An interview with Deep Dark Robot’s Linda Perry and Tony Tornay

 
 

AE: Does the woman know that she was your muse?

LP:
I don’t know. [Laughs]. It’s no longer about the girl. It is 8 Songs About A Girl, but if there were a Side Two it would be all about what I learned and what I gained. Again, I’m not mad or angry. I wrote a bunch of songs and my job’s done now. I’ve let go. I’ve moved on.

AE: Tony, did you help with the arrangement of the songs and with putting them together into a narrative?

TT:
The record tells a very direct story. It wasn’t so much about arranging things. We wrote a lot of other songs as well. It was an interesting process. We knew the songs that were meant for the record. It wasn’t so much guiding things as much as things dropping into our laps.

AE: Can you tell us about the videos? I know the first one was supposed to be released on Valentine’s Day, but that didn’t happen.

LP:
We started one and wanted to release it on February 14th but personally I didn’t like it. It turned out to be [just] a video. We agreed that we’re going to make really beautiful, visual little stories. We’re going to be very kamikaze. We don’t want to spend thousands of dollars doing videos. We’re doing everything so low budget it’s unbelievable. It’s f–king fun and it’s easy and it’s the way things should be. We got rid of that video because it wasn’t up to standard. We put a whole new team together and it’s a collaborative effort.

We went out to the desert and shot this video for “Won’t You Be My Girl” and it’s awesome. It’s a dream sequence. [In the video] we’re in the studio recording “It F–king Hurts,” a song about the girl ending up with this guy. She comes to visit to talk to me about it, but then she hears the song “It F–king Hurts”. I have no idea she’s there because we’re recording and she’s listening to the song. It just kills her because she can’t believe she hurt me this much that I would write a song like that and because I wrote a song like that that basically says I hope he f–ks you up as much as you did me. Next we’re in the desert and me and Tony are driving and we break down and the girl shows up to rescue us from the road. I abandon him and jump in the car to be with her and we end up making out. Then I’m woken up by Tony slamming the hood down, and I realize that it’s all just a dream. I think everyone can relate to that. We fantasize about the person we want that we can’t have. The only place I can have her is in my dreams.

AE: Is the plan still to put the videos together into a short movie?

LP:
They’ll be videos on their own, but then when we put them all together they’ll flow into each other. We’re shooting them like that — but, honestly, who f–king knows what’s going to happen. We’re going to shoot the videos and hopefully they’ll match up. I don’t even want us to have that much of a structure. All the stories are in my head so I think they’re going to line up, but who f–king knows.

AE: It sounds like you’re approaching the videos the way you approached the album. Just allowing things to be.

LP:
Exactly. It’s organic.

AE: As a lesbian are you excited to put out an album that openly explores the relationship between two women? That’s a unique part of this project.

LP:
Tony, tell your story. I’m the clueless one. I’m writing these songs and having no idea how they’re all lining up and then after we finished recording “It F–king Hurts,” Tony came back the next day and told me this story. Go ahead, Tony.

TT: The name of the record is 8 Songs About A Girl, and, yes, it’s a woman singing about another woman, and, yes, it’s very obvious that it’s a lesbian relationship, but it dawned on me that it’s interesting that, as a guy, there’s a woman singing my emotions about my ex-girlfriend. I mean, I’m happily married now, but it was interesting because I was like, wow, that’s really weird to hear a woman singing when everything is in the context of being about a girl. Listening to it as a straight guy, I instantly think about my ex-girlfriend or whatever. I can listen to it and totally relate to the record. I came in and said, “Hey Linda, this is funny because I know that [the record] is about this, but I hear it almost as this,” which added a new element to it.

LP: I didn’t really realize that. If Melissa Etheridge sings a song, I know she’s singing about a girl. Melissa’s gay, so, yeah, when she’s talking about “Come to my window,” she’s talking about a chick. Same thing with k.d. lang and all the other lesbian or out [musicians]. But then I realized, oh, what they’re not doing is putting “her” in there. It’s all just “you.” I didn’t mean to do that. It’s just that’s how I felt and that’s just who I am and who I’m talking about. I do like chicks and that’s how I roll and that’s the kind of record it is.

I would never say just “you,” because I just wouldn’t. If I’m going to talk about somebody, I’m telling you it’s “her.” “Please God won’t you make her mine.” How else am I going to f–king say that? That never was even a question, but now I think it’s kind of cool—and that it comes off in this style of music, too. The album is not a fluffy lesbian album. It’s a f–king cool record. It’s very artistic. It’s indie. It’s cool. It jumps around a lot. It’s kind of a dude record. I would call this more of a dude record than a chick record, but the chicks are going to love it because it’s me singing about a girl.

AE: I also think when you’re gay, you’re used to making the pronoun and perspective conversions that Tony’s talking about. When Bob Dylan sings about a woman and says, “I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue, I’d go crawling down the avenue,” as a lesbian you relate even though it’s a man singing. I don’t imagine straight people have to make that kind of conversion often. But it’s interesting that it was Tony, a straight guy, who pointed out the uniqueness to you.

LP:
[Laughing] Well, I’m gay. I’m not going to notice being gay. I just am.

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