Singer/Songwriter Amy Ray is performing at the Triple Door in Seattle this evening. Tickets are still available for this amazing country show. Don’t miss it! Get tickets here.
Earle Dutton: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Amy Ray: It runs the gamut. Neil Young, Janis Joplin, The Allman Brothers, James Taylor, Patti Smith, The Pretenders, Hank Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, it’s like all over the map.
ED: What made you decide to go solo in addition to the Indigo Girls?
AR: I have an indie label and at the time I was putting out a lot of people’s records that were punk rock. That is a kind of music that really influenced me heavily. I just started writing some songs that weren’t totally fitting in with Indigo Girls and I would jam with some of my friends in different styles. I started jamming with The Butchies a little bit too. They opened for the Indigo Girls a couple times and I would jam with them on the side. Then I played a couple songs with them and it turned into a whole solo project. That is when I made Stag. I basically picked all these bands that I loved and had worked with in one capacity or another. I wrote some songs that fit what I would like to play with each one. I kind of created this montage record of the great punk experiences that I wanted to have. I did that and really enjoyed it. It started out as a one time off just to get my yaya’s out but then I just kept writing songs that I would consider to be more solo songs. I started exploring different topics than I would with the Indigo Girls. I think I really enjoyed that whole infrastructure. I enjoyed the whole independent scene. It became this thing that I really wanted to do on the side and explore everything in that realm.
ED: How would you describe the difference between your solo show and an Indigo Girls show?
AR: My solo shows are very small. It is like 200 people instead of 3000. That is a big difference. It is much more gritty, sweaty and very DIY. I think musically there are some things I definitely do differently solo.
ED: How would you describe you current solo show?
AR: Well, right now it is totally different than when I started. Right now, it is country. It is pretty raw. It is pretty organic. I think I would say that to me the songwriting, musicality and passion are most important. I always play with interesting people. The people in my band right now are interesting and talented people. I really want people to come and have a great musical experience. I want them to feel that we drew something out of them. I want them to forget about boundaries and differences. Maybe just forget about the outside world. Just be in the room and in the moment.
ED: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
AR: I really like a band called Shovels and Rope. They do that sort of garage country. I would love to collaborate with them. I would love to just play mandolin and sing. That is somebody that is new that I would really like to collaborate with. As far as people that have been around a while, I would die and go to heaven if I could sing with Dolly Parton (laughter). In my punkier world, I have played with Patti Smith but never collaborated with her. I would really love to collaborate with her. She is someone that I think would be really interesting to collaborate with. Nick Cave would be a great one. There are a lot of people that I love.
ED: If you could give your younger self a message, what would it be?
AR: I could definitely give myself some fashion advice (laughter). I think I would probably tell myself to pick your battles and don’t sweat the small stuff. I had a bad temper when I was younger. I would also say get out of your head and don’t have such a big ego. I think my ego really held me back when I was younger. I wasn’t open to as many experiences because of my ego. If I didn’t have Emily to help me and temper me, I would never have gotten to where I am today. I would have imploded or burnt too many bridges. I think for me it was a lot of ego and temper. But, I think those things also let me have a lot more compassion for the struggle. They have a certain energy to them. I don’t know that I would want to change anything but I did spend a lot of time aching over it. I caused myself a lot more trouble than I needed to. I would hit a wall and break my hand and spend the next two months in a cast. That is just unnecessary. Now I do yoga or go hike for three hours. You just have to find your place.