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Laura Veirs

A Conversation with Laura Veirs

Puremusic: So where do I find you today?

Laura Veirs: We're on the road. We're headed to Sedona, Arizona from Denver.

PM: Oh, great. And are you all in the same vehicle?

LV: Yeah. There are five of us, four in the band and a tour manager.

PM: The preparation for this interview has made a really big Laura Veirs fan out of me.

LV: Oh, good. How's that?

PM: It's been a great trip. I've been enjoying the progression from Trouble by the Fire through Carbon Glacier, and then Year of Meteors.

LV: Great. Well, I'm happy you've heard some of the older stuff as well.

PM: Yeah, because it's really important to know from whence it came, I think. And you and Tucker [Martine] have made quite a sonic leap there from Carbon Glacier to Year of Meteors.

LV: It's true. We did set out to make more of a band record, and have more instruments--I wanted to move back towards electric, so I was writing the songs with that in mind, and with drums in mind. I liken my musical life to a pendulum: for some reason I swing back and forth between being really interested in quiet acoustic numbers and pretty sounds to more electric noise and drums type stuff. And it's been swinging back and forth for a long time, and it's swung to the side of the electric drum type of thing more than it did for Carbon Glacier, where was a little bit more on the softer side.

PM: Right. And although this time it's swung back to the band side, it's still very lush and melodic, and not too noisy--

LV: No.

PM: --it's just more electric.

LV: Yeah, it's not just jarring or anything. But I did want to have more fun with beats and up-tempo things, and the electric guitars.

PM: Yeah. I've been thinking a lot about that incredible musical community up there in the northwest sector. We just interviewed Danny Barnes for the current issue, and he said nice things about you.

LV: Oh, good. Yeah, I love Danny. He's actually been a really big influence for me, and a good mentor. We played together as a duo for about a year. And I just learned so much from him about how to play, both technically, but also the spirit behind it. I don't know, he just showed me a lot.

PM: He's an amazing guy.

LV: He is, and he's been such a hardcore musician for so long, it was kind of new for me to be around someone who's been at it for such a long time and had such a deep knowledge of really a lot of different types of music.

PM: He's almost bizarrely understated. I mean, I sat with him in a coffeehouse for over an hour, talking, and he said, "Oh, yeah, Laura, I played on a couple of records with her." But never did he mention [laughs] that, "yeah, we played as a duo."

LV: Yeah. I mean, he's actually sort of an enigmatic guy, when it comes down to it. I guess a lot of musicians are--well, a lot of people are. But he is.

PM: Oh, I hear that. Speaking of the northwest, we've also interviewed Bill Frisell a while back. Have you done any playing with him?

LV: Yes. I guess I've only played one show with him where we've played together on stage. But he's played at my house for different house parties, and that's been really incredible. Gosh, having a musician like that around, like two feet away, it's pretty moving.

PM: Beautiful.

LV: And then he played on a record of mine.

PM: Which record is he on?

LV: He's on Trouble by the Fire.

PM: Oh wow, didn't know that. That one I got on iTunes, so I don't have the notes for it.

LV: I see. Yeah, he plays on a couple tracks.

PM: I figured that it would have been some kind of a house party or local gig that threw you guys together. That's an amazing joint up there. I've got to get up there to take a look and a listen around.

LV: Tucker Martine is really the one who brought me together with Bill, because he'd been working with Bill for a while in the studio. And I asked him, "Would he be interested in playing a show at my house?" And Tucker said, "I don't know, just email him." So I did, and he said that he did want to do it. And I don't know, I just love that about Bill, because in some ways he's like this international superstar, but in most ways, like when you know him, he's just this nice guy who will come play at your house.

PM: Pretty cool... Tucker and I exchanged some notes a year or two ago. He's a Nashville guy what done good. Please say hello from me--I was talking to him about doing an article about producers like him[Seattle] and Brad Jones [Nashville], Gurf Morlix [Austin] and some other like-minded people.

LV: Great. I will say hi.

PM: I think next we might look into your Nonesuch label-mate Robin Holcomb, and her husband Wayne Horvitz. Are they buddies of yours?

LV: Yeah. They are friends of mine as well, and just such great people, really sweet people. And I love their music, too.

PM: Are there other treasures up there, hidden away, that we should get on? Any that come to mind?

LV: There are. Well, Eyvind Kang is one.

PM: The violist, yeah, who gets around on a variety of records.

LV: Yeah. And he's on Bill's stuff, and Robin's. He plays with tons of people. He's amazing. I just love him. And he always adds such a real beautiful accompaniment to my music on the recording. If there's a track that we can't figure out what it needs, he'll come and then know exactly what to do. When he leaves, it's shining there, which is just so great.



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