Michal Palmer (Bilinda Butchers)
SPB: Was there a historical or real-life inspiration behind the concept for Heaven?
Palmer: Yes, both. The album's concept was inspired by various works of Lafcadio Hearn as well as some travel diaries written between the 15th and 20th Century in Japan, researched and written about by Donald Keene. I became very interested in one story in particular called "The Lovers' Suicide" in which two young lovers who are unable to be together decide to commit suicide in order to be together in the afterlife.
The idea of such a grand commitment to love fascinates me. And although I think it is extreme, it reminds me how precious the love you share with your friends, family, or a partner is: a feeling that that can give you faith, meaning and purpose to your life; something to live and die by, similar to religion.
I created this idea and story for my girlfriend with the intent to illustrate the intensity of my feelings. Heaven continues to remind me of how lucky I am to love and be loved.
My friend Michelle Yoon and myself pieced together several elements of various women from these tales and diaries to create the story of Ume Nakajima, the woman who drowned herself to be with her lover in the afterlife from which our album is based off. She is loyal and caring, someone I can always depend on. Occasionally I think of what would happen if something bad happened to one of us and how devastating it would be to not be able to see each other. I created the concept of Heaven to help illustrate the complexity and gravity of my feelings for her.