Interview: Melissa Auf der Maur

By JON GARELICK  |  October 14, 2010

Is it a documentary?
No. Tony Stone wrote, starred, produced, financed everything. It's about the Norse discovery of America but it's shot on digital, so it looks incredibly modern. It's basically a period piece made with a modern day soundtrack. There's some black metal, some Brian Eno. It's a phenomenal juxtaposition of period piece, historical revisitation of what did happen when the Vikings first came. It's about two Vikings left behind, loosely based on the Vinland Sagas, and it takes place in New England and some of it was shot in Newfoundland and Landen Meadows. It's gorgeous.

So I saw that and it was so experimental — it's a voice of its own — and asked him if he wanted to work on this fantasy heart-time-travel music-film piece. I found my perfect collaborator, basically. I made that film over the course of that year that my album was in limbo. Tony had shot his Viking film in Southern Vermont. His family — artists from New York City — in the late '60s bought 25 acres off the grid in Vermont which was originally a backup plan if shit hit the fan or some kind of nuclear catastrophe. But instead it became their son's private film lodge. It's all off the grid still, in the mountains, with only the cabin built by his father plus a few solar panels and a water pump.

We basically lived off the grid, shooting for a few months Out of Our Minds. It was a transformation not only as an artist, collaborating with different types of artists and the language of cinema and trying to merge them, sort of the same way I approach a song or an album. I wanted to merge that logic with the way Tony makes films. So it was transformative as an artist but also as a human, living in the woods — a city girl who had, you know, sort of begun to make a transition spending a winter in Cape Cod, but ultimately was transformed by spending many many months in Vermont and feeling how simple it can be in working and going to the farmer's market and making friends with the butcher who would provide the heart that was the central theme of our film. It was beautiful.

Since then I haven't been able to live in a city. Right now I live in Upstate New York and I have easy access to Montreal and New York and Boston, but also Vermont and Cape Cod. I basically now consider the Northeast my home.

The photography is so beautiful. I was getting a David Lynch vibe.
Yeah, I love David Lynch and it wasn't so much that he was an immediate influence, because he wasn't, it's just more a matter of a the surrealism, the dreamscape. Basically Tony and I worked on how do we create that sort of uncomfortable line between reality and surreality or complete total fantasy — a lot of it dating back to my beginnings in music, a dream I had when I was 19. A completely science fiction dream about aliens and pyramids is what got me to pick up the bass and turn to music, so from the get go, dreams have guided me a lot. The goal of the film was how do we bring you into a dreamscape. and obviously what I love about David Lynch is that he does that so well.

Melissa Auf der Maur | Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard Ave, Brookline | October 21 at 8 pm | $15 | 617.734.2501 or coolidge.org

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