velvetpark.com: one-on-one with amy ray
I recently sat down with Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls for a phone interview during their East coast tour. She took time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few questions concerning her upcoming solo CD and tour, as well as address some Indigo questions.
VP: So, are you guys done recording?
AR: Yeah. We’re done. The record’s done. It’s going to come out in February 2009.
VP: Is there more of a political bend to this CD? Not that the other CDs aren’t…
AR: I would not say that there is not anything overtly political. There is a song that is sort of more theoretical about colonialism and imperialism and stuff like that. It’s political but it’s not about the political system. It’s about….
VP: Are you referring to Sugar Tongue? I love that one. It’s…spooky.
AR: Oh, cool. It’s an activist song. And then there is a song called Second Time Around which is kind of a gay comment on sort of hanging together and being allies but it isn’t overtly about ‘this is a song about Barrack OBama’ or something.
VP: I wish we did more of that as a community. Sometimes I feel like its kind of us against them. You know? Like which organization can raise the most money. It feels almost competitive. I’m hoping to see more of a grassroots thing come around. Maybe with Obama in office we will do that.
AR: Hopefully so. He’s quite a visionary.
VP: Now, the Indigo Girls recorded a live DVD in Atlanta last year with Three5Human and Brandi Carlile. It was supposed to be released some time ago. Do know anything about what’s going on with that?
AR: We’re trying to get it back from Hollywood. They’ve agreed to give it to us we’re just negotiating basically on how that’s going to happen. Our plan is to release it. We’re not just going to let it go away.
VP: Good. Amy, what can Indigo fans do to help spread the word and reach new people?
AR: I think once we sort of get the gears in order for the new record, fans are going to see a lot of more new opportunities to spread the word. I think what we’ll probably be doing is being more aggressive about social networking sites and Internet activity. I think what Hollywood, the label that we were on, weren’t doing was being very proactive in that way. I think we didn’t realize the extent that that would be a good thing. You know we haven’t been independent in so long. As an independent artist, I sort of catch onto but it’s kind of two different worlds to straddle sometimes. So I think in some ways, I really regret with Hollywood I didn’t sort of pipe up and say we should really be doing this all ourselves, you know? Like doing these social networking sites and being more aggressive about the Internet. So, I think fans will see a lot more opportunities to get involved in the late fall. That’s when we’ll start gearing up and that’s when we’re really going to need people to start spreading the word for us. I think what we’ll do is we’ll probably get street teams in place and get a new kind of thing going.
VP: I think the strategy that you’re taking with the solo stuff, like Amy Ray TV is brilliant. It would be really cool you know if it could somehow implement those types of things too because I know people love gadgets and online trinkets like that and it’s cool and it catches the eye.
AR: Yea I think we need to do that. To the credit of the digital company that helps me do my independent stuff… they’re really innovative, edgy and aggressive about what they do. They sort of challenge me to work harder and do more content. I think that’s what needs to happen for the Indigo Girls. I think you’ll see us doing more of the content, videos and just expanding to let people know what’s going on when we’re on tour and stuff. We are going to be touring in September. That tour has got some gigs in the south and some dates in the Midwest I believe.
VP: Plus you’ve got the solo stuff going on, too.
AR: Yeah. I’m doing a solo tour mid-October through mid-November and then again in January. We’re taking December off and I think February is when everything will start happening for IG. I’m sure we’ll go to Europe but I just don’t know when yet. It will be in the midst of the year of putting out the independent Indigo release. We’ll probably go to Australia, too.
VP: Your solo cd comes out August 5th.
AR: You can go to Amazon.com or Daemon for pre-orders, too.
VP: Let’s talk about your new solo cd, Didn’t it Feel Kinder. Was there anything in particular that you were listening to as you were putting this together that was influencing you?
AR: Hmmm…. There’s nothing in particular that I was listening too. It was really influenced by the people that were playing on it. Melissa York and Kaia Wilson from The Butchies, a guy named Tomi Martin played some guitar on it, too from a band called Three5Human along with Trina Meade from the same band. Tomi, you know, is a rock god. He also played a really nice soul thing that is very hard. He’s very versatile. One song is kind of PinkFloyd-y – Built to Spill…sort of very expansive. He played the guitar on that and he really created the track and made it what it is. Then he did Blame is A Killer which was more of a Pretenders kind of rock thing. The producer is a guy named Greg Griffith who has done a lot of work on punk records and some pop records too. He just really stepped in and so it’s pretty diverse. The record has stuff that’s kind of in the vein of the Clash, some more of kind of more soul music melodies and a feel of certain bass and drum sound. Then there’s some stuff that’s more danceable almost like a hip-hop beat kind of vibe and then some stuff that’s just punk for lack of a better word. Compared to my other solo records, it’s much more diverse and probably a little more musical in some places as well, to the credit of the producer, really.
VP: What is that song with your voice…
AR: She’s Got To Be
VP: What an amazing way to convey that message of the feminine side and bringing that out. I don’t usually associate you in that way. I associate you more with masculine energy. It blew me away.
AR: Cool! The producer really helped me with that one. I just went into the studio with Mel and he played bass on it. This is really off my beaten path but I was listening to some Al Greene and this is what happened.
VP: Can you tell me a little bit about Arizona?
AR: They’re a really cool little independent band. I call them sort of like a cross between The Shins, The Who and Judy Garland.
VP: Oh my god.
AR: The lead singer has a really high voice and a really big range. One of them was an intern for me at Daemon and I got to know them when they were living in Atlanta and then they lived in Brooklyn NY for a while. Now they’re living in Asheville and finishing up a new record that is going to come out in the fall. They’re just one of my favorite bands. We’ll probably tour together. They’re really cool guys. They’re very musical with interesting lyrics. I don’t even know how to describe them. They’re very progressive.
VP: Do you have time for some random questions from the fans?
AR: I’ve got about five minutes.
VP: What is your favorite cuss word?
AR: My favorite cuss word? Oh man. I don’t even know. When I’m writing, it’s obviously fuck. I don’t cuss that much outside of my songwriting.
VP: Are you a wallet-patter?
AR: A wallet packer?
VP: No. A wallet patter. Like someone who checks all the time..
AR: Oh on my butt?
VP: No, like anything. Someone who obsessively checks your keys, your cell phone, your wallet…
AR: Umm. I am because I’m on the road all the time and constantly losing everything, I have a tendency to be checking my body constantly for whatever needs to be on it.
VP: Your biggest concern dealing with a cultural trend right now?
AR: This new obsession with people singing songs like “I kissed a girl and I liked it and I hope my boyfriend doesn’t mind”. It’s like this weird thing that fools everyone into thinking there’s progress being made but it’s really just in the paradigm of heterosexuality still. So, it’s a cultural thing that drives me crazy. When a gay girl sings that on the radio and doesn’t mention a boyfriend and it becomes a number one hit, then I’ll be happy. It doesn’t help queer culture at all.
VP: Latest good book?
AR:I just finished reading an amazing good book by Louise Erdrich called The Plague of Doves. It’s brand new and it’s amazing. It reminds me of Flannery O’Conner a little bit.
VP: Favorite body part?
AR: I would say my hands.
VP: Enough said.