THE SCREAMiNG JETS
|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS MELODY GARDOT
SUCH A THRiLL!After one listen to jazz chanteuse MELODY GARDOT's sophomore release 'MY ONE AND ONLY THRILL', it is not difficult to figure out what the titular 'thrill' is. GARDOT has crafted the most delectable collection of tunes that catalog the in's and out's of falling in love. With a litle help from producer LARRY KLEIN and lush orchestral arrangements by VINCE MENDOZA, '...THRILL' is an epic collection of musical gems that are destined to become romantic songbook standards for the FACEBOOK generation.
MELODY GARDOT TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT HER LATEST CD 'MY ONE AND ONLY THRiLL'
WORKiNG WiTH PRODUCER LARRY KLEiN
AND TAKiNG THE TiME TO REFLECT
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
ROCKWIRED spoke with MELODY GARDOT over the phone. Here is how it went.
Your CD is due out in the States next month. What is all going through your head in anticipation of the release?
Right now, Iím wondering when my lunch is going to happen (laughs). Not much really, you know what I mean? We just released the album in the U.K. and I was laughing because they have posters for it all over the subways. The posters are everywhere you go, so Iíve become ĎLittle Miss Tube Stopí in the U.K. Right now, I donít know what the U.S. is going to do so it will be interesting to see how it all comes out. People are already complaining that the CD is already out in the U.K. and not in the U.S. ĎYouíre a United States citizen! Why is your CD out in the U.K. first!!!í I think it will be nice to have it released here. Iím actually glad that the CD was released in one place first as opposed to simultaneously because it is too hard for me to be two places at once. It gives me the opportunity to Ďlillie padí.
Whatís different this time around?
There are a couple of things that are different. As far as where I am both physically and emotionally, Iím more rooted. Iím more wrapped around the idea of who I am as a performer. In the beginning the whole thing was new and strange because I had come from a place where I hadnít expected to be doing music. Initially, my footing was very shaky Ė even physically. It was hard for me to walk. Itís different in that way but also in the bigness of it. It was a bit of dream to kind of chase down this idea of what I was hearing. Itís a much bigger sound this time around. Iíve got the same quartet but this time they are backed by a string section.
In reading about you, all arrows point back to this car accident that happened when you were nineteen. Was music ever a part of your life before the accident or did music happen as a result?
It was a part of my life before the accident but in a very small way. It wasnít even close to what it is now. It held meaning though. Music sort of soundtracked my life in the way that it does for everyone. You listen in the car, you listen to the radio and you listen at work and in restaurants. Recreationally, I had played in piano bars from the time I was sixteen up until the time that I was nineteen. It was never something that I considered doing as a career. It was lighthearted and easy and joyous and unattached in a way. Itís very different now.
Why jazz music?
Iím not saying why not!
In all seriousness, there isnít a reason. There is no move on my part to go ĎI want it to sound this way.í Ė Awwhhh!!!
What is it?
I just saw a whale!
Oh no never mind! Itís a snorkeler. Itís not a whale itís just a very fat snorkeler.
Where are you calling from?
Maui. I just got here yesterday and Iím just resting on my way to Japan. I had to fly from Amsterdam to Japan and I was like ĎThatís crazy!í so Iím stopping in the middle of the Pacific to rest. But like I said, there is no real reason. Itís hard for me to explain. Itís kind of like asking Van Gogh why he painted in lines and not in one solid piece. It was just the way that he saw it. Itís also like asking Pollack why he used all of those dots. Itís because he saw it that way. When you see something and you understand it musically, itís the same. All I wind up doing ever is try to chase what Iím hearing after the song is formed. From there you analyze it, break it down and try to make it work. In this case, the sentimentality of the lyrics called for something bigger. When I was thinking about what that was all I heard were these strings. They werenít meant to be gigantic and they werenít meant to be very small either. They were meant to be the scenic backdrop to everything else that was going on.
At what point did you feel compelled to become a recording artist after years of thinking that doing professionally wasnít in the cards for you?
I was approached by a gentlemen who an a studio several times about making a record and I said no about two or three times until I said Ďyesí after I had thought about it some more. He was the friend of a performer that I knew and he said to me ĎI think I can help you make a recordí and I said ĎNo, no thanks!í. Eventually I came around because I felt like I had something to say but in the beginning, it didnít make sense to me to try to make something out of nothing. I didnít feel like I had enough in me to make an undertaking like that complete.
For this album, you worked LARRY KLEIN. What was it like working with him?
Like throwing pineapples on pineapple upside down cake.
It was like that. It was putting the finishing touches on a process that needed to be done. I wasnít being coy. I was being serious. It made sense in many ways. I met him and I liked him. He had a similar sense of humor and similar idea of what music should be and we had similar records in our respective record collections. He had worked with a lot of women and a lot of strong-minded women and that was good indication of what he would be like to work with. I felt like he would be able to take this project and run with it. Itís difficult to work with women because weíre very sensitive at our cores and we come from a different way of thinking. You can work with a man one way but to work with a woman is a different scenario. Youíve got to be nurturing as well as commanding and being one without the other is ineffective. Too nurturing achieves nothing and too commanding makes us feel a little cold. Itís about being the right leader and he felt good for that and I thought that we could work well together. More importantly, he would respect when I didnít need his help and when I did. It wasnít a constant. It was balance and it takes a person without too much of an ego to recognize that and be okay with it.
Describe the songwriting process. How does it work for you?
Some might argue that it doesnít.
Iím sorry. I canít take myself too seriously. Itís like dreams or packages. They can come when Iím least expecting them. They could also be like ex-boyfriends. They arrive when you least expect them and itís just a matter of being aware and open. Honestly, I only write in moments of great pause, when I have a chance to just breathe. There are songwriters in Nashville that write during these sessions that they call Ďchop shops and they go down there and they work on the clock and they are great at it. Thatís not me. Instead of talking to people, I will talk to my guitar or my piano or whatever. Something will happen in life and Iíll have a moment to sit down. While someone will enjoy a fine glass of wine, Iíll sit down for a minute at the piano or a minute at the guitar. Itís reflective for me. If a song is going to happen, it happens in a very short amount of time. Music lyrics and melody will all follow suit and they all happen around the same time.Itís very natural, actually.
From this album, what songs stand out for you the most at the moment and why?
'Stand out' is a funny term. Do you mean in favor or lack of favor.
What are you proud of?
I donít know about being proud of anything for my own sake because Iím never really proud of anything that I do. Iím always like ĎOkay, this is done and I feel good and now Iím moving on!í I just donít take ownership of things in that way. For instance if I was an actress and I won an Oscar I would probably just put the award on my momís cabinet somewhere and I would never bring it home. It would be weird for me. The one song that I do feel good about just because it is so ambitious and I really feel that we nailed it is the title track MY ONE AND ONLY THRILL. That was song that was so metaphorically difficult for people to understand because I was involved and it was large. Itís not like the song climaxes at the end. It climaxes about three-quarters of the way through and then it descends back to where it began. Itís a cyclical thing musically, emotionally and lyrically. To speak with an arranger like VINCE and to have to explain it to him without any musical terms was difficult but I was happy to find that he took the metaphor and he acted upon it. When I gave little frames of reference for where the tune would come together, he not only nailed it, but he did far and above what I thought would happen. That middle section is very eerie. The middle section of that song is like something out of a TIM BURTON movie. Itís really eerie and it painted a whole new side of the meaning of the lyric. It painted this sadness. When we heard it when we were in CAPITOL, everyone started crying and it wasnít like ĎOh Vince, you completely ruined the arrangement!í. It was joy and sadness. It was an emotional moment where all of us were touched. That song holds a lot of value for me because it does what I think all music should do. It touches you.
How long did it take to record the album?
Itís hard for me to saying because the making of this album happened in between touring. We started in the middle of March and finished it in the beginning of June. We worked for a couple of weeks in March and I went on tour for a couple of months. When I came back, we did the strings. All together, the entire project took about three weeks, but he way the project was broken up was very strange.
I enjoyed the video for ĎBABY, IíM A FOOLí.
Oh you watched it.
I did. Who directed it?
This guy named AARON PLATT. Heís based out of L.A.
Are you happy with the results?
Should I be?
I think you should.
You know, the whole video was based upon a photo that a friend of mine took in D.C. I was sitting in a bathtub after a photo shoot and I was tired and he was like ĎYou mind if I still take some pictures?í and I was like Ďyeah, sure, why not?í So he took the pictures of me in the tube and I kind of passed them on to my manager jokingly thinking that I could get a bubble bath sponsorship. So my manager wrote back to me and said that the photo should be my video. I thought it was a really great idea. I spend almost all day in the tub. I love the tub. I would live in the bathtub. It is my favorite place in the world and I often have men in suits serving me and bringing me things while Iím in the tub, so this video was completely appropriate. Itís a good indicationof who I am as a person.
What would you like a person to come away with once theyíve heard ĎMY ONE AND ONLY THRILLí?
Iíd like them to come away with the same sort of feeling that Iím looking forward to getting in the next five days from being in Maui. I would like them to feel aware and to have an understanding that life goes really fast and that we all have the capability of carving out moments to make it feel adjustable, and slow and intimate, and precious. I know many people talk about with their analysts, but the way that weíve created our lives in Western society is such that we wake up in the morning to go to work, work until we are exhausted and then spend time in front of the television, got to bed and then repeat he cycle. There is very little time reserved for enhancement of our own lives whether itís spiritually, physically or mentally. There is a divide and I think it would be great ifpeople who listen to it really take the time to listen to it. Hopefully people can escape life for a few moments and just enjoy it.<