Nancy Guppy Interviews Singer Shelby Earl
COFFEE DATE: Singer/songwriter Shelby Earl, whose debut album, Burn the Boats, Amazon.com named “#1 Outstanding 2011 Album You Might Have Missed.” Her new record, Swift Arrows, comes out on July 23 (with a release party at Columbia City Theater, 7/13).
SCENE: Voxx Coffee on Eastlake Avenue, a sunny Wednesday in April
SHELBY’S ORDER: Grande soy latte
Nancy Guppy: Shelby Earl. Sounds like the name of a racecar driver. Do you race cars?
Shelby Earl: I do not.
NG: How would you describe the Shelby Earl sound?
SE: People call it new folk or indie folk. [Local musician] Rachel Flotard says, “It’s just rock music, Shel, that’s all it is.” And she means that in the best possible way!
NG: Can you tell when you’ve written a good song?
SE: I can tell when the nugget of the idea is good. Then I spend a lot of time working it out and shaping it. A few songs have arrived whole, but that’s rare.
NG: Of the five senses, what’s your favorite?
SE: Even though I’m a musician, I’m going to say taste. I love good food and wine, beer, maybe a sip of bourbon. I love flavor.
NG: Write a tagline for your new record. For example, “Lucky Charms: They’re magically delicious!” So, Swift Arrows:
SE: “Sometimes life will try to bring you down but instead will make you a warrior.”
NG: Your first album, Burn the Boats, came out in 2011. Has there been an evolution, artistically?
SE: I love Burn the Boats, but this is something very different. We did most of this record live, which was terrifying. Damien Jurado produced and he’s all about first takes, complete takes, and I worked really hard to step my game up to get ready for that.
NG: Would you rather be creatively satisfied or filthy rich?
SE: Oh, surely there’s a middle ground! Actually, I know the answer to that because I already made that decision. And it’s to be creatively satisfied. Money is cool, though.
NG: You’re on a desert island with one record, one book and one type of food.
SE: Rufus Wainwright, Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott and lobster ravioli. Actually, any stuffed food.
NG: What’s your best quality?
SE: Honesty. I am the same person given any situation.
NG: If you could redo a moment or time in your life, would you?
SE: I started to learn piano when I was really young, but it didn’t hold my attention, so I quit. Now, as a songwriter, I wish I had that foundation of piano.
NG: We could end this with me picking you up.
SE: Picking me up?
NG: I kind of wanna show off how strong I am. Will you let me?
NANCY PICKS UP SHELBY AND CARRIES HER ABOUT 3 FEET.
Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her television show, Art Zone (seattlechannel.org/artzone).
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