What does the original "anti diva" share in common with Orlando?
The sun has finally peeked through the clouds in Manhattan. It almost feels like spring. In fact, the afternoon is ideal for a wedding. That’s exactly what Carole Pope notices as she strolls through Central Park. In just a few days, she’ll jet up to Ontario for a three-night stint. For the time being, though, she’s content to ponder what quality she shares with Orlando.
Like the title character of Virginia Woolf’s literary masterpiece, Carole Pope has challenged convention throughout her career, first as the trailblazing front-woman of Rough Trade and then as a solo artist. Her autobiography Anti Diva (2001) traces one of the most compelling life stories in popular music. Described by Pope as, “a comment on the times, beginning in the summer of love. It drags me kicking and screaming into the 21st century”, the book was recently optioned for the screen.
The forthcoming biopic is just one of many projects Pope is currently undertaking. Between recording a new album, promoting her last record (Transcend), and touring the film festival circuit for Suck (2009), a rock and roll vampire story that pairs her with Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and Moby, the “anti diva” is as prolific as ever.
While taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of a Chinese wedding, Carole Pope checked in with PopMatters for this latest edition of 20 Questions.
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
A Single Man. Usually anything about death or where the character’s really feeling lost, I can relate to.
2. The fictional character most like you?
I’d like to think it was Orlando (laughs). I just related to the character’s ambisexual being. I love that book.
3. The greatest album ever?
Wow. It might be the Beatles’ White Album. When it came out in 1968, I remember playing it on my Seabreeze or whatever I had. I think pretty much all the songs are mini-masterpieces. They’re very visual, which I relate to.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars, because I remember Bill Murray singing the theme song on Saturday Night Live (laughs).
5. Your ideal brain food?
I guess fish. I love spicy tuna. It just seems like really clean food.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I guess the fact that we actually got a record deal, as Rough Trade, for our second album, Avoid Freud (1980).
7. You want to be remembered for…?
I think just being outspoken and being innovative and doing a lot of things before other people did, even though I don’t get recognized for them…she said bitterly!
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Definitely Bowie. He’s such a chameleon.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
I wish I’d written one of Bjork’s songs, because I worship her. I think that she’s really an amazing, innovative artist.
10. Your hidden talents…?
I can cook, though that’s more of a hobby. I’m obsessed with music and art.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Being true to yourself. Maybe it’s my advice to me! I think I advise myself. I think it just evolved from being an artist. The minute you’re not true to yourself, you create traps.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
Probably my guitar.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?
I would feel best if I had some Prada, but I don’t (laughs). I wear a lot of G-Star. There should be some designer who designs clothes for dykes. It could be somewhere between men’s Prada and G-Star, as far as I’m concerned!
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Probably my friend Tim Blanks, because he’s the most confusing and interesting person I know. I am met him in Toronto. He used to live in Toronto in the late ‘70s, and then he turned into this fashionista. Now he writes for Style.com, which is Vogue online. I wish he’d write an autobiography.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I’m kind of drawn to the court of Louis XIV. I don’t know why. I’d want to be a guy, though (laughs), or dress like the guys. The women had to wear all those corsets. Maybe I could just be like a peasant, I don’t care! No, I’m lying. I’d want to be the Sun King.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
I wouldn’t hire a hit man, I’d be the hit man. I would probably go on a spa vacation.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?
Chocolate. It chills me out. I don’t eat a lot of it, but it’s a little treat, a little something at the end of the day.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Right now it’s the city, but that could change. If I was rich, I’d live in Europe—I would live in London or Rome—but New York City is the next best thing.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Hello, can I get some equal rights over here?
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on now?
I’m working on a new album, Transcend. “Johnny Marr” and “Shining Path” are on iTunes. Suck is premiering at MoMA. I just did another movie in Toronto called Trigger, directed by Bruce McDonald. My guitar player and I and some drummer we never worked with performed a song. Bruce McDonald is a really great Canadian filmmaker. He did Hard Core Logo (1996). More movie work for me! I would love to do more film scoring.