Self-taught folk sing-songwriter Marissa Nadler just released her sixth studio album. Unlike her two previous releases, which she released on her own, “July” came out on Sacred Bones, an established indie. I spoke to Marissa about several topics, and her comments on being a completely independent artist I saved for my story, which you can read here. Until then, check out this extra Q&A.
You’ve agreed to speak to me on Super Bowl Sunday. I take it you’re not invested much in professional football?
No, I’m not, really. (laughs) I’m not watching the Super Bowl tonight. I’m from Boston, which is obviously a huge sports time. My dad’s really into sports … I like the hometown teams, that’s for sure.
… On working with producer Randall Dunn, who is best known for working with doom metal bands like Sunn O))).
Randall wrote me an email asking to work with me. He also worked with Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter before, so this isn’t his first walk outside of the traditional heavier music.
I obviously write my own music and came to the studio with every song fully written and with the background vocals written. The producer just gets the right sounds out of you. He helped make suggestions about instrumentation, but there was no big overhaul of my sound. He had a lot to do with, like, ‘Let’s put synths here” or, “I hear a string section.” A producer in the hip hop world, for instance, I think may be a little different. They’ll find the song for an artist to sing. In the indie music world, that word can mean so many different things. He was wonderful to work with, and I think I’ll work with him for the next record also. We got along really well, and he had a lot of good ideas.
… On touring with an all-female band for the first time.
It’s fun because we’ve got three-part harmonies. I’ve spent many, many years touring by myself, and it’s hard. There’s ups and downs to touring alone, obviously. You don’t have to pay a band, but you’re all alone. If you break a string you’re f****d.
I know you haven’t always been comfortable being on stage.
Yeah, I think now that I’m a little more seasoned, I’ve got more perspective on this. For the first few years, I was really trying to prove myself and fighting against that shyness. Now everybody knows I’m shy, and they’re not there to root against me. I finally got that through my head that they wanted to see me do well, and I think my psychology about performing has been improved.
You’ve been making melancholic folk for 10 years. Any chance of you swinging in an opposite direction in the future?
This is my seventh record. I don’t see myself making happy pop records. But I can see myself getting more ambient. I could end up going deeper into making cinematic soundscapes when I’m older.