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Annie on TV (that's Stay Me With Flagons)

A Conversation with Annie Gallup

Puremusic: It's been a long time since our first interview, I can't remember how many years. Four, maybe.

Annie Gallup: Swerve came out in 2001, and so it was 2001. Five.

PM: Time flies when you're having fun.

AG: Yeah.

PM: So it's an unfair question on the one hand, because it's so long a time, but what would you say in terms of characterizing the arc of that period?

AG: I don't think I'd characterize it as an arc.

PM: [laughs]

AG: Yeah. I think to just walk down the roads that I want to walk down for a minute, and then walk down another road. That's how I would characterize the time between.

PM: Right. This, then that, then this.

AG: Yeah. What am I tired of not doing?

PM: [laughs] Indeed. One of the things that happened during that period was the record Pearl Street. That was a very special recording. Did it ever see the light of day?

AG: It was released, Fifty Fifty Music, at kind of a disorganized time at the label. I think it went out into the air and never landed. Theoretically, it's out there, but nobody knows it.

PM: Are you free to do something with it?

AG: We co-own it, in a vague sort of way. Yeah, I think I could, if I figured out what I wanted to do with it, they would be agreeable to it.

PM: David Seitz at Fifty Fifty has been good for you in a lot of ways.

AG: Yeah. He's been really loyal, and he's a terrific engineer. He's made records for me that just sound great.

PM: Yeah, his records on you are top shelf. Perhaps that one most of all.

AG: That one he put the most of himself into, I think. He brought a lot of ideas to that record.

PM: But also, your show Skinny Arms was in that period between interviews, right?

AG: Yeah, 2001 was the first theater piece, which was Stay Me With Flagons. And then 2002 was Skinny Arms, yeah.

PM: Being some small part of both of those shows was very interesting to me, and important in our friendship.

AG: Yeah, that was a whole chapter.

PM: Although your trademark "spoke folk" approach is present on the new album, Half of My Crime, this one is decidedly more melodic.

AG: It is, yeah. Most of the songs even have choruses. Maybe all of them do. Yeah. It is incredible. I don't know how that happened--actually, I do know how it happened. I was tired of not doing that. These songs are coming from a different place. It's kind of a place of being sad and wanting to be comforted more than being amused by the world. It's a time of the world where I'm just looking for some comfort.

PM: Were the songs comforting, you mean?

AG: You can't not deal with serious thoughts, even if they're going someplace really serious and difficult, but the music was comforting.

PM: There's a mellifluous beauty to this record that's really, to an Annie Gallup fan like myself, really surprising. The melody is more like the crux of the matter than the lyric, even, which is kind of unthinkable.

AG: It is a much more musical record. I think a big piece of that is the collaboration with Sean. [bassist Sean Kelly] I started working with him a little bit, I guess just as we started recording this record. And the first tracks that I recorded were with Sean, and Sean did a lot of the arranging. That kind of set up the tone for it, for what it would sound like.

PM: Along with the more melodious quality of the record, your singing has evolved.

AG: Well, thanks.

PM: How did that come to be?

AG: I kept writing melodic songs, and I just had to learn how to sing better so I could pull it off. The songs led me there.

PM: In fact, it sounded like you were singing a lot of long tones, like you were practicing that, because I thought, "Wow, when did she get good at that?" Because that's hard to do for people who don't do that specifically.

AG: Yeah, suddenly it started to be really satisfying to sing like that.

PM: And were you indeed practicing that--like you know how some vocal teachers will get you singing long tones and holding them for a long time, or eight beats, four beats, and longer?

AG: If the songs required that, I would figure out how to do it. I haven't been studying except just by messing around with what I can do with my voice.

PM: Right.

AG: But I have really been paying attention to it.

PM: But you're doing more, I mean, than just singing the songs, you're like making up things for you do to find out what your voice is capable of, and making it more capable.

AG: Yeah. Playing with my voice has become really a lot of fun. For a long time, the cadence thing was interesting to me, but now the tones are interesting.

PM: I really can hear the results of that. Do you know what the motivation was for that to become more melodious? Is it just, as you say, "because I was tired of not doing that"?

AG: I keep saying "comfort"--but I think that's what it is. It's just wanting to hear musical music. Yeah, so when I sit down and go over these songs I wrote--which was unusual, I wrote by just picking up my guitar and singing them. "Enough" was written that way. All I did was pick it up and sing the song, there it was. And "Almost Forgive" was another one that, although I tweaked it afterwards, I really did just pick up my guitar and sing the song, there it was.   continue

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