THEREMIN QUEEN! Dorit Chrysler is best known as a virtuoso of the eerie theremin sound that you might first associate with an ’80s sci fi movie! But Dorit really shows that it can be much more than that, in fact, she has such a unique connection with her instrument that she has been invited to play alongside the likes of Tocotronic, Elliott Sharp, Chicks On Speed, Blonde Redhead, Marilyn Manson, Mercury Rev, Echo & The Bunnymen in the past. She also has a prolific recording and performing career as a composer, vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, producer, and engineer. Her latest collaboration with Anders Trentemøller shows her true colours as a solo artist, with a four-track EP entitled, “Avalanche”. We asked her to share some of her experiences of this new venture, the EP is OUT NOW.
KALTBLUT: Hey Dorit! Welcome to Kaltblut and thank you for taking some time to talk with us about your upcoming EP “Avalanche”.
DORIT: My pleasure!!
KALTBLUT: Your instrument of choice is a rather unusual one! Where were you first introduced to the theremin and how did your love affair with it begin?
DORIT: My friend lary 7 had a theremin at his house for repair – when he demonstrated it to me I was awestruck – what the hell is this! It seemed like the devil’s work – and what amazing sound possibilities…my obsession with the instrument started immediately and to play it proved to be the ultimate challenge…
KALTBLUT: As you were forming a professional musical career from such a young age, would you say you are inspired by classical composers? For example on your unique version of Aquarium by Camille Saint-Saëns..
DORIT: Singing twelve tone by Alban Berg at age 7 or Brecht and Mozart certainly had its impact and established fondness for orchestral music. Much to be found in many different genres..
KALTBLUT: How about other inspirations you drew on? There’s an ethereal aura and almost a psychedelic feel about the production and imagery surrounding your EP. Who would you say are some of your major influences, musically or otherwise?
DORIT: The music for this record was written during long and quiet nights – it has a drowsy nocturnal & sleep deprived feel – only the strongest emotions were able to cut through.. one reference was ectoplasm – the unexplainable visualization of souls..things one can feel but never fully understand.
KALTBLUT: You have an impressive portfolio of collaborations with your expertise in theremin performance. What would you say has been your most interesting/ notable performance to date?
DORIT: Impossible to choose a favorite – everyone responds to the theremin so differently, it’s so interesting, how others approach it – I strongly feel that Trentemøller really understands a theremin’s color and put it to great use! Gibby Haynes (of Butthole Surfers) stands out in memory for being extremely creative, he wanted the theremin played underwater and by animals..
KALTBLUT: After having a rich experience of working on projects with fellow musicians how did it feel finally starting out on a project that was really your own?
DORIT: Fantastic, scary and liberating!
KALTBLUT: Did you come across any difficulties when recording with the theremin, what does your composition process look like?
DORIT: The theremin can be tricky to record, it is impossible to edit this damn instrument, as the notes are mostly connected.. I like piling up lots of theremin tracks (like 20 or so) atop of each other, so you get this eerie weaving soundscape.. as for writing, it always starts with a mood, a story, I try to pin down, and, by searching through different sounds and chords, once the mood materializes, the rest falls into place..
KALTBLUT: Tell us a bit about your work with Trentemøller? On hearing your sound it seems like a natural collaboration to those who know his work well, how did you meet and how do you find it working and touring together with him?
DORIT: He came to a concert I happened to play in CPH, after the show he introduced himself and asked me to play on his record – the rest is history, we just became friends, he is the best! Working together has been so smooth and sweet, it felt a lot of times that one was starting a sentence and the other finishing it – just wonderful, trusting and relaxed! His talent amazes and inspires me. To tour with Anders was a great experience as well, everyone involved is part of a close knit family, so you can feel nothing but safe and comfortable!
KALTBLUT: What do you find more enjoyable, performing as an artist in your own right or working behind the scenes writing soundtracks or scores for film?
DORIT: Both things could not be more different and ideally coexist – I love working it hard on stage and I also crave the silence & intimacy of working alone for long hours in my home studio, ideally in pyjamas..
KALTBLUT: Can you tell us about your decision to found the “New York Theremin Society”? how did that come about and what do you find rewarding about the project?
DORIT: I heard of all those different theremin players, most of them not really working in public (playing concerts etc) so a natural curiosity wanted me to bring them together, it also felt like a duty to get things more organised and to give a platform to the instrument and its enthusiasts – it proved the right decision and probably only possible in a city like New York, all concert series are always sold out, and people are happy to finally have found a place to perform, exchange and witness; Because of the society, I was able to organize a ten piece theremin orchestra at the Los Angeles Disneyhall with the best players, and who would have thought that someone like Michael Stipe (REM) for instance, is a big fan of the theremin, this kind of support and attention is what the instrument needs to be taken more seriously in contemporary music!
KALTBLUT: I really enjoyed the EP, it’s just my style, especially “Swamp Behind My House”, with this eerie depth and mystical quality, but as you are working so closely with such an experimental instrument, how did you go about producing a sound that could also reach a wider audience, or was this even something you thought about when you were recording?
DORIT: Naaaah, I can’t really think about all that, it is all very intuitive really – and to incorporate the theremin this way seems very logical to me, I just know what it can do and I hope, more people are going to apply it this or other ways..
KALTBLUT: How about your live show? Did you have any thoughts to share with us about your concept for taking this new depth in your solo career to the stage?
DORIT: Good question! I usually perform solo, but who is gonna play all those instruments I pre-programmed? I wanted to bring the big taurus bass pedal on tour, but it weighs 45 kilo – it’s hard to even carry it from Manhattan to Brooklyn… I will just have to grow more arms and legs to play everything at the same time.. Anders joined me onstage twice now to play the songs, and he really rocked it with his korg keyboard, I’m afraid he is to busy though to become a full time band member…
KALTBLUT: What are your plans for the near future, do you have any dates lined up you’d like to share with our readers?
DORIT: The NY theremin society gets together December 12th at Joe’s pub in NYC. Then there is a record release party at my favorite Tiki bar in NYC on December 27th. Anders will be there and play, as well as foetus to DJ – I want to have my best friends around me to celebrate the EP – it will be fun!! Next year will bring lots of touring across Europe and the USA – starting with a blitztour across Switzerland in mid January. Arte TV is doing a feature in “tracks” and several music videos are in the works. Check the website for details www.doritchrysler.com Thank you for listening!
KALTBLUT: Great Dorit, all the best with the EP and thanks again for your time!
Interview by Amy Heaton