What inspired you to pursue music?
I started playing piano when I was two and a half, and while my parents are not musical, they were thoughtful enough to have an instrument in their living room in case one of their kids took to it. I suppose at that young age I was inspired by the sheer joy I felt, touching the keys and quickly very determining, in a subsconscious way, that the shapes and patterns I made on them could be used to express my feelings. For whatever reason, my ear developed quickly and by the time I was in kindergartn I knew music was the language through which I could best express my emotions and ideas.
As soon as I saw other people singing and dancing on TV and in movies, I said to myself “that’s what I want to do!” I started writing songs at around five years old, which was unusual enough that other people began calling me a songwriter before I formally recognized that’s what I was doing. Sleepaway camp – Camp Mataponi, specifically! – was really where I started developing a reputation as “the girl who wrote her own music”. By the time I was Bat Matzvah’d, I had been given a 4-track recorder as a gift from my relatives, and was producing my own demos with very big dreams of being on Top 40 Radio!
Can you tell us a little bit about you?
I live in NYC, in the East Village. I’ve been running my own record label for many years now, and put out my 1st album on MPress Records when I was 24. Since then I’ve released 13 full-length releases and a bunch of shorter EP’s, as well as executive producing albums by Grammy Nominee Seth Glier and Independent Award Winning band A Fragile Tomorrow, among others. I also love painting and drawing, and I originally trained as a professional ballet dancer and classical actress, so that’s why so many of my lyrics allude to dance, and have Shakespearean imagery!
What artists do you look up to right now?
I don’t know that “looking up” to other artists is really how I’d describe my admiration – because I think it’s important to remember that we’re all just people and put our pants on the same way as they say! – but some of my favorite artists currently are Jade Bird, Hozier, Glen Hansard, and Janelle Monae. Each of these musicians has such a unique voice and a strong message of empathy and resilience, along with being amazingly charismatic. In spirit, their recordings remind me of artists like Janis Joplin, The Doors, Van Morrison and The Temptations, respectively…timeless expressions of passion and poetry, with epic live performance energy. Their music transports and uplifts me, while encouraging me to be more authentic, myself; that’s really all I can hope for from any artist!
You just released your new acoustic album! Can you tell us about what this album means to you?
I recorded “PseudoMyopia” after doing a 7-week tour with ‘80s synth-pop icon Howard Jones, who happens to have been one of my childhood idols. I grew up with his poster on my wall, and since I also started playing synthesizer in junior high school, having him as an example of a hyper melodic solo pop songwriter was very encouraging to me.
Ironically, when I finally had the wonderfl opportunity to tour with him, he was completely acoustic, without any synths vs. just his voice and a piano. Hearing his lyrics like that – stripped back to just the essentials – really blew me away, and I was reminded by just how powerful his message is of optimism and compassion.
In a way, I was inspired to create an acoustic version of last year’s “Myopia” because of that experience…combined with the constant request at my merc table for a recording that sounds “more like what you do live”. So my piano, acoustic guitar, violin and cello arrangements take center stage on this record – supporting the songwriting in a much more intimate way.
How did this album come about? & Can you tell us the meaning behind the album?
I collaborated on this recording with my longtime producer Andy Zulla (Kelly Clarkson, Idina Menzel), who I’ve known since I was in High School. He’s pretty much my oldest friend, and he’s a brilliant engineer on top of being hilariously funny. The new versions of these songs are based on my original album “Myopia” – which I coproduced with Grammy nominee John Shyloski – a collection of songs inspired by the concept of Vision. In one way or another, all of the songs on the record deal with vision or the lack thereof, both literally and figuratively, i.e. politically.
What has been your thought about the success of the new music?
It’s been incredibly gratifying touring behind “PseudoMyopia” so far, and getting to play these songs live in front of audiences in both the US and the UK! I was recently informed that I’ve been nominated for 4 Independent Music Awards, so I’ll have the opportunity to perform live at the IMA’s in June, which will be exciting! In addition, it’s been both surprising and humbling to see my track “Sistersong” climb the Top 40 Charts this month (it’s currently #37), alongside artists like —- and —-. I wrote that song when I first started out in this crazy business and was witnessing (and experiencing) a great deal of discrimination; I decided to record it in light of the #metoo movement, and I’m happy that my little feminist anthem has been somehow able to find a home on pop radio.
Any fun moments while creating the album?
It was really a pleasure to have guitarist Ben Butler appear on “PseudoMyopia”. Ben was in my very first NYC group, “The Red Rubberband”, and is always so creative and soulful. I love how his parts interweave into mine so seamlessly. He also happens to be on tour right now with Sting, so it’s a pleasure watching him have the time of his life on Facebook, and appreciatng just how fortunate I am to have had someone so talented contribute to my recording.
What song are you most excited to perform from this new album?
I love playing the song “Alive” with my fantastic violinist Kelly Halloran, who has been touring with me for several years now. It’s the most upbeat track on the record, and it’s fun singing a song that nods to my favorite painter, Frida Kahlo. When we made the video, we also got to work with wildly talented dancer Elliana Walmsley and brilliant choreographer Gianna Martello from “Dance Moms”, which was so much fun!
What does it feel like to perform your own music live in front of your supporters?
It feels like a perfect opportunity to be the best possible version of myself, and to be extremely grateful there are people who actually connect with what naturally give me joy! In essence, it feels like a blessing.
What are you most looking forward to while on tour?
I always look forward to meeting new listeners and to reuniting with those who have supported me ongoing. I love chatting with people after the shows and hearing how everyone is doing…just getting the pulse, so to speak. I learn so much from and am so inspired by those who come to my shows, and it’s nice have that chance to express my appreciation, in person!
How do you want your relationship to be with your supporters?
I want it to be one or mutual respect, and encouragement.
What was the craziest fan encounter you have had?
I had a guy come to a NYC show once dressed to hilt, in full drag, as me. Same hair, same makeup, same dress, same boots…It was awesome, seeing myself through someone else’s eyes like that. I wish that happened more often – I fondly recall it as my “Cher moment”!
What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your supporters?
I am definitely on Instagram the most, but I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. I love taking photos on tour though, so Instagram is really the most fun platform for me.
Are there any other projects in the works you can tell us about?
I’m currently finishing recording on my next album – in between my tour dates – and I’m just starting to think about the visual elements for it, which is when everything starts to really come together for me, conceptually. I’m also working on a poetry book and slowly creating paintings for my next art show, every time I go home. Never a dull moment!
Do you have any last things you want to tell your supporters?
Thank you for continually inspiring me by being brave, expressive and open, and for allowing me to share my music with you!
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us!
You are so welcome! Xo