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INTERVIEW: Sasha Grey On Desertshore
Luke Turner , November 20th, 2012 08:04

The actress and noise musician discusses her vocal for Desertshore

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As Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti explained to us last week, one of the criteria for choosing the vocalists for their completion of Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson's Desertshore album was as much to do with how people approached their life and work in relation to TG or Sleazy as it was music. In the case of Sasha Grey, an adult film star who has now moved into mainstream cinema and making music as half of the noise duo aTelecine, great parallels can be seen with Cosey Fanni Tutti's own work in the porn industry, art and music. Where aTelecine's work (listen to their albums on Spotify here) deals in fractured, unsettling sounds where any vocal is a mutter amidst the noise, Sasha Grey adopts a more forthright approach for her twisting and strange take on Nico's 'Afraid'. We spoke to Grey about her Desertshore collaboration.

Sasha, can you tell us a little of how you came to Sleazy's music, and Throbbing Gristle in general? What is the significance of it to you?

Sasha Grey: An every growing abundance of sound and self, that’s the essence. Luckily I had Brainwashed.com at my disposal, it was a treasure chest of musical introductions for me. The sonics an influence on aTelecine, that can't be denied.

Did you also have a relationship with the music of Nico? If so, what is it about her music that speaks to you?

SG: Nico has always been able to take me on a complete journey. Her ethereal voice, and timeless music is larger than life yet so gentle and spiritual. She doesn’t hide darkness and try to cover it with light, she exposes truths but the music always leaves me feeling calm and safe.

When I listen to Cosey's solo album Time To Tell and read the writing in the sleeve of that album, there seem to be parallels with your life and work involving pornography, responses to it, and then creating music. Has she been an inspiration to your work?

SG: Yes, and once I slowly began my exit out of porn, and became friends with Cosey, I think that’s where more of the magic happened. It’s interesting to compare our careers for sure, while I believe we had different goals set for ourselves… I definitely had a model to follow in her (and TG/Coil) they were some of the individuals that really inspired me not to hide from myself, and to take pride in all I aspire to create.

How did you get involved with Desertshore, and why 'Afraid'?

SG: Cosey and I had talked about collaborating for quite some time; when she and Chris decided to finish Desertshore, they asked me if I’d like to be involved. Naturally I had to do a track that was sung in English, haha; after choosing three songs, ‘Afraid’ was the final selection.

How did you approach doing the vocals for 'Afraid'? You've given it quite a twist away from Nico's. Was it a challenge to do?

SG: Yes of course! Nobody has a voice like Nico. Yet in true X-TG/Carter Tutti fashion the music was a completely unique take to the original. After a few takes I remembered what Cosey said to me by email…it was something along the lines of 'don’t worry about matching the original, as we will continue to develop the music, so it won’t even sound like the backing track you hear now'. Eventually I just ended up singing Temptations, Beatles and Love and Rockets songs to get my nerves all worked out… stepped back in without reservations and sang the lyrics as I felt them come through me… similar to some of my favorite acting exercises actually!

Desertshore / The Final Report is released next Monday, November 26th on Industrial Records. Chris and Cosey will be doing a Q&A about the album the next day (27th) at Rough Trade East, London.

tommy knockeeer
Nov 20, 2012 5:40pm

The Wire review said that her performance was like someone reading the lyrics off a cue card for the first time. Respect to her all the same though, Sasha's an interesting lady.

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Mike Stephens
Nov 20, 2012 6:24pm

In reply to tommy knockeeer:

Hehe, the Wire don't know sh1t most of the time....(but don't tell them, they'll get upset!)

Can't wait for the record!!!

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rzee
Nov 20, 2012 8:11pm

Sorry, but this is just Cosey trying to be hip or something. I don't think there's much comparison between Cosey's brief work in 70s porn and Sasha Grey's extreme hardcore and degrading money-making porn career. And elevating her porn work to art and making her some kind of icon is just really bad for young girls. Her claims to subverting the industry are pretentious cover and nonsense. Her 'band' is terrible laptop noise and if she wasn't a famous porn star noone would give a fig about it. The idea that she could take on the amazing and complicated depth of Nico's music is just painful. And by the way, Nico's voice isn't 'ethereal,' it's earthy and brutal and beautiful. I'm a huge fan of Chris and Cosey, but their elevation of Sasha Grey is a dissapointment. I don't have anything against Sasha, but I just think she's becoming this icon for all the wrong reasons. If she wants to be a musician, fine, but start where everyone else does instead of floating up on this wave of porn-celebrity publicity. Im really accusing the magazines, record labels, and Cosey here not Sasha on this point. There's a million singers that are making music atleast as good, or as bad, as Telecine that Cosey could have plucked for this project. I'd love to know exactly why Sasha was chosen? Certainly not her voice. And just because she might have good 'taste' in music isn't good enough either.

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Beryl Reid
Nov 20, 2012 9:05pm

In reply to rzee:

Life isn't fair you anus. The music industry isn't a meritocracy and there are plenty of people who've sold plenty of records thanks in part to who they fucked to get there. Life obviously has plenty of surprises left in store for you, you sanctimonious dickwad

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rzee
Nov 20, 2012 9:05pm

In reply to rzee:

also, on the home page of the quietus is a thoughtful and highly critical piece about the new Rihanna album, her marketing, and the issue of women's power and violence against women. It's easier to go after Rihanna because she's so popular and there's so much money behind her. But it's complicated too because a lot of her music is really quite good, if often problematic. The piece revolves around her seeming normalization of Chris Brown's beating. And here we have Sasha Grey, simply touted as a cool arty girl who supposedly has something to say about music, with every interviewer of Sasha trying so hard to cozy up to her.

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rzee
Nov 20, 2012 9:10pm

In reply to Beryl Reid:

Not sure your comments deserve a response but the point is not whether music is a meritocracy or that there are other singers who go unnoticed. The point is why Sasha Grey? Are you saying that she slept with Chris and Cosey to be on the record? I'm not saying anything like that. And I don't think they're going to sell a lot of records.

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Beryl Reid
Nov 20, 2012 9:32pm

In reply to rzee:

No, I'm not saying that. Come back and talk to me in a few years when you're no longer an idiot

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rzee
Nov 20, 2012 10:05pm

In reply to Beryl Reid:

but that's what you said. Do you work for Sasha's publicity team? You're not much of a debater great old wise one.

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Dirty Mac
Nov 21, 2012 4:07am

Sadly, no matter how Sasha 'markets' herself, she will never ever escape her past but those are her choices. I have to agree with the previous comment, aTelecine are beyond dreadful.

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Luke Turner
Nov 21, 2012 10:22am

Dear me, what's with all the bile here? Once AGAIN on an article about a female artist. Depressing bottom half of the internet sexist bollocks.

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Like, you know?
Nov 21, 2012 1:40pm

In reply to Luke Turner:

Why is it sexist to think that her music is crap? All the bullshit about her porn work making her an artist and then trying to come across as some alternative figurehead are irritating at best. Not sure how long being bummed and strangled by 10 men has served any other purpose than providing wanking material. It's just nepotism in its most basic form that she can be considered for a career in music. I'm sure we wouldn't be holding up a contestant willing to degrade themselves for attention on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here with the same level of high regard.

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bridge
Nov 21, 2012 5:27pm

In reply to Luke Turner:

Whatever bile is here is actually coming from the fanboys that uncritically defend Sasha. I hardly see how the comments are sexist just because they are about a female artist. In fact, I think the issues being raised are quite concerned with women's issues and not just about being cool or hip, which I guess, based on Luke Turner's dismissive comments of those who actually want to discuss issues as opposed to just gush over Sasha and ask inane, meaningless questions which result in meaningless answers. Sorry, but this is the lamest interview ever. Even though Sasha seems like an intelligent person, I feel a little uneasy about the message her career path is sending to young girls: go to LA and make the most hardcore pornography that's ever existed, make a ton of money, then quit and become the darling of indie filmmakers and aging music icons who involve you in their projects to make themselves still seem relevant and edgy. Then make up an idea that you were subverting pornography from within by suprising the director and other actors on the set by saying things like "punch me in the stomach" so that you can distance yourself from porn and be viewed as some kind of performance artist. You're right Luke, good job. why is AGAIN capitilized. is that the really important part of what you have to say. come AGAIN?

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John Doran
Nov 21, 2012 6:32pm

In reply to bridge:

I guess if you were the ones who had to delete all the comments calling her a "fucking whore", "yet another singing prostitute" and a "silly bitch" on the same day you had to delete almost exactly the same worded attacks on Rihanna you might feel differently about whether Sasha Grey is operating in non-sexist environment. Or maybe not, I don't know.

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bridge
Nov 21, 2012 7:05pm

In reply to John Doran:

well, those comments aren't here are they? I don't work for the quietus so how would I know. Seems to me the dialogue here is relatively civil and constructive and you can't really expect commenters to take into consideration comments that don't exist on the comment section. This is a a place for comments right? You do want people to read, think about and comment on the articles? Or did you just want stuff like "Great article!", "fantastic interview," and "brilliant!" Sheesh...

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Rachel
Nov 21, 2012 7:50pm

In reply to John Doran:

Strange how you worry the comments in your own publication might not be a "non-sexist environment." I'm sure that Sasha's not too threatened by it. She does have some experience 'operating' in a very sexist environment. Weird comments John and Luke. Or do you guys just use the Comments section to communicate with each other instead of email? Rihanna's great and I look forward to how Sasha may evolve creatively in the future.

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John Doran
Nov 21, 2012 10:40pm

In reply to Rachel:

I have no idea what you're talking about.

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John Doran
Nov 21, 2012 10:52pm

In reply to bridge:

People can leave whatever comments they want as long as it's not blatantly sexist, racist, homophobic etc. It's obviously not sexist to call her music shit but it is objectionable to make a "good AIDS/bad AIDS" comparison with her and Cosey's proximity to the sex industry.

Let me spell it out for you as you seem a little bit dim - there is nothing morally or ethically wrong per se with making porn or working in the sex industry. All of the comments which alluding to this are intrinsically sexist.

The comment about Grey "escaping" her past is hilarious. That commenter sounds like Victorian Dad from Viz. It's not his place to decide whether she should feel shame for working in the sex industry. What is he - a member of the Westboro Baptist Church? As for the idea that she's sending 'bad' messages to young girls... this is risible. Desertshore is hardly aimed at the teenage market.

This bored bitching is really sub par. You want to raise your game a bit.

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Nov 23, 2012 11:27am

In reply to tommy knockeeer:

No, she isn't.

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Nov 23, 2012 11:29am

In reply to John Doran:

No, we don't.

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Jan 15, 2013 6:40am

sasha grey is nice........

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