me and thee coffeehouse

Retro: Quick Q and A with Kris Delmhorst

Today is a good day to revisit a short interview I did with Kris Delmhorst in 2012. Kris just released a brand new CD called Long Day in the Milky Way. The first single “Wind’s Gonna Find a Way” has been circulating prior to the CD’s release this week and it’s stunning.

Take some time and learn about Kris and get connected with her music. I absolutely love her biography on her website. A wise person wrote it. Kudos! In part, it says: “Her songs transform like breath turning to mist on a cold, clear night; the inner made visible. Her voice holds memories, like smoke lingering in a sweater from last summer’s campfire.” Poetically true and such a magnificent way to describe the ESSENCE of Kris Delmhorst.

When the glad tidings of a new Kris Delmhorst album were announced, I couldn’t help but think about all of the great times I’ve had listening to her music. Some memorable songs from her back catalog: “Little Wings” from Five Stories; “Weathervane” from Songs for a Hurricane; all of the amazing adaptions of lyrics on Strange Conversations and The Waking; “Birds of Belfast” on Shotgun Singer, and that’s only a short list!! If you’re not familiar with the music of Kris Delmhorst, there’s no time like now to discover her and her music.

Check out her website.

My words from 2012 pale in comparison but here they are:

Kris Delmhorst is one of our favorite songwriters. Period. She is a splendid instrumentalist and weaves together some magical songs with her intelligent, articulate lyrics.

And here’s a few questions I posed to her in 2012.

Your latest CD is a tribute to the rock band, The Cars. What is it about their music that attracted you enough to record an album full of their songs? Did you grow up listening to The Cars? You’re obviously too young to have seen them “back in the day”?

I did grow up listening to them, and no I’m not at all too young (thanks though!), but I didn’t ever see them play live. Although, to be truthful, the scintillating live performance was never really their strong suit anyway I don’t think.The album of their songs was just 100% for fun, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Their songs are so intricately and ingeniously constructed; the parts are all perfect and amazing, but the production is so much of its era that sometimes it’s hard to hear around that. So I just wanted to have regular acoustic instruments playing all those parts, and have girls singing all the great vocal stuff. Just because! It was a blast. But I won’t be playing many Cars songs this weekend, if any at all, because they’re not really that interesting without the band.

Now, tell us about your own songwriting. The whole scenario about the self-imposed solitude that you undertook to write Shotgun Singer sounds very romantic but I have a sneaking suspicion that the experience probably wasn’t all that romantic. Or was it? Did the songs pour out of you when you didn’t have to look at the clock and worry about everyday errands and such?

Romantic is definitely not the word. It’s always uncomfortable for me to talk about creative work being hard, because in the grand scheme of things, who are we kidding? Most people work harder, at a job they don’t care about as much, and don’t get applause at the end of their work day either. However, the fact is that there is real emotional discomfort involved with trying to write songs. The initial ideas do pour out, no matter what else is going on in my life, but then getting the work finished can be a real struggle. It helps immensely to go away and focus, but you also have to tough out the initial stages of that solo time, when everything resists you and every door feels closed. It’s the psychic equivalent of being locked out of the house, and it involves feelings of frustration, panic, low morale, and desperation. But when you do get through that blockage, it really pays to have a few days to stay there and get things done.

How has motherhood affected your life as a musician?

I sleep less, I write less, I tour less. But as someone who writes a lot about human relationships, I do have access to a whole lot of new emotional experience to throw into the soup when I’m writing, so maybe it evens out in some way.What’s it like to be married to another singer-songwriter?

Are there always new songs floating through the air? Do you and Jeffrey critique each other’s new work or do you seek out others who may be more objective?

We don’t usually write together but we do rely on each other’s help for editing quite often. Even working separately, it’s inspiring to hear the other person writing things across the house.