interview by janice 04.02
It's obvious from the title of this zine that I am a huge Velocity Girl fan. I've always been an especially huge fan of their velvet-voiced vocalist Sarah Shannon. Yup, she's my hero. Back in high school, I used to pathetically write fan letters to her. (In one, Sarah and I gushed over the babe-factor of Evan Dando, lead vocalist/guitarist of their one-time tourmates, The Lemonheads.) The first time I saw Velocity Girl in concert, Sarah was wearing a lavender slip dress. The very next day, I kid you not, I went out and bought a lavender slip dress, too! And, most notably, Sarah's gorgeous vocals made me take my own singing more seriously, something I still strive for to this very day. (Well, I still have that slipdress, too...)
So, of course, I was thrilled to learn that Sarah has a new solo album out, a self-titled release on her own Casa Recording Co. label. And I was even more thrilled that my hero agreed to talk to copacetic about the album, her recent tour, and of course, Velocity Girl! Thank you, Sarah! For everything!
I know you just got done with your tour. How did it go?
It went well...it went really well. It was kind-of hard jumping back in after not touring for so long...
How long has it been?
Ummm...wow, it's been so long, I can hardly remember...five years.
Wow! Did you tour with Starry Eyes?
Yeah, we did a small tour.
So, how have people been responding to your new CD? Because I know that when I first heard it, I was like, "Oh my god!" just because it's so different from what we've heard you do in the past and stuff. How did that come to be, 'cause it's such a dramatic change?
Well, I've always listened to that kind of music, like 70's pop music. So when I started writing the new songs, it all just came pretty naturally.
I noticed you're writing songs with Blake Wescott now? Who is he? How did you guys meet?
Blake Wescott is a musician/producer that I met through Ken Stringfellow, of The Posies. Blake used to be in a band called The Saltines. When I was getting ready to record, I actually wanted to record with Ken, but he was away at the time. So, he introduced me to Blake, and the rest, you could say, is history.
How do you guys write? Do you write most of the lyrics?
It's actually a very natural process. It happens organically. Blake does write some lyrics, but it's not like, "Okay, you write three lines, and I'll write this..."
Kind-of along the lines of how your style of music has kind-of changed a bit, I was wondering which bands are you listening to these days?
I've actually been listening a lot to the new Rufus Wainwright CD. Well, I don't know if it's a new CD, but it's new to me anyway! I could just listen to that 24 hours straight...
Well, that's how I feel about your new album! : ) Anyway, I also read that you were a co-owner of the Casa Recording Company. [ed note: that's the label her new album was released on.] What made you decide to start up an indie label?
Necessity is the mother of invention. I had all these songs that I really wanted to get out, but I didn't have any offers, so I just had to do it myself.
Who's the other owner?
A-ha! Well, there you go then! I also read that there's going to be a Velocity Girl reunion show this Spring in D.C.? What got that going?
Apparently, a friend of the original vocalist for Velocity Girl told us that she was having some financial trouble. So, he thought of putting together this festival on her behalf, and everyone agreed to do it.
That's awesome! But, you'll be singing, and not her, right?
Is this going to be a one-time thing or---?
Probably. I mean, I could see us getting together again maybe once in a while, every few years, but we're not going to be releasing albums or touring or anything like that.
Update 6/2002: on the infamous Indiepop-List, Velocity Girl bandmate Archie Moore wrote the following: "Actually, it's sort of an open-ended reunion. Everyone's having fun, so at the very least we'll probably keep doing live shows & hopefully release a single or ep or something. Anyone on the list who actually liked us should be somewhat relieved to know that we're sounding as noisy as ever (i.e. we're sounding more like our early days than our last album), and will necessarily be producing our own records, if and when we get our sh*t together."
So, were you surprised when Velocity Girl broke up, or could you kind-of see it coming?
Oh, I could kind-of see it coming.
What about with Starry Eyes? I know you guys had the one 7" single. Are there any other songs?
No, there aren't any other songs. With Starry Eyes, I had decided that doing the bi-coastal thing was too hard, since I was in Seattle and everyone else was back in D.C. And I had come to the conclusion that I really wanted to write my own songs.
On the Esteraho EP, I know you played guitar on that. Do you still play guitar? Do you plan on playing guitar on any future releases?
I can play guitar well enough to write songs, but I decided that I really want to focus on my singing.
So, what's next for you now?
Well, I'm going to take it easy for a while, and then hopefully go back out on tour. It's kind-of hard since I don't have a booking agent right now, but I would like to tour some more.
More shows in Seattle?
I'd definitely love to do more shows in Seattle.
Good! So, how long have you lived here now?
It's been a while...five years.
Do you miss D.C.?
Well, I miss my family, but I love Seattle.
Okay, last question, and it's really more for me than for my readers: Where did you get that amazing dress you're wearing on the CD?
How funny! I actually got that dress at a vintage clothing store in D.C. It's this 1930's pretty sheer Summer dress. Sadly, it's actually rotting away right now, so I was happy I got a chance to use it before it became unwearable.