FROM CHILDREN OF THE SUN TO RISING OF THE MOON Dead Can Dance (Pt.2)

We continue our conversation
with Lisa Gerrard – go here to read part one.

 

BY
GIL MACIAS

 

I’ve heard a few bands
cover Dead Can Dance songs and it’s always interesting to see other female
vocalists tackle your work. Some of them are quite good, not exactly the same,
but executed quite nicely. Have you come across any vocalist that covered your
work successfully?

LISA
GERRARD: I have heard various performances. Sometimes I’ve gone on YouTube and
had a look at some versions of my own abstract pieces. I’m curious to see how
people pull those off. I was really pleasantly surprised. Because they didn’t
try to copy my words, they made them their own. And I loved that. If they were just
to copy my words, then it would take the authenticity away. I found it really
interesting and inspiring because it shows you that I’m not slightly autistic
and I’m just doing this thing. It shows you that it’s a matter of tuning into a
certain frequency.

 

Because your music is
influenced by so many cultures, do you tend to travel a lot and engulf yourself
in various foreign environments for inspiration before you write or go into the
studio?

With
Dead Can Dance, we’ve probably been touring now for about 25 years and we’ve
been to lots and lots of different places, but ultimately most of our
influences came from our childhood. We grew up in Greek, Turkish, and Italian
areas. And I grew up in an Irish home, so did Brendan. I think you can very
clearly see the mosaic of things that inspired us as children that kept us hungry on the path of music at a very early
age. There’s also education and exploration. If you’re really passionate about
something, you’ll want to learn to play various pieces of music from around the
world. It enables you to understand how they’re constructed and it also it
takes you out of the box of simply making Western four form music.

 

Brendan dabbles more into
the Western influenced stuff and sings in English. Do you every co-write his
lyrics?

I
never touch his lyrics, they’re very personal to him. He never touches mine.
We’re very reverential towards that side of the work. We do influence each
other when it comes to writing music. We definitely create the musical side of
the voices very differently, but that’s kept
very personal. Although, I did write a piece for him to sing. It was called
“Hymn for the Fallen” and I ended up singing it myself on the last tour. I did
want him to sing that but he said, “No, it sounds really great when you do it,
you should do it.”

 

You’ve collaborated with
Hans Zimmer on the score for Gladiator.
Have you ever thought about doing an original score with Brendan as Dead Can
Dance? I think that would be amazing.

Of
course I have, and if Brendan was to write a film score it would be really
beautiful, but he is not of the temperament that he could do a film score he feels. He can’t just go and change a
piece of music so that it fits a picture. He wouldn’t do it. He’s very
consistent when it comes to it. With him its: This is the song form, this is how it is, and nothing can be
changed. The only reason we’ve been able to do an edit one of our pieces is
because we were able to take out some parts of it without changing the words.
When you’re doing film, you have to be obedient; you’re working as a team. You
can’t take control of the music in the project. We did a movie together, El Nino De la Luna, years ago and it
ended up almost coming to blows. That was really frightening. He didn’t want to
conform to what the director wanted, when in fact you have to. It’s not your
movie. [Laughs]

 

You hear a song like Return of the She-King and it’s so epic.
Something like that should be in a film.

It’ll
probably end up in a movie, but it’s such a different climate when you’re in a
room of full of people and you have to write something for them. You have to
tune in to what they want. You have to redefine the fabric of yourself based on
the inspiration of what you’re looking at and on the energy from the people
you’re working with; it’s all part of it. Brendan doesn’t want to explore that
area. He’s not interested.

 

Well, maybe one day. Maybe
he’ll reconsider.

I
think he will. I remember talking to Mark Magidson about that. He wrote a
little piece for Baraka at the end
titles. He wrote that for the picture but he’s been working with Mark for years. It’s like, you write him a piece
of music and you give it to him. I just finished working with him on Samsara. And we wrote the music to the
picture. But he’s different to work with because you’re writing whole pieces of
music. When you’re doing cinema, the picture’s constantly evolving and
changing. And you have to constantly redefine the music so that it’s getting nearer
and nearer to unlocking the subtext. It’s a completely different experience and
that would unnerve Brendan.

 

 

 



 

 

Speaking of an unnerved
Brendan, I want to talk about the tour a little bit. He spoke to the audience
when they got too noisy, in a polite way, of course. He even told us a story
about walking offstage during the last tour because people were yelling and
requesting things like “Free Bird.” [Laughs].
Do you get distracted by noise from the audience? A lot of your music is so
serene and there are near silent moments, and that’s usually when a fan takes
the opportunity to scream that they love you.

I
don’t notice it at all. I’m so tuned in to what I’m doing. I have to really,
really focus very deeply for me to be able to do the work that I do. It’s an
internal experience. For Brendan, it’s much more external. He’s actually
telling a story and so for him the bridge of communication is already open.

 

One of my favorite moments
at the Los Angeles
show was at the very end of “Rise of the Moon.” When you were finished, there
was this moment of complete silence. You could hear a pin drop. And then you
smiled and said to us, “You’re absolutely fabulous.”

[Laughs]

 

I thought it was pretty
amazing for you to say that. It caught us off guard and the audience erupted in cheer. It was almost as if you said that
because even you noticed the dead silence and that you had captivated us.

How
lovely, I know, what an audience. What a fantastic audience. That piece is so
exposed. I wouldn’t have noticed the silence while I was singing, but when I
stopped, I was moved by it.

 

Is there a reason why there
was no chamber orchestra on this tour?

We
weren’t really sure how things would go, you know? We had to sort of see if our
audience was still out there. Maybe next time we’ll have a budget that will
enable us to bring a lot more live musicians, because we’d really like to. It’s
lots of fun having live musicians onstage. We’ve already got great musicians;
the people we’re working with are phenomenal.

 

Well, you sounded amazing
and you look stunning by the way. Can you tell me about your wardrobe? You
walked out and it was like elegant superhero meets Greek goddess.

[Laughs] That’s so lovely, thank you.
It’s really tricky to pick the clothing to wear onstage for Dead Can Dance,
because you have to cover so many genres of music and styles of singing, that
in a way, it has to be timeless but still poetic. Women speak volumes with
their clothes. With something like this music, the dresses almost have to be
able to lend themselves to each individual piece uniquely. That’s why my dress
was designed so that it covered anything from Byzantine, through to Greek,
through to the Mediterranean, through to
classical in a kind of suggestive and poetically quiet manner. As opposed to,
wearing a sort of ‘60s cocktail dress [Laughs].
It’s really tricky getting those right.

 

Was it a daunting task to
pick your setlist for this tour?

It
came pretty quickly, really. We were a bit disappointed we didn’t get some
things in there. We were sorry we didn’t put something from the really early catalog, which we would’ve
liked to play something from the very first album. And we thought about that,
but we didn’t get to it. By the time we got all those other pieces ready to
perform, we ran out of time to go further.

 

You and Brendan seem like
musical soul mates. Even after 16 years without making new material, you
finally came back and did another album. How long will fans have to wait until
the next album?

I
think what we’ll probably do because this concert tour is about 7 months
overall, we’ll develop pieces while we’re away. Otherwise, we can’t do the same
pieces for 7 months, we’ll go insane. I think out of this experience of us
working together now, we’ll grow new pieces while we’re actually traveling. So
they’ll probably come out not too long after the tour is finished. Maybe 3 or 4
months after. That’s basically what we’re hoping will happen, but you can never
tell—Especially with Brendan and I [Laughs].

 

 

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