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Thursday, November 9, 2000

Indigo Girls' chat transcript

Musician Emily Saliers, of the the folk rock duo the Indigo Girls, joined JAM! Music for a chat on Thursday November 9, 2000 to talk about their new collection of songs titled "Indigo Girls: A Retrospective." Read the transcript:

Terri: Hi, Emily. How did you and Amy go about choosing the material for "Retrospective"? Was it all pretty "civil", or were there any disagreements over what should go on it? Thanks.

Emily Saliers: With me and Amy it is always pretty civil. Actually, it was a lot more difficult to put together a record like "1200 Curfews" than it was to put togher the retrospecive. Most of my songs were chosen because they got a certain amount of radio play. And then Amy picked songs that she liked.

Shelley: Hi Emily! If Jerry ever wants to take a leave from the band, how about auditioning a "girl" drummer to replace him? I'm a female percussionist and my dream is to one day play with Indigo Girls. Your music has meant so much to me over the years. I live in Atlanta and also wonder if you plan to play any local venues during this break from touring.

Emily Saliers: We have no plans to play local venues. We are definitely taking a long hiatus. In the past, we actually looked for a woman drummer. We looked at the woman who plays drums with Lenny Kravitz. We are always looking for strong woman presence in our music, obviously. All I cansay is, you never know.

Christine: Hello Emily. The Indigo Girls have always placed a strong emphasis on creating not just an audience, but a community. How do you see the Internet fitting into the pursuit of that goal?

Emily Saliers: I think it fits into as much as anything else fits into commuity. I think it is an awesome way to network. It is a great vehicle for exchanging music and ideas. We look more and more to the internet as a way to keep in touch with our fans and promote music in an era when record companies and radio are not doing their job.

ZEEK: What changes have you noticed in the music business since you started putting out records? If Indigo Girls were starting out now, would it be easier or harder for you to get signed to a major label?

Emily Saliers: If we were staring out now, it would be impossible to get signed ot a major label It is particularly difficult for women right now, especially in commerical alternative radio. There are very few outlets for alternative women artist to have a forum and this is one reason why the internet is becoming so important for sharing the arts.

moira*: Your music is very political. What do you hope your listeners will do with the valuable political information you present?

Emily Saliers: I suppose take it to heart. Some of it is political and some of it isn't. All the music is about exploring what it means to be human in all of its beauty and ugliness. When people come to concerts, we want them to have a good time. But if we are doing a political tour like Honor The Earth, then we hope people will be moved to participate, so that there is a true marriage of music and politics. But it is up to the individual to take part. I don't believe in shoving anything down anyone's throat. We are just exploring our world.

Lellen21: What kinds of music do you listen to on your own time? And What musician do you respect the most?

Emily Saliers: I couldn't pick one musician I respect the most. Joni Mitchell, Neil young Queen Latifah, Chuck D, to name a few. I like all kinds of music. Probably my favorite record from last year was Filter. Right now I listen to the soundtrack to Women On Top. I love Brazilian music.

Graham Chrystman: What if any song would you like to rewrite either lyrically or musically? Any new instruments you are learning at present?

Emily Saliers: (laughing) When Amy and I were putting the retrospective together, we had a hard time wading through our early material, we both feel they are so bad. There are many early songs I would rewrite. But it is important to mark them as a stage in growth. I feel like we have grown as songwriters, and getting better at it is a goal we have. Unfortunately once you put out a record, it is there forever. The bad songs are immortal. And that is a bummer

Toni: I loved the bonus tracks on the new reissues. How much other material is there sitting in the vaults?

Emily Saliers: Amy and I have been writing a lot. We are planning to go into the studio in June. There are many works in progress and we are feeling inspired to record. There aren't too many in the vault, though. We don't usually have a deep vault.

IndigoKare: What do you think of the "outcome" of the US election? :-)

Emily Saliers: I have been kind of depressed. I question the system of the electoral college. I question how deeply citizens look into the issues. And I think it is fascinating. I think the closeness of it is fascinating. Obviously I am crossing my fingers to hope one or the other, but we don't endorse, so you'll just have to guess.

Emily Saliers: I think Ralph Nader is amazing, and I think it is important to have a third party

Katherine: When you started out as a musician, did you ever think of the strain being on the road would have on your relationships at home? and do you ever regret anything you've done in your career because of the the strain it has put on them now?

Emily Saliers: No. I don't have any regrets. I am fortuante enough to be in a situation where my partner is very supporive emotionally, and we accept my absence as part of the whole picture of our lives together. I love what I do so much that I can't imagine a different kind of life. it is very hard on some people, and I feel bad for them that they have to go through that.

Amy Beth: Emily- I am a Music Therapist. I work with Alzheimer's patients and Autistic children. I chose this profession after many years of listening to you and Amy. Your music healed me in so many aspects of my life and I wanted to make a difference with my talent as well. Do you find that the difference you make through your music and political activism feeds your inner fire to create?

Emily Saliers: I am really glad you do that work. My dad and I have had conversations about how music stirs people who have lost or are losing their memory or mental capacity, and the depth of connection to music is something that transcends certain brain function. Music is such a gift, that Amy and I have been able to combine music and activist has been able to fuel the fires of our lives and it never runs out of steam. Thank you for doing the work that you do.

Anonymous: Hi Emily! A HEARTFELT thanks for your words and music! You have so inspired me with your guitar style -- any advice on guitar exercises for your style of flatpicking? (I've only been playing for two years) Thanks!

Emily Saliers: I could be a lot better guitar player if I practiced more. I suggest playing as much as possible. I suggest digging deep for the notes that really speak to you, rather than emulating a style of playing. It doesn't have to be a lot of notes. I sometimes choose too many, but I am working on paring it down to the notes that speak to me emotionally. Just play every chance you get. I don't know any guitar exercises.

ZELDA: I remember hearing you were going to do an album at one point with the Canadian producer Malcolm Burn, but I don't know of anything that ever came out from those sessions. What happened?

Emily Saliers: We worked with Malcolm for a while, but we weren't compatible in the studio. We shook hands and called it a day, and that's when John Reynolds came in to do Come On Now Social. Malcolm is really talented. It was very different for us and it didn't always work. We just were not compatible.

LOVEY HOWELL: If you could transport yourself to a particular era of music or a specific music scene, where or when would it be?

Emily Saliers: Hmmm. Gosh, that is so hard. I am really intruiged by the underground hip hop progressive activist scene that is going on right now.We are just learning about it. I love hip hop, but I don't like mainstream rap that has a message of misogyny and materialism. I like hip hop that speaks to equality, and there is a lot of that going on. The time is now and the movement is hip hop.

Shelley: Other than songwriting and lyrics, do you write? Have you considered writing a book? If so, would it be a novel or something biographical?

Emily Saliers: Right now I am working on a chapter with my dad and another writer. It is a book about practices of faith for teenagers. I am just sticking my big toe in the water of writing. I don't know the release date, but it is out of Valparaiso University. I am not doing a lot of the writing, but it is an introduction to the world of writing. I would like to write, but I don't have the gift for novel writing, more essay or something from my life.

Wistaria: If you could get one message across to kids/teenagers today, what would it be?

Emily Saliers: Believe in your own voice. Don't let anyone tell you you can't take part in society and make a difference. Enjoy every day.

Wistaria: Where do you get your lyrical inspiration from, I find that your music and songs really touch that part of you that you didnt know anyone else felt as well.:

Emily Saliers: We get them from our experiences travelling. We have a rare opportunity to go into different communities, when we went to Chiapas, Mexico, or Indian reservations in North America. So we get inspired by the work people do in their communities, political events, what is happening to the world. We get inspired by conversations with people, good books, good films, anything you could think of. If you are observant, there is nothing that won't inspire you.

Tara: I believe you are only contracted for a couple more albums with Epic. When that contract is fulfilled, do you plan on recording any new Indigo Girls cd's on an independant or just go your separate ways? TAra

Emily Saliers: We are not going to go our separate ways, God willing. I enjoy playing with Amy as much now as any time in 20 years. Unless something radically changes in the record business and we can get some support, we will probably go independent and make independent records. No doubt, the interent would become a big part.

Gus: I was very impressed w/ the JCS (Jesus Christ Superstar) album that you were involved in. Was this an actual performance, or was strictly a studio album?

Emily Saliers: We did three performances. One in Austin, one in Seattle and one in Georgia. It was great. It was like a High School Play.It was such a motley crew of friends and musicians. That album is on Amy's label, Daemon Records, and the money goes to gun control groups.

eckybay: Do you ever visit indigo girls websites? Do you know about the communities that exist at Epic and indigogirls.com? I am a part of the epic board and it is a such a wonderful place to be. Thank you for bringing us all together!

Emily Saliers: I do occasionally. I know it is well done. I don't look at Indigo Girls stuff too much. It freaks me out, but I have a lot of appreciation for the people who keep it operating. If there are any suggestions of how to improve it, we are open to that. I don't do the chat rooms. I never do. It is freaky to have people talking about you.

Drapes: What do you find to be the hardest part of song writing? Where/when do you do most of your writing?

Emily Saliers: I do my writing mostly during the day, and mostly at home. The hardest part of songwriting for me is one, trying not to write only ballads, I always go to a ballad, naturally. And two, trying to capture lyrically what is swimming around in my head.

carol: Will you be coming out with a solo album? And if so, what style will the songs be? different from the IG style?

Emily Saliers: I will be doing a solo record, but I don't know when. Amy's is coming out March 6, 2001. Mine will depend on the next time we get some time off. I can't predict what it will be like stylistically, I will have to see how I feel when I write the songs. I'm not gifted enough to do hip hop, I just appreciate it. I like a song with a message and a groove. I just apprecatie it, but know that I never could.

Cyrus: What suggestions would you make to a highschool student who is drawn to music and wants to get their stuff out and heard? Where should we go and how should we go about things? My mom wants to say "thank you" for your music.

Emily Saliers: Tell your mom she is welcome. I think the best way to get music is to take every advantage you can of playing. If it means playing at your house with friends or organizing an event at a coffee shop or community centre, it has become much easier for people to make their own CDs now. You could probably call a music store and find out who has got studios that are inexpensive. They are everywhere now because of PROTOOLS, home systems. There are endless opportunities to record your music. Play as much as possible, even if you have to make your own gigs. Don't let money or success be your motivation. You have got to start out wanting to do it for free. You have got to love doing it.

Emily Saliers: I do want to tell everybody that we have a song that is downloadable at Indigogirls.com, called Point Hope. You can only get it by downloading. It costs $3.60 to download, and $3 goes to Honor The Earth, which raises money and awareness for grassroots environmental groups. They can use everybodies support. honorearth.org has more information. Thank you to all our fans. Truly you keep us going. A heartfelt thank you to fans.

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