1998 - Echoes (Syndicated)
Philadelphia, PA - November 12, 1998 - with Kimberly Haas
Re-broadcast December 4, 1998
Interview mp3 (9:58)
Transcribed by Janice C.
John Diliberto: Coming up in the next half hour we’ll be hearing a sound portrait of Happy Rhodes’ new album Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. If you’re up on the internet drop in to the Echoes website, it’s at www.echoes.org. At our website you’ll find the complete Echo disc catalog where you can locate many of the albums you’ll hear on the show and order them online. You can also download a playlist for today’s Echoes… It’s Program- X-42. Once again that website address E-C-H-O-E-S.org O-R-G
Echoes continues from PRI - Public Radio International.
Music (Happy Rhodes - "Serenading Genius")
You’re hearing Echoes and I’m John Diliberto. Happy Rhodes has spent years probing the darker, psychological secrets of her early years, her music full of melodic flights topped by her uncanny, multi-octave voice. On her latest album, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, her music takes a new turn away from the childhood traumas of her early years and towards a contemplation of life and existence. Kimberly Haas takes a left turn down Happy Rhodes.
Music ("Ra Is A Busy God")
KIMBERLY HAAS (KH): Happy Rhodes doesn’t fit the standard, singer songwriter profile. She’s not a woman with an acoustic guitar singing confessional songs. She doesn’t write folky music. She doesn’t write love songs and she has a room full of synthesizers.
Happy sings "Where ya goin' Ra, take me with you Ra, you're a busy god"
HAPPY RHODES (HR): When you’re nine years old and you’re singing along to Switched on Bach knowing in your head that, you know, “Some day I’m going to be an electronic musician”….and, you know…it’s like…And then you grow up and the only thing you can afford at first is an acoustic guitar…or that is the first thing that allows you to be able to start using your voice…right? But because I was female and because I had a sweet voice and because I was seen with a guitar, the obvious conclusion was made. Mostly I hear women singing about very intimate, personal, mostly relationship-oriented things. That’s the last thing I ever want to sing about.
Music (Happy Rhodes - "Tragic")
KH: Instead, Happy would rather crank up her synthesizers and sing about computer games, psychological turmoil, and films like Blade Runner and the Professional.
Happy sings "I see you because you are tragic, and I need you for the same. There's a little bit of you in me, you can't escape what you became"
KH: Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is Happy Rhodes’ most ambitious recording, in a career that began when she was 14 years old writing songs in upstate NY. Those songs, as heard on CD’s like Warpaint, had a stark, sometimes terrifying autobiographical nature.
HR: Yeah, I think in my earlier albums I lived in my head a lot more. The issues I dealt with were all personal, depression or how I would react to certain situations. Now, not feeling too depressed that much anymore, I think about other things. I turn my thoughts outward now.
KH: But despite what she says, inner demons still run thru her imagery. They turn up in tormented songs like "The Chariot."
Music (Happy Rhodes - "The Chariot")
HR: It’s from the point of view from a child who lives in desperation and needs desperately to be saved and is not being saved. And everyday that passes sees an opportunity to be saved and they can’t reach out. They’ll watch their savior walk by everyday and they’re mute. They cannot scream, they cannot touch. They can’t do anything. It’s a horrible way to live.
Happy sings "How can you just turn away? My spirit fades each day you make me stay"
KH: "The Chariot" harkens back to earlier Happy Rhodes’ songs but much of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight shows where she’d rather spend her psychic energies. She’d prefer to look at the world thru the digital imagery of a computer game called Time Lapse which is what she does on the song "100 Years."
Music (Happy Rhodes - "100 Years")
HR: There’s a robot in the game that only appears at the very end of the game and he’s angry. He’s in a world, he was left behind and he has to guard everybody’s stuff. And he’s really peeved. Why? Well, cause he’s lonely. He’s been alone and he’s been living in his own world for so long. He’s had to come up with his own answers to his own existence.
Happy sings "With no genetic code, so pathetic am I. Don't have the luxury of knowing someday I'll die. Is this the second Eden? Am I the new Adam?"
KH: If you read a Happy Rhodes’ lyric, it doesn’t seem like lines that anyone would sing. Happy doesn’t write poems and try to set them to music. Instead her lyrics emerge out of the music. She surrounds her stunning multi-octave voice with elaborate electronic orchestrations that unlock her subconscious like a Rorschach Test.
Music (Happy Rhodes - "If Wishes Were Horses, How Beggars Would Ride")
HR: I write the music first and because that is what moves me, I listen to it over and over again and I start getting images. I start getting the visuals and usually I’ll start singing catch-phrases and then you realize, you know it’s like something like If Wishes Were Horses, there is one line "You can't bring me comfort by filling up my eyes." I have no idea what that means. And this is what happens to me. I’ll sing it over and over again. I go “Well, that's done, I can’t change it now. It’s just what I’m supposed to sing there I suppose, so I have to make it make sense. And then you fill in the holes. And the way I filled in those holes is like "You can’t bring me comfort by filling up my eyes." That means that you can’t appear before me and have that comforting to me anymore. Or I can’t look at a picture and have that comforting to me anymore. The damage is too deep. The pain is too great.
Happy sings “But you can’t bring me comfort by filling up my eyes. They don't stay dry, hard as I try, can't figure why, made I this choice”
KH: Happy Rhodes may not sit down and write out poems, but she has written out her dreams….
Music (Happy Rhodes - "Many Worlds Are Born Tonight)
Happy sings "Hey ho if you write your nightscapades, you'll get a dawn full of promises"
HR: You write your nightscapades. I know, where did I get that from? And what that actually means is record your dreams because it will open your eyes to things about yourself that you never realized before. That’s all that means.
Happy sings "Hey ho listen to what moves you, and let the moon catch your memories"
KH: Happy Rhodes’ virtual dreams can be heard on her latest album Many Worlds Are Born Tonight from Sampson Music. For Echoes, I’m Kimberly Haas.
JD: From Happy Rhodes’ new album, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, here’s the piece that’s based on that computer game, Time Lapse. It’s called "100 Year."p>
Music...fades out, then in
JD: Happy Rhodes, from her latest album, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. If you’d like to add that CD to your collection, you can do it by calling Echo Disc at 1-800-321-ECHO. At Echo disc you can locate many of the albums you hear on the show, including Happy Rhodes’ MANY WORLDS ARE BORN TONIGHT. Once again that toll-free orderline… 1-800-321-ECHO. Make sure you call weekdays between 9a.m. and 5p.m. eastern…. (cuts off).