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DM) Why are you titling the album, The Divine Comedy?
MJ) Well, when I came up with the album cover artwork, it kinda seemed to fit.
DM) Knowing that you came from Russia, I wanted to know how the transition from Russia to America was for you?
MJ) Not very big... I was five years old. I still speak Russian, not too well though.
DM) During one interview you said, you were "still thinking of stuff for your next album"?
MJ) I've gotten a lot of songs written. Yeah.
DM) What do you consider your writing process.
MJ) There is no writing process for me.
DM) Do you write that often?
MJ) Whenever I'm ready to write. I've gotten 10 songs written for my next album, but that's over two and a half years away.
DM) You've been given a lot of comparisons to people like Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and Brooke Shields. What do you think of those comparisons?
MJ) Tori Amos and Kate Bush are very flattering comparisons. I haven't heard any Brooke Shields comparisons lately, so I don't know about that, but I'm flattered.
DM) Do you notice any similarities between your music and that of Tori Amos and Kate Bush?
MJ) Not really Tori Amos at all. The only reason they compare me to Tori Amos is she's another female who makes real music. Kate Bush definitely inspired me when I was growing up. This first album definitely has a lot of that influence. I sound like her, but... it definitely has a Kate Bush influence.
DM) The press packet says that university is just around the bend. What are your future plans for education?
MJ) Well, I am constantly educating myself every day. I doubt I'll go to college for a couple more years. I don't know if I'm going to go for a diploma. I'm just going to go and take the classes I want to take.
DM) On the album, do you play any of your own instruments, or is that other people playing the instruments?
MJ) [I play] The mandolin on one song, but not really. I didn't really want to play on the album. I didn't want to take away from the music by my lack of musicianship.
DM) When you write a song, what instrument do you play?
MJ) I play the guitar when I write the music.
DM) On one of the songs, "The Alien Song," you have it subtitled, "for those who listen." What do you mean by that?
MJ) Exactly what it says. I mean, for those who listen. A lot of people don't.
DM) So this song is dedicated "for those who listen?"
MJ) Not necessarily dedicated, it's just a statement to all people.
DM) You just played in the Sin-E. How was the concert over there?
MJ) It was really nice.
DM) Okay. How would you describe your live performance?
MJ) Personally I like it. More than the album. It's simple, it's acoustic. A lot more honest.
DM) On the album, what is the one song you would consider your best work?
MJ) Probably either "Charlie" or "Ruby Lane" or something like those.
DM) Is there any song you wish you could've done better?
MJ) We won't talk about that. In that aspect, it's all on the album, and that's the way it is.
DM) Who would you consider your biggest influences?
MJ) A lot of different people...everyone from Joni Mitchell to Mick Drake, to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to my best friend, Chris Brenner. Chris is a great songwriter, but he doesn't have an album out yet. He's in my band.
DM) If I looked in your CD player now, what kind of music might I see?
MJ) Parliament, Millennium at this point.
DM) It seems a big majority of the press is emphasizing the transition from your modeling career to musician. What do you think of the emphasize on that?
MJ) It's kind of strange because I haven't modeled in four years now, and I was acting before I was modeling. It wasn't a career choice that I made; it was something that happened on it's own and exploded on it's own without any effort from me. It surprises me that people want to stick to that aspect so much.
DM) Do you regret doing either the modeling or the acting?
MJ) Not at all, why should I regret it?
DM) From the emphasis given to the modeling and acting, it almost seems to override the musicianship.
MJ) I don't know. Do you think this album would have gotten as much attention as it has if it was just another artist? Every review has to mention how surprising it is that a model or actress can do other things. It's definitely helped the hype or whatever. Do you know what I mean? I needed to do everything I did to get to where I am now. It has given me the freedom.
DM) How do you think it would have differed if you just went straight to music, that is if you never did the acting or modeling?
MJ) Well, first of all, the record company would never have given me the freedom to make the music that I'm making. Why would they trust somebody who's never been in the business before -- who's just off the street? I think without doing everything I did before, I could never have reached this point. It's the modeling and acting I did as a child that made me who I am. It opened me up to a lot of experiences. I'm sure without all those experiences, I wouldn't have grown up as quickly as I did, and maybe I wouldn't have been able to write the songs I've written.
DM) What are your future plans as of now?
MJ) Keep on writing, get in the studio, and record the next album hopefully by the beginning of next year -- if the album bombs, by the beginning of next fall -- but if all goes as planned, it will be by January.
DM) Out of your whole life, what do you consider the highlight, the moment you are most proud of?
MJ) My books and my new music.
DM) What do you mean by your books? I don't recall you've written anything.
MJ) Oh, I collect books. I guess I collect a lot of classics.
DM) Is there any book you'd consider your favorite -- your prize of the collection?
MJ) There's too many. I learn a lot from all of them. I couldn't really say "this is my favorite" or "that is" because then I'd be here all day saying, "No, but wait, this has really great qualities about it as well, and I can't just mark that out." That's really a kind of double-edged sword. I could say, "Yeah, this is my favorite." But I wouldn't be able to make it seem as if all those other books aren't just as good in their own different ways.
DM) Most people, when they look at musicians, they see them very two-dimensionally, and believe music is the only part of their life. What other parts are there to Milla?
MJ) There are a lot of other parts. My mom definitely raised me with the capacity and the competence to do a lot of things. I love music, and that's the way I express myself the best. I'm learning to play all these other instruments. I'm picking up the violin and the harp. I do my reading. I used to draw a lot, but I don't draw as much anymore. Apart from that, I'm relaxing because we've been hectic for a while.
DM) What do you see yourself as doing as a career if you never got into show business?
MJ) I probably would've been in school. I'd have to get back to you on that and give it a lot of thought. Then again, I have devoted my whole life to my career, so it seems pretty alien to me to think of what I would've done instead of this. I've been working on my art and being an artist since I'm nine years old. It's kind of hard to think of what my life would be like without it, because at this point, it would be pretty empty. I still am educated. I could go back to school anytime I wanted to, but this is my love.
DM) How was it going to high school, and pursuing the career you are in now?
MJ) It was hard for a little bit, but then I went to a professional children's school, which was pretty flexible to fit into my own schedule. I never really depended on school for my education. Books were the basis of my education. Reading is definitely what made me any sort of thinking person I am now. Any reasoning human being needs to read books.
DM) Socially wise, how was it growing up in this career?
MJ) I left regular school in the middle of sixth grade -- well, seventh grade actually. The school I went to was great because I had a lot of friends there, and it was easier to handle.
DM) Is there anyone you'd love to see work with you on your next album?
MJ) Well, my friend Danny Warner, he's with Nine Inch Nails. He wants to work with me, not for my next album, but for a separate thing. I know for my next album, I'm only going to have a producer come in after my band and I have laid the songs down already with my arrangement and everything. Then once the songs are already laid down, he can put his two cents in. But I want to have the songs already done before anybody else comes in.
DM) Being in this celebrity status almost seems to separate you from the rest of society and constantly putsyou in the limelight...
MJ) Oh, but I'm not. I mean, I'm not getting hassled every time I walk down the street. Sometimes people stop me, but I don't know about now. I think we'll have to talk again in a couple of years. Along with that comes the celebrity status unfortunately.
DM) What do you want to achieve?
MJ) I want to achieve everything I need to achieve. I want to be able to love what I'm doing and respect myself while I'm doing it.
DM) What do you mean by "respect yourself?"
MJ) A lot of people aren't true to themselves because of ulterior influences or motives. They're not just true to themselves, and they grow up to be very bitter and unhappy. That's definitely what I don't want to be. I feel really lucky doing what I'm doing -- making music. To be able to live on making music is incredible.
DM) How high do you want to go?
MJ) I don't really care. I'd like to make money, definitely, but that would be like if they want advertisements in Japan or Brazil or Singapore, I'd do a car commercial in Singapore. I'd just never want to disrespect myself by not being true to me. With the work that is so personal to me, like my music for instance, and the chance to do something stupid and quick and easy just to make lots of money, I wouldn't do it because it wasn't worth it. It isn't worth ruining my chances to be taken seriously as a musician. I really don't care if my album sells a million or just one copy. What's I've achieved is: I recorded my first album, and I recorded the way I wanted to record it at the time. And I'm going to be able to record my second album exactly the way I want to record.
DM) Do you consider yourself as having that much of a fan base from what you've seen?
MJ) Well, we had a show in Woodstock yesterday. There were a lot of kids who couldn't get in because they were under 21. So we went across the street to this open-mike cafe and did a short set for all the kids who couldn't get in. It was great, people were into it.
DM) What motivated you to do that?
MJ) Well, these were the kids who were requesting songs for me to play from the album. And I felt like these were the kids who went out to get my music, so they deserved it.
DM) So you just did a free concert for them?
MJ) Well, I was going to play on the street if we couldn't find a cafe, but then this guy came up and said there's an open-mike cafe across the street. Our music is acoustic, so we could play it without hooking it up, and it wouldn't have been a problem to go out and play a few songs.
DM) What's the typical question you hear from your fan who gets the chance to talk to you?
MJ) There's no typical question... especially in Woodstock, maybe it's different everywhere else in the world. I think Woodstock is a very special place. The kids there weren't asking me any questions. They just wanted to look at me and catch my vibes...talk to me a little bit about my songs... and almost hang and watch. They were very perceptive. They just stood around and studied me because kids want the person they are listening to be cool. It felt nice, though. They were great. I didn't get in until 6am, mind you. That's why my voice is so low. For the first part of our interview, I was totally dazed.
DM) Do you consider yourself that approachable?
MJ) Definitely, to certain people. I think certain people know how to approach me.
DM) Maybe that's the better question then... what is the way to approach Milla?
MJ) Be yourself.
DM) Do you find yourself acting different towards people in the limelight as opposed to outside of it?
MJ) Sure. Sometimes I have to put on my happy-crappy smile and do the runs. You gotta play the game. It's the business... for business associates more than the public. Going out, doing this and that, and the other... Meeting this person and that person... You know it that well. I'm sure it doesn't even matter if it's the limelight or not. There are people you just know it would be good for you to meet them, and those who are good for you to know them. They're not bad people, but they're not people you would really invite over for a long conversation over dinner, one on one. I'm a pretty secluded person. I'm a Sagittarius, a very social person. I got these people around me who really care about me, and I really care about them, too. I don't really love to go out to dinner and hang out. It's always a little more difficult for me to do the small talk and chatter, because I'm not into it.
DM) Before you said your fans try picking up your vibe. What is your vibe?
MJ) My vibe is, well, especially before a concert, just hanging out. I was saying hello, talking to the fans, trying to get them into the club. For me to put my finger on my vibe is really strange because my vibe isn't anything you can explain in a word or two. I don't think anybody's vibe can be explained that way. I think only other people can explain you in two words. I don't think you could ever explain yourself.
DM) Then how would you describe yourself?
MJ) (laughter) I'm friendly, intelligent... I can definitely say that. A good listener. I do my best to make life interesting for people. I have a lot to talk about if you've got stuff to talk about, too. I'm pretty drawn in.
DM) You're an introvert?
MJ) I'm not an introvert, not to that extreme. I guess I control my mood swings, but I can either be really outgoing to the point of being overbearing, or I can be really quiet. People might say... they'll probably call me a bitch, actually. I mean it's like either, or it depends on... I had my palm read last night, and this guy said exactly what mom has said: "You can control your mood swings." He said it seven times, and I know it's true because I have a lot of mood swings, and I really do have to learn to control them. I can sit down at the table with friends, not say a word for an hour, then something happens, like I see a cute guy or something funny happens, and the next thing you know I'm babbling or being really annoying to people. I guess I'm a pretty extreme person in that sense, but then again that might also be because I'm not used to communicating with any sort of large groups of people in the first place. I really haven't. I've been concentrating on the music and the career I haven't been interested to go out to parties or stuff like that. If I do now, it's weird to be myself, maybe.
DM) Before you said you were occasionally described as bitchy. What puts you in that mood?
MJ) Well, I don't notice it. For me, I never feel people really notice or give a $#!+ about what mood I'm in. I never feel like it affects people, but then Chris will say, "Watch the way you act. You give people the wrong impression. It makes me sad because I know you, but then you fall into some sort of mood." And I didn't even notice that I fell into that kind of mood. I'll just go into myself, and I don't even notice that I might be offending people by being quiet, or this or that, or by the tone of my voice when I say something. It's something that's so unconscious, it's hard to control. I definitely have been controlling it more and trying to go out to people and understand that they don't know me or give a $#!+. I've been really trying to figure that out. It's something that so unconscious, it's really hard to catch when I do it.
DM) Before you mentioned you're a Sagittarius. Are you really into astrology and that psychic stuff?
MJ) Certainly, I think astrology is as real as any other science. Certain predictions I believe in. I wouldn't read Cosmopolitan magazine and really take my horoscope seriously. It's fun to look at, but... I love going to meet people who are truly gifted and insightful. I met a guy last night who wanted to read my cards. Really cool. And the guy who read my palm was a 66-year-old man.
DM) Is there any other question you wish I asked you that I haven't yet?
MJ) I wish you could be successful without being famous.