Siren Festival 2009: Q&A With Grand Duchy’s Violet Clark


“I like games where you can throw things and break things.”

Violet Clark comprises half of the force behind Grand Duchy, a collaboration between her and her husband Frank Black. With Clark taking a majority of the vocals, you’d never know this was her first official outing. But the two released their debut joint effort this past spring. Entitled Petits Fours, the record varies through dark, synth-rock to French, new-wave-inspired pop. This Saturday, Grand Duchy play the Siren Festival main stage at 5pm.

Grand Duchy has a really nice slot for the Siren Festival.

I was really flattered. I would’ve been less surprised if we were first on the bill.

When was the last time you were at Coney Island?

The only time I’ve been to Coney Island was to do art historical research for my Masters Thesis.

How did that go?

It was cool. I did a lot of research in New York City but going to Coney Island kind was very surreal.

Do you have a favorite carnival game?

Oh gosh. I like things where you can throw things and break things, personally.

I read that you released a record on your own.

I made a record. I haven’t released it because…I made it just prior to meeting Charles. And I got distracted for a few years-that’s kind of an understatement. My little thing seemed irrelevant, at the time.

Compared to Grand Duchy, what was the sound like?

It was kind of dancy, electronica thing. All drum machines, synthetic base. So, when I say it was irrelevant, ultimately it wasn’t-when I started in the studio with Charles, I felt comfortable.

Your voice sounds like you’ve been doing this for ages.

Yeah, in a way I have, but only for myself. Does that make sense?

It sounds confident.

It’s been my over-arching interest since I was little. I’ve been practicing, shall we say.

So, it’s the first full record together and touring as a band together. How’s that going?

It’s really awesome. We’re getting our act together more and more, as far as how to make it work with kids on the road. We’re having a lot more fun than the warm-up tour we went on in May. We troubleshooted a lot. We have a grandma with us this time. So, really it comes down to how to keep the kids happy. If the kids are happy, then mommy and daddy are happy, and we can go do our thing.

What’s tougher: managing the home life or writing the record together?

Well, it’s two worlds colliding. Each taken individually is very doable. Staying domestic and being a Mom or a Dad is really great. But being creative and working together is great and really stimulating. But the worlds colliding is almost like a comedy routine sometimes. We tag-team a lot; we’re not always in the studio at the same time. Which, I think ended up being an asset in some ways. There’s a tension on the record-a real tension between my contribution and his. And I think that comes from us being able to be alone for periods of time and not constantly bouncing everything off each other every five seconds.