Andrea Kerr is the lead singer of Colt (formerly known as Living With Eating Disorders). Along with Jared Christian and Mark Bishop, she creates ambient darkwave music that has garnered rave reviews. They have released one EP called "White Like Snow" and are currently working on their debut album.
You originally came from Glasgow. What did you like most about it and what (if anything) did you dislike?
I liked my childhood and I miss my grandparents very much, I lost my gran in June and there hasn't been one day since when I haven't wanted to talk to her or tell her something that she will never be able to hear. I liked the weather, in hindsight I loved the weather, I miss it. The climate suits my melancholic disability, the way misery can completely bind me is debilitating and the dramatic grey skies are sympathetic to my sensitivity. The roads wide and winding are more welcoming and gentle to drive, they take you places far away from people in no times at all and having a car is access to complete escape. I like a real fire and the contrast in the temperature that you feel on your skin when you go outside. Fire, I loved the fire I used have inside me.
I don't miss the Catholic Protestant divide, which I notice more from having moved away. It caused me so much unnecessary grief as a child. To be taught that only a people who follow a certain religion can gain access to heaven is wrong. To think of people. who you love and depend on, not to be granted a place in the afterlife is traumatising and stays with you forever.
What are some of your favourite artists and are there any songs you'd like to cover?
Cover versions are a funny type of animal. I would only like to cover something that would be different enough from the original to be a valid choice. Also I think I could only sing something with conviction if I believe what I am singing. There are songs out there that I can relate to but to sing them might feel like a bit of a lie; however, I have always fancied doing a cover of 'Diamonds Are Forever'. I think I could get heavy with that one. "I don't need love, for what good will love do me?" I could sing with tears in my eyes.
Bowie. Always Bowie is a favourite. I find that some other favourites fall in and out of love depending on mood or even time but Bowie is always an inspiration. In fact if I was pushed to cover a song I might choose "We Are The Dead", if only for line "people will hold us to blame."
Radiohead, I have rediscovered 'OK Computer' while loading CDs into i-Tunes and there wasn't one track I could do without. There are certain songs that are beyond a reaction and the first time I heard that album I was so choked up I couldn't talk about it.
Kate Bush is less human and more like a dream that lives in the back of my head, I can hardly believe she is real; listening to her voice is like going under anaesthetic. When I was a kid mum would sit me in front of Kate Bush videos with my dressing up clothes and I would pretend to be her. When other kids got Disney, but I got Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac. Thank heavens.
I love the photos on your website taken in the Victorian hospital and I was wondering what sort of imagery you'd like to use in videos if you made them for your songs?
Cars and night driving, it's so clichéd but there is just a perfect togetherness about driving at night and music --- a protection you get from music that is similar to the protection you feel in a car, they both form a web around you. Circus horses or carousel horses, controlled horses in any case, not wild horses. There is something similar in controlling a horse as there is to controlling a guitar, knowing when to hold it tight, every step precise and accurate, building up the energy inside then letting it go, offering the full length of the reins is like the kick after you pull a trigger. Water is very similar to car in the way that it surrounds you like a protective layer and going under is so strange on the senses, especially hearing. It would have to be something beautiful and dark, and definitely something that involves movement. Cars, horses or water.
You supported Psychic TV. How did that go and did you get to meet Genesis? I know you've said you're a big fan of his, it must have been a dream come true to play alongside his band.
It was a milestone for me, one of the best days of my life, and there are only a handful of these. Genesis was the embodiment of a true star. I thought for a long time about what I might say if I met him but it all went out the window when I bumped into him backstage. I don't know what I was thinking but I didn't even introduce myself, I just walked up and put my arms round him. The moment I saw him I knew it would be alright. After the show I told him he had better tits then me and he told me that his cost more and there was logic to that.
What inspires your songs? I think my favourite is Horsemilk --- who or what is it about?
Ha ha. I can tell you what it's about but I can't tell you who! It's about someone trying to manipulate a situation using emotional blackmail and appease me by pretending to be my friend. An angel to my face but behind my back trying to destroy something I had. What made so angry was that at first I was fooled but when I saw through it I felt sick with anger.
My anger, my fears and my loves inspire my songs. There would be nothing to write about without love and anger, and no reason to write if I wasn't too shy to tell people what I was thinking.
You have a very striking image onstage --- is this an extension of how you look anyway or is it exaggerated for effect? In the sense of feeling like you're wearing a costume. This isn't meant as a criticism, I think you look great. What are some of your favourite outfits?
It's an extension of how I look, my hair is always the same and I just wear more eye shadow and fewer clothes onstage. I feel I can get away with being more provocative with my appearance when we play as the stage is a great barrier, there is always an audience so I am not going to be alone with anyone who may take advantage of my vulnerable appearance and I can play up to that to certain extent.
Also I think that if people come to see a gig they want something to look at too so I think it's my duty not to turn up wearing something I would wear in the house, but at the same time I have to be myself.
My favourite outfits are all white, apart from a green 70s nightdress that I wear as a dress. Actually that's it, the pale green nightdress. It's so soft and fine, and the palest green. I love green. More than outfits though I love shoes, the higher the better and the more damage they can potentially do to my feet, ankles and spine, the more money I am willing to pay for them!
You did mention once on your Live Journal that you're gay. I was wondering if you think there is a fundamental difference in the way men and women write songs even they're writing about the same subject (desiring or loving a woman) or if you think certain emotions and experiences are universal?
Yes I think I mentioned being gay as I was attracted to girls more than boys that month. It comes and goes, I am undecided, I think I am still coming to terms with the fact that I may be bisexual. I hate that, I would rather be one or the other to be honest as I think that bisexuals get a bit of a rough deal with a lot of people seeing them as "sitting on the fence" either too scared to come out as gay or just being easy and going with someone of the same sex when they can't find someone of the opposite. Also I hate saying the word, it sounds so silly, I never say it out loud, ever. But to answer whether I think it makes a difference then I think not. Emotions hold the same beauty and turbulence no matter what sex I am feeling them for. I have written about girls and anyone reading it wouldn't have a clue.
Your band have done benefits for self harm and it's been a theme in your work (for instance, the artwork on some of your demo CDs). I self harmed on and off for many years and to be honest, I found one of the hardest things to deal with was other people's attitudes. What made you decide to be honest about this aspect of your life --- especially as the media seem to portray male and female musicians with mental health problems very differently. The men are seen as the tortured geniuses (Richey Edwards and Kurt Cobain) whereas the women are stigmatised and sidelined (see Courtney Love or Katie Jane Garside).
The same as you, other people's attitudes have been the hardest thing I have had to deal with as well --- the looks of disgust, not being trusted in shops, not being taken seriously, being thought of as dangerous to other people.
And I decided that I wanted to help raise awareness to start a change in the way people who SI are perceived and treated. If more people understand then there is a good chance that more injurers will have the courage to seek help and get it. I don't mind being sidelined for being a woman, or for any reason, I don't need recognition and I am no genius but even if I only help one person through my honesty then that is reward enough.
I know that you try and be friendly to your fans but I just wonder if you do set limits to maintain some distance. Are you worried that an unhealthy dynamic will develop between you and your fans? That people may be drawn to you for the "wrong" reasons and that this could have a detrimental effect on you or them? (I'm not just thinking about the self-harm but also the anorexia). That to some people it might seem as if you are glamourising/encouraging these behaviours although personally, I don't think you are.
I'm not worried at all, although recently it has occurred to me that I should perhaps raise a bit of a barrier. Till now I haven't seen much need to maintain any more distance than I would with friends. After all, a lot of the early fans have become friends but it is changing. I do feel as though I have a responsibility now but people are drawn to others for all sorts of reasons, right and wrong, and it's not my place to decide how they choose to see me. It's just life, a series of loving and being loved, admiring and being admired, rejecting and being rejected. There will be people out there who know of me though I haven't heard of them and there are people who I admire tremendously who will never hear of me, but that is what makes the world go round, we are all chasing after someone else unaware we are being chased ourselves.
THIS INTERVIEW WAS DONE BY E-MAIL IN JANUARY 2005.
Why did you decide to stop using the name Living With Eating Disorders? Was it purely a personal decision or were you influenced by what other people said (either directly to you or indirectly)?
The name LWED was never one we felt comfortable with, it created an image that we don't really fit into and touched too closely on problems that I would rather not deal with or talk about. This was a huge pressure on two different levels.
First of all, I was put on the spot to explain myself, people would constantly ask if I had battled eating disorders - which is something I find incredibly difficult to talk about. And secondly, there was the pressure to live up to the image the name created, which made me so unhappy with my appearance --- the more attention the band seemed to get became indirectly proportional to the amount I would allow myself to eat and it spiralled out of control.
In short, the name summed up a specific time in our work together, it was never intended to be permanent and certainly not chosen to shock or offend and I would like to leave the name behind for many reasons. It doesn't seem as sincere as it once did and I would have to make myself ill again before it does.
What made you choose the name Colt? What does it symbolise to you?
I think the word colt sums up how we wanted to be from the start. I like the unbroken, masculine innocence of the word colt and I think that suits what we are trying to do. There is something about the way a young horse's unshod hooves beat on the earth that reminds of the tribal drum sound that I love. A foal is still a little timid, not boisterous enough, and by the time a horse is fully broken and shod, it is too late, the sound is too restrained , too controlled. The colt is at that in between stage, which has the speed and strength of the adult horse but still the wildness and curiousity of the foal.
What are your future plans for the band now? Will you use any of the old LWED songs on your forthcoming album or are you going to start afresh?
Well, we plan to release the album and shoot a video in the next few months, then we can get back to writing. I have really missed writing recently and can't wait to get back to it.
As the album is already recorded we are going to release it but under the new name. The change of name was never about getting away from what we were or from the music we make, it was directly to do with an image that was increasingly difficult for me to deal with, so the music will stay the same.
THIS ADDITIONAL E-MAIL INTERVIEW WAS DONE IN JULY 2005. THANKS TO ANDREA FOR SUPPLYING THE LIVE PHOTOS AS WELL. PHOTOS BY SARA BOWERY AT DEVONSHIRE ARMS MAY 2005.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 2005.
NOTE: Colt have now released an album and an EP and are currently working on new material.