Interview With Multimedia Artist Grande Dame

November 27, 2012 · 0 comments

in Interviews

I recently wrote about how I’ve found the speakers at our Dalston Darlings meetings a fascinating and inspiring mix of characters, and as a regular feature I’ll be interviewing them for my blog. Next in this series, and following on from Queen of Glitter Momtaz Beggum-Hossain, is self-taught audiovisual artist Grande Dame. After meeting her at our November meeting I wanted to ask Grande Dame a few questions, mainly about where she gets her creative inspiration from, her tips for staying inspired and of course, where she goes out to eat in London.

Photo by Kim Jakobsen To

So … why the moniker Grande Dame?

I used to be called Crazy Girl which reflected my previous project, it was more rough and ready and lo-fi. My new project is more polished and refined and as I’m older and wiser Grande Dame fit the bill perfectly. Basically, I grew up!

For people that are unfamiliar with your work how is it best described?

A burlesque, rock & roll soundtrack with technicoloured, psychedelic animations and bespoke pop-artifacts.

And how would you describe yourself?

An obsessive, compulsive, professional free spirit.

You’re originally from the deep south of America but call England your home, why is that?

I love that English Culture celebrates eccentricity and I’ve always felt at home here. Plus, being a southerner, I get to be exotic!

How have your American roots influenced your work?

Well my music for this album is rooted in the deep south, in Americana, and in Mississippi blues. It celebrates the cacophony of sounds I heard growing up as a child; New Orleans marching bands, country twang, funk and rock & roll.

Your pieces are all very psychedelic, where does your love of colour and print come from?

Not sure really, I’ve just always gravitated towards bright colours. I’m blind in my right eye as my optic nerve isn’t connected to my brain, and recently I had to have an eye test for reading glasses. The optician gave me a colour test and said it was off the charts, that it was the highest score he’s ever recorded! Perhaps my blindness has something to do with it ?!

Your visuals contain a multitude of different characters, do you ever get attached to any of them? If so, which ones?

Yes most definitely! There are too many to mention them all, but my favourites are owls, couples in love, Indian deities, and leather-clad bondage people.

What do you find inspiring?

Documentaries, vintage comics, Art Nouveau, pinball, regency interiors, Renaissance paintings, Medieval paintings, folk art, images from The Occult, gospel music, classical moog, Blues …. too many things!

And how do you stay inspired?

The other day I heard a quote from one of my heroes, Allee Willis, “The key to having a great life is retaining your childhood” and realised, I’ve always lived by that motto. Hold onto your childlike curiosity and you will always be inspired.

Can you share your top London-based places to visit?

In no particular order, Hammersmith Bridge, The V&A, Kings Road, St Pauls Cathedral and Regents Park.

What are your Top Tips for eating out in London?

My fave hands down is LMNT on Queensbridge Road. Not only is the food amazing and affordable, but the decor is pure theatre! I go there often. Also Mangal for grilled meat, and Viet Hoa for Vietnamese. Then The Golden Heart Pub for drinks.

You are collaborating with Terry de Havilland on a range of footwear, can you name your dream collaborators and what you envisage creating together?

I would love to create music with Tom Waits and The 5 Blind Boys of Alabama and to collaborate with Kenneth Jay Lane on a jewellery line. To work with Grayson Perry on ANYTHING would be out of this world!

What does the future hold for Grande Dame?

The Terry de Havilland footwear line comes out in March 2013. Then in the summer of 2013 my album, short film and graphic novel will be released. I’m also starting to play around with soft furnishings, re-upholstery and wall paper … so we shall see. Really, the sky is the limit!

If you’d like to buy a Grande Dame piece, my particular favourites were the “Madam & Eve” and “Adam & Steve” gay wedding plates (!) then visit her etsy shop here. Grande Dame is also having a sale of her bespoke pop-art Giclèe portraits, to find out more click here

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