I always loved singing, and was always really drawn to pop music from the time I could reach the arm of my mom's record player. I didn't really think it was an actual career option until I was already halfway through the Studio Composition program at SUNY Purchase.
Your sophomore disc came out last year, how do you feel it was different from your debut, “Batten the Hatches?”
Well, the writing is very different, at least to me. I wrote a lot of the songs with a band in mind. The records in heavy rotation in my stereo were very different between the Batten and TF. I wanted to make a record that would be more fun and lively to perform.
Are you working on a follow up now?
I am writing for a follow up.
You moved into the home of your producer and friend, Dan Romer to record “Transmitter Failure,” what was that experience like? Was it difficult working together while being around each other all the time, all day?
Dan has been one of my closest friends for a long time - he's a brother to me. Living with him was extremely convenient and fairly domestic. We spent a good amount of time cooking meals together and that sort of thing, in addition to all the writing and tracking. I could probably be around Dan constantly, like forever, and not have a hard time with it. The only flare-ups we had related directly to the work - mostly having to do with stressing out about deadlines.
You also worked with Justin Pierre from Motion City Soundtrack for “Transmitter Failure.” How did that come about? What was that experience like? Where you a fan of his work before?
Justin and I had the same publishing rep (the fabulous Sara Kapuchinski) at Chrysalis when I signed with them. She sort of planted the seed - gave us each the other's music, suggested we try writing together some time. I immediately fell in love with MCS and Justin has took a liking to me/my music as well. We hung out a few times when we toured through each other's cities, and when I hit a patch of writer's block, Sara suggested I send a song to Justin. He came up with a part I loved and I wrote some lyrics for it and that became the chorus of "Secrets." Ta da!!
You and Dan have a special bond of friendship that came out of SUNY Purchase. The time you spent there so many amazing musicians came out of that school, acts like Dan Deacon, Dan Romer and his band Fire Flies (RIP), Bess Rogers, Adam Christgau and many others. All of these artists and others all still work together and use each other in a professional manner. Let’s face it, when you get picked up by a label, they generally want you working with “their” people and not yours, yet you all have managed to do it your way. How is this still happening? How did it happen?
Hmmmmmm. I've never had any unreasonable requests about who to play with or with whom I should record from label, publisher, management or anyone else really. Everyone has an opinion of course, and I've happily heard them out in the past - part of building a good team is finding people whose opinions you actually WANT to hear, because no man is an island and all that. But I've been pretty lucky so far in being able to work with people who respect my vision, even if they don't necessarily agree with it.
I found this quote about you from NPR to be right on the money “A truly unconventional singer-songwriter, she put on an electrifying performance, which evoked everything from '80s pop to a few Ennio Morricone-style Spaghetti Western guitar licks. This woman is definitely going places.” How do you respond to this?
Hey now, that's what I call a compliment. I respond mostly "Thank you, NPR."
You are a serious songwriter that really doesn’t take yourself serious, which is fun. Hence why you covered Nelly’s “Hot in Here,” how did that cover cross your mind to do? What was it for?
Well back then, I was covering a lot of top 40 pop, mostly Britney Spears songs and the like. I was putting out a split 10" vinyl in the UK with Dave House, and I needed a second track. The band and I had just worked out the "Hot in Herre" cover as an addition to my pop songs repertoire so we figured why not just track it. I picked the song because I genuinely love Nelly's version - it's fun, sexy, grooves just right, and has that delicious nod to Chuck Brown.
Burning Question: What the fuck where you thinking?
I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you.
Video for "Fuck was I" (Above) / Video for "Last Person" (Below)
Special thanks to Jenny for the interview!