So "July Flame" will be your seventh record...how has your approach to songwriting changed since "Laura Veirs"?
I was really interested in making sure that every song stood up on it's own with just an instrument and a voice. I guess that's similar to the "Laura Veirs" album... but in the course of 10 years I've learned so much about arrangements and adding things that I wanted to kind of strip things back a bit. My songwriting approach in general is more about struggling to surprise myself and be exciting to myself than before-- when you're just starting out; every song is exciting and new.
I read you made the record in a house…how did that affect your creative juices?
Well, Tucker [Martine] and I made it in our house in the middle of winter, so it was pretty cozy. We put blankets on the windows (to keep the outside sounds out and the inside sounds in) so it was a bit cave-like. In general we are really excited to make albums together but this one was especially fun because it was the first one we made in our own home together (but the sixth overall).
Are there any really interesting stories from the recording process of "July Flame"?
Well, people should watch the 'making of' video on my podcast (you can sign up at lauraveirs.com) -- that pretty much tells a thousand stories about it. One simple story is that I couldn't for the life of me get a vocal take for "When You Give Your Heart." I was struggling and losing my faith in the song in the process. We decided to break and went for lunch. when we came back I had a meeting I had to get to so I was under time pressure -- I just gave it one more shot and got what I think is the best vocal take on the whole record. It's amazing how fragile and subtle the recording process is!
Is there a story behind the record’s title?
Yes, it's a variety of peach that grows in Oregon. I was at a farmer's market buying canning peaches and thought: July Flame, that's a cool song title. And eventually it made sense to make it the record title as well.
Who did the cover art?
The extreme badass Carson Ellis. She does all the Decemberists' art as well.
I know this was a while ago...but what year was it exactly that you chose to start Raven Marching Band Records and what made you want to create a record label?
I started the 'label' (really just a website way back when) in 2000. I couldn't find any interest from any labels so it made sense to follow the DIY ethic and put it out myself. Though I'm grateful for the help I got from outside labels along the way, it feels great to be putting this new record out on my own label, in earnest this time.
What’s the best thing about Portland, Oregon?
The beautiful bridges.
How would you feel if every independent record store across the country closed?
Despair for humanity.
I have to ask this to everyone I interview…what music have you been listening to lately?
Bill Callahan's new album is on heavy rotation.