According to a recent press release: “Single Girl, Married Girl is a folk pop outfit currently based in New York City, comprised of Chelsey Coy on vocals and banjo, Charlie Rauh on guitar, Oskar Haggdahl on drums, Shannon Soderlund on backing vocals, and John Gray on upright bass. Originating in Los Angeles, the band featured various line-ups before founding member Coy relocated to the East Coast in late 2013 to start anew. Prior to her move, the group recorded an EP’s worth of songs with Pierre de Reeder of Rilo Kiley (the collection, Cut-Offs, saw release in February 2014). The current line-up is at work on new material that the members hope will attract fans of luminaries like Lucinda Williams, as well as emerging artists like Sharon Von Etten. Their forthcoming album, Spark, will be out on May 19th, with their album release show taking place at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC on May 18th.” We get Chelsey to answer our 10 Quick Ones about the new disc and more…
1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?
Spark is a collection of nine songs (our guitarist is obsessed with albums that have nine songs) that speak thoughtfully (hopefully) to unrequited love, death, rebirth, family, and the wedding of a boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, bookended by two songs more personal in nature that speak to the struggle of being an artist (overcoming fear, acting on inspiration, dealing with rejection, and learning self-preservation). Several people contributed to the writing of the music, including former band members, but the melodies and lyrics are almost exclusively attributed to me and my husband, Gary. Fun Fact: Gary is the primary lyricist, but does not actually play in the band. The music for the album was recorded in two days at Rift Studios in Brooklyn by Tom Gardner, with the exception of my vocals which were recorded over several sessions in the months that followed. The band really wanted to capture our “live sound” so we recorded everything “live” in two days to lay down the base tracks and then over-dubbed some guitar and guest musician parts (cello, banjo, mandolin). The photography for the album is by Sarah Wilmer. The yellow house on the cover is meant to convey the spark of the album title. We think there’s something beautiful and relatable about the little handmade house made of paper standing tall out in the cold, grey elements. It also compliments the overall sound of the record (clean and organic, but warm in the center).
2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?
I come from a musical family: my grandmother was a concert pianist and singer, my grandfather sang opera at Stanford, my aunt played seventeen different instruments, and my cousins/aunts/uncles/sisters/nieces all sing. My parents met in a folk group in high school. Music is the common language in our family, and ties us all together, despite any differences we have (i.e. politics). I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but I think I really got into the idea of being a musician when I was six years old and started recording songs with other kids for an ongoing project that raised awareness of child abuse. The music was like Kidz Bop, before Kidz Bop existed. Being in the studio thrilled and excited me. I couldn’t get enough of it.
3. Who would be your main five musical influences?
Patsy Cline (her voice, her presence), Wilco (they’re the epitome in terms of music making and having a career on your own terms), Alison Krauss (her voice is perfect), Patty Griffin (one of the greatest songwriters ever), and Rilo Kiley (wonderful songwriters and arrangers…in college, they made me feel like this was something I could do).
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be?
Lorde. She’s awesome and has inspired many songs of mine (including the title track off our upcoming album, Spark).
5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?
Our sound could be described as organic and sincere folk/pop with clear, powerful vocals, meandering guitars, upright bass, and elements of jazz, Americana, and indie rock. There’s no affectation in our music (at least we hope not). It’s diverse, song-to-song, but somehow makes sense (these are hallmarks to our sound).
6. What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Getting to express yourself through lyrics and melodies. Song writing is at the core of what we do, and if you’re lucky enough to put all the elements together and hit on something that you and your bandmates know is special, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life.
7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?
I love to cook, so I’d be the one cooking, but we all love to drink. Wine and whiskey are usually always flowing. We aren’t really the singalong type band, but if we were, I’d probably be the one to start it. I love singing harmonies and the banjo is just the happiest instrument that screams to be played in some sort of folk music singalong/hootenanny setting.
8. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?
To own my own brick and mortar vintage clothing shop, or have an interior design show on HGTV.
9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”?
Not a single moment, but I wish I had learned an instrument and practiced more often at an earlier age. I just picked up the banjo about three years ago, and the song writing avenues it has opened for me since have been huge. I can only imagine the kinds of songs I’d have in my repertoire if I had learned to play ten years ago!
10. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?
Pet Sounds. Any recording session from the 60s, really, especially the Phil Spector ones, would be a thrill to witness (and the fashion, ohhh!) But specifically, I would just want to sit and watch The Beach Boys do harmonies all day, and maybe the next day watch The Wrecking Crew go to work.
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