The Indigo Girls are performing at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle on July 30 & 31st. Tickets are still available click here.
The Indigo Girls have been writing, performing and entertaining with their music for 26 years. We spoke Amy Ray of this amazing duo. We talked about; touring, music, LGBTQ youth, the Supreme Court ruling, up and coming musical talent, families and maybe some new additions. It is really a great conversation and Amy is a complete delight.
What are the top factors that you feel have contributed to the longevity of the Indigo Girls as a group?
We have a great audience that grew up with us. I would say that we established that audience pretty early in our career. It was at a time when people really stayed with bands for a long time and turned out to be a great window of opportunity for us. We established a strong root system when we were in college. We had time. We were young and weren’t rushed. We didn’t feel like we had to get everything done in a year. So that environment allowed us to establish a very solid following that grew really slowly over time and stuck with us through the years. We have a really good team of people. You can’t underestimate how important it is to have this sort of family around you. We have been with our manager and booking agent our entire career since we were 23. That has really helped us a lot. Then Emily and I give each other a lot of space. We write separately from each other. That gives us our own creative space. When we get together and do our arrangements, we have already had our solo time, and know this is our duo time. It is our process and we trust it. Along with the creative space, we give each other a lot of respect and personal space as well. We have our own lives and that really contributes to enjoying the times we have together and staying connected. All those things add up to longevity, I think.
What or who would you say are inspirations or muses? I guess these change over time don’t they?
Everything, all the time, it could be a band you are listening to and really like. A movie, a book, you know what I mean. Muses for me are everything around me. There is not one. I think you can find a song in a lot of different things. The trick is just to evolve be engaged all the time. You never run out of things to write about. I guess, you can run out of feeling that you want to write but there is always something that can inspire you if you are open to it.
I was listening to Beauty Queen Sister, the single, yesterday on a road trip and totally got a Scissor Sisters vibe from it. What do you think?
That didn’t occur to me. I can totally see that. A little rock and roll. I like that a lot.
The Indigo Girls have performed with an amazing array of artist and talents. Who would you say was your favorite?
Oh god. I will just say one of my favorite collaborations was when we sang with P!nk. We sang on her record on a song named ‘Dear Mister President.’ It was really fun. Then she sang on one of our records. That was a really fun collaboration. We got to hang out and trade off. I don’t know, it just really meant a lot to me.
Who would you say you had the most fun with on tour?
Oh wow, we have toured with so many people that we love. It is kind of endless. They each have their own gifts that they bring. Everything can be fun for a different reason. It is never like I had so much fun with that other band, why can’t this one be the same. We toured a long time off and on with Brandi Carlisle. I guess 5 or 6 years ago. They were opening for us and we probably learned about 10 songs together. We had an acoustic trio with Brandi and even just played with her band several times. There was just so much collaboration, fun and respect. So the show became totally cross pollinated and a mixture of just everyone playing with each other. That was very satisfying to me. For the last year, we have toured with our opening band Shadow Boxer. They were opening for us then we decided to use them as our backing band as well. It is a great collaboration. We typically take our friends out on the road with us and do songs together.
Are there any emerging talents that you think we should pay attention to or watch for?
There are so many great bands, just so many. There is a writer that I really love. Her name is Lindsay Fuller. She is a singer songwriter but maybe of a different ilk. She is in that Nick Cave maybe Patti Smith kind of field. She is very gothic with amazing lyrics. Lyrically, she is one of the most amazing writers I have heard in a long time. Love her stuff. There is a band out of North Carolina on Merge Records that I really like called Mount Moriah. They are fronted by a woman as well. She is a great country singer but she is also a great punk rock singer. I met her when she was in a punk band but now she is doing this country music and it is really great. Then the Shadow Boxers, that I mentioned. Those guys are great. They are five guys from Atlanta. They do amazing harmonies. They do everything from Jackson Browne to Michael Jackson. Their musicality is just stunning. They have a new record out this year and are touring on their own as well as with us.
You have been in a long term relationship for over ten years, are you considering getting married? (BIG NEWS)
Ha ha, ha ha, we have been together eleven years and she is actually pregnant. I am going to be a Mommy in November. I don’t know if it is going to be a boy or a girl but it will be a baby human, I know that part. I know it is healthy and has all of it legs and arms, hands and toes. Don’t want to know the gender. I don’t know you know, we live in Georgia and am from a long family of Georgians. I kind of feel emotional about holding out until marriage is legal in Georgia. That may be a long wait. I feel pretty strong about that. I am really glad about the Supreme Court ruling, really glad. I cried and cried that entire day. I think it is a human rights issue. It is very important.
Do you have anything to say or advice to give to LGBTQ youth right now? I know that is a bit broad and there is a lot to say.
I probably wouldn’t give much advice. I would just offer to listen. People don’t take the time to listen very much these days. I think part of the problem is that we try to give people too much advice and not listen. Part of the thing that gay kids need is for someone to listen to what they are going through. Hear them and their unique experience from their perspective. Depending on where you live, your family life, if you have a family, if you have a home or live in the streets, what’s going on. A lot of times our queer youth need someone to listen to them and not judge them. A lot of kids coming up now are much more savvy and wise then I was at that age. I am fascinated by what they think. What they see for their future. I think if you are an activist in the queer movement and you are young it is important to keep in mind the broader picture of immigration rights, class issues, voting rights, and all those things that don’t seem to be a gay issue on the surface because they really are affecting LGBT rights everywhere and all the time. I think as we gain momentum in the queer movement we need to lend our support and build coalitions with other movements. I would very much encourage youth leaders in that respect. I think that is the gift of the young queer movement right now, they already understand these connections for the most part. Speaking to bullying, addiction and suicide, I think our queer youth need allies. I really try to give the youth that I know and interact with compassion much more than any advice unless it is concrete and I know of a great resource. Sometimes it could be an organization in a certain area or town or maybe even a great mentor that I think would be a good match. Compassion, understanding and listening would trump advice. Maybe let them know that they are okay, they are good people, they need to find their community, seek out allies so that you can be safe in the world.