The last time I saw Angie Reed before I interviewed her was on stage at the Volksbühne putting musical spells on the audience. Moments before, we watched the premiere of The City of Lights, a “bockwurst” Western, filmed in the Wild West of Brandenburg, where Angie Reed as a kidnapped saloon & cowgirl, had to endure a hell of a journey. Her performance as the cute, naïve, lost yet loose woman was astonishing, her entire acting skills based alone on body language and facial expressions, realms with which she dominates the public very distinctly.
Playing bass with Stereo Total at the age of 21 in front of large audiences around the world, taught Angie a trick or two, which has now become her trademark: her enchanting charisma. That night from that stage she devoured her fans from inside the palm of her hand. Her performance enhanced by stars the size of Namosh, Eric D Clark, and Mario Mentrup (the film’s director and pale protagonist) kept the enthusiastic audience in their seats, until she was done. The rowdy side stage entourage compiled from some of Barbie Deinhoff’s fan club became Angie Reed’s adoring clique as they danced, yelled, moon shined and misbehaved enough to get the security guards involved. That night Angie presented new work. Songs about hustlers, UFOs, nuns and confession booths with layers of electro beats or rocky guitar riffs, gave life to magical freaks from other dimensions.
Fully intrigued, one sunny winter day I wanted to find out more about these mysterious characters, so I paid Angie Reed a visit. When I entered her flat my eyes rushed to the floor and were immediately turned on by a pair of golden stiletto boots. “I will take them on tour with me,” she rolled her words with pleasure. She seemed excited about taking her performance on the road. “Last time I was on tour I had so much money from the merchandising in my bra that when I got up in the mornings, hung over, the price tags were still sticking to my breasts. In the early days I would know exactly in which club and town, I would be playing. Now without knowing, I just get there, someone awaits my arrival and takes me to the hotel then to the venue. I love that kind of attention.”
These days she goes on tour alone, by train, armed with animation videos under one arm and her laptop under the other. “One day I will even have my own beamer to take on tour.” The beamer is one important instrument to the show as she projects her own animations. Trained as a visual artist at the HDK in Berlin, Angie produces her own videos from scratch. She gives life to a body of drawings and sketches as film and animations “that both extend and illustrate the songs written for this work, XYZ Frequency”. Her new show is about mind and time travel. Imaginary cities with lanes, night-clubs and talk shows are created where expressionistic characters roam around and give meaning to her songs. Entire galaxies are twisted to bring these figures to the “other side”. A fun-loving Joker appears all throughout the animations, travelling via different dimensions. The public sees on the screen what she sees and when she puts her head on the screen she travels in a time machine. The song Yes, We Know is about a faraway land Atlantis where she gets transported in pick up bubble called Metropolis, to a fish restaurant where mutants and octopuses work as waiters. This multimedia performance that brings the public to the other side and imaginary lands, began as a process, where the music and the drawings were combined to give different layers and perspectives.
“My drawings are on the 1st and 2nd dimension while the story telling is on another. I created these characters in order to fight the prejudices and misconceptions the public attains about: hustlers, nuns, tough guys, jokers etc. In my songs the tough guy on the run from the NYPD, is even scared to get out of his car when he needs to urinate. And the nun who discovers the bars and parties of pre war Berlin finds out the different truths behind confession booths. Some of these figures are the black sheep of society, the displaced characters and I am showing you what can happen to them.”
This work is of mammoth proportions and was not created in a rush, but with a creative thinking process behind it. It has many instrumental ornaments inbred with rock and roll elements. “It draws on a vast range of musical styles and stories as a source of inspiration. For my Barbara Brockhaus Show I created slides of the drawings, which held up the songs. Each slide showed a different letter of the alphabet. I would mix these letters up to build different sentences. Naturally I make the pictures for the music that I write myself, but for this new album Mario Mentrup co wrote some songs with me. Then I constructed the epic story around the music.”
So the story so far is the following: On the screen Angie Reed gets a necklace that can save and protect her from the Joker’s mind games. She chases the Joker through his world. She lets him push the buttons but she follows him while he’s having fun. She falls through holes and encounters “a range of disembodied souls who have never been unable to express themselves to an audience without her voice”. The N.L.P the Galaxy song is a joke about government manipulation and a CIA matrix spy. In her U.F.O. A-Go-Go duo with Namosh, two people are abducted by a UFO and ‘stripped from head to toe, down to tattoo and underwear’. Another song takes her inside a PEE WEE Herman type of talk show, with ghosts trapped in another dimension. “It was last year when I was resting on my couch that this need to have ghosts in my next performance piece scooped from. Most of my storytelling is very spontaneous. That is how I like to write. But to create all the various elements on the record and for this multimedia performance extravaganza, I have worked hard since 2004.”
And while she is telling me this, chewing hard on the steak she ordered, I noticed that darkness was knocking on our window and the waitress on our bill. The entire afternoon while our minds travelled to other sides, to reality checks and creative tensions, to needs of self-expressions, to Catholicism with its wrong spells, to feminism, to death and losing someone special in your life, I felt abducted to Angie’s wonderland. Inside it, I was surrounded by her unaffected charm and I wanted to settle there for a long while.
When she talked to me about her childhood years spread over many countries: USA, Italy and Germany, her eyes sparked innocence inside a galaxy of self-confidence and productive juices. She invited me over to her ‘lab’ to wonder at the newly born animations, still spinning around on her laptop’s screen.
Her creative corner was in full swing, working mode. “I still have so much to do until I go on tour in three days. A great deal of editing and Namosh is meant to come over for a shoot and one or two clips are not finished yet, so please excuse the mess. I haven’t even had time to eat so the steak was the heartiest thing I have had in a while.” While buzzing in work mode, she was still a refined hostess, explaining frame by frame, the concept beyond each animation clip.
“The ghost show is full of Berlin’s colourful characters.” Fascinated by this army of miniature humans I stare at the screen, to find my favourite ‘game ghost’, Gina from Cobra Killer in a far away dimension, staring back at me. Other ‘game ghosts’ like Patric Catani (whose musical genius is involved in making this record) walked around the screen, as if trapped in time. Chloé Griffin clad in her saloon girl outfit, waits for her gun to go off. Mark Boombastic is still the human beat box on this ghost show. Taylor Savvy graces the screen, sassy as a dancing rabbi. But the star of this entire show is really the composer herself, Angie Reed, seen here in a different dimension, in a different world to Berlin’s freezing bites of cold. The desired effect of XYZ Frequency multimedia extravaganza works well. Visually it displaces and transports the viewer into different magnitudes and so does the mixed bag of musical thuds. It is a real mind journey if you take the time to listen to its comical and sophisticated, ripper lyrics.
And why on earth ‘does she hustle a hustler, like a hurricane?’ “Because I need a new-fangled lover.” Under her covers?