Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Q&A with: Lindi Ortega

Canadian country singer Lindi Ortega returns to her hometown to play a sold-out show at The Rivoli this week.  I had the pleasure of speaking with her prior to the gig.

Here's what she had to say:

TO Snob: First off thanks for doing this.  You’re playing the Rivoli in Toronto on Jan. 24th, what on Earth possesses you to tour Canada in January?
Lindi Ortega: Well it wasn’t really me, it was more my label and my management that thought it would be a good time to tour.  I’m also going to be going to Winnipeg where it’s going to be freezing too.  I guess tour just don’t pay much attention to weather.

TO Snob: And there’s really no good time to tour Winnipeg.  Next week I’m expecting to see a lot of choreography and pyrotechnics when I go to the show.  Am I off base?
LO: No that’s exactly what’s going to happen.  Actually I should breathe fire.
TO Snob: I might hold you to that now.
LO: I’m going to be touring with Dutin Bentall & the Smokes.  It’s going to be a great collaborative tour because his band’s going to be playing all my stuff, which should be an interesting thing.  I’ve never really done that before.  Usually I have players who I play with, so this will be a fun collaborative effort.  Who knows, maybe they will do pyrotechnics and stuff.
TO Snob: With one of your shows, what lasting impression do you want to leave with fans?
LO: I really am myself when I play shows.  I’ve got a bit of a quirky personality and I think people find that entertaining.  I’m going to be playing songs off the record that I’m really excited about.  I’ve had a lot of fun with this record and it’s a great pleasure for me to play the songs off it and be able to tour it, not just as an opening act, but as my own entity.  I hope people can sense my pure love and joy for what I do and I hope it’s infectious.
TO Snob: Let’s talk about the new album a little bit.  I loved Little Red Boots and I thought the new one was a little bit harder to get into.  Where Little Red Boots grabbed me from the opening chords, this one took a few listens to penetrate.  Was that by design?
LO: No, I didn’t really think about any of that.  I usually write from my personal experience.  I think 90% of the songs come from that and the rest I take a little liberty to do some fictional work like “Murder of Crows”, so there was no conscious effort to make it difficult for people to get into it, it’s just where I was at the time when I was being inspired to write song.

TO Snob:  I guess difficult wasn’t a great description, maybe a little less in-your-face.
LO: I feel like “The Day You Die” and “Don’t Want to Hear It” are in-your-face, “Murder of Crows” even.  Maybe there’s more balance on this album than there was on the other one.

TO Snob: Was there much of a different process in writing the two albums:
LO: Nope, it was pretty much the same thing expect that my inspiration changed slightly.  There was more of a bluesy inspiration because I had been reading the Hank Williams biography.  I learn that he was influenced by blues musicians and it got me interested in the influence of blues on early country.  So it got me into listening to early blues records which had an impact on my style.

TO Snob: You mention early country, and there are a lot of not just early country, but ‘50s pop culture references in general in your songs.  What is it about that era that appeals to you?
LO: I think I find it aesthetically appealing, and musically I love the way things were recorded back then.  I love the rawness and the fact that it wasn’t Autotuned to high heaven and that everything wasn’t necessarily perfect.  Sometimes you could hear mistakes in recordings and stuff. 
TO Snob: You reference “Islands In the Stream” on the title track for the new album, which is really the exact opposite of that.
LO: Yeah, that’s a literal reference.  I was listening to that song on my iPod when I was on tour.  It was referencing a tour romance, and that’s what that song made me reminisce.  I heard it on my iPod and remembering thinking that me and this person were like that, so that’s where it came from.
TO Snob: You’ve moved down to Nashville, how has the reception of the record been down there?
LO: I haven’t actually played a whole lot of shows in Nashville.  I played my CD release show at a CD store there, in a basement venue.  I’ve only ever played here one or two times, so I can’t really speak about that.
I have gotten opportunities to do a lot of interesting things since being here.  One of those was being on the show Nashville, and getting to do a bit part and play myself and have them play three songs from the new record on the show.  It was really exciting and helped me a lot in terms of exposure. 
TO Snob: I have a little daughter who’s about a year and a half old, if she were ever to consider getting into music as a career what nugget of wisdom would you give her?
LO: I always say nobody should get into this business unless they have a genuine love for it and it’s not about being famous or making a lot of money.  If I got into this business to make money I would’ve quit a long time ago.  You get really really busy, you have to get out there and tour a lot and work a crazy schedule.  It can be taxing and grueling.  If you don’t love it you would end up resenting it.
TO Snob: You’ve toured with an eclectic array of artists.  I think Social Distortion jumps to the top of the list as both odd and strangely appropriate.  Who out there would you still love to tour with?
LO: Wilie Nelson.  I’d love to tour with him, I think he’s great.  If the opportunity ever came I would be over the moon.
TO Snob: You also mentioned your iPod.  If someone were to look at your iPod, what song or artist would they be surprised to see?
LO: Nina Simone.  I think she’s a fabulous musician, and it’s a genre people wouldn’t necessarily associate with me digging, but I’m a huge fan.  I became a huge fan because she’s a terrific performer and someone who’s really emotive vocally.  Just watching her is really astounding.
TO Snob: Is there anything you wanted to add.
LO: Unfortunately the Rivoli show is sold out so I feel bad for the people who want to come to the show.  Maybe next time we can do two nights.  It was always my dream when I was 17, 18 years old to sell out The RIvoli.  I remember going to see Danny Michel there when I was younger, and I remember thinking then that all I wanted was the opportunity to play a venue like this and have a bunch of people there to see me and my music, and it’s happened.
TO Snob: Well mission accomplished and then some.  Thanks again for doing this.

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