Wed, 15 Jan 2014 10:05:21
"I'm pretending that we're actually enjoying some fall- winter-like season until my brain shrivels up and goes, 'Wait a minute! It's fucking summer again," exclaims Conway of unseasonably hot January in Los Angeles.
It doesn't matter though. No matter what the weather is, the singer and songwriter is constantly cooking up dreamy, dynamic, and devilishly fun music. She straddles the lines between pop and rock with even a little bit of hip-hop swagger in the mix. Her debut EP, Big Talk, stands out as refreshing and ready revitalize music at large.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Conway talks Big Talk and so much more.
Is there a thread that ties the four songs on Big Talk together?
I actually was really particular about choosing those four tracks and putting them in that order. I have a million, probably boring, reasons for myself why, but I wanted to put out four distinct flavors of songs I feel portray specific moods and vibes. Also, I wanted to do it because I feel like so often you'll hear a song by someone and then you'll go to the record, and it's just eight versions of that song. I wanted to put it out there earlier that, "By the way, I'm going to be doing the same song over and over again". I went back and forth thinking, "Do you think people are going to be confused because the attention span is so short that we can't even show whole videos anymore? It's just snippets of videos! Now, there are four moods here, can they handle it?" The label was totally behind me. I think it's awesome. When you go see the show, the songs are different. The whole set is an experience. It's why I like music, records, and actual albums.
What's the story behind "Take Me Back"?
"Take Me Back" is super vulnerable. I've been in bands before, and it's different. You have to go under a consensus of what the group's thinking. The biggest promise I made myself in doing this solo music is I wanted to be completely honest and five-hundred percent in whatever mood it was that I was in or I was writing about. "Take Me Back" is five-hundred percent vulnerable! It's funny. I wrote that song because I was inspired by the piano only. I recorded it in my friend's basement, and I only did full takes. What you're hearing is one take. It's completely dependent on the mood and the emotion that happened. We did it three times. My friend and I just looked at each other like, "What the fuck, man? That was super intense". We recorded three, and then I had to leave. For me, that song is complete emotion, and it is pretty much a live performance. I might've done backup vocals later, but the lead vocal is one take.
That's not easy.
It's pure emotion, and the arrangement is a bit quirky. It's a vibe. It's just something you have to get. I think you lose authenticity when you go back and try to make everything little thing perfect. I don't think "perfect" is better.
You want that soul to shine through.
Yeah! I hesitate to tell people what the songs are about because you want them to build a personal relationship with it. That song is about being vulnerable and on your knees at that moment.
How did "Killer" come together?
"Killer" is one of my favorite songs I've ever done because of the process. I made this super upbeat beat/loop thing on Reason at my house. I was just messing around trying to start song ideas. When I recorded it, I got the microphone and put a scarf over my head because I literally needed to be in my zone. It's so funny! I'd never done that before out and out. I wrote it on the spot. With the scarf on my head and my headphones on, the chorus came out with my craziness under the scarf. I was reflecting on this breakup. "Killer" is definitely a me-versus-you kind of thing. Then again, you could do that with anything.
Is it important for the songs to conjure visuals?
I love that. I'm a super visual person. I hear music that way for sure. It's amazing to hear you say that. I wanted to tell a story and paint a picture. I wanted to be a bit specific like for a certain song you can see this kind of personality and two people in a room having it out a bit or having a conversation. I love painting a picture and songs that suck me in and take me to another place. I try to do that. Everybody hears things differently.
What inspires you outside of music?
I would say my imagination is pretty overactive in general. You could say a sentence to me, and I've already imagined the movie around it. It's really crazy. I free associate endlessly. I do read. I love words and writing. I think the lyrics are one of the most important things ever. Some people don't give a shit about lyrics in songs, but that's my number one. I love art. I'm not such a junkie on movies as I am on organic forms of art. I like videos and things like that. I don't have a super geek out thing. I'm just so interested in human behavior and watching how people interact with each other. I could be sitting and having a coffee and noticing how the whole world around me is happening. It's so weird! I'm obsessed with looking at just about anything.
What artists shaped you?
I remember my mom playing Talking Heads for me. It blew my mind because my mom would listen to the same thing over and over again. She's probably still listening to Talking Heads right now [Laughs]. Talking Heads was a big mind-blower for me. For kids, it's funny to sing Talking Heads. David Byrne is theatrical with his delivery. Obviously, becoming a musician and looking at how incredibly talented and amazing that music is and what an insane writer Byrne is, it's even more incredible. Then, I'd say hip-hop in general. I really love OutKast. I love the gymnastics and rhythm section. I could go all the way back to Björk and Joy Division. It's such a weird smattering of influences. Of course, I love The Pixies as well. We can't forget about them!
Have you heard Conway yet?