Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interview with Kristin Andreassen

After hearing Kristin Andreassen on A Prarie Home Companion a few weeks, I dropped her an email, and hoped she would write me back. Well she did, and threw in the curveball of a phone interview. This sent me in a bit a whirlspin, since I've never done a phone interview before for this blog, and I wasn't quite sure about taping it and what not. And when I do live interviews, I tend to let the interviewee take over, because it gives you better quotes.

So I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do.

But I called her last Wednesday, only to be kicked to voicemail. Now I'm thinking she stood me up. But she called back in a few minutes and told me she was driving in a tunnel on her way to Brooklyn, and once she parked and found a coffee shop she'd call me back.

I'm of the belief that most people are nice, but she was really really nice. 30 minutes later she called and we chatted for a very quick hour about everything. I had questions, written down, but they kind of went right out the window.

So this is less an interview, but more of a long recap of our conversation, sprinkled with quotes.

Although she is based out of Boston right now, Kristin still has a Maryland area code for her cell, attributable to her time with Annapolis's Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble.

Kristin says that the song "Crayola" was kind of a bridge from Footworks to her solo album "Kiss Me Hello."

"Most of the first songs I wrote didn't have any muscal accompianent. Crayola was one of the first songs I ever wrote, playing patty cake on the steering wheel. I had rhythms and kid shows on the brain."

One of the most amazing things about the album is that Kristin plays virtually all the instruments. But she wouldn't categorize herself as a multi-instrumentalist.

"As a kid, I played piano and sang in choirs. I still wouldn't consider myself an instrumentalist.

"The journey started as a dancer in annapolis, and wiritng my own songs, I figured that I should learn how to play the guitar in from an audience.

"I've always been sort of a band person."

And a band person she is. She plays with two other bands, Sometymes Why and Uncle Earl. For the record, I'm all for attractive women getting together and singing beautiful music. But Kristin keeps the whole thing rather breezy and low key, even when she's name dropping. On talking about Uncle Earl's last album

"It was a very unfanfareish release. We did this record with John Paul Jones."

Oh, just John Paul Jones. Of Led Zepplin fame.

And so our conversation goes. She still seems geniunely incredulous that she got on to A Prarie Home Companion after mailing them a copy of her fantastic debut album ("I was like , that's a waste of a $1.11").

I've already gushed over "Kiss Me Hello" but I'm going to continue. It's a really pleasant and refreshing album. Slightly genre mixing, it still is very traditional American music. Kristin says she had many sources of inspiration.

"I feel like in a weird way, I wrote these songs in sort of genre categories, and recording them kind of taught me what they were. Our friends would come and stay with us [in Annapolis] all the time. And I feel that what I learned about music, came from those times when friends would come by and stay."

Lyrically, the album stands out for great writing. Each song has a very nice hand-crafted feel to it, with no thrown away lines or overemoted filler.

"I'm not a fan of music that makes you work too hard to understand it, that it's not an exercise.

"I think it's the influence of listening to other songwriters. One of the thigns that Dylan said is that he listened to so much traditional music. So much of his stuff is stolen melodies. And I think that's okay. And you can't always come up with something completely orginal. There's something archtypal."

Kristin's next big adventure is her two song a month club. For $15, you get two brand new songs a month from her for 2009. This is why I love independent artists. That's an incredible connection to make with an audience.

Again, Kristin seems very unassuming about the task.

"It's a lot of music. It's not that I'm going to have low standards for myself. I'm seeing the two song a month club as a committment to myself to write. Of the fans I have, I feel like thay enjoy the process. Your early demos, you feel like they are completely flawed, and those are the ones people like.

"I've learned that other people are more forgiving than I am of my first attempt."

If you'd like to see Kristin play in your hometown, she says just write her, which I'm sure your local music hall will appreciate.

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