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Angie Mattson

Interviewed by Josh Turner
Interview with Angie Mattson from 2005
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

I really enjoyed your album and would be interested in seeing you perform live. Do you have any tours or concert dates lined up at the moment?
I am taking a little break for the Holidays for travel and recording new material. My next scheduled show is January 14th at 8pm at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles.
MSJ: Let's talk about the new album Monarch… How did you come up with the name of it?
In my song "Cold Soul", I sing about wanting to be a Monarch pinned up to the wall in the bedroom, and I like how Monarch can mean both a gentle butterfly and a powerful emperor.
MSJ: The album seems to follow the popular topic of relationships such as dealing with them, your advice and the advice of others, and even moving on. Is this what it's about and if so, can you describe this further?
Every song is about something different. Like "Drive" is about just finding someone and running with it, while "Cold Soul" is about wanting someone like an addiction.
MSJ: Every single song on the album is great. If I had to choose one, I'd say my favorite is "Too Much." "Drive" is a definite highlight as well. What would you say is your favorite song on the album and why does it make you so proud?
My favorite changes with my mood I guess. Right now, it's "My Next Life". I like how intimate it is.
MSJ: Why did you decide to market this under your name instead of coming up with a band name?
Laziness maybe. I thought about it, but just sort of started playing under my name and stuck with it. I don't really have a set band right now so that's part of the reason too. Who knows? I just may change my mind or come up with a side project.
MSJ: I've always associated the name Angie with Angel, so your name fits this style of music, but I'd be interested in hearing some of the band names you've considered?
My sister and I once talked about having a band and calling ourselves Jonathan. Not sure why. That's really all I can remember.
MSJ: It seems a lot of thought went into the track listing. The album starts out with a bang, but ends in a quiet manner. Was this on purpose and if so, what was the reasoning behind it?
Well, I wanted to mix it up a little with fast and slow songs. I thought of "My Next Life" as kind of a bonus track. Also, I listened to them in every possible order and this order seemed to flow the best. These songs are actually demos that I recorded and shopped to labels and decided to just release them independently and unofficially to sell at shows and off my website. "Drive" is one that listeners usually get right away so I put it first.
MSJ: I have a couple curiosities to ask about the songs… They are relatively short. You have many great ideas and could certainly extend the songs with an extra passage or bridge. Why do you choose to stick with this length?
They just came out this way.
MSJ: What are you singing about in "Drive?" Are you trying to get to some place or some person or trying to get away?
It's about the times when you see someone out or at a party or something and you make eye contact and have an instant connection and you just want to take off with them and drive away from it all. You fantasize about it.
MSJ: What has you so vexed in "Cold Soul?" It reminds me of Alanis Morisette's "You Ought to Know," but instead, it seems more apologetic and sad. It seems so real and true to your heart. I hate to prod, but does this reflect upon real events?
Yes, I had been living on a sailboat with my husband for two years when I wrote this and he had to take off and I was there alone and I felt so lonely and maybe I was just emotional. But, I didn't want to feel that way and I was mad about it. It started as a fast angry song and we slowed it down.
MSJ: I can't tell, is "Alright" a happy song or is this more about benevolent and bittersweet feelings?
Sometimes people think I am sad or a mess in my head. Sometimes I am and I wonder if I do the right things but I am not going to blow my brains out or anything. I am mostly happy. Does that make sense?
MSJ: Definitely… Why do you end on this song by saying, "It's so quiet?"
Actually, that is the beginning of "Too Much". It was the second song I ever recorded in the studio and it was really quiet in there and I was talking to the producer, he decided to keep it in.
MSJ: What is it that's so overwhelming in "Too Much" and why does it have an eerie atmosphere about it?
It is about wanting to get out of my town and go follow my dreams. I have big dreams and I have had them my whole life and when you come from a smaller town and not a lot of money, it doesn't seem like something that can really happen. But, I wasn't going to accept that, and I didn't. Besides my goals I like a lot of things in excess, it's about having a rich life (not meaning dollar signs).
MSJ: "My Next Life" seems to be covering some serious subject matter. What are you singing about in this one?
About leaving a relationship
MSJ: Let's talk about some influences that jump out at me… While your music is mostly rock, I can hear a country twang in it. Are you a fan of country and if so, do you draw influences from established country singers like Dolly Parton or Reba McEntire or for that matter, modern country successes like Shania Twain, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes, or the women of Dixie Chicks?
I don't really like a lot of "new" country. I don't really feel much in the lyrics. I love artists like Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, Wilco, and Johnny Cash. I like folk and Americana like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Ani Difranco. My voice tends to have that twang sometimes; it's just white girl soul I think.
MSJ: I can also hear Sheryl Crowe and Jewel in your songwriting and singing? Sheryl pops out on me in "Just Like Yesterday" and Jewel is obviously there in "Cold Soul" and "My Next Life." Have these singer-songwriters influenced you?
I admire them both a lot. It is hard to say who influences me, but I haven't listened to them much recently.
MSJ: What about Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Sarah McLaughlin, or Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart? Do any of these hit home?
Fleetwood Mac, the Pretenders, Sarah, Fiona, I listen to them.
MSJ: Any male vocalists that might have influenced you? I can hear Lyle Lovett at times and maybe a little Sting. What about them?
I haven't listened to Lyle Lovett, but I will have to check it out now. I love and may be influenced a little by George Michael, Peter Gabriel, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Police, Matt Johnson. I am listening to M. Ward and Damien Rice a lot lately.
MSJ: I can hear Porcupine Tree, Coldplay, and Sigur Ros in some of the buried arrangements, especially the opener "Drive" and parts of "Fade Away." Do you listen to these bands and could these have influenced your music?
I just saw Sigur Ros live and it was my favorite concert to date. They are amazing and I think it will influence my subconscious for sure. I just started listening to them. Coldplay I don't listen to much. Porcupine Tree is a new one for me.
MSJ: Then you must check them out… In general, tell me about any significant influences we haven't already covered.
It is hard to say because I was writing songs before I learned to play other people's songs. Some more artists (besides the ones I already mentioned) that I love are Aretha Franklin, Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone, Talib Kweli, Beck, Charlie Mars, A Girl Called Eddy, Nathan Larson, Sinead O'Connor, Angelo Badalamenti, Angela McClusky, Res - so many amazing artists out there.
MSJ: You have a good taste in music… You sing with a lot of emotion. Can you give me an idea of what "drives" you to write these songs?
Just life really.
MSJ: Can you give me an idea of how your songwriting process works?
Usually with a guitar and I come up with some chords and start singing and write it down then clean it up.
MSJ: Any idea what else we can expect from the studio?
I have been working with some amazing new producers, and I am more confident and taking more risks.
MSJ: Any plans in the works for live albums or DVDs?
Not yet, but definitely at some point.
MSJ: Are you in any other projects these days aside from your solo work?
I dabble a little but nothing to report yet. Sometimes I sing with an amazing singer/songwriter named Mattias Brown. I hope to spark something there. I also sang a Beatles cover on a CD for children with Autism. You can find out about it at www.teamvico.com.
MSJ: That's great. I'll have to check it out… Going back to the beginning, how did you get involved in music?
My grandmother started taking me to singing classes when I was about 12, I think, and I just got involved in the theater. I did that growing up. I would write songs for my sisters to sing then too. I didn't really start writing and playing guitar seriously until maybe 4 years ago. I've been pursuing it as a career for about 2 years now.
MSJ: Wow, that's impressive, because you've really come along and developed quite quickly… When did you decide you wanted to be a singer and form your own band?
Well, I would play my guitar for friends or just at parties and I saw the way people reacted to my music and it was very emotional. When I started playing shows people wanted CD's and I realized this is it for me.
MSJ: I see Rudy Haeusermann is credited for producing the album and he even gets a few songwriting credits. Was he responsible for all those great keyboard arrangements?
The keyboard arrangements are Rudy's except "Fade Away". Those keyboards were played by Josh D'Elia.
MSJ: Who is Rudy, what part did he play, and how did you meet him?
When I realized I should record something I searched for a producer. I knew nothing about this. At all! I didn't know anyone in the music business to ask about it either. So, I looked online I looked in magazines. I found his website and listened to his stuff but I knew I could never afford him, so I kept looking and just tried to compare everyone to him. No one else felt right, so I emailed him saying I had very little money and wanted to record a few songs. He didn't write back right away. I have little patience so I emailed him again and offered to work in his studio and mow his lawn, whatever I could do to work off the cost. So, he agreed to meet with me and said he could do it for my budget but it would just be simple quick demos. So, I met with him and played for him and he loved it and agreed to do it all on spec and we worked out a production deal. He helped enhance some of the arrangements and music in songs I brought in. I am lucky to have him as my first producer. Besides being a very talented musician and producer, he is very good at pulling out a great performance and he really listens to me and helped to create the sound that is perfect for these songs and the space I was in. And, someday I will mow his lawn.
MSJ: How did you meet the other members who played on the album?
The people who played on the CD like Josh D'Elia (bass) and Scotty Lund (drums) were people Rudy knew. The band members I have now I think were found through Craig's List or the Musicians Institute or friends.
MSJ: I'd like to find out about your current musical tastes?
I mentioned most of them before. Some others in my CD player and tossed around my car now are Space Mountain, Chris Murphy, Mozella, Brandi Carlile, Butterfly Boucher, and Kathleen Edwards.
MSJ: What's the last CD that you purchased?
I think the last CD I purchased was Donny Hathaway's self-titled album.
MSJ: Along the same lines, what's the last concert that you attended as a fan?
Last concerts were Sabrosa Purr, Imogen Heap, and The Rolling Stones.
MSJ: I'd like to find out some of your favorites… What is your favorite album of all-time? Is there any CD or tape for that matter that you've worn out?
Hard to pick just one. Patty Griffin - Living With Ghosts maybe.
MSJ: What is your all-time favorite song?
"Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics
MSJ: Let's talk about some favorites that aren't necessarily related to music… What is your favorite movie?
Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me.
MSJ: What is your favorite TV show?
Carnival.
MSJ: Do you have a favorite book?
Hard to pick a favorite. Maybe The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand or The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I know I am forgetting so many.
MSJ: Are you a sports fan and if so, who's your favorite team?
Any Michigan team.
MSJ: I like to ask this question, because it helps me to identify with the artist, but do you have any pets?
My roommate has two cats. I've always had cats. I love them.
MSJ: Before we wrap up, is there anything you'd like to say to your fans at this time?
Thanks for your support and I look forward to a long and intimate relationship with you. You're so beautiful.
 
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