Tragedy is your first release on vinyl, to which is seems quite naturally suited. Is the medium on which your music is delivered important to you? Do you buy vinyl yourself for instance? I don’t own a turntable, but I used to, and I’m gearing up to get one this weekend, perhaps. Not just because my Maria/2HB 7″ and Tragedy are out now, but also I have found myself blessed with a tiny collection of really great vinyls via the artists themselves or the lovely labels that put out their music, or whatever, and so I really need to go pick one up ASAP. (Also I think I might use one in the class I teach next week)
In general, I love the sound of vinyl, it is warm and it has scratches sometimes. But I have to admit, though, if I cared tremendously about music formats or were more of a music collector, I would have already bought a turntable by now….
Are there elements of your music that you try to accentuate or develop when you’re playing live? My live performances are really different from my recordings because I’m not interested in recreating them with playback, although I am not against playback and who knows, I might use that in the future, I never limit myself to one way of doing things. So usually I just plan a set of songs differently for every performance – recently really stripped of technology – so that basically I’m just playing piano and singing. This means that my live shows can be really different from my recordings, because my recordings tend to be heavily saturated with sounds and different varying timbres and occasionally a beat, whereas my shows are just piano and voice! But what I really want to do is bring in more musicians to the live scene… I’ve done this a few times and it’s always fantastic to have another creative voice on stage with me, way more interesting than a loop pedal!
There seems to be as many videos of your songs available online as actual songs, is the visual aspect of your work important to you? Yes, but most of those visuals are the brilliance of people besides me (Jesselisa Moretti, Jana Papenbroock, Eric Fensler, Yelena Zhelezov, Jose Wolff, Heidi Petty), and so I would say visuals might be important to me but I am rarely responsible for them (with the exception of a video lip-syncing project I did with my translations)… I think the songs to video ratio is mainly just because I haven’t had a lot of my songs released to the public yet! I have written a lot of songs, you’ve only heard half of them but they’re coming!
Obviously a lot of great musicians have attended art school over the years but what do you think of that environment as a place to develop creatively or critically? I think it varies from person to person. For me, it was a mixed bag. I would say it is not a place for a very intuitive and creative person to make their best work, but that it is still a good place to learn how to analyze one’s own work as well as others’. And that is very important. For me, it was all about meeting other people and having time to read and listen! TIME TO THINK is really the best reason people go back to school.
You seem to have spent your whole life in LA pretty much, is the city important to you? How would you describe your relationship to it at this point in your life? Yes I love LA. I don’t know how the hell I could ever leave but I keep telling myself I need to just force myself out for awhile. But I still don’t know why I should.
It’s a mysterious place. You never know all of what is happening. There is no one scene. There is different architecture everywhere, different landscapes, geographies, languages, everything is constantly shifting and it never gets boring. Yes it tends to be sunny all the time, and that may be hard times in the harsh cement of Hollywood and Downtown LA, but go to the beach and it will get foggy. Drive a mile from the PCH into Topanga Canyon and find forest. I even find foresty terrain in Elysian Park a few blocks from my house in Echo Park. And all of these things work nicely together but can seem totally hidden when you’re absorbed in one environment at one moment in time. Likewise, there is intense variety in the busy little cells of activity in L.A. I am always meeting new people that do things I can really connect with, but would never have dreamed of (and other times I will find people who make work I may not particularly like or care about, but we will both be musicians who live in the same building or something and it will just go to show how slyly secretive everything is in LA). There are always new writers, artists, and also, in particular, the youth I work with in the L.A. schools. Those kids inspire me and they are making stuff that will have an effect on the creative climate soon. It is not a small world here.