Part two of Jeff Rosenberg's interview with transplanted Portland songwriter Laura Veirs. FUN FACT: Jeff and Veirs once went to a concert together, but he insists that it was not a date. Read part one of this interview here.
laura v and group
LC: The last time we spoke, in 2004, Carbon Glacier had just come out, and you told me of how you had just come from a successful show in Europe to a show in Hoboken where only six people showed up. I take it your draw there has improved since?
But your NYC-area draw in general must have improved.
But you've been on a hit band's record [The Decemberists' The Crane Wife] now.
How did your acquaintance with them develop?
What was it like contributing to something that wasn't your own material?
But you have a more prominent role on this track.
I was impressed that you got Nonesuch to give up on the little slipcase this time [a pretentious cardboard doohickey surrounding her last two discs, as they do most releases on that label].
Yeah, it's like back to the indie days.
What's it been like to be still a very indie-ish artist on a label that not only isn't an indie label, but is sort of less identified with that side of the spectrum?
Are you on an album-by-album deal with them?
Does part of that hinge, for you, on how well they support your album?
How did your collaboration with "Kotos the Rock Thrower" [who raps] on the remix of "Galaxies" come about?
Yeah, I loved it.
Also, speaking of b-sides...on Troubled by the Fire, you had your most explicit political song, "Cannon Fodder," that was back in 2003. Obviously those kinds of issues have continued to be on people's minds, but with the exception of the Bush song "Cliff Driver" on the b-side of the "Riptide" single—which I assumed was a Bush song—
You've really turned away from that avenue in your writing since, so, what's behind that?
When I saw the title "To the Country," I thought, it's either a back-to-the-land thing [which it is]. Or like, a manifesto—"This is my message to the country!"
You contributed one of your demos to a homeless benefit compilation, which I downloaded on iTunes, it was a demo of Secret Someones, and I really enjoyed listening to that, and wondered if it was something you'd thought about doing more of. Have you thought of releasing your demos more formally?
Or maybe if this album breaks it big and the label is hankering for more "product."
Your albums feel very intimate anyway, so then hearing the demos...
Does Tucker produce your demos, or do you self-produce?
Or even not just the idea, but the moment.
Are you still more popular overseas than you are here?
Those are your good markets? Because I remember you saying [years ago] that it took you a long while to kind of crack Portland as a performer.
Maybe less discretionary income, too, 'cause people are struggling to pay their rent down there!
So these kids in France record your songs. When I first heard about a kids'-choir album of your songs, I thought it was the same group of kids who sang on "Snow Camping" [on Carbon Glacier].
Have you heard the Langley Schools Music Project album [of '70s Canadian schoolkids singing classic rock songs]?
Is it all girls?
Photo: From the back of Laura Veirs