Interview: Bing Satellites

Guest Post By: Brendan

Editor’s Note: I was skeptical about the so-called “ambient” genre, but was very impressed when Brendan played me the instrumental music of Bing Satellites. It’s beautiful, unusual and cinematic.

In my quest for new music in recent weeks, I have been trawling Noisetrade and Bandcamp for free Electronica albums. I waded through a lot of bad material before stumbling upon the ambient sounds of Bing Satellites, but the quest was worth it. There is something about this guy’s music with which I connect deeply.

My first experience with his music was the Mostly Ambient Radio Sessions from October 17th. Like most of the music of Bing Satellites, it’s a flowing soundscape of guitar, synth, nature sounds and much more.

The man behind the name is Brin, who also records under other monikers, most notably The Ambient Visitor, and The Lovely Moon. You can read more about him here.

The wealth of music available is somewhat daunting – I have removed a lot of favorites from my ipod to make room for more than 48 hours of material created by Brin. If, like me, you feel compelled to download a lot of his music, the easiest way to do so is to click on the album covers on this page. I was so excited about immersing myself in his ambient music that I decided to attempt my first Muruch interview!

Q. How did you get started making music?

At school, aged maybe 13, I was encouraged by my music teacher to try various instruments. He wanted a oboe or clarinet player for the orchestra but I really wanted to play AC/DC songs so took up the bass, drums and eventually electric guitar. I got my first electric guitar through my school. It is the one I still use today, 28 years later!

Q. You describe your studio setup on the ‘about’ page, but are there a few instruments/devices you would use more than others?

I tend to go through phases. At the moment, I am using the aforementioned guitar through a load of pedals – mainly chorus, delay and reverb. The main thing though is Reason – a really great piece of software. It is easy to manipulate and create new sounds with Reason. Most synth or piano sounds in my music are from that.

Q. Who/what are your influences (besides Brian Eno)?

Thomas Fehlmann, Ulrich Schnauss and Harold Budd. When I first heard the music of each of these people it was a revelation. They each do something that no one else comes close too – and many have tried! I think though, there is common ground between what they all do – there is beauty and space in their music.

Q. Is this a hobby for you or do you make a living off it? If not, do you envision a path to that point?

I’m not sure hobby covers it. An obsession maybe. I do it because I love it and because I have to – I think my head would explode if I didn’t. It is a totally personal thing but one that, luckily for me, other people enjoy too. The fact there is any money in this still amazes me. Who knows what the future holds but it seems pretty positive at the moment.

Q. What are the challenges and benefits to being an independent music producer?

Well, I’m independent in many ways – I release most of music myself or on my netlabel BFW recordings. It does mean that I do almost everything myself but also that I have no boundaries, either to what sort of music I release or how much I can put out.

Q. Do you like ambient music more than other forms of music, and why? What would you say to encourage an audience unfamiliar with the style to give it a try?

Not at all. I listen to all kinds of things (from, as they say, ABBA to Zappa) but ambient music is what I naturally create. Ambient nowadays is a coverall term for a wide range of music, and not all good. I’m drawn to music that is honest and beautiful. For that, Harold Budd is a good place to start, especially any of his collaborations with Robin Guthrie.

Q. Are there other artists you recommend?

SineRider is a genius. A young guy from the US who makes lots of music of varying genres from ambient to IDM to post rock, but whatever the style, he ends up creating something wonderful. And what’s more you can pay what you like to download much of his music. Please do check it out at Bandcamp.

Q. You release a mind-blowing amount of material – how much time goes into a particular project before it’s released?

Much of my music is improvised and recorded live. My studio set up makes this very easy. I have a bank of sounds I can use from synths, computer, guitar and other instruments. All I need to do is switch on and press record. Some of my music (especially performing as The Lovely Moon or The Ambient Visitor) is generative or system based – the music is created mathematically – so these can happen very quickly or take a lot of time. For example, I have been working on the next The Lovely Moon album for a year and it is still not finished but my album Landscape & Drift was recorded in one week. Once I start something, I tend to keep going until I’m finished. I work very quickly too – quite frenzied considering how calm the music often is.

Q. I love your use of nature sounds – can you disclose the source for the samples you use?

They come from all over the place. Some are recordings I have made, others are from various sources online. I use very long echoes and lots of wide reverb which can make these sounds much richer.

Q. Do you have any thoughts about sampling licensed material?

As I see it, nothing is really original in music. What we play is our take on what we have already heard. I see no problem in sampling a piece of music and making something new out of it, as long as it is actually something new. Be inspired, don’t just copy.

Q. How do collaborations work – is there a web service you use to work on something simultaneously or do you each record pieces and then splice them together?

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some very talented musicians in person or online through my music, so finding people to collaborate with isn’t difficult. Sometimes, one person starts a song and sends it to the other to finish. It can create results that neither party expected. It also means you can work with someone on the other side of the world. There are a few ongoing collaborations I am involved with that should produce some interesting results over the next few months.

Q. Considering the wealth of material you have generously made available for no cost, which album would you like us to feature on this post?

I have two suggestions.

The first is actually my first CD release, Visions & Memories.

The second is Soothing Images 1-15, which is a free/name-your-price
download. It is an album of mainly quite improvised piano songs. Each song is accompanied by a suitable photograph. Some of the music on this album is featured in the new coming of age horror movie Found.

Big Satellites Official Site

Forever from bing satellites on Vimeo.

Interview: Allison Crowe

Allison Crowe was kind enough to spare some time from her busy tour schedule to answer some questions regarding her career, interests, and her latest release Little Light. You can read my review of the CD here and the email interview with Allison is below.

Photo By Billie Woods

What is the first song you remember singing?

The first song that I can remember singing was either Fading Like a Flower by Roxette, or, A Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid.Both of these would have been to myself, or in my parents’ car.

Tell us about your new album, Little Light. Any specific song inspirations or other back stories that you’d like to share (from this CD or any previous release)? In particular, what fueled the lyrics of “Disease”?

Disease was fueled by my own experience with eating disorders and feeling the pressure to be “perfect” in some sort of bizarre societal standard. The song used to sound a lot different, too! The way I play it now was fuelled by some irritation at one of the shows I did a few tours ago, and it really worked out, so that’s how you hear it today! hehe

Was there a particular direction or style you were aiming for with this album and if so, do you feel that you achieved it?

I dont think there was a particular style or anything for this album in mind that I was shooting for before I got going with it, but in the end, it made a nice mix of new songs, slightly older songs, and live tracks along with the rest of the album. I knew that I wanted to put a collection of songs together and was trying to think of how to do that when I realized that the songs were already there! :o)

What is the songwriting process like for you? Do the lyrics and music come to your separately or as a whole? Do you tool with songs over time or feel you shouldn’t mess with your initial inspiration?

The songwriting process for me is ever-changing. Sometimes I have words that I want to put to music, sometimes I have melodies that I want to add words to, sometimes I have a bit of both that I put together and then change accordingly, or not. And sometimes I write something and come back to it much later to finish. I guess it just goes differently each time! There’s no constant element apart from inspiration -whenever it comes.

Are your songs mostly fictional or autobiographical?

I’d say they’re mostly autobiographical, a bit non-fiction, and occasionally a bit of fiction, and maybe a bit of documentary 🙂 hehe

What is your favourite song that you have written?

Hmmm… hard to say. I dont really think of my own songs in those terms! 🙂 Lately I am enjoying playing a song called “Happy People”. “Disease” is a lot of fun to play for the piano part, for sure.. My song choice is another thing that is ever-changing it seems!

Who were your musical inspirations, and how have their influenced you as a singer and musician?

Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos, all sorts of Jazz including Chet Baker and Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, my family (extended and immediate), Beethoven, my teachers, more recently Edith Piaf… they’ve each influenced and inspired me in some way 🙂

You are probably best known for your cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Have you received feedback from any of the artists whose songs you’ve covered?

I haven’t had direct artist feedback so far on any of the covers, but that would definitely be cool! Matt Good’s Mom I believe liked my cover of Running For Home.. let me double check that one with Adrian!

From Allison’s manager, Adrian: “Matthew Good’s Mom had some very kind words of appreciation: ‘What a beautiful voice..Allison brings a refreshing interpretation of one of my favorite songs, made my heart ache.’ And, there has been word from folks who work with the artists being covered. We did hear from Leonard Cohen’s manager – when Allison first released her Tidings recording. Alley’s cover had found its way back to Leonard Cohen’s circle via a Finnish based website that is really the best resource online for all things LC. It was really wonderful and inspiring at the time, as his “people” stepped in to make it possible for Allison to perform “Hallelujah” live for a tv special – that, actually, begat the Tidings DVD. (Now, sadly, since those days, we’ve learned of mismanagement and malfeasance in that same camp – which has resulted in losses to Mr. Cohen in the millions of dollars.) The Canadian agent/booker for Pearl Jam has also let his feelings be known to Allison about how he hears her and EV as coming from the same place. Such words are deeply appreciated. Counting Crows management at one point also let me know they dig Allison’s covers – but, no Adam Duritz or other artist direct email yet…”

(back to Allison…)

What song would you love to cover that you haven’t already?

There are so many songs it’s hard to pick just one! There’s a really cool new song by Counting Crows called le Ballet d’or… Milord by Edith Piaf!

What is your favorite song of all time?

I can’t really pick one song, there are so many for so many different reasons!, but one of my favourite albums at this moment (and maybe because I saw his solo concert, too, recently) is the Into the Wild soundtrack by Eddie Vedder.

From Allison’s manager: “There’s also some songs Allison has identified in the past as being favourites in specific genres or sounds/styles – in the classic rock vein, she tapped “The Ocean” by Led Zeppelin, “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Piece of My Heart”, Janis Joplin, “The Weight” by The Band, and “All Along the Watchtower” – the Jimi Hendrix version. When it comes to jazz, she’s no narrower than picking albums – topped by “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” by Aretha Franklin, several albums by Chet Baker, and others that include Nina Simone’s take on “My Baby Just Cares for Me” and Gabrielle Goodman’s “In Love in Vain”.”

(back to Allison…)

When performing in front of an audience, do you feel more comfortable performing covers or your own songs?

I think this depends on the audience… sometimes people prefer covers, sometimes originals, sometimes both! Personally I like to perform ANYTHING.

You successfully tackled Aretha’s “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” on This Little Bird. Any chance you’ll delve into more soul, blues and R&B music in the future? What other styles or genres would you like to explore?

I would definitely love to do some more soul or blues! Maybe a bit of jazz in the future, too. Last night, in Vienna, I sang God Bless the Child with a jazz band. I really love bluegrass but have never tried it.

What current singers and bands do you like, and who would you like to collaborate or duet with?

Eddie Vedder, Glen Hansard, Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco (some repeats here!), Ray Lamontagne, Ryan Adams, the Scissor Sisters, Counting Crows… the list goes on, and is pretty random! I’d love to duet with Eddie Vedder. He’s about to be in the next question.

Who performed at the first concert you attended, and what was your best concert experience?

My FIRST first concert I believe was Ray Charles in Nanaimo, B.C. at the Civic Arena and my favourite concert so far was sitting up front at Eddie Vedder’s solo show (the tour launch in Vancouver last month). Have I mentioned Eddie Vedder? hehe

What is your favourite book? Film? Television show? Work of art? Website?

I love the Avalon series of books by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I love movies based on comic books, one of my favourite recent-ish movies though was the Painted Veil. I love ALL the Lord of the Rings movies and have watched them in regular and extended versions too many times. My favourite tv shows are 24 and CSI (the original CSI!). I love the print/lithograph Tourneé du Chat Noir. My favourite website changes pretty regularly! MySpace is fun, of course!

The plethora of mp3s available for download on your own site seems to indicate that you are a supporter of file sharing. Do you think artists and/or labels should have a say in where their songs are posted online, or do you think all music should be public domain?

I think artists should have a say in EVERYTHING that they do, personally. If they want their songs online as MP3s, I say they should be allowed to have them up, and if they don’t, then vice versa. I support my own being out there for sure, because it helps get the music into the world!

After so many years of releasing music through your own independent label, would you consider signing with a major label now if you were offered a recording contract?

I’ve had a few different offers and experiences, and independent is the way I choose to go because of the freedom it offers in so many ways. It’s a lot of hard work but at the end of the day, what I choose to do is what I choose to do. If some sort of opportunity that made a perfect fit for what I wanted to do came along with another label then that would be one thing, but until or unless that time comes, I remain as I am! :o)

Do you have any plans to sign other artists to Rubenesque Records?

Not as of yet! :o) But again, these things can always happen.

Did you always want to be a musician or did you have another career in mind? Do you have any other hobbies or talents you’d like to share?

I love being on stage in general so I always wanted to either be in music, in theater, or in musical theater. Not very broad I suppose, but I knew what I wanted to do! When I was very little I thought I might want to be a dentist or a vet, though, I would have probably annoyed people by constantly singing at the offices soooo this was probably the best choice.

What is one thing you would like people to know about you as a person? As a musician?

I guess that I’m just a person, really! I still get nervous around people I look up to, and I can be really REALLY akward, and then I act out, often loudly. And that’s how I ended up doing what I do.

What was the weirdest or funniest experience you’ve had on tour?

This one question could fill up an entire novel. The craziest time was on my first national tour and sharing a motorhome with 8 people in the middle of summer. Hilarity essentially ensued as we trucked it all the way across Canada and back from Vancouver Island, and there was actually suprisingly little cabin fever! At one point, though, a tire blew and ruptured something in the plumbing… a couple days later we all felt very ill and eventually realized that the sewage and air-conditioning lines had crossed. And in the 40 degree heat the waste in the tank had converted in to something of methane gas. Good times.

What are your plans for the future?

To keep playing music! And, clearly, to sing with Eddie Vedder. :o) LOL Oh you mean real plans… well, to keep playing music everywhere that I can!

Little Light Review
Allison Crowe Official Site

Interview: Creed Bratton of The Office

On the American version of The Office, the character of Creed has gradually emerged as a hilariously amoral eccentric through cryptic revelations scattered throughout the series. An ambiguously oriented but certainly promiscuous and occasionally homeless kleptomaniac, the fictional Creed has been a member (and leader) of several cults and can catch a fish with his bare hands. In real life, Creed Bratton calls himself a “slasher” – an actor/musician whose new self-titled album features a mix of folk, blues-rock, and Americana. Bratton enjoyed a successful music career in the 1960s and ’70s as lead guitarist of The Grass Roots, best known for their songs “Midnight Confessions,” “Lets Live For Today,” and “Where Were You When I Needed You.” Creed was also my first phone interview and is obviously a very patient man.

Creed Bratton was born William Charles Schneider, later going by Chuck Ertmoed when his widowed mother remarried. After two years of touring in Europe and Africa in the late 1960s with his band The Young Californians, the man who would become Creed says he found himself in Athens with a broken heart and a vision of success in his “third eye.” A random drunken encounter with “a couple on their way to teach English to Cretans” led to a hungover Chuck Ertmoed discovering “Creed Bratton” circled among several names scribbled on a table cloth. And thus the cult figure was created.

Later Creed returned to California and started a group called The 13th Floor. Meanwhile, producers Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan created a band to capitalize on the folk-rock trend of that era’s popular music scene. When the first incarnation of The Grass Roots disintegrated, Sloan recruited The 13th Floor to take their place. When asked if he felt like his band was packaged like The Monkees, Creed said “not at first.” He initially enjoyed the band’s new found fame while they still exercised creative freedom – particularly when recording his favorite Grass Roots album Feelings. But as the band moved away from their folk-rock roots into a more commercial sound for songs like “Midnight Confessions,” Bratton began to feel “disgruntled” and “unhappy.” Then came the unpleasant surprise that the band had recorded a song without him, which Bratton points to as the time when he “really felt like a Monkee.” Rather than lose his artistic integrity, he left The Grass Roots to pursue a solo career.

During his tenure with The Grass Roots, Creed led a wild and exciting life. He toured with The Doors, Creedance Clearwater Revival, and Janis Joplin. But he says Jimi Hendrix had the most distinctive talent at the time, the only one he knew for certain would be a legend. He calls Moby Grape both his best and worst concert experience, because his band had to follow their jaw dropping “fear of God” performance.

Creed confirmed the outlandish stories about his habit of running naked through small towns beside the band’s tour bus, the infamous acid trip that caused him to drop his pants on stage as he ranted about the meaning of life, and the notorious shark incident. He described in detail how the intoxicated band caught a shark from their hotel window, hoisting their catch up until the creature jumped into their room, and the shocking Psycho-like scene the next morning as he pulled back the shower curtain to find three bloody sharks in the bathtub.

Despite such decadent experiences, Creed says he feels much more successful now than he ever did then. Decades spent struggling as an actor and a musician did nothing to diminish his love of either art, and he is now fully able to enjoy both pursuits. He credits producer and collaborator Jon Tiven for getting him back into the studio as well as for his contributions in the writing and recording of the new album. It was Tiven who introduced him to powerhouse session singers Jonell Mosser and Bekka Bramlett.

Creed was unable to choose just one favorite track from the new disc, though he did narrow it down to “Dream Lover,” “Cry Cry Cry,” “My Baby is a Cadillac,” and “All The Faces.” The latter was written in just ten minutes and originally featured on Coarsegold. He calls it the only song he’s written that “felt finished.” Though he hopes to book some live shows to promote the album, his schedule may not allow for that any time soon.

We also covered the typical “favorite questions.” Creed cites Hank Williams, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, Coltrane, and my beloved Chet Baker as some of his musical influences. Creed said he would love to record a “crooner album” and then sang a bit of Baker’s “Let’s Get Lost.” which was probably the most memorable part of our conversation. The most disturbing segment followed, though, as he named Coldplay as a band that really gets him off?! I think I’ve made my feelings on Chris Martin’s band known over the years, but to each his own. But in addition to our shared love of Chet Baker, I wholeheartedly agree with Creed’s affection for Alison Krauss and Michael Bublé.

Bratton is an avid reader – most recently enjoying Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen and Jack Weatherford’s Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World – and names the François Truffaut classic Jules & Jim as his favorite film. After calling HBO’s Deadwood and The Sopranos his favorite television show, he seemed to slide in and out of character for the remaining portions of the interview. I was unfamiliar with the short-lived and critically reviled HBO series John from Cincinnati, so I did not catch on to Creed’s joke about relating to the show until he said he could “also levitate.”

I didn’t want to bombard him with questions about The Office, but couldn’t resist a few. He was as friendly and gracious when discussing the show as he had been during the rest of the interview. He said that even though he “never stopped preparing for the opportunity,” he still feels “lucky” to be where he is and doesn’t view himself as a celebrity. He talked about how much fun the other actors on the show are to work with and the difficult task of getting through a scene without laughing. He briefly mentioned the creator’s desire to differentiate the show from its British counterpart and the low ratings they suffered in the beginning. I’m sure I’m one of many who had forgotten that the hit show was almost canceled after the first season. I can’t imagine American television without it now.

When I inquired about any similarities he has with his bizarre character, Creed gave me his “standard answer” that he “would be in jail” if he were really like that. Now I try not to judge people, and Creed vehemently denies being anything like the lecherous weirdo he plays on the show. But he did pause when I asked if he’d ever belonged to or led a cult, and suddenly called me “Jane” after almost an hour of using my real name. So draw your own conclusions. He did own up to having been employed as “a hit man for the Government” and when asked how it felt to kill people, he simply replied: “Hey, it’s a living…well, not for them”.

Oh, and if anyone from TMZ reads this interview: Creed may not remember your name, but he knows you have bugged his phone and are hiding in the bushes outside his house. I would run if I were you.

Creed Bratton CD Review

Elsewhere: Johnette Napolitano Interview

There’s a new art-centric interview with Johnette Napolitano posted at My Dreams Gave Me Away. If you haven’t read the blog before, it’s written by very good friend of mine. She posts music, art, and occasionally her own personal writing. If you like her blog header, I made it. If you don’t, nevermind. And if you missed my interview with Johnette the first time around, you can read it here.

Interview: Hannah Fury

Hannah Fury was kind enough to thoroughly answer my rather long email interview regarding her life, career, interests, and and her latest release Through The Gash. You can read my review of the CD here and the email interview with Hannah is below.

Tell us about your new album, “Through The Gash”. What was the songwriting and recording process like for you, and what hopes do you have for the album once it is released?

Hannah: Well, I was rearranging my philosophies about everything at the time. I was incredibly sad about a lot of things. But, as a whole, the album is just about my obsessive nature, and the fact that I’ve finally come to terms with it being a necessity rather than a negative trait, which is how I always viewed it before. So a lot of the songs deal with that, and with things and situations resulting from that basic personality flaw, or whatever it is. Also, after my friend died, I was writing a lot and I found that the songs were very helpful to me. It felt like they were messages. Messages telling me that he was okay, in some way that I don’t really understand. And so I also became very fascinated by the idea of not needing any guarantees in life. But still, I found myself compelled to do some pretty in-depth research into things like time and space, near-death experiences, and quantum physics and things like that. I read things in books, online, saw films, and talked to my friends, and I kind of cobbled together a philosophy or theory that made sense to me but that isn’t based on belief so much as on intuition and hope. I really don’t have any use for knowing anything definitively. It’s the mystery that interests me, and when I look back at my life I realize that that’s actually how it’s always been. It just came very clearly into focus on this album. So I guess my hopes are that some of those things will come across. As far as writing and recording, the creative process is always manic and largely subconscious for me. No thinking allowed.

After so many years of being an independent artist, would you consider signing with a label now if you were offered a recording contract?

Hannah: Sure. But it would have to be something that makes sense for everyone involved.

Has your approach or attitude toward songwriting and music changed since you composed “The Vampire’s Waltz” as a teenager?

Hannah: Not really. I’ve always just done what I feel and the songs have always been — and still are — just the result of me being overcome by something emotionally. The way the songs come about nowadays is exactly the way they did back then.

You taught yourself to play piano. Do you think this gives you a disadvantage toward composing songs on the piano, or do you feel this allows you more creative freedom than classically trained pianists?

Hannah: I kind of think it makes it possible for me to write at all. I would never have cared to learn an instrument if I didn’t have songs to write. Learning piano was a direct result of having one song rattling around in my mind and suspecting that I had other songs to write if I could only get at them.

Your sound seems to have evolved over the years, with the focus shifting from delicate and ghostly piano melodies to a more sensual electronic beat. Was this change intentional or just the natural progression of your songwriting? And what other styles or genres would you like to explore with your music in the future?

Hannah: I knew I wanted to make an album that was confrontational because a lot of the songs were very confrontational. And so I really wanted to have a lot of drums on this album. I also knew that I wanted the music to sound like it was coming through wires from outer space. Because so much of the subject matter has to do with loss and death and trying to retain some connection despite those things, I wanted some of the music to sound like it was coming from very far away. So I used things like walkie-talkies for some of the vocals and I used a lot of effects. I also knew that I wanted it to have some circus, carnival and music-box sounds, but nothing that would suggest music that already exists in a certain place or time. I wanted those elements to be more organic and detached from chronology than they usually are when people use them in music. Other than those things, I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about how this album should be. In the future I would love to be able to do lots of string arrangements and things like that.

What do you think of the comparisons to Tori Amos and Kate Bush that you often receive? Did either artist influence your music? What other artists have influenced your style of music?

Hannah: I haven’t listened much to either of them in years, but I really love a lot of what they’ve done and I always will. I think they’re two of the most important artists in music, ever. In the past, I’ve definitely been inspired by both of them.

In terms of the comparisons, I guess it depends. On the positive side, I think that people might be responding to the music in a similarly strong way, and that may be part of why those comparisons come up. I do think that there are some similar elements to the music. And I think there is an intense quality that some people can hear in my music, and in theirs as well. But I think anyone that says it actually sounds the same isn’t really listening. Some people mistake some similarities in sensibility for actual sameness, and that’s the negative side. Those people don’t know what they’re talking about.

As for influence, and other artists, I’m very inspired by things that other people do, but only in a general way. I love music, and if I love a song I will listen to it over and over again. But when I’m writing, everything else just goes away. So I don’t run around feeling like I have to wear a HAZMAT suit to protect myself from influence. I have never, ever decided to write a song. It doesn’t happen that way. My songs never come from “ideas.” They only come from emotion and inspiration. And I don’t record unless I’m inspired by the song to record. And when you’re in that state, there’s no way that any falseness is going to get through. It just isn’t possible. And even if it was possible, it wouldn’t feel good. I think most of what people call influence is actually blood memory, anyway.

But having said that, there are so many amazing people that I’ve listened to in my life, and think: I want my music to be as much mine as theirs is theirs, you know? That’s the goal of anyone doing anything creative, I think. So in that sense, I’ve been influenced by tons of people. In the past, Daniel Johnston, Lisa Germano, Stevie Nicks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Damned, the Cure, Pixies, Crowded House, Nirvana, Hole, Jeff Buckley, early Peter Gabriel, early Elton John, Cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Blondie, Olivia Newton-John, Throwing Muses, Cocteau Twins, Dolly Parton, Radiohead, Katell Keineg, the Beatles, ABBA and on and on…

And for the past several years or so I’ve been really into rap music, and that’s about all I’ve listened to during that time. Not all rap music, just certain artists. Most of the artists I listen to can’t actually be summed up by the rap “genre.” Like OutKast, Wu-Tang Clan, Everlast, Public Enemy, NWA, Fili Stylez, Eminem, and Snook. And then I’ve listened to a few other things like Bright Eyes and Aimee Mann and Minnie Riperton. Sometimes it’s an artist in general and sometimes it’s just one album or even just one song or one performance that makes an impact of some kind.

What are your favourite artists, albums, and songs of all time? What modern artists, albums, and songs do you like?

Hannah: It is so hard for me to list artists and albums because I really feel like I need to be complete, and that’s impossible. But some stuff I’ve been listening to in the past year are Heathen by David Bowie, which I never had before now, and it is a great album. I’m also listening a lot to a Jerry Rafferty compilation CD. And I’m With Stupid by Aimee Mann. Other than that, rap music. Snook in particular right now.

But a few (and just a few) of my all-time favorite songs are:

(in no particular order)

“If You Could Read My Mind” Gordon Lightfoot
“Baker Street” Jerry Rafferty
“Never My Love” The Association
“Steppin’ Out” Joe Jackson
“Year of the Cat” Al Stewart
“Golden Brown” The Stranglers
“Landslide” Stevie Nicks
“Honey I Sure Miss You” Daniel Johnston
“Wasteland” The Jam
“September” Earth, Wind & Fire
“Les Fleurs” Minnie Riperton
“Found Out About You” Gin Blossoms
“Save Me” Aimee Mann
“If You Have Ghosts” Roky Erickson
“Walk on the Ocean” Toad the Wet Sprocket
“In the Meantime” Spacehog
“She Divines Water” Camper van Beethoven
“Dream On” Aerosmith
“Heart-Shaped Box” Nirvana
“Doll Parts” Hole
“God Only Knows” Beach Boys
“Dirty Work” Steely Dan
“Africa” Toto
“Jolene” Dolly P

What is your favourite song that you have written, and what song do you wish that you had written?

Hannah: Right now I like “No Man Alive” and “The Apple.”

Wish I’d written: “Landslide,” “Doll Parts” or “If You Have Ghosts”

What is your favourite book, piece of art, film, and tv show?

Hannah: A few favorite books:
One Hundred Years of Solitude
House of the Spirits
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
the Harry Potter series

A few favorite films:
Amelie
Moulin Rouge
City of Lost Children
Wings of Desire
Frankenstein
Freaks
Rize
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
Heavenly Creatures
The Elephant Man
Metropolis
Blade Runner
Brazil

A few favorite pieces of art:
“The Angel of Meat” by Mark Ryden — I love all his paintings
Ray Caesar’s stuff (hard to pick a favorite)
Kendra Binney — all of it, but I have a little print of “They’re Saying Mean Things About You” that I love so much.

TV:
Lost
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Carnivale
Six Feet Under
The Office (both versions)
Strangers With Candy
Battlestar Galactica (new one)
Levi’s commercial “French Dictionary”

Are there any other connotations of the title “Through The Gash” besides as a reference to lyrics in “Defenstration” and “Beware The Touch”?

Hannah: It just kept coming up in the lyrics of the songs, and it connected with the album cover and the dream that inspired it. I just wanted to evoke any kind of transformation, any kind of passageway. It could be getting through something negative or positive.

Were the lyrics of “Don’t Be Scared” directed toward yourself or someone else?

Hannah: Mostly toward someone else.

Is there a Part I to “Carnival Justice” and if so, will we ever hear it?

Hannah: There is no part I.

The lyrics of “The Apple” seem to refer to the Biblical Garden of Eden. Is Eve the narrator of the song, or is she an archetypal Eve representing independent females in general?

Hannah: It’s more the idea of the poisonous thing. The delicious thing that can cause trouble. In terms of atmosphere, it’s more like Snow White’s apple than the apple in the Garden of Eden. In the song, it’s not meant to actually be Snow White’s apple, but something similar to it. Something inherent to one person and passed to another in an unintentionally harmful way. So that’s how Snow White’s apple doesn’t really fit, because that was intentional. But the dark sparkliness of Snow White’s apple was sort of the feeling I wanted to get across. Brightly colored apples and people being wrong for each other but not caring. Beautiful things that make you forget that they could be bad for you. But I guess the original dangerous apple was in the story of Eve… that’s really an interesting aspect that you bring up, but one that didn’t occur to me as I was writing it. It could be that, though, definitely.

The lyrics of “Where The Wounds Are” obviously played a part in the striking cover art for the album – were there any other inspirations for the picture?

Hannah: The stitched-up back is entirely from a dream I had years and years ago. Actually, the whole album can be traced back to that dream in some ways.

Gregory Maguire contacted you regarding your songs that were inspired by his novel. Have you read the sequel, “Son of a Witch” and if so, what are your thoughts on the book? Do you foresee writing more literary-based music in the future, or were the “Wicked” songs a solitary event in your career?

Hannah: I haven’t read it, but that’s only because I’ve been reading mysteries for the past few years. I will definitely read it eventually. I don’t ever foresee writing anything specific. The Wicked songs were totally unplanned. They just came about because I was so attached to Elphaba and so sad about the end of her story. I felt real loss when that book ended, and that’s what inspired all those songs. I can never predict what or who will cause the next obsession.

I didn’t realize when I reviewed your first album that Jeff Buckley was the inspiration for “Away”? What was your experience with his music and death?

Hannah: Well, I just love him. I saw him live a bunch of times in small clubs in Austin. He was amazing. And I was working at this clothing store at the time, and my friend who worked there was also a huge fan of his. So she came in one night and said “Jeff Buckley is missing, he went swimming in the Mississippi river and they can’t find him.” And we were just really freaked out, but we thought for sure that he would be okay. So she kept calling people to find out the latest news all during our work shift. And then I got home and I said to my boyfriend, “But they’ll find him. He’ll be all right, right?” And he was kind of noncommital and that was the first thing that clued me in to the fact that maybe Jeff wouldn’t be all right. So then my boyfriend went to the store, and when he got back I’d written the song. I don’t remember anything about writing it except that I was so sad. But looking back at it, I think I knew that he wouldn’t be found alive.

Many if not all of the lyrics on this album seem so full of raw emotion. Does such personal content make performing the new material easier or more difficult than older songs?

Hannah: Thank you so much for saying that! I am so glad you feel that way. It has been a frustration to me over time, that some people seem to think the music is theatrical. It’s not, and never was. All of my songs have resulted from something personal, but of course they’re dealt with in sort of fantastical or metaphorical ways. But I think the personal sources are more obvious on these songs.

Is it true that you’ve never performed live infront of an audience before? Do you think that you will in the future, or do you consider yourself more of a recording artist?

Hannah: It is true. I think I’m getting over my stage fright a little. I never enjoyed getting up in front of groups of people. Even in school it was really hard for me to go up and read stuff in front of the class and stuff like that. But I do want to do some live performances eventually, even if I feel terrified. I am looking for some cool musicians to be in my band. And I would love to open for someone on a tour of some kind. I definitely feel like recording is the most important thing to me, though.

Is music your profession or do you have another “day job”?

Hannah: I have always had day jobs. Different things at different times.

Besides music and making jewelry, do you have any other hobbies or talents you’d like to share? You seem to be an art lover, do you paint or draw?

Hannah: I used to draw. Growing up, I drew constantly. All the time. After I started writing songs, I never really drew again, because I found that music was a much better medium for me. I was using the same energy, I just transferred it to music instead of pictures. But drawing is actually something I wouldn’t mind getting into again at some point.

You dedicate the album to Alan. Was he the high school sweetheart referred to in your Penny Dreadful newsletter, and if so would you like to share his story?

Hannah: Yeah, we were together when we were in high school and for some years after. Actually, we were only in high school together for half a year because he was a bit older than me. I was 14 and he was 17 when we met. He was the reason I ever started writing. He was the inspiration behind my very first song, and thinking about that song now, knowing what I know now, I realize that that song was a premonition. I never really understood the ending of it until he died, and then it all became clear. The ending of that song was actually written several years after the rest of it, when we were no longer in touch with each other. But anyway, he was just one of those people that impacted my life in every possible way. We lost touch for many years, then he got back in touch, but not long after that he died. I was sadder than I’d ever been in my life, and a lot of songs came out of that. I think everyone has people that they’re supposed to know, and he was one of the people that I was supposed to know. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few of those people. I think they are very rare. But just for the record, he was not the catalyst for all of the songs on the album.

What are your plans for the future, other than releasing “Through The Gash”?

Hannah: To buy a run-down building in Philly and trick it out somethin’ fierce! It’s more of a dream than a plan, though.

Hannah Fury – Beware the Touch (mp3)
Hannah Fury – Carnival Justice (The Gloves Are Off) Part II (mp3)
Hannah Fury – Girls That Glitter Love The Dark (mp3)

Hannah Fury’s Official Site
Buy the CD