Margaret Cho. Her name brings many things to mind: comedy, movies, television, author, reality star, political activist. Whatever the image, Margaret breaks all boundaries and stereotypes. In short, she has almost done it all, until now.
Margaret's final frontier is music. So, it should come as no surprise her latest effort is a 14-track (13 + a bonus) CD titled "Cho Dependent," adding singer, songwriter and guitar player to her resume.
Teaming with the likes of Fiona Apple and Ben Lee, amongst others, Margaret unleashes a mix of musical styles that contain a variety of subject matter and lyrics with a point of view that is completely, 100% bon-a-fide Cho.
Recently I caught up with Margaret in between takes of her Lifetime sitcom "Drop Dead Diva" to chat about her latest effort.
MS: Hi, Margaret. Enquiring minds want to know, what made you decide to combine music and comedy at this point in your career?
MC: Well, I have been doing music as a side project since 2003. I really dove into it as a dancer
and started incorporating more of it into my shows when I was taking ballet and doing burlesque.
But, I can't write music. I haven't gotten that far, so I went to the people I am lucky enough to
know to do this experiment with me and they agreed to participate. My goal was to do music that was
still comedy based, but sounded good. It's an advanced form of joke telling.
MS: I saw your first music video, "I'm Sorry," a song that you collaborated on with indie darling
MC: That song is actually inspired by a real-life murder.
MS: Wow, really?
MC: It's a terrible story. I was really in love with this guy who worked on my TV show, "All
American Girl". He didnít care about me and I was really broken hearted. For 17 years I was in love
with this guy and never thought to contact him, or find out where he was until I turned 40. Finally,
I looked him up on Wikipedia, and there he was. It listed him as working on "All American Girl" and
also listed how, in 2007, he was convicted of the murder of his wife. Yeah, he left her in the attic
for months until she had partially mummified.
MS: Oh, that's where the attic part of the song came from.
MC: Yeah, it was awful and I was so upset about it. It could have easily been me, too. It started
me thinking about domestic violence situations where the perpetrator never really takes the blame.
The situation really got me thinking about it, you know, like when Left-Eye burned her boyfriendís
house down and they got back together? The reality of it inspired me to write a country song that
spoke to my feelings about the subject. Domestic violence is the ultimate expression of selfishness.
The perpetrator never admits they were wrong. Humor is sometimes the only way to process these
really terrible things.
MS: I agree. I re-watched the video again just before I called you.
MC: I love the video. We shot it with a "Weekend at Bernie's" type theme. Liam Sullivan (the
YouTube sensation behind the "Shoes" video) directed it. I'm really excited that he will be
directing all of the music videos for my CD.
MS: You are doing a video for every song on the album, I hear. You could do a John Waterís "Pink
Flamingo's" type video for your song "Eat Shit and Die". (Laughs.)
MC: (Laughs.) We already have a video for it and it's really phenomenal. That one is coming out
soon after "I'm Sorry."
MS: Very cool. Your CD also answers a personal question for me. I was wondering what Fiona Apple
has been up to lately and now I know: working with you. How did you get her involved?
MC: She's great. I met her at one of the workshop shows you came to at Largo. She came and saw me
do the "Hey Big Dog" song with Ben Lee. She really loved it. She spoke of wanting to write a song
like that about her dog because her dog is so very afraid of the wind. We met at Largo and became
friends. I asked her to do the song and she loved the idea. It's a beautiful song. Our dogs were
very special to us and I love her voice and what she brought to it.
MS: Other than the obvious play on words, what does your album title, "Cho Dependent," mean?
MC: For me, it's a really fun title because a lot of the songs deal with a lot of different kinds
of addiction. For example, there's a song called "Intervention" with Tegan & Sara which is about
someone just being intervened, which I think is a horrible fate to have. I would never want to have
to have an intervention in my life. I feel the same about having a surprise party; it's the same
horrible consequence. (Laughs.) There are many different kinds of dependence on the CD so I felt the
title was really perfect.
MS: Let's talk about "Lice". Where did that song come from?
MC: Oh, head lice. I actually contracted it.
MS: Gross! How did that happen?
MC: Well, I was in Morocco. It sounds like a romantic city, but it's actually not. It's pretty
rough. I ended up staying there for a while and getting really bad bed bugs and really bad head
lice! Well, not so bad that I actually had to shave my head. (Laughs.) It was a Muslim country and
when I am in one I generally wear a head scarf. So I was wearing a head scarf with lice under it. It
was really itchy.
MS: I bet!
MC: Most of the writing of my songs I did with Ben Lee. He would send me the music and I would
write the lyrics for it. At that time he sent me a piece of music and I had head lice, so I wrote
the song about what I was feeling right now.
MS: That's funny, that's how I write, too. Whatever is happening at the time.
MC: You have to. That's how us writers have to work. Whatever is happening immediately, right
there, is the best way I think.
MS: Me, too. So, are you touring for the CD?
MC: Oh yes, I am going to start touring August 26th. The CD is out on the 24th and I start my
tour on the 26th, This is an exciting project for me. It's something I have always wanted to do.
It's always Cho Time at the edge of the stage.