Nicole Blackman, a spoken-word performer from New York has been involved with a wide variety of musical projects, most notably supplying vocals on the darkly disturbing Golden Palominos album ‘Dead Inside’, in addition to recording with Bill Laswell, Scanner and KMFDM.
Her edgy work straddles the uncharted territory between page and performance, leaving the audience sometimes amused and more often unsettled. “Everything I write is a bit burnt around the edges” she explains, “and I’m most intrigued by stories of people with strange attractions.”
Blackman’s books include ‘Pretty’, ‘Sweet’ and ‘Nice’ published in 1997, rounding off a trilogy of works she says are “back-handed compliments for women”, ‘Blood Sugar’ in 1997 and ‘Brooklyn Noir’ in 2005.
Her most recent performances, ‘Courtesan Tales’, have been presented at PS122/NYC, The Andy Warhol Museum/Pittsburgh, venues in LA, Italy and Slovenia, and three years of sold-out appearances at the Fierce Festival in Birmingham, UK.
The ‘Courtesan Tales’ are immersive one-on-one performances Blackman describes as “tales of the senses for a blindfolded audience of one”, and frequently sell out.
She has recently debuted ‘Harm’s Way’ (a multi-media performance of her email diary of working at Ground Zero) as a work in progress in New York and hopes to develop it into a full performance.
Q. What did you think of the tracks Alan asked you to put lyrics to?
A. In visual terms, when I consider collaborating with someone, I want to know that their ‘blue’ circle of work will mix enough with my ‘red’ to make a shocking bit of ‘violet’ to satisfy and surprise us both. I like to see if their frame of reference is different enough from mine that we’ll bring good work out of each other. He won me over immediately by saying he didn’t want to do ‘Dead Inside 2’ and I told him I was looking to do more challenging work vocally; to layer the vocals differently in the mix and use them more as an instrument.
Q. How did you actually work together on the Recoil project?
A. He flew me over to England to work in his Thin Line studio. I showed up at his massive country estate in my camouflage pants and unpacked a few bottles of spirits for the adults, got a tour of their gorgeous house and marveled at the bunnies and deer running all over the property.
Q. What was he like to work with?
A. While I’m used to taking orders from musicians who bring me into the studio to do something very specific, Alan set the tone by letting me try whatever I liked and we listened back to the takes to see where the track wanted to go. The session must have been ok because in the end, all three tracks ended up on the record – ‘Want’, ‘Breath Control’ and ‘Chrome’.
Q. What will be your overriding memory of working with Alan?
A. I recall the sessions as the most fun I’ve ever had working on a record. I’m particularly pleased that ‘Liquid ‘ indicates more clearly what I’m able to do vocally than any other record I’ve done.
Q. Can you tell us an interesting anecdote or story about Alan, professional or not?
A. We ended up going out to a neighbour’s birthday party the first evening I arrived. As Hep and I cracked open a few bottles and got dressed, Alan and PK returned to the kitchen to find her in a sheer white dress and me in 5′ dominatrix boots. “This is gonna be fun…” he muttered. I convinced one of Alan’s fans at the party that I was their personal chef and Paris’ nanny for a few weeks and professed not to even know who Mr. Wilder was. I think that fella still wonders just what kind of nanny agency sends their girls out to clients looking like THAT…
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
A. Would I work with Alan Wilder again? In a second.