Music Q&A: Marissa Nadler
This week, Paul Wood chats with Marissa Nadler, whose latest recording is "July." She appears at Mike N Molly's on July 17.
I've heard your music described as "dream folk." Did you invent the genre?
I'm not sure if I invented the genre or not. There's obviously a certain spacious and atmospheric quality to my music. I'm influenced by a lot of shoegaze bands and doo-wop harmonies. I've honestly tried to avoid being a part of any genre. I think being pigeonholed can be very detrimental to one's artistic growth.
So many of your songs are dark ... are you a different sort of person when you're not performing?
I think all human beings have both darkness and light in them. Furthermore, I think I would be doing a disservice to my songs to describe them exclusively as dark (though obviously there's a large element of darkness in my music). In "July" specifically, the songs have a lot of hope and light in them.
I hear a little John Fahey in your music. (I met him toward the end of his life.) Who are your favorite acoustic players?
I love John Fahey. In my early years of touring I spent some time on road with the late Jack Rose. He was hugely influential to me and introduced me to his style of playing. I met James Blackshaw around the same time, who taught me quite a few open tunings. I spent a good amount of time with the guitarist Glenn Jones in Boston, and I've grown fond of Basho through him. Outside of that guitar style, I'm a huge fan of George Harrison, as well as Neil Young's playing (both electric like his solo on "Cortez the Killer," and his acoustic/percussive style of strumming).
Are you attracted to doomed musicians like Townes Van Zandt?
I'm attracted to Townes because his songwriting was amazing, not because he was doomed. I have grown past the stage of romanticizing the early death of talented artists, as well as the image of the doomed.
Is there some Edgar Allan Poe in your music?
I put an Edgar Allan Poe poem to music on my first record, but that was over 10 years ago. My influences have changed a lot since then. But, I appreciate his macabre aesthetic.
You have taught special needs children ... is this something you continue to do?
I have stopped teaching recently to focus exclusively on my music and fine art. I was teaching fine art at a therapeutic day school for high school students who can't be in mainstream schooling for a variety of reasons. I found the experience very enlightening and worthwhile.
What are you excited about right now?
I'm excited about having a week off before the tour to watch the new season of Louie and go to the ocean.
What is your latest project?
I've been touring "July" for a while, as well as contributing to a variety of soon-to-be-announced compilations and projects.
Do you have a favorite instrument? What kind of amplifiers do you prefer?
My 12-string Martin guitar is my favorite instrument. I like a Fender Twin Reverb amp.