the faerie world of cats.
Merci beaucoup & amities! – Louisa.