lifeblood: listlogs: 2006v09n062-news


ig-news-digest      saturday, september 23 2006      volume 09 : number 062

today's subjects:
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  [ig-news] bay windows article       [sherlyn koo <sherlyn@pixelopolis.com>]

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date: sat, 23 sep 2006 09:29:53 +1000
from: sherlyn koo <sherlyn@pixelopolis.com>
subject: [ig-news] bay windows article

hey kids,

here's a mega-article from new england bay windows.  you can read it online at
(mega url!):
http://baywindows.com/me2/dirmod.asp?sid=008ec9fbcff24ad18614290016be1303&nm=current+issue&type=publishing&mod=publications%3a%3aarticle&mid=8f3a7027421841978f18be895f87f791&tier=4&id=9a22c20088184d2f8668a605e9355a31

cheers,
sherlyn

- ---begin forwarded article---
issue date: 9/21/2006, posted on: 9/21/2006

despite their differences
laura kiritsy
lkiritsy@baywindows.com  

amy and emily on touring, buffy the vampire slayer and working with pink


emily saliers likes the feel of wheels rolling beneath her, loves to hear the
humming engine of a tour bus, relishes the unfamiliarity that comes with waking
up in some far flung hotel. "everything that's romanticized about the road, i
like that," says saliers. "and i love our fans, they energize me and i love
playing music and i wouldn't want to be playing with anyone else besides amy,"
she adds. "she's the greatest."

by contrast -- and in a bit of role reversal -- her musical partner amy ray,
prefers sticking close to her rural georgia home over the rigors of the road.
"it's funny because emily actually used to be a homebody. i've kind of slowly
become a homebody over time," ray says with a laugh. "i think it's the necessary
evil because i really love playing music and i realize i can't just play in my
hometown all the time," she says with a laugh. "we can't do 20 shows a month in
atlanta so we have to go somewhere else to play." while two decades of touring
have produced favorite jogging paths, restaurants and comic book stores in every
region of the country, says ray, "i just prefer to be at home now. it's just
something that's happened to me. it's just the way it is, but i love playing so
much that it's worth it to me [to tour]."

it's not surprising then that saliers and ray, the duo that comprise the indigo
girls, whose iconic harmonies are the soundtrack to the lesbian nation, titled
their newly-released disc despite our differences. they really are that
different, says ray, but it's all good. "i think some of it's superficial
difference, if people say emily's light and i'm dark or whatever. emily's a
pretty dark person and i'm often pretty light about certain things. but it is
true that we typically feel opposite about most things except for central core
human values that we share," explains ray. indeed, the two share a passion for
advocating a host of progressive causes, from lgbt rights, to the environment,
to opposing the death penalty and the war in iraq. but says, ray, "there's a
million things that are just different about us. that's why we work well
together."

saliers concedes the album's title is a reference to the pair's perseverance
despite their differences but adds, "it also has more global implications,
because the way the world is right now and all the devastation and the war and
the conflict and different people coming from places of fear with how they
regard each other, it points to the hope and the possibility that despite our
difference we can co-exist in peace. and of course that's our hope for the
world. it's a hope reflected on the disc's saliers-penned opening track
"pendulum swinger," a catchy, feminist plea for peace on which she sings "it
doesn't come by the bullwhip/it's not persuaded with your hands on your hips/not
the company of gunslingers/the epicenter love is the pendulum swinger."

despite our differences marks the indigo girls's debut on hollywood records, a
small disney-owned label, after a career-spanning 12 releases for epic records.
it's also the culmination of their first collaboration with producer mitchell
froom, the man responsible for creating the sonic textures that made fellow
folkie suzanne vega's 1992 record 99.9f0 a stunner -- danceable, even. (he is
also vega's ex-husband and now married to saliers's good friend,
singer/songwriter vonda shepard.) froom has also produced elvis costello,
crowded house and sheryl crow, but what really turned saliers and ray on was
froom's work with the band cibo matto, the west village outfit fronted by
japanese americans yuka honda and miho hatori that caused a sensation in the
indie world in the mid-1990s with their hybrid of trip-hop, rap, riot grrl and
bjork-inspired nonsense (as in the lyric, "obi-wan kenobi is waiting for me in
union square," from the classic "sci-fi wasabi") one wouldn't necessarily peg
saliers as a fan of the band -- who broke hearts when they called it quits after
cutting just two full-length records, stereotype a and viva! la woman -- after
all, it's ray who has branched out into edgier, punk-inflected territory with
her solo efforts stag and prom, while saliers has been cast as ever the joni
mitchell-loving folkie. so it's surprising when she launches into full-blown
cibo adoration: "oh my god, they're one of my [favorite bands]. i was so sad
when they didn't make music anymore together." of their two releases, she says,
"i actually love both those records. yeah, man. well i love the way they sing, i
love their harmonies and the songs are so musical but they have this sort of
aggression but under the guise of a sweet voice, which was really cool.

"they're sexy," she adds. "i think that band was really sexy."

as for froom, he hasn't turned the indigo girls into a pair of re-mix ready,
avant-garde riot grrls. despite our differences is classic indigo girls, a blend
of saliers's earthy soprano and ray's throaty alto on tracks that showcase their
respective writing talents, from ray's gritty rural laments ("they won't have
me", "dirt and dead ends") to saliers's more spiritual/philosophical bent ("fly
away", "all the way"). but the duo also uncharacteristically tears it up on the
ray-penned "rock and roll heaven's gate," a full-throated fight song whose fury
is further ratcheted up courtesy of backing vocals by pop star pink. the trio
first made music together on pink's anti-bush ballad "mr. president," which is
featured on her new record, i'm not dead. "she actually lived in atlanta for
four years and i think when she was younger she was a fan of our music and sang
a lot of harmonies to it," says saliers. "so it was really really flattering to
be asked to sing on her record. the request came out of the blue, adds saliers,
who is a fan of the singer's, "and we had a really good experience in the studio
together. we all got along and just had a real good affinity and sang well
together. she's an incredible singer. so we were going to make a record out on
the west coast and she lives out there so we just said, well we're going to
make a record in april or may or whatever and if you're around will you sing on
it?' and she's like, i'm there.' she happened to be in town and it was really
nice of her, too, because her record had come out and she was crazy busy. but
she just came in the studio, she didn't know the song; amy handed her the lyrics
and she just went in her little booth and knocked it out.

"she's a pro, man," adds saliers. "she sings so powerfully she has to stand like
five feet on the microphone. you could hear her through the isolation door. it
was just like, wow.'"

will the collaborations convert any pink fans? "that would be nice," says
saliers. "i love collaborations that you wouldn't normally think were going to
come about. that's just interesting to me. i feel like we so categorize things.
really, the magic comes out when you mix it up. i like hybrids. it would be
fantastic if  there were pink fans who got turned on to our music through that
song and vice versa. it's just a great thing. the more we can be exposed to
different kinds of music the better. because music just enriches our lives,
informs us, and educates us and makes our spirits feel good -- or dark, however
we want to be. the more you get to know it, it's just this bottomless well of
this incredible gift."

without a doubt, "rock and roll heaven's gate" would have been well-suited to
either of ray's edgier solo efforts, which is, in fact, where other of ray's
tunes have landed after being nixed as indigo girls material. since saliers and
ray don't write songs together, it's a given that on occasion one might not be
so into singing what the other has brought to the table. for the most part, the
writer has the final word on what gets added to the repertoire, says ray.
"that's our agreement. so if i think something's not as strong but emily feels
really strongly about it and just believes in it to the core then i give in and
let it unfold and see what happens, and vice versa."

but when serious misgivings about lyrical content emerge, the deal is off, as in
the case of ray's "lucystoners", a cut from stag in which ray takes a shot at
rolling stone founder jann wenner's male-dominated view of rock music. ray
recalls first pitching the song to saliers and manager russell carter: "i played
it for her and russell, our manager, and she was just like, well, i guess we'll
never get in rolling stone if we do that song.' and i was like, well, does it
really matter?' i mean, we haven't really had a significant place in rolling
stone to begin with. and she's like, i don't know if i want to put that out
there.' and i was like, that's cool i'll just do it by myself.' so i started
doing it alone it was pretty funny," says ray. "it didn't bother me at all and
it didn't bother her. she would make jokes about it after i'd sing it solo at a
show -- she would just sort of jokingly sing it back to me," she laughs. "so it
was fine."

such is life for a duo that has enjoyed two decades of success by capitalizing
on their differences rather than being sunk by them. but in any such
relationship, it's often the little things that help bridge the gap. things like
the cult tv show buffy the vampire slayer. "oh god, i love buffy," says saliers.
"love buffy. and so does amy. we watch it on the bus sometimes and i think we
have all the dvd's. i love that show so much.

"you can't even say why you love that show. it's got a certain magic to it,"
adds saliers, whose tv watching also runs to football, the l word and cold case
("because i thought that actress was hot," she confesses).

"that show to me was great writing," ray agrees of buffy, which ran for seven
seasons on the wb and upn networks starting in the mid-1990s and has inspired
trekkie-like fanaticism. "i know it's very cultish and a lot of people sort of
think it's kitchsy or something but i felt like it was really profound in some
ways and poignant, some of the issues that it took on. but i like sci-fi fantasy
stuff because i think you can be more subversive in that art form.

"i watched the whole series all at once over a period of six months," she adds.
"and it was just so depressing when it was over because i thought, what am i
gonna do?"

but despite their shared buffy-love, their differences, as always, emerge.
favorite character? "buffy," says saliers. "she kicks ass. like xena. i love
feminine girls who kick ass."

as for ray, "i'm gonna have to say xander, actually," she says with a
sympathetic laugh for the show's most comically pathetic character. "i just feel
for him."

behind the music

amy ray on writing and recording the song "dirt and dead ends" from the new
indigo girls disc despite our differences:

"well that one actually just kinda came out all at once. it's sort of the story
of a lot of people in the area that i live in and it's one person in particular.
i live in a rural area and it's really plagued with methamphetamine [abuse] and
drug trafficking and a lot of people that are just really demoralized, i think,
by the economy and the process of progress that goes on in rural areas that
doesn't take into account the old ways really, or a way to make the ruralness
work. so i think i've seen a lot of people that -- their lives fall apart or
they don't really know where they fit in necessarily and one way that a lot of
people have been fitting in where i live is just to start doing meth and start
selling it. and they get in trouble and they get arrested and their lives
unravel after that; they lose their house, they lose everything. so i was just
telling a story of someone that could really be anyone. and i'm also  trying to
just illuminate also the disappearing countryside basically.

"it's funny because i recorded that song a bunch of times to try to get just the
right performance demo-wise, when i was demo-ing it in my house, in my little
room, in front of my little tape machine. then when we were going in [to the
studio] to record it, i was like, i just don't think i can do it, i think i
like the demo version so much that i just want to leave it.' so we just used the
version that i did in my house and built the bass part and the drum part around
it. so it was kind of fun because it was experimental and i really like mitchell
[froom, the record producer] and [sound mixer] david boucher a lot because
they'll do things like that. they understand that sometimes you just don't need
to record something again."

behind the music

emily saliers on writing the song "all the way" from the new indigo girls disc
despite our differences:

"i was driving home from nashville one day, it was around dinner time i think,
and i was stopped on the highway in bumper to bumper traffic. and off in the
distance i could see this plume of smoke. i knew something really, really bad
had happened and i approached it and i saw that it was this huge truck, a cab,
actually, of a truck that had smashed into something off the side of the road.
obviously there's no way he could have seen because it was just -- everything
was just decimated and on fire, and that image never left me. and i started
thinking about the way that people crash into each other in life and what are
the repercussions of that: how do you survive it? what a mess it is [but] can
you come alive from it, in spirit? that image stayed with me so clearly and i
just, i like to use images about other things and put them in the human context.
so that was the genesis of that song. and it's about warning signs like the
oilslick of uncertainty' and that signs are all around us that we're headed
down this path. but we don't pay attention to them until we crash and it's not
even necessarily a bad thing to crash, but it is impactful.

"i'm fascinated by the way people come into each other's lives and for what
reason. i'm the kind of person that believes that everything happens for a
reason and at the perfect time. but it still boggles my mind, through the
unraveling of it all and making sense of it and why we're so affected by people
and what that means and what does that count for, in a very existential way. so
that's the stuff i sit around and think about on the -- [laughs], well, all the
time, basically."

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end of ig-news-digest v9 #62
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