Right - Martyn Jacques sings up a castrato storm with his UK- trio Tiger Lillies to create sublime vaudeville grotesquerie… and take a stab or four at the maudlin mainstream.
Photo by Andrew Attkinson
Photo by Andrew Attkinson
Martyn what gives you goosebumps?
Listening to Edith Piaf or Jacques Brel sing one of their great songs or me singing one of mine in front of a great audience.
Is there a story behind the name Tiger Lillies?
I think it has lots of connotations and meanings. In our early days people who booked us would hear a CD and expect a woman wearing tiger skins to turn up. But it's also a beautiful flower and the name of a prostitute.
Brechtian is an adjective often used to describe you?
I'm very happy to be called Brechtian probably the piece of music which has inspired and influenced me the most was the Three Penny Opera by Brecht and Weil
"You have to be cruel to be kind"?
I think that there is an element of cruelty in my performance, which the audience seems to enjoy. I think it is an easy and good place to be cruel when you are on stage as this is fiction. I’m always a little surprised when a small percentage of the audience seem to take this cruelty as something more than fiction.
Again when you sing the truth on stage, then it is relatively easy. I’m not so sure I’m so brave in my personal life when it comes to telling the truth.
Way back - when you were a kid, who, what, when or why inspired you to embrace music?
My headmaster at my junior school is my total inspiration all that I do creatively. He took great joy in teaching us music and art. He was a wonderfully enthusiastic man. I think he had a very happy life and before he died his relatives played him one of my songs, which he thought was beautiful.
You studied opera?
I only studied opera to learn about voice production. I never practiced or was interested in the repertoire. Nevertheless I am an enormous fan of Enrico Caruso
You also studied philosophy?
My study of philosophy was an enormous mistake. Artists and philosophers are like oil and water - though I respect their activity I really learnt very little inspiration from it.
What are you listening to on cd/mp3 right now?
What is your ideal night in?
Sitting on a balcony looking at the moon
What is your ideal night out?
I once went to a club in NYC where on a black and white tiled floor stood 20 men dressed as Bette Davis. That was a good night.
What do you do for kicks?
Smoke a cigar
What did you do for kicks as a kid?
Smoked a lot of dope
What is your definition of happiness?
To live unattached from all things and in harmony with them
Journos describe you guys as "cabaret meets falsetto"?
Everybody calls us cabaret these days. It’s been happening in the last five years. I suppose it sort of fits. I certainly sing with a high voice though I have been using my low one as well of late.
Is there one particular song by another music artist that lingers in your voice box and heart?
Mona Lisa, I don't why
What is your favorite film?
Once Upon a Time in America, I would say why that is great is at least 50% because of the music. Same for The Godfather or Once Upon The Time in the West for the same reason.
What is your favorite colour?
Green - don't know why
If you could have a dinner party or booze up with anyone of your choice, living or dead, who would it be - What would you eat?
Well I could imagine having dinner with a lot of people. I have a nasty feeling with quite a few of them i would be disappointed. I think we tend to build our heroes up. May be eating some fried chicken with Betty Smith?
What is your own personal all time favourite TL song lyrics?
It changes but I like King Neptune from the Sea album
What writer/author/playwright/lyricist inspires you?
I can’t really think of anyone
What advice would you offer to someone who is young, wants to be creative but doesn't know how to be creative?
Don't go to college, don't try to make money from being creative and never try to say exactly what you feel.
What good sense advice would you like to give to yourself?
Ultimately everything is devoid of meaning so don't take anything seriously
Suicide is for....?
People who don't recognize the above!
The Tiger Lillies are performing in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne this week. For more details: www.tigerlillies.com