Saliers spoke about the music she is listening to, the Indigo Girls’ support of groups working to cut United States military spending, and farmers who grow the food at the restaurant she owns.
Q&A with Amy Ray The Mountain Times: Did anything unexpected happen when you were recording the new album?
If you’re anything like me, The Indigo Girls have been around for every major life event and are not going anywhere anytime soon.
“Let’s Make Peace Tonight” is your “5 O’clock Somewhere.” “The Power of Two” is your “Unchained Melody.”The Indigo Girls new album, The Lost Day, is a continuation of everything we have come to expect, full of introspective lyrics, with some refreshing new musical differences.
So there’s a good deal of moodiness and darkness but also a very strong pop sensibility.
We also played with new players that we haven’t been there before.
That was a surprise, to be able to merge those two styles. [Computer programs] is the way a lot of people work now. MT: In terms of what you were doing personally and what Emily was doing, were you guys challenging yourselves musically on the new album? We were doing a lot of shows with symphony orchestras. We spend a lot of time on all those kinds of things. If you have that kind of power as a human then eventually there will be change. Don’t let them be changed by the images they see on TV or in the media that are so negative and so skewed. I always think about “Star Trek: The Next Generation”–we’ll get there one day. I haven’t decided whether I will vote for Bernie or Hillary in the primary.
Most people in their teens and 20s, that’s all they know. That informed our writing process to a certain degree. For us, challenging ourselves musically means that we might sing higher or lower, or different kinds of melodies than we normally sing, that are harder to sing. Q&A with Emily Saliers The Mountain Times: The Indigo Girls web site has links to groups that work for peace, for cuts in military spending. How do you feel about having a female president of the USA be important?
By contrast, another song on the album, “The Rise of the Black Messiah,” is a punk scream against mass incarceration.Jordan built arrangements around demos that we sent. This time it was Jordan orchestrating the whole thing on her own, then us working on it, just the three of us. Our opening band for Vermont is A Fragile Tomorrow. MT: With more than 2 million people in prison, the United States incarcerates a far higher percentage of its population than any other nation. I don’t hold out hope that’s going to be some radical effort that’s going to revolutionize things. That starts with educating kids and showing them images that are more positive. When young groups are starting up that have a very effective way of working, I find that to be inspiring. Then, when we got in the studio with some of the songs we would take that arrangement idea and record it live. At first it was hard for us, we couldn’t wrap our heads around it, and then it was really great. During that time, we both had kids and my dad passed away. They’re a group that I met when they were like 15 years old, in a back alley after a show. Your song “Black Messiah,” on the new album, talks about that. But it’s a big deal that mass incarceration is in focus now for legislators. We need to get the criminal justice system away from any profit-making entities. Solitary confinement is being looked at now by a lot of people as something that needs to go away. The guy that I wrote that song about, the man from the Angola Three, had written me a letter telling me about his situation. His faith and hope and positive-ness within the confines of solitary confinement for 35 years was amazing to me. Racism is so systemic and deep and entrenched, we’ve got to start educating kids when they’re young and open their eyes. If Hillary gets the nomination I’m fully behind her. So there are some horns, some string arrangements on the songs we haven’t done before.And also we sent our stripped down demos to her and she mocked up and wrote up musical pieces that would fit with the songs, and we loved everything she did and those ended up being in the songs.
We wanted someone who could approach us in a new way with a different process.