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Scout Niblett On Tour

Dazed catch up with the inimitable songstress on tour to talk reincarnation, taking advice from the subconscious mind and creating your own truth

Emma Louise Niblett is unquestionably one of the most uniquely talented musical artists of our time. Ever since she first graced the cover of Everett True’s short-lived but excellent zine Careless Talk Costs Lives nearly a decade ago she has been creating intense, visceral and emotional music that veers wildly in sonic intensity from the bigmuff-soaked excesses of Nirvana and Mudhoney to the transcendental plateaus of Buffy Saint Marie. In fact, it could be argued that not since Cobain has there been an artist of such integrity and disarming honesty, something that has been borne out by the eagerness of Steve Albini to work with her in the past. She is currently touring her recently released album The Calcination Of Scout Niblett and I was lucky enough to grab ten minutes with her after a blistering show at London’s Borderline to talk creativity, consciousness and the personal nature of what we call truth.

Dazed Digital: Where would you say your drive comes from to write songs and perform them in the way that you do? It almost seems to be a form of catharsis...
Scout Niblett:
 Writing songs is something that makes me a healthier person: it's a way I make sense of the world and my place in it. The performing of the songs is just an amazing thing for me, and I feel like I am so lucky to be able to do it. It is really a health thing again, to be able to scream my head off if I want and have people just accept it. I am someone that needs to release things, because I would release them if I were on a stage or not. I'm kind of an extreme person emotionally.

Dazed Digital: How do you think you have evolved as an artist over the years?
Scout Niblett:
 It's really hard to say because I kind of see it all as a huge work in progress; I don't really see it as these solitary pockets of expression. I still kind of see a lot of who I am now in the first songs I wrote. I don't see a separation. Musically, I think it's got more aggressive in parts and more dynamic as I have got older.

Dazed Digital: Your songs are often quite surreal, are you inspired by your dreamtime?
Scout Niblett:
 My songs don’t come directly from my dreams but they are directly from my unconscious. I've always had this feeling that the lyrics that come out of me are like advice to myself that I kind of need to know. It’s never like I sit down and think I am going write a song about this or that – the lyrics just sort of pop out from my subconscious.

Dazed Digital: There is a sense of an impending doom in you music. Do you think a lot about death?
Scout Niblett:
 I am pretty obsessed with that subject, and I think it is really natural to underestimate how vital it is while we are all here. The more you think about death, the more valuable you consider the time that you have.

Dazed Digital: Do you believe in an afterlife?
Scout Nibeltt:
 I believe we go on outside of the body. I feel like our consciousness goes on and that the trick to us being born all the time, in the reincarnation sense, is this idea that you don't ever remember you were here before. I think that forces us to grow quicker. If we thought we were around forever we would be just lazy. I've always felt that about reincarnation; that it was a real kind of truth. I used to think, ‘What if next time when I come back, I come back to a really fucked up situation?’ But I know it won't matter, because I won’t remember this good thing that I've got now, and the fact that I won't remember makes it irrelevant.

Dazed Digital: So, you think of consciousness as a form of energy?
Scout Niblett:
 I think that everything is just energy vibrating all the time, so when you meet people there's this conscious awareness of other people, and there's this other thing going on too. The complexity and subtlety of what is going on is really beyond us, but it is still going on. It's kind of like when you have those feelings of intuition – you meet someone and you immediately get a good or a bad feeling off of them; you are just drawn to certain things in life and repelled by others.

Dazed Digital: Why do you not wear the blonde wig you used to wear when you performed any longer?
Scout Niblett:
 I don't know. I can never really work out why I wore it, but I found it kind of useful in a way. I kind of wanted to subvert the way I looked. I was doing that because I was trying to be anti-glamorous. I didn't want to dress up in traditional way where a woman has to look really good.

Dazed Digital: Do you think the objectification of women is worse now than ever?
Scout Niblett:
 Yeah. I don't really look at it anymore. When I was a teenager I paid more attention to the visual world but I am kind of put off by anything visual now. I'm kind of anti-visual because I think it distracts people from other things that are more important. When you really want to concentrate on something you usually close your eyes: you shut down your visual things to really focus.

Dazed Digital: Coming back to these notions of beauty, what do you think of the John Keats quote, ‘Truth is beauty, beauty truth...’?
Scout Niblettt:
 Well, it depends how you look at it, I guess. I mean, maybe it’s about what you love: you know that whole beauty is in the eye of the beholder thing? And it's like your subjective world is your truth – you don't agree completely with everybody in the whole world about everything but that doesn't mean that you're not true and they're not true… everyone has their own truth.