We Talked to Dresden Dresses about His Weird New Video "Basalt"
A good chunk of this interview pertains to the whereabouts of a morph suit.
Antoine Lahaie makes electronic dance pop as Dresden Dresses from his homebase in Montreal. It's the kind of music that's energetic enough to work in a busy, sweaty loft party environment but if you're more the type to lie in bed in the dark rubbing your temples gently, while concentrating on the sounds coming from your iTunes library, then it works for that kinda environment too.
Dresden Dresses' new video for "Basalt" is from his not-so-new 2012 EP: ☹ (White Frowning Face). If you feel a bit unsettled by the video, you're not alone, and you should keep reading our Q&A with Antoine which occurs just a few lines below this here paragraph.
Dresden Dresses is playing a show in Montreal tonight for POP, plus he's currently working on his next album that should be out in December. Busy guy.
Noisey: So this video is pretty weird. The name of the character is Genova Girl, according to the YouTube account that uploaded it. She looks like a manga character with twenty eyeballs who had her skin peeled off. Tell me about her. Who is Genova Girl?
Antoine Lahaie: I wouldn't say she's my alter-ego because I probably wouldn't use her in the future. It's definitely an alternative identity that was created for me by the director, François Pisapia. It was created specifically for this video. I think it's interesting that it's more than just a video—it's a persona. It's really creepy but I feel like it's a good comment on the way everyone acts nowadays.
Taking pictures of themselves all the time?
Yeah! The ego trip. People want to be perceived a certain way, so they put on different masks. Especially with the identities we adopt on Facebook or social networks. So it's not that bizarre. Aesthetically it is. But it's really common that people behave that way.
So to be clear, it is you wearing the Genova Girl morphsuit, correct?
Yeah. I'm the only person in the video besides the people on the street and the amazing people at the dentist's office and the motel. Those girls were so into it. They were like let us know when the video is out! They wanted to be stars.
And the videos that she takes of herself in the video are posted on the Genova Girl YouTube account as well.
It adds a dimension. So yeah, that's why I'm saying it's not only a music video. It's a character who has a Youtube account in real life.
Would you ever wear the Genova Girl costume on stage?
I'd say never. Not because I don't think it's great. Julien Ceccaldi, the artist, painted a super great character on it. It's not because I don't think it looks good. I wouldn't be comfortable having that character on stage, or dressing up as a girl with makeup and a wig. Dresden Dresses is not a character. But with that morph suit—especially since I couldn't see anything—I felt like a whole different person.
Do you still have the suit though?
I don't own it. I think Dane Richards of Yard666sale and François co-own the suit.
They have joint custody of a morphsuit? Does one of them have it on the weekends or something?
Well they live together. So it's probably at their place. I hope no one wears it, there's makeup stains and sweat. It's super stinky. I also wouldn't wear it on stage because I want to go more into subtle visual stuff. I'm really into "normal" things. I think normalness is the new craziness. And you can totally be normal and weird at the same time.
Yeah it seems like that's part of your visual aesthetic--with your videos and album artwork.
I think supernormal is awesome. I love objects. I love material stuff. I'm really into feelings more and more, which, I wasn't before.
In what way? Like… feeling them? Expressing them?
Just like, experiencing different feelings. I feel like I was pretty rational before. I'm still a rational being. But I've only opened myself to some feelings recently. I wouldn't say love, but, attachment. And also, going back to the social media thing, I feel like Facebook has gotten into feelings recently. You can express not only your thoughts but your feelings. It's like Web 3.0--the web feels you. But yeah, I'm into objects, feelings, and generic things. Like wine and coffee. I'm really into plants. Furniture. Objects of mass consumption.
So like, the most basic, essential, generic designs of objects?
Sort of like seeing the world from an alien perspective—or an alienated perspective. Imagine coming here on earth and discovering and cataloguing everything from the most normal objects to human feelings. That's the best way I can explain it. I feel like you can find it in stock imagery. Which is one of the visual inspirations for the video.
Is Genova Girl an alien visiting earth?
No, not literally. I'm just applying that mindset and aesthetic. She's a really normal human being who unleashes her creativity and doesn't give a fuck. I think that attitude in the video could be associated with some queer-scene artists. Le1f or Mykki Blanco have the I-Don't-Give-a-Fuck-About-What-You-Think attitude.
Your music doesn't have a big emphasis on lyrics. When they're there, they're usually buried under a lot of instrumentation.
Yeah I'm not like a singer-songwriter. For my next album, which should be out in December, the vocals are going to be more dry and understandable. But the things I'm saying are still going to be serious and a bit fucked up. It's going to be really pop-y and danceable and even mainstream-sounding. But the structure of it is pretty experimental. I just put lyrics when I think it's necessary.
It seems like with a lot of Top 40 electronic dance music, the lyrics are about partying or forgetting your problems. It's about being in the moment and not caring about anything else.
Right, and I'm expressing the exact opposite thoughts. I do give a fuck, I do care. I don't think money is cool. I'm still kind-of poor. It's like YOLO but in a different way. You only live once—so you'd better think about what you're doing and live your life in a smart way. Think about the consequences of your actions. It's a new generation of YOLO—YOLO 2.0.
Send Noah photos of yourself in a morph suit: @noahtavlin