Daniel Daskivich Like Gang of Four, Public Enemy and Jenny Owen Youngs, charming…
- Posted on Aug 10th 2011 1:00PM by Eric R. Danton
"I made the mistake of doing that once before, and I kind of got into trouble with it," Nadler says. "I wrote a song about one of my friends and she kind of misinterpreted it, and we didn't speak for years."
Slim chance of that here: The songs on Nadler's new album, her fifth, are oblique enough to be widely relatable. They also have a rootsier, more countrified vibe that the singer hopes will help shake her image as some mystical siren of melancholy dream-folk. Then again, she also recently contributed vocals to a friend's black-metal album, so maybe that reputation isn't entirely undeserved.
You'd said this is your most honest album. What do you mean?
I meant that it's probably my most confessional in terms of the lyrics, more in first-person and less in third-person. It goes deeper than that: A lot of my earlier songs were singular meditations on one theme where I didn't really tell much of a story, but instead captured an emotion, like a poem. These songs are a bit more narrative in the way that they're written.
Was that a conscious decision?
It just kind of came with age. At this point in my life, I'm interested in writing that really cuts deeply, and I wasn't intentionally setting out to make any changes. It's just a natural thing that happens when you've been working in a particular medium for a long time. There just happens to be a metamorphosis in the way you approach things as you get older.
Could this be your breakthrough?
I hope the record does well. I think this record is doing better in the United States than any of my previous records have done. The US has always been my hardest country, and I find it's the opposite right now. I think it has to do with the more country-tinged songs, the Americana bent.
Was that intentional?
It was, actually. That has a lot to do with the more confessional bent of my songwriting, too, is that I had started to listen to more old, not country music from the past 30 years, but before 1970 would be a good cut-off point. I was listening to a lot of Tammy Wynette and that kind of phrasing and the way her vocals are mixed in conjunction with the band. I got really influenced by that kind of music, though it's not really a country record that I made.
How do you feel about labels like "dream folk?"
I don't think of it under those kinds of descriptions at all. If I'm at an airport and somebody asks me what kind of music I play, because I'm usually carrying a bunch of instruments, I really don't know what to say. I really just think of myself as a songwriter. Genres are kind of dangerous, actually. They can be difficult to break free of for an artist, though I know they help other people organize what they're going to listen to. It can be hard for somebody like me who labeled one way early in her career. You know, I'm not really all that mystical. I'm really just a pretty normal girl, and I've been battling in some ways this label from my very first record. Maybe I do perpetuate it a little, in some ways.
Like singing on the Xasthur record?
Exactly [laughs]. Some of the things that I do don't help to dispel the darkness at all. He had been a fan of my singing, and we have mutual friends through the band Earth. My bassist used to play in Earth, and he introduced me to Scott Conner from Xasthur.
Do you have an affinity for that style of music?
To be honest with you, black metal was really not a genre I was familiar with. I knew it existed, but I hadn't listened much to it. I like some of the music that's in the black-metal category, because it isn't as aggressive as just metal. It's more ambient and has a drone-like quality. It's like the Portuguese fado of the metal world, because everything is sad.
Would you say you're a melancholy person?
Yeah, I guess I would [laughs]. The melancholy is just a part of me, though. It's a coping mechanism for me, at least. I kind of put all of that into my music, every last drop of that emotion, in some ways getting it out of my life so I can be a little less melancholy. I'm pretty introspective. But I'm trying not to be. I'm very grateful to live in this country and have a lot of opportunities that a lot of people don't, so I'm trying not to lose perspective.