“It feels like something else takes over, does its own thing”
Your lyrics can be very direct, but your singing tends to understate things. how much are you thinking about your delivery and how much is improvised? I’m conscious of the way that I sing. Sometimes I surprise myself and it feels like something else takes over, and does its own thing. But at this point in my work as an artist, I feel like I have a lot of control, either to be deadpan when I’m trying to say something or to let it go free on some of the wordless parts. It’s probably the thing I’ve worked on the most, just the ability to have that freedom and to think of my voice as another instrument.
Who are some of the vocalists that have inspired that approach? I think about people like Catherine Ribeiro, who has that kind of voice with a lot of raw emotions. I try to have a lot of vocal influences, just across the board. I’ve been to a lot of operas, and I love that style, the power and emotion in the voices. For the type of music I’m trying to make, there needs to be an emotional component to it. People really relate to the sound of the human voice, but I think it’s more impactful when there’s some complexity to the singing.
how does that change when you perform the song live? I’m not trying to re-create the studio version. I have a band in Philly, but I don’t tour with them much because it’s six people and some of them have regular jobs and families. When we play these songs, they’re usually more upbeat. We’ll jam out with more and more guitars. But when I play solo, that’s where I can be freer with the singing and the dynamics. There’s more space for it. I try to be very sensitive to the audience and try to centre myself in the moment, so the songs can be different every time I sing them.