Geneva Jacuzzi has long been an enigma, a musician and performance artist who delights in the unexpected. Literally every single performance she has ever done has been different. Whether she’s using a fax machine as an instrument or blow-up dolls as a backing band, on stage she embodies an alien, or a puppet that comes to life when you leave the room, or a monster that lurks in the TV, a ghost in the machine, an unflinching piece of live art. With Technophelia—her first album in five years, available now from Medical Records—coming on the heels of getting sober, Geneva Jacuzzi fought her way out of a dark place and, through music, found the best part of herself worth saving. She performs tonight, April 1, at Sleepless: The Music Center After Hours. This interview by Daiana Feuer." /> L.A. Record

GENEVA JACUZZI: BECAUSE IT’S ME

April 1st, 2016 | Interviews

Geneva Jacuzzi: It’s something that comes from you that you can physically hear. It becomes material in the sound wave, but it’s an emotional thing that you can experience yourself through. Just like your reflection. But it comes from a mysterious place and that is really the essence of humanity—that we can make these things that come from nothing. Of course they’re teeming with influences and some people are just straight ripping other people off, but when done a certain way … When I first started making music, I didn’t have any expectation. I wasn’t trying to please anyone. I was just experimenting with a form of expression that felt natural and exciting to me, and easy—it seemed easy even though it ended up being difficult later on. But that was because I was trying to own it and see it a certain way that it wasn’t. But from the beginning until now I’ve gone through all these ego battles—psychological problems with drugs and my emotions, and dealing with my life and childhood and all my mistakes. At the end of the day I don’t even know how I make these songs. These songs come out and I listen to them and they answer the questions that hound me in a certain way. It’s this mysterious part of me I made, and yet I don’t know who made it, but it came from me. Through all my problems, it was the thing that saved me. Towards when I hit rock bottom before I went to rehab, I was putting together Technophelia, which is a collection of five years of recording. Some of those songs were my first songs that I went and re-recorded. I’m pulling out all these files and revisiting all of these memories and pain and suffering that went into the recording. At the time I couldn’t deal with it. I barely finished the album and checked myself into rehab—literally three hours later. I checked myself in because I found that this thing that used to be easy for me had become so difficult and I couldn’t deal with the emotional side of it. It was prohibiting me from actually making music. And the only thing that was there that was me—that was true—was the music. The rest of it was all my fucking problems I started attaching to the music, and that’s when the music became difficult. So I finally said, ‘No, I need to remove these problems because the only thing I know I can be sure of throughout my whole life are these songs.’ While they come from me, they come from this part of me I don’t really understand and I have to trust. The music is ultimately the freedom of ‘me.’ The freedom of anything in any kind of situation is to be able to create. It doesn’t have to be music, it could be anything. But it is the only real freedom that we have. If we take the opportunity to express that and utilize that freedom, we start to see parts of ourselves that are truly authentic. Amidst all the bullshit—regardless if other people like it or not, whether it’s successful or not—it keeps coming back and reminding you. It’s a magical thing. I’m just now starting to appreciate it.
Do you wake up every day like, ‘OK—I’m doing this on my own’? Or remind yourself it’s a new chapter every day?
Geneva Jacuzzi: SERIOUSLY. The truth is I am in a weird state of recovery and my brain and body don’t want to do anything. I’m the perfect candidate for someone to be depressed and bummed out and bitter. I have all the brain chemicals—or the lack of brain chemicals—to be conducive to be a depressed and bad person. I had to go through a lot of shit. It’s not that bad compared to all other people. I’m not saying, ‘Oh, pity me.’ But everyone goes through problems. I’m at that point where I’m dealing with them. When I wake up in the morning my first instinct is to stay under the covers—and when someone asks me to perform, to say ‘no.’ But there’s this other part of me that reminds me, ‘What matters to you? What is the important thing? The music. You have to stay true to that—stay true to the art because if not you’re just going to get lost.’ When I wake up I have to go through the list of stuff I’m grateful for and happy about—do like a little ritual to get moving. Then the day picks me up and I’m fine. But I have to remember—re-remember everything—because when you forget is when it gets rough. It’s easy to forget and get lost in your problems and distractions. When I have stuff coming up I have to be vigilant, or else I shut down. The shutdown is the scariest part.
It’s not like you have a 9-5 to get you through the day. The artist’s life is fucking hard. You’re only reliant on yourself.
Geneva Jacuzzi: Yeah—there’s no one going, ‘OK, get up, do this.’ I have this tour coming up and it really boils down to me and I’m terrified. This year was crazy, and now I’m going to tour Europe alone. Totally sober. That’s making me go, ‘OK—this is not an easy thing and it’s not going to happen unless you get up and do what you have to do.’ My self-discipline is not the best right now! It’s funny when it comes to talking about creativity, I wasn’t even talking about industry. I was talking about the process of art-making, I can do that, but the industry … to be a working artist, that’s a whole other flip-side to the thing. You have the part of you that’s true and authentic and you have the other part of you has to be like, ‘Hmm—how are we going to make a living doing this?’And not completely feel commodified. How to instill some true essence into this machine that is actually devoid of that? A machine that takes everything, strips it down and spits it out—consolidates and conforms and puts it into this like herding-cattle of touring bands. Doing photo shoots and I’m like, ‘Why am I wearing these clothes that they want? What’s the bigger picture here?’ Constantly having to re-evaluate. And doing it for no money half the time. And then trying to support yourself. And it gets harder the bigger your ego gets. When you lose track of why you’re there, everything gets harder. And even if you’re doing well financially, you could be the most successful person and be miserable because you’ve lost sight of why you’re there. In a way, all the struggles I’ve gone through in the last few years have been good because I’ve developed a lot of skills to keep myself in check and keep my heart in the right place.
The ultimate question is why do you keep doing it? And why do you love it?
Geneva Jacuzzi: Because it’s me. It’s who I was meant to be. It’s what I was meant to do. I’m trying not to question it too much and just do my best. There’s a little fire under my ass all the time telling me to go and create and take something banal and make it interesting. That’s just how my brain is wired. I don’t have label money. I don’t have parent money. I’m poor as fuck. I come from a weird religious family that wants nothing to do with what I do. There’s no support for the arts. I have a chip on my shoulder but it’s more like ammunition. I’ve worked so hard. I’m constantly frustrated by how everyone tries to chintz artists. All the artists that have press are paying for it. ‘OK—if I have $6,000, I could be famous tomorrow.’ It’s fine, but fuck that. I do my own recording, my own production, my own lighting, my own sound, my own make-up, my own graphic design. I don’t necessarily do them all like an expert but I do them well enough. But that’s also why it took five years to put out another record. I make things more complicated than they need to be. You could get on stage and perform the songs, but I have to build a set and have actors and costumes and a whole new concept with every show. It’s rough but I’ve done it and it’s an adventure. Talk about a wild experience and fulfilling life. I’ve done a different art performance in thirty different countries and hundreds of crazy plays and roles and themes. As far as my sanity, OK—I would love to have some help. But I love music. I love art. I love it and that’s why I do it. I’m lucky to be able to do this.

GENEVA JACUZZI WITH PEANUT BUTTER WOLF, RAS G, ADRIAN YOUNGE, NITE JEWEL, TEEBS AND MANY MORE ON FRI., APRIL 1, AT SLEEPLESS: THE MUSIC CENTER AFTER HOURS AT THE DOROTHY CHANDLER PAVILION, 135 N. GRAND AVE., DOWNTOWN. 11:30 PM / ALL AGES / WALK UP TICKETS AVAILABLE AT 9:30 PM – MORE INFO AND COMPLETE LINE-UP HERE! GENEVA JACUZZI’S TECHNOPHELIA IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM MEDICAL RECORDS. VISIT GENEVA JACUZZI AT GENEVAJACUZZI.COM. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BUNNY MUSEUM AT THEBUNNYMUSEUM.COM.

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