You and your husband Dan moved to Dripping Springs, Texas from Chicago about a year and a half ago. Was what it like moving from a big city to such a rural place?
It has been pretty wonderful. I got used to falling asleep hearing sirens, people yelling, and gunshots. Now I fall asleep listening only to the wind. I wake up to little birds in the trees.
Was Cross Record mostly a solo project before Dan joined you?
Not really. We had been playing around Chicago in several incarnations. At one point I had two clarinet players, a flute player, an upright bassist, another guitarist and a drummer. We would do these improvisational sections with three clarinets (I played as well ). It was a lot of fun. It changed almost every show. Sometimes it would just be me, sometimes I would play some drums, other times it’d be a traditional four-piece type of situation.
Cross Record plays in Austin pretty often. Do you feel connected to the music scene in Austin?
We’re starting to feel connected, yeah. It’s a really nice feeling. We were worried, at first, since we are so far out here that it would be difficult to get to know people and to wiggle into the ‘scene.’ People have been so incredibly helpful, though, and generous and kind. We’re feeling the love.
A lot of the Cross Record recordings have a droning or experimental quality to them. When you’re writing songs do you hear those parts too or do they start from quieter, more skeletal beginnings?
Most of the experimenting happens in the studio. I’m not a person who makes fully fleshed-out demos before going to record. It takes a lot of time and meditation in the studio for me to figure them out. Pushing and pulling, adding and subtracting. It drives Dan insane.
Cross Record was recently signed to Ba Da Bing! Records, which is based in Brooklyn. How did that come about?
It’s kind of a funny story. One day I decided I wanted to move to Maine. I found an apartment on Craigslist, quit my job and went there. I was dating Dan at the time, in Chicago, but I told him I just felt like I needed to go, so I did. While I was there I was introduced to a woman named Aly Spaltro. Well, I was introduced to her music, actually. Her moniker is Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. She’s from the town I was working in, and my friends there all knew her.
Fast forward a couple months, Dan proposed, and I planned to move back to Chicago to be with him before the wedding. I started tending bar at a venue called Schuba’s, and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper happened to be passing through one night. I saw her play and wondered what label she was working with. I don’t know what made me wonder that, or why I chose to pursue getting in touch with them, but long story short: I contacted Ba Da Bing! and shared my album with them. They liked it, and asked me if I’d be interested in them re-issuing Be Good.
You come from a visual art background. Does music feel like an extension of that? How would you describe the relationship between the two?
Very much so. They’re almost inseparable to me. The ideas I’m thinking about visually are also the ideas I’m working with in my music. For example, I just wrote a song directly based on a drawing I did of an invisible hand touching a rose to someone’s forehead. I get fixated on certain ideas and want to express them both ways. That’s not to say that every song is based on a drawing or vice versa, but it happens a lot.
How long have you been working on your new album? Is it more collaborative than albums in the past?
Ugh. It feels like a long time. It’s important for me not to rush myself, though. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Only the end result matters to me. In a way, yes, it has been more collaborative than albums in the past. For Be Good I would sometimes let Theo (my engineer/producer) go off on his own and try something, but I’d be kind of nervous and anxious about it. For this new record, I felt completely at peace being at my job while he and Dan got high and worked for eight hours on a song. I would leave the house with a tiny nugget of an idea recorded and when I arrived at home, Theo and Dan would walk out of the house grinning ear to ear and guide me by my shoulders to the control room. They’d sit me down in front of the monitors and play what they’d been working on. I would turn around in my swivel chair and we would all just laugh our asses off. They’re crazy geniuses.
Dogs or cats?
Can I say both?
Dawn or dusk?