used to sing songs to myself as a small child. I watched so many old
Disney movies and musicals that I thought you were supposed to burst
into song the moment you stepped onto the playground at school. I later
went through a painfully shy phase, but my parents enrolled me in piano
lessons when they observed I had a natural ability to play. I didn’t
think I would do it full-time though. I actually thought I would be a
journalist or a fashion designer or something. But I had to make a
decision in college about what to study the most, and I have always been
most passionate about music, so I figured I should learn as much as I
could about it.
2. What has been the inspiration for the new album O, You Sinners?
of the songs on the album are songs I have been- let’s say- incubating
for a really long time. Several of the songs are very old. I considered
them to be my finest from the first few years I was writing and finding
my voice, and I wanted to wait until I felt like it was time to release
them into the world. I wanted everyone to be ready for them. There are a
couple of songs I wrote when it got closer to time to record the album
last winter. All of the songs are about love- I’m a hopeless romantic.
3. How was the recording process different to the EP?
Recording this album was very different from recording my EP, Gild the Lily. For one, I recorded Gild the Lily
with my friend and frequent collaborator Robert DeLong on his laptop in
a haunted chapel. And it was done with almost no money. I made the EP
intentionally stark and simple- I wanted it to be all about my voice and
a sharply contrasting accompaniment, which the toy piano is perfect
for. My approach with the album was 180 degrees in the opposite
direction- I wanted everything to be bigger, more lush- I was an
arranging major at the university, and wanted to record the songs I’ve
written with string arrangements. Oh- and lots of "big girl" piano for
this one. And I pretty much spared no expense- fortunately, the album’s
Kickstarter campaign allowed for that to work out. I read Mark
Greenberg’s name in the liner notes of some of Andrew Bird’s work, and
approached him to record my full-length album, partially because I knew
he could handle strings. He happens to live in Chicago- one of my
favorite places- and I fell in the love with the idea of uprooting
myself and going to a freezing cold place to record devastatingly sad
songs. I talked to my band in Los Angeles about it, and I was able to
take them with me.
4. What inspires you when writing music?
Love, especially when something about it is broken.
5. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Rufus Wainwright! Or Siouxsie Sioux.
6. What have you learned from being self managed?
I love this
question! I have told a few friends about a recent shift in my thinking.
For years, I thought I would be happier if I had this or that- mostly,
people working for me, helping me out with my career. Like, a good
manager or a booking agent. Or to have this or that radio station
playing my songs. Part of my reason for wanting this was because I would
be able to focus better on what I’m supposed to be doing- just writing
and performing music. But I mostly wanted these things, because I
thought it would make my journey easier for me. But none of that stuff
matters- at all. I learned that if you make your goal creating work that
resonates with people, and you can establish a connection with those
people, you are set. Your fans will take care of you. I guess I mostly
learned this from doing two national tours last year and rarely needing
to get a hotel or buy my own meals, and it really hit home how blessed I
am when the Kickstarter campaign was so wildly successful.
7. What advice could you give to some who wants to give a career in music a shot?
shows everywhere you can- even on the street. And don’t buy into the
idea that you have to live in one of the major "music cities" to have
success (Los Angeles, New York or Nashville). I suffered in L.A. for a
long time, because everyone told me to stay here. The internet changed
everything years ago- you’re probably better off not living in an
over-saturated market. Also- everything happens on a timeline when it is
supposed to happen. You might really want to make a great music video right now, but you don’t know anyone to make it. Or you might want to quit your day job right now and tour all the time, but you don’t have fans anywhere outside of your home town. It will all happen in its time.
8. How has social networking helped you as an artist?
helped tremendously. I held out on getting a Facebook page for a long
time- I was clinging to the old way of life when I didn’t have one! But
people weren’t staying in touch with me because I wasn’t on there. Now,
it’s a hell of a lot easier to get people to come out to a show, because
they’re more aware of when I’m in town. My Kickstarter campaign surely
wouldn’t have been as successful if not for social networking.
9. Who have you enjoyed working with recently?
I haven’t written a
song in a while- that’s another matter entirely. Hmm- recently… I
rehearsed with a string quartet comprised of four of my favorite friends
in Los Angeles tonight. That was wonderful. 🙂
10. Where has been your favorite place to play?
I have a lot of
great venues on my route, but I have to say that every single time I
play at The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles is nothing short of magic.
11, Who would you most like to go on tour with?
I’ve had an
ongoing fantasy for about twelve years that Rufus Wainwright would take
me on tour with him and I would sing backup on every single song. Andrew
Bird would also be a sweet person to open for.
12. What is in on your stereo at the moment?
St Vincent’s Strange Mercy
13. What is next for yourself?
I start a mammoth 3 1/2 month
national tour in just a couple of days. Then I’m going to sleep all
summer, hopefully in a cabin in the forest somewhere. But you probably
mean musically- I’m going to the American South to work on new material
for a second album this fall, mostly in New Orleans.
14. If you could have any one in a video clip who would it be?
Definitely the guy from the Sassy Gay Friend videos.