Matias Corral The story of February 2013 in music was 2003 (Sorry, Thom…
- Posted on Jul 29th 2011 5:00PM by Chris Epting
Since the early '90s, Mann has carved out an emotionally complex collection of solo music, writing and performing songs that delve into deep, tough, artful expressions of love, loss and mystery.
In the late '90s, she broke free from conventional record labels and has followed her own muse and musical spirit ever since. A passionate artist-rights advocate, Mann's artistic integrity, combined with her flair for moody, beguiling lyrics and melodies has endeared her to fans, critics and other artists alike. Spinner recently spoke with Mann to discuss her tour, her work on 'Magnolia' and her recent trip to the White House.
In 1999, you contributed eight songs to the soundtrack of the film, 'Magnolia' and you were nominated for an Academy Award and a Grammy. Did that experience affect the way you create?
It did. It definitely made me think more about making conceptual records, albums that have some sort of deeper emotional thread. Also I think my lyrics got a little more cinematic after that experience and I worked harder to create the visuals in my songs.
You were recently invited to the White House to take part in a celebration of poetry. What was that like?
That was amazing. You sort of think it's going to be amazing, and then it's amazing in a different set of ways. There was an event in the afternoon that was like a seminar for poetry students from around the country. And there were different poets who were talking about their process, and writing and answering questions and that kind of thing. I played a song and talked about lyric writing.
Listening to the other poets talk actually turned out to be really inspiring. I got this rush of excitement about art and being part of creating art and I started thinking about how art is really the cornerstone of what civilization is and how we as human beings should all aspire to create in this civilization, because I feel that lately there's this debate -- is arts education worth it? As if it has to justify itself. And I started feeling like the essential element of civilization is art and that nurturing that should be our goal.
That's what separates us from the animals -- creating, not the fact that we can make money. It's just so weird that we've gotten to this point where if it's not some sort of moneymaking enterprise, if it's not going to get you something, then it's worthless. That's sort of the realm of thoughts that I started to have there and it was very, very inspiring.
Sounds like a profound day that might actually affect your work.
It was! I actually started to think about the idea of the transformative power of art. Art is transformative to me because I'm one who makes it. And maybe if people can relate to it, that's great too, but I started to feel while listening to these other poets talk, that there's a powerful transformative thing that can happen when you're in the presence of art. I never thought about it that way before.
The setting had to help too.
Definitely. And being around people whose jobs are all about trying to change the world for the better. Trying to actually change things and having a significant impact on many people's lives, and having the power to do that, that inspires as well.
How was it meeting President Obama?
Fantastic. His vibe is totally great. It's not like I chatted with him too long [laughs]. He can't afford to let it really just all hang out and chew the fat. The feeling I got from Michelle is that she's really dedicated to this idea of bringing art and civilization into the White House and that the White House should be a beacon for that kind of thing and that it was important and she was legitimately excited about it. Again, it was way more than I expected it to be
You kick off a new tour in August. What's this one going to be like?
The last couple of years I've been doing acoustic tours where it's just been three people but we're adding drums back into the mix. We'll have a slightly different set list than we'd been doing and be able to play some new things. It should be a lot of fun, with some new things tossed in.
Is hitting the road still something you look forward to?
The touring in terms of playing shows every night, that part is great. And being with my musicians who are awesome and just fun to hang around, I love that.
But the thought of waiting in one more security line makes me want to tear my face off [laughing]. Every time I go, it's gotten worse, there's some new thing, you know, the "naked x-ray machine" or the creepy groping, there's some horrible thing.
It really is very emotionally stressful in that way. And flying, where people are just at each other's throats over the overhead bins, it's very hard to take. So, you know, I'd much rather get in a bus and drive [laughs].