SXSW 2012 PREVIEW: ERIN IVEY
She's a little bit folkie, and they're a little bit R&B: Put them together and you have singer/songwriter Erin Ivey backed by the trio known as The Finest Kind.
They had performed together for a few years, and when the time came to make her second solo album, Ivey says recording it with The Finest Kind was a no-brainer. The result was 2011's Broken Gold, and the album generated its share of media praise in her longtime hometown of Austin, Texas, which is also the headquarters for all things SXSW.
Medleyville.us: How has Austin — as a city and as a music scene — changed since you first arrived there and since returning from your brief time away in Illinois and Oregon?
Erin Ivey: "It's grown and spread out like a slow-motion explosion. Sixth Street was the center of the live music scene when I got here in the '90s, but as that has devolved into a meat market, the live music has pushed out in all directions from there — a wider radius with lots of the real creativity happening at the edges."
Talk about how you first hooked up with The Finest Kind. And did it take a while before you and the trio made your respective sounds and styles blend together as one?
Ivey: "[Keyboardist] Rolf Ordahl and I met working at Apple Computer. When I came back from Illinois in 2007, we started playing 1920s music together. When it came time to make another solo album, it made perfect sense to use his band, The Finest Kind, to capitalize on that musical relationship groundwork. I also really loved their mystical perspective on music and creating transcendent work together.
"We are always working to blend our styles while being unabashedly ourselves. It has been a wonderful journey to take together. I am very fortunate to be able to work with musicians of their caliber."
Broken Gold, your recent album with The Finest Kind, was recorded live to tape in 18 hours. Over how many days did that cover? And how many takes of each song did you do before you moved on the next one?
Ivey: "We were in East Austin Recording studio for a day and a half to lay down the basic tracks live. Some of the cuts are first takes; others are second or third. We did no more than three.
"Overall feel always trumps note-for-note perfection — that's a life lesson."
Talk about the inspiration behind the song "You Got Your Wishes Wrong" — and isn't it dedicated to Michael Jackson?
Ivey: " 'Wishes Wrong' is dedicated to MJ. It came from a songwriting exercise I did with song titles from a Sam Phillips album. …I had MJ stickers on the back of my bedroom door when I was a little girl; I used to kiss them before bed.
"I'll always remember the first time I heard 'Thriller.' The power had gone out, and all the adults from our apartment building were crowded around my dad’s little six-inch battery-operated TV to watch the Super Bowl. The kids had a boombox and 'Thriller' on cassette. It scared the crap out of me. I had to have it."
Everyone seems to have an opinion of Lana Del Rey. What's your take?
Ivey: "Her [Saturday Night Live] dress was fabulous."
Finish this sentence: During this year's SXSW, I will …
Ivey: "… not try to do everything, but give everything to what I do."
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
Erin Ivey and The Finest Kind at SXSW 2012 (schedule subject to change):
* 9 p.m. March 17: Continental Club, 1315 S. Congress Ave. (official SXSW showcase)