Eleven Questions w/ Daphne Guinness on Klaus Nomi, The Bible + Spreading Hope & Love Through Art
Though Daphne Guinness is likely the most multi-hyphenated being in our significantly vast solar system (we’ve sometimes thought she is just on a long visit from another galaxy), she often seems as if she was actually put on this Earth to incessantly remind us to never, ever be boring, as long as there exists such a dazzling alternative to said boringness. Indeed, she has been a model, fashion designer, artist, activist, provocateur, muse to Alexander McQueen…and lately it has been the making of music that has most occupied her mercurially creative self.
Her third album, the slyly conceptual Revelations, was released earlier this month; it’s also her third with producer and co-conspirator Tony Visconti, whom she met through a mutual friend by the name of David Bowie. When we last heard from her, just before the corona lockdowns, the advance track “Hallucinations” found her dealing with “parallel assassins” and “battalions of spies” in the “barren void of midnight.”
She obviously got them all sorted, as she’s back with yet another fab-igmatic single, “Looking Glass” (no apparent reference to Kraftwerk or Lewis Carroll), which takes sort of Klaus-Nomi-meets-Eno style glam pop, and layers it with thought-provoking existential inquiry like, “Look through the window / March through the madhouse / Where oh where am I?” It’s also wound up something of an accidental meditation on our bemusing new quarantine reality, which has led to its share of isolation-driven madness and self-questioning.
Another perpetual accomplice of hers has been David LaChappelle, who collaborated with Ms. Guinness on the art direction, and also directed an interconnected trio of Revelations clips. The new “Looking Glass” video, this one directed Etienne Gilfillan and James Symondsis, is like a hyper-sensory journey into her restless, delirious psyche. It’s hardly a surprise that their creative partnership has proven so fertile, as they share a penchant for the fantastical and metaphorical.
We posed eleven questions to the “last glam rock star,” in hopes of understanding Daphne Guinness just a little bit more—while still making sure to leave a lot to the imagination.
How would you describe who Daphne Guinness is, and what she does?
I am an Artist. I am trying to spread hope and love through the creation of sound and vision.
Do you consider yourself as a holistic being? Like, everything you are and do fits together to make up the whole Daphne? And are your public and private selves the same?
Like anyone I am the result of my circumstances and life experiences. I try to put forward my ideas of the world through my art. I have no control over how people perceive me—I try to express myself with honesty and integrity.
What made you decide to get into music?
I have always been into music – it has been the soundtrack to my existence. Making records came about as a result of a series of magical events.
How important has Tony Visconti been to your process of making music?
Tony is a Genius, that rare beast who is both a great musician and a brilliant engineer/technician. He allows me to be myself, he is very open to trying new things and he really listens. And he has the best sense of humor.
I know people who admire you as a style icon, but were skeptical of you as a singer/musician—then their jaws dropped upon hearing your music. Have you faced such skepticism in a larger sense?
I have had to deal with such attitudes throughout my life. However, I believe artists should be free to express themselves in any way or medium they choose.
Who are your musical heroes?
Dylan, JS Bach, The Rutles.
“Looking Glass” and its video remind of Klaus Nomi—were you a fan?
Yes, I loved Klaus Nomi! AIDS took too many great artists…
The lyrics seem to be addressing existentialist questions. Is it a philosophy that interests you?
Anyone who isn’t existentially challenged at this point in Human history must be living in an alternative universe! Art is the way Humans have always addressed these big questions.
Tell me a bit about making the videos with David LaChapelle.
David directed the Revelations video Trilogy—it turned out to be fairly prophetic. We shot it on the 16th/17th November 2019. We had to shut down the streets in LA, creating a scenario which later became all too real.
Your album is called Revelations? What is the significance of the title?
It’s all in the lyrics…and in the Bible.
And finally, do you view the way you dress as a kind of artistic or philosophical statement? What is your philosophy of fashion?
I don’t have a philosophy of fashion. There is no great meaning involved. The way I dress is an extension of who I am. My style exists beyond brands and corporations.