We recently caught up with super-cool singer/songwriter/rocker Meredith Sheldon before her show with Johnny Marr tomorrow night to chat about going solo, the sea, and scary bums in Detroit. Dig it.
MCB: Ok, so first off I want to thank you for taking the time to chat. Second, i hope the weather improves between now and Sunday because it has been utterly miserable as of late. Did you get caught up in the blizzard this past week? How is the tour going so far?
Meredith Sheldon: I certainly hope it improves! We have been fortunate enough to avoid the blizzards, though the stories I have been hearing are nothing less than harrowing. We've had a few bumps in the road dealing with tour buses breaking down and such but it has all worked out. The shows have been going really well so far and everyone is safe so I'm happy to bundle up and bear the cold!
MCB: You're playing solo on this tour, do you have a different mindset when you're performing alone on stage rather than with a band? More freedom? Less to hide behind?
MS: I've really been enjoying playing solo this tour. When you play with other people there is a harmonization of all the players' energy on stage, which is a very cool thing, but it's also very interesting and liberating to experience just my own energy up there. I used to be afraid of that because I had specific ideas of what I thought people liked and I wanted to give only that version of myself. My intention for this tour instead was to be as much my whole self as I can be without censoring or protecting myself, and practice being with the audience from a place of greater honesty. This has been proving so rewarding! Much less scary than I thought, and now I'm sort of kicking myself for spending so much time in fear of that which I always was anyway...MCB: Do you use a different gear on stage for a solo set?
MS: I have a much simpler guitar set up, though it wasn't terribly complicated to begin with. I love playing with distortion, but in this context it feels a bit intense. I have some nice delays and reverbs that I keep on all of the time, and I am enjoying playing through an old Deluxe. Thats it!MCB: I love your music ("Metal Hand" is my personal fave), it's raw and emotive with an accessible sensibility, but for the life of me I can't pin it down exactly. Where does your sound come from? What inspires you, musically or non-musically?
MS: I suppose it's the ultimate compliment to say you can't pin it down...that would be too easy! I have had such a wide and changing range of inspiration over the years. When I was young it was all about Hendrix, Zeppelin, Billie Holiday, Puccini. Then I discovered Big Star, The Kinks, PJ Harvey..the list really goes on and on. I like the grit and electricity of the rock stuff, but particularly when melody is strongly woven into the music. I can see that has influenced my guitar playing. I also had classical singing training in my teenage years, and though I may have tried to make my voice more gritty, I think I've ended up just incorporating that aesthetic. Non-musically, I am most influenced by my environment and the people I interact with, live with, love, am irritated by... ultimately, my own internal processes as triggered by others... this is the root of all my writing.MCB: I think "A La Mer" would have been a better title for your EP sketches, but I trust you know what you're doing. :-) What is the significance of the title A La Mar? And are there more editions to come? Please tell me there are some new recordings in the works.
MS: The story is... A La Mar is going to be the title of my full length record, which I hope to finish up this year. I had gotten impatient with myself and wanted to release some of my older songs, almost like cleaning house. So I began releasing the songs that had been "maybes" for the album as I decided they would not go on. I originally intended to use Alamar as a band name, but as I ended up being a solo artist, it got reassigned. It means two things: a) it is one of my favorite independent films ("Alamar"), and b) it translates as "to the sea" which I interpret as a dedication to the sea and all that represents for me.MCB: I know you've played here before, has Detroit been good to you? Any crazy stories?
MS: Nothing too crazy, thank goodness! I have only played Detroit once before and my bandmate at the time had a near fight with a crazy man outside the venue and I was actually a bit afraid for our lives for a moment, but I'm holding out that this time I will get to see a friendlier side! I hear its the up and coming place, no? It has undoubtably churned out an amazing number of wonderful musicians.MCB: Thanks again for your time, I'm really looking forward to the show!
Meredith Sheldon opens for Johnny Marr at St. Andrews Hall on Sunday night. Doors at 7pm.MS: Thank you!
Grab your tickets right here.
And check out "Metal Hand" below.