Macy Gray Interview — ‘Covered’

I requested an interview with Macy Gray thirty seconds into listening to her cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Maps.” I didn’t need to hear more. I knew the album would be good. When she agreed to the interview, I was elated — and nervous. I’m always intimidated by people I admire, but as soon as we began talking, everything changed. Her friendly, down-to-earth personality put me at ease. She’s just so damn likable. Read below, and buy her Covered album immediately. You will not regret it. Watch her “Smoke 2 Joints” video at the end of the interview.

What made you decide to make a cover album?

I wanted to do a cover album for a long time. I saw that Nina Simone did a cover album, My Way, by Frank Sinatra, and I thought it was so cool how she took it and made it her own thing. It was a challenge for me to see if I could do something like that.

How did you select the songs for the album?

There were four or five that we showed everyone, and the rest were really spontaneous [choices]. It was really off-the-cuff. I’m a fan of all the songs, but mostly it was the lyrics that I could make personal to me.

Is there less pressure on you as an artist when it’s not your original material?

The songs are completely redone. It was still really creative and challenging. We were all really nervous about whether the artists were going to like them.

Did you get any feedback from the artists you covered?

Me and Dave Stewart went back and forth on Twitter, and I said, “Did you send [“Here Comes the Rain Again”] to Annie [Lennox]? He said she loved it, and I felt better. My producer, Hal Willner, is good friends with [Metallica], and apparently they played it over and over again.

I love the Nicole Scherzinger skit on the album. Is that based on your personal experience in the industry of people telling you to change?

Oh yeah. I get suggestions all the time. People are always telling me what I should do next. Everybody’s always saying things like I need to make a dance record or change my afro — stuff like that. It’s crazy. But I’m really proud of what I do. I’m not The Beatles, but I really like the stuff that I’ve done.

Did Nicole immediately agree to do the skit?

Nicole’s a good friend of mine, and she does these impressions. She can impersonate anybody. She actually does a really good one of me. I told her the idea of what the skit would be about, and she just kind of ran with it.

I was surprised by her Britney Spears impression. It was so accurate.

I know! She should do that all day! She sang a song like Alanis Morissette, and you would swear it was her.

Some of your promotional shots for this album are so beautiful. Do you like promoting your albums, or is it a necessary evil to being in the industry?

It always depends on [my mood]. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood. I hate taking pictures, but I have this photographer that I’m really comfortable with. But if it was up to me, I’d just make music, have my label put it out, and go on with my life.

Is it true that when you first started in the industry you were not a fan of your own singing voice?

That is true. My voice has always been peculiar. When I was little they always made fun of me. But as you get older you get over stuff. When I started singing . . . it took me a long time to like it. I actually worked on it a lot to get to the point where I liked it.

You entered the industry before the social-media generation. Was it a difficult adjustment?

I actually get a kick out of Twitter. It’s crazy that you can have conversations with your fans. It’s an easy way to let people know about your record.

I had a few friends in Rio de Janeiro at the Back 2 Black Festival who said you killed it. I heard the other artists dropped out.

Prince dropped out at the last minute. That’s one of the reasons I agreed to do the festival, and then he dropped out [laughs].

Do you get nervous for big performances like that?

I still get nervous. I used to get really sick before my shows, and I got over that, but I still get butterflies.

Is it true you don’t read your own reviews?

It’s hard to get around it now, because everything is online, but [negative reviews] still affect me.

What music are you listening to now?

I really like Jack White’s The Dead Weather record, and I like Wiz Khalifa and J. Cole.

You’ve collaborated with some big-hitters in the past. Is there anyone on your wish-list for future collaborations?

I really want to collaborate with Kanye West. I’m always jealous of the people he puts on his album. That’s my big dream.

Eric Hutchinson Interview — ‘Moving Up Living Down’

There’s a very valuable playlist in my music library entitled, “Music That Makes Me Happy,” and Eric Hutchinson has been on it for years. While playing his first album for the 500th time, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if he had a second album? Where’s he been? I want more Eric Hutchinson!” So I googled him, and my prayers were answered. He released his follow-up, Moving Up Living Down, on April 17th, and he achieved the rare feat of surpassing the quality of his debut. Because I’m The Dishmaster, and I have an insatiable need to pick the brain of everyone I admire, I requested an interview with the man himself — and he kindly agreed. Read below, and catch the video for his hit single, “Watching You Watch Him,” at the end.

I was a huge fan of your first record. I know you did the first record on your own and now you’re on a label. Do you have a preference?

I still consider myself an independent artist, but this way was a lot easier. I got to concentrate on the music and the writing and the singing a lot more, and I got paired up with some really great producers. I worked with Martin Terefe and lived in London for a month, and Mike Elizondo who I lived with in LA for a month.

Does the creative input from a producer ever create friction?

You have to find the right person. We had a few people that didn’t work out, but the most important part is the creative flow with the producer. Mike had pictures of The Beatles all over his studio, and The Beatles are probably my favorite of all time, so I had a feeling right off the bat that we would get along. It’s a really fun, creative vibe. Never for one second did it leave my head that here I am making an album for Warner Bros. Records, and how is this my life?

It’s been a few years since your first record. What’s the reason for the time-gap?

I toured for so long with the first record. It was sort of an unorthodox release, because it kind of came out on its own, and then it came out again when Perez Hilton sent it out, and then Warner Bros. picked it up. So I was just touring and touring. And then finally I came home to New York and got to process everything and started writing my record. I know from the outside it probably feels like a while, but I’ve been busy the whole time.

Did you know that Perez’s post would create such traction?

I was in LA and went to sleep, and the next morning I woke up, and my phone was blowing up. Within the day it was in the iTunes top five. It was a really great moment. Perez has been very supportive and continues to be very supportive.

I read that you went broke making your first record. Was there a definable moment where you thought, “I can make a living doing this.”

I had been making a living, but I went a little too far making that record. I feel a real privilege to be able to do this, but I got a lot of very lucky breaks.

One of my favorite songs on your record is “The People I Know.” It’s a really upbeat song with sad lyrics. Is that an intentional juxtaposition?

Yeah, it’s something I learned from The Beatles. It helps the medicine go down, if you will. I try to cram big ideas into a three-minute pop song, and if you do it with an upbeat feel it’s easier to process it all.

There’s a lyric, “I’ve got a sister who I barely see,” in “The People I Know.” Is that a literal lyric? Did she hear it and say anything to you about it?

I had a talk with her about it. It’s sort of true. My sister did live down the street from me, and I didn’t see her because I was on tour all the time. And then one day I ran into her on the street, and it was a weird moment. It’s a weird moment when you recognize someone that is that close to you and you see them on the street out of context. But I get along with my family really well, and they have been very supportive.

But you gave her the heads up before you released the song?

I did, yeah. She likes [the song]. The other thing that’s really cool about that song is I play it live and people come up to me afterwards and say, “I have an estranged relationship with somebody.” That’s when the music really feels special.

Do you ever have a revelation about your lyrics in hindsight and think, “Wow, I must have been really sad and not even known it?”

All the time. There are certain songs where I think, “I don’t even know what I’m writing,” and then I look back, and it’s so clear. That’s one of the good parts about the album. Having some time to release this album, I got a lot of perspective on it, and I could look at it clearly and think about which songs I like and what I wanted to say.

When you play live, do you have a venue preference? Do you prefer a smaller, intimate venue to a large stadium?

As long as the crowd is excited, that’s where the magic comes from. I could play to 50 people or 5,000 as long as they’re are excited about the tour.

You’ve performed on some really great late-night shows. Do you have a favorite performance?

The first time I played The Tonight Show. It was my first time on TV. It just felt really cool.

Do you still get nervous for those performances?

Not really anymore. I’ve performed so much at this point that I’m kind of used to playing. I really want to play Saturday Night Live. Maybe I’d get nervous for that.

What music are you listening to now?

A band I got really into is Los Lobos. My plan is to get them to come play on my next record. I love Vampire Weekend, the new Black Keys record, and Kanye West.

Who chose “Watching You Watch Him” as the single for the record? Did you write it and think, “That’s the hit?”

A lot of times I’ll have to [do something] and stop writing, but every now and then I’ll write a song and I just can’t leave it. I was supposed to meet a bunch of friends to watch a football game, and about ten minutes into writing “Watching You Watch Him,” I just knew I couldn’t go anywhere, and I called them and told them that I couldn’t come. I really love that song. To me, I can just picture driving through the desert on a road trip and blaring that song really loud.

Tabloid Gossip — Week-in-Review — Drama-Rama

 

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are engaged. USA Today
  • Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester has a new man. Just Jared
  • Bruce Jenner isn’t happy about the Kim Kardashian/Kanye West romance. In Case You Didn’t Know
  • Chris Noth is married. Bye, bye Mr. Big. People
  • Emma Roberts and Chord Overstreet reunited. E! Online
  • Britney Spears’ fiance will be her new conservator. Wonderwall
  • Lamar Odom and the Dallas Mavericks are dunzo. Celebuzz
  • Jenny McCarthy might have a new boyfriend. Zap2It
  • Scarlett Johanasson opened up about her “horrible” divorce. Examiner
  • Marc Anthony filed for divorce from Jennifer Lopez despite a last minute attempt at reconciliation. TMZ

 

 

 

 

Tabloid Gossip — Week-in-Review — High Drama

  • Heidi Klum filed for divorce from Seal. So sad. People
  • Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag still don’t speak. Us Magazine
  • Hilary Duff tweeted the first picture of her son. Pop Crunch
  • Kim Kardashian might be dating Kanye West. The Superficial
  • Eva Longoria and Eduardo Cruz are back on. Celebuzz
  • Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon are cousins. Zap2It
  • Bruce Willis is a dad to a fourth daughter. Just Jared
  • Alec Baldwin blasted the paparazzi for crashing his girlfriend’s yoga class. OTRC
  • Bristol Palin’s ex impregnator, Levi Johnson, knocked up another girl.  Contact Music
  • Carnie Wilson underwent her second weight loss surgery. CNN
  • Miranda Lambert isn’t happy with Ashton Kutcher. CBS News
  • Jim Carrey might be getting married again. DListed
  • Adam Levine and Anne V. broke up. Mtv
  • Kris Humphries refused Kim Kardashian’s 7 million dollar settlement offer. Reality Tea
  • Nicole Scherzinger says she’s an eight out of ten. Daily Telegraph

 

 

 

 

Tabloid Gossip — Dish-A-Licious

 

  • Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel are engaged. Us Magazine
  • Russell Brand filed for divorce from Katy Perry.  MTV
  • Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger might reconcile. TMZ
  • High School Musical star, Ashley Tisdale, is dating Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend, Martin Johnson. Perez Hilton
  • Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler is engaged to Erin Brady. Rumor has it his family isn’t pleased. Astrochicks
  • Eddie Cibrian and LeAnn Rime’s ex-wife (yes, I wrote it that way on purpose), Brandi Glanville, had a quickie marriage in Vegas. MSNBC
  • Jennifer Lopez’s new boy-toy, Casper Smart, got probation for drag racing. Gossip Cop
  • Adele has a new man in her life. The Sun
  • Kanye West’s ex girlfriend, Amber Rose, called Kim Kardashian a home-wrecker, accusing the reality star of cheating on Reggie Bush with West while she was still in a relationship with the singer. Radar Online
  • The Kardashians might launch a glossy magazine with exclusive Kardashian content. Talk about over-exposure. NY Post
  • Is Halle Berry engaged to Olivier Martinez? IMDB

 

Kanye West Tries to Be Funny With Britney — Can’t Catch a Break

I’m actually starting to feel sorry for Kanye West.  When Britney Spears’ new song knocked Kanye out of  the number one spot, he tweeted her, saying, “Yo Britney, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you be #1, but me and Jay-Z single is one of the best songs of all time.”  Apparently, Kanye West is not allowed to make fun of himself, because no one has a sense of humor, including Britney Spears.  Spears’ manager, Adam Leber, replied to Kanye’s tweet, saying, “Thanks for “letting” us be #1. Much appreciated.”  Can we all stop picking on Kanye West please?  Enough is enough.  The guy made a mistake, and his mistake actually catapulted Taylor Swift into super stardom.  Also — give the guy permission to make a joke for goodness sakes.

Matt Lauer Interviews Kanye West — Proves Matt Lauer’s a Prick

Matt Lauer is a gigantic douchebag. I’m glad I opened with that, because I’m often told to get to the point with my writing. He interviewed Kanye West and, though I’m not a fan of the often ill-tempered Kanye West, I completely agree with his complaints about the interview below. Lauer opened the interview with questions about President Bush, referencing Kanye’s famous statement, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Kanye immediately apologized for his comment, stating that he thought it was wrong, and that he does not think President Bush is racist. But Lauer didn’t stop there. Instead of accepting Kanye’s apology and moving on to the next question, he continued to berate him, showing him another clip of the interview, and then asking Kanye to “look at his face.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Matt Lauer is a judgmental prick in his interviews, and there is absolutely no reason to harass Kanye after he already sincerely apologized for the comment. It was cheap and unnecessary, and I’m surprised Kanye’s people even agreed to this interview, considering Lauer is known for this kind of low-grade behavior. And if you think I’m defending Kanye because I’m a loyal fan, you’d be wrong.  I often think he lets his temper overshadow his talent. Not this time, though. This time his rage is justified.

Chris Robinson Calls Taylor Swift “Horrible”

Want to know the best way to get mentioned in the press when you’re Z-lister?  Well, you bash an A-lister, of course.  In a recent interview, Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, discussed the current state of the music industry, and singled out Taylor Swift, as “talentless,” and a poor example of how everything “sounds and looks the same” these days.  Did Chris learn nothing from the Kanye West debacle?  Taylor Swift is untouchable, and unless you’re going to hop on the pop/country bandwagon, you better stay in your cave.