Back in the year, 1915.. Ms.Carrie Sims of New Orleans was commonly referred to as the “Suicide Queen” by local police and hospital officials. Ms. Sims had a long history of suicide attempts. The official reports claimed she had dreams to commit self- murder and after more than 20 times… all were unsuccessful of course.. she had become an urban legend throughout Louisiana. Often a ceremonial, frequently with a ritualistic backdrop, she tried to cut her throat, drink arsenic, bi-chloride tablets, jumping off buildings…including the bridge over the Mississippi River… slitting her wrists.. She even tried to electrocute herself… and the list goes on… She lived till 98 years old and finally she succumbed by a massive heart attack. The “Suicide Queen” was found holding her mother’s bible while feeding the swans at a park along side Canal St.
Given the Goth scene in the San Francisco area there’s a intrinsic lust for high drama. It’s no surprise that mini-factions have developed throughout Northern CA.. A lot like L.A.’s goth scene, the favorite soundtrack are the moody, dramatic footsteps and roots of bands such as The Doors and the Velvet Underground. Often creating an eerie suspenseful atmosphere as a backdrop for emotional and nihilistic lyrics. Goth isn’t really a genre of music per se, it’s more of a scene.. black clothes, make-up and the need for sunshine. There are common traits in Goth rock; they are mostly of lyrical content. As for Industrial, it’s a genre defined by a heavy use of programming and sampled sounds, as well as a “machine-like” sound. At times its no more than cacophony. Punk rock made room for kids to be angry, Goth made room for a range of other marginalized feelings: sadness, alienation, misanthropic and vanity. One such band is the formidable Suicide Queen from Oakland CA.,.. whose dramatic doom rock is big on atmosphere laced with soaring melodies and enigmatic beats. Despite being decidedly on the Industrial side of the fence, Suicide Queen’s… . Ira Mortem (bass), Kay Dolores (vox, programming and guitars) and Todd Buller (guitars) acknowledge that Goth music was a huge part of their musical upbringing and feeds into the music they make today. Imperious, confrontational, and bewitching Suicide Queen’s current single, “Swan” is fearlessly experimental but can boast of having an uncanny pop sensibility. The record was produced by John Fryer through COP International Records.
Rock Bands of L.A.com had the chance to interview all three members of Suicide Queen:
IM – Ira Mortem (bass)
KD – Kay Dolores (vocals, programming and guitars)
TB – Todd Buller (guitars)
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Trent Reznor, Maynard and Marilyn Manson claimed they were outcasts when they were growing up…As they had become more popular and mainstream, they continued wanting to be seen as outcasts by their fans. Perhaps it was a form of vanity? Did you grow up as an outcast? Did you have a lot of friends? Where did you grow up? Did you play sports?..
IM: I grew up in Oakland, and at the time there weren’t many alternative people or it at least was not as common, so I felt like an outcast in general. I say I did have a lot of friends because I grew up around a lot of people I went to school with. I actually was good at sports, but lost interest in high school.
KD: That’s one word for it, but it was always a mutual disaffection, particularly in Catholic school. Neither of us wanted much to do with each other. I had some cool artsy friends though back then, and also got into the St. Louis goth/industrial circle when I was really young. I was never into sports and was never very good at them. I used to get shit for that in high school, sure, but something tells me my Catholic colleagues wouldn’t be much good in 7-inch platform boots.
TB: Moving around constantly when I was young certainly made it much more difficult to nurture relationships with others…opposed to those that lived the opposite lifestyle. That scenario may have created an “outcast” reality in most. Instead, I found ways to rise to the occasion by discovering advantages and motivations in constant scenery change, new places, new people, new culture every few years. In turn, I maintained many friendships with those in my immediate life and those that lived in my past cities/towns and was always traveling to visit my other friends. It was a very colorful childhood, I grew up kinda fast.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: I always find it “lazy” when music journalists try to put a band into a certain category.. This band sounds like this band who sounds like that band.. etc. etc… While growing up what bands inspired you? Who inspires you now? What makes Suicide Queen’s music different than other “goth” bands?
IM: Growing up I listened to a lot of genres, but bands that inspired me were NIN, Placebo and AFI. The bands that inspire me now are Dimlim, Deviloof, The Gazette, Vexent, and Kizu. I’ve been extremely inspired by Japanese bands/Visual Kei. I think what makes Suicide Queen different is that we don’t really sit in one genre—some songs are heavier, some are slower and it’s a good mix and balance of different sub genres.
KD: Ministry’s “Psalm 69” then and now is an influence. And of course Pig, Skinny Puppy, Chelsea Wolfe, Gravity Kills, David Bowie, Chris Isaak and White Zombie, as well as film scores and cinema itself. I’m not sure Suicide Queen is really a goth band per se; the only thing I have in common with Robert Smith is my hatred of Morrissey.
TB: That would require a long and complicated response to what most would think would be very easy to answer! With recorded music alone spanning over 130 years, where do I begin?! I find attitude, fashion, rebellion, individualism, confidence, energy, drive all equally as inspirational as the music. Which makes sense because all good music possesses those ingredients, in my opinion. I would agree with Kay in that I wouldn’t consider Suicide Queen a “goth” band….as I agree with you in that journalists sometimes get lazy in tossing artists into categories to push their agendas. Labeling art is frightening to me.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: I find that Suicide Queen is very cinematic.. If I can say, it’s like how “cinemascope” gave a fresh texture to movies in the 1950’s.. Do you have a desire to direct film? What about writing music for soundtracks? If you could remake a movie what would it be? And Why??
IM: I am not that big on movies, so I’m probably not the best to answer this. If I had the skills to write full soundtracks, I would be interested in making soundtracks, but it would be something like what Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have done.
KD: Thank you. I would definitely direct or score a film at some point, and I would be honored to have a song on a soundtrack. Our music is dreadfully appropriate for movies. I wouldn’t remake anything; the movies I love are perfect as they are.
TB: Most often, I find it incredibly daunting to sit in front of a screen for hours on end. I have a much different relationship with and perception of cinema and how it relates to pop culture than most. Movies and television have always felt very bloated to me—from how they’re created to who’s involved, all the way to the endless awards shows. And writers and producers recreating some of the most careless and disrespectful human behaviors on screen for profit and entertainment. I’d rather sit in silence. will say that I’ve found the most enjoyment out of short film cinema. I also agree with Kay in not remaking art. The “reimagined” road is worn out and decrepit. Start fresh.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: John Fryer is a genius! How did you meet? What was his expertise that make you think this is the guy I want to make my album? How far away is a full album? I can’t wait for a video for “Swan”.. do you have a thought about its storyline?
IM: We met John Fryer through Christian Petke, founder of our label COP International. We were aware of his amazing work with really popular groups that some of us are a fan of, so it only made sense to work with someone with tons of knowledge and talent like John.
KD: Yes he is. As Ira mentioned, we were already familiar with a lot of his work. Beyond that, the tipping point for me was hearing some remixes he did for Stabbing Westward, who are now on the label with us. The concept of the “Swan” video has been developing for a long time, and when it’s safe for people to gather for an elaborate project like that, we’ll do it. The LP Nymphomaniac should be out later this year and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone out on tour when live shows are safe again.
TB: John has a fantastic résumé that anyone would be proud to have accomplished. We are glad to be added to it.
I want to thank the “Trinity of Suicide Queen”
Ira, Kay and Todd…for their energy… Also their press person Ms. Selena Fragassi.. We’ll keep you aware when their album is going to be released and tour dates.