- ALICE MARIE
Jan. 10, 1971
~Favorite musical performers/artists?
Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks, Lisa Gerard, Vienna Teng, Peter Gabriel, Loreena McKennitt, Enya
~Your favorite books/authors?
Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way was pivotal-it didn’t just open a door, it took it right off its hinges. I had no spiritual compass before that and had not perceived a connection between creativity and spirituality. Then there was Sonia Choquette’s Your Heart’s Desire, Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance (I’ve been rereading that this year and finding even more to love about it), Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, lots of Caroline Myss books and tapes, and Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization (love the tape and still meditate with that). One that dealt speciifically with food addiction (I had episodes of bulimia and anorexia in my teens) was Margaret Bullet-Jonas’ Holy Hunger. Powerful stuff! Oh,and I can’t forget SARK with her iridescent playful books. Love her!
~Your favorite movies?
Dead Poets Society, Princess Bride, Omen and Omen II, The Exorcist, Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, most British period pieces, especially ones with Emma Thompson (wow, those are some heavy, dark titles, huh?) Okay, we need more light here... Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral (so much for light LOL) Austin Powers International Man of Mystery
~Your favorite foods?
Spicy, doughy, yummy kinds! Indian, Thai, Italian, Cuban...anything my mother makes.
~Who are the people who’ve inspired you (musical & other)?
Oprah, Tori Amos and the aforementioned company and several more, numerous novelists and non-fiction authors, anyone who's turned a perceived liability into an asset, medical intuitive Caroline Myss
~Any favorite or funny memories (including any of your past live musical performances)?
Pretty much every day spent with my husband -- or even just talking on the phone with him -- yields a funny memory. Among the favorites with and without him are Paris in the springtime, New England in fall, San Francisco weekends, roller coaster rides, B&B's and castles in Ireland, just about everything I've done and seen in New York, especially recording Equilibrium and my newer stuff with Wade Tonken but most of all, finding out I'm going to be a mother!
Favorite performing memories definitely include doing my one-woman show in South Florida -- some nights the connection between the audience and me was pure magic. Performing at a West Side venue called Makor is also a favorite. Something warm and attentive about that room and the audiences it attracts. Oddly enough, one of my favorites -- or at least most powerful ones -- was among a small group of classmates. It was the first time I sang "Damage" for anyone, and I ended up crying through half the song. And they held such a beautiful space for me and cried with me. Talk about catharsis!
~Hobbies/activities that you enjoy?
Drinking herbal tea. Discovering and sampling tea rooms around Manhattan and beyond. Learning and practicing French and other foreign languages. Writing poetry. Walking around Manhattan, exploring new side streets and parks. Petting and playing with other people's dogs...
Two tiger tabbies named Roi and Kodak...my Zen teachers/whimsical creatures
~Any musical artists that you would like to work with?
Excellent question! I would love to have Eddie Vedder's vocals on something. Rob Thomas and Geoff Tate (Queensryche) are two other voices I really like. Lots of testosterone! I'd also love to see what Glen Ballard (Alanis Morrisette) or Matt Serletic (Collective Soul, Matchbox 20) would do with my songs. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in Peter Gabriel and Tori Amos' studios.
~Your first album/cd you ever bought?
I remember buying lots of 45s with my sister -- everything from Rod Stewart to Debbie Boone, and yes even Steve Martin's "King Tut" was in there. My first albums were Olivia Newton-John ones. My first CD's were Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and Tangerine Dream's Tyger. Talk about an eclectic mix!
~Your feelings about taking music lessons as a child
How much time did you spend studying every day, etc.?
I'm probably the worst student I know when it comes to music. I took piano lessons around seven and continued them off and on with different teachers (we moved around a bit), and I tended to resent the classical music approach and mandatory practice. It was only later when I was in college that I came back to the instrument on my own terms, playing the songs I wanted to play, and surprising myself with melodies and lyrics. I do love what workshops and good books like Tunesmith do to improve my playing and songwriting, so I try to weave them into my maverick self-taught style.
~Something most people don't know about you? --
That I can feel painfully awkward in social situations. I can perform in front of hundreds, but I look for the nearest exit at most parties.
~Family (brothers, sisters, etc.)?
I have one sister from my parents' marriage and several half brothers and sisters from my father's unions before and after my mother.
~Your family life while growing up as a child?
In a word, unsettling. We moved around a lot, and there was a generally volatile vibe between my parents that made me feel very insecure. My sister and her sense of humor made for a good refuge -- as did books, music, movies, and my mother's love.
~Describe a day in the life of Alice Marie--
I'm happy to say the days vary greatly, but I'm also happy to say most of them start and end with the bookends of quiet writing and reading time. Those are the things that center me for what happens in between -- whether it's conquering my fears in a recording session or conquering dust bunnies beneath my keyboard! There's also a lot of computer time -- e-mail, research, bookkeeping. I know...not exactly the stuff Rolling Stone looks for in a rock star!
~Your feelings about being an independent artist vs. having a record label--
I've always liked running my own ship, so I love not having to answer to anyone. I also like not being a part of what's historically been a pretty exploitative relationship between artist and label. But I certainly acknowledge the power that labels have to reach a bigger audience -- that's why I agreed to have "Madeleine" on Virt Records' Undiscovered Gems compilation. It's not the same as being signed, but it adds more branches to my distribution tree, so to speak. And as much as I like to work alone, I also know my limitations and would love to have more business expertise and contacts backing my creative efforts. I think we're already seeing some interesting hybrids via distribution deals and will continue to see more as technology and the independent spirit at large evolve.
~Any thoughts on the music scene in Brazil?
I confess I'm more "gringa" than Brazilian even though both my parents are from there and I did live there for a little while. I feel very out of touch with the music scene there since I haven't visited in 18 years, and I've always been more attracted to American and British/Celtic artists in general (and Brazilians themselves will readily admit their passion for imported music too; most of what I heard on the radio back in '84 and '85 was American or European). It's a shame because I know I'm missing out on some amazing artists and music in the process -- like Milton Nascimento's "Coracao de Estudante," one of the songs I fondly remember from my stay in Sao Paulo.
~Your feelings/thoughts about the talents, sexual exploitation etc. of music/artists currently going on in the industry--
Well, I guess alluded to this in the question about labels above. Art and commerce are strange bedfellows indeed, and I think it's up to each artist to find the right balance for him/her. Certain types of music lend themselves more readily to mass marketing and distribution while others work best in an indie/grassroots context where they can retain their freshness. It's important to know which one suits you and your music best. Tori Amos compares her music catalog to a small vineyard with very specific customers who seek her out as opposed to the ones churning out supermarket brands like Sutter Home or Ernest and Julio Gallo. She's been extremely successful within that context -- she's able to afford all the Manolo Blahniks her heart desires and STILL record the kind of music she wants. And really, isn't that what it's all about? Authentic self-expression and good shoes!
As for the wine I produce, once in a while I write a white zin or chablis kind of piece, but the rest is pretty dark and heavy cabernet sauvignon.
~How has 9/11 changed you?
I recently went down to Ground Zero with an out-of-town friend who wanted to pay her respects. If she weren't such a dear friend, I probably would have declined. The emotions it evokes for me can still be that raw. Before we got there, she was having a tense conversation with her fiance that irritated her quite a bit, but after we visited the site and the exhibit in St. Paul's Chapel, she said that their quarrel seemed small. That's one of the gifts of 9/11 -- perspective. I'm very grateful for that. Every time we choose peace over being right, every time we give of ourselves without expecting anything in return, every time we savor every pleasure available to us, we honor those who died that day. It's the ultimate memento mori to keep our consciousness in check.
How is Angels Near different from your previous CD's?
It’s darker and even more personal than Equilibrium, but I hope also more universal. This is the novel I tried writing for years — which was really a thinly veiled autobiography. Overall, it’s more guitar-driven and soundscape-y too. I worked with the same producer (Wade Tonken), so the palette isn’t dramatically different, but you could say we put the dainty paintbrushes down and fingerpainted this time around. Raw is a word that comes to mind.
Were there any musicians or CD's that influenced you in the writing or recording of Angels Near?
Peter Gabriel is a name that came up a few times when we were recording. As did Annie Lennox. Apparently I also inadvertently channeled a little Patti Smith (that comparison has come up a few times). Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love continues to be a source of inspiration, and Tori Amos’ from the choirgirl hotel was a reference point too. Basically people who hang out in the rain-drenched UK!
Can you describe some of the songs on Angels Near?
I have a soft spot for “Could It Be” because it conveys the conversational relationship I have with God. It’s my what-you-talkin’-’bout-Willis song. I mean, He tells me to record and share my music but then a few months later, He tells me it’s time to become a mother. Okay...so it’s my 3 minutes of self-pity, which is all I blessedly have time for. LOL “Bring the Guitar” is probably the most adventurous lyrically yet my most accessible song musically. I could hang out in that barn all day, grooming a golden horse, daydreaming about the arrival of my horseman. The title is basically code for “bring the testosterone!” “I Was Seven” is the most personal and yet having become art, it’s outside of me now, holding a place for other people who have experienced something similar. The same goes for “It’s Amazing” which is also very personal. It’s about the suicidal depression I experienced on more than one occasion. It really is amazing that I’m alive and have so much to be thankful for.
Will you be going on tour to promote Angels Near?
Well, I’ve been dropping the reclusive Kate Bush impression, and have been lining up gigs in the NYC-northern New Jersey area. I barely gigged for Equilibrium, so this feels like a world tour! I’m taking it day by day, doing all I can to be with my daughter as much as possible while also mothering these songs who refuse to be orphans.