lifeblood: listlogs: 2010v12n005-news


ig-news-digest          sunday, march 7 2010          volume 12 : number 005


today's subjects:
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  [ig-news] black & white amy interview  [sherlyn koo <sherlyn@pixelopolis.c]


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date: sun, 7 mar 2010 16:36:56 +1100
from: sherlyn koo <sherlyn@pixelopolis.com>
subject: [ig-news] black & white amy interview


hi folks,
here's an amy interview from black & white, a city paper in birmingham al.  you can read it online at
http://www.bwcitypaper.com/articles-i-2010-03-04-234532.113121_the_latent_blooming_of_the_indigo_girls.html
cheers,
sherlyn
- ---begin forwarded article---
the latent blooming of the indigo girls
adding to the bulls#!+ with amy ray
by j.r. taylor
march 04, 2010
the indigo girls might have an unfair reputation as particularly sensitive gals, so it's nice that co-founder amy ray can take a backhanded compliment. there's no polite way to note that ray and emily saliers recently hit their artistic peak long after their showing on the charts in 1987. that's when the indigo girls' major-label debutwith the hit "closer to fine"took them from atlanta's club circuit to worldwide success.
of course, some people already couldn't stand them back in 1985. ray and saliers still built a steady following. then they finally wrote great songs after 2004's painful all that we let in wrapped up 15 years of being signed to the epic label. 2006's despite our differences was the girls' first great album, a fact made unlikely by the duo signing a new deal with the tween-happy hollywood label (where their label mates included the jonas brothers and miley cyrus). their best reviews in several years couldn't build on their dwindling audience, and hollywood quickly dropped the act.
the duo then went indie with their own ig label and proved they're still at a folk-rocking high with 2009's poseidon and the bitter bug. that much change could make a celebrity defensive. instead, ray has a few ideas about how some music fans could just now get interested in the indigo girls.
"the big difference," says ray from her atlanta home, "has probably been working with mitchell froom as our producer. there were a couple of records beforelike become youthat i thought did a better job of getting to the core of what we do, but mitchell really gave us a different way of looking at things. he elevated us in every way. generally speaking, it was a fresh start working with him on despite our differences. then we worked with him again when we went independent with poseidon, and that was like starting fresh on a whole other level."
ray is speaking while between tours, having just returned from opening for brandi carlile as a solo act. she's more of a rock gal as a solo artist, and it's reasonable to think that her recent solo albumsreleased on ray's own long-running daemon records labelmight also be accountable for the indigo girls' newfound inspiration.
"it's made me better at what i do," agrees ray. "i started making solo albums in 2000, and then i was touring more out by myself, doing solo shows and working with other musicians. my writing had definitively changed, and emily and i both made more space for writing within the confines of touring, too. it was hard to figure out how to do that. i think we both figured out some important things after leaving epic."
those solo albumswhere ray works with acts like the butchies and joan jetthave also cemented the popular perception of her as the angry member of the indigo girls, with saliers as the more insightful and folksy voice of reason. there are fans who think so even without having seen ray occasionally screaming onstagesometimes in song, and at least once over a bad sound mix.
that theory garners a patient sigh from ray: "it's pretty apparent that's a major generalization. if you saw us 15 years ago, then it's possible i'd be the one more likely to have a temper tantrum. i've always been more rough around the edges. i play more in a rock style, so some people may perceive that as my persona. that doesn't necessarily mean that i'm more angry. look at some of emily's lyrics. there are enough nuances in our songwriting that you can see that's not really true for either of us. it's just not fair to distill it to something like that."
ray is certainly correct when it comes to the indigo girls' past few albums. the songwriting credits remain individual, but the two seem to be closely aligned. it probably helps that the veteran gay activists remain pissed off about legislation prohibiting same-sex marriage. in any case, their musical partnership seems closer now than most duos are in their early days.
"there are a few records where that's come together before," ray adds. "we're often traveling and thinking about the same things, and having the same experience. we've also had times where we're very disparate. my solo albums may have made a difference there. now i'm free to throw some things into a batch that i know are solidly indigo girl songs. i'm not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole as much as i used to."
of course, the indigo girls have never really fit in anywhere. the atlanta scene was just happy to have token folkies back when the girls were getting plenty of local support from bands like drivin' 'n' cryin' and r.e.m. they didn't fit in with 10,000 maniacs or tracy chapman when they first broke nationally, and no hip young acts are hoping for an indigo girls comparison. it's hard to imagine what kinds of bands would show up on their tribute album.
"i have no idea," ray agrees, "but that's a good question. we've always perceived ourselves as being very uncool. all of our friends have a pretty low profile. they're the same people who open for us, and the people we collaborate with. you'd have a pretty large independent contingent. it wouldn't be pearl jam or r.e.m. i'd like to think it'd be small bands like a fragile tomorrow, who are opening for us in birmingham. they're young guys who are big indigo girls fans, but are still creative with their own sound."
although i can't take credit for being an indigo girls fan when i was young, there's the important matter of my own tribute for once picking up a woman at an indigo girls concert. that was a major achievement, given their lesbian following back in 1985although ray refuses to give me any kind of official validation.
"see," she explains, "that sounds more like a backhanded compliment. in 1985, we probably had more of a mixed audience. we were in college back then, and playing to all our friends. our following with women didn't start heating up until later. i know that's the joke: a man can't pick up a woman at an indigo girls concert. it just adds to the bullshit. that's the kind of thing that makes people feel alienated, and that's not what we're about. maybe you should just feel proud that you were such a worthy guy." &
the indigo girls will perform saturday, march 6, at the workplay soundstage. a fragile tomorrow opens at 9 p.m. general admission tickets are $25. details at www.workplay.com or 879-4773.
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