Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Musician Interview: Danielle Howle

by Miranda Jacobs
This past semester, I interviewed singer-songwriter Danielle Howle in person at the local music venue Awendaw Green.  The purpose of the interview was not to gather Howle’s biographical information, but to gain insight into the world of a musician.  She gave me exactly the type of personal and sincere answers that are needed in order for the rest of the world to better understand the joys and hardships of living life as a musician.  More information about Howle’s life as an aspiring musician growing up in South Carolina and touring with and opening for artists such as Elliot Smith and Bob Dylan can be found at www.daniellehowle.com, which also has a link to her Facebook page.  You can watch videos of her performances at www.youtube.com/daniellehowle.

Q: Who is Danielle Howle?  What kind of music do you make and what musicians would you identify yourself with?
A: “Well, I’m a hybrid.  I think most people in our culture are a hybrid of, or definitely a product of, our environment.  My dad listened to a lot of jazz; he was a farm boy and one way that he got out in the world was to play jazz and in the quartet—back in the ancient times, pre-Vietnam War.  He went into the military, so I got to travel around.  My upbringing is definitely from South Carolina, but I’m from a military family as well.  Being a product of the environment means I’m a product of whatever I see, think, and feel: from the beautiful birds at Awendaw Green—and all my good friends—on down to being on a Girl Scout trip in the middle of Greece in 6th grade.
“There are certain things I do have an affinity for—things I like to listen to.  Some of the more current artists today that I really enjoy are the Avett Brothers—they’ve been very cool to me and helping me out. I really like listening to Tom Waits—not the 80’s guy with the sticky up hair—but Tom Waits the gruffy guy who sings about getting behind the mule and all that kind of stuff. I think Hank Williams Sr. is one of the finest writers that America has produced.  So, I guess I’m a hybrid of all things… and what turns me on about writing is finding a melody. 
Music is everywhere. Right now you could write a song.  We’re sitting right here on this picnic table in the middle of this beautiful day. I could write about that van going down the road next to the bird.  You can just start building all these ideas and beats in your head from anything from cars rolling down a road to the way the wind sounds.  There’s music everywhere.”

Q: Do you plan ahead and sit down with the intention of writing a song, or do song ideas just naturally come to you?
A: “I don’t have a particular way to write a song.  I’ve had things that have worked for me in the past.  There’s different ways to do it—and there’s no right way—and that’s what’s so beautiful about music, and why I’m so inspired by all ages of musicians, from 13-year-old musicians to 75-year-old musicians. They have such different inspiration. They’re products of their environment, but also they’re products of their own imagination in that process of taking what they see and generating it new again.  Everything on the earth has always been, and what we do is we make it new again so we can shine on the beauty of what’s going on on the planet. 
Sometimes, I’ll hear a melody in my head, and it will remind me of something.  I have a song called freedom; I heard the word freedom in my head—I needed freedom in my life because I was not being kind to myself—so, I wrote the song freedom because I heard a little bit of a melody in my head. I started developing it and playing with it and listening to it and not being afraid to fail. 
Don’t self-edit when you’re creating.  In process, I may say “Freedom!  What are all the things that freedom means to me?”—well, a bed to sleep in, nobody trying to hit me or anything, my friends and family that are also happy.  I’d go down and I could write all the things that are about freedom—then you can just circle the coolest ones and make them rhyme.  That’s one way to do it. 
“Or you can write a whole short story.  Writing is a process; I write every day whether I’m going to use it or not.  I just want to keep that tool sharp—like people who are athletes, they may jog every day.  I try to make sure my brain is taking walks, and it’s an enjoyable process because I’m shedding things I don’t need. I’m also learning about what might be important to me on a subconscious level.  Just by writing it down and not editing myself and not going “Oh, man, I shouldn’t have said that…” because that’s what gets you in trouble.  When you’re with your paper and you’re by yourself or your computer or you’re using a voice recorder—however you like to write—saying “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that…” that should never happen, man.  That is your personal thing.  We live now, fortunately, in a time where no one is putting us in jail for what we say, and I’d like to make sure we keep it that way by saying what we need to say in our personal journals and things. And then once we get our ideas down, we can fine-tune them.  I’m sure that Michelangelo saw David inside of that block of stone, but I don’t see like that.  I see it in music.  But Michelangelo kept taking away the pieces that didn’t belong to the statue.  Basically song writing is a lot the same.  I’m just taking away the pieces that don’t belong.  That’s one way to write. 
“What’s amazing about writing in songs is most people on the planet will like music in some way. Some people don’t like certain kinds of music, other people like other kinds of music—which is fine—that’s how it should be.  But sometimes I’ll get a job writing music and one of the jobs that I got was about washing hands so that children would know to wash their hands—you know how songs can be an educational tool.  So, I wrote a song about that, and DHEC partnered with South Carolina Educational Television to make a project for children so they would know to wash their hands.  So, I had to listen to what they wanted the song to be—what they thought were the most important things—because they were the ones with the data.  What is the most important thing about washing your hands?  How do we make that fun?  How do we put that in a key—meaning a musical key?  How do we put that in notes that children are gonna want to sing? 
Certain cultures listen to certain music that has certain scales of music.  A lot of our culture has music in the key of C, F, and G; this is where a lot of praise music was written in hymnals and things, which is odd to say, but those are a lot of the things that currently our culture resonates in—those particular keys; I’m not saying all together, I’m just saying those are some general obvious ones.  So, I was like “I’m going to use those.”  We did it in the key of C and we wrote something fun that kids would think was silly—and also informative that wasn’t like shoving a message down someone’s throat.  And that song, partnered with a video—the little children came out and did the video—it’s still being used today; it’s from 2007 and it’s still being utilized in schools, doctors’ offices, things of this nature.  It’s very cute… it’s called “Wash Hands.”  It won a Freddie, which is an international—not just our country—international multimedia media award for children’s multimedia.  The team was from South Carolina: it was me—I was just a songwriter—the children were in the video, Lee Ann Kornegay, a filmmaker in Columbia—I want people to know about her work, she does a lot more than just this kind of stuff, she’s done a lot.  We got together with these other partners and it was a group effort.  I’m just trying to show different ways that music is utilized in our world, and that it is a fun thing and that it brings people together. 
Mostly I like to write songs from a place of joy, and even when I have a job, I still try to keep that joy in the song.  That was one of the funnest projects I’ve ever worked on, because I had parameters.  But in my mind when I’m writing my own music, I don’t have parameters, and that can be a problem.”

Q: You’ve shown how music can be used as an educational tool.  Do you feel that music should be incorporated into public schools more?
A: “I do feel like music should be incorporated into schools more. Wando High School, for instance, has a really highly evolved intelligent music program, where people aren’t just learning music—they’re learning people skills like, “How do you be in a marching band with 75 of your best friends?” and “How do you play in a jazz ensemble with just a few people when you know it’s just intimately that jazz ensemble” or “How do you be in a jazz orchestra?”  There’s a lot of communication that happens with music outside of just music itself.  Music itself is a language; people are playing instruments, and they’re talking together in a composition.  They have a language.  Notes are the building blocks of that language.  People also have a language in the sense of they are connecting with a broader audience outside of making their music—the people that come to see their music, the people that hear the music on the radio, anyplace that music can be heard.
“Music is utilized that way, and as far as education is concerned, South Carolina has some beautiful resources that I hope to see flourish and stay in our education system in the public schools. One of them is we have fine music teachers, and we have a lot of people in our region that support because—number one—there’s an interest from the children and—number two—there’s an interest from the people that have come from here.  You have to think about James Jamerson who was born in Edisto.  He’s from back in the day, one of the Motown original base players.  Dizzy Gillespie is from Cheraw, South Carolina.  Dizzy Gillespie is one of the people that started jazz; he wrote with the great people.  These people are South Carolinians.  Edwin McCain is South Carolinian.  Collard Green is from South Carolina; I don’t know if a lot of people understand what a wizard he is.  A lot of people may not listen to hip hop so much, and people listen to the hip hop on the radio instead of the hip hop that’s in their community, which is a very different thing.  And then there’s this beautiful artist, Carry Ann Hearst—she is awesome.  She writes about things that I’m like, “Wow, you said that out loud, man; I appreciate that.”  Controversial things—controversial spirit-wise.  You know how people will hide if they feel sad or they won’t talk about certain things that are going on in their minds?  People like Cary Ann Hearst, Edwin McCain, Joel Hamilton, and Joel Timmins from Soul Driven Train—they make it okay to be wrong and okay to be scared, okay to be hurt and okay to say what you want to say.”

Q: You’ve said before that you try to write music from a place of joy.  Do the negative aspects of life have a role in your music?
A: “I’m not afraid to talk about the things that people are afraid of, and I’m not scared to fail or be wrong.  Those are things that can bring people down and make them afraid to talk: fear of being wrong, fear of being rejected or disapproved of.  Approval starts in your heart, and in order to have an amazing amount of joy, creation itself is joy—it’s a dirty business too.  Music brings people together.  It keeps us talking about what makes us human and what we can keep refining as being humans.  And bringing out the hard things and the hard stuff to talk about, or the joy, it just makes us all realize that we’re made out of the same stuff, that we’re not alone, that we don’t have to isolate ourselves, and that when we talk about things together, even though it might be uncomfortable and might piss people off… I mean, so what!  Somebody gets mad at what you think—so what!  That’s what I want the world to know.  If I freak somebody out with what I say, how can we talk?  How can we make it right?  How can I learn from them and what do we have to learn from each other?
“There have been some studies done by some artists that work with the South Carolina Arts Commission—who are in arts education—that children score higher on standardized tests when they have a music educational format.  The data is out there for the state of South Carolina.  The data has been collected by some of our fine teachers and musicians and it’s available through the South Carolina Arts Commission.  That is a good thing.  Music is a device of communication.  Music soothes people, it brings people together, it makes people dance who wouldn’t otherwise dance, it makes people talk to each other.  When you go to a concert and you’re standing out there going, “Okay, I’m in a room full of like-minded people focusing on what’s happening in one place,” there’s power in that… when human beings come together and they have something to say or something to listen to.”

Q: Does the kind of music people listen to determine where they’ll fit in with the world or who they’ll surround themselves with?
A: “It can definitely start that.  When I was 13 or 14 years old, and I was sneaking into punk rock shows and I started my musical career as a young subversive punk rock woman, I was looking for other people that were willing to take a chance on something that was different.  And sometimes it was funny: we all kind of dressed alike, we had big chain wallets, we had on hats and hoodies, and kind of slumping around.  But through meeting those people and going to see music, it broadened my horizons; and then I started listening to all this different stuff; and then I realized that Fugazzi is a great band.  And playing with them—opening up with them—got me to listen to this other band called Jawbox, and then they were listening to these other bands; so it just kept trickling down. And then the music festival—sometimes they’ll have punk rock music, and jazz music, and blue grass music, and Americana music, and heavy metal music in the same place.  Those are my favorite kind of festivals because all the kids come and we all hang out together.  I think that music helps us to find a place where we feel comfortable talking and being with other people and listening; and then, I think it just leads to more music. 
“I like having that artistic, aesthetic friendship with people.  It’s a good conversation piece.  And people change as they grow.  My dad was a jazz guy; he listened to nothing but jazz.  But now he’s an old dude and he listens to Waylon Jennings.  I never thought that a man that sat in with Graham Miller when he was a young child would ever like country music, or even like my music, but he does.  He doesn’t just like it because I’m his daughter; he’s cool with some of the songs.  That meant a lot to me because he’s a person that understands composition on different levels.  I’m self-taught, but he has a lot of professional training because he was in band growing up.”

Q: You didn’t have a whole lot of professional training?
A: “No.”

Q: Do you read music?
A: “No, I don’t read music.  Not yet, I haven’t had time yet.  I have an ear; I’m real lucky on that.  I’ve developed my ear to an interesting point.  Also, though, I recognize that in my development and in my own personal education, that there are holes and that learning from teachers is important, and it’s really good to regroup.  Especially being a touring musician.  Regroup, learn from teachers, other musicians.  And also, physically… the life of the musician… there’s wear and tear on the body if you’re holding an instrument the same way for 20 years.  Musicians have to make sure that they take care of their physical bodies and that they get observed by people that are skilled in such things as Gyrotonic exercise, the Alexander method—that they find something that they can do every day, whether it’s stretching and moving, keeping all their fluids going.”

Q: Is there an exercise routine that you do every day?
A: “Yeah, I try to do Gyrotonic exercise every day.  It’s really changed my life and helped the hemispheres of my brain on either side communicate with each other.  You get so much knowledge on the right brain, so much on the left.  How do these brains communicate with each other?  That’s something that, as we get older, we’re going to want to be dealing with.  What scares me for your generation is all these people are just getting old and old and old, and ya’ll are like the young people, and there’s a lot of problems with people getting Alzheimer’s.  Now they’re starting to figure out that Alzheimer’s is type 3 diabetes.  There can be things that can be cured that we might be able to use brain puzzles and brain games to help people my age who are starting to age.  I’m still young, but I’m in the in between.  So I’ve got to start watching out for different stuff.”

Q: Let’s go back to your earlier years.  Did you get criticism from anyone when you first made the decision to pursue music as a career?
A: “Yeah, my dad was the worse because he came up in the 40s and 50s in the jazz situation and was a young man—he was a sheltered farm person—dealing with that whole end of things, and he saw music from a different perspective.  There’s poverty involved, there’s a lot of wear and tear on the body, there’s long hours—not just learning your instrument, but if you’re going to drive around in a car for 250 days a year, by yourself—which I have done—for countless years, or even with a band, you’re going to be tired.  The intake of your food is different; you might be eating fast food for three days in a row.  Sometimes the diet alters, the sleep alters, you’re sleeping on different surfaces every night; and if you are really a very ambitious person, you’re probably getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep and getting up and still booking more shows before you get a team around you.”

Q: Did any of the criticism attack your goal as unrealistic and did you ever feel yourself that your goal was unrealistic?
A: “Yeah, because you’re talking to a 20 to 25 year veteran.  It is unrealistic in a lot of ways.  What I would like to see happen is for artists to come together and talk about how we can become more financially stable, what we can do to maintain the health care of ourselves, and how can we help each other do that.  These are issues now that people are getting wise to; there wasn’t a lot of information when I was coming up, but there’s a lot more information.  And being that South Carolina is a musical state… and one of the assets that we have—one of our greatest resources in South Carolina—is our artists.  People are getting wiser to what they want to do and how they want to do it.  There’s all this mythology around art: “Oh it’s fun, I’m in the limelight, I’m gonna do this, girls are gonna love me, I’m gonna do drugs and have big diamonds.”  That’s a bunch of crap, okay.  If you wanna make it, you can’t be getting hammered every night and spending money on diamonds, man; it’s just not gonna happen for you.  If you’re independently wealthy, then more power to you. But your average working class hardworking artist—their focus is on “How am I gonna get the best gigs?  How am I gonna play with the best people?  How am I gonna do my best job ever even though I’m tired?  And how am I going to keep my universe, my body, stabilized?”  These are the questions that were about art; but this glamorous culture that’s built around music and this fame thing… fame is an interesting tool to use, and so is money, and so are diamonds. I mean, look at it all… so is melody.  But the bottom line is that’s 5% of the people who get involved in the music industry.  Some people aspire for that because they want approval and popularity.  Approval and popularity are beautiful things but they will bite you in the ass.  If you’re an artist, and you are a true artist, those are merely tools that you will use to propagate what is in your soul.  If I did not have music, I will tell you this: I would not be on this planet.  Music has saved my life, music has made my life better, and it’s what I do.  Everyone has their own goals in music; maybe mine is a little extreme.  But what music has done for me is given me a purpose on the earth, it has opened my mind to other people, it has allowed me to communicate with many different cultures of individuals and different languages and different places, and it has allowed me to have compassion for other people and their situations.  It brings something to the table that is viable, that will congregate people together to help them to know what each of them needs in a community.  That’s what music has done for me.”

Q: How did you deal with the criticism and motivate yourself to keep going?
A: “Well, sometimes the criticism would make me very angry when I was younger, and I used my anger to go, “I’ll show you!” which is totally from an egotistic point of view.  Ego can be a powerful tool but it can also wreck a person.  I had to be very patient with my friends and family because they were like, “Man, this isn’t getting you anywhere.  You missed a birthday of this child; Granddaddy died, you were in Portland, you didn’t have enough money to get to the funeral.”  These are all real things that happen to lots of musicians; it is not just me.  You miss out on certain parts of life, but you see other parts.  You gotta love it if you’re gonna go for it.
“The fortunate thing about being artist-in-residence at Awendaw Green is I get to hear some music that I would not have otherwise heard and I get to hang out with people who are beautiful and smart and talented.  Sometimes maybe someone’s going through something that sucks, maybe not… but I get to see and be available for artists who are doing their thing and learning about how to run lights or how to run sound or the best way to sell merchandise and how we cook hamburgers for people, the most efficient way to clean up the trash and keep this place Awendaw Green instead of Awendaw Brown, and interacting with a group of people that really want to do this too—it’s really cool.”

Q: Have you ever felt pressured to create or perform music that you didn’t necessarily like in order to gain popularity?
A: “Yeah, I have.  I used to try to get these things called record deals back in the day, which you really don’t need anymore.  They’re helpful; they always will be.  The record industry is a strange business; part of it I understand, part of it I don’t.  Some artists—people hear them and they love them.  And, man, if you’ve got a good YouTube video and a beautiful song—shoot—you can go a long way.  And you can make beautiful music and then that data that you collect, that’s your industry; so you can be your own person.  But I have been told many times, when soliciting record labels, that I should change my music or do things different, and all that kind of fun stuff.  At the time, I was not willing to do that. 
“What I’m interested in now is the business of songwriting—meaning you get the best of both worlds.  I get to write crazy songs that maybe an artist who’s a Disney Channel type of artist might like, or maybe a country kind of singer might like; maybe I’ll write a song for a blues musician.  That’s what I like about being a songwriter.  I love to write any kind of song possible; man, if I could just write some beautiful hip hop music, I would be so thrilled.  It would make me so happy because I’m such a fan.  But as far as my own music, I still believe that what I’m working on has mass appeal and that it would take the right circumstances and situations for that to occur in a business way.  It is very disconcerting to have those kinds of criticisms; but, also, they can be very interesting and help you evolve your songwriting in new ways.  I learned a lot from some of the criticisms I’ve gotten in the past, and I’m glad for them.  Am I going to use that information?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  I really trust my instincts on writing songs.”

Q: Did you make a conscious decision to play indie rock music or did you just play your instruments and that genre came out naturally in your music?
A: “Well, my natural place that I write music is more of a kind of indie rock and then some country music styles.  But I really enjoyed punk rock, and I really enjoyed new wave music, and sort of crazy kind of sounding… I guess it’s called indie rock now.  That’s what I wanted to play, so, my first band that got signed played that kind of music.  It just interested me and I loved it.  Then later I went back to writing country music, and it helped me to have some R&B and blues influence as well.  That’s kind of where my soul was sitting; but I was so enthralled with other kinds of music that I had to be in a band like that.  I was young and it was happy and that’s what my group of friends were doing.  And that’s where we evolved. But, again, that kind of music will put your brain out there so much.  I think working with one of my friends from my first band… he worked as a DJ at WUSC at the University of South Carolina. He was a huge influence in my life because he listened to all kinds of music because he had his own punk rock show, but then he liked classical music so he would do that show; and then sometimes if a DJ didn’t show up he might be on the hip hop show.  I just love music.  People make fun of pop stars and young celebrities and say, “That doesn’t have any merit.”  Well, I see a lot of merit in that kind of music; I think it’s fun.”

Q: What is the most difficult part of the music making process?
A: “For me, it’s making the recording of the music sound like what’s in my head.  And, having enough to promote things on a national or global level can sometimes take an income stream.  I’ve seen people with killer YouTube videos and have lots of hits, and then nothing comes of them again.  But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t.  I think that finding more than one angle to promote oneself in at any given time is very helpful.  I’ve had some trouble with that; I’ve also had some success with that.  You definitely need a team of people.  I really believe that the more the merrier, which is why Awendaw Green works so well.  We have a team.”

Q: How much luck and how much talent is involved in gaining success as a musician?
A: “Yeah, I mean, luck is great, and talent will sustain you.  If you don’t have a lot of talent and you’re really lucky—it doesn’t mean that you love it any less of course—it just means that there’s some places where an artist might have to work a little bit harder because they don’t have as much talent… but they get lucky, and they love it.  I’ve seen some artists that I didn’t think were all that great turn out to be the greatest artists ever because they use their luck and their talent and their connectivity with people in the industry to keep going and become amazing, and they end up helping a lot of other artists get things done.  Then I’ve seen some really super talented people that weren’t taken all that seriously and they didn’t do that well.  And I’ve seen some really talented people that got really lucky at the same time, and it’s like… explosion!  And then there’s talented people that the world just doesn’t get them; and they’re going to rock next.”

Q: What has made you so successful?
A: “I’m successful in some good ways; I’m unsuccessful in some other ways.  I think what makes me successful is I realize where I’m unsuccessful, and I seek help and I learn things and I try to be humble.”

Q: Would you say being open to criticism is one of your most valuable assets?
A: “It is one of the most valuable assets I think a person can have.  Also, to take criticism and let it roll off.  Don’t let it derail you, man.  I spent years just letting things derail me.  The fun thing about criticism is you don’t have to use it.  If you’ve already got your song and you like it the way it is, and somebody says, “Try it this way,” and you do, then you got two songs.  You got two versions of the same thing.  If you try, at least you have that experience.  The experience itself, whether the outcome is something that you keep or not, is the most valuable because your brain gets wider and it understands more because of the experience; and that way you’re able to make things and try new things before you ever get finished with them.  From working with different producers, it’s just allowed me to have more fun and be a better songwriter and enjoy process more.  Process is a journey.  Process, if you truly love it… I know everybody has different goals with music as a career, but I have goals with process.  I want to be so in the moment of the process of making something that that’s all that matters and it will do nothing but turn out great, because people’s passion carries.  If you can only sing four notes, then man, sing them the best you damn can.  If you can sing 20, sing them the best with the passion that you have.  It kind of disturbs me sometimes when artists say, “Man, I’ll never make it.  I’m not that good.”  I’m like, “How do you know until you try more?”  And, you know, having a few extra jobs does not hurt.  It does not hurt.”

Q: How do you feel about the rules of the music industry? For example, the obligation to produce albums with 10 to 12 songs that are 3 to 5 minutes long.
A: “That’s a good question.  I don’t have an answer to that question.  It’s always that way; people are like, “Well this is how we do it.  This is the standard way.”  I suppose having some standards is a good thing.  But it really is rather annoying probably for some people.  What if one dude writes a 15 minute song and that’s their whole record?  What if somebody writes a record that lasts for 3 hours?  I guess that having some standards is good for business; but maybe they could hinder people’s creativity.  I hope that people—well, people always will find a way; artists being the people—will find a way around that.  Now that there’s so many different kinds of media, they can just have a different version of it.  But, yeah, criteria, I guess, are necessary.  I guess that it’s necessary to have some criteria; but I hope that people will not let that hinder them in any way.  I hope so.  I’m not letting it mess with me.”

Q: What’s your favorite setting to be in when you play music?
A: “In my perfect world, I’d like a 300 to a thousand seat theater 4 times a week, with a hard ticket buying public, a nice sound system, a few musicians that are loving and serving the songs and not themselves, and time to work with them in the same show and to sing some songs by myself.”

Q: What’s the most common mood you’re in when you’re creating and performing music?
A: “Playing it is a different thing because I’m telling the stories and the stories are not just about me anymore and the creation. The performing of the story is a different ball game.  I’m in the moment and I want to be completely in that moment performing that story, and completely in communication with the band, but I’m also in complete communication with the audience when I’m doing it right.  If I feel like an audience is not digging what I’m doing, I may want to call an audible, I may want to change my set list, want to move the songs around.  The performance is what is a Gesamtkunstwerk: it is a complete work.  It’s costume, perhaps—clothes you pick out to wear that you think are going to work on stage; what the lights are doing, how they’re angled, what the focus of them is, what each light is going to do in a different song; what the communication between the sound guy and you is, what musician communication, what the back wall sounds like, what the back wall in front of you sounds like.
“As far as the creation process, I like to feel safe.  I don’t want a lot of people around.  I want to be in a safe place.  I want to have a microphone and a little bit of gear.  I want to have enough time to where I feel like I’m not being rushed.  I don’t want anybody knocking on my door.  I like to have some food in my refrigerator.  And I just like to be in that moment without any interruption.  My perfect world—since I have known danger and been in it, and since I have known safety—is to have a safe place to create.”

Q: Is there a particular song that you listen to and think, “Wow!  I would love to create a song that beautiful!”
A: “Yeah, “Grandma’s Hands,” by Bill Withers. “Halleluiah,” that was written by Leonard Cohen that Jeff Buckley covered.  Elliot Smith, he’s got so many perfect ones.  Anything off of Elliot Smith’s Figure 8 is pretty much perfect.”

Q: Are there current artists right now that you really like or try to be similar to?
A: “Ray LaMontagne.  I like him, and I love Band of Horses.”


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