Last updated: 09/04/2008 12:00:00 PM
Though originally from New York City, Poe spent her childhood years on-the-move - Europe, India, Africa, and points all across the U.S. - as her mother and Polish-born father traveled to wherever the work led them. Some locales proved inspiring, while others left her feeling alienated and alone - Provo, Utah among them: What can I say? It was a desert for me in more ways than one. The mountains were beautiful, but the Mormons took one look at my Sex Pistols T-shirt and decided I was satanic," she says with a laugh.
Through it all, however, was her brother's presence in her life. Continually uprooted, always changing schools, they found stability in each other. "We were best friends," says Poe. "We hung on to each other for dear life. The only real connection we could maintain was between the two of us. We supported each other while simultaneously challenging each other. Or as Mark has said, we would 'constantly raise the bar'. Basically we took our natural sibling rivalry and made it work for us."
We nurtured each other's dreams and kept them alive for each other--which is why this year is so exciting.
When, at age 16, Poe's parents divorced, she packed up and headed for New York City - where she helped make ends meet by selling counterfeit subway tokens. All the while, she worked to come to terms with the dramatic turn her life had taken.
"I suddenly had an identity complex," says Poe. "I had what I thought were normal parents for a while: they took me to school; fed me; and put me to bed. Then, all of a sudden, everything changed and I was on my own. I became very unsure of who I was and who the people were that I had been living with all my life. To take an image from my brother's book, it was as though there had been rooms in our house that I had never been in; rooms in which things had taken place that would affect the rest of my life dramatically. I just didn't know, at that time, where those rooms were or what had happened there."
As an emancipated teenager, she earned a full scholarship to Princeton University.
"I had been living on my own since I was 16, and then all of the sudden I was at this country club," Poe explains. "There was a full music studio that I could use, there were theaters to rehearse in, there were video editing facilities, and there were plenty of musicians who could come to a rehearsal without worrying whether or not they would make enough money to keep eating. I remember watching these kids who would walk around complaining about how much they hated it there, and I was like, 'What, are you crazy?' This place is heaven.'" Needless to say, it didn't take long for her to seize control of their production facilities and rehearsal spaces.
Poe had started writing songs at the age of eight, later stumbling upon the wonders of the four-track recorder. At Princeton, while honing her production skills, she put together a group that was part rock band, part spoken word performance art. However, it was after college, writing and recording on her own, that she truly thrived.
The results of that period led to her 1995 Modern/Atlantic debut album, "HELLO." Executive produced by Dave Jerden, the album was produced by Jerden with RJ Rice and Poe, along with a studio team that included Matt Sorum of Cult and Guns N' Roses fame.
The album drew a dedicated fanbase, in part, due to the top 10 success of the alternative hit, "Angry Johnny," along with the driving "Trigger Happy Jack" and the cool groove-oriented title track. One of Atlantic's first artists to truly embrace the Internet, Poe launched her own site with the help of fans that same year, The Angry Psychos, at Poe.org.
In January of 1996, Poe and her band hit the road, opening tours for Lenny Kravitz and Seven Mary Three with scarcely a week off through most of the year. Along with her set at the Midem music conference in Cannes, France, she made her network television debut that fall with a performance on Late Night With Conan O'Brien, soon after which she launched her first-ever headlining tour, traveling across North America with support from the Eels. Before 1996 turned its last calendar page, "HELLO" scored an RIAA gold certification as Poe found herself listed in the top 10 of the Rolling Stone Readers Poll.
In the summer of 1997, Poe hit #1 on the Billboard "Hot Dance Music/Club Play" chart with the remix release of "Hello," and in the fall her Matt Sorum produced recording of "Rose Is A Rose" appeared on the multi-artist "LOUNGE-A-PALOOZA" collection. In 1998, Poe contributed her song, "Today," to the Atlantic soundtrack to the motion picture Great Expectations, appeared on Fastball's "ALL THE PAIN MONEY CAN BUY" singing a duet Miles Zuniga, and released "Rise and Shine," her self-produced AIDS benefit single featuring vocal contributions from Gwen Stefani. In addition, her "Strange Wind (Part 2)" track was featured on last November's Atlantic soundtrack to Anywhere But Here. Working with Danny Elfman, she also provided a vocal track that was woven throughout the film's score. Meanwhile, Poe had begun shaping what would eventually become "HAUNTED" - which, as she says, is "the album I've wanted to make for as long as I can remember. Finally, I had the resources I needed and the freedom to focus on nothing
else but the task at hand."