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Friday, April 01, 2011 

GoGirls Interview with The Volcano Diary

by Madalyn Sklar

What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?

My family are all classical musicians. I was the one glued to the stereo with headphones so I didn't bother them with my rock, pop, and soul. But I don't remember life before I was a singer. I used it to get me through a ton of pain when I was young. I sang to myself constantly. Becoming a songwriter grew out of going to school for musical theater. Musicals are all about stereotypes, most of them extremely sexist and limiting for women. I didn't drink their Kool-Aid. I borrowed a guitar and learned to play it by writing songs.

Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.

Cross-genre music is hard to name. All the artists that have inspired me most are cross-genre people. Three of them are Jeff Buckley, Chris Whitley, and Kate Bush.

What's your ideal venue atmosphere?

In Seattle I like Neumos and the Showbox. I like a good-sized rock club where people can stand in front and sit in the back, and have a drink when they want to. I like a PA with lots of warmth and plenty of floor monitors in front so I can hear my voice and my 335 mixing with Gus' lap steel. And I like red lights. They make everyone sexier.

Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.

I performed as a singer for the first time when I was 7, so things have changed a lot. I was "only" a singer for years. Learning to write songs was like training for a marathon, and I broke bones a few times. These days I look around at the shows and I see people singing along... it always takes me by surprise. I still love singing and playing. I still crave it and I still need it. I didn't expect that to last this long.

How would you describe the music scene in your area?

The Seattle music scene is a thriving community but it can take awhile to find your way inside it. I think the recession has made everyone pool their resources and work together more. But we're basically a small town. I would say that to keep your sanity you have to leave Seattle and tour around in other places, so you don't get claustrophobic.

What was the inspiration for your latest release?

I had previously made a solo record ("The Secret Dream of Tigers") that was a full-band, full production project. I wanted to work on something much more stripped down and make more room for my voice and my thoughts. The chance to work with Steve Fisk was too good to turn down. Also I'd had some serious heartbreak that left me in despair. I was just wrecked. "Lightning Seed", "Freezerburn", and "Burning Hands" came out of that. By the time you get to "Volcano", the closing track on the new record, things are hopeful again.

What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?

I can tell you that the number one thing for a singer to think about before going into the studio is the feeling of the songs, both emotionally and physically. Have you sung each song enough to know what a perfect take feels like in your voice? Are you confident enough in that physical feeling to forget about it and lose yourself in the emotion once you're on the mic? Never do more than 3 takes of a song if you can help it. If you need more than that you've probably not practiced enough.

What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?

Tenacity, resolve, and most important, restless curiosity. Even if you start out making mediocre music you can move beyond that if you're curious about how much better you could be, and what the process is to get there. I would say to anyone starting out that as soon as you're done with your record, begin the process of writing another one. And break all the habits you have up to that point. Experiment, and don't stop until you've found out exactly who you are (and who you're not) as an artist.

Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.

Being a career musician is like being in a long marriage. Your relationship with music is trying at times but ultimately rewarding if you stay with it. There is no security in this career. You have to love music more than success: you have to love it more than being loved.

What advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged other than don't give up?

Stop spending your money on disposable crap that you don't need. Save up and buy the best instrument you can afford. Lock yourself in a room with it and let it inspire you to get better and better. An inspired artist is a hopeful artist.

Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.

Music re-wired my karma, and now everything's cool.

What have you gotten out of being a member of the GoGirls community?

It's been great to keep up with what everyone is doing. I appreciate how hard you've worked to maintain a space for women to thrive. Your good karma is off the charts!

More on The Volcano Diary at:

Copyright © 2011 Madalyn Sklar/GoGirlsMusic.com

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 15 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

You can reach Madalyn at MadalynSklar.com or madalynsklar AT gmail.com

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    Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 15 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

    Madalyn's Sites:
    * GoGirlsMusic.com
    * Social Networks for Musicians
    contact: madalynsklar(at)gmail.com


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