A Conversation with Jolie Holland (continued)
PM: And that means plenty more than it does when you're sitting pretty. I mean, there are lots of examples of people who found some significant level of success with their music, then their very next record is not as good.
JH: Right. That's always a fear. And a lot of people think that about Escondida.
PM: Oh, I don't think that's fair.
JH: I mean, some of my best friends think that.
PM: Oh, really?
PM: Well, they'd be most inclined, wouldn't they? They're the people who believe they really have the inside track.
PM: We were very taken with that inadvertent debut Catalpa. And considering how accidental the recording and release of Catalpa was, it's interesting how continuous and consistent the sound and the vibe is on Escondida, since it was done in a real studio rather than a friend's house at 4:00 a.m. on an eight-track.
JH: Well, I'm glad you think so.
PM: Do you disagree? I mean, considering the disparity between those recording situations, I think it's, at least vibe-wise, very consistent.
JH: It shows what people's tastes are, whether they think it's consistent or disparate. I don't know, to me the way they're presented is a very different aesthetic. And Escondida is the very first record I ever produced, so I definitely feel like I have a lot to learn. I'm really interested to get back on the horse.
PM: The studio horse?
JH: The recording horse, at least. I want to experiment with recording outside of the studio. I have a record that was done in my friend's living room. It was a live show. It was a really big living room, and we had a whole bunch of people in there. This is the guy who co-produced Escondida. He was basically my engineer that I brought to the studio, but when it was all said and done, I said I should give him co-producer credit because he's such a big influence on the end result. That's Lemon DeGeorge. Did you see Genghis Blues?
PM: No, what is that, Jolie?
JH: Well, it's a movie, and Lemon did the sound for it. Lemon goes to Tuva a lot. Tuva is a little country that's actually in the geographical center of Asia. It's north of Mongolia, and the second most common language spoken there is Russian. And there are amazing musicians there. There are a few bands from there that tour around the world. And they do this type of singing that's multi-tonal.
PM: Oh, yeah, like the throat singing, and they split the tones and all that. [On that subject, check out the amazing overtone singing group Prana, reviewed elsewhere in this issue.]
PM: I've seen some of those guys, when I lived in Germany, on the street. Mongolian throat singers. Oh, it's beautiful stuff.
JH: Yeah. So the movie is about that. And there's this amazing story in it about Paul Pena, who's this great American blues player. He wrote "Big Old Jet Airliner" [the Steve Miller hit].
PM: Oh, really?
JH: Yeah. His life kind of fell apart--his career kind of fell apart in the late 70s. But he was going on tour with John Lee Hooker. He's an amazing guy. He can play like Charlie Patton if he feels like it.
PM: Oh, my God. And few who play country blues can play like Charlie Patton. That's saying a lot.
JH: Yeah, he's amazing. And he's pretty much the subject of Genghis Blues.
PM: Oh, wow. So I got to get right on that. And Lemon DeGeorge did the sound for Genghis Blues?
JH: Yeah. He went over there. And they were nominated for an Academy Award, the same time as Buena Vista Social Club.
PM: Oh, wow. I got to get up with Lemon. So he's got a place up in Forestville, huh?
JH: No. Lemon's got a little shack that I recorded some of the tunes at--a garage studio in San Francisco called Crab Nebula or something.
PM: Yeah, Crib Nebula, I think. [More about Lemon and Genghis Blues here.]
JH: Cool. And so there's, let me see, "Darlin Ukelele" and a few tracks off of Catalpa were recorded there. continue