Interdisciplinary artist Danielle de Picciotto talks about her new solo album, DELIVERANCE

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“Deliverance” is the new solo release from Danielle de Picciotto, an interdisciplinary artist who has been involved with many collaborations over the years. Having moved from New York to Berlin in 1987, Danielle was the co-founder of the Berlin Love Parade and has performed and exhibited with Crime & The City Solution, Gudrun Gut, The Space Cowboys, and her husband Alexander Hacke, a founding member of Einstürzende Neubauten. For “Deliverance,” she has created dark, dream-like soundscapes featuring both sung and spoken vocals. A hardcover vinyl collector’s item features 24 pages of art including a hand-signed screen print.

What made you decide that the time was right for another solo album?

Danielle de Picciotto: Well, in general, I wanted to do a solo album because I think it’s always good to do things in between on your own. When you’re working with other people, you always have all kinds of different opinions and possibilities, and when you’re working on your own, you really go back and have to think about what is important for yourself. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to do another solo album specifically at this moment, because I’ve been working so much with other people that I thought it’s a good time to check back on myself.

Is there ever any overlap between your collaborations and solo work? For example, ideas that don’t fit somewhere that get saved for something else?

Danielle de Picciotto: Sometimes. When I work together with Alexander, we usually really have a great flow. So I don’t keep anything away from what we’re doing, but then sometimes, a couple of things wouldn’t fit into what we’re doing together. So then I think, “Okay, I want to save this for my solo album.” Yeah, but mainly, my solo work is a little bit more electronic than what we have been doing together, and so specifically when it’s about sound or a lot of spoken word, I save it for my solo stuff.

Beyond wanting to do something on your own, did you have any particular concepts going into making “Deliverance”?

Danielle de Picciotto: Well, usually, I do have a certain spark or an idea of why I want to do an album. This time, it was actually funny because it turned out completely different than I had expected, at least lyric-wise. I always have a specific sound that I want to create. I’ve always been obsessed with using strange sounds to create a different kind of universe that I feel comfortable in. I like scraping sounds. I like wooden sounds. I like the sound of forests and of clouds and stuff like that, and I like it if they’re industrial sounds too.

I had actually planned to do more of a personal album about myself, and then when I started writing it, it became universal because I guess I noticed that I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s happening in general, and all of a sudden, it became this dialogue of myself and the world. So that was surprising for me because I had expected something different, and I don’t really plan things that much ahead. I let it flow, especially when I’m doing a solo album. With other projects, I’m a lot more specific in what kind of, let’s say, theme or parameters it’s supposed to be. But with my solo albums, I always just let it flow to check on what comes out of the depths.

What tools did you use for the electronic elements?

I actually don’t use very many. I’m not really a tech nerd because I’m too impatient for it. I do use a Roland SP-404 [samping workstation] where I have my sounds that I’ve recorded before and that I can distort a little bit, and I have a voice controller, but that’s basically it. Otherwise, I just use my foot pedals, which are reverb and a looper. Besides that, I do sometimes take a couple of the electronic sounds I work on beforehand and I twist them to what I want them to be, but a lot of the stuff, I actually do live.

What was the timeframe of making the album?

Well, I started collecting sounds sometime last spring, and then I started really working on it in summer, music-wise. I wrote the lyrics I think in August. It took me about a month, and then I finished everything up. I actually had planned to release it last year, but I changed record labels. So that took a little longer, and that was fine with me because then I could take more time in finishing it up.

Did you have a general working process? For example, did songs tend to start off with vocal ideas, or sounds?

Usually, I actually start with lyrics, and this time, I started with the sound. Then the melodies came, and then I wrote the lyrics last, which is very unusual for me because I’m actually somebody who’s very influenced by words. I don’t really have any new musicians or bands or stuff that influenced me, but thoughts of writers and literature, they’re something that I’m always interested in.

Usually, I write first, and this time, I wrote last. It really did evolve during the writing. So after I had finished the lyrics and put them on the sound, I had to rearrange the sound again. So it was a different process than usual. So the whole album, as I mentioned before, was quite surprising for myself. I thought it was going to be quite different, but I’m happy with the result.

Were you working on the artwork alongside the music?

Yes. Well, I’ve always been interdisciplinary. I always paint and write and make music basically at the same time. At the moment, I’m sitting in between my paintings and my desk where all my instruments are because I’m jumping back and forth. So I’m working on the visuals and rehearsing the instruments. It’s what I’ve always done. I need that. I need the visual aspect and the colors and the ink as much as I do the instruments.

The artwork of the album and in the catalog is basically the artwork I’ve been working on for the last year or two. What I really like about working in different media without actually specifically thinking of how to put it together, I like the way it always falls together in a magical way. The paintings really do express how I feel at the moment in a visual sense, but they really fit with the lyrics and with the sound as well. So they all have this magical, mystical, a bit melancholic atmosphere, which I think my album has too, and it just widens the 3D impression of what I do either way.

Are you performing this music live?

I did a record release party in Berlin on the 15th of May, and I’m going to be doing a couple of shows within Berlin and hopefully in England because my record label is in England. We’re working on that, and then the rest of Europe is being planned for the fall, and then hopefully next year the US.

For more info, visit danielledepicciotto.com.

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