When did you begin making music, and did you ever ponder a different career?
Music has been part of my life since I can remember being able to reach the keys of my neighbor’s piano as a toddler. I was fascinated by the piano and would always replicate melodies I had heard. Luckily it was encouraged and the piano became the anchor in a household that was always moving around. I was obsessed with classical music and played every day. I was a nerdy kid and turned into a nerdy teenager. Originally I thought I would do something with politics. That was my goal. I studied political science and African studies for a while but kept coming back to music. I’d be playing open mics instead of studying for exams and finally took the plunge and changed studies. When I moved back to the States it started taking on a more serious form. I studied music in Boston and then moved to Nashville before finally landing in LA. I had a hundred different jobs along the way to make ends meet but always wrote songs. Once I arrived in LA and discovered the Hotel Cafe community of artists I knew for sure that I wanted to pursue music. I had all kinds of weird waitressing jobs before I was rescued by Joshua Radin who invited me out on the road to play in his band. I never looked back after that. I think I make music because it feels like I don’t really have a choice in the matter. It is the one thing I always come back to and where I find the most comfort. To be given the opportunity to do it for a living is a miracle. I’ve been lucky enough to do that now for 5 years and there is no looking back for me anymore.
How would you describe your music?
The answer changes a lot but my music always starts off at the piano. That’s my core and where a song has to be able to live before it is made any bigger. I write autobiographical pop music I suppose, but it’s a bit left of center. Elba has a lot of electronic influences on it and it’s the most upbeat sounding album I’ve written. Songs are therapy to me so I work out a lot of my “stuff” behind the piano. I would say there is always a sense of optimism in my lyrics although I am dealing with some pretty dark stuff most of the time.
What have you been up to so far and what can we expect over the coming months?
I’ve been promoting Elba over in the Netherlands and now the album is slowly coming out in the rest of the world. I firmly believe in putting my boots on the ground and working hard everywhere the album comes out so a lot of travel is involved. We just played our first show in London (sold out!) so that gave me a lot of energy to come back and do it again. We’ll be playing in London again on December 4th as well as releasing the album in the rest of Europe, US and Asia in the spring and I’ll be traveling a lot to go play to whoever will listen. I’m learning how to write while on the road instead of having to be in my cave at home so collaborating while touring is a new thing for me. I’ve really enjoyed that process and will be doing a lot more of that in the months to come.
If you could duet with anybody who would it be and why?
Oh I love this question! Let’s hope it works. I would absolutely love to write and sing with Guy Garvey (Elbow). I’m a massive Elbow fan and his voice and energy make me feel more hopeful about music. Elbow have a fantastic ease about them and use space as an instrument as much as any other. Guy could run for president and probably win. You just want to be on his team when you see them perform. Another dream collaboration would be James Blake. I’m mildly obsessed with him (hi James). Every time I’ve seen him live it feels like a holy ritual. I just cannot get over the sounds and waves coming from that trio on stage. His voice and piano playing are classically great and stand by themselves. Then you add this soundscape that he has perfected to the mix and it just goes right to my core. He’s an incredible producer and writer so yes, James Blake for the win.
What’s your desert island disc and why would you take this one album?
This question is more difficult than any other! How to choose between all of these gems? I’m going to go by what I’ve been listening to non stop over the past few weeks then. It changes all the time but once I get hooked to an album it is my soundtrack for a few months. Assuming I’ll only be on the island for a few months before rescue I suppose I could survive very happily just listening to The National’s “Trouble Will Find Me”. It’s been my airplane/travel cd for a while now and never gets old. I just love them.