vindy.com: amy ray struggling as a solo act
original publish date: 27 oct 2008
by john benson, vindy.com
The artist said it’s hard to establish herself in her new role.
When Indigo Girls member Amy Ray decided to venture into solo waters as a rock/punk-based artist, she expected there to be a few hurdles. Instead, the folk singer-turned-rocker found herself in a vacuum of expectation, dominated by her past and limited by her present.
“To some people, I’ve had to differentiate where I’m not playing Indigo Girls songs and this is not a folk show,” said Ray, calling from her Georgia home. “It’s a rock show and then I think there are some Indigo Girls fans who saw my first punk tour with The Butchies and didn’t like it necessarily. And then I think it’s especially [hard] for people who sort of have an automatic association for the Indigo Girls too, where they don’t even know the musical diversity.
“So there are a lot of things that play there, and it’s definitely hard to find an audience, a new audience sometimes when you have such a specific thing you’re known for. I haven’t definitely found a big audience or anything. There’s still a lot of work to be done and sort of evolution and touring and trying to get the word out and the music out. So I’d say I’m still in a period of growth and exposure at some level.”
Perhaps a period of challenges best describes Ray’s current mindset. Not only does she look to gain fans in the DIY underground scene, but with her recently released third solo effort “Didn’t It Feel Kinder,” which was released this past summer, the 44-year-old artist pushed herself out of any comfort zone regarding melodies, arrangements and structures.
“I [recorded] this record mostly to tape, which gave it a slightly different sound,” Ray said. “This record is totally different for me. I wrote the songs just over a long period of time, not thinking about any specific theme but knowing that I would be using them for a solo record. So they hung together more on a musical level than on a thematic level.”
Among her favorite songs on the new 10-track album are the engaging “Bus Bus” and “Birds of a Feather.” The latter track features a unique guitar approach that Ray intended to create a feeling of alienation. However, that’s not necessarily the message you get when looking at the CD cover artwork, which depicts two distinctly different looking horses on a meadow.
“I like the long horizon and the two beings,” Ray said. “Horses for me seem like a very emotional presence, and they’re really strong. My girlfriend took that picture a long time ago and I kept looking at it thinking that would be a really cool CD cover. And then it happened to match what I was feeling for the CD.
“It’s something about the relational space of those two horses. You don’t really know what their relationship is and you’re trying to figure it out. They seem strong and seem to have a certain empathy to them. And I think that’s what the record is about, empathy.”
No matter what success her solo career finds, Ray said she’s committed to the Indigo Girls, which have a new album recorded and due out in February. For now, Ray is concentrating on a solo tour. This brings her band to Cleveland on Friday for a show at the Beachland Ballroom. Considering it is Halloween, will Ray be dressing up for the evening?
“My girlfriend wants to go as Sarah Palin, and I told her I would be John McCain,” Ray said. “My traditional costume is Davy Crockett, the raper and pillager of Native Americans, because he’s like a supposed distant relative of mine.
“So I have this old coonskin cap from when I was a kid. It’s not really a great legacy to have but I’m trying to right the wrong.”