Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Making Dreams and Devastation was a big breakthrough for me. We worked incredibly hard on that album and I had to deal with so many emotions and personal issues to complete that, and put it out into the world. It was the first, fully complete and original expression of myself as an artist, a bandleader, a songwriter, everything. So it took everything I had.
Now, on the other side of that release, I understand viscerally what that process is, the work it takes, how to navigate it emotionally and I think moving through subsequent releases it will just continue to evolve me and also the band.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
This ideal state of mind is always changing. I don’t find one specific state of mind to be the most ideal as in, a permanent or returned to state. It's more an approach of honesty. If I’m real with how I’m feeling in the moment, that will be an authentic song. If I’m trying to be somebody else, that song will sound … awkward. I’ve got to show up, as I am.
So, the kicker with that for me is, I have to show up despite my pretty consistent fears of being somehow defective, being bullied for speaking my mind, somehow being a misfit. I have a haunting internal monologue, like a shadow in my heart that, if I’m myself, if I really just show up as I am, then I’ll fuck it up, everyone will think, what the fuck is she doing … I’ll make a huge fool of myself and I should really just shut the fuck up and hide in a hole. That’s the truth of it.
It’s not such a loud voice anymore. I’ve dealt with it a lot, but it’s there a bit. So I have an inner resistance and I just have to meet it, go there anyway and dive in. Once I dive in, the music takes over and I’m in that greater state of being. The pain, the memories, that trauma, it all quiets down. So I have to maintain that my greater self is running the show, not the part of me that feels undeserving of love.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Oh yes. Music does heal and hurt and I love this question. My more honest answer to my experience with both is that, my personal music, what I write and performing and being in the studio, that all heals me. I feel untouchable.
However, the music industry can be very painful. It’s full of archaic attitudes and unconsciousness and to be bold in my career I have to be ok with navigating those waters. It will be important for the viability of music on our planet, to come to terms with music not as a consumptive thing but as a powerful force for transformation. The bands I see really coming from a place of … breaking out of the matrix, dealing with very real issues in our world whether it’s the destruction of our planet and animals or human oppression in all it’s myriad of forms.
I think for bands to be viable from this point on, it would be wise to be coming from a place of consciousness. If you’re making music and transmitting sexism or rape energy, or racism and violence, greed, purely selfish egoic intentions, the world won’t have much use for that. That music is candy. It’s to put the masses to sleep. We are here to wake up. Who are you making music for? What’s the intention? To help? Or to pacify …
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I think it’s important to have reverence and respect. If you’re pulling from another culture because it looks cool and you feel original, be aware of that.
It’s tricky because I think we are steeped in this cultural stealing. The United States is founded on it. We can’t get away from it. We need to be honest about that and know where our influences come from and why we are using them. There’s blatant stealing and then there’s something more reverent. We can feel the difference but again it comes from the intention and consciousness of the artist.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I love the overlap of auditory and visual. I’m fascinated by color, and how such a subtle shift in a shade of blue or red, pick your color … can influence you as you perceive it. Often times in listening to a song a visual will come in whether it’s a music video idea or art. Also, using an album as my soundtrack to life, and how it influences how I perceive my surroundings, is my favorite. It’s brings my whole experience to life in such an amazing way.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Yes. Art is one with life. The purpose we are faced with now on the planet, of reckoning with this war of consciousness we are in, music and art is a powerful tool in that experience. It’s also a way to be free in your speech and to be received perhaps by people who otherwise would be closed to certain ideas in normal conversation. It’s a way to show up in an unbridled way that you just can’t describe in words. Nothing has changed my life more than certain bands, their albums, their human expression. It’s incredible to see people reach and surpass such pinnacles of harnessing their own energy, their own consciousness. There is nothing else more powerful than that.
On another topic, we are faced with an incredibly oppressive system, worldwide, which has tricked humans into believing that we aren’t as powerful and as beautiful as we are. We are made to love, to heal, to change, to inspire. To do magnificent things and to have magnificence in the smallest most silent moments. We are in a system that is causing so much harm. We don’t know truth from fiction anymore. It’s incredibly painful to watch what we do to animals on the planet, to each other. To see people who have nothing just fall through the cracks. There’s so much to deal with and also a responsibility for us to deal with it. We have to get over ourselves and do what is necessary to take care of each other and the planet.
The grief of this moment is huge I feel. Also the unexpressed love we actually have for each other, and how it’s not really cool to express it. There’s something about music that carries that essential humanness, it’s a way to be with it that adds grace to what could otherwise be crushing.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Everything. Music expresses everything about life and death which words cannot. Perhaps this question points to this … that we are vessels for life to pass through. There is an infinity and a love that is so deep, we strive to experience and realize it in this life.
With music that love, the life experience can flow without it tearing us to pieces.