By Marissa Nadler; photo by Derrick Belcham, art by Marissa Nadler on February 10, 2014
WHEN WE KNEW WE WERE GOING TO MAKE IT AS A BAND
I’ve never really felt that way. I just feel propelled to create. When I don’t do something creative every day, I feel like shit. I don’t know how to live when I’m not working on something. I hold myself to my own standards in terms of feeling as though I’ve made it or not. If I have a good day where I make something, I’ve made it for that day. I can’t see outside of that day-to-day right now.
THE HIGH POINT OF OUR CAREER
I think just being able to travel the world because of my music. I feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to see so many places and meet so many people and kindred spirits because of the connection that music and art can create in people. Also, having recently signed to Sacred Bones, thus becoming labelmates with David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch (two filmmakers who I adore) as well as to Bella Union, run by Simon Raymonde, of Cocteau Twins! It's been a good year and I'm excited about that, especially after having struggled and hit some major bumps in the road. I can appreciate things so much more now.
THE LOW POINT OF OUR CAREER
Being dropped by a record label. Let’s not name names or anything. Everything’s cool now. It was definitely a business transaction and not a personal one. But that experience really did help me to search deeper within myself. I did a Kickstarter after that and that led to a positive experience of starting my own label, and making a record that I was really proud of (2011’s self-titled album). That “low point” actually led me onto a trajectory of eventually finding labels that are much better homes for me. So, in retrospect, I’m actually really glad that it happened that way.
THE FUNNIEST THING A JOURNALIST EVER WROTE ABOUT US
There is this hilarious site out there called Jarred and Petey’s Review Corner. It’s a Tumblr and it’s sooo funny: “If you are a big metal man in a tree with a lot of stickers on your sweatshirt you may like melissa [sic], even if you are an indie, mountain goats, that’s fine too! She sings veeeerryyy scary but she wont hurt you or make you grounded!!!”
WHEN THE JOURNALISTS GOT IT RIGHT
Talking about the sincerity of my songwriting without falling prey to genre descriptions and comparisons. Music is music, and the reason I like old country music so much is because of how relatable the songs are to the human condition. Music is a great unifier and I just want to make songs that people can relate to.
BEST SHOW EVER
There have been a lot of memorable shows over the years so it’s hard to pick or remember them all. This was pretty recent, but playing with Jim Jarmusch and Jozef Van Wissem was awesome, because I love their duo. I was also secretly (not so secretly) very excited to meet Jim, as I’m a huge fan of his work and I never thought in a million years, as a teenager watching his movies, that our paths would cross. He’s very nice and complimented my 12-string playing and I loved their set. Also, recently playing with Swans in Brooklyn. I have to say they have a very great and respectful crowd and I love Michael Gira.
WORST SHOW EVER
Sadly, there are a lot of options for this one. I think it can be a challenge to find the right room and the right crowd for a live setting when the music is subtle and quiet. My worst tour ever was an opening slot. My booking agent at the time put me on tour opening the first of three for Peter Bjorn and John during their huge hit whistle-song days. It was the douchiest of crowds, no offense to the band, who were very nice. It was fairly demoralizing to get talked through night after night. I'm tough as nails now after enough of those kinds of tours.
HOW WE’RE MOST LIKELY TO BE REMEMBERED
I'd hope that I'm likely to be remembered how I want to be remembered.
HOW WE’D LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED
As writing honest songs that all different kinds of people could relate to, regardless of genre. As a lifer, dedicated to my craft.
THE BEST SONG WE EVER WROTE
Hasn’t happened yet. I have a lot of songs in my seven-record career that I’m very proud of (and some of course that I’m not so proud of), but I like to think that the journey of an artist is a lifelong pursuit. I want to leave my options open in terms of constantly pushing myself as a writer.
MARISSA NADLER PICKS 3 OF HER RECORDS YOU SHOULD ALREADY OWN
Ballads of Living and Dying
My first record. This one is still close to my heart because it was the first official one and led me on the path that I’m on today. It’s dark, noir nighttime listening.
There are some really eerie moments I’m still into on this record.
I’m really proud of this record and the songs on it. Brian McTear, who produced it, created a wonderful sonic palette for these songs.