D//E Interviews: Jarboe

The year 2003 found this writer very much into Neurosis' avant-garde extremity and everything Neurot was releasing. It was only a couple of years after the mind-bending, A Sun That Never Sets, and the Oakland band had already earned their place as possibly the most potent and influential act post metal had to offer. Meanwhile their esteemed label was putting out incredible records by bands such as Grails, Blood & Time (a Neurosis side project), Tarantula Hawk and Enablers, and everything that gravitated toward the Neurosis realm was genuinely exciting.

Jarboe had left Swans since 1997 and was consistently coming through with back to back releases of wonderful experimentation, often self-released and self-distributed. She was doubtlessly one of the most reputable names in dark experimental music for all the right reasons.

A ticking bomb fell into my hands when I received a promo copy of Neurosis & Jarboe back in 2003. "I tell you if God wants to take me, he will," belted out the introductory lyrics of opening cut, Within, in Jarboe's imposing croon, and I was floored.

Some sixteen years later, this masterpiece of an album holds its position as one of the highlights in both Neurosis and Jarboe's paths, and as one of the mightiest of its kind. It's a seamless collaborative match, and although there was absolutely nothing wrong with the original 2003 CD version of it, its vinyl reissue felt imperative and it was long overdue.

"The technology has come a long way since then and we thought we could run it through better digital to analog conversion and trusted Bob Weston to be able to bring out the best in it...." Steve Von Till explains why the new issue presents the album at its best. "This new mastered version is a bit more open, with a better stereo image, and better final eq treatment."

A brief Q&A with Jarboe follows, with a little about her milestone collaboration with Neurosis, and a bit more.

Your performance, as well as the writing on Neurosis & Jarboe give the impression of something introverted and esoteric. How much personal is this album to you?

The lyrics for the Neurosis & Jarboe album were adapted from my personal journal where I kept thoughts and feelings about experiences in my life.

Do you see any parallels between your work with Swans or Skin and the collaborative record with Neurosis.

Everything is brought to the table from life experience, yes.

Except from the one you did together, which is your favorite Neurosis release?

Through Silver In Blood.

Do you think that there will ever be a follow up to Neurosis & Jarboe?

I don’t know.

How was the dynamic between Neurosis and yourself on stage?

Methodical and professional.  Scientific.

Have the surroundings growing up in New Orleans had much of an impact on you later as an artist?

Always. The colorful street performers and costumes made an impression.

For its inimitable, horrifying eccentricity, my favorite Jarboe album is Sacrificial Cake. What’s yours?

I love all my children equally.

You’ve been a master collaborator on many different and diverse projects. Which are the ones of which you are the most fond?

Every collaboration can be an opportunity to explore outside oneself.

Who else, with whom you haven’t worked yet, would you imagine as ideal collaborators for Jarboe?

I enjoy working alone on my albums which is how I have worked for most of my projects. I enjoy performing live with musicians who have a strong expression of their own artistic ideas and can collaborate with mine.

Does it ever get old talking and being asked about Swans? Your contribution to The Seer raised expectations back then. Do you still feel connected to the band? 

I do not get tired of talking about my work and my life in the project entitled ‘Swans’.  I feel a deep connection to this art project, yes.

Is it often that you recognize the impact and influence you’ve had on newer artists? What goes through your mind when that happens?

I have an insular life creating music, writing, painting.

Do you still paint? How do you feel about that art form at the moment?

When I am not traveling, I paint daily. For the last year, I have been painting the limited edition box set of Soundtracks For The Blind and my cdr cases.

Many examples are on my Instagram page @jarboeliving and on my website,  thelivingjarboe.com and on Ello and Tumblr. Also my artist page on Facebook @TheLivingJarboe

In 2010 you provided the score for the horror-themed video game, The Path. Have you ever considered working on film scores? Has ever a chance to do so come up?

Michael and I did the film score in 1993 for a film called Two Small Bodies (credited to Swans which was Michael Gira and myself and Larry Seven), and solo I’ve done the music for a video artist in New York and a video artist in Germany, and I did the voice for another game as well as another voice for a character on an animated TV show. It would, depend on the video if I were to work on another film. My existing music has been used as the audio for a fashion film from Italy and a sort of virtual reality game  licensed songs.

Is there a chance we’ll ever get to read an autobiography from you? I’m positive you’d have countless interesting things to narrate. 

Not an autobiography per se but a memoir, yes.

What are you currently listening to mostly?

I’m listening to mixes of my new album for the label, Consouling Sounds.

What does the near future hold for you?

Leaving in a few days for Providence, Rhode Island to perform at NecronomiCon 2019 with Godflesh and Morne. I will be performing The Feast To Forget Time my set of surrealistic prose - which is available printed on parchment from my website. Joining me on stage will be P. Emerson Williams, Kris Force, Brett Robinson.

New album coming on the label in Belgium, Consouling Sounds, with artwork by Dehn Sora who is also the artist who did the cover of The Cut Of The Warrior, my EP of 2018 as well as the EP I did with the duo, Father Murphy with whom I toured extensively.

I will be doing shows in Europe 2020.

New 11 track Blackmouth album now also in the mixing phase. Very happy with this, my second collaboration with John Bergin and Brett Smith. We are releasing this new album with the first one - as a deluxe album.

Top photo by Moselle
Neurosis & Jarboe reissue cover art by Aaron Turner
Second Jarboe photo by Marilyn Chen




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