thephoenix.com: folk under fire
[the following is an excerpt from the above article.]
“The difference in the reactions we get from our fans between making an acoustic record and an electric record is like night and day,” says Amy Ray, half of the shed-filling singer-songwriter duo Indigo Girls, who are veterans of past Newport Festivals. “People are really open-minded in our audience, but they were not as accepting of the record we did in 1999, Come On Now Social [Epic], mixing Appalachian-style music with a lot of sound processing and sort-of-edgy guitars.”
Even fewer followed Ray into the churning all-electric waters of her 2001 solo debut, Stag (Daemon), a full-throttle rock album that drafted punk-feminist outfit the Butchies as her band. It didn’t matter that the Butchies had opened for Indigo Girls shows, or that the duo have aimed to broaden their fans’ tastes by bringing an eclectic array of opening acts on tour with them for years.
Ray explains that “artists equate growth with experimenting and not stagnating. Sometimes that means becoming a better songwriter. You can grow just by getting better at what you’re doing. But sometimes you search for growth by changing instruments. A lot of our audience discovered us through our acoustic work. When you have a core audience, you have a relationship with them that’s based on certain things. When you change those things, you’re asking people to stay with you, and you’re lucky if they do. It’s like having a restaurant you like and they change the menu. It’s still good, but it’s different, and you may not like it as much.”
Ray appears utterly unaffected by her solo album’s cult-level sales. In fact, she seems to have anticipated them, for she chose to release the CD on her own independent label. “The people who were gonna be into Stag were into it, and the people who weren’t I didn’t hear from.”
Of course, after 20 years of a highly successful recording career with Indigo Girls, Ray can afford to take her solo debut’s lesser reception in stride.