VIVA LA VEGA!

SUZANNE VEGA IS THE GOD­MOTHER OF THE MOD­ERN FE­MALE SINGER- SONG­WRITER. WITH SMASH HITS LIKE LUKA AND TOM’S DINER IN THE 80s, SHE WAS THE MOST UN­EX­PECTED OF MTV STARS, BLAZ­ING A TRAIL FOR FOLKSY, LIT­ER­ATE, ACOUS­TIC POP

Pride Life Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Suzanne Vega is back and sound­ing bet­ter than ever

Liv­ing in New York with her poet/ lawyer hus­band and wait­ing for her 19-year-old daugh­ter to come back from study­ing the ef­fects of mu­sic on the brain, she’s come up with her first al­bum of new ma­te­rial in seven years. And – phew! – it’s clas­sic Vega.

She spoke to SI­MON GAGE about her les­bian fans, her friend­ship with the late Lou Reed and her artsy New York life with mates like Deb­bie Harry and Zoë Heller. Where on earth have you been all this time? Well I did the Close Up hits se­ries and I’ve been tour­ing but I do un­der­stand that it’s been seven years since the last al­bum. So, some of th­ese “new” songs were writ­ten ages ago? No, most of them are quite re­cent, ac­tu­ally. I’m not pro­lific. I don’t fin­ish a lot of ma­te­rial. I start a lot of songs but I usu­ally re­quire a dead­line to fin­ish any­thing. You need some­one stand­ing there with a stick? Yeah. In this case it was Gerry Leonard [pro­ducer of three David Bowie al­bums]. Ev­ery Thurs­day we had a lit­tle writ­ing date. He’d come into the city, we’d go into my man­ager’s of­fice, rum­mage around, see what needed to be done. And then we got it done. It’s amaz­ing how recog­nis­able your sound is. There’s noth­ing that you can do about it. My voice has got­ten a lot lower, es­pe­cially my speak­ing voice. I called the front desk this morn­ing and they were like, “Oh Mr. Vega…” You’re very much the New Yorker, aren’t you? Well, I have a house in the coun­try but I do love New York and I do feel that it’s my home. I en­joy it most of the time. I es­pe­cially love the Met. I be­came a pa­tron of the Met so I could sit in the pa­trons’ lounge and write in my note­book. So when I feel it get­ting too hec­tic at home, I walk across the park and go up to the 4th floor of the Met and pre­tend it’s my liv­ing room. Why does it get hec­tic at home? I have two cats, a dog, a hus­band, a daugh­ter, a house­keeper and my mother lives in the area, so it just seems to be a con­stant stream. Who do you hang out with? Is there a scene? Is it all lunch with Deb­bie Harry? I see Deb­bie Harry from time to time. I love her. She’s pretty great, But lately I’ve found my­self hang­ing out with a bunch of writ­ers like Zoë Heller [Notes on a Scan­dal]… So, who is the Suzanne Vega fan? There must be a lot of women… There’s a but­ton on Face­book that will show you who your fan-base is, and mine is women from 18 to 35 and men from 35 to 54. Which is kind of nice. So women dump you when they get to 35? I don’t know. Maybe they have ba­bies and they don’t have time. I don’t try to ex­plain it. Who are the men? Are they gay men? I have a lot of straight men who like my voice. There was a doc­u­men­tary guy who was fol­low­ing me and he shot the au­di­ence and

showed me a pho­to­graph and it was all men, about 35 years old. Like a foot­ball match, which was re­ally kind of funny. Peo­ple think of you as the god­mother of a whole gen­er­a­tion of fe­male singer­song­writ­ers, don’t they? I think there was some truth to that. I had to bat­ter down the door in the 80s and I think all the busi­ness­men said, “Oh there is an au­di­ence for a fe­male singer-song­writer.” I like be­ing part of the flow of his­tory. Do you look at some of the younger ones and see your own in­flu­ence? I never as­sume un­less they say. If they say it I’m al­ways grate­ful. The Indigo Girls gave me their demo tape way be­fore they were signed, so I don’t know if they ac­knowl­edged me as an in­flu­ence, or if I even was.

“I had a big les­bian fol­low­ing in the be­gin­ning but I don’t know if they’re still with me. I think I was a bit more an­drog­y­nous when I was younger”

Do you still have a big les­bian fol­low­ing? I did in the be­gin­ning but I don’t know if they’re still with me. I think I was a bit more an­drog­y­nous when I was younger. Once I got mar­ried and had my child, I wasn’t quite so much of an at­trac­tion. I couldn’t carry the look off any­more. I put on a bit of weight and I didn’t look so an­drog­y­nous. So, you were in New York in the 70s and 80s. Was it all Stu­dio 54 and CBGB for you? No, I was go­ing down to Folk City. There was a brief mo­ment when I was try­ing to see if I liked the punk scene but the scream­ing was a bit much. I went to Max’s Kansas City [the restau­rant where Andy Warhol hung out], the Mud Club, but mostly Folk City. As well as mu­sic, you do jour­nal­ism, don’t you? I write for the New York Times, and I wrote an ar­ti­cle for the London Times about Lou Reed and my friend­ship with him through the years. I still have all his texts; I’ll never erase them. I don’t see you to­gether. He was so angry… Yes, he was. He didn’t like jour­nal­ists. Most of the time to me he was chal­leng­ing but he was great. How did you meet him? I went to see him when I was 19, then I met him on the MTV show 120 Min­utes. He was the guest host and I was booked for his show and I didn’t know he was go­ing to be the in­ter­viewer. There’s a clip on YouTube of him in­ter­view­ing me and I com­pletely lose my cool. So, you’re very hap­pily mar­ried. How long have you and your old man been to­gether? We got mar­ried in 2006. We were to­gether from 1981 to 1983. He asked me to marry him then, and I said I had to think about it. Twenty-three years later he asked me again and I said yes. I’m a slow thinker. It takes me a long time to process any­thing. The al­bum Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pen­ta­cles is re­leased on Cook­ing Vinyl on 4 Fe­bru­ary.

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