"Traveling well is a form of magic. Bring something to give, and be open to receiving."

Diane Cluck

seeped into my world almost a decade ago, when her queer 'Oh Vanille' CD started showing up in all my friends' university bedrooms, mountain-side yurts, and car glove compartments. Very quickly I knew her poetry as my own, hummed her melodies, and began dissecting those witchy lyrics fanatically. What magic she had unearthed, to create something so delicate, awkward, poetic, and addictive. 

It was like discovering a light illuminating the complexity of woman - the intricate need to lean on others, while standing alone in one's art; appreciating the maddening, cerebral human mind, as well as the vulnerable, sexual body. To me, her music will always evoke the duality of vast, harsh desert rattle-snake nature, and the smallness of standing in front of somebody you love and letting them unveil a fragment of deep, confused truth.

I've heard Diane's songs covered by numerous folk musicians, have joined in circles of strangers yelling 'Easy to be Around' and to this day spend hours of driving-time harmonising to my forever favourite, 'The Turnaround Road'.

During Anima Rising's most recent tour of the USA, we caught Diane playing a show at her friend's house in Ithaca, NY. Donation only, fridge full of beer, and a table of apples and popcorn to share around. A baby being rocked to sleep through the doorway of a bedroom. Her tiny, lovely, mesmerising spirit weaving through the living room with raven mane and red trousers. When she unveiled that enchantress's voice, we all fell silent at her feet. 'It's an instrument,' Harper whispered from the floor next to me.

Our road trip unfolded with the new album 'Boneset' soundtracking hundreds of miles of American road. She sang us from New York to Louisiana. Below are some of her thoughts on being a revered wild woman of poetry.

You've created a bohemian life for yourself. Drawings, music, pickling jars, farmyards, herbs, animals... It's all more of what we want to see happening in the world. What attracted you to living this witchy way? 

It's who I am. When I was a child I used to sweep out the forsythia cave every spring with crude brooms made from sticks. My sisters and I made charms from mud and stones, onion grass, and maple leaves, to keep the werewolves away. As I grew up and entered the mainstream I forgot some of this - at times most of this. I'm now on the track of remembering it all, reclaiming, going further than where I started from.

What rattled you to start writing your own music?

Rattled is a good word for it. I was working too much, paying off student loans. My spirit started to wake up. I was called to return to playing piano, but this time in a new way. I began improvising and putting poetry into songs. It was a natural and healing thing to do. 

Songwriting is such a powerful way of sharing information. I love to dance, to draw, to cook - but all of these things are limited in their scope of how one can share them. When one writes a song, it can be given and given and given again, shared indefinitely. Songs float on the air!

"When one writes a song, it can be given and given and given again."

What happens to you when you travel? Do you open with it, does it become a chore, does it help your art, does the wanderlust ever stop?

Traveling well is practicing a form of magic. It's important to bring something to give, and to be open to receiving. Travelers are like birds, distributing seeds. Birds do that through their poop; musicians do that through music. Music is a powerful form of trade, but just listening or reflecting have a lot of value, too. People being visited like to be seen.

Travel does help my art, but I don't really have wanderlust. I like cultivating home. I feel honored to do the work of traveling and sharing music. It used to wear me out and make me sick, but I've learned about my limits and boundaries, and how to protect myself - how to travel safely.

Who are your influences, in music, life, and art? 

Let's see...three women who spring to mind are Jane Siberry, Leonor Fini, and Susun Weed. It would take me awhile to relate how important these women's examples have been, so I'll give a brief description and you can look them up from there! Jane Siberry is a heartful and adventurous musician, artist, and businesswoman; Leonor Fini was a mystic painter of the deep dark feminine soul; and Susun Weed is a bold, trailblazing herbalist living in upstate NY. Incredible, wild women.

With regards to music, I'm mostly writing right now, not listening to recordings. 'New Cologne' by Stanley Brinks & Freschard is great. I like Lucinda Williams' new album 'Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone' - I just recently heard it live. She is getting to that place in life where there's nothing extra in her art. It's awesome.

                                                   Leonor Fini -   Sous un ciel brouillé


                                                Leonor Fini - Sous un ciel brouillé

What is it about being a human on planet earth that is especially interesting to you?

Relating sensitively. When we approach each other with curiosity, and the desire for understanding, we can learn so much, accomplish so much.

Do you feel that spirituality plays a role in your life?

Oh yes! I was raised Catholic and so, for a while, funneled all of my spiritual feelings through that religion. I had some very spiritual, Catholic experiences, connecting with Jesus, the Marys, John the Baptist... It got confusing for me as a teenager, however, when my sexual desires entered the picture and there was no place for them. I rejected religion and started on my own path of connecting with spirit. I enjoy finding and feeling spirit everywhere, though certainly in some situations there's more translating going on.

Do you believe in collective consciousness, and inter-connectedness?

Maybe multi-collectives, layers of collectives, functioning within themselves and inter-connected as a whole. I feel something of both purposefulness and randomness in experience and existence.

"Listen to your body, learn its language."

Does inspiration come from a higher place?

Higher is one way of looking at it, but I'm a little suspect of the connotation. It's all right here. It's veils to lift. It's about making space.

How do you feel about us thinking you are a powerful wild woman?

Well, thank you. I'm doing what I can to stay open and connected.

What advice could you give me, as someone trying to live with her heart open - trying to embrace being human and alive while I can - on the days I think I should just pack it all in and get a job in Walmart? (Sometimes it seems like it would be easier.)

Get into the body. Your body would probably not even let you get a job at Walmart - it would walk you right back out the door! Listen to your body, learn its language, embrace its expressions and changes. They are the best guide.

Our soul sister Suze, who knows the lyrics to all and every Diane song.