Tuesday, December 17, 2013

INTERVIEW: Andrea Tomasi

I recently shot the breeze (virtually) with gifted songstress Andrea Tomasi. Learn more about her approach to songwriting and our shared love of the Hudson Valley below!

The Hudson Valley has been a haven for artists since the turn of the century. Woodstock (the town) was where '50s-era hipsters (ie, beatniks) hung out, then people like my grandparents gentrified it. How did you find yourself in New Paltz?

I  was introduced to Hudson right at the close of my senior year at Oberlin, and ended up visiting and feeling excited about potential projects and people who were living there. I decided to live in Hudson, but got connected to New Paltz folks from playing out in the Kingston/New Paltz area. The community I was a part of was rich with talented and forward-thinking young people, and I feel grateful for the experience I had there.

How do you feel the Hudson Valley has influenced your music?

I was living in the Hudson valley during my transition from being in college to trying to figure out how to be an adult in the world….So I felt supported by the natural beauty that is that area, and also the honest work that people are doing there, such as farming or alternative healthcare or working with children. There was lots of room for reflection and learning new skills and meeting new people…all these things must have influenced my music in a way.

So the story goes you had to cancel your Brooklyn recording session thanks to hurricane season. But what made you decide to record in Minnewaska State Park?

My engineer, Jeremy Backofen, had recently bought a cabin in the Mohunk preserve, so he had some available property to do the recording on. We thought it would be a peaceful and beautiful way to record; right in the midst of nature and all of it’s sounds. I use a lot of natural imagery in my lyrics, because I feel that is what I know, and trust the most. So the outdoors seemed like the perfect partner for my songs.

Lately I've been receiving a lot of music from artists whose lyrics are "inspired" by poetry. Why did you go that route with Hurricane Dream, and why Pablo Neruda?

I went with Pablo Neruda because that was what I had on hand at the time. I’m actually not that big of a poetry reader, but I would pick up his book to start to get my brain aware of descriptive language, or to serve as a launching point. Its sort of like drawing—it necessitates a different kind of seeing, of being aware of angles and shadows. Often you have to practice this kind of thing, and warm up into the seeing. Similarly, for me with writing, reading poetry warms me up to the different way of communicating, or telling—it stimulates something inside of me so that I can enter more of a state of unconscious, where I let myself trust or flow with the words, rather than analyzing so intensely.

What other sources do you use as inspiration?

Discovering other musicians or artists that touch me is always deeply inspiring. Discovering my truths, through experience and reflection, and attention to listening—also observing human behavior and my own in relation to others—all are big sources of inspiration.

Any thoughts on your next project?

I think about what is next a lot—and thus far haven’t gotten any clear answers. I hope to start collaborating, and developing perhaps a fuller sound that I feel excited about. It is the unknown, so it can feel a bit daunting and scary at times—im waiting for the internal push that says, “do this!” In the meantime, I think playing with others is probably the best way to figure out where I’m heading…

Andrea Tomasi -- Official, Facebook, Buy From Team Love Records

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