Thursday, May 8, 2014

Esme Patterson, In Her Own Words

Esme Patterson’s new album Woman to Woman will be released on CD and LP by Greater Than Collective this coming Tuesday the 13th. The album finds Esme writing songs from the perspective of women who’ve been sung about in other tunes – her “Valentine” tells the story from the point of view of Elvis Costello’s famous “Alison,” the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and so forth. She’ll also be playing a live in-store performance here at Twist & Shout on Friday the 23rd at 6PM. Twist’s own Natja Soave sat down with Esme to ask her a few questions about the new record, the tour, and other subjects.

Twist & Shout: Why did you decide to do a response album?

Esme Patterson: My last record was autobiographical to a fault, and it felt great on this record not to write about my own life for a bit, to write about someone else's problems.

T&S: What made you choose to respond to the songs you did for the album?

EP: The songs I responded had to be titled a woman's name, they had to be a song that I liked, and they had to have some room for a response. For example, I love the tune Mustang Sally, it fits the first two criteria, but there isn't much room for a good response. What would she say? “Yeah, I've got a car, pretty nice-looking, huh?”

T&S: What was your favorite part of this process?

EP: I really loved this whole process. It was a lot of fun, and kept being surprising and interesting to write as well as record. I love having limitations and structure with expression; paradoxically, it can be really freeing.

T&S: How are people receiving Woman to Woman?

EP: The reception of this album has been really amazing. When I wrote it, it wasn't necessarily meant to be a feminist work, although I consider myself a feminist and a lot of the work I do is colored by that, but a lot of feminist media that I deeply respect has praised this album, as well as media that focuses on the craft of songwriting, and if those two camps dig what I'm making, I feel like I must be doing something right.

T&S: How’d it feel to have Elvis Costello post “Valentine” on his Facebook page?

EP: I felt like bathwater must feel when a radio falls into it, but in a good way.

T&S: You recently did a video with Extra Kool for the song “Cape & Cowl.” Most people couldn’t imagine you in a hip-hop video, how did that collaboration come about?

EP: Extra Kool is a good friend, I love his stuff. When I worked at the Tattered Cover on Colfax he would come in and order a chocolate milkshake and we would kick it. I love singing hooks on hip-hop songs, it's a lot of fun, and Extra Kool asked me to come up with a hook for a track of his and I jumped at the chance.

T&S: When you tour will it be with a full band or just you and your guitar?

EP: The nice thing about touring with my solo project is having the freedom to do either. I do love playing with at least a drummer, though, since I've switched over to electric guitar, I'm having a lot of fun playing loud and rocking out, and that's harder to do alone.

T&S: Where will your tour lead you this summer?

EP: All over. As long as there's a bowling alley or a swimming hole nearby I'll be happy.

- Natja Soave

*More about Esme performing live at Twist and Shout here


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