Talking 'Crooked' Hardcover Music with Kristin Hersh from Tintin to Songs as Therapy

On July 14, instead of starting the day with a revolution, I take a break from culinary matters to serve you a nice helping of Kristin Hersh thoughts, 24 hours before the release of Crooked, or Hardcover Music as I call her new release in book form.


Here's what came out of the stockpot.

Q: Kristin, Besides the logistics, what are the advantages of playing solo?

In the studio, I'm in a zone: running around, grabbing instruments off walls and throwing down tracks of god knows what without having to discuss it first. Live, I have very little to worry about except how to disappear and let the song play itself.

Q: Are there some songs of yours that you never play in that context?

Most of my songs rely on the production technique they were originally recorded with (at least in my opinion), and so other musicians are necessary to bring about that sonic boom we all know so well as "musical impact." Others, however, are better served as the pencil sketch-skeletons that guitar and voice create.

Q: Are your current musical influences way different than the original ones?

I'm not sure I've ever had musical influences - I would have liked to sound like bands I loved when I was younger, but I always ended up speaking my own language.

Q: How does it feel over time going from influenced to influencer?

Influencing other musicians to sound like you stylistically is probably not healthy, but moving them to sound like themselves is an honor.


Q: Is writing for you a form of therapy, an anchor?

I'm never sure if songs are therapy or disease.

Q: I saw you mentioning Milou, the dog from Tintin recently, are you a fan?

I thought his name was Snowy, but sure...when I was a kid, I used to babysit for a family that had an enormous Tin Tin collection that helped me stay awake while I waited for the parents to come home. Because of this, I had to go to the Tin Tin museum in Brussels when 50FootWave played down the street.

Q: Your new record 'Crooked' is published in book form on July 15, where did the idea come from?

The need for a tangible object with intrinsic value. I disagree with the recording industry which claims that music has been devalued by the internet, but I admit that CD's have been devalued by an industry that put so much crap on them. I wanted to push the idea that music is measured in impact rather than plastic while still giving people something beautiful to hold in their hands.

Q: At first look it feels like a poetry book, was it your intention?

I guess you can't help that when you print lyrics and write in a sort of stream of conscious way.

Q: Flowers are prominent in the illustrations for Crooked, why?

Flower images accompanied every track I uploaded at CASH Music. Flowers are natural, simple, imperfect and still lovely - qualities I look for in songs.

Q: Did you create everything in the book including these illustrations?

The only role I played in the book was the writing. Jesse Von Doom from CASH organized the entire layout and the photographs were taken by L. Fletcher.

Q: You will also publish an autobiography on August 31st. Were both Crooked and that book written at the same time?

Yes, Crooked the record was building itself out of its constituent pieces as I was writing the memoir ("Rat Girl" in the U.S., "Paradoxical Undressing" in the UK). Both took about 3 years to come to fruition.

Q: How different was it as a creative experience, writing long form, from writing songs?

Songs come to me fully formed at 4 in the morning. Long form writing I do from 1 a.m. until the sun comes up and it does *not* come fully formed. I write a sentence, then re-write it, then re-write it, then move on to the next sentence and write that a few times, etc. until I finish a paragraph. Then I erase the paragraph and start all over again. I write *really* slowly...

Q: How do you handle recording, touring, the books and life?

It's easy...I don't have a real job!

Q: I noticed in the UK recently a number of shows featuring people whose record covers became famous like Storm Thorgerson (Pink Floyd) and one featuring work from Ray Lowry (Clash 'London Calling'), is it nostalgia or is art cover part of the tactile experience that vinyl provided?

Since music is rarely considered "art" (especially rock music!), us musicians probably want to be associated with art as much as possible.

Q: Do you pay attention to what  you eat while on the road?

When I'm working, I don't have to eat, but that's not a very healthy lifestyle. Because I have 4 children who've grown up on the road, though, I do have to wrangle 3 meals a day and I'm pretty desperate to keep them healthy. A sick child on tour is scary.

Q: What's your favorite food and or eaterie?

Maranui Cafe in Wellington, New Zealand

Q: Favorite drink?

Beer, I guess. Is that tacky?

Q: Tea or Coffee?

First tea, then coffee

Q: Chocolate?

Of course

Q: Over time are they cities that are your favorites to play? Main reasons why?

Dublin, Sydney, San Francisco...natuarl beauty and audiences that will accept no bullshit

Q: One place you would like to visit for your pleasure that you have not visited yet?


Thanks Kristen


By the time you read this Kristin Hersh will be in the UK for a number of shows and the official release of Crooked (The Friday Project, UK) on July 15, 2010.

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