Interview With Artist, Musician, Designer Emma Red aka "Red Said Circus"

by STEPHANIE WEI · November 17, 2008

Red Said CircusHailing from Sydney, Australia, Emma Red, or perhaps better known as Red Said Circus, moved to New York to pursue her artistic passions. I recently met up with her at Izzy Gold's studio and I was struck by her passion, talent and sincerity. Emma is a true artist with quite a moving story. If Courtney Love was a little more sober, that'd be sort of like her. By moving to NYC on her own, Emma took a risk and found herself in situations where she had no choice but to find out who she was and deal with it. No easy feat, indeed. Many people walk through life without a care and without trying to discover their inner strengths and even weaknesses, but part of Emma's journey has been learning who she is and channeling it through creative and expressive endeavors. Whether it's songwriting, designing clothes, or making something out of nothing, she has a natural drive that inspires her art.

How did you embark on your career in music? I started music when I was in drama school in Australia. I really hated drama school because I felt like everyone was telling me who to be and what to do. So, I picked up a guitar one day and spent the year teaching myself how to play. Then, I dropped out of drama school and decided to pursue music and other forms of artistic expression.

How did you end up in NYC? I worked four jobs in Australia and eventually I moved to NYC. I met Izzy Gold a year after I moved in August 2007 and we started working together. That's when i started to figure myself out as a musician. We started writing songs at that point, and over the past year, it became what we have now, which is the album - Weapon of Mass Destruction.

If you had to, how would you define your music? I would say that it's new music. I listen to a lot of stuff from the 80's, like rock and metal as well as 90's electronic. I've always been influenced by and into that type of music. I couldn't exactly pick what it sounds like.

I understand you write your own lyrics. What inspires your lyrics? Explain how the process works for you, please. I write when I feel really strongly about something. Either something I've thought about, read or experienced and it has resonated with me. For example, I feel strongly about violence against women. So, when I'm reading about it or come across it, I feel compelled to write. Also, I write about entitlement, superficial people, injustice and racism - I'd never experienced [racism] until I moved here. Some of my lyrics are inspired from when I'm in a mood. I'm spontaneous, explosive and i like to constantly be active. I've experienced in the last year that I felt like I was novelty character rather than a person. I've never felt that way before so it struck a chord with me. At the moment, my thematic chord is injustice.

What was the inspiration for your album - Weapons of Mass Destruction? Basically, it's been a process of owning myself and finding who I am. It's been about not getting upset about people not accepting who i was; people wanting to know me more than my exterior; and people owning up to who they are. It's nice when you get a little bit of clarity.

What are you doing when you're not making or writing music? I'm a bit of a contradiction of a person. I'm really laid back and calm, but I'm also very emotional. Sometimes I don't know where to channel that emotion so that's why it's good to be an artist, musician and fashion designer - otherwise i wouldn't know how to cope. I constantly need to do something creative. I paint around my house. I write a lot of poetry. I make and build stuff. For example, I built a bed-head out of peacock feathers.

Who are some artists that you're inspired and influenced by? I'm influenced by Tim Burton, Sioux Sie (she's an 80s rock queen), Marilyn Manson, who i think is a genius, Ozzy Osbourne, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Courtney Love, and Peaches

You have a fashion line that is also called Red Said Circus. How would you describe it? And what's the most interesting or special piece that you've designed? It is an eccentric couture style. I like femininity with a masculine sort of edge. Also, I like feathers because I enjoy thinking about flying. I recently did designs with Victorian skirts that were made out of lace, wax and paint. They had black ravens and a massive train. As for my most special design, I attached a raven to a dishwashing glove that I painted. When I made this dress, the raven was protecting the woman but one had bit her hand in her imagination. I'm holding onto something to protect myself - it's a bit symbolic. There is a definitely a dark side to my designs.

What have you been up to recently? I had my first gig in NYC on Oct 8th at the Annex. I was really excited about it and I was also really nervousRed Said Circus With George Clinton at CMJ but it turned out great so I'm ready to go on to the next one. I also opened for George Clinton at CMJ, where I sang and debuted my fashion line. Most recently, I performed during the Halloween Parade on a float with the members of the Blue Oyster Cult, bass player Alice Cooper and Izzy Gold. It was the best experience of my life - there were 2 million people. It was incredible to perform with such legends. It was surreal. I couldn't believe that it happened. My mom got to be there and walk beside the float.

With her introspective yet fiery and strong spirit, she's ahead of the game and making her mark as a lifestyle artist. Red Said Circus doesn't want to be and won't be judged for her eccentricity - sounds like the move to the Big Apple was the right choice. Check out her music - regardless of your musical preference, no doubt she's real, especially her lyrics, which I feel just about anyone can appreciate.