Let’s talk about your debut album. “New York Howl” will be released in few weeks….is there a link/something that connects all the lyrics of the album?
The songs are inspired by the diary entries of a young woman named Francis who lived in New York City in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
I discovered her diary a couple of years ago in a worn out suitcase that had been left on the sidewalk, along with a number of other personal belongings; it’s common in New York for furniture, clothes, books, records, belongings to be abandoned, left for the taking.
Her journal revealed that her experiences of moving to New York were very familiar to me, and likely familiar to anyone young, alone, and broke, but ambitious, and ready to claw their way from life on the periphery.
The album isn’t so much a retelling of her story, but her story was used as a template for many of the songs. We don’t know what became of Francis, so the album is a bit of a ghost story.
Are you ever scared of revealing, aspects of your personal experience, to strangers through your music?
Not at all. The lyrics on the album are contingent upon one’s point of view.
At least, my intention is to allow them to be. As I write, I do so with the understanding that the meaning will be influenced by the experiences of the listener.
They may find the songs – or parts of them – to be more meaningful, more expressive if they’re allowed to apply their own context. I try to leave room for that kind of thing – set a scene, a mood, rather than dictate.
What has your journey in the music industry been like up to now?
Ups and downs, like anyone else probably. More ups than downs ahead, I hope.
What was the soundtrack to your childhood?
My Norwegian cousin Eirik bought me Appetite for Destruction on cassette tape one year for my birthday. I might have been eleven years old.
I didn’t know what the allusions were or what the references meant, but I could tell that the music was dangerous.
And I knew that my parents didn’t want me listening to it. Eventually, they threw the tape in the garbage before heading off to church. I of course scrounged it out of the garbage, which is pretty punk rock in retrospect. I wore that tape out.
What was the first record you ever bought?
David Bowie’s ChangesBowie.
At about the time I bought that CD, my older sister took me to a Peter Murphy concert in Portland, Oregon. I got a glimpse of a decadence, sophistication, romance, danger and depth I hadn’t yet been exposed to. I wanted to contribute, somehow.
What is your favorite song (not written by you) lyrically speaking?
That probably changes weekly, but I often refer to Lou Reed’s Berlin as the best album I’ve ever heard. It’s unique, and at once devestating and mean and beautiful.
What inspired “Cloud Light” ?
Loneliness, isolation, hope. Both Francis’ and mine. I wrote it on Easter which probably explains the elements of struggle and deliverance.
Do you remember the day you wrote “hearts”?
Yes, but it didn’t take all day. I think I wrote it in fifteen minutes. It’s definitely Francis’ voice coming through on that one.
What inspired the song “New York Howl?”
It’s a love song to New York City. Becoming a New Yorker doesn’t necessarily feel like a choice one makes but more like an addiction, or a possession. The video portrays this conversion symbolically through a kind of horror film-noir story.
The title “New York Howl” comes from a really cool underground rock band from Brooklyn that was active about the time I moved to the city.
What is the best show you ever played?
I honestly think the next one – this Sunday at Berlin in NYC – will be the best one. We have some new songs that we’re debuting. They’re our best yet I think, and there are more coming.
What are your plans for 2018?
The band is tighter than ever, and it’s easy to write together, and the songs are better for it. Our output will continue to grow, and so will the amount of fun we have.