By: Natalie McKenzie
Melora Creager is a legend. Believe. She has collaborated with bands like Nirvana, Pixies, Screaming Trees and Marilyn Manson - a history that has cemented her vast and varied fan base.
"Our fans seem to be a little smattering of people from all different walks of life," she said. "Maybe they are the misfits from every genre of person.”
This exposure may have been the secret to her long career. Melora is undeniably difficult to pigeon-hole. Therefore, marketing her in the way record companies would like is nearly impossible. Melora realizes this may be a blessing in disguise.
“It’s hard to market to just a few people in every crowd. But I think that has helped me have longevity," she siad. "Trends come and go, and sometimes Rasputina falls into them, but we can keep going after the trend is over.”
The powerful force behind cult band Rasputina, Melora has produced her second solo outing ‘Melora a la Basilica’, a mix of covers and restructured stories from bands like Pearl Jam and Goldfrapp. No ordinary cover girl, Melora has reformed and restructured the foundations of such classics as ‘I Want To Marry a Lighthouse Keeper’ into her own heady brew of chamber rock. With the cello as the centrepiece to her sound, she blends genres like an alchemist; a little bit of classical, a touch of rock and a sprinkling of Celtic folk into a unique and avant-garde musical experience. This is melancholy at its purest - a fusion so transcendental it will take you to another world.
What was the first album you ever bought and gig you went to?
“Album: Elton John, Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy, 4th grade.
Show: Sister Sledge, Uptown Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri, 7th grade”
Rasputina fans needn't worry. Melora assures me they will also be back in 2009 with a new album, provisionally entitled ‘Sister Kinderhook’.
“We’ll do some touring. I do some local projects that I love - playing for improvisational dancers, therapeutic cello, and don’t forget, taking long walks in the country,” she said.
Melora also uses an usually large number of musicians on her projects, making for a presumably difficult recording space.
“A recording studio is a wonderful place to be! It always gives me the feeling of being very fortunate," she said. "It can be hard to work with different personalities, but that is just part of the work."
The result is a seminal album, beautifully experimental and combining different styles and instruments.
“It was made quickly and happily - no stress. But I’m hearing that it sounds very dark! I think that is because of the natural timbre of the cello, and the sound of that cavernous factory.”
Melora’s real gift, aside from the obvious talent on the cello, is story-telling. She creates her music through manifestations of historical people and places from fiction and non, much like Kate Bush and her incarnations of characters from Wuthering Heights.
“I don’t like to write directly about myself - that isn’t inspiring to me - but my psychology always creeps in there, in any story I’m telling.”
But live is where the real experience lies, as costume and music culminate in what’s closer to performance art rather than simple song. The visuals and Melora’s obsession with Victorian costumery and identity bring her haunting characters and stories to life.
“The costumes give us the feeling that there is something unusual and special about the evening. It’s a creative gift to the audience," she said. "I assume a character when I’m dressed for a show and there is something martial about it - like putting on your armour and grabbing your shield.”
One song you wished you had written?
“Life on Mars, David Bowie.”
Many years ago, she wrote a Manifesto of Intentions, a wish list which included the entire complicated concept of Rasputina.
When asked if she still uses this technique, she said, “I should keep writing the manifestos - good idea! I do positive mantras, prayers for my ‘enemies’. Sometimes I’ll write a story about what I want to happen in my life. That works pretty good."
For someone who has performed with so many legends, I wonder is there's anyone she would love to collaborate with.
“Dawn McCarthy from Faun Fables, and we’re going to do that as soon as we can.”