Musical Discoveries: Hummingbird, Go! a significant development, or perhaps a departure, from your earlier work.
Theresa Andersson: I think of this record as an arrival. It is my most personal record to date, the first one where I wrote all the music. Everything I've done in the past has been necessary to get here.
That includes the experience of living in Nashville, writing 'office style' where you sit down and finish a song in an afternoon. I learned that this way of creating is not for me.
I also put a lot of recources into working with bands when I finally realized that playing solo is a whole lot of fun and goes hand in hand with my 'play all the instruments' approach of Hummingbird, Go!.
How have incorporated your longstanding and tremendous violin playing talents into your music?
I started using the violin as a voice to harmonize with in lieu of other singers. Working with great guitar players and drummers I started mimicking the strumming and even the beats on the violin. On the new record I play slide violin on "Hi-Low." I also create feedback by using an amp and a tube screamer. Linus who mixed the record thought it was a guitar.
What led a young and beautiful Scandinavian woman to relocate from her homeland to New Orleans?
My first on stage experience in New Orleans was at the historic Tipitina's, opening for Earl King. I was backing up somebody else playing the violin. That night I put a quarter in a crane operated vending machine and won one of those Raisinette figurines; it had a microphone and everything. I never win anything out of vending machines so I thought, "this is a good sign!"
I believe that sometimes things happen for a reason. Tobias Froberg played a show in cool New Orleans venue in March, 2007 and I went to see him. Later that summer I had my first tour in Scandinavia. Tobias saw me play and when I invited him to come to New Orleans to produce my next record he accepted.
This year I've spent half my life in Sweden and the other half in New Orleans, so I think it's pretty magical that this collaboration happened. Meanwhile I know I can't rely on luck and happenstances. I am a farmer's daughter so I know that from hard work comes the rewards of a harvest. I think with this record I've put some of the right seeds in the ground.
Hurricane Katrina brought devastation to so many.
Many of my friends were terribly crushed by Katrina. It has some very long term effects on the city of New Orleans and its people. I think we've been lucky to have been spared hurricane scares until this year. Hurricane Gustav was a major inconvenience for me. I've been on the road since May and this was supposed to be my one week at home. Having to pack up our house and get into horrible evacuation traffic was very upsetting and exhausting. Working up songs for my solo show is intense and time consuming and I needed that week at home to rehearse some new material.
Audiences are universally impressed when they learn of and see your work as a 'one woman show.'
It all started in the summer of 2007 when I went to Scandinavia to tour. I couldn't afford to bring a band so I got a loop pedal instead. The tour went really well and I found that I could have fun with musical ideas.
I came back in the fall and started writing Hummingbird, Go!. While writing, I didn't think about how to loop the songs. The pedals have their limitations, but I didn't want to compromise the music. As a result I ended up adding another Rc-50 loop pedal.
How would you describe it?
In the beginning it was very difficult to sort out all the transitions. It would take me ten minutes to play a song that is only three minutes long. It was pretty maddening and only by breaking down everything into beats could I sort out a sequence.
For instance: On "Hi-Low," I begin with looping guitar on pedal A, phrase 2. Halfway through the progression I start recording on pedal B, phrase 1 simultaneously. Then I stop recording pedal A while double stopping pedal B and clicking over to pedal B, phrase 2 while removing the guitar, spinning around clicking pedal A to phrase 1, picking up the drumsticks, un-muting the drum mics and hitting record. This is just the first 8 bars of the song!
I've learned to think of it as a dance. I even had to take a couple of ballet lessons to find my balance since I often stand on one leg while multi tasking with my toes etc.
What goes through your head when performing like this either in front of a camera or on stage?
I'm much more relaxed now that I have toured the show for a while. In the beginning the pedals were not yet an instrument to me the way they are now. Since the two looping pedals don't synch with each other I have moments in the show that pose a potential crisis. If I miss by a millisecond, the timing can get pretty funky. I like it though. It makes every night different. I also love when the audience makes sounds that get recorded and looped back. It's always triumphant for both me and the audience when those moments happens.
Your superb vocal work struck us from first listen.
Well thank you! My parents had a few cool records, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Mahalia Jackson that I listened to in my early years. No wonder I felt at home when I moved to New Orleans! I've always had a big vocal range, but it is from using it that it has strengthened. I enjoy going to theatre plays to listen to actors and the way the can express so much emotion with their voices.
What do you see as the major differences between recording in a studio and your kitchen?
The best part about recording at home is that you don't feel the pressure of the clock ticking. I could see myself making more home style recordings.
The new photographs present a very striking image of Theresa Andersson. How important is image to you as a recording artist?
Rule number one: get a wake up and go hairstyle! Rule number two: stay healthy by any means possible! I'm like my dog; I engage myself 200% and then I sleep.
As an established recording artist with a meaningful physical back catalog, what do you see as the benefits and curses of these new music delivery methods?
I think it's great to be able to digitally download a record. I do it all the time. Sometimes I want to have the artwork and then I go the store. The handmade covers for the EP "I the River" was a part of expressing the homemadeness and the craftiness of my new release. I wanted to give the listener something that they could touch that's from my Swedish home. A lot of time and energy went into the making of those covers. Something that few people do today when it's so easy to quickly record and make your music available digitally. The handmade covers sold out.
Your MySpace is also your official website. Do you do it yourself?
MySpace is an amazing tool. I've been able to connect with people in new touring markets and through myspace give them an idea of my universe. I have someone working on it, but I do check in regularly myself.
Is there anything you'd like to say to our readers as we conclude?
I hope to see you at a show. Or if you can't be there in person please visit me online. Thanks for reading.