January 2013, Espistrophy.
What makes you want to sing?
There are so many ways I can answer this question. First of all, sometimes, the pure physicality of it is joyful in and of itself. There is something so corporeal about the act of singing – your whole body becomes sensitized and more aware of every muscle and neuron that is working together to produce a certain sound. And when I’m sick in any way that alters my voice, I feel it immediately and, on top of those blues you always get when you’re under the weather, I am doubly depressed that I can’t use my voice. I can only liken it to any other physical action and ailment, like a runner’s elation after completing a race, or feeling totally useless when they have sprained their ankle. But this doesn’t really provide an answer as to why I sing, and I wonder if part of the reason I can’t answer is because it just has always seemed the most natural thing for me to do. I was raised by parents who hold music in the highest regard, almost with spiritual reverence. There was always music in my house. And to be given some semblance of a tool to create it – there seems to be no other choice for me but to use it. And if I can stir something in people – inspire, or comfort, or just make people feel something, anything – the way that music has stirred me, then that is why I want to do it.
What are you currently reading?
I’m switching off between a biography of Carly Simon, Carole King, and Joni Mitchell called ‘Girls Like Us,’ and a collection of short stories by Henry James. ‘Girls Like Us’ is my diversion, because it’s a very easy read, filled with hippie era gossip and minute details about each songwriter’s personal life, but it has also made me emotional and teary to read about Joni’s early life with polio and giving up her daughter for adoption. I’ve been listening to a lot of her early work – songs like Cactus Tree and I Had a King – as I read it. It also just speaks to me and to what I’m currently doing, or at least trying to do – namely, songwriting. Henry James is one of my mother’s favorite authors, so I borrowed this collection of stories from her while on Christmas vacation; his writing is so beautifully detailed and vivid, and he truly understands human complexities and subtleties.
Tell me about advice and that last piece you heard.
There are those in my life that aim to give me advice, professional and otherwise – my mother (who just so happens to be a shrink anyway!), my manager, my mentors (both in the fashion world and in music), amongst others. And then there are those that seem to almost accidentally – by leading their lives by example, by saying something without even realizing the way it will alter my perspective, by opening my mind to new experience and new ways of thought. I hear counsel in the mundane conversations of every day life. A lightweight example: I played a show last night and I was told to get up on stage and just enjoy myself – and those words of encouragement at that moment can be applied to so much in life.
In the beginning of Spring, 2012 Hayley Coupon and I met at a party. A party I had a hand in throwing. This was an anticipated encounter, we both had heard of one another but never met. She ended up perched on my bed till 4 in the morning singing songs and telling stories – most about friends and some about love.
Last night at 10 pm I saw Hayley sing again. On stage she is a perfect version of herself. Her talent as a vocalist and musician was incredibly obvious. She’ll keep going.
Here’s Hayley’s track, “True Friend”