The Lost Tapes (Special Halloween): a lost conversation with the legendary ZOMBIEGIRL
Dark secrets, abuse, rumours, involved in a girl's death case... If your life was full of blogs, online social communities and myspace in the 2000s, you’re probably a child of ZOMBIE GIRL’s domination era. The project starts in 2005, composed of Renee Cooper and producer Sebastian Komor, and revolves around black humor and cinematic aesthetics. The debut album Back From the Dead is a success but Blood, Brains & Rock n’Roll is the one that boosts the duo to the charts and brings public recognition. From the very beginning, the band is at the core of debates around visual and psychological violence. Blood, Brains & Rock n’Roll is even delayed after three printing companies refused to print album bloody artwork that featured a brain on a plate. After an excellent Halloween EP that Komor releases alone in 2009, we’ve never really heard anything coming from ZOMBIE GIRL. To the great surprise of most, Renee Cooper returns with Killer Queen a while ago. Not only do we crave to know what happened all these years, we are also curious about the next twists and steps she is ready to take.
† My dear Renee, we've never talked about something that happened back in the days. I told you that many of us used to bounce on Blood, Brains & Rock n’ Roll years earlier, when Myspace was the trendy Instagram we know today. Even before I personally found you. I heard Sebastian was not part of the project anymore.
You know this is seriously the last time I will discuss this because it just brings up feelings of disgust and anger. But, here goes, and I’m sorry to anybody reading this because you are about to visit a very dark period in my life, but I won’t powder coat it and pretend that it never happened. Women need to speak up about these things and you can believe what I say or not, but I lived it. So let’s just get it over with and I won’t speak of it again. No he is not part of Zombie Girl any longer and I had to pay him to get my rights back for Zombie Girl (more on that later). After BBR&R was released and I was doing live performances, things started to get very crazy. I was in a very abusive relationship with my producer/Husband which had very devastating effects on me and my son. The ‘marriage’, if you can call it that, was bad. It was horrible and I don’t want to go into details right now because I’ll be depressed for days after. Behind closed doors and outside, during gigs, day in day out. The end came when I was threatened and violently jumped and attacked by a friend of his and literally kicked repeatedly in my throat and stomach (mere weeks after surgery) I was told to not perform, that this was a message from S and when I pressed charges, I received a call from S saying not to press charges because they knew where I lived and it would be even worse the next time. My then husband had sex with that person that night and did drugs with the lot of them. He proceeded to brag about it to various people, who showed me the emails. Then he had me removed from Vampire Freaks website, which was responsible for a big part of the royalties we received. If that wasn’t bad enough, he contacted promoters worldwide telling them that there was a lawsuit and I was not allowed to perform again. Not finished yet, he contacted FaceBook and claimed that I was a fake and copyright infringing my own songs, he had his friends do the same and called out on FaceBook for other people to help him shut me down. Facebook's policy is that if someone contacts them with a copyright infringement claim, the page is removed and suspended until the person launching the claim, contacts them saying they made a mistake. This entire thing lasted 7 years. I lost huge amounts of money and performances. He said that I was dealing with satan when I had the police remove him from my home and he was right. I was.
† You decided to back off on Halloween, can you tell us why? And why did you eventually come back more recently? We thought you were not that interested in ZOMBIE GIRL anymore.
I backed out because S told my label that we were releasing this album. He had various people do remixes and even vocals. I was contacted by S saying that I was to produce lyrics and vocals in 2 days time and send them to my label! Of course everything in the studio had been taken by him and I asked how I was supposed to do that in that short of time and with no recording gear. He told me to take my laptop and go into the forest and do it like that because anyone could figure it out, but I was a stupid dumb F**k. ( Dumb F**k) was one of the terms he called me often. So my self esteem by then was really null, non existent, so I just gave up. I was afraid of him and his ‘friends’ and was completely alone. I believed that I was what he said I was, what everyone thought I was (he said) and just went into shock. That album was not done with my consent and I Won't support it and I try not to think about it. Zombie Girl was precious to me and he used it to hurt me as much as he could. Mission accomplished. I did a few shows here and there and even backed out of some because of severe anxiety. I also was booked into a tour where the ‘tour promoter’ told each venue that I wanted 400$ up front for each booking. He never discussed this with me and when I told him that I wanted to go over some details with the promoters in each city, the guy went ballistic and was yelling that I should let him do his Fu**ing job, so I knew something was rotten in Denmark as the saying goes. I then contacted one of the venues and that’s when I found out what he was doing. One promoter sent me money the next day and I returned it. I also found out that this guy ( let’s call his ‘company’ Staphic Equilizer Propluctions. and we’ll call the guy Darren Poper). I told the venue that he had their money and that I was not going on any tour with him. That they had to get the stolen money from him. Of course he played innocent and claimed that this scam was mine. I was so shocked too, because I trusted him. So, I’ve been through some shit. BUT I will not let that define who I am as a person. I’m much more careful now.
† You're having something on your mind .. What are you thinking right now ?
90% of the men I’ve met through the music industry seem mostly cruel, jealous, angry and untrustworthy. Everyone wants something and don't care if you get hurt, ruined, it’s sick. These people wear masks that hide their true being. Those times are not things I want to dwell on or keep thinking about though, because it’s like poison in your veins and heart. I told you some of it, but not all and only because you asked me what happened etc. I’ve moved on from it with my heart intact, love in my soul and I learned not to give my heart away so fast ever again. To not bring someone into your safe zone, your home and to try to take care of someone who is just ultimately using you for a home, money and a way into your country because they just need someone to provide them with what they need.
† How much has ZOMBIE GIRL changed since your debut? You.
Not that much really. I’m the same person. I still will do the old tracks. I have the same energy and love of performing onstage. I really love singing so much. To share that with an audience is very fulfilling on so many levels. Well with killer Queen I just had to get certain feelings out. It wasn’t old ZG stuff but very therapeutic.Some people liked it, some hated it. My feelings were all over the place, but I got it out. For the most part. Subconsciously I was purging my soul from all the dark insane souls that had tried to destroy me. It was also like a Fuck you, to certain people. It might not have been the best album ever recorded, but it was my first all me album. I don’t think it was a great accomplishment, it is what it is.
† For people who had great opportunity to listen to your latest album ... wow, this is different from the music you used to make. But it’s still so fine. Let’s take just 4 tracks at random: Killer Queen, Panic Attack, Rave of the Dead, Thorazine. Could you tell us in one sentence per song the general idea of the track?
As for the meaning or intent of each track, I will let people speculate. I have to admit that Rave of the Dead sounds just like a masterpiece to me.
† It does.
Really? Oh, thank you :) It’s very visual which is what I wanted. I wish I could have put it into a video. That mysterious, morbid, sensual sound mixed with oriental melodies on industrial goth rhythms got me. I’m curious about the production process of this one. How did you think about that track? Do you remember how did you come to consider it as a potential song? Have you first thought of a specific melody, before the proper idea or the lyrics? Or the opposite way? Okay, umm, Most of the tracks were kind of like dreams I had, including much of the lyrics. I have a very active and imaginative dream life when i sleep. I always have. Some of those tracks were music videos in my dreams. Then in those I was singing and sometimes I can wake up and write it down or grab my iphone and just do a quick recording for myself to remember later. my dreams are vivid and in 4K resolution and colour. I think it’s so cool. Like, how does a person’s brain do that? To come up with music, lyrics and stuff, on its own?
† When you debuted, many online platforms like Vampirefreaks and Myspace let bands and artists express themselves, emerge to the public. They gave notoriety to artists from the dark scene. Do you miss this era when dark culture was still ostensibly promoted?
MySpace...I haven’t heard that name for so many years. I guess it was fun to see that 40,000 people liked listening to me sing. I haven’t thought about it too much. The internet was still pretty young then.
† What’s the story behind your persona as a zombie girl? We’ve never really known why you became a zombie...
It just happened by fluke, but I’m not a Zombie, I’m the Queen of the living dead. :)
† I couldn't agree more. Let people know what kind of person Renee Cooper is behind the curtains.
A painter in watercolor and acrylic, I have pets and love them dearly. I love life and have so many interests that I could never or rarely feel bored. I choose quality over quantity regarding the people in my life and I don’t just believe everything I’m told any more. I have zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and I still would do anything for the people who genuinely deserve my love and time. What are your hobbies, pastimes? Painting, movies, gardening, making soap, bath and skin care from raw natural ingredients, singing, I love to game online. I go swimming, mountain bike riding and work on my spiritual side too. I love to make people laugh and spending time with friends. I think I’m basically like any other woman. I spend too much time on my Ipad. I like to do my nails and toes. I love being outdoors when it’s nice.I like to grow things. I grow orchids inside my house and am about to start creating hybrids. I love being with my little Chihuahua Nibby. He’s my tiny little love. I love the planet Earth and life. Life is a beautiful gift.
† If you had to select one: music or movies? Why? Pick your 5 masterpieces related to music or movies – depending on which art you chose.
I’d pick music because you can choose what you desire to listen to. But there are a few exceptions. The original Blade Runner. The one with RutgerHauer. Beyond visually outstanding and dream like and the soundtrack, a masterpiece. as for recording artists, there are just too many to mention really. I’ll leave that as a mystery.
† If I remember well, you’ve been involved in the past in polemics surrounding the tragic death of a girl who happened to one of your fans. You’ve been accused to promote death and suicidal psychology. Researchers have never reached any consensus regarding the nexus violent culture-violence in real life. Yet many influencers from the art industry refute the idea of any causal link between both sides. The movie director Steve Martin declares that, at least in America, ‘there’ve always been violence, there will always be violence, violence and evil men and men with big guns. [Art] reflects what’s going on, it doesn’t make what’s going on’. What do you think about that statement?
Yes, I pretty much agree with that statement.
† We didn’t have the opportunity to see you on stage again these last years. What kind of aesthetics should we expect from the new ZOMBIE GIRL? As bloody as before? Killer Queen displays such a different visual.
Yes, still as bloody as before, maybe with a costume change at some point.
Just remember: If you are travelling in a time machine and visit the jurassic period, do NOT stick your arm out of the window on the way back, because it will turn into a fossil. Live life to the best and fullest you can,
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