Having recently released a new solo album, I Am Eye, her first since 2003, we sat down with Lucia Cifarelli to chat about the recording, working again with longtime KMFDM collaborator Sascha Konietzko, and the dark side she hints at on current single “Girls Like Me.”
Thanks for your time, Lucia, how is life treating you today?
Lucia Cifarelli: “Very well, thank you! My new album I Am Eye is out now. It’s an exciting time!”
So, you’ve got a new single out, “Girls Like Me.” It’s described as a personal statement amongst other things. For someone who hasn’t met you, tell us about your dark side…
“It’s a little bit dangerous, feral, and unusual. My natural aesthetic leans goth, which is traditionally associated with dark themes in music, literature, fashion, and film. I also have a type of synesthesia. It is a condition in which information meant to stimulate one area of your senses, stimulates several others. That doesn’t make me particularly dark, but because I don’t perceive things in traditional ways, it comes across as strange, which in turn people sometimes interpret as dark.”
What about your light side? What makes you laugh? What makes you smile? What makes you happy?
“I absolutely love to laugh! Funny animal videos, movies, books, an unforgettable meme, my friends and family make me laugh all the time. I think I’m happiest when I’m writing, singing, performing on stage, swimming in the sea, long walks in the forest, eating a great meal, drifting off to sleep in the arms of someone or something I love. Animals and children make me smile, as well ghosts, witches, and a good old fashion adrenaline rush like speeding down a lost highway on a motorcycle at sunset, with the ocean on one side and palm trees on the other.”
“Girls Like Me” is taken from your new solo album. Can you talk us through some of the other themes you cover?
“The album covers a broad section of themes that highlight various aspects of my outer and inner life. Ranging from tangible topics a lot of people will identify with and others some might find more taboo; love, loss, identity, consciousness, mortality, sex, magic, angels, addiction, and abuse.”
2003 was the year of the release of your last solo album. Why the gap and why did now feel right for a new solo album?
“It wasn’t a conscious decision to wait so long, it just worked out that way. When I made my last solo album I was signed to Universal, which afforded me the time and budget to conceptualize and record an album. In my mind, I imagined a similar template for making a follow-up, but over the years, that opportunity never came and I lost confidence in myself. Admittedly, for someone in a DIY band like KMFDM, I was a bit stuck in the past about my ideas surrounding what making my solo album would look like, but after a milestone birthday and a chance meeting with a mystic/shaman, I spontaneously decided to do it.
Once the pandemic hit and all our lives came to a screeching halt, a window of opportunity presented itself when I found myself in lockdown with one of the most underrated producers on the planet and it all came together.”
You worked again with Sascha Konietzko on the album. How easy was it to capture what you wanted the album with someone who has worked with you for a large part of your musical life?
“Seamless. After all the years working together, we communicate in a kind of shorthand that made it really easy. Having that kind of relationship saves a lot of time. We don’t skirt around anything that needs to be said and there’s no ego-stroking involved.”
In the UK especially, there has been a lot of talk about attitudes to women in the music industry. You’ve been a part of the industry for many years. From your viewpoint, how have attitudes changed?
“Well, now that the obvious elephant in the room is being discussed so widely, it’s politically incorrect to speak publicly about women in derogatory terms or to blatantly engage in acts of violence against them, without some kind of fall out or repercussions. This of course makes us all sleep a little better at night. However, I’m not sure attitudes have changed all that much beneath the surface or behind closed doors. Women are continually faced with all sorts of discrimination and violence in the world and in the industry in ways men simply don’t experience. Every aspect of who we are is put under scrutiny and our value is assessed in different terms.
For the record, I’m referring to the Western World here. If you look towards the East, the treatment of women is far more deplorable. In some countries, more value is placed on their livestock. Although the strides forward in the industry and in the world are slow, they are moving. Certainly in some places more than others.”
Last year there was some high-profile media coverage involving the likes of Marilyn Manson and many others. Do you think this coverage has forced the media to address the attitudes in the industry to female artists?
“I think Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein were the ones responsible for that. It’s an open secret in the entertainment industry what women are confronted with on a day-to-day basis in the industry, whether you’re on the artist side or you’re a female executive. It’s a little shocking it took the media so long to expose it. Sadly, it’s become so normalized, the media didn’t find it newsworthy up until now I guess. However, with so many women coming forward it’s become impossible to ignore. I do see the media owning up to its responsibility, to not only hold people accountable for their actions but to make space for women to share their experiences and hopefully change attitudes and protocols along the way.”
What about your own personal experiences as a working female artist? Good? Bad?
“As a woman who’s been in the business a while I’ve had a bit of both. As a young girl, while interning, I was forced into a dark closet by one of the owners, who shoved their tongue down my throat and knocked me up against a wall. Later, a record company executive slid his hand up my dress, trying to get his fingers into my underpants at a formal dinner, while my boyfriend sat next to me. On tour, I emerged from the shower after a show to find I was the last person backstage, or so I thought. One of the security staff decided to stay behind for my protection, or something else. He wouldn’t leave and began moving toward me in a menacing manner before being interrupted by a tour manager who was looking for me.
I’m grateful to say I’m among a minority of women who’ve never been raped. On a creative level, because I’ve spent the greater part of my life working with men my ideas are always under scrutiny, especially considering the genre of music I’m in. That being said, most of the men I’ve worked with have been my greatest allies and dearest friends, so I’m careful to judge them on an individual basis and not as a whole.”
Along the concept of the video, who would you say are the female artists making the biggest impact on the music scene in 2021?
“I’m the wrong person to ask because when I’m working on music, I don’t listen to anyone else. I went from working on my own album to starting on the new KMFDM album, but I did hear a song I love from a woman named Meg Myers called ‘The Underground.’ I’m also looking forward to hearing the new Lingua Ignota record. Kristin Hayter is a rare gem.”
Away from music, who were the women who had the biggest impact on your life and what impact did they have on you?
“My mother, grandmother, and oldest sister Leslie, who passed away shortly before the release of the debut Drill album. They represent various feminine archetypes that have definitely shaped and influenced the woman I’ve become; the mother, the maiden, the queen, the huntress, the sage, the mystic, and the lover.”
So, with the album coming out, what are your plans for the rest of this year? Any other musical or personal projects in the pipeline?
“I’m hoping to get to the UK to support the vinyl release of the album and possibly do some shows, I’m beginning writing on the next KMFDM album, gearing up for the tour next year, and I’ve started writing my autobiography.”
Thanks again for your time and good luck with the album. Over to you to wrap things up…
“Thanks so much for your time! My new album I Am Eye is out now on Metropolis Records. I hope you enjoy it!”