Photograph by Rahav Segev/Retna Ltd.
The alluring alt-country siren—and part-time New Pornographer—can be a lot looser and raunchier than her soaring voice and soul-searching lyrics would have you think. Here, she talks about her new solo album, Middle Cyclone; sodomy jokes; and Rumplemintz. Matt Hendrickson
Q: Don't take this the wrong way, but your lyrics conjure up images of blood.
A: I like blood. Blood keeps us alive. But I don't think the new songs are as dark as some in the past. After my last record [2006's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood], I swore I would never write love songs, but what did I do on the new one? Wrote a bunch of love songs. Granted, they're not typical love songs—they're a bit twisted.
Q: How do you lighten the mood in concert?
A: I don't subscribe to that rock-and-roll mythology "I'm an artist. You will listen quietly to my masterpiece." That's bullshit. So I tell a few sodomy jokes between songs to ease the tension. I'm not really family-friendly with my jokes. Some people give me shit, but if they heckle enough, I just tell them shut the fuck up and throw 'em out.
Q: Through the years, you've played punk rock, power pop, and country noir. What's your favorite type of music to listen to?
A: Lately I've been listening to a lot of classical, a lot of Rimsky-Korsakov. There's just something about the Russians. They're good at being dramatic while being quiet.
Q: You're crouching on top of a Dodge Cougar wielding a sword on the cover of your new album—what does that symbolize?
A: Isn't that hilarious? It's like those Rumplemintz ads—all I needed was a bustier. I guess it's a symbol of being rad. Or in my case, trying to be rad.