Musical Discoveries: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you were led to the Sleepthief project.
Lauren Edman: The Dawnseeker is my professional debut, so my background exists mostly in training and personal projects. I've done a smorgasbord of stuff, but not as much as anyone might expect because I'm a shy person.
As for how I was led to Sleepthief, it's kind of funny how it worked out. I was talking to a friend one night at a particularly low time in my life, and I asked him if he knew anyone who might be interested in using me as a singer for their album because I wanted to sing. He knew that Justin was working on an album, so he told me to send him a few of my recordings. I didn't know Justin or anything about his music, but I sent him a few cover songs and some original work I've done. He liked it!
Did you always know you wanted to be a musical artist?
In some respect, yes. I always knew I wanted to be in music, but for a long time I was too shy and undecided to know what to do. Although I started voice lessons when I was thirteen, it wasn't until I was sixteen that I let anyone, including my mother, hear me sing. I would practice in secret when nobody was home, and from what I can remember I never talked much about wanting to be a singer. The dream started to solidify a couple years into college, and the reality is pretty much just starting now.
And what can you tell us about your musical and vocal training?
I've had a lot. I come from one of those musical families, so it pretty much came with the territory for me. I was mainly an instrumentalist throughout elementary and high school as I played piano and clarinet, but I always loved singing, and gradually it started to take over. By the time I got to college, I was intent enough on singing to make voice my concentration instrument when I majored in sound recording technology. I also took four semesters of music theory. So yep, lots of music. How often I actually apply what I've learned varies.
How would you characterise the song you did for the Sleepthief album?
"Afterthoughts" is a dark, convoluted song. There's a lot going in it that I can't even explain. It has a life of its own.
Did you share any of the writing duties?
No, I didn't share them. I wrote the music and lyrics myself. (smiles)
Please compare the material to any that you have done on your own or with others.
Each song I write tends to be pretty different from the rest, "Afterthoughts" included. One of the hardest questions for me to answer about my music is what style I am or who I sound like, or even who my main influences are. And it's not that I think I'm all that different or unique, but my songs just run in all sorts of different directions from each other.
Lyrically, "Afterthoughts" is a little more abstract than I tend to be in my personal material. I write frankly, but that doesn't really work for this style of music. Musically, well, it's the only song I've written in a mixolydian key, and most of my other songs have verses and choruses. "Afterthoughts" doesn't really have either one. I don't know how that happened.
And how was the project put together?
Once it was decided that I would sing on the Sleepthief album and that I would write a song for it, Justin gave me a few basic ideas of directions to go in. "Afterthoughts" somehow came out of that.
I spent some time writing the song at home for voice and piano, and then I recorded a demo. I sent Justin the demo, and then he and Israel went to work on the production. Eventually, I flew to Utah to track the vocals and keyboard. Between the three of us, harmonies were written on the spot.
What kind of music do you find yourself listening to all the time?
Generally, the music I like is a little offbeat but melodic and catchy, and the majority is sung by females. Tori Amos was a major influence on my piano writing when I was in high school, and over the last few years I got into the piano music of Debussy and Brahms.
Some of my favorite singers/bands are Fiona Apple, The Cardigans, Ben Folds Five, Joni Mitchell, Trespassers William, Hawksley Workman, PJ Harvey, and Bjork. And I love Francis Poulenc.
What are your future plans as a musical artist?
I'm developing some songs for my own album, and I hope to have a finished product within the next year. Some more collaborations would be lovely as well
What has it been like working the rest of the creative team on the Sleepthief project?
It's been a great experience. Justin has been very receptive to all of my comments regarding the treatment of "Afterthoughts," which admittedly has felt a bit like my baby the whole time even though I wrote it for this album. Flying out to Utah to track was amazing. I'd never been out there before. It's mountainous. Mountains in every direction.
How does it feel to share vocal work with the other artists on the album?
It's actually a bit overwhelming. I've been listening to many of these singers for several years and never thought I'd get to be on an album with any of them. When I signed on, the only other singers who were definite were Jody Quine, Harland, and Jerri Eckert and that was enough for me to be excited about it. But the singers just kept coming. If I'd told myself four years ago that I'd ever be singing on an album with everyone involved here, I would've called myself a liar. It's a strange feeling.
Do you think "image" has a role in promoting your music these days?
That's something I'm struggling with at the moment as I haven't actually done any promotion for my music yet. Image is obviously important when trying to reach a particular audience, but I'd like to be known for "me" also. It'll be interesting to try to find a balance.
Has the internet brought you many new listeners, expanded your audience and improved your connection to the fans?
Oh, definitely. The internet is how I was connected to Sleepthief to begin with!
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