When Emilie Autumn rolls into town tomorrow it is probably prudent to expect the unexpected.
Drawing heavily on a well documented stay inside an American mental institution, there is a frightening depth to her gothic-tinged classical rock music featuring harrowing lyrics written from the heart.
And yet the many shades of Autumn include an addiction to baking – she hands out homemade cakes to fans before, during and after shows – and a fondness for walking backwards.
“I often meet up with fans and friends in an unfamiliar city and we set off from a certain point and see where we can go walking backwards,” she explains.
“You get a totally different perspective on life.”
You feel Ms Autumn is constantly seeking that different perspective on what has, hitherto, been an exceptionally troubled life. 2010’s The Asylum Tour draws on personal experience and uses a backdrop of burlesque Victorian imagery to explore the taboo subjects of mental illness, suicidal tendencies, rape and oppression.
“Once you’ve been inside one of those places you never really get out,” she adds. “Once you’ve been locked up to that degree there really is no escape. I have my cell number tattooed on my arm to remind me that I will never be free.
“In order for me to not to keep trying to erase myself from this planet, and that’s why I ended up in there in the first place, I have decided to focus on revenge.
“If I’m going to survive for any length of time then I’m going to get the best revenge possible. And I achieve that through my music and my writing and by bringing these serious issues to the fore.
“All of what I do now is part of a big and beautiful plan to take back the asylum. I want to make the asylum what it was always meant to be – a place which was supposed to be a sanctuary. That’s what my show is. It’s a sanctuary both for me and my fans.”
Emilie published her debut autobiographical novel, The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls, to critical acclaim last year and The Asylum Tour is the audio-visual companion to a revealing and often disturbing tome.
“I don’t favour one art form over another,” adds an individual who designs all of her own costumes and stage sets in between baking and walking backwards.
“Everything is linked to everything else and the double album Opheliac is just another way of spreading the message. It’s a lot to digest but I’m dealing with some pretty heavy stuff here.”
Tomorrow’s Newcastle show is expected to clock in at just less than three hours but of course there will be the cakes. “I’m writing a Victorian recipe book right now,” adds Emilie. “And my favourite thing right now is the green tea muffin. Delicious.”
• Emilie Autumn’s Asylum Tour hits Newcastle’s o2 Academy tomorrow night [Sunday]. The deluxe edition of Opheliac is out now.