Published on February 22nd, 2002 | by Gerry Galipault0
Q&A with Gretchen Lieberum
HOMETOWN: Berkeley, Calif.
ALBUM: “Brand New Morning” (Lakeshore; release date: April 23).
THE SOUND: Neo-soul, influenced by 1970s jazz.
PRODUCERS: Lieberum, Greg Poree.
FIRST SINGLE: “Brazen Girl.”
OTHER TRACKS: “Dear Marie,” “Blue September,” “Heart On Your Sleeve,” “Ruby-Eyed,” “Brand New Morning,” “Rapture of the Blue,” “Home,” “Natalie,” “Weather Page,” “Lost Our Way,” “For All We Know.”
WEB SITE: www.gretchenmusic.com.
SOMETHING TO KNOW: Her songs have appeared on MTV’s “Undressed” and The WB’s “Felicity.”
SOMEBODY’S STANDING IN A CD STORE AND COMES ACROSS YOUR ALBUM. THEY’RE CURIOUS ABOUT BUYING IT; WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO CONVINCE THEM?:
Lieberum – “I guess I would say that the album is an innovative mix of soul, trip-hop and jazz, with strong, emotional vocals, filled with beautiful performances from truly talented musicians, and that it would make a lovely gift for you and/or your loved ones!”
WHAT SONG DEFINES YOU?:
Lieberum – “I originally wrote ‘Brazen Girl’ for a friend who was going through some rough times. But as I continued to write the song, it really became a song about myself as well. It’s a song about letting go of anger and regret, being brave and honest. It’s a reminder of how I want to live. Also, I think that stylistically, ‘Brazen Girl’ is a good example of the overall sound that I am striving for, a balanced mixture of acoustic and electronic elements. If someone had to listen to just one of my songs to get a sense of what my style is, I would want them to listen to ‘Brazen Girl.’ “
WHAT WAS YOUR MANIFESTO FOR THIS ALBUM?:
Lieberum – “I love albums that feel like a collection of short stories, where each song is unique lyrically and musically, but the album as a whole has some kind of cohesiveness. I love albums that give you the sense of having gone on a journey. That’s what I attempt to do myself!”
WHAT’S YOUR GUT FEELING ON HOW YOUR ALBUM’S GOING TO DO?:
Lieberum – “To be honest, I really try to push that question out of my mind! I try and focus on writing and recording and pushing myself to create stronger work. If I sit and worry about whether or not people will buy the album, it will drive me crazy! I think that there is an audience for the music that I make, and hopefully through promotion and live gigs, the album will develop an audience beyond my initial Internet fan base.”
YOUR PERSONAL MUSICAL HERO?:
Lieberum – “Vocally, I really admire singers that may not be technically perfect, but are able to express honest, raw emotion in a beautiful and surprising way. Nina Simone is a favorite singer of mine. She sings a version of the jazz standard ‘He’s Not the Man For Me,’ kind of a silly song, with somewhat sappy lyrics. But Nina Simone’s delivery of the song is just heartbreaking. I get teary-eyed every time I hear it. Lyrically, I love Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. If I had to name one person as my No. 1 musical hero, I would have to say Sade. She is a great songwriter, and has a voice that is mesmerizing, emotionally true and utterly unique. Her music, although usually classified as ‘soul,’ is really beyond categorization. She is the kind of artist that has simply created her own sound from the ground up; she doesn’t sound like anyone but herself. I think that Prince, during his heyday, also achieved that.”
WHAT’S THE STATE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?:
Lieberum – “I remain hopeful that smaller, innovative, creative, risk-taking, unique acts that don’t fit perfectly into a specific genre of music will continue to be heard, even though they may not generate boy-band sales. I read an article in the L.A. Times Date Book recently about the state of the music business, where a record exec said, in regard to the artists of today, ‘Where are the Neil Youngs? Where are the Joni Mitchells?’ I am certain that they are out there, but they need your help! They need time and money and energy and patience. I doubt there are many artists who are going to put out a perfect, genius work of art on their first shot. It seems like the artists of a few decades ago really benefited from artist development and loyalty from their labels that today’s artists don’t get as often. I really admire labels that are willing to invest there energy into developing and nurturing new acts.”