Recently I did interview with an inspiring Portland-based lady creator, Nadia Buyse. Nadia kicks ass in bands: Ghost Mom, Tombstalkers/Bloodbraid and most recently the Adrian Piper Cover Band. She works with “images, sounds, puppets, insecurities and regrets. Experimenting with adaptations of gender and sexuality.” She also teaches at the Rock n Roll Camp For Girls.

What does music mean to you?
NADIA BUYSE: Music means a lot of things to me. First of all, it is a coded language that has esoteric roots but is universally understandable simultaneously. Secondly, it is a physical manifestation of the rhythmic patterns of life both visceral and surface. It imitates these rhythms and synthesizes them into something pleasurable. Feeling heart ache is a lot different then listening to the sound of someone’s heartache but it is relatable, as we will all feel that in our lifetime. Music is a constant in a world of inconsistencies. And on a more personal level I really felt music saved my life.

Growing up who were your musical heroes and what was it about them that you found so appealing?
NB: As a teenager I was interested in fearless women, because I wanted to grow up to be a fearless woman. Because of this I was more attracted to music that was subversive and being made by women. Some of my biggest teenage heroes are/were The Raincoats, Bratmobile, X-Ray Spex, Bikini Kill, and Grace Slick.

How did you first come to singing and performance?
NB: I have no recollection of my life without performance and music. When I was a kid I got into dancing at a really young age (like 4) and I remember at that age I would listen to the classical music station and sing along. My mind has always worked this way, I’ve never seen myself as anything else.

How would you describe performing? How does it make you feel?
NB: I feel nervous, anxious, prepared, unprepared, stifled, trifled, beautiful, ugly, political and generic all at the same time.

Performance is a synthesis of emotions to display a certain reality outside of your actual experience. It’s a projection. It’s a lie. But it feels very organic and truthful at the same time. I had a problem when I first started studying acting that I was afraid that I was always acting. Now more than being afraid of it I embrace that cognition and attempt to make good with it.

Outside of music what else do you like to do creatively? I know that you’ve made lots of short videos/films, many involving puppets!
NB: I’m an artist, I’m a maker and very responsive to our visual culture. I feel that I’m interested in the manifesting of conceptual ideas and or working therapeutically through art making. I also enjoy teaching, especially through Rock n Roll Camp For Girls.

Where does your love of puppets stem from?
NB: Puppets are empty vessels. They are surrogates or stand-ins for people, not actual people but human emotions and hardships. For instance, its funnier to hear a puppet having inner dialogue about suicide then it is for a person to do it. There is no room for comedy there, but the absurdity of a puppet having this contemplation makes the comedy possible.

Creatively, what are you currently focused on?
NB: Right now my main focus is on Adrian Piper Cover Band. This is my newest solo band in which I take excerpts from the installation piece Cornered By philosopher/ conceptual artist Adrian Piper and turn them into Pop Songs. This Project is about creating cultural metonyms about hybrid racial identities, it extends itself into other sorts of performances and objects.

What’s something that you find to be a constant source of inspiration in regards to your creative output?
NB: Vulnerability is something I see thematically in my work and in my music but I don’t think it is apparent to the viewer/audience. I know that the impetus of making comes from a place of misunderstanding or feeling the need to educate myself or reassure myself.

You’re a member of bands Ghost Mom and Tomstalker/Bloodbraid; what do each of those bands mean to you?
NB: To me these bands are very opposed but not in a negative way, in a way that I find intriguing. I like the articulate song construction of Tombstalker/Bloodbraid and I also like the immediacy that dictates how Ghost Mom writes. Each of these bands offers me a chance to collaborate with people I truly Love and admire too.

In your experience, what is the most challenging thing about being in a band?
NB: The lack of fiscal opportunity is the most challenging. It’s more likely that you won’t make a living off playing music than it is likely. And even if you do make a living it doesn’t come with health insurance, a 401k, or anything like that.

What is your favourite song to sing live and why?
NB: I think it would have to be Swamp or Doppleganger by Tombstalker/Blood Braid I feel the soul in those songs. As for Ghost Mom Songs I love to sing the two songs that we still perform from our Ghost Prom set at T:BA.

I read on your blog that the book, A Director Prepares by director/performance artist Anne Bogart was one of the most life changing books you’ve read; is there another book that has had such an impact on you?
NB: Oh there are SO many books, so many writers, I can give you a list of people who are heavily influencing my world right now… those people are Mike Kelley, Adrian Piper, Rosalind Krauss, Kathi Acker, Jean Baudrillard, Seth Price, Michel Scion, and Angela Davis.

Where are some places that you like to hang out?
NB: As of lately, my favorite place to hang out has been my bedroom.

What’s something that you would really like to do one day?
NB: Hug a Panda and/or Ride a camel on the beach. I feel my camel/beach fantasy will be realized during my trip to Tunisia this summer.

Adrian Piper Cover Band:


For more Nadia Buyse. Nadia’s blog. Ghost Mom. Tombstalker/Bloodbraid.

Tombstalker are playing with The Raincoats 17 March 2012 – Star Theater, Portland, OR.

Create forever!


*Photo credit: Photo 1 by Maya Kiko Stoner