Saturday, December 8th, 2007
That I’m a huge fan of Nicole Atkins and her debut album Neptune City is not news to anyone who’s been around the last few months, so when I was offered the opportunity to do an email interview with her, I went against my usual “no interviews” policy (not because I’m against them, but because I usually don’t have the time to a proper job of it) and put together some – I hope – intelligent questions for her about the new record and her year of extensive touring.
Neptune City was released in the US on October 30 but if you’ve been looking for a copy in Canada and having no luck, that’s because it’s technically not out here – until this Tuesday, anyway. And she and The Sea will be back in town for a show this February.
CW: Neptune City is a far more stylistically diverse record than I expected – Bleeding Diamonds seemed to want to emphasize your old school, torchy side. Was it a conscious decision to broaden the sound of the album or just something that happened naturally over the course of writing and recording?
NA: it was something that just happened naturally. i had a bigger studio to work in and the use of an orchestra at my disposal so i were more than excited to take advantage of it. my producer tore and i also blended my band, the sea, together with the studio musicians he used (swedish band, the mopeds). i really think the style of the record reflected our enviroment physically and mentally at that specific time in our lives.
Is the record representative of who Nicole Atkins is and what she sounds like, or are there more sounds and styles you want to explore on future records?
this record sounds exactly what my head sounded like last year. so its definitely a portrait of my life from the last couple years. thats why the sounds morph around a little. neptune city the song was written two years before brooklyn’s on fire, and you can tell because the mood is so different. i listen to so many different types of music so its only natural that in future songs and records many styles will show up.
Your musical career has had you traveling a fair bit with extended stops in North Carolina and New York City, but now you’re back in New Jersey. What’s it mean to you to have your home and history figure so heavily into your debut record?
i think its a bit ironic that a place i’ve been trying to distance myself my whole life ends up being the starter marker for my career and now my current residence that i’ve grown to love. i didnt really choose this, i got chosen.
Was your home always a prevalent theme in your songwriting or was it that something that developed only after you’d left?
every place i’ve lived has always ended up being a major theme of my writing. but i can only write about places after i’ve left for a long time. i was in charlotte, nc in 2004 for a spell and i’m only beginning to write about it now.
Los Parasols. The Summer Of Love. Paperhouses. (ed: Nicole’s old band and independent releases, respectively) If a particularly dedicated fan were to track down these records, what would they find? Any chance of making these available someday, somehow?
these were my first forays into songwriting and leading a band. its basically me wanting to be the band big star. pretty basic alt country twang. i’m probably not going to put it out again. it would be like going to art school, and then after graduation becoming a gallery artist and then 10 years later putting the conte crayon drawings you did in Intro to Drawing I class on display. not a good idea. hahah.
You’ve had a pretty eclectic bunch of tour mates over the course of the year – The Long Blondes, The Raveonettes and The Pipettes, to name just the ones that have come through Toronto. On the surface, they don’t seem to be the sort of acts you’d naturally pair up with. How have you found the response from audiences at those shows versus, say, the ones on the Chris Isaak tour? Do you relish the opportunity to try and win over an audience that might not normally listen to your style of music?
we just like touring. and we pack so many styles even into just one song that i feel like we could tour with anyone and it wouldnt be devestating. the crowds from all the bands were really receptive and kind so far. the biggest difference between those bands crowds and chris isaak’s crowd was basically the age difference. also, older people buy more cds which was really awesome.
2007 seemed to lay a lot of the groundwork and spread the word about you, culminating in Neptune City‘s release (though it’s still not officially out in Canada…) – what’s 2008 have in store for Nicole Atkins?
to get released in canada! haha! it should be soon. also, more touring, doing some summer festivals and i’m sure more touring. fyi- toronto is probably our favorite place to play. can’t wait to get back there!
MP3: Nicole Atkins & The Sea – “Party’s Over”
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Bleeding Diamonds”
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Carouselle”
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Pissing In A River” (live in Copenhagen)
Video: Nicole Atkins & The Sea – “The Way It Is” (MySpace)
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Neptune City” (YouTube)
MySpace: Nicole Atkins