Larkin Grimm: The Naturalismo Interview
I welcomed a notorious pervert to have his way with my songs...
NATURALISMO: Your parents were members of a religious cult called The Holy
Order of MANS. What were the guiding principles of this ³cult,² and how did
your involvement in it, even as a child, influence your outlook today?
LARKIN GRIMM: The people who joined ³The Order² were looking for an utopian
community that protected their sensitivity and spiritual growth without
isolating them from society. It was an urban commune, and people considered
themselves spiritual healers, healing the environment and everyone around
them. Many people living there had different belief systems and spiritual
practices. This was encouraged because in general the group believed that
all spiritual paths are leading to the same kind of revelation and
enlightenment, seeing separate facets of the jewel that is ultimate truth
and reality, so to speak. Basically it was a communist society in which all
resources were shared, any kind of attachment was discouraged, and it wasn¹t
supposed to matter where you were or who you were with because all beings
are just one small part of one supreme universal consciousness, so no person
was really any greater than any other and the differences were seen as
shallow, superficial. Lucky for me I got to live with my biological
parents, which was nice because they had an instinctual imperative to
protect me from abuse etc. In general I was protected from all forms of
human cruelty and selfishness. I simply did not see or experience these
things until I was about 7 years old. I was very, very shocked and
disturbed when we left the commune and entered ³the real world.² I am
still very idealistic and believe very strongly in the power of kindness,
openness and love and I try to maintain good health in a holistic, honest
way and I fell a responsibility to help others to do the same. This is not
as easy and flowing and peaceful as you might think. I¹ve been accused of
all sorts of witchcraft and told that I am a perverse and disturbing
influence, and have been kicked out of churches, schools, hippie communes,
and the town of Skagway, Alaska and in general been persecuted for most of
my life because of perceived difference. I do not see myself as being so
different, but in general rules and laws and customs hold no weight and are
not real to me, and when people are really burdened by these things, they
find my freedom infuriating.
N: Aside from music, are there any other mediums through which you express
yourself? What was your first experience with the act of making music? What
is it about music that appeals to your unique sensibilities?
LG: I have been a painter and a sculptor and a writer and a performance
artist and I am learning how to be a dominatrix and a comedian these days.
Music is unique in that it does not create much environmental waste, it is
of the moment, and it is primal and emotional in a way that brings people in
to experience these things alongside the performer. The audience and
performer make it together. It¹s immediate and powerful and subversive if
you want it to be. People cry when they hear beautiful music. It¹s
powerful. I cry when I see a great Gerhart Richter painting, but that¹s a
N: What was the writing and recording process like for Parplar, and how did
it differ from your process of creating previous work?
LG: First of all I wrote the songs before recording them,which I had never
done before. Then I welcomed a notorious pervert to have his way with my
songs, and he ended up just wanting to help me make them as beautiful as
they were inside my head. I didn¹t fight with Michael Gira nearly as much
as I expected to. He is a psychic, seeing deeply into my own personal
vision, and he was very respectful and helpful and useful. We did a lot of
surrendering. We said yes to everything. We did it quickly and we didn¹t
question ourselves. There was total confidence and joy in the making of
this album. It practically created itself.
Making this record was different from the others also in that I
invited a man to balance my feminine energy somewhat and banish the
radioactive pink unicorns from my ovaries. Michael thinks I became a
woman in the process of making this record, like I was a little girl
before. He is partially right, but I wasn¹t a child, I was an alien
and genderless creature. Now I am a Femme Fatale. Watch out.
N: Though I haven¹t yet heard them, you recorded some improv/freeform
records for Secret Eye Records. What influences, both internal and external,
motivated your musical growth into its current incarnation?
LG: War, heartbreak, trees being cut down, seeing the world more clearly,
trying to escape my ego. Making friends with humans. Hanging out with
Appalachian string bands and experimental noise musicians, learning to be a
human, getting to know the universe in the biblical sense, committing
N: The human body, and specifically sexuality, dominate the lyrical imagery
on Parplar. You seem both fascinated and repulsed by the act of sex, by its
potential to connect our spirits but also its ability to corrupt them. In
your own words, do you think that the idea of human sexuality has influenced
your songwriting, and if so, how?
LG: I am one of those people who doesn¹t understand gender and I am often
confused by the power of the inner workings of my own body, disturbed by the
idea that people judge me based on preconceived ideas of femininity and
physical beauty. Yes, I find sex with men to be both disturbing and
transcendent. It is always transcendent for me to be bathing in someone
else¹s pleasure energy, however it is disturbing for me when so many men
don¹t seem to feel or understand the potential of that connection and simply
wish to dominate and possess the female for selfish reasons. Yuck. Like
peeing on a post. There are undeniable problems in our culture. I identify
as a transgendered person and while I was writing this record I was wishing
for a sex change operation, saying a most glamorous goodbye to my female
parts and thinking about how I relate to female archetypes as they present
themselves in Hollywood and in pornography and music. I don¹t have the
money for that kind of luxurious violence of cutting and sewing the body to
fit my internal vision, so I was doing it in my imagination. I made my
peace with outer and inner femaleness while making this record.
N: The music on Parplar seems to be influenced by the ³folk tradition.² How
do you define folk music? Does folk music have a special meaning to you?
LG: Bob Dylan said that the definition of a folk singer is someone who has a
good memory. I have a terrible memory, and have never been a folk singer.
My mother and father are folk singers. I don¹t know how to play a single
chord on a guitar, and I¹m proud of that. I became a musician by taking
speed and hallucinogens and singing in a dark room. I work in vibrations and
colors. Atmosphere and storytelling. I make art music.
N: You¹ve spent a large portion of your life in in transit, in motion. What
are the merits and the drawbacks of a life spent in freeform flux?
LG: I just do what I have to do. Traveling keeps me safe, free from the
judgment of others, free and clear above the petty squabbles of everyday
society. In general I am grateful that people leave me alone and that they
appreciate my ability to entertain them. Traveling constantly puts me in a
special category of human being. I can always be the breath of fresh air. I
think I also have a good handle on the concept of justice because of all the
different things I see. If I settle down, I¹ll lose that ability to be
impartial. I am considering it, but won¹t do it just yet. I have a big
tour planned that will last all year.
N: Throughout all your travels, is there one place that holds the most magic
LG: Alaska and Switzerland. The mountain air is so clean. Alpine meadows
are so safe. Lying in a field of tiny flowers, listening to echoes,
watching the sun set and the moon rise, feeling totally at peace with my
solitude, being comforted by the earth and the sky as though they had human
arms, falling asleep under the sparkling stars, waking up covered in dew,
these are the things I love the best.
N: How do you define a perfect record?
LG: Perfection is boring! It¹s the imperfections in man that grab my
attention, that interest me the most. In order to make a great record
I am willing to immerse myself in the glorious filth of human society
for as long as it takes to lose myself, and then if in the process of
writing about it I find Me again, it is probably a great record.
N: What contemporary artists have inspired you most?
Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt, two magical painters: Lauren Beck and
Sophia Dixon, The sculptor/filmmaker Matthew Barney, Arrington De Dionyso,
Tom and Colin from the band USAISAMONSTER, Michael Gira, Frida Hyvonen,
Beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Phil Elverum, M.I.A., Two white shamans from New
Hampshire named John Perkins and Llyn Roberts, A handsome and flashy Zen
Master named Adyashanti, An energy healer/beat poet named Brett Bevell, My
crazy friend Sam Grossman from The Wowz, Bjork, and a band called Lucky
Dragons. Most of all, since childhood I¹ve been competing with/inspired by
my brother Joseph Grimm who has a minimalist noise band called The Wind-Up
Bird and my sister Annelise Grimm who is a leatherclad biker chick and plays
drums in a Balkan Brass Band called What Cheer? Brigade.