Lolly Gesserit: Wretchedness & magic (simultaneously)

Real name: Elijah Forrest

Current project: Lolly Gesserit

Influences: “Mostly my friends, the beatings life gives us, depression, resilience, sexuality, humiliation, science fiction. I listen to Alice Coltrane‘s Going Home and Psychic TV‘s Message from Thee Temple constantly and read a lot of William Gibson lately.”

Next show: Tonight, January 10, as part of the Pomona Rib Cookoff

Black celebration: Elijah Forrest is Lolly Gesserit. Photo: Carnage

Why the name “Lolly Gesserit”? Is this some sort of Dune reference? Why not go by “Elijah Forrest”?
The name is meant to sound Parisian, feminine, futuristic, ridiculous. Lolly’s a pet name and yea, Gesserit comes from the Bene Gesserit sisterhood from the Dune books. Elijah Forrest is another project of mine.

When did you start this new project? How would you describe your creative aesthetic?
I started just over a year ago shaping Lolly as a character. I set out to make music and design clothing for an actor to perform without me. The sound took shape quickly, sort of trash art mood music with industrial and dub overtones. There are lyrics about keeping positive and staying inspired living in a collapsing world where fact is opinion and vice versa, various cultures are locked in a death struggle with one another and logic and the planet is gearing up to scour them off itself like lice. Total fiction, right?

I was being asked to perform and this was all I was working on so I started playing the music live by myself. There’s a disconnect between intention and result for me, but I want to go further later, find a collaborator to portray Lolly, utilize light manipulation and projections, aller de l’avant.

What was the first song you wrote that made you go “This is gonna be awesome”?
Well, I played at the INC Baltimore show and received a lot of positive feedback about it. Rat Bastard gave me a dad hug and said a “good job.” That night made me decide to continue performing this music live… one piece in particular makes me feel several contrasting emotions at once and doesn’t activate my critical mind. I like that.

Your fashion/visual presentation is off the chart. I always see your dad on MTV and he is very dapper too. Was this just in your blood?
Thank you, Sean. My parents, especially my stepmother Max, were really fashion conscious and I’ve been into it since I was a child. But I look at high and consumer fashion and most of it leaves me cold. That work doesn’t inspire me like seeing someone who values presentation and goes totally their own direction with fashion walking down the street. Seems to me that people who present themselves in a cultivated way tend to have a rich inner life. I’m not saying it’s prerequisite. Plenty of people have intellectually mooted out the need for anything other than utility in their clothing. Articulate decisions about any aspect of personal expression are disappearing from the way people wear even Western world status quo regalia and that’s a sad thing.

Elijah Forrest (far left) onstage last year with Flea and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, his dad Bob Forrest, and Josh Forrest

You seemed to have stepped up your look even more in recent years. Did someone or something inspire you? What’s essential wardrobe?
Probably just that I learned how to sew and got more confident in my clothing ideas. Nothing is essential. It’s all in flux, but I wear leather boots, gold or iridescent fabrics and canvas where I can help it. Also, always look through the bag of clothes lying on the street, sometimes it’s fifteen leather jackets.

Tell us about what music you have been working on lately.
I’ve made a lot of Lolly Gesserit recordings all across the U.S. since I left Baltimore last July. I’ve been producing and mixing for other people—that’s fun. I worked on recordings for Evil Spirits, Bone Rattle and Bleakend at Bernie’s (Ossian from Black Light Jim Morrison) last year. My friend Zach Kmiec and I have an improvisation game we play called Arabbing and we’re both in a band called Hoop Snake with some friends in Baltimore. I don’t know if any of that stuff even exists anymore though, we’ll see.

Are you done with Baltimore?
Hell naw. I’m going home, Narwhalz is driving. I have fond memories and close friends in L.A., I grew up here, I understand it. I left looking for something and I found it in Baltimore. The city itself is vibrant and stunning. People complain it’s dangerous, but so’s the whole world we’re in. It’s all coming apart, the mistakes made establishing this civilization are crumbling the whole structure. Baltimore, to paraphrase a friend, is the frontlines of America and there’s a question of how long it will take until the societal fabric Americans wear now is exchanged for another fabric. Baltimore is naked and ready for the turn.

How can people get your music?
I know, huh? They have to get a secret hand drawn map. Yeah, most of it’s on out-of-print cassettes. My favorite Terrors album, Inequipoise, is available from the Monorail Trespassing label Jon Borges runs. Cassettes I release for friends and of my work are posted for sale and trade on message boards and my blog. It’s out there if you look for it.

Any big plans for the new year?
Going home and getting to work recording new material. I’ve been on a break from Terrors for a year, going to start fresh. Plans to play the Bitchpork festival in Chicago and attend the Babylon Bazar in Maine. There’s a tentative plan to throw a third Mojave Rave with Bone Rattle and the L.A./Oakland freak squad on September 11, 2011. Plans to have vinyl from both Terrors and Lolly this year. Planting loofah seeds my friend gave me and swimming and biking every day in the summer. That’s plenty to keep me busy for a year.

If you could collaborate musically with anyone, who would it be and why?
I avoid intangible goals—there are too many plausible scenarios for me to linger on implausible ones too long. If I heard Leonard Cohen needed someone to run a console for him or a songwriter to collaborate with, I would write to him, but I’m already surrounded by great musicians so I work with them. Scott Reber of Work/Death was high on the list so I asked him. Sean McCann as well, I just asked him.

What’s going to be cool in 2011 and the decade ahead?
I’m excited to see the documentary John Meyer made in Guatemala, Atitlan in Bloom. I saw some footage and it looks great. Kelly Akashi‘s solo show is here at the end of January. Bummed I’m going to miss it. Herzog is making a 3-D documentary, Tracey Trance and Charles Free are both supposed to drop albums, more people will give up on politics, somebody somewhere’ll get an ACAB tattoo. I get excited about little things. We really just need keep level heads, it’s all going to be wretchedness and magic simultaneously.

Read Elijah Forrest’s blog

Don’t miss Lolly Gesserit tonight

Sean Carnage & Kyle Mabson present…

Narwhalz of Sound
Black Light Jim Morrison
Slum Witch
Mikki + the Mauses
Lolly Gesserit (ex Terrors)

Starts 9:30pm / $5 / all-ages

Pehrspace—325 Glendale Blvd., in Historic Filipinotown

RSVP for SoCal’s only fest for truly rippin’ music

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