A Conversation with Maia Sharp (continued)
PM: You got two Batteau co-writes on Bonnie's upcoming, wow. So who pitches the Bonnie co-writes, for instance? Or does she just hear the record and goes for it?
MS: It happened a couple different ways. Actually, David has had two Bonnie cuts in the past. He wrote "Wild For You Baby," in the 80s, and "Fundamental," which was like three albums ago.
PM: Oh, yeah, right. I remember Joey Spampinato got on that record, too, right?
MS: Yeah. So they already knew who he was through those albums. He was already on the radar, and he got a collection of three of our songs, actually, the two that she's cutting and the one that's on my record, we sent her office those three. And they actually held them all at first. Then only the two stuck.
PM: How neat that the one that didn't stick was the one that ended up on your record.
MS: Well, actually, one of the other ones that she is going to record was originally supposed to be on my album. But she likes to be the first one to get a song out into the world if she can.
PM: Of course.
MS: So if the song has not been cut previously, she asks that she's the first. And she's very sweet about it. It's not like ego or anything, it's just--that's what serves her album the best. So, of course, I stayed out of the way. I pulled that song from my album, knowing that I could just put it on my next one.
But then once I got on the radar, because I was singing on the two tracks, she got to hear me do my thing, and she looked up the website. She really checked me out.
PM: No kidding!
MS: And then once other pitches of my songs started to come to her from other places, I was already on the radar, and so she put those on to the top of the stack, and I got a third cut from my co-writer's publisher pitching one of our songs.
PM: Wow, which other co-writer?
MS: The co-writers on the third Bonnie Raitt cut are Liz Rose and Stephanie Chapman.
PM: Liz writes for Jodi Williams, in the building next door to our studio.
MS: Yes. You're right there? Stephanie Chapman is a new artist, who also writes for Jodi Williams. Yeah, so Stephanie, Liz and I wrote this. And Jodi pitched it to Bonnie's manager, thinking it was a total long shot, like, "Why would I ever expect them to actually listen to this?" But I'm singing on the demo, and my name is on it, and the management passed it on over to Bonnie because they knew that Bonnie was already liking what I do.
MS: And she cut it. So I have three cuts on there. It's amazing.
PM: It's funny, because then yesterday I saw publisher Gaerd Mueller, over in Jodi's driveway. And he said, "Hey Frank, I just got Pat McLaughlin"--another of Jodi's writers--"a cut on the latest Bonnie record." So yeah, they're really kicking ass on Bonnie's record over there.
MS: Yeah. I heard that cut. It's great.
PM: Do you know Pat McLaughlin? Have you written with him?
MS: I haven't written with him, but we've met a couple times there, at Jodi Williams.
PM: He's a major dude. [see our interview with Pat]
MS: Yeah. I really like his album.
PM: So, not counting the Art and Buddy trio record, this is your third solo record, right?
PM: And it began with Miles Copeland and his Ark 21 label?
MS: Ark 21 was the first record, right.
PM: Have you gone to that retreat, his Castle Retreat, a zillion times?
MS: Yeah. I did it. I was signed as a writer and artist to Miles Copeland during eight of those retreats, and I went to eight of them.
PM: Eight of them! That's got to be the record, right?
MS: Pat McDonald holds the record.
PM: Oh, really?
MS: Pat McDonald was writing for Miles as well, and he went to, I think, either 10 or 11.
PM: Wow. But do they still go on? Is that still happening?
MS: I think not.
PM: Yeah. You must have met so many great writers at eight of those retreats.
MS: It was so many--yeah, I mean, I wouldn't even be able to remember every one--fantastic writers.
PM: Yeah, way too many.
MS: Yeah. I met great writers, great humans, the vibe was so good. It was so fertile. It was so focused.
PM: And you've got to write something every day, right?
MS: You're writing a song a day, yeah. And you're recording it that night.
MS: And then you wake up the next day, and you got to do it all again, with two different writers that you probably just met that week, if not that morning.
PM: And that you just hope like hell that you like something about.
MS: Yeah. It was hard if three people got together that came from three completely different influences and they just didn't use the language in the same way in a song. But we'd always find some kind of common ground and see it through. Eight Castles was about eight songs per castle, I think only one song didn't get finished. So that was pretty--
PM: Wow. First of all, that's astonishing number of songs. [laughs]
MS: Yeah. Well, it really shouldn't work, all those strangers in one place, expected to do something that's already hard to do.
MS: But it works because of the focus level. continue