Country / Folk Music
Copyright © 2009 by Neil C. Obremski. These are exclusive interviews conducted by Stephanie Schoppert for FanSiter in 2009. MP3 files belong to individual copyright owners and used with their permission; they may be downloaded and played but not redistributed.
Brianna Lea Pruett
Brianna Lea Pruett is an amazing new musical artist making waves in California with her truly unique and emotional sound. We had the chance to take the time to get to know this rising star and really get the story behind her beautiful and provoking songs.
How/when did you get into music?
I have been singing and playing music ever since I can remember, the first song I wrote that I remember is called "rainstorm," and I wrote it when I was three years old. It is a piano piece that describes a rainstorm with an audio experience. My mother listened to a lot of classical music when I was in the womb, and also watched a lot of Kung Fu with David Carradine. I was really into Raffi as a young person and I also enjoyed Handel's Messiah. I was exposed to Tom Waits at a young age, about three or so, and so I would sing "Clap Hands" at school and scare the other kids, probably. It's not really a kid's song. I have always, since I was young, loved many genres and styles of music. I've learned mostly by self education. age 11: Mariah Carey, Boys II Men, Ace of Base, REM. age 12: Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix. age 13: Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead. age 14: Daniel Lanois, Radiohead again, Sleater Kinney, Red Aunts, 7Seconds, Reel Big Fish. 15: Leonard Cohen, Billie Holiday. All throughout I was discovering new artists and always going back to the folk/bluegrass basics: Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, and that. And later, the older blues music, Mississippi John Hurt, and like that. Joni Mitchell later on too.
Who are your biggest influences?
Although you wouldn't know from the sound of what I do, the people of U2 because of their dedication, loyalty and spiritual power. My ancestors, I love genealogy and I feel extremely influenced by that. Musically, I suppose PJ Harvey, Dolly Parton, and Elizabeth Cotten, and Bonnie Raitt. Carole King as well. and certainly Bob and Daniel Lanois and the influence the entire Lanois family has on the music world and therefore the planet. Cocteau Twins. Tom Waits.
Chan Marshall of Cat Power - She's a musical powerhouse and no one should ever, ever be shy about mentioning what a genius she is, and how much she has affected women in music. She is a solid gold singer. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. Those are my influences in my head. And then of course the people I'm surrounded by - my labelmates on Tiger Friends Collective. My sister Keely. My friend and colleague Jocelyn Noir. My long time friend Ruebi who taught me my best songwriting secret. all of it. Brian Eno. M.I.A.
If you had to, who would you compare your music style to?
Well, I think I'm most known to myself for being able to bring different styles out and play around with that. So in that sense, that way of doing things, Prince, although my music doesn't sound particularly like his at all. I think Judy Collins has that too, that genre hopping ability that I admire and am immersed in.
If you had to pick, which of your songs is your favorite and why?
I have about 300 songs I like that I need to record and organize into records, and I'm in the process of doing that now, I'm building a simple small studio and I'm just about to lock myself in there and work for a year.
I like all my songs, I don't have a favorite unless I write a new one and then it's that for awhile. I like dirty delta blues. I have a song called "Will you or won't you" about being confused about love, the classic theme, and it's so raw and dirty and down and messed up. I can really let it out with that one and I enjoy songs like that. That showcase the dark side of life. There's a song that Chan Marshall just covered recently called "The Dark End of the Street." About meeting a lover and the pain of that kind of relationship, that cheating relationship. An acquaintance of mine, a comedian, introduced me to that tune when I was about 19, and I just cried and cried. It's a great song and I was glad to see Chan working that piece.
Which of your albums so far do you consider your favorite?
My favorite one hasn't come out yet as of 2009. I have a bunch of great ones waiting to be recorded. I have them all organized in binders, if you can believe that. It's pretty funny. There's an album I wrote called "Mrs. California" that I'm working on over the next couple of years, it's a pop record and I'm pretty excited about that. "Low Down Dirty No Good Dog" is a blues record I've written all the songs for that I like. I have a weird career, I stopped playing shows and wrote for like four years. That's what I've been doing and now I'm about to hit the studio hard on all that. I guess you have what you have, everyone's career is different.
What is one of your favorite stories from producing your albums?
Two Stories: Well... that would be The Stars, the Moon, the Owl, the Cougar and You - my husband recorded it for me and our styles are different. I'm like, I need candles, I need it to be this certain way to record. And he's like, no, lets work. So that was interesting. 2: While recording Natural Fact in Portland with Jacob Golden we had coffee every day at Stumptown, it was fun. I took random people to breakfast for fun and got strangers to come and sing on the record. I mostly just was into having fun and I was so nervous and scared that it wasn't good enough, but I didn't really care, either, I just wanted to make something so bad.
Are you working on a new album now? What can be expected from it?
I'm finishing up the Stars, the Moon, the Owl, the Cougar, and You - it's a sad record of hard times. And I'm kind of working on a bunch of records simultaneously - Sea of Galilee, about the tosses and turns in life, and The Blues, Please, a record of the old old blues songs that have influenced me.
When not performing what do you like to do?
I like to research genealogy. I enjoy helping others authenticate their indigenous American ancestry, or native American or American Indian or whatever the heck you want to call it. I enjoy facilitating that gift of each precious person being a part of history and important in the lives of others. I am a great cook, I love to cook. I make little surrealist short films. I like to go on dates. A lot. I like participating in community, facilitating a project here and there, suggesting solutions and thinking up things for people that I care about. I'm like a connector, a facilitator, a conductor of ideas and energy. and I pass them around and they take on their own lives without me.
What do you consider to be your guilty pleasure?
What was it like growing up?
It was very difficult. Music was my escape. and Books. I read books like a fire eats newspaper.
Who is your biggest inspiration to succeed?
The other musicians I admire who I know are wishing well for me and hoping that I keep going and do whatever I'm going to do and become who I want to be. Creator and creativity itself - the energy of creation, the energy of movements, art, and seeing what other singers have been through, how a person can come out of any life circumstances whether self-inflicted or by others, come out of something really tough into the life that is good for them.
As an emerging artist what do you think about file sharing and musicians giving away music free online?
I think it makes it harder to make money as a musician, it's like you have to look for film work or make music to sell, which I want to do also, and wouldn't feel bad about doing. But then again I think I appreciate free songs. Not everything should cost money. Music is an expression - we don't pay the sun money to shine. On the other hand, the sun can survive without food and shelter.
Do politics/ current events ever enter into your music?
I prefer to write about love and relationships. I have written a few songs about history, the history of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, but I'm not sure how they will be put together yet. But I have songs about daily life, and daily life is always political. For women, we are still working this issue as a society and can't just start lagging on that one. Who does the laundry at your house? Even if you live in a punk rock house, or especially if you do? The girls, probably. Who does the dishes? Who takes care of the little things? Which sometimes can be sweet but ladies got to watch out on that, to not let it take over their creative life, their dream of their own life.
To learn more about Brianna Lea Pruett visit her Official Website.
The Carter Twins
The Carter Twins Zach and Josh have been taking over country music by storm. Their version of pop rock has been winning the hearts of fans everywhere they go and at 19 these boys have a very bright future ahead of them. Jonas Brothers, they're not, they've got their own sound and they are proud to keep it that way.
Interviewer: Well my first thought is for you guys, obviously. Why country?
Z: Well... it's kind of what we grew up in. It's fine that we ended up here. You know, we are big fans of where country music is headed, it's kind of headed in that, we call it "new country", and that's what we call our sound too, it's more of a pop meets country but we actually grew up in country because our mom works for a country radio station in Cleveland, Ohio when we were little and we were always surrounded by like... we always met the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill and Shania Twain, George Strait and things like that when we were little and it's kind of funny because we used to tell the joke that my mom used to have George Strait's picture on the mantle, no joke, you can ask my dad...it was his picture and my mom next to each other and like I swear, it was like he was our dad. We just kind of grew up with country music surrounding us. It's like the only thing that we listened to up until we were around like fourteen years old. It's kind of a fun fact that no one really knows about us.
I: Yeah, I know where you're coming from, we had Billy Ray Cyrus when we were growing up, not George Strait. Sorry about that.
I: So you guys write your own songs. Are any of those going to be on the new album next year?
Josh: yes, actually we wrote every song on our album besides one of the songs on the album.
Zach: So they'll all be featured on the album and we might actually even have a couple more, so we're pretty excited about it.
I: Sounds pretty cool. Now a lot of your songs are about relationships, do you have experience in this?
Josh: I've had quite the experience in this department. A lot of failed relationships, but there's currently a good one now so hopefully it doesn't end bad.
I: Ahh... now you're going to disappoint all your fans with that one.
Josh: Yeah but there's still a free twin.
I: So tell me, what's one of your favorite memories from touring?
Zack: Wow, there's so many it's not even funny. I mean, we've got... the great thing about country is that...and I know you've probably heard it from a lot of different artists, it's such a family. Every artist, every writer, country is like one big family. They're so nice and so cool, and they're so supportive of you. We've gotten to work with such great people like Lady Antebellum and Sugarland, Jason Aldeen, and Toby Keith and Trace Atkins. You know we've just gotten to work with a lot of great people and I think we're really blessed because of it, and they taught us so much. It's been a great opportunity.
I: How is your home life like with your mom, is she with you on tour?
Josh: You know my mom is very selective in the cities she wants to go to. My mom only goes to cities that she hasn't been to and that she really wants to see. Like when we went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, my mom was like I'm going on that one. She doesn't come on all the trips she just comes on some.
Zach: But you know our home life is really different because we're not going to college right now we're pursuing our music. But the thing is our parents are really supportive and they're been really supportive from day one and I swear I'll say this, they're like the best parents in the entire world. They're so so completely supportive. They moved to Nashville with us, so they could help be there for this process and be there to support us in any way they could.
I: Your music seems to be going very mainstream, are your concerts the same way, typical country concerts?
Josh: It's actually pretty funny because that's really our favorite part of going out and meeting our fans because a lot of people on first impression since we are younger automatically go towards Jonas Brother. They're young, they're light and fluffy, but it's actually so funny because our concerts are really more southern rock and country rock. Because we through in covers like Sweet Emotion and Shine, and we even throw in some Matchbox Twenty covers. We're really all over the place, we're really energetic and it's just a really high energy show. That's what we always tell people when you go, expect high energy.
I: So you guys seem to get along great with your fans. I've heard that you've had bus parties, what's that about?
Zach: We just decided, like one weekend when we were out on the road, you know lets do this thing where we can involve our fans and have like a barbeque and a cookout. We can get to know them. You know, cause they know who we are, why not get to know them. So it's been a really cool experience because we got to get to know our fans and get to meet them and get to hang out with them. So it's been really fun and we're going to continue to do that at each party, and it's a cool way to involve your fans, involve them from twitter and all the social media sites, like facebook and myspace and they have to go through that to win tickets. It's pretty fun.
I: Facebook and Myspace seem like the jumping board for all the big acts these days, do you agree?
Zach: yeah, Josh wouldn't you agree to? I think MySpace been, like the social media networks online and I feel like, I think we both feel like nowadays its online that helps build your fanbase, and radio and all that other stuff kicks in.
Josh: It's really the online community that just you know, you lay the groundwork for your fan base and then later on it all comes to fruition with like all the radio and everything.
I: Yeah, you guys don't have to all that crazy footwork like touring all the time to get fans.
Josh: I know, right, tough life.
I: You guys always seem to impress, the only bad things I hear about you is that people are upset about the pop direction country seems to be going.
Josh: Well you know what I just feel like we need to broaden, new acts like us and others, we just need to broaden country. Cause like you said, if you're the only one within how many miles that listens to country, that sucks. That needs to be stopped. I just feel like people think county is so stereotypical and you know only people that live back in the holler drive a tractor listen to country music and it's just a bunch of twang. And no it's not that way, there's just so much and there's so much dynamic to country. People just need to get accustomed to it.
I: Are you guys excited for your Hilton Head concert?
Josh: It's the first time we've been back in awhile and it's gonna be fun to see our friends and hopefully have a good turnout. You know it's just so rough to play in Hilton Head, the island is just so…
Zach: (sarcastic) Growing up there was just hard and going to high school there was just difficult. It was just a rough place. Have the ocean near you..
Josh: The weather never getting below 50 or 60 degrees, it's just difficult.
I: So what do you guys see for yourself in the future?
Zach: You know I think we just to be continuing to build up our fan base to get people aware of who we are and you know touring and you know having more than one or two albums, I'd like to have like 60, or like 35 like Reba over here. We'd love to have a career like Reba or George Strait, or Brooks and Dunn even so, I guess just continuing to meet our fans and build our fan base and create awareness.
I: Can you tell me when the new album is coming out next year?
Josh: You know I would love to tell ya, I would love to even know when our album's coming out. We have no clue yet, we haven't set a release date. It's sometime 2010, earlyish. Believe me when we find out you'll be the first ones to know, we'll just post it.
I: I think you guys are doing great and I think So What is an amazing song, the music video to that just looked like a lot of fun. It was more you guys than Heart Like Memphis, so I really liked it.
Zach: Well thank you. Cause Heart Like Memphis was kind of like our first music video ever and it was kinda more you know how everyone has like the serious music videos and then we just kinda wanted to do one that was just a fan oriented video. It was just our personalities and getting the fans to know that we are completely big goobers and losers and so we just need to show you that.
I: Yeah I like the music videos that show a lot of the personality of the artist better. It seems like everyone fits the same formula, put them in a barn, get them some hay bales and look there's a pretty girl over here somewhere. It's perfect.
Josh: Yeah the pretty girl just like walks past them and they've got a cowboy hat on. There's a truck in the shot too right.
Zach: I do feel ya, it gets very sterile. I do love when artists come out with like funny music videos showing off their personality and goofing off, cause it just shows you how real they are and how cool they are. How they could be your best friend.
To learn more about The Carter Twins visit their official website.
One-Eyed Mule is a band that has been strumming its chords to its own unique beat since 2006. They are known for combining rock, folk and blues in a way that creates a unique sound. They have been featured on the television show The Cleaner and they are currently working on their next album in Sweden. The band consists of Rasmus Dall (Guitar and Vocals), Uffe Ipsen (double bass and organ), Soren Anderson (Guitar, banjo, organ), Rasmus Bonde (Harmonica) and Mads Tender (Drums).
Stephanie Schoppert: How/when did the band form?
Rasmus Dall: Well One-eyed Mule started out as a country blues outfit playing the songs of Blind Wllie Mctell, John Hurt, Furry Lewis at smokefilled bars and taverns. It was just guitar, doublebass and harp. Then in 2005 we started writing our own songs, got a record deal an released our first album "Hobo in the land of love" in 2006 and for those recordings Soren who plays banjo/electric guitar/organ and everything in between joined the band and brought as well his drumming roommate Mads. That's it.
Stephanie: Who are your biggest influences?
Rasmus: Since we started playing a lot folkie blues stuff all of those ol'time blues masters. Then Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan and Lou Reed.
Stephanie: If you had to, who would you compare your music style to?
Rasmus: Hmm the lyrics are country/folk, the feelin' is bluesy and the energy is rocky!
Stephanie:If you had to pick, which of your songs is your favorite and why?
Rasmus: That's really hard to say but it's usually the last song you wrote cause it's still very pure and fresh so I'd say the new songs we are recording now for our new album.
Stephanie: You're currently working on a new album, is there anything you can tell me about it?
Rasmus: We rented a big old house in the Swedish woods and recorded as much as possible live in the living room with our amplifiers hidden all over the house. The new album will be more acoustic than our last album "From the Beats to the Bible"
Stephanie: What is your writing process like?
Rasmus: It is mainly Uffe (doublebass) and I who write the songs. At our homes on the acoustic guitar and then we'll meet for some coffee in our basement studio and play the latest songs and tricks and then try to work it out.
Stephanie: Has your music style changed since you first started playing?
Rasmus: Not that much no though the latest album was more electric than acoustic. Uffe has done a lot of bowing on the doublebass so that's pretty much a trademark. But the new album will be a little more bright and light than our previous albums.
Stephanie: You use a lot of unique instruments for your songs what is the reason for this?
Rasmus: It looks really good on the stage and it's just funny to bring in some sounds that you don't hear all the time,- and it's funny to learn how to play them most of the time!
Stephanie: Where do you get inspiration for your songs?
Rasmus: That's a big one, but I just like to walk around (or bicycle as everybody does in Copenhagen theese CO2 days) and then sometimes you get something for the notebook that calls for a little more attention someday.
Stephanie: What is your favorite memory from touring so far?
Rasmus: Crossing borders with the ukulele in my hand
Stepahnie: What was the most awkward/embarrassing moment you've had while performing?
Rasmus: We were once hired to play a labour union congress that took place on the 4th floor and then they put us on the 3rd floor so people could only hear and not see us!! But we got our money so pretty easy job.
Stephanie: As an emerging band what do you think about file sharing and musicians giving away music free online?
Rasmus: It doesn't upset me. You'll give something away for free and hope you'll benefit somehow and it is easier to be up and coming these days but if it's all "DIY" you'll end up having little time to write songs.
To learn more about One-Eyed Mule check out their MySpace Page.
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