Marissa Nadler

Marissa Nadler

Despite wide critical acclaim and praise from friends, I was definitely a ‘johnny-come-lately’ to Marissa Nadler and found myself stunned by the quality of her most recent record ‘Strangers’. The album, for me, confirmed Marissa’s position as a classic story teller as I became obsessed with finding the answers to each question prompted by her lyrics. The album is also characterised by beautiful sonic texturing throughout as every song is given space to grow under Marissa’s enchanting vocals.

Marissa is now seven albums into her established career, and plays an intimate show at the Night and Day Café tomorrow (Thursday 08 December). While you’re reading her considered answers to the questions below, I’m going to bury myself in Marissa’s treasure trove of albums. Do not disturb.

Are you excited for your UK tour? What have you got planned for us?

I think I have an excellent band for this tour. The last time I visited the UK I really didn’t have my own band and I needed one. This is the right fit with sensitive players who don’t overpower the material and great vibes.

Milky Burgess from Master Musicians Of Bukkake, Don McGreevy from Earth, and Steve Nistor on drums- who’s played with lots of amazing people and it’s going to be really nice not to have to use a backing track of beats!! I’ll play songs from Strangers and from July, as well as some older material and choice covers! You’ll see that I’ve slowly developed into a shredder since my last UK tour.

‘Strangers’ is sonically more expansive than some of your other work. Is this something you recreate at your live shows?

Yes, for this tour I’m going to try!

You’ve been quite open in the past about your stage anxiety. How is that affecting you at the minute? Is there anything you do to help you overcome the anxiety?

It’s gotten a lot better. I think the Ghost tour and some of the other tours I’ve done recently really forced me to confront, head on, my fears. My confidence is a lot better so the stage fright is really only minor now because I believe in my songs and my material and can get over the rest.

Marissa Nadler - Strangers

Marissa Nadler – Strangers

The album is largely about friendships that have dissolved, right? Do you think this is down to a change in you or the friends you had? I remember having friends at college and seeing them a few years later while at University and realising that I was completely different from them and the only thing that bonded us was the small town in which we lived. I found it quite upsetting, did your friendships dissolve in similar ways?

Not quite. There’s one song on the record about that and that’s it. But, yes, growing apart from people is something that happens, naturally, as we get older. The record deals more with apocalyptic imagery and loneliness.

There are love songs and surreal dreamscape songs.

The songs on this album are about real people, do you worry that people will work out which songs are about them? I’m not sure if you’re aware of the writer Karl Ove Knaausgaard but his honest appraisals of people in his life have seen them turn against him. Do you worry about being so honest in your songs? Or is it something you owe to your listeners?

I don’t even think my friends listen to my music.. at least a lot of them don’t. I ran into that problem once, learned my lesson, and started to change names. Now, some of the songs are loosely inspired by real life people but I take a lot of creative liberties.

I’m writing the songs and they mean what they mean to me. People can find their own meaning in them. I owe it to myself to be honest in my songwriting, but not to other people. I think if you’re creating for other people and what they think then there’s a problem in the purity of the creation process. I try to create a vacuum. There’s enough vile nonsense in the universe.

Your album has featured in a number of end-of-year lists. How does that make you feel? Do you care about that kind of stuff?

Well, I think it’s great to be recognized. I don’t think I’ve seen any of the lists but I’ve been trying to keep busy recording new music and working on some collaborations. I feel horribly guilty if I’m not making something every day. Unhealthy? Sure…but it works for me in terms of tapping into my creative well. There’s very few measuring point for success in this industry, in this modern world. But, one person’s opinion should never dictate one’s happiness. It’s a very competitive industry and so it’s torturous to measure success by any other means than reaching one’s own creative goals.

Leonard Cohen was your idol. Can you tell us how he inspired you and how it felt to lose your idol?

He was one of my songwriting heroes, for sure. He was one of the main reasons that I started to write music and he left an indelible mark on the world of songwriting.  I’m sad to see him go but I believe that he was ready for the next level. Death is a natural part of life and I believe he led an exemplary life as an artist and poet.

Your review of the ‘White Lung’ album shows that you clearly like to share the love for your contemporaries. Any tips on who Silent Radio readers should check out?

The new Black Mountain record is amazing. I particularly love the songs Cemetery Breeding and Space to Bakersfield. I’ve been obsessed with the Gene Clark song Gypsy Rider and the Scott Walker song Dutchess lately.

Thanks so much! 

Marissa Nadler  Official | Facebook | Twitter

Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.