BRANDI CARLILE

Diva (UK) - - Contents -

The Amer­i­can singer on mar­riage, mu­sic, faith and fam­ily

Hav­ing mar­ried a Brit in 2012, Amer­i­can folk/rock artist Brandi Carlile has an­nounced her band’s in­ten­tion to spend more time in the UK. At their re­cent sell- out con­certs in Union Chapel, Lon­don, Carlile and “The Twins” used retro me­ga­phones to fill the wooden-vaulted ceil­ing with har­monies.

Since part­ing ways with Sony, the band has signed to an indie la­bel, spurring a re­turn to their mu­si­cal roots. Their fifth stu­dio al­bum, The Fire­watcher’s Daugh­ter, al­ter­nates soul­ful love bal­lads with ex­plo­sive rock songs.

DIVA caught up with Brandi to talk about mu­sic, mar­riage, faith and fam­ily.

DIVA: I was struck by the mix of mu­si­cal styles on The Fire­watcher’s Daugh­ter. How did that hap­pen?

BRANDI CARLILE: When we first met, the twins [band mem­bers Tim and Phil Hanseroth] were in an in­sane rock ‘n’ roll band and I was a folky busker. Peo­ple would say, “That is so bipo­lar, that does not work in one place!”. We didn’t kow­tow im­me­di­ately but slowly through the years, be­ing a part of a ma­jor la­bel, I think we nat­u­rally de­vel­oped a for­mula for mak­ing records.

Were you guided in that di­rec­tion by Sony?

Not in a way that is sin­is­ter, but it just hap­pens. Demos are like homework: you turn them in and the la­bel says, “That’s good enough, you can make an al­bum”. And of­ten the od­dballs would get set aside. Now we’re re­dis­cov­er­ing some of that in­no­cence about song­writ­ing, rather than wor­ry­ing about be­ing crit­i­cised for not hav­ing enough con­ti­nu­ity.

Do you ever tour with­out the twins?

I try to, ev­ery cou­ple of years, be­cause it con­nects me to my­self. But I miss the shit out of the twins. I re­ally miss the blend­ing of the voices – I’m such a har­mony girl.

You say the twins are like fam­ily to you. How have you man­aged to cre­ate this work-fam­ily bal­ance?

Accidentally, re­ally. Tim and Phil are co- de­pen­dent by de­fault, and I’m a born col­lab­o­ra­tor. Phil mar­ried my lit­tle sis­ter, then they had a child. It’s bizarrely in­ti­mate. Then, when Tim met Hannah, his wife now, she was prob­a­bly ter­ri­fied. We just grabbed her and kept her in place. So the three of us have be­come in­ter­twined in a way that is ev­ery­thing you think it would be: su­per dys­func­tional and su­per spe­cial. Doors are slam­ming all the time, and there’s a lot of laugh­ter.

Did you have a close-knit fam­ily when you were grow­ing up?

Ac­tu­ally, now that you men­tion it, I grew up in a pretty tight fam­ily in close quar­ters! It wasn’t a tour bus, though, it was more like a trailer.

How did you meet your wife, Catherine Shep­herd?

We ac­tu­ally met through the Paul Mccart­ney con­nec­tion. I have a foun­da­tion called the Look­ing Out Foun­da­tion, and we were run­ning a cam­paign called Fight The Fear, that teaches women and girls self- de­fence. Catherine helped us raise some money with Paul Mccart­ney’s sup­port.

I read that you were mar­ried in Bos­ton and in Lon­don – did you have two wed­dings?

We did three wed­dings – it’s kind of shame­ful! The way I jus­tify it is that there are so many young peo­ple who are ex­iled from their fam­i­lies. So if our fam­i­lies want to be with us when we get mar­ried, the least we can do is travel to them.

We got mar­ried in Bos­ton with Catherine’s fa­ther and step­mother. And we got mar­ried in Seat­tle near my fam­ily and friends. Then we came over here and had a civil part­ner­ship cer­e­mony at Chelsea Town Hall. We had a huge party – I think it was my favourite.

Tell us about how you had your daugh­ter, Evan­ge­line.

We har­vested my eggs and then im­planted into Catherine. But she looks like Catherine! Peo­ple com­ment on it all the time. It makes you won­der about na­ture ver­sus nur­ture. The im­plant­ing, the growth of the em­bryo, so much goes into that hor­mon­ally. And there’s a neuro con­nec­tion hap­pen­ing…

That’s amaz­ing. You’re de­scrib­ing it as if she is al­most a joint baby, ge­net­i­cally.

So here’s the se­cret. It does feel that way, and I thought that would mat­ter, but it doesn’t. I love her with all my heart and she’s my flesh and blood but she’s just one of the kids to me. I could to­tally see adopt­ing or ab­sorb­ing some­one else’s child into our fam­ily be­cause when I look at her I don’t see my­self, I just see her.

How does your Chris­tian up­bring­ing re­late to your sex­u­al­ity? Are you still a part of the church?

I haven’t left be­hind the church or the scrip­tures at all. But I’ve def­i­nitely rec­on­ciled them to my sex­u­al­ity and com­mu­nity of LGBTQ friends.

How do you deal with Chris­tians who are op­posed to LGBTQ peo­ple?

There’s a cer­tain amount of neg­a­tiv­ity or ig­no­rance that I will not tol­er­ate. I won’t tol­er­ate it in de­fence of young LGBTQ peo­ple sus­cep­ti­ble to sui­cide or home­less­ness. I can get re­ally prickly about it, but I will first try to find com­mon­al­i­ties. I find a lot of anti- Chris­tian rhetoric too, in LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ties, and again there I try to find com­mon­al­i­ties. I have a lot more tol­er­ance for that kind of dis­sent be­cause that’s what op­pres­sion does – it cre­ates ad­ver­sar­ial points of view.

Tell me about your tat­toos.

They’re from a movie called The Nev­erend­ing Story – I’m such an 80s geek! I’ve got them on my shoul­ders to pro­tect my imag­i­na­tion.

The Fire­watcher’s Daugh­ter is out on 2 March on New York indie la­bel ATO Records.

Dig­i­tal read­ers can click the icon to hear Brandi’s ex­clu­sive cover of Dolly Par­ton hit, “Jo­lene”

“We had three wed­dings – Lon­don was my favourite”

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