Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Common Poppy Garden

Purple Heart

This game I played where I get what I want a champion a gold medal you
Purple heart

Terrified you’ll be all alone with me one day and what then would I be?
(amour de porcelaine) 

You are so much of everything I want in my lover to be and very much strong for me
Purple heart

 
Everything smells like tension

Even on a good day no one wants to be alone;
bitter and cold

Love with one is too few
Love with none is too many
Everything smells like tension 

I’m a coward wanting love, thinking I’m something special;
Adorning my self’s mass-disaster in diamond quips


Poppy Garden

I lived in a common poppy garden
But when I ran from that courtyard
I tore down the walls around
The razor I keep in my mind

I’m stupid without you
I’m tragic without you
I’m defenseless without you
I’m ashamed of my lack of pain

In honest moments I can’t lie;
You had brought out what I thought was the best of me;
I dreamed of horses, private jets, diving from cliffs
Getting drunk on beaches, private estates, climbing mountains

When I dream alone for a thousand nights
Is when tears wreck havoc at dawn;
I am deconstructed glass
I am loved conditionally,
I clip my wings to be free

I’m stupid without you
I’m unsexy without you
I’m useless without you
I’m regretful without you


Pele’s Boys

Fromm the volcano top
I hear dreams like thunder
Exciting the liquid chaos in me
Churning bubbling lava deep in me
Matching my heartbeat
Your smile becomes my sun
When I suck your tongue
For lava glistens in your eyes

Underneath your rain
Treble and strings make melody
Bass and horns make flowers bloom
Tickling every nerve of me
Creating tiny sparks
Imitating missing persons –
Oh, how I love those little sparks!
They massage my every muscle
Destroying or giving me wings?

Where’s the new rain?  Where’s the new rain?

 
I’m not happy that I’m not safe with you

Solace, it’s true:
You still look pretty counting my rosary of addictive solutions,
Leaving sadness as the only lover to invade my demeanor

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vote for me on Tallenge

FETCH: Sept 2055, ‘Pollyanna's Garden' by Lorilee Saunders

Art by Marguerite Sauvage
Bonafide pop-star Angel Constantine starts her day early in DJ Jeremy Schwach’s homemade studio in Gamoyra’s Owren Bazaar, listening to several commissioned remixed of her sophomore collections, ‘A Common Poppy Garden’, third single “Poppy Garden”; the brim of her large black sun-hat grazes the low-ceiling.  She’s casually dressed with her signature black and magenta five inch Louboutins, in polka-dot leggings, a white t-shirt dress, with a vintage thick magenta belt and matching hoop earrings.  Angel is luminous with her flawless skin, steely Bambi eyes, and long limbs; her foot taps to the 16/8 jungle beats.  A previously whispered chant of “be stupid” is brought to the front between verse lines. 
 
I lived in a common poppy garden
But when I ran from that courtyard
I tore down the walls around
The razor I keep in my mind
 
I’m stupid without you
I’m tragic without you
I’m defenseless without you
I’m ashamed at my lack of pain
 
In honest moments I can’t lie;
You had brought out what I thought was the best of me;
I dreamed of horses, private jets, diving from cliffs
Getting drunk on beaches, private estates, climbing mountains
 
When I dream alone for a thousand nights
Is when tears wreck havoc at dawn;
I am deconstructed glass
I am loved conditionally,
I clip my wings to be free.
 
I’m stupid without you
I’m unsexy without you
I’m useless without you
I’m regretful without you
 
      When the song is done she thinks for a moment, then speaks, “I like the second one – with the Arabic percussion breakdowns.  The rest are yours.”  Checking her Nobelesse for the time Angel stands and lets me know she’ll be waiting in the carriage.  “Take your time,” she tells me referring to the questions I have for DJ Schwach on what it’s like working with the Angel Constantine; “I’m just going to answer some emails.”
      Once she is gone, Schwach answers my questions, distilling his time collaborating on three of ‘A Common Poppy Garden’ mp3s to a description of Angel herself: “[she] is beautiful and thinks like a true rebel.”
      With my questions done I join Angel in her carriage, still answering emails.  “One second – this one’s to [Marc] Hempel about next week’s promo-shoot…”  She trails off, quickly finishing her email, having announced the receiver for the benefit of my article; she’s become savvy since her break-thru LP, ‘Glass Heart’.  “Jarvy – the maison, s’il vous plait.”  She puts her cellular away in her pink Chanel messenger bag, as the hansom begins moving.  Outside the windows Pentapolis’ various districts zip by as we make our way from Owren Bazaar to the exclusive City of Flowers; a small picturesque pedestrian village-precinct with maison size buildings and gardens in Biell district of Pentapolis.  There in her French boers-chateaux, purchased just eight months ago, she feels protected from the paparazzi, once a minor annoyance have come to record her every move.  Such close observation has caused Angel to become as protective of her privacy as she’s been devoted to her art, hence the move from Sacramento Island back to childhood home Pentapolis of The Valley.  “I can’t stand The Island anymore!  It’s too negative,” she says.  “Everyone wants you to fail – to make room for the next…anything.  To them [The Island creative executives] the fantasy of what I, and other artists, offer, it’s all about currency, and not offering a three-and-a-half minute escapism, relief from this shithole.”
      But can Pentapolis offer the art protection she’s looking for?
      “Of course!  This is my home, my people – and they know that.  Pentapolis’ bohemians and vagabonds know what I am art, I am dance, I am out to entertain, and they don’t question it or try to undercut me.”
      Today, as her carriage drives by, the paparazzi are looking for actress Tuesday Green but have lucked out as her jarvy turns into her private drive-way.  As her cozy triplex chateaux comes into view it becomes easy to see why she’s come to protect this piece of the world from paparazzi: it’s a cozy stone refuge, a fairy tale straight from her parents’ Albion, prior to the Revolution and Exodus.  The pink-gravel driveway is lined with various rose bushes and oak trees.
      The motor-carriage stops at her door, and the jarvy lets us out and then into the house.  Inside, Angel is peppier as she gives me the tour of the five-and-a-half room, one-and-a-half bathroom chateaux, by starting upstairs with an eclectic bohemianism. Next is the Parisian office, that acts more as storage for all of ‘Glass Heart’’s accolades.  “I’ve only just started unpacking three weeks ago, when I got back from a week stay in Parisii.”
      “This is my real prize!” she says point to Dali’s ‘The Veiled Heart’.  “I got it last year at the Sotheby’s auction. Ciccone owned it.”
      Angel’s bedroom is a pale Indian decorated room, leading me directly into an enormous and organized closet with the best of every classic and nouveau fashion house.  Angel is an anomaly in the stratosphere of superfame, “I buy all my own clothes,” she proclaims. “I want to support the arts and artists – because I’ve been there.  Where you debate a bag of popcorn or art supplies when you only have three credits for the week.” She then seems to consider her answer adding, “All my idols – the real legends – were never told what to wear or paid to carry a certain item. Artists need to not be beholden to sponsor’s because then we start censoring ourselves for the swag.” Constantine excuses herself, closing the closet doors, and comes out a few moments later in a Vera vintage blue Bardot-cut housewife dress; her hair is pulled into a simple bun with a white lace bow.
      She leads me through the bathroom spa, before taking me back downstairs. We go through her dance studio and return to the warm white and Resources War Colombian inspired sitting room.  It’s taken up by a large comfortably soft sofa and gilded-frame beginning of a serious fine arts collection: Tamara de Lempaieka, Gustave Klimt, Frida Kahlo; “I’ve actually got my own art curator to help me pick and refine my tastes, advising me on what to acquire.”  I sit at the breakfast bar dividing the sitting room and the open chef’s kitchen; a seasonal herb garden can be seen just outside through French doors, before the yard and the grove of fig, citrus, and pomegranate trees.  A dozen cats and dogs roam the property’s stone walled yard.
      In the Albion cottage kitchen Angel is removing the ribbon from the box of macaroons I bought from bakery du jour Flour Power on Caentibiry Alley.  She puts the cookies on a serving plate.  Next, she puts on a pink apron around her Wang, and begins pulling together the ingredients of lunch: calamari, spinach and strawberry salad, and pomegranate yogurt.  She then pores two glasses of Spanish Wormwood, and begins the meal’s preparation.
      After two sips of my wormwood I admit that ever since I first interviewed her, everyone asks me what she’s really like.
      “What do you tell them?”  She began dicing orange peppers.
      “That you’re even better in person.” 
      In the year and a half since I last interviewed Angel she has won three NAU Grammys (Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Performance for ‘Loneliness’, and Record of the Year for ‘Worthy’); sold fifteen million mp3-collections and forty-two million mp3s world-wide; sophomore LP debuted at number one, selling one point eight million units, propelled by five-week number one mp3 ‘Purple Heart’, and endless promotion; a Half-time worthy Grammy opening performance, wearing a costume of a skirt made of a string of artificial bananas.  There the NAU public got its first real glance at Constantine then, meeting her stage persona that combined youth, sex, flirtatious insolence, and grace wrapped in bewildering equanimity.  Earlier this summer she embarked on her first world tour, debuting the critically-acclaimed theatrical Pollyanna’s Night Out in Rome, Italy.  When the EU leg of her tour ended in her adopted-home of Parisii, she was an instant success for her erotic dancing and for appearing practically nude and had to add three more dates at the Theatre d’es Champs-Elysees.  By the time this is on-sale, the tour will be making its NAU debut at Pentapolis’ Auditorium.
Black Swan by Kim Herbst
      It hadn’t all been roses in that time though.  She came to her first controversy after winning her three Grammy’s, coming under scrutiny and boycotts when the commercials for her first endorsement, whiskey DeWar, premiered with her in a pub seductively offering viewers a drink wearing only a string of pearls and a large mink coat.  While the coat remained closed, besides one black stocking leg and garter, her double-entendre riddled performance was deemed too sexy.  The commercial, like all of her promos, was direct by Anti NORE.  Then three months later, the promo for fourth mp3 “Loneliness”, debuted and was then quickly regulated to post-one AM airings where it only aired twice before being dropped.  While the promo was a hit with the art scene and critics celebrating it for its atmospheric and suggestively demonic production design, and has since found a permanent home amongst other promo-works at the NAU Museum of Modern Art, mainstream critics had found it obscene.  In the promo a make-up-less, blonde Angel dressed in a white silk slip lays on a bed in a pool of mercury.  Throughout the promo she fingers the elemental pool, bringing to life Freudian, hermetic, and Egyptian imagery and symbolism.  The promo ends when, on a table, she is surrounded and consumed by Sufi dancers.  The artistry of the video saved her from being labeled a pop-pariah, but its adult lyrics and NORE’s sexual imagery, led to rumors of a secret marriage between the two.
      The WSJ later revealed a marriage certificate that listed the couple married on June 21, 2052 in Hubbe City; Angel would’ve been sixteen, and NORE would’ve been thirty-three.  Finally, earlier this year Angel was linked to the Blithedale sex-game murders, when a young man died after being forced to ingest drugs and participate in bisexual sex magic initiation rituals, when papers turned over to NEON in the Depravity Watch’s indecency investigation, listed Angel as an employee of Thaïs Kyabakura in 2051, when she would’ve been fifteen years old.
      In the months that followed, Angel says “I put my guard up, a real Wall of China.  I didn’t want anyone to see me crying.  I didn’t want my friends, staff, agent - I didn’t want anyone to feel bad for me.  I hate that my business is out there,” she says, placing lunch before me on the breakfast bar.  “But at the same time, if the media had never found out about Thaïs Kyabakura, I would still be carrying around the psychology of that very vulnerable time in my life.”  When the news broke, and the mainstream media took a harder look at her personal life, she put herself into therapy working through many of the psychological scars, turning them into the lyrical fodder for ‘A Common Poppy Garden’, as exemplified in the haunting second single ‘Parking Lot’, which describes the crowds lined up outside of Thaïs Kyabakura, a hostess bar.
      When I ask her about her secret marriage to NORE, something they both still deny, she shakes her head, “Don’t let’s talk about the marriage.  Let’s just talk about my tits.”  She takes a sip of her wormwood. 
      Blithedale?
      “I was this really rebellious and devious and troublesome and out-there person – I mean, I still pretty much am – but then I was sneaking out, going to Etica, drugs, older men, younger men.  The older I got the bigger my ‘I don’t give a fuck attitude’ became.  I did it all, all the things that every parent is scared their child is going to do.”
      One of those things was after dropping out of The Academy, she got falsified identification and found work as a cabaret line dancer at Thaïs to earn money to get out to Sacramento; she is adamant she never  became an Erode, a Blithedale high-priced courtesan.  So far she has not be charged with a crime.  Rather, the Blithedale executives who accepted her false identification have been charged, adding more legal troubles that will follow Blithedale for many more years.  That’s not to say Angel is free from any entanglement with the Malthusian Commission: she claims she has been continually monitored by NEON, since her ties to Blithedale became public eighteen months ago.  Constantine says it’s because when inquisitors brought her in for questioning, they became annoyed and frustrated when she couldn’t supply names of executives or guests because she didn’t know anyone’s real name.
      Inquisitors declared Constantine a victim of a clandestine and manipulative organization.  But former co-workers disagree with NEON’s ruling, going so far as to say that she perjured herself, claiming Angel had been in Neophyte training for six weeks at the Basilia Phalasantere in Sidume District.  Constantine maintains she never took that path, and hopes that she won’t be called to testify at the indecency trial, scheduled to begin in November of 2056.
 
Kanashimi no Belladonna poster by someone
    
The fallout and emotional catharsis of her Blithedale association as well as her ascension to global stardom has made the bulk of ‘A Common Poppy Garden’, as did much of the backlash she faced since releasing ‘Glass Heart’. ‘A Common Poppy Garden’ also worked, in a fashion, to save her reputation, by working less with NORE (who only produced eight of 22 mp3s in the collection) in favor of other EU producers, proving she is not a Svengali’s puppet.  ‘A Common Poppy Garden’ is the mp3-collection where the proof is in the pudding. Constantine has given her fans another emotionally arresting LP, where she continually looks inward, emerging with battles scars of loss, love, illusions, and realization that one can’t control aspects of life. The dance tunes that made her famous are still there, but now they’re imbued with an apocalyptic melancholy, revealing an unprotected and vulnerable girl.
      “I was most definitely trying to put a lot of order in my life at that time because I was collapsing in.”  She paused, and took a sip of her Wormwood.  “It was not a fun time.”  Angel takes a sip of Wormwood, finishing her glass.  “My whole life these past several months has been in disarray – the only thing I’ve been able to keep the same is dancing.  If there was nothing to do I’d be in my dance studio, music blasting, and just choreograph and dance. It’s a great way to work through some aggression or depression, because no matter how shitty the rest of the day is, you know you’ve accomplished one thing – worked through that one thing – that you’ve not a complete shit of a human being.” For a brief moment she looks perplexed by herself, reflecting before saying, “Fuck!” she laughs then, taking another bite of her salad.  “I can’t recall the last time I was just happy.”  Another laugh and she refills both of our glasses, thinking again.  “I was a little girl on my father’s lap, he’d just come home from work, and he’d managed to get 10/10 week off.  We were going to make a pilgrimage to Albion to see family.  A rare long vacation was just about to start, and he looked so relaxed and joyous, knowing he’d be showing me his boyhood village.” Angel girlishly beams at the memory, back when her family was still a solid unit: her parents disowned her, disapproving of when she, at fifteen, dropped out of The Annex Academy.
      “But the moment ends, so I guess it’s not just a happy memory,” she adds, finishing her drink.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pentapolis: FETCH: Dec 2053, "An Angel's Glass Heart" By Lorliee Saunders


Dazzler by Erica Henderson
      Angel Constantine poises herself between two worlds: indie-art and dance-pop music darling.  This past summer she burst onto the cultural radar with her third single, the pure-peppy fist-pumping electro-pop “Hanging Out”, and its brave sexual imagery reflected her parents’ home country’s political upheaval in a vibrantly violent story; the promo went on to sweep the EU Grammy promo categories.  Since then, through her gleeful imagination ruled by a disciplined study of gesture and attitude, as well as strength, in body and spirit, Constantine has crafted a new iconoclast daring the world to not scrutinize.

      Now comes awards season where she is nominated for her debut LP mp3-collection “‘Glass Heart’” as Dance and Mp3-Collection of the Year; as well as Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal for ‘Loneliness’, Best Dance Collaboration with DJ Anti NORE, and Record of the Year with sorry-filled soulful ‘Worthy’.  At the EU’s Grammys, she won best Dance Collaboration and Record of the Year.  She then, which she calls “insanely unreal”, travelled extensively, living the luxurious life she had dreamt of, brimming with dinners, parties, while basing herself out of a hotel particulier in the IXe arrondissement of Parisii; “That townhouse has became my cocoon.”  But, as the Grammys draw closer, Angel returned to NAU.  In recent weeks, propaganda-cycles have begun to focus on pre-Grammy fashion more than personality, which Angel has enjoyed as attention was on her attire and not her personal life. 

      Quick witted and genial Angel is a unique find in the bustle of Sacramento Island’s Studio District.  Stopping at many stylists’ and fashion designers’ showrooms, she doesn’t hint at settling on a possible dress for Grammy Night.  Angel has a very clear vision of the image she wants to have transmitted all over the world, she edits the outfits herself, suggests themes and locales for interview editorials (such as this interview’s homage to 20th century cinema star Lauren Bacall, of whom Angel has been compared).  “If done correctly, fashion can be used to communicate very complicated, dramatic ideas.”  In her quietly commanding tone she asks if there’s anything “Not above the knee or girlish.” 

      As we make our rounds shopping along Channel Archipelago, admiring the coral reef that began after 2013’s seismic activity that reshaped the California coastline into Sacramento Island, Angel travels light with one large leather Kors safari bag, purchased with her first royalty check, from her vocals on DJ Anti NORE back in 2052; “Do you want to see inside my Kors?” she asks, opening the bag for me: in it she keeps her iXmp3 filled with last century’s hits like Marianne Faithful, Dietrich, Kate Bush; iX-tablet filled with demos, poetry (Dickens, Yeats, Smith), and literature (Ishigurio, Morrison, and Emily Bronte among the huge e-library).  “My idols all have one thing in common: Originality,” she comments.  Notes for her barely planned next mp3-collection are kept in a blue Moleskine; “Moleskines are an extravagance of mine.”  NEC Nobellesse cellular.  Ironically, there’s nothing futuristic about the anachronistic way Angel lives, for the girl who sang “Welcome to the Future / Welcome to the 23rd ring.”

      Producer/DJ/holiographer/director Anti NORE, who produced much of “‘Glass Heart’”, allowed Angel to live at his bungalow while recording the mp3-collection, and became a close friend with the singing ingénue.  “I didn’t start feeling comfortable in Sacramento Island until I started staying at NORE’s; I am very slow to warm,” she says of her time there.  “I’ve always been a loner, never into team sports.”

      NORE was at first struck by the “demure and mischievous charm,” of Constantine when she recorded with him when she was 15 in Parisii.  Eighteen months had passed and the svengali NORE had expected to find someone else, a real “spineless agent-creation designed for maximum appeal like so much of the sonic-scape.”  But she hadn’t.  She had a driven ethic.  “She comes early to sessions armed with her notebook of ideas and opinions and inspirations.”

      I see what he means when I meet-up with Angel at The Post Hotel’s lobby.  Her body is kinetic as she comes in, big safari bag hanging off her shoulder, dressed in an opaque white lace dress, and noir t-strap heels.  She doesn’t hide so-called flaws, instead her style accentuates them as uniqueness.  The pixie haircut, adorned with diamond roses, which has begun to grow into a bob, is pulled back revealing a severe profile, pale skin and cheekbones; “It’s not the clothes you live in, it’s the life you’re going to lead in the clothes,” she says sighing with a smile. 

      Most of the swag that accompanies a rising star leaves Angel fairly indifferent, turning down advertising campaigns, private party invitations to perform and even mounting the required world tour.  Her reason for the last part being that she only has one mp3-collection of her own material, not really much to mount a proper stadium tour; “A club or auditorium tour, sure.  To be honest, right now a stadium tour does not interest me.  I think I work better with intimacy, in small groups.  Maybe after my sophomore LP when I have more material I will do a tour.”  What more she has allowed her record labels and zines, to splash vivisected holiographs of faux-perfect versions of herself, in promotion of her paraphrased mantra: “If it’s not there, fantasize it!” 

 

Art by Hiroki Mafuyu
      At five foot four and 115lbs, a trained dancer, Angel practices five times a week for two hours every morning at 6:30AM, and with a personal Ashanti-yoga trainer three times a week.  “I don’t want to look perfect with the six pack abs, and such.  I’m a trained ballerina, and that’s the body I want to have.”

      When the waiter arrives she orders simply and heartily - a Kobe beef and bleu-cheese spinach salad; water with lime.

      “My thinnest was when I was 104lbs, and that’s because I had the flu.  Your body is so weak, and you realize you can’t function, and I can’t dance.  So that’s why when I came out here I haven’t succumbed to the pressures.”  She leans back in her chair, looking off to the side.  When she continues talking, she reveals the combative intelligence often shown in her TV interviews.

      “I never said I wanted to be a celebrity, or chart topping singer.  I wanted to make art, and perform, and learn.  I’m only 18 annuals old.  I don’t know more than anybody.  I want to learn.”

      Speaking of her preference for the more high-brow aspect of her craft Angel projects the rebellious edge atypical of her peers, which probably is why she is head and shoulders over the other ingénues in Studio District, and a DJ/producers darling.  Constantine enjoys being different from the other young singers out there, even if it has led to a slower ascending star, asserting, “In terms of artistry, of content, I know I have more to offer.  I know what I’m putting out there, the messages of my promos and mp3s.”  She believes, “the people know I have a brain, am in control, and have a sense of humor.”

      To most of the populace Angel must’ve sprung from the Monolith’s head a fully-formed ingénue, and that’s probably because she doesn’t talk about her personal life, preferring to let her music be her storyteller.  Rather she gives up the brief necessary biographical information of herself: born an only child in Gamoyra to Albion refugee parents.  Her mom had an unrealized ambition to be a musical performer; her father is a gold engraver for the Masonric Corp.  As a child, Constantine was shy; she had only one school-friend, and was teased by her classmates for her "skinny frame", but excelled at dance and found solace in the Art Academy of The Waterfront Annex, when she was accepted at the age of 13 into its Dance Academy on a scholarship.  There she met an ecchi dance teacher, who opened the door for her to style, and took her under his guiding wing.  In her first year as a student she performed as the last dancer in the annual Christmas chorus line, a position where the dancer traditionally performed in a comic manner, as if she were unable to remember the dance, until the encore, at which point she would not only perform it correctly but with additional complexity.

      While her actress friends were dressing like a VogueGirl, Angel was mimicking the spirit of Daphne Guinnes.  And so, it was at a very early age that Constantine realized her style and unique vision set her apart.

      When Stefani Germanotta visited the school, Constantine asked her advice on becoming a dancer.  Germanotta said, “Be an artist.”

      In early 2051, at 15 she dropped out of The Academy and moved to Sacramento Island to pursue singing, and world of sleazy artistic adventure; this created a rift between her and her parents.  When she first arrived in Sacramento Island’s Studio City she was homeless, a street child in the slums, sleeping in cardboard shelters and scavenging for food in garbage cans. Her street-corner dancing outside The Palisade Hotel, attracted attention and she was recruited for the Wilhelmina Modelling agency.  She took every opportunity to lead the extravagant, artistic lifestyle she desired to be accustomed to.  “I began a series of evolutions to become the person I wanted to be,” she says.

      As a model, Angel honed the fearlessness and artistry she reveals in her promos, where scenarios taught her the importance of imagination.  “I learned how to lie so beautifully audiences willed it into truth,” she admits in her quiet husky voice. 

      In the summer of 2052 she moved to Parisii, where its fashion scene was receptive to Constantine’s unusual androgynous, bold, mocha-skinned appearance.  There life became a stage for Angel, making every outing, party, job as a chance for a performance.  Constantine’s modelling career began in August of that year: couture periodical Dress editor-in-chief Ginnifer Braxton discovered her.  She was a young and unknown model when the powerful Braxton shot black-and-white holiographs of her for the December issue, in a photo shoot titled “Weimar Love”.  Braxton described the pictures that she took of Constantine as ‘fetishistic grunge’.

      “I learned the importance of creating and projecting a concept, not a person,” Angel laments. 

      From there the CCOs at the houses of Yves St. Laurent, Claude Montana, and Kenzo Takada hired her for runway modelling, and she appeared on the covers of Elle, Vogue, and W. Constantine also became the muse for Newton, becoming the muse for his 2053 Fall line, and was frequently photographed promoting their line. While modelling in Parisii, she shared an apartment with Jessica Baker. Baker and Constantine frequented Club Sept, one of Parisii's most popular vagabond clubs, and socialized with designers Sachar & Gillen, and first met avant remix-music DJ Anti NORE.  Angel impressed the impresario with an impromptu a cappella version of ‘Send in the Clowns’ so much he had her re-record the chorus on his remix of Yung Gun’s single ‘Bitch & Passenger’.  From there her career was off and running as rappers and DJs began requesting the girl with the chameleon contralto.  After the dance-chart explosion of DJ Anti NORE’s ‘Bicycle Seat’, where she sang-spoke in something close to her natural Lauran Bacall voice over his futuristic electro jam, and ‘Ready’ where her voice sailed to an operatic ghost cry, she signed a recording contract.  She was only 17 at the time. 

      Despite a 5-octave contralto range, Angel preferred using her lower register, which lent itself more to men’s songs.  Which was okay; Angel doesn’t do girly – even in her own work she doesn’t gravitate towards the feminine.  The closest she got was pixie-androgyny in the promo for ‘Worthy’, dressed in Italian couture.  Her lyrics on “‘Glass Heart’” while ambiguous and ethereal do not present a passive, waiting, but an active agent seeking and journeying towards their goals.  She crafted a literary collection, telling the story of a damaged cipher, going out to clubs, looking for affect. 

      Angel insisted on writing the songs herself, rather than enlist a team of producers and executives to choose the songs for her.  When she had decided to write the mp3-collection herself, Constantine had no idea how difficult it would be having helped write a few of the hooks she sang on.  “I had thought I was prepared, having kept Moleskines of holiographs and quotes and poetry as if they were notes for a doctorate.  I knew what I wanted my mp3-collection to sound like, but no idea how to use the tools.  I had the block of clay but no idea how to make a vase.”

      As she slowly gained popularity, with more and more mp3s being released, her label began pressuring Angel to pick up production.  She bowed to pressure because, “It was their currency I was spending after all.”  Having found an inspiring and relaxed work process with Anti NORE, she called him up and asked for help.  He invited her to stay at his Studio City bungalow during the creation and recording process, utilizing his home-studio.

      “We have a…a very complete working relationship,” she says.  “He’s the one who studied music; can read and write music.  I dance and sing.  I live in my body, he in his mind.  I’m instinctual, he’s intellectual.  I’m spontaneous, he’s methodical. “It’s a good combination.”  She takes a bite of her salad.  “For ‘Glass Heart’ sometimes I came up with the melody, and I’d hum it to him, then he’d formulate chord progressions on his iX.  And I’d begin collaging lyrics together from my Moleskines.”  Angel pauses and her eyes light up, as she gushes, “NORE comes up with some of the most unique and challenging chord progressions; They’re identifiable as strangely his alone.  He’d give them to me, to listen and I’d find myself writing without meanting to; I’d just listen to them over and over until all of the song was out”  Angel stops talking then as if she’s given away a secret. 

      “Did NORE ever add to the lyrics?”

      “No.  I wrote all the lyrics, and he did all the orchestration, production and nitty-gritty so I could just create.”

      That blind trust in the other’s ability and role, fostered a working outside the studio to the promos for ‘Glass Heart’.  On the sets of the promos NORE, some said obsessively, coached Constantine on her acting.  Angel took the notes, following NORE’s authoritative direction in ways that previous actors and musicians had not.

      “[Constantine’s] visual portfolio,” Ginner Braxton comments, “under NORE, brought all that Angel had learned, and reveal not just an artist, but a muse in her own right.”

      A crucial part of that effect was created by NORE’s unique ability in using light and shadow combined with his scrupulous attention to details in set and costume design, to holiograph Constantine.

      While Constantine had begun to develop her unique artistry at a young age, it wasn’t until this second collaboration that Angel became secure in that unique-ness.  “I’ve never felt comfortable in my artistry until Anti.  It was like love at first sight, the moment our eyes met that time, we knew there was artistry to be created.  I don’t think ‘Glass Heart’ would’ve gotten finished without him; NORE really helped me find the stop button a lot, and know when a song really was done,” she says speaking of their intimate relationship.  “I could have never built my sonic world with anyone but Anti.  He taught me everything.”  Their mentor-protégé relationship is sweetly protective and utterly confusing to observe.  He has nicknamed her “Songbird”, calling her by it as they discuss work, art, & fashion.  Anti NORE even littered the production of the back half of ‘Glass Heart’ with various nightingale and hummingbird noises; he even wrote a song for her called ‘Hummingbird’ earlier this annual. 

      “Her holio-portfolio,” Ginnifer Braxton said, “under NORE, brought all that Angel learned, and reveal not just a developing artist, but a muse in her own right.”   

      While Angel became a singular presence on mp3 charts, outside recording Constantine and NORE kept an equally singular disco presence, allowing Angel to take inspiration from darker corners of culture, writing and singing about after hour parties, weakness that comes from wanting, and cosmic nightmares.

      “It was crazy,” Constantine says.  “The best times were when we’d go out for some party, sneak back to his studio and record a song that detailed what we experience that night.”  She laughs then.  “Most of those songs won’t even reach the public’s ears.  Names are named.”  Though one jazz-inspired B-side, ‘Carrion’, which references the latest crop of party-girls’ volatile friendships slapped across blogs has been white-labeled.  The mp3 came from, Angel says, a disgust at some of her colleagues who flash their pussy as they step out of their carriage, all in the name of promotion. 

 

 
Audrey Hepburn by Matt Wagner
    
It took a few months for her mp3-collection to explode, as her sonicscapes were vastly different from when she was a hook-girl in other people’s songs.  As well, her songs contained no clear hooks in for free-radio masses, like the weightless funk-torch ballad ‘Boy in the Bar’.  Not to mention the genre-meshing and bending like the marching-band and double-dutch inspired chorus amongst the thigh-snapper verses to current sexromb single ‘Make Me’.  Despite that reviews were glowing for the mp3-collection, with the NAU Times calling the mp3-collection “one of the most lyrically mature and sonically adventurous dance mp3-collections of the past ten annuals.”  Her voice and what few live performances she’s given have been described as “raw”, “emotional”, and “bombastic” by the Theosophical Times.  At the EU’s Grammys her performance was called “foxlike.  She was moving with wiliness,” journalist Elisbeth Golding had called it.  Angel doesn’t trust her reviews though, saying, “I don’t have any trust or any security in what I’ve done.  I’m flattered though.”

      As the waiter clears the table she pulls her sleeves over her hands, looking more little girl than ingénue. 

      “I’m not a work horse like some of those other singers, locking themselves in studios for ten to twelve hours at a time.  I can do three, four hours tops. Then I need to get out and experience inspiration and life.  I can’t make songs up; I’m confessional in my work,” she says as we leave our lunch table and head for the afternoon of walking.

      “It’s good Angel takes her time,” says impresario NORE, “that she’s not being a product.  The industry can be so…industry.”

      As we leave the restaurant a paparazzo sits behind a bush, not even trying to hide his presence.  Angel stops and poses as the man snaps her holiograph, then he leaves.  She shrugs, saying, “I know all my best angles.”  In a carriage across the street four more sit taking more holiographs; “That’s annoying,” she says, beginning to walk.  “I don’t want to be stalked, caged and frozen like a zoo animal,” she says, not attempting to conceal herself.  “I like transforming – it’s part of my art. 

      “As an artist I don’t want to be recognized, to be not remembered from what I previously did.  If people associate you with all these images, it makes it more difficult to construct a new one for a promo-vid.  It no longer becomes escapism because people form relationships in their mind.  And I want my work to be the most exciting, intoxicating release from the banality of the world.”

      And I look at her face then, and she was pure innocence and joy.