Danielle de Picciotto: “It is very difficult for me to separate my art from my everyday life”
Danielle, your new solo album album is titled “Deliverance”, which can also be understood as “liberation” or “salvation”. Could you elaborate on why you chose this title?
I am less of an entertainer than a sound researcher. All of my creativity has the sole purpose of achieving the greatest possible intensity or energy. Therefore, I can determine little before I start, the art itself dictates what the core topic will be.In this case, I myself was surprised at the result. I had had something more conceptual in mind. A research in sound. My last solo album was mostly instrumental and I expected the result to be similar. But this time I was overwhelmed by words, thoughts, and quite a bit of despair. It was only through this experience that I realized how much I am subconciously struggling with current political, ecological and social issues. How I try to deal with all of them to not be overwhelmed. And that I wish for nothing more than a kind of salvation. A liberation from the delusion, chaos, violence and despair. That’s what this album is about. It’s an intense stream of thought and sound that tries to understand our world, digest it and find ways to redeem myself.
„Et Arripuerit“ means “hold on” in English. You are an artist who is defined by a state of mobility, in the sense of curiosity and restlessness. How important are quiet moments for your artistic work.
“Et Arripuerit” also means “endure.” “Do not give up, carry on” .. and that’s what I was thinking about. I often tell myself “just take one step at a time” and have discovered that endurance is one of the most important disciplines one can learn. Of course this is also associated with taking a break because only then you can become aware of where you actually are. I try to be aware of the movement itself, that is, to consciously take every step. That is something I learned on my many journeys. It’s the only way to avoid stumbling, or at least to stumble less.
What about the relationship between art and life – a question that includes several questions: Can art and everyday life be separated? If not, why not? And if so, do different framework conditions apply?
It is very difficult for me to separate my art from my everyday life although I do try again and again. It would be nice to experience moments without this extreme intensity. But most of the time, everything in my life is interwoven, sometimes so much that it’s hard to tell if it is a dream, reality or art. I am like a recording device. All sounds, colors, materials, gestures, words, voices are swallowed up by my senses and triggered into an immediate urge to turn them into something artistic and new. It can be exhausting. Many people consider me a workaholic. In fact, my pictures, books, and albums are only a small part of what I could do if a day had 48 hours. It feels like a constant pressure that is pushing me forwards.
In which songwriting tradition do you see your current work? Are there role models?
I always find it difficult to think in categories and try to keep free from role models. I do not like being influenced. It would not feel authentic. Writers are perhaps my greatest inspiration because they deal with words and their sound. Flannery O’Conner or Carson McCullers are my heroines. I’ve always admired storytelling, and I think that’s a tradition I feel most comfortable with.
I like the tonal symbiosis of your clerical-sounding storytelling and abstract electronics a lot. On paper, this sounds like a contradictory – and yet the two sound facets complement each other surprisingly well. How much natural flow is in there and how much discipline?
At some point in the ’90s, I discovered that I can “speak” astonishingly well. I was in the studio with my band “Space Cowboys” and had been asked to write a small prologue for a song and speak it. When I did it, everyone fell silent and told me that my speaking voice had an unusual effect. Hypnotic. I had actually wanted to impersonate an airport announcement. Since then I do spoken word. Sometimes I work on lyrics for a long time until they are perfect for me. It always depends on the text. I also play with language, use it as abstract sound. I discovered the fascination of doing this in Italy: years ago I had to recite an Italian poet in German to Italians who had previously spoken about what a hard and ugly language German was. So I recited the poem as softly and fluently as possible. The audience was very surprised and said they had not known German could be so beautiful. Speech is sound and when I connect that with abstract electronics it turns into a symphonie that I arrange. There is discipline as well as flow in this way of working.
Your newest video clip presents not only your music but also your art – at least I assume that both the graphic frame and the drawings collaged with your face come from you. Have all three components developed in direct relation to each other?
Yes, I created the pictures and drawings. I am an interdisciplinary artist and always move between sound, color or language. If I neglect one of them too long I miss them terribly .. I painted the pictures for the video and catalogue during the same period I was composing the music. I find it relaxing to change from one medium to the next. My new album will be released together with a catalog of my art because the publisher of “Louder Than War” thought it would be interesting to present my work in its entiety, for which I am very grateful. That is why my first video represents my art as well as my music
Danielle, what struck me was how intensly you look into the camera.
Is that something that is easy for you? And if yes, only in the anonymity of the camera or in real social interaction with people?
I feel more relaxed in front of the camera than with people. I’m actually a pretty shy and introverted person. The camera is neutral, but in human interaction there is always a whole universe that you encounter. I often find that overwhelming.
Danielle de Picciotto
(Louder than war)