Interview with Emily Saliers by Earle Dutton
We had a fun conversation with Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. These longtime activist and amazing musicians have a busy on the road and are working on a new album. Emily has a new solo album on the way as well. The Indigo Girls have two more nights in the Pacific Northwest. Don’t miss out. Get info and tickets here.
ED: What was it like performing with the Seattle Symphony?
ES: It’s incredible. It is a combination of things. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of focus. It is just me and Amy and there is no click track. You’ve got this huge thing behind you and there are all kinds of latency between the percussion and the beat that we’re playing. There just this musical leap of faith. The sounds of players playing your song that has been beautifully arranged and having the crowd be so into it. It is really an honor and a thrill. The symphony shows don’t get old. Seattle is a renowned symphony.
ED: What is like performing with Joan Baez? I can’t imagine a stage full of so many icons.
ES: We’ve known Joan for a long time. We have played different benefit shows with her and done tours. It is amazing. She is so revered. She truly is an icon both musically and politically. She has done a lot for us over the years. It is like being in the presence of a great person and artist. I sometimes shake my head and can’t even believe that this is the life that I have got to lead through music.
ED: When in your youth did you decide that you were going to be a musician?
ES: I have music in my family. My grandfather was a professional touring musician in the big band era. I think my dad would have been a concert pianist but then he was called to theology. He went on to become a theologian and professor. He wrote sacred music and has always been involved in classical music. My mom sang in the choirs and played some piano. My cousin Kevin helped me buy my first guitar when I was 9. He was a professional musician as well. So, I started playing the guitar at 9 and it was immediately my passion in life. I think the writing was on the wall. I actually went to school and studied English.
ED: This week alone you have played with the Seattle Symphony, are playing with Joan Baez and tomorrow a street fair. How do you juggle all of that?
ES: We love it! We don’t like to do the same thing all the time. We also have a great band and we play band shows. We just played Knoxville Pride with the band. We are also getting ready to make a new record this fall. Amy just released her new album and I am working on one after that. We love the experience of music in all of the different incarnations.
ED: When does your new album come out?
ES: Well, Indigo Girls are making one this fall. I will probably start work on mine in late fall or early winter. I have been writing songs for it. It has been a long time coming.
ED: What does Pride mean to you?
ES: We have been out for a very long time. We have always been out in our lives but then we also come out early in our careers. We have seen other people in the movement and seen a lot of change. For me, the marriage movement is important because I wanted to get married. I don’t think that everyone needs to get married or even wants to get married. But, to have the right to get married is amazing. It changed my life. My wife is Canadian so when the court struck down DOMA it changed our lives in one day. So when I celebrate Pride, I celebrate that part of the movement. I think about all of the people that made sacrifices and did work so that I can enjoy that freedom in my own life. When I think about Pride I think of all of the fun we have celebrating diversity. I mean the Queer Community is so fucking awesome! We truly are the rainbow of many colors. I find that diversity keeps life interesting. Pride to me is a celebration of diversity.
ED: If you could collaborate with any musician, who would it be?
ES: First person that is coming to mind is Mary J. Blige. I don’t even know what we would do. She is the only artist that I have flown to another city to see perform. There is something about the way she sings and connects to whatever is going on inside her. I think it would be a dream to work on a song together or write a song and have her sing it. Stevie Wonder comes to mind as well but Mary J. Blige is the first one.
ED: Do you have a message for LGBT Youth?
ES: The youth are changing everyone’s reality. I couldn’t be more thankful for them. For those youth that are struggling and maybe kicked out of their homes; there are communities for you. Try to make the best use of your resources. I want to say thanks. I want them to know that we care about them and want to help them. You are our future. Thank you.