On Eclecticism, Chaos and the Search for Unity – The Strange World of Minnie d’Arc

23 Jan

Minnie d’Arc may well have been conceived at a time of optimal celestial alignments. The 49-year-old musician from Sheffield, England launched her public career in June 2011, but her first recordings, issued online via popular sites like YouTube and ReverbNation (with, of course, the inevitable presence on Facebook) did enough to bring her to the attention of Voe Saint-Clare, of the formidable Angels of Liberty and head of Secret Sin Records. Her official debut, a five-track EP called “Eris Unbound“, is to be released on Secret Sin on 26 January.

Although solidly entrenched in the goth/gothic tradition, Minnie’s work is unusual. For a start, every track on the EP is an instrumental. Surely that’s a disadvantage in a genre which bases itself as much on words as a means of expression as music?

I don’t think so,” she says. “I agree that it’s a challenge, because the listener looks to lyrics to give a song meaning. However, free from the constraint of lyrics which distract attention from a piece of music, I find there’s a massive opportunity to work with melody and counter-melody, unusual chord structures and overall ambience which I don’t think I’d be doing if I was working more specifically for voice.”

However, she’s quick to assure listeners that it may not always be the case.

One of the first tracks I recorded was a neoclassical arrangement of XIII. Stoleti’s “Elizabeth“. I loved working with it as an instrumental, but at the same time, I would have loved to be able to add a voice, because the lyrics are so amazing. I’m also looking at other songs for my next EP which will definitely benefit from having lyrics, and so I’m approaching various people to do vocal stints for me.”

Which brings us nicely to the other point which makes Minnie’s work different. The “N” word.

Oh, the neoclassical element,” she laughs. “Actually, that’s how I really started out. I was a member of the internet forum, and I thought it would be a really nice idea to make a piece of music for everyone there as a gift for the holiday season of 2010/2011. I wanted to do something really different, and at the same time make a piece of music which really explored my own influences.”

The result was “October’s Dance“, a piece which combines music in the European medieaval tradition with more recent classical elements, all placed over a doom-laden double drum beat to produce something which grows to a cathartic conclusion.

I was expecting to get a couple of posts in response saying, “Oh, that’s interesting – thanks,” and that it’d be forgotten after a couple of days. To my own massive surprise, it wasn’t; people were still talking about it in February, and I got a lot of very encouraging response. People were saying, “You should be doing this professionally,” but I really wasn’t sure… Anyway, in the end, I plucked up enough courage to submit it to Nightbreed Radio, and in April last year I got a very encouraging e-mail back from Piers Sixx, saying that he could see that it might fit into Nightbreed’s playlists“.

So why didn’t we hear from you earlier?

I had a couple of setbacks back in May which left me drifting for a month or so. However, at the end of that time, I just thought, “Oh, sod it – if I don’t do it now, I never will.” So, I went public. I started off by creating a video for “October’s Dance” and posting that everywhere I could; at the same time, I started getting in touch with DJs on Facebook, and also finished off recording work on “Elizabeth”. But, while everyone who I approached was really, really encouraging, what I was doing didn’t really fit on their playlists, which tend to be much more rock-oriented. And, I could understand that; I love good goth rock myself, and I really wanted to record something which would express that. So, I picked up something I’d had lying around for a while, and dusted it off. I’d never finished it, because I never really knew where I wanted to take it, but I thought about it, and realised it would be a perfect way of combining two things I love – the energy of goth rock and the elegance of neoclassical music. And that was the basis of the track “Eris Unbound.” And, to be fair, all my music since then.”

Why Eris?

I was reading a wonderful Discordian text called “The Book of Eris“, which is more structured than the “Principia Discordia“, and I realised that many of the ideas expressed overlapped with my own view of things… And, also what was going on in the track I was recording. It was born out of utter chaos… And it seemed to me that there was no better hymn to the goddess of discord and strife. So, “Eris Unbound”.

“It was about this time Voe got in touch with me and asked whether I wanted to issue an EP on Secret Sin, which he’d just taken over. We were both already quite well aware of each other’s existence, and found we had a bit of a mutual admiration society going where our music was concerned, so I jumped at the chance. Initially, I wanted to issue a “story so far” EP, with “October’s Dance”, “Elizabeth”, “Eris Unbound” and one other track, but there were technical problems with issuing “Elizabeth”, so I ended up recording three tracks specifically for the EP – “The Black Cat”, “The Unoriginal Sin” and “Ab Initio“.”

What’s it like working with Voe?

He’s brilliant. I couldn’t wish for a better boss; he really takes a hands-off approach to artistic content, because he’s a great believer in artists having total control over their own material. Now, with me that could be bad news because I can be really self-indulgent, and spend weeks recording a couple of bars of music. Fortunately, I’ve also got a really great management group, the Sisters of Eris, keeping me on the straight and narrow, and also giving me a visual presence.

What next for Minnie d’Arc?

Well, I want to get a new EP recorded and issued, if possible, by the middle of the year, if not earlier. Originally, I was hoping to have an album out in the early part of the year, but now I find that I’d actually like, with the second EP, to actually “finish off” what I started with the first – then, hopefully, anyone who owns both will have something which flows like a two-part album.” She smiles enigmatically. “Then, we’ll see...”

You can contact her on Facebook by clisking here.


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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Goth, etc.


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