The Rebecca Loebe interview
Justice, there’s still justice. For a moment it seemed like one of the most beautiful records of the year (at least up until now….) would be overlooked completely, but since a few days ‘Mystery Prize’ by Rebecca Loebe (pronounce: Low-Bee), originally independantly recorded, is now distributed by CRS in Europe.
As far as I’m concerned, you can’t deny this American girl with German ancestors. Between the opening waltz ‘Mystery Prize’ and the closing song ‘Avalanche’, with probably the most beautiful arrangement of the year, Rebecca Loebe displays her class in many different ways. Or, like Martin Overheul aptly wrote on January 21th: ‘Mystery Prize’ by the angelic Rebecca Loebe is a must-own for lovers of intelligent lyrics, inventive melodies and crystal clear voices: a record to caress and cherish for a long time…
Add to this the fact that ‘Mystery Prize’ occupies the fifth position in the June EuroAmericanaChart and you know it’s time for justice… and an interview…
To start with, Rebecca, congratulations with the marvelous news of your deal with CRS, who are going to distribute "Mystery Prize" in Europe. How did you get that deal?
Funny enough, it was a very simple process – I sent them my CD in the mail and they got in touch within a few weeks… I’ve never asked for a record deal before, I had no idea it would be so straightforward!
Which artists have influenced you and are an inspiration to you?
Oh! What a huge question! I grew up listening almost exclusively to – you’ll never believe this – LPs of 50’s/60’s pop. The Shangri-Las, The Everly Brothers, The Big Bopper, Ray Charles… As a teenager I graduated to 70’s singer songwriters, got really into Carole King, Randy Newman, Joni Mitchell and then discovered Bjork, Beck, Radiohead, Ben Folds (and I still listen to all of them a lot these days!).
You've been working as a recording studio engineer before you focused on your career as a singer-songwriter. From a relatively safe life in anonymity to an uncertain life in the spotlights. Are there any parallels between the main character in the song 'Mystery Prize', who dares to leave behind certain securities and chooses the uncertain, and yourself in this respect?
Well Rebecca, this answer requires further explanation... Can you tell me something more about those choices and the struggle with doubt?
I often say that I wrote "Mystery Prize" on the day I realized that people in love tend to act like the idiots at the end of game shows -- people who choose the tempting possibility of something wonderful over the wonderful reality of something they have been given. I feel like that pretty darn well parallels someone who chooses to forego a paying job on the sidelines of the music industry for the risky, potentially fabulous but likely disastrous path of a full time touring itinerant songwriter...you're very perceptive to catch it in those lyrics! Thanks for asking.
There's a beautiful passage in the title song: “But love is a blood sport / you lose if you draw / You can only win if no one loses at all”. Intriguing lyrics that are very recognisable to people who know the path of love and, in my opinion, written by someone who experienced wins but also losses in love life. Can you, and are you willing to, say anything about these lyrics?
Thanks so much for asking about this passage! I actually chose those lyrics to be on my official tour T-shirt, which I hope to offer for sale online soon, but for now is only available for purchase at my concerts. What I think is funny about love is that for most people, most romantic relationships they have ever been in have ended. The end of a relationship is widely viewed as a failure, but I personally can’t buy into that – I think we have too much to learn from each other to believe that there is only one successful way to interact romantically as adults. I may be digressing, but the main point of that line is that I think there is a lot to be gained from love, but you’re never going to get there unless you also know how much there is to lose.
Expressing emotions and feelings in your music seems self-evident to you, but how do you experience your lyrics to be analysed and being asked for the background of such a passage, like I just did?
What I find to be most interesting about what I do is all the different ways in which the words I write can be interpreted. I can write a song, or a line, with one perspective and meaning in mind, but when put through the filter of someone else’s experiences it can take on an entirely different, yet equally valid, meaning. I think that’s very powerful.
Mystery Prize” exhales originality and creativity. Certainly in the music, but also in the cover art. Apart from that originality and creativity, the record is quite varied. Do you pursue that diversity or is it something that's part of you?
Thank you so much. I love music, all different kinds. I never sat down to intentionally plot out what musical styles would be included on the album as a whole, but I was lucky enough to be working with musicians who were open to my ideas for each individual song and helped me get them recorded the way I heard them in my head.
As a music lover I'm always curious which five records you would choose to take with you if you were going to an uninhabited island for a month and why you would choose these particular records.
This is a hard one! Ok, I’m not going to belabor it, just going for what springs to mind…
Paul Simon – Graceland
Joni Mitchell – Blue
Bjork - Hyperbalad
Guster - Lost and Gone Forever
Jump Little Children – Magazine
Guster and Jump Little Children???
Jump Little Children is from my homestate, Georgia. I think they started as a Celtic-ish band, but by the late 90's had become a really good and well respected alternative rock band. The put out one of my favorite albums ever, Magazine. I went to college in Boston and was surprised to learn that they weren't nearly as popular up there as they were in the south, where I had grown up! Guster is another great band that put out an awesome album, Lost and Gone Forever, in that same time frame. They've been touring a lot since the mid-90's. A friend of mine first heard of John Mayer because he was opening for Guster. Then a few years later, after he became famous, he took Guster out opening for him. I really like the songs on this album, and all the arrangements, especially the hand percussion.
By the way I meant to say my favorite Bjork album is "Post" -- the string arrangement on the song "Hyperballad" is one of my favorite musical passages ever.
Do you let your feelings guide your musical development or are you thinking about that consciously and what are your ideas about the direction your music will be taking?
I actually try consciously not to think about my musical development. I try to let my heart guide my songs and my songs guide the musical direction.
Is there any chance your previous two records, which were self-released, might also be released by CRS in Europe? I can easily imagine there are enough music lovers who are interested in buying these records after hearing "Mystery Prize". Can you give a weblink where people can buy these cd's now?
My relationship with CRS is very new and so far nothing has been discussed about releasing my first two albums in Europe…but who knows what the future holds! “Mystery Prize” is available online through CRS and my older two are available in the store on my website, www.rebeccaloebe.com. You can also download all of my music on iTunes.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? I understood you're coming to Europe to tour. Can you name cities in the Netherlands and Belgium where we can see and hear you?
I have a very exciting year ahead of me – I’ll be touring solo up the east coast of the United States all summer, including a stop in my hometown to open for Mary Chapin Carpenter at Chastain Amphitheater and a performance in the Emerging Artist Showcase at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in New York. Later in the year I will be touring with Texas songwriter Raina Rose back up and down the east coast and out to TX. Nothing is confirmed yet, but it’s looking very promising that I will be touring in Europe within the next year. I have family in Amsterdam, Haarlem and Zwolle and good friends in Germany. When I start getting dates confirmed, I’ll definitely let you know! I want to come sing for you!
29 Jun 2010