“It feels like this fleshed-out heartbeat.”
Chan Marshall talks to Victoria Segal.
When did the album start to come together? “About three years ago was when I began writing again. The first step was stripping everything down and just being alone again with my guitar. Strip down and go forward. I had a son in April 2015, and after two months I went back to work. I had a home recording set-up in this house I rented. I call it the Pink House – it’s not a studio. With breastfeeding, travelling and sleeping four hours a day with your baby, the process of recording is: maybe you take three days to become functioning in your domestic area with your dogs, your laundry, your sleeplessness, your child. In between being in the Pink House, I would go to this other studio in Little Haiti. The next year I went to Los Angeles to this studio called Mant with [producer] Rob Schnapf. It’s great having it finished. It feels like a baby – it feels like this fleshed-out heartbeat.”
What’s the cover image about? “I chose that image because this is me and these are the key things that are – I don’t want to say my glory – but being able to write songs and sing them and having the trust of other humans to be able to communicate with them by singing them. I feel very blessed as a weirdo to be able to do that, and also to have the experience as a human being, to actually be able to understand now what love actually feels like.”
There’s a folkloric quality to the song Black. Can you explain its background? “So, this song is about the angel of death as an ominous dude. The song is about death and friends that have overdosed and it’s about friends who are still using and haven’t been able to, you know… friends who’ve made an agreement with that ominous dude. The song is just telling a story about death because I believe everyone who passes is still alive in the other dimension or whatever. I believe that there is a continued transaction somehow, whether it’s in dreams or … anyway, I won’t get into it. I know that sounds crazy but I don’t care how it sounds.”
How about the song Woman, featuring Lana Del Rey? “I think it’s a testament song. Being able to see things clearly. Being empowered by being able to see things clearly. And being proud of myself, as a human, as a female body, as a woman having love and having dignity. Feeling good about my place at my table. Not being a party to my demise. Not being a victim. I believe there is great joy in being female. There’s a joyful vibration in being a woman that just can’t be taken away. Or hopefully not any more.”
Chan is Cat: feeling good about her place at the table?