What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.

I come from a family of musicians, so music has always been present in my life. I wanted to learn to play the drums when I was a kid but my parents has an extra tenor sax so I learned that instead. My first voice teacher was a jazz vocalist, Carmen Bradford – I would just bring in different standards to work on every week and she would never let me sing it the same way twice. I learned play and style and pocket from her. When I moved to NY for college I continued taking jazz voice with Carmen’s mother Melba Joyce who wouldn’t let me sing a song before I could first speak the words and basically make her cry. I learned the importance of understanding a song deep in your bones from her. I then worked with downtown NY theater icon Liz Swados for many years, performing and recording new and old works of hers. I learned ferocity, specificity and fearlessness from her. I first started writing music on a little keyboard that didn’t even have a keyboard stand – I would bring the keyboard with me to gigs and play with it on my lap. Eventually I discovered live looping and this was the perfect outlet for the instrument I knew how to play best, my voice.

Provide us with some info about your latest release…

“My Lovely Enemy” is kind of a break up album because it is a collection of songs about loss or lack or absence. But it is not a sad boohoo break up album – it is a look the loss in the face and make friends with it, celebrate it, question it, poke at it, ignite it and use it as kindling album. I wrote many of these songs during the reconstruction era after a break up and they contain the searching, yearning, and fervent meaning making I found myself chasing during that time. I remember I felt like a plant who’d outgrown her pot and needed to find a new place to root. Some of the old dirt still clung to me, some of it I wiped away and some of it continued to nourish so it made the journey with me. It’s a delicate, vital and vibrant time when a little plantheart wrenches itself from a comfortable world and for a time must be totally exposed and vulnerable, underbelly showing, raw but determined to survive. And then it finds new soil to explore, new rocks in its path to navigate around or under or through, new folly and new friends. These songs are a raucous wake for a love well lived and a celebration of the barriers pain breaks down that we might rebuild better and different.

Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?

In the world of music I admire Caroline Shaw, Merrill Garbus, St. Vincent, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor.
I try to read a Mary Oliver poem every morning and I’m loving taking my time reading “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer and “Hagitude” by Sharon Blackie.
I love sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra.
I’m fascinated by the life, work and art of 12th century mystic and polymath Hildegard von Bingen about whom I wrote a musical called “In The Green.”

In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?

I’ve taken to describing my music as avant-garde pop.

Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…

Albums: “Ram” by Paul McCartney; “Partita for 8 voices” by Roomful of Teeth; “Whokill” by Tune-Yards

Movies: “Moonstruck,” a perfect film; “A Day At the Races,” my favorite Marx Brothers movie; “Boogie Nights” because it has everything else in it.

Books: “Anna Karenina” because it’s so rich; “Moby Dick” because it’s like 50 different books; any collection of stories by Alice Munro.

Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?

I love performing live! It’s different every time because the audience is different and there’s a seduction that has to happen between us.

Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?

When I was performing at a music festival in Pakistan I was told before I went on stage that there might be some “cold fire” at the front of the stage. I had no idea what this meant but I nodded happily and took the stage with the band. In the middle of our first song, I found out that “cold fire”meant giant sprays of pyrotechnics shooting up a few feet away from me, spraying smoke and propane back at me making it difficult to breathe and certainly to sing. The pictures of me from this moment are pretty hilarious. I got through the song but turning my face to breathe upstage and then turning back to sing a phrase, turning back up to breathe, and then out to sing again. The set killed.

Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?

“My Lovely Enemy” is a unique track because it’s inspired by a devotional poem Hildegard von Bingen wrote for her favorite saint, St Ursula, about Ursula’s martyrdom. There’s a lot of joy and sensuality in this poem about someone dying for their devotion to the divine and I was intrigued by that, imagining a martyrdom as a kind of marriage ceremony.

Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?

We’re planning to release some more music videos this year and I’ve started working on recording some of the earliest songs I wrote, many years ago. I think it will end up being a kind of exorcism EP.

Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…

I’ll just let you know about some other things I have going on! I’m excited to be performing on Broadway in “Suffs,” a musical about the fight to get women the right to vote in the US. I’m doing a reading in June of a new musical I’m writing called “hag” about a woman turning into a wolf. And in July I’m performing a piece for which I co-wrote the book, “Penelope,” about Odysseus’s wife, at Joe’s Pub in NYC. I’m super grateful to have a plethora of opportunities to share the various things I’ve been working on recently!

Curated by: Christos Doukakis

 

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