You currently live in Philadelphia. Did you grow up there? What is your favorite thing about the city?
I grew up in Michigan but I've lived in Philly for little over 10 years. The city has changed a lot in that time both for the good and bad. There used to be a real small town / big town feeling to it. You'd go to a noise show, a rock show, folk show - and see the same people supporting everything. Philly is rough and raw has definitely toughened me up.
Out of Love, your debut solo album, was released in 2016. How long had you been playing music before that? Did you record much before then?
I've been making music since I was a kid. I'm from musical family and started to play guitar around age 13. I've been in various projects and bands and spent a lot of time making free improvisational music - using pedals with my vocals and experimenting a lot. I recorded hours and hours of all that but it's never seen the light of day.
The follow-up record, Trouble Anyway, came out this month. Did your approach to songwriting change between albums? How did the writing and recording processes differ between the two? Did you learn anything from the Out of Love experience that you applied to Trouble Anyway?
I don't think my approach to songwriting has changed per se, but the recording of the albums were very different. Out of Love was made by just me and my friend Gerhardt Koerner in his studio apartment. I recorded the songs playing and singing live and then focused on the overdubs - which were mainly vocal harmonies and some light shredding. With Trouble Anyway, I knew I wanted a full band sound and decided to record with buddy Jeff Ziegler at Uniform Recordings in a more classical studio setting. I wanted the album to be rich in sound and texture and called upon my extremely talented friends to help me out. Both albums have been learning experiences and there are things about each approach that I treasure. I would say most of all I've learned to really trust my ear and instincts and to speak up about what I want.
Your new album is the first release on Spinster Records, a brand new label based in Asheville. What’s the Spinster story? How is Scissor Tail Records involved? How did you decide on that label/partnership as the proper home for Trouble Anyway?
Spinster is run by musicians Sarah Louise Henson and Sally Anne Morgan (House and Land, Black Twig Pickers, Sarah Louise, Wandering Shade), along with folklorist Emily Hillard. They wanted to start a label that featured women artists. Scissor Tail partnered with them to help facilitate the process since this is their first release. I was happy to work with them because they are friends and fellow musicians who understand what it's like on the artist's end. They really care about me and my music, which is a pretty nice place to be.
You also play in Long Hots, a Philly power trio. The band rocks. Hard. It’s a notably different vibe than what you do with your solo material. What itch are you scratching with The Long Hots that you don’t get from playing solo?
Haha thank you. Long Hots maybe saved my life in a dark time. It's a truly ecstatic experience playing with Eva [Killinger] and Kathryn [Lipman] and I wanted to be able to shred in
Spinster Records is a label run by women. Long Hots is an all-female band. You recently recorded covers of songs by Cat Power, Gillian Welch, and Karen Dalton – three pillars of female rock and folk music. Yes, your new record features contributions from men, but a lot of your recent output has been conceived, played and promoted by women only. Is that a coincidence or by design? Do you think it’s important to distinguish yourself as a “female artist” or is “artist” good enough?
I wish that "artist" was good enough but everyone likes to focus on female side. I'm not trying to label myself as a female artist but can't deny that I am one. When men have all male collabs are parallel questions asked? Working with the women I have is as much about their talents and ideas as it is about their understanding of where I'm coming from as a woman.
For the video for I Wanna Know, the directors are both women. I think in that case I was doing a lot of vulnerable things that I think them being both friends and women was key. But I'd like to see the scales balance out more so that it's commonplace to have all-women identifying productions as much all-male identifying ones - even better to just ignore the gender question entirely. I know we aren't there yet so it's good to talk about why and change that.
We’ll end on a fun note. Do you have any good record recommendations? New stuff. Old stuff. Doesn’t matter. We’re just curious about what gets you going these days.
Long Hots have been listening a lot to The Misfits demos to get us going. I'm also obsessed with Julie Tippetts' Sunset Glow.