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A Conversation with Kris Delmhorst

Puremusic: I'd like to ask you about two projects first. One is from a few years ago called Respond. Would you tell us a little about what that is all about?

Kris Delmhorst: Sure. It started with about ten women songwriters in Boston getting together and talking. It just seemed like a time where there were a lot of us making good music in the Boston community, and so we wanted to do a project that celebrated that. And so it quickly turned into the idea of doing a benefit record. And we ended up choosing an organization called Respond Incorporated, which is in Somerville, where a lot of us lived. It's a domestic violence prevention and help organization. They have a shelter, and they do advocacy and work with children and do preventive stuff. It's just a great organization.

So we teamed up with them. Executive Producer Charan Devereaux was a real go-getter and, with the help of a lot of people in the community, turned it into a project a lot bigger than any of us had ever really envisioned. It ended up with twenty-six artists, and a two CD set. And everyone who had anything to do with the project, from the artists all the way to the mastering engineers, and the cover designer and the duplication people, they all worked for free. That enabled all the money from the record to go directly to the organization. And then we got some support from, oh, MTV and a lot of support from Billboard magazine. The editor, Timothy White, was a big supporter of ours.

PM: God rest his soul.

KD: And Sarah McLachlan, there's some big folks. It just turned in a wildly more successful operation than we'd imagined. It was great.

PM: Wow.

KD: And now there's Respond II, which is all different artists. I worked as an associate producer on that one, too, and it's great. [Click here to find out more.]

PM: When you began your description of that first volume, you said that at the time it seemed like there were a lot of really good women musicians around Boston and it kind of grew out of that, wanting to celebrate that. Is it different now in that respect, or are people more far flung, or...?

KD: Well, the way I can describe it is that being from--I moved to Boston right when I was first starting to write songs. And there's a great kind of incubation system there, where there are open mics every night, and there are a lot of low or non-paying gigs that you can just take to learn your craft. And most of the original dozen or so artists on Respond, we all sort of came through that system at around the same time. So it's almost like being in like a graduating class with somebody.

PM: Right.

KD: At the time, we were all very focused on Boston, and then radiating outwards, but we were still very, very locally minded. And I think it's kind of like what happens when everyone graduates. I mean, some people are still more or less in that same place. Some people have really moved away or branched out to a much more national career. Some people have switched gears entirely. So it was sort of that moment for us. And yeah, there are tons of new, great people that have come up, and then there are all of us that are still mostly doing our thing, but it's not as tight knit a group.

PM: Yeah. Are you tight with any of those women from those days?

KD: Oh, sure. Yeah, I'm very good friends with Jennifer Kimball and Catie Curtis, and I'm still good friends with Charan Devereaux, who's the leader of the pack there. She has a song on Respond, but she was really the main motivator of both projects, and is an amazing lady.  continue

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