The Ever Mysterious Elizabeth Harper and Class Actress
Class Actress started out as Elizabeth and the Matinee. Before that, Elizabeth would play her guitar (while it gently wept) and before that she lived an exciting life of a teenager. Fast-forward to 2010 and that same lady, Elizabeth Harper, is putting tape over the logos on her band’s synths to bring back the “romance of music.” This is 80s drenched dance-y, twangy intense, sexified jams, with the somewhat simple drums, and vocals combo and the occasional guitar thrown in for good measure. Harper has earned some high praise from the blogosphere, like “girl Morrissey” comparisons but that could have to do with her stage presence. At El Rey in Los Angeles, on March 11, 2010 the year of our Lord (of dance,) Class Actress did their thing. Here’s what Harper has to say about fiction, Speedos, flirting and black holes.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that your life is likeLess Than Zero, why is that?
Some of the people I grew up with had a lot of excess around them and I was a pretty wild teen. There wasn’t a lot of parental supervision in my crowd. I read the book when I was 12 and thought, so glamorous, I want this life, and started listening to Elvis Costello and sneaking out to clubs...and then at 18 I'm in some Hollywood Hills Mansion with a weird guy in a leopard print bikini who's coked up thinking this is actually hell.
Whose isn't? Ellis is one of my favorite writers, I would love to meet him. He just captures the true nature of despair and emptiness that fuels our futile attempts at facade versus what's underneath. He is a master at documenting the numbing of pop culture, but it’s a drug we all need.
When did you first hear the “Morrissey girl” comparison? What did that do to your ego?
I heard it after my first solo record came out and yes its very flattering, Morrissey is one of a kind, so in truth I try to keep my ego out such things.
How big of a tool is sex when you’re on stage? At your El Rey show, it seemed like youwerereveling inshowing off a bare shoulder from underneath your dress shirt. And then there are all the oohs and ahs that could be straight out of the 80s.
I was voted biggest flirt in High School, go figure... I'm not trying to be sexy I just love the music and it makes me move and feel free, and I get hot on stage so eventually something comes off.
In an interview with Epilogue, when asked about growing too fast in the music industry you said, “I just feel like there’s just a huge waterfall of music … it’s like a wormhole, like a black hole but it’s got this unstable bridge, to a white hole in another universe.” Are you a fan of Carl Sagan or were you just bullshittin’?
I was totally serious, at the time I was obsessed with wormholes, but I'm more of a Brian Cox fan. My Dad's an aerospace engineer so he talks to me about black holes and stuff...
Do you have any tattoos and what are the stories behind them – if they’re too cheesy, we’ll just edit them out and photoshop a cool tattoo into a photo.
No tats sorry to say. But I am prone in the summer to having people draw on me with a sharpie. My friend Ry drew these straps on my arm at Dash's studio over the summer.
You mentioned on the Twitter (what is that anyway, right) that you guys only have a CD player in the van. 1.) I always carry a mix CD in the car, but didn’t catch up with you that night at el rey, so it's everyone's loss and 2.) What does it feel like to travel in a van with only a CD player? Your in the 90s! Do you avoid potholes?
I'm so bummed we didn't meet up I need that mix CD! Traveling in a van with only a CD player and no CDs, is
A) Very quiet or
B) Lady Antebellum or Lady Gaga on the radio. Sometimes we get lucky and some 80s music pops on.
"It's a quarter after one, I'm a little drunk and I need you now" Yes I know all the words...
and yes we avoid potholes at all costs.
Your band puts tape on their syths to not let people know what they’re playing on and you’ve mentioned that you’d like to reclaim some of the romantic-ness of old music – why do you feel that this needs to come back?
I want to bring back the new romantics style just cause I just love the music of that time, I love Depeche Mode, etc.. We play our backing tracks out of a VCR. I like pay phones and trench coats, boom boxes and hairspray. I have a very romantic idea of the 80s, y'know Madonna tagging and hanging out with Basquiat. Let us not forget how alluring mystery can be and what it can do for you.
Where abouts in Southern California did you grow up?