Interview: Carla Bozulich

The Brief


Carla Bozulich is a musician known both for her work as a solo artist and as a founding member of Ethyl Meatplow, The Geraldine Fibbers, Scarnella, and Evangelista. She has also composed soundtracks for theatre and the screen, including for the film By Hook or By Crook, and created mixed media artworks, such as Eyes For Ears, a series of installations and ensemble performances. Among Bozulich’s solo albums are The Red Headed Stranger, a reimagining of Willie Nelson’s 1975 album that included collaborations with Nelson himself, and Boy, which was released in 2014 to widespread praise from publications such as Paste Magazine, Pitchfork, The Quietus, and Tiny Mix Tapes. Her follow-up album, Quieter, was released to similar acclaim in May 2018, on Constellation Records.

Which immersive visual artwork would you recommend?
Elizabeth Proctor by Jesse McCloskey. It’s a huge piece, made of layers of paper and paint. Jesse created much of my album and personal art. We are twins of different mediums.

Which visual artwork about transformation would you recommend?
Every single artwork by Beth Cavener, sculptress and visionary, transcends my spirit and opens me up to immersion. I would kill to work with her.

Which film about rebellion would you recommend?
La Strada, directed by Federico Fellini. It’s a struggle against a humourless, overbearing oaf, Zampáno, an oddly darling captive, Gelsomina, and The Fool, who tried to save her by means of intelligence and harsh jokes.

Which documentary would you recommend?
When We Were Kings, directed by Leon Gast, about the 1974 heavyweight championship boxing match in Zaire, the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, between George Foreman, World Heavyweight Champion, and the relatively small underdog, Muhammad Ali. As in La Strada, I’m drawn to cleverness battling physical strength.

Which 20th-century poem would you recommend?
‘Finding Beauty’ by Angela Davis (Black Panther, humanitarian, instigator of change). This poem was read at my wedding.

Which album about travelling would you recommend?
Red Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson. It got me into country music after proclaiming a distinct hatred at the age of 23, when I found myself dizzy from waltzing with everyone in the room to that record.

Which jazz album would you recommend?
The Individualism of Gil Evans by Gil Evans, particularly ‘Las Vegas Tango’. It will be obvious why.

Which political album, composition or song would you recommend?
Anything involving Ian Svenonius. He hits hard and makes it fun all at once.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Are all narrators self-serving?
What about David Attenborough?

Can the search for meaning in art lead us to dead ends?
For sure. Dead ends are how we turn, see that it looks different from behind, and navigate that until the next dead end.

Can we understand a character without seeing their face?
Have you ever heard the This American Life podcast? That’s probably their well-achieved goal.

Does only ‘fine’ art belong in galleries?
No super fine art should strictly belong in galleries unless that actual space suits the artists’ intentions or they need money really bad, so, I guess the answer is actually, yes.

Is exploitative art ever excusable?
That’s subjective or objective depending on what those words mean. Anyway, Burger King, call me.

States of the Arts

The following questions relate to our States of the Arts column, for which each article includes four artworks that share an association with a single nation or territory.

Which Hungarian song would you recommend?
The original version of ‘Gloomy Sunday’ by Rezső Seress. They call it ‘the suicide song’ for literal and lasting reasons. The words are much heavier in its earliest form than in Billie Holiday’s already-tragic American hit.

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

What is your greatest artistic discovery?
Indeterminacy by John Cage. I guess the memories go back to my teens and it’s one of the few albums I still like. Its nonsensical collision of precise distractions somehow strengthens, not separates, the groove in the work.

More to discover

Carla Bozulich: Visit Carla Bozulich’s website here. Other interviews available online include those by Maya Kaley for Fact Magazine and Whitney Phaneuf for Consequence of Sound. Maddy Costa has written about her music for The Guardian.

Today’s recommendations: Jesse McCloskey (artist’s website), Beth Cavener (artist’s website), When We Were Kings (trailer), La Strada (trailer), Finding Beauty (poem), Red Headed Stranger (song), Las Vegas Tango (composition), Ian Svenonius (interview for Noisey by Zachary Lipez), This American Life (website), ‘Gloomy Sunday’ (song), Indeterminacy (excerpt).

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