Who’s in Haunted?
Haunted actually is not a band. It’s the banner under which I, Emily Roll, do performance art. Haunted is usually me solo, but sometimes I will work with one other person or collaborate with musicians or other actors.
When and how did you become a performance artist?
I decided to start doing performance art after I took a Creativity Workshop in my undergraduate that was based on acting on impulse, mindfulness and focus in order to be a great actor and/or creative person. The idea was that if you broke down your walls of control, acted completely impulsively, without words, and focused intently on your fellow performers you would become the greatest actor of all time. . Being completely in the center of the room during class and letting go physically and mentally became the most normal thing one could do.
Creativity Workshop changed the entire way I lived my life in almost every way possible. It was nothing like I had ever experienced. I never knew what it was like to not have the initial thought to second guess your initial impulse or reaction to anything. When that goes away, everything changes and my life became instantly different. It was like there was a person in there that I never knew had the right to exist
When I moved from New York back to Michigan in 2011 I started acting in plays at first but then wanted to do more of my own thing with my own writing. I participated in a collaborative showcase through Creative Rights called Origins & Endings which included visual artists and performers blindly collaborating. It served as a gateway to people performing (mostly music) in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ypsi scenes and I have been doing shows ever since.
How did you decide on the name?
When I went to Sarah Lawrence College there was a clinical therapy student who wanted to have me over for dinner a lot. We always had a super friendly repo ire I thought, but we weren’t exactly friends. One day someone told me they ran into her and told her that I was such a happy friendly and happy person. She replied with, “I don’t know, Emily seems very haunted to me.”
Tell us about your first performance.
The very first Haunted show was well before I came up with the name. It happened at the end of Creativity Workshop because I was such a quiet student during the class, according to myself. So, I pushed to write a “poem” and perform at the end-of-term showcase. It was called “When I was a Kid,” where I played myself talking to imaginary friend Leisl from the sound of music.
Can you describe your work?
Haunted is performance art realized in combinations of written, vocal, physical or verbal forms, explore the daily life of the literal and mental body in all of its forms, wishes, anxieties and possibilities with an intention to increase an individual’s sense of focus and exert the personal, internal experience. If you would like some examples I can send anyone videos! One of my pieces consisted of when I said all of my new year’s resolutions and then said them really fast while exercising, then I ate a piece of celery.
What bands (or other things) are your influences/inspiration?
Edwin Sherin, Brian Carbine, Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Sky Ferreira, Allie Scully, Fred Thomas, Natalie Roll. All of these people are incredibly important and influential to me.
Gear talk: instruments/pedals/amps
Saxophone, microphone, boombox, tapes, my voice, I’ve used some noise equipment before and probably will keep experimenting with that.
Who are your favorite Detroit/A2/Michigan bands?
I like Aaliyah, Andrew WK, Fred Thomas anything, Scissor Now!, Outrageous Cherry, all Motown, Iggy Pop, The Marvelettes, Alice Cooper, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Eminem and probably more. Michigan can seem big and small at different times.
What has been the biggest challenge of being a performer in Michigan?
Being a woman doing performance art can be challenging in itself, especially when there is not a huge community for it yet. I love it once I’m onstage and gain so much power and freedom from it. However sometimes I feel that people have trouble putting me in any other category than “band” or “music” when that isn’t what I do at all. I’ve gotten more used to “what band are you in?” “What do you play?” than I am comfortable with.
What do you want everyone to know about your art?
My pieces are always personal but I am not always playing myself in them.
Any other comments?
I’ve been thinking about the concept of Kindness right now more than anything else. Being kind is the most important thing you can do. That’s where it all starts I think. Political views are important but without kindness they are completely useless. I would like to work on practicing kindness more and would love for everyone else to also.