After talking with LA based artist Audrey Napoleon, I can see exactly what the ever-growing masses of fans, dubbed Napoleon Nation, see in her. Her latest video, "Dope A La Mode," with its gruesome religious and marital themes, all encompassed in the image of a woman being rained in blood truly resonated with the darkness in my own psyche. But she would not speak extensively on the artistic motivations behind the video because she did not want to change the meaning that I found in it and simply said; "It came to me in my dreams, and is my version of a love story." Based on this response, I would say that it is a safe assumption that her dreams are extremely vivid. She described herself as a dark person in image, but by wearing all hats within the industry she is able to release those shadowy parts of the ego and step into the bright, flashing lights of superstardom.
Preparing for a performance with Tiesto at the Hard Rock Hotel when we spoke, she has already sold out her dates at MMW and was poised for the same takeover at Coachella. Audrey is definitely an artist with many industry heavyweights in her corner, Eric Prydz, Tiesto, Dada Life, Nero, and even internationally recognized brand Heineken (she is currently featured in her own ad campaign Dance More Drink Slow) that is airing in 24 countries worldwide. Napoleon said herself that "Twelve months reads like a lifetime," since her move to LA, and with the release of "Ornamental Egos," and the 18-city Identity Festival tour pushed her artistic ventures to the forefront of the industry. She often says that, "You never know where you're going to go, you just become it," when she is asked to describe herself, but we think that we have a pretty good idea. So with this… let the birth of electronic glamour and Napoleon Nation take over the world. Watch out for teasers of the upcoming collaboration between Isabel Adrian and Audrey Napoleon described below here.
EM: I've seen you weighed against Lady Gaga in some materials that I've read. How do you feel about that in terms of your image as an artist? I also heard a rumor that you were in talks to collaborate on her track "Venus" off of Art Pop.
AN: I think that any comparison to Gaga is a compliment. She is an amazing artist and I have always respected her work so I'm very happy to stand beside any comparison to her. As far as the gossip that went around ArtPop and "Venus," it was very unexpected. I had no idea that posting a picture of me next to her plaque for "The Fame" would cause such a fuss.
EM: I think that you're doing a really intelligent thing by being dark from the get-go.
AN: I've always been a dark person. I am very dark in my image and in my art. I'm a very happy person on the inside now and it's because of that darkness that I can be happy. Everything that you see in my art is me letting go of my fears, my insecurities, my anger, my sadness. It's all a "letting go" because once you strip all of that back you can genuinely be happy. That is really what all of this is for… to keep the darkness on the outside.
EM: Whenever I see a strong and edgy female personality in music I really want to write about them because sometimes fewer women are presenting in that way. It's good to see someone going "out there" and not being afraid to be dark and different.
AN: I think that within any artistic industry, whether you're an artist in music, painting, architecture – whatever your art may be… Industry castrates art. I feel that is the main problem, not necessarily being a woman within it.
EM: So you really wear all hats as a producer, singer, performer and songwriter. What do you feel that it does for you as an artist?
AN: I feel wearing all hats is the best way to get my art out of me. I have so many people living inside of my head, that each have different personalities and carry different emotions and because of that, I have to express myself in as many ways as possible in order to release the sadness, fears and anger. I can't be confined to just producing or performing. I have to perform, I have to produce, I have to sing, I have to write songs, I have to write poems, I have to do collages all in order to let go. It's all art that goes into making me a happy person on the inside. There is a quote that I really love, "If you don't have any shadows, you're not standing in the light... If you are magical… You must cast a shadow. " This quote really rang true to me, because in order for me to be able to be in the light, I have to cast off all of these shadows.
EM: I can relate to that, sometimes to explore the dark parts of the ego and the self it is a release. And once you let that go you are a happier person. What inspired Dope A La Mode, your latest video? There were a lot of religious (and I interpreted it) as some marriage type themes with gory sexual overtones. It said something to me.
AN: I feel that I shouldn't tell you what it means to me because it would change your perception of it. You have a certain feeling out of it, my fans each have a certain feeling out of it, and I don't want to change the way that anyone perceives it so I'll just say that it came to me in my dreams. I have very vivid dreams and "Dope A La Mode" was my version of a love story. And that's all that I want to tell you about it.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGykC1Z8z3s
EM: I also saw some comparisons of you as a Marilyn Manson type hybrid? He is so dark, but I have to say that when I saw "Dope A La Mode" it was much darker than a lot of things that I've seen from him. It was cool again to see a woman releasing that darkness.
AN: I appreciate that. It's funny to me that you think that it's darker than Manson. Do you think it's because it's a woman being rained in blood? And it would be more accepted if it weren't a woman?
EM: I think that you're very correct on that because of society's views on that when a woman does this it is automatically darker. I think that it might be the love story aspect.
AN: I suppose he was never really trying to tell a love story (laughs). One of the comparisons that I quite liked was if Gaga and Manson had a love child it would be me. I have coined my music "Underground Pop," so it was cool to see a comparison of me as a lovechild of those two.
EM: Did you spend a lot of time coming up as an artist in the underground electronic scene?
AN: Absolutely. My beginnings come from techno, which is how I fell in love with electronic music. My father always played Depeche Mode when I was growing up; but he listened to so many things. He would always listen to The Cure, The Doors and Joy Division... the list goes on. So, I was exposed to all sorts of music at an early age.
EM: So some of your original inspirations (The Doors especially) I've seen described as sort of precursors to the "Goth" music genre? How do you feel that all of those darker type audiences have inspired you?
AN: It's so strange for me to hear someone describe it as a darker audience because the fans to me are neither dark nor light they're just beautiful, and I'm the big fan of The Cure but I'm also a big fan of Rihanna so I don't think of it as a "dark or light", "happy or sad" type thing. I just think that it is such a wonderful thing to be a fan because that means that you are emotionally connected. You have invested your time into that artist and that artist has done the one true thing that any artist seeks out to do in their life, and that is to touch another human being and hopefully change their life and inspire them in whatever their path might be.
EM: Well you clearly make an effort to reach out to your fans as I've seen through visiting your sites, and reaching out to people online has so much power right now.
AN: My fans inspire me every single day - every single day. I think that it would be absurd to disregard them because my fans are a miracle. My fans call themselves Napoleon Nation and it's a privilege to be in the position that I am in, and I think that a lot of artists take that for granted. It's an honor and a privilege. They are something that should never be taken lightly. My fans are the reason that I can do what I do, that I can write music and only write music. They are the reason I can travel the world, they are the engine that drives my success so for me to take time out of my day to talk to them is the least that I can do in return for what they do for me.
EM: I really respect that, because they really aren't a given.
AN: Hell no! I need to talk to them every day, I need to impress them every day. I wake up needing to impress my fans because I know that they are NOT a given, and I feel blessed every single day when I wake up and have more fans or someone has left me a note or sent me an email. Some of my fans even have my phone number because we trust each other that much.
EM: It's really cool to hear that, I haven't always heard it in interviews that I've done. So how did MMW go for you this year? Any highlights?
AN: My weekend there was pretty incredible. As many people may know, and many may not, I'm in the current Heineken ad campaign, Dance More Drink Slow, which I wrote the music for and am featured in. We did the first Heineken Presents Audrey Napoleon party at MMW where I premiered some new music; in which I sang live. It was sold out, so I was very pleased with that.
EM: It seems like a lot of people are really in your corner - Eric Prydz, Tiesto, Nero, Dada Life. You really seem to be in a good position. How do you think that your career has developed since the release of Ornamental Egos and the 18-city Identity Festival tour?
AN: I think that I have progressed a lot as an artist. My fans push me to push myself in my art. Ornamental Egos was mostly instrumental… I did have two songs with vocals, "Poison" and "Only You," but I did not sing on either of those. The new songs that will be released this year feature my own vocals. As for Identity Festival, I was just so new,and not that I'm a veteran by any means, but now I feel more comfortable on stage because I am more comfortable in myself as a person. I am more confident in my music because I don't feel so afraid anymore. That fear is now more of an excitement and a desire to push my boundaries.
EM: Anything else you would like to share with us?
AN: Actually, yes. There is something I want to share with EARMILK that nobody really knows yet. Isabel Adrian and I have been working a lot together recently. She is releasing a book that comes out in May, which her and I recently filmed teasers for. Inside of these teasers is also the music video for my next release. Each teaser will lead up to the release of the book as well as the entire music video. This is similar to what I did with "Poison" but with the book included, this is an entirely different package. Isabel is a visionary; nobody has ever done teasers for a book and the fact that I have not only written and sang the soundtrack for it; we have also done a music video inside of the teasers… I'm so happy to be a part of something revolutionary.
Next week, the fans will get the first teaser of my new song, with more teasers to follow until both the book and video launch in May.
- Audrey Napoleon on Soundcloud
- Audrey Napoleon on Instagram
- Audrey Napoleon on Twitter
- Audrey Napoleon on Facebook