When I thought of who would be the first person that I would interview in my latest blog series, it was immediately Gitane DeMone. In the early years of the 80s she was a member of the short-lived Pompeii 99, followed by Christian Death and then started off the 90s with a solo career that has now evolved into The Crystelles, the band she began with her daughter Zara.
I have been friends with Gitane for over a decade, playing many shows together in our respective bands. She is a brilliant performer with an amazing creativity and voice.
Here's what we talked about.
1. You recently released the first album of your band The Crystelles, what's up next?
I wrote quite a few new songs this past summer, which Zara and I are playing live now. Our bassist was too busy with college, so we are considering another instrumentalist, but pleased with our current situation, too. I imagine we'll be releasing the new collection when the time is right.
2. Besides music, what other creative outlets do you have?
I write- a lot of it is "automatic" surreality, some of which inspires lyics, or poetry. Some of my work has been published, and I'm considering a new favorite piece, which I'm currently illustrating, to go into a bookform. Although I don't have enough time to spend as I used to, I paint. I create sculpture and art-pieces. I enjoy creating and writing things I have never seen or read. I love to experiment with everything!
3. I've recently been doing a lot of research on the LA club scene of the early 80s. Any memorable shows that you saw?
When I moved to L.A. in the last year of the 70's, I went out every single night (on my own- I knew no one) to see bands. Johanna Went, the very avante-garde performance artist is unforgettable, as is Lydia Lunch, doing a show in which she nailed shoes to the wall on the side of the stage, whilst performing songs. Early 45 Grave, Diamanda Galas, Kommunity Fk, bands here for a moment & some that went on to get huge. All the punk bands- Red Kross, Fear, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, TSOL.... but in the early 80's it was also very dangerous, punk. I was at some terrible, horrifying riots where the police just went to war on kids, bashing skulls.
4. Being a musician, I'm fascinated by the songwriting and recording process. What were the sessions like that created Catastrophe Ballet and Ashes?
At that time, we were very focused just on the moment of creating. We weren't particularly THINKING if these albums would be good, because we knew we could put all our creativity into them- and that is because we had the TIME. Thus we were indulgent with our love in creating, and felt free enough to try where our fancies took us. Eric Westfall was in the band doing sound for both of these records, and he was a great influence in helping us follow through with our ideas for the music. It was absolutely thrilling to record both of these records, and we all felt that way.
5. I've followed your music for a long time and you've written a lot of great songs - what is one song by another artist that you wish you wrote?
Thanks for the compliment, Bret. There are so many incredible songs- I'm in love with too many. Off the cuff, I'll say "Ashtray Heart" by Captain Beefheart. But that's just one song...
For further information, please visit Gitane's official site
The art piece shown above is her work, entitled 'The Dead King'
The Crystelles - Attach & Detach
In 2008, a 2 DVD & 1 CD set was released called Life After Death,