Carla Bozulich is a multi talented musician and performer who has been the figurehead of many of the bands that have meant such a great deal to, and have coloured, many years of my life; Geraldine Fibbers, Ethyl Meatplow, Scarnella
Prior to this interview Carla sent me an email about the questions I had mailed her the morning after seeing her perform live. She wrote, ‘I think it was a great idea to write the questions while you were full of that surging energy. I’m glad you pointed the energy at me and sent me those provocative questions that had me wondering and picturing myself as a link or puzzle piece and how that piece fits together with each thing around me. Every moment shoots a signal to choice’. With these words, Carla unintentionally gave me the words to explain this zine; it’s a way to communicate with, and join my puzzle piece to the world – and to those in the world who have provided me with a surging energy.
Hi Carla, I just wanted to write to you about last night. Thank you for coming and playing such a terrific set, and for filling that church with your voice and passion. It stirred me deeply; awoke me, stunned me.
Your set threw up so many emotions for me (as your gigs always do!), and I sat in the train station on my way home last night kicking myself for not jumping on the opportunity to interview you there and then
Sorry this took so long. The questions were so rich I just kept saying to myself, do this when you have lots of time.
How has your current tour been going?
Have you had the chance to hook up with any personally inspiring bands, or musicians along the way?
Well, the tour was excellent. One of my all time faves. It was so much fun --first travelling with my friend Bobb, who is in the band polar goldie cats and a bunch of other cool bands. He does this thing under his own name where he wears a bunny suit and plays samples on this drum pad. It’s this great mix of metal, ambience, pop and just plain Bobb. Anyway, he covered a lot of ground with me, sometimes playing bass and drums at once, etc. Also during most of that time Alva Dittrich from Bonn who does the zine Toilet Paper and plays in Blockshot drove us around and helped us with all sorts of things. The same for Claire from Edinburgh where I got to play solo with Chris Corsano who is so trendy it's almost easy to forget how fucking amazing he is. AND sweet and real, YAY for the good folks! His girlfriend studies dog skulls! Yay, dog skulls! Then I travelled mostly alone on the train for 6 weeks or so and that's where the really crazy stuff went down. I had the best time.
How important is collaboration to you and your music (and to life in general)?
It is my life's blood. That was the only real hard part of the rest of my tour was trying to learn to play mostly alone (I did engage the help of many audience and opening band members for a song here and there.)
This zine is trying to establish links between inspirational people, those who have altered my life, or the way that I experience it, and those who could further inspire readers.
What are your initial reactions when somebody (such as myself) deems you inspirational?
Reaction.... it makes me feel like I want to be a better person. I hope I never stop feeling that way. I find your curiosity inspiring to be open to new ideas. Thanks.
Who are your personal inspirations?
Patti Smith, Emma Goldman, my cat runAway, Nels Cline, Sissy Spacek.
What does ‘inspiration’ mean to you?
Fired up and out from a deep sleep. Or the opposite---being taught to dream. Stimulated to be open and accepting new ideas from anything---nature, hair-dos, politics. Growing by the ideas of someone special who crosses my path either through media, etc or actually meeting them, though I can barely stand to meet people that I feel in awe of.
I’m really interested in the idea that all of us as individuals can create and be inspirational in and of ourselves. What are your thoughts on this?
go Go go Go gogogOOOO!!!!!
On your website there is currently this amazing quote from Vice Cooler that made my internal organs get goose-bumps and made my heart rush up to meet my mouth halfway. He writes:
“Real change will be made through pouring the only heart and soul that you will ever own into everything you do and into every day that you live. We’re all in this bullshit together it’s up to you and me to keep each other afloat. I won’t let you down and I hope you do the same. Only then, I hope we can all die alive.
I appreciate and love everything that my extended family of friends do to help create comfort and positive outlook for the rest of us. This feeds itself and motivates others to push, make, bake and EXPLODE into new ideas. These ideas feed growth and growth leads to new ground. Always remember that we are a community.”
Why did you personally feel inspired to reproduce these words on your site?
Of course. He is one of my biggest reminders that love is most powerful as an action, not an idea or amorphous feeling.
Are you in touch with Vice, and feel a part of the ‘community’ that he discusses? I ask this, as his words made me, somebody far away from his geographical and friendship community, feel comforted and supported regardless. What are your thoughts on the universality of ‘community’ and collective support?
He is right. He is a generous person who shares a kind of permission to close the gaps we seem to feel the need to preserve. I think this "space" is one of the most powerful forms of voluntary control we relinquish to negative forces. The infrastructure of our co-operation with economic imbalance, separatism, racism, jealousy---well, it all would be less important if we could relax and stop worrying about touching people we don't know or helping someone we don't understand or building a start in our own communities as an example that we won't be a part of this sinister idea that we are only concerned with ourselves and our kin. This world has to evolve beyond that. The fucked up system will not function properly if we push together, learn about each other. Stop competing for things that really work better when they are shared. Vice explains about exploding. I’m talking about IMPLODING a fucking system of hate. Relax. Spread out. Speak your mind. Listen to what's around you---collaborate. Close the gaps. These are the things I’ve learned from Vice and other people (and cats) that have inspired me.
Is this in any way linked to the ‘family’ / ‘community’ that you surround yourself by (in musical, musician and creative terms?)
I’m lucky to have a context where I can picture myself as making sense.
Could you do what you do without knowing that we’re all in this bullshit together?
I could do something. I don't know what it would be. Everything I do is in response to those around me.
I was speaking to a friend who is due to see you on this tour for the first time, after recently discovering your work via the Evangelista album. She wrote to me that that album was ‘totally the album I wanted to make - or just that idea of going to a really isolated place and screaming your head out into the black nite then having this kinda meditative release after, pissing on yourself and healing yourself’
I loved these words she wrote, it made me re-connect to, and re-remember my first memories of hearing your songs, with the Geraldine Fibbers – songs that have since soundtracked so much of my life.
I think that thing my friend was getting at is also why your set in Manchester affected me on such an emotional level – it’s because to a certain level I *feel* your voice, your friction (friction as engagement, as response, as reaction, as articulation), and your emotion and it hits me square in the heart; helping me understand myself more.
To what degree does that element of friction (tension and release), frame what you do with your music?
I am blown away by this question. I really don't know the answer. I like the question cuz it makes me sound special but I don't know anything about the motivations in my process along the lines you're talking about. I don't think there is a frame because it's so hard to see where it starts/ends for me when I hear the music. I sometimes want to "improve" that.
You spoke much at the gig in Manchester about how much the music is about sound and love. And how other songs came from “here” (tapping your head).
How instinctive (and important) is it for your songs to be directly associated to, linked to, part of, and borne of your body?
When I first started doing Evangelista 1 I couldn't stand up because I was singing so hard I couldn't see and my knees wouldn't work. I was pleased. I used to pee sometimes in Ethyl Meatplow when I would scream real hard.
I read a recent review of your appearance at FIMAV that said ‘Bozulich seemed, at times, to barely contain an uncontrollable energy striving to get out’ – and I felt a strong understanding of those words with regards your performances. It’s why you’re such an inspiration to me, as you seemingly take yourself to the edge.
There’s an element of intensity in this for me (in a positive way).
What does intensity mean to you, and how would you relate that to your performances and songs?
I am just doing what I do.
What is the power of intensity and un-restricted emotions for you?
I feel very lucky to have a line into that stuff cuz frankly, it feels great like sky diving might feel or something. Such a rush I go away. Not human haha. I also like how uncomfortable it makes some people feel. I like to actuate the lines that I spoke earlier about anilalating.
I have seen your work described as *raw, imperfect, and wonderfully human*, and I think that is part of the many reasons why I connect so fiercely to your work – that element of humanity and person-ability that I can really appreciate, screamed from you! And the range of human emotion explored: sheer beauty, harsh aggression, fragile intimacy, cathartic release of rage, healing.
Is it instinctive for you to portray so much contrast within your songs?
Funny that in the question before I said the opposite as a form of liberation. We are funny aren't we?
Your website has so many amazing links, whether to noteworthy individuals, rants from people (or yourself), and pointers towards women with tools. It almost seems like you’re equally invested in connecting people to, and educating people in inspirational individuals who have affected you.
Would this be true to state?
I hope to do my part in fucking up the succulent minds of angelic upstarts.
Why is this aspect important enough to you for you to feature it within your website?
I just wish I had WAY more time to work on it. PLEASE submit ideas/links. The worst part is the girl stuff, zine stuff, record making stuff, sound recording, etc.
Reflecting on the ‘rants’ section of your website (and, obviously within your songs and lyrics too), how important to you is conversation and discourse?
I think we should fight it out!
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to these questions Carla, for being willing to talk with me; And without knowing it being there for me for many years now! It was an honour and a joy to see you perform in Manchester
You are a darling.