A Frank Discussion About Everything Under The Sun



Song posted with permission from the artists.
KIM: I'm interested in how living with a famous musician affected your early life as a child; what advantages and/or disadvantages do you feel shaped who you are today.
RO: Well I suppose being surrounded by music and musicians since the day I was born had a profound effect on my development, I grew up playing Tetris in hotels across the world while dad was out gigging, I spent hundreds of hours slapping my knees along to the songs during rehearsals, and I was very lucky to be constantly subjected to the wonderful sounds of The Velvets, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Ramones, Bowie, Dylan, Lennon, Bolan, Robert Johnson, Billy Holliday and Buddy Holly plus many more greats. It was by no means an intentional device by my father to "make me a muso," in fact he never once suggested it, it just happened to be what he was listening to and it's given me a massive archive of influence to draw from musically.
RO: You’re no stranger to fame and the famous, how has it affected you? Where there any times when you just think "I wish things could just be normal for a change"?
KIM: I have to confess I did not know that marriage to a famous person would be what it turned into. You lose yourself in the shadow if you aren’t equipped to deal with what comes with it. It took a very long time and a period away to realize where I fit in it all.

KIM: Did you travel with your father or was your growing up relatively "normal?"
RO: I did travel yes and it was anything but normal! I was born at home in a small bush town in Northern NSW Australia called Murwillumbar, George Harrison's kids went to school up the road and we'd see him from time to time. From that to dirty Sydney, to Thailand where the little baby Rohan was passed around as some kind of good luck charm as my bright red hair was totally exotic to them, then to riding horses and shooting things with my air rifle in a village in the south of France when I was five, to a tent in Amsterdam when I was six, to a haunted apartment in Dublin where I saw ghosts and got the measles and pneumonia, to a house right next to the Phoenix Park which was quite lovely and where my little brother was born, all before my seventh birthday. I went to school in Dublin for a period but was taken out after being verbally abused by a teacher (he asked me "Are you deaf, dumb, blind and stupid?"-- still trying to work that one out) and did home schooling 'til twelve when I went to high school in Lismore, Australia. When I had enough muscles to carry an amp, that became my job. It was wild and hard at times but I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.
RO: And from what I know you've done your share of traveling and moving, I know Joe spent a lot of time making films in Europe, where you ever over there? And speaking of Joe how did you guys come across each other?
KIM: My father was in the military we did not spend much time in the United States. I gave flowers to Hirohito in Tokyo at five years of age and lived in England and Germany. I left home at eleven so I traveled around Europe a lot as a runaway until I was caught and sent to a facility in Austin Texas. Joe and I met in Los Angeles when I was thirty-one he was thirty-seven and we were both in recovery.
KIM: I read in David's interview you had an acting career before concentrating on music. Can you tell us about that?
RO: Yes, well until the age of fourteen, I was convinced I'd be the next James Bond, I spent years in the best drama school in Sydney when I was ten, eleven, twelve, and again in Lismore, where I starred in a couple of pretty cool plays including "Lord Of The Flies,' where I did the whole play in my underpants to packed houses (who's not gonna go see a bunch of naked young boys on stage), which is where I got the idea of never wearing a shirt. I was also asked to audition for the part of Anakin SKywalker in "Star Wars: Episode 1" when I was about eight, needless to say I didn't get the part! I love acting and I hope it's something I can come back to in some shape or form one day.
RO: Your husband Joe is a famous film actor, and is a living icon, but did you ever do any acting yourself? What were your dreams as a child?
KIM: As a child, all I ever dreamed about was having a home that was safe and happy. I wanted to learn to type so I could have a job and have something that felt secure and normal. Before I left home for good, I dreamt a lot about angels coming to save me, or finding my real mother. After I left and was living on the street, I dreamt about having a home with a high wall where I was safe.
KIM: It seems that coming from a musical family you'd either embrace music or turn away from it and do something entirely different like acting. What made you decide to embrace music, that defining moment when the light goes off?
RO: Well it certainly wasn’t my dad ha-ha, he would always warn of the danger, jealousy, hard times and "beans on toast" that came with taking on music but when I was 14 nothing would have stopped me, maybe he was using reverse psychology! I was listening to a lot of punk, post punk and classical music at the time and thought: "Fuck it, I can do that!" (And by some amazing coincidence, sex became readily and immediatley available the minute I picked up a guitar, to this day I still don't know if the two are connected.) I quit school, quit making pizzas at Domino's (dad said "OK, you've proved to the world you can make pizzas.") and haven't spent a day without being involved in music in some way since. And yes I've eaten a shit load of beans on toast, and had the odd sausage.
RO: I'm sure you know well the sacrifices that must be made when living in the arts be it acting, music, poetry, can you share some of the highs and perhaps lows of working with your poetry, and other artistic projects? When did you start writing?
KIM: I have always written down poems or fantasies since I was a very young child. I have a box filled with things I wrote in Austin; unfortunately the books of my writings when I was a runaway were lost or discarded years ago but some pieces I remembered and wrote down later from memory. I write about my life, my feelings or things that affect me in the world. I find the only way I can figure out what is happening is to write it down and re-read it aloud as if it wasn’t happening to me. As far as sacrifice, well you must have your priorities in order: I was a single mother and ended up forgoing the music for the better job of raising the child. Do I regret it? Nope, she is the
best thing I created.
KIM: Living in the shadow of a parent that has excelled in music or film has varying consequences. Do you feel compelled to push harder because of the success of your father, to prove yourself more than you would if he was a banker or lawyer?
RO: We work a lot together, I play and sing on most of dad's new stuff and he's always there to help with production and ideas with mine. There is also a healthy competition there; we both fight jealously for the favors of the muse. We're like a soccer team, we work together to win the game but we both want to score more goals than the other guy. I cannot even imagine my life, my career had my dad not been who he is. I think as well that, our sound, our style, our voices, our lyrics are distinctive enough from one another for us to both warrants the attention of any fan. Some will like both, some will like just one, some will hate us. What I mean is from feedback so far I'm not seen as simply a younger (and much better looking) version of my dad. Like Israel and Palestine, we both have a right to exist. Even if we don't always agree. I might also add that my dad is incredibly stupid, so there.
KIM: You have an amazing body of work at such a young age as well as other projects you run concurrent with the music and music videos you produce. Can you share with us all the different hats you wear that make you the Rohan we've come to know?
RO: Yes, I do have an amazing body, oh, oooh, of work! See, well I think by spending a lot of my childhood outside of the school system, I believe I can do just about anything, I'm not daunted by any task, especially creative ones (which gets me in trouble sometimes). Sure I know my limits, I can't draw or paint for shit, and I'll never get the finer points of quantum physics but I know that if I'm given a week or two I could do just about anything. And so instead of paying someone to make my website, or paying for a web design course I spent a week learning and made my own, instead of paying for someone to make my film clips, engineer, produce, master my music, play my drums, play my bass, I just learn it myself. It's cheaper and you know what you're gonna get, plus this way I can only ever have creative differences with myself. Like I said I know my limits and when I need someone who can do what I can't, I readily and humbly accept their help. Also I'm not saying this skill is unique to me, I'm saying more that school tries so hard to limit you, and give you a job and make you identify with that job for the rest of your life. Only you can find your limits, it's not up to someone with no imagination to choose whether or not to crush yours. As for the body of work, I think I've written around 200 songs, with just over a hundred of them recorded. There is always something I can improve on in my playing, singing, arranging, instrumentation, production, harmonies, so I don't stop, I'm never happy, I think that's the key to being a prolific artist, never satisfied. Being a dour working-class Irish Catholic, I like to think of myself as never happy.
RO: In terms of work rate your no slouch either Kim, I'm always impressed each time you pull out another gem of poetry seemingly from nowhere!! Plus you’re always working on the fantastic Little Joe merchandise, jetting here and there for film screenings, constantly sharing your good work on MySpace and elsewhere and keeping in touch with fans of your work! What’s your secret!?
KIM: Work is my drug. The monotony of work calms me down. If you want to see an insane woman, lock me in a room with nothing to do. I believe that action, persistence and discipline create what you want in life so you better pick things you love because if you’re going to excel at it you’ll be putting in a lot of time with your chosen craft or profession. I also am obsessive and compulsive, so any routine that repeats is calming.
KIM: I am always interested in the process of writing music being a lyricist. Is it music first then words or words then music?
RO: It's always different, there is no formula. Sometimes I will write a poem, and put music to it later, sometimes I will find a nice progression and put lyrics to it later, but usually it all happens at once, and takes no more than three minutes. If after three minutes the song is not done it means the energy is just not flowing and I stop. I've never tried to write a song, I am just there when it happens. In fact most of the time I've no idea where these lyrics are coming from or what they are about until months or years later when something happens in my life and they suddenly make sense. Oooh, excuse me, I just wrote a song, where were we?
RO: Your lyrics fuel my naive knowledge of America with all those cool and desperate images you might read in a John Steinbeck novel. How do you think it is that Americans get all that sun, sand and space into their lyrics, even if you’re singing about shoes?
KIM: Well, I’m an American woman and just like the Rolling Stones said, “American women want every damn thing,” so when I write it encompasses the whole enchilada. I identify feelings to a street corner or a park bench I sat once, the smell of the ocean reminds me of this that or the other. In my world it’s all related and part of the quilt that is my life.

KIM: We've collaborated on five songs with amazing results. You're an accomplished writer of both words and music and you must get quite a few people that ask you to put their words to music. In our case you found me. What moves you to collaborate with other writers?
RO: Collaborating is something I've gotten into quite recently, starting with my good friend David Rains Slanie on the song "A New Shine" soon after that we hooked up and started creating. I think it's fantastic, to take on a role, to sink into someone else’s groove, and in your case Kim to take part in moods and feelings that I, due to my background and life experience, could never come up with. Your lyrics have that great American swagger and intensity; they are just fun to sing. After all us Irish are a whimsical lot who are at our best singing about picnics, summer days and chasing pretty girls. Collaborating allows me to see through another's eyes, which is a blast! When I read your words Kim, I just hear the music, and within three minutes the song is written and arranged. That's not to say it works with everyone I'm afraid. Even if I had the time to work with every wonderful artist who would like to collaborate, I'm not sure I could, it's not simply a matter of liking the poetry, if I don't hear the music the first time I read it, it just ain't gonna happen.
RO: For you it must be strange, you send me some lyrics then I hit you back with a finished song! Which one was the biggest shock?
KIM: "Frozen Reality" I think, since it was never a lyric, it was just a rambling about the end of a relationship. Two of the songs you’ve done were recorded previously and one day I’ll share with you that music. I must say, it didn’t work that is nothing moved forward with the songs so I feel the lyric is free to search for the right music until it fits.

KIM: With me I am able to release the words and not suggest the music I hear in my head or music that has been recorded previously. Is that true of other writers you've worked with?
RO: I've collaborated in many ways, with two people, sometimes three, or even more, the extreme example is that of yourself and David Rains Slanie, in that I'm given the words and off I go, but with other friends and artists I've worked with they might have the song written and I'm there to add melody and balance and power to their work (unfortunately you don't get a royalty for that though, bastards!!). Also the one and only collaboration with my dad David Virgin has been the song "Steven's Green" in which I wrote and played the music (the hard bit), while he wrote the whimsical Irish lyrics (the infinitely easier bit), he says it's about a mass murderer but it just sounds like a Christmas song to me. David Virgin always says crazy things regarding what his songs are about and I've yet to find any evidence in the actual lyrics! Collaborating is always slightly different depending on the personalities involved, its alchemy. I like to work quickly, so I'm not into work shopping things.
RO: I know you’ve also collaborated with other artists, can you tell us of some of the highlights?
KIM: In Austin I worked at the Austex Lounge a club where every working band in Austin played or wanted to. Everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Joe Ely, Brave Combo Lucinda Williams, Asleep at the Wheel Harvey Young RC Banks everybody (just pull up a list of musicians from the seventies all of them) would congregate there me behind the bar pulling beer and listening to the best of everything. I started writing with different people Bevis Griffin, Harvey Young RC Banks in the beginning and eventually was signed with Bug Music here in Los Angeles. Ray Benson and Joe Ely had contacted them to tell them about “the best pop writer in Texas”. I was a single mom and heavily into drugs at that period of my life and I let that opportunity slide away mainly and this is important: I was writing for the promise of money not because of a love for writing. I feel if you set it up for only money you will fail in anything to do. Do it because it’s part of who you are. Several songs of mine were recorded many bands performed my songs live but I was not ready for any of it at that time. I never stopped writing but only in the last five months have I considered doing what ended up happening with us. So yes, I waited for twenty-three years for this moment I’m in.
KIM: There are some songs and videos you released "Songs From My Sick Bed" that are very intimate and seem autobiographical. You had lived in Australia and I believe these were written and recorded in Dublin. Was this a period of musical transition for you?
RO: That particular session was indeed recorded in Dublin, but I think a couple of the songs were written in Australia as it hadn't been long since I'd left. Oh boy, arriving in Dublin when I was eighteen was rough, watching so many naive dreams and fantasies get swept under the waves of real life, dodging and diving, crossing town, wearing my shoes out trying to survive, all to the backdrop of a dreary Dublin winter, fantastic source material, not great for daily life though. All that then culminated in a nervous breakdown. Those songs were filmed at the time of said massive nervous breakdown, during which I discovered meditation, psychotherapy, stoic philosophy all of which I've since taken with me in all that I do. During that time I hardly ate, I couldn't touch a doorknob (OCD runs in my family and gets worse with stress), I never took off my boots and if my socks got wet, well then my day was ruined beyond repair. I did however manage to record the twenty song double album "The Discourses." Anyone out there looking for some perspective and an emotional breakthrough, I'd highly recommend a nervous breakdown. Seriously though, take care of your nerves, you'll need them one day, but at the same time sanity is over rated.
RO: I can just see it in your eyes Kim, before you said a word to me, and before I read your poetry, you’ve seen it all. Can you think of a moment in your life that was so dark (I can hear you thinking "Hold on, let me get my list") and yet was the turning point that then gave you new hope and life? How did it affect your poetry, were you writing at the time?
KIM: I have wounds that are still healing so yes I’ve had dark moments and usually they unplug me from everything. If I can remember to pick up a pen or paintbrush, begin art or begin writing I save myself from the abyss. I have an emotional reaction to pain that rips the scab and opens the scar from past moments and I fly all the way to the center of it all again and again. I try very hard to edit my life to avoid going down roads that lead to dark alleyways. Art and writing begins the healing process and doing service work for others is when I know I’m on the road to recovery.
KIM: Are you a band or is all that music you? What instruments do you play and what equipment are you using to mix what we end up hearing?
RO: I've been in bands, had my own band and been solo. I was playing lead guitar in a psychobilly country punk band when when I was sixteen (everyone else was in their twenties and thirties), drinking beer, winking at chicks, taking part in wild, head fucking cabaret shows, those cartoon moments where your jaw drops and the cigarette falls out of your mouth, all while staying in tune and in time of course. I've played hundreds of shows, everything from honky-tonk dives full of fantastic drunken hooting patrons, where a fight breaks out every 4 minutes to big auditoriums with hundreds and hundreds of well behaved seated show goers, I've played solo, "Rohan band" and otherwise, everything that could go right or wrong on stage has. I've also been privileged to play with my dad on the same bill as Lloyd Cole, Cat Power (Chan Marshall, she's a wonderful woman if ever I've met one!), I was tuning up and sound checking for dad when he was playing with Billy Bragg and others (where did I put my name dropping list?). I own my own studio, engineer, mix, produce, master everything myself. But yeah, in the studio it's all me, like I said if I need a specialty instrument or style, I'd call in the pros, and when I need to put on a band performance I whip it up in an instant. I play guitar, bass, drums, piano and anything that's like the aforementioned instruments, like John Lennon said "Give me an oboe and I'll make art". Well, we'll see about that...
RO: Living in Hollywood and being part of the art scene, boy you must have seen a few wacky things, anything in particular that was just plain crazy? C’mon shock me!
KIM: The biggest thing that shocks me in Hollywood is the disease of entitlement and how cheap life seems to some people. I love all expressions of creativity and we all are given the right to express ourselves however we choose. But the hard cold resounding truth of some parts of the human character is what has been the hardest to comprehend for me. People forget that if you run a razor blade across ANYONE’S hand we all bleed the same way.
KIM: What are the challenges you face if you were to decide to tour in another country or the United States if you are working solo with your music?
RO: I think it's like anything in life, you say yes, dive in and see what happens, sink or swim, the risks are great but so then are the rewards. I played a lot of shows, I know what it's like and how to do it, I don't need live practice, so the next time I tour overseas it will be well organised and should be a lot of fun :) I love the idea of house gigs, where it's privately organized and you basically play in a fan's house to them and their friends, family etc. It's becoming increasingly popular especially among solo artists and it's something I'd love to do. It's weird I actually had a dream I was doing a house gig last night and at the end of the show, when everyone had gone home, the fan who organized it (a man in his late 40's maybe) started coming onto me, I woke up before anything happened. I guess that's part of the risk you take.
RO: What do you think, poetry readings in people’s homes? Maybe a spoken word tour?
KIM: I suffer from stage fright I think. Ha-ha. Oh god, I’m really happy being the underbelly of stuff but I’ve never wanted to be in the spotlight at all. I could pay someone to be me maybe.
KIM: Where do you see yourself in five years; what is the dream you're reaching for and how do you see yourself arriving at that moment to make it a reality?
RO: This might sound incredibly boring but I am, but for a few minor details (yacht, mansion, six wives...) living my dream. I'm working everyday on my music and of course David's as well, getting increasingly wonderful and at times dramatic fan feedback (sorry I can't move to Italy and marry you Dennis, not right now). I'm eating every day and sleeping in a place with a roof and windows, pretty darn good if you ask me. Heck lumps of money are great, massive red carpet tours? Yes please, and who knows? that's the target. With every song I write or record, every nice thing someone says about that song I just think, "Kill me now, it doesn't get any better." I am both satisfied with my work, in that if I died tomorrow I could die happy, and dissatisfied in that while I have air in my lungs I always can improve or try new things. Five years from now? I have no idea, life has always surprised me, sometimes good, sometimes not so much, and I'm sure it will continue to do so! But the main thing I want in the next five years is more substantial facial hair as not unlike Johnny Depp I also suffer from the condition known as Weak Beard Syndrome (WBS). That might also explain why I like Chinese girls, or is that guys? Hmm.
RO: I know Joe has his documentary coming out soon, talking about his part in the Warhol scene, his work in Europe and his amazing life in general, he'll also be appearing in the prestigious "Gay Icons Exhibition" in London, you yourself are gaining a lot of fans and respect as a writer, plus we’ve got our music career now, everything is up up up, where do you see it all going, and any dreams you’d like to see made reality? Have you thought of running for Prez?
KIM: I live in the moment try to stay out of the past and not too far into the future. Instead of planning, these days I like to be surprised by life.
KIM: What's one thing we don't know about Rohan that we should?
RO: My crazy dad Mr. David Virgin wanted to call me Kermit (which in Irish means Free Man, but to everyone else it means Annoying Green Frog) when I was born, thank God my mother had her way!! Don’t worry I have no secrets like, "I sleep walk with an erection" (SWE syndrome) or anything like that, so if you have me over you don't need to lock your doors.
RO: Here’s the obvious question, anything we don’t know about Kim Dallesandro that we should?
KIM: I’m stronger than I look.
KIM: And of course when are you coming to America? What's the plan? Are you in touch with any industry people or have a plan to contact publishers, record companies, agents?
RO: When the time is right. Hopefully in the next couple of months! I can't wait to get over there, I've befriended so many wild and wonderful Americans on the internet, I just wanna drink some of that US water and get in that zone! Oh, yeah, pulling here pulling there, I am, like dad, an independent artist and so when shopping for a good deal our authenticity and creative freedom is always at the forefront. Plenty of interest coming from promoters and publishers, it's just a matter or sorting the wheat from the chaff and not rushing into anything dodgy. Can't wait to be touring again, and until then we'll be creating and recording, making music and videos till we collapse! I'm in my Brian Wilson period.
RO: So when are you and Joe coming to Dublin, huh? You gotta sit the phoenix park on a sunny day! And walk the way of the poets with us.
KIM: Soon I hope, since I’m filled with Irish blood.
Thanks so much Rohan, both for working with me but more importantly sharing with us so much of who you are and your musical process.
RO: My pleasure Kim, love ya!

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