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Azure Ray

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Orenda Fink, am: 20.03.2003 ]

Mit ihrer letzten Platte "November" haben Azure Ray ein sehr schönes, fragiles und doch selbstbewusstes Stück Musik in der "Quiet Is The New Loud"-Tradition geschaffen. Nicht unbedingt neu, aber dafür umso intensiver und intimer ist das Hörerlebnis, das Orenda Fink und Maria Taylor hier kreiert haben. Das blieb auch bei Mr. Moby nicht ungeachtet, der die beiden spontan auf seine letzte US-Tour einlud. Auch hierzulande überzeugten die beiden schon mit den Labelmates von Bright Eyes und The Good Life. Da war eigentlich klar, dass ich bei Orenda einmal genauer nachfragen würde. Wir sprachen über Frauen im Musikbiz, Moby und den wohl leider nicht mehr zu verhindernden Irak-Krieg.


Musicscan: Hi Orenda, where are you right now and how are you doing?

Azure Ray: I am at my house in Omaha, Nebraska. I am doing good, although it is very cold here.

Musicscan: Please tell our readers a little bit about how you got started with Azure Ray and how you got in touch with Maria?

Azure Ray: Maria and I have been friends and playing music together since high school. We have had several bands throughout the years. We were in a rock band when we first started writing the songs that would become Azure Ray. We were just writing the songs for ourselves at the time and playing them for each other, but soon we realized that we wanted to move into a more introspective direction musically altogether. So, we stopped playing in the rock band and only played acoustic songs. we recorded the first songs for warm recordings with Eric Bachmann from Crooked Fingers, and called the record Azure Ray.

Musicscan: In what way would you say is "November" different than your debut album?

Azure Ray: There were different producers, so there is a different sound. Eric Bachmann produced the debut album and "November" was produced by Andy Lemaster and Azure Ray. "November" is more stripped-down, less orchestrated.

Musicscan: What made you move from Athens to Omaha? Did you want to be in closer in touch with the whole Saddle Creek community?

Azure Ray: The singer of The Faint drove to Athens in a U-Haul and picked me up. That was pretty much what made me move.

Musicscan: Who did the exceptionally beautiful artwork for "November"? Why did you choose it?

Azure Ray: Brian Buchanan did the artwork for "November". His name and information are in the CD credits. He is an old friend of ours from Athens. We had always been a fan of his work and asked him if he would like to paint the cover of "November". When we finished recording, we gave him a copy of the EP and he worked on the piece while listening to it. He really did a beautiful job.

Musicscan: What are you trying to convey with your lyrics? Are you dealing with political issues as well, since I believe there are a few references to 9-11 and the whole war subject?

Azure Ray: Our lyrics are cathartic to us, and we hope to other people. Whatever is stirring in our hearts at the time is what we tend to write about. They are often darker subjects that we try to make beautiful, or just shed some light on. On "November", we actually were not dealing with political issues- just the human condition. We wrote and recorded the record before 9-11. It is coincidental that Brian Buchanan included an angel trying to stop an airplane in his artwork. We had chills when we went back to look at the painting after 9-11. Maybe he had a premonition.

Musicscan: What is your opinion on the current domestic and foreign policy of the Bush administration?

Azure Ray: I am not in favor of Bush and I am not in favor of war with Iraq. I don't know anyone who is. I have a friend in London who has just started a great anti-war (among other things) website. The address is www.unmotivated.me.uk

Musicscan: How is your relationship with Robb and the Saddle Creek crew? What is so special about working with them?

Azure Ray: Our relationship is great. We have all been friends for awhile. Working with Saddle Creek is special because the label is well run, the bands are great, and we all work really hard together to do what we do. Everyone is very supportive of each other.

Musicscan: How was the Moby tour? I imagine it was kind of weird to get up there in front of thousands of people that have probably never heard your music before. How did people receive you?

Azure Ray: The Moby tour was actually really fun. The crowd reception was much better than we thought it was going to be. People were quiet and respectful for the most part. They didn't boo us off the stage or anything. We had a good time partying with Dirty Vegas.

Musicscan: What are some of your musical influences? Are there any bands that you frequently get compared to?

Azure Ray: In the past we have listened to Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Nina Simone, Elliot Smith.

Musicscan: How do you perceive yourselves as women artists in a unfortunately still predominantly male music business? Do you think things are changing for the better and more women are getting actively involved in music? What are your experiences with sexism as female musicians?

Azure Ray: Honestly, I don't think about it much. Maria and I generally work with people who respect us as musicians and don't discriminate based on sex. We've experienced sexism in the past, when we were younger, but we just avoid working with those types of people now. However, I do think things are changing for the better.

Musicscan: It seems to me that girls always have to prove that they are not just the boyfriend of one of the guys in the band. Would you agree that women who are into guitar music have to try twice as hard to get accepted?

Azure Ray: It is true, in a way. I can't even count how many times the male members of bands we have traveled with (and in) have walked in and out of soundchecks while Maria and I get grilled on who we are and what we are doing there even at our own shows but, we usually laugh at those instances. We take them lightly. The best way to fight sexism or "be accepted" is to be professional and educated in your field.

Musicscan: What are you doing when you are not involved with Azure Ray? "Regular" jobs, other interests...

Azure Ray: I haven't worked a regular job for a little while because of our touring and recording schedule. When we have time off, I enjoy spending time at home, writing, and traveling to places where I have never been. I plan on going to Haiti before the year is up.

Musicscan: What can we expect from Azure Ray in the near future?

Azure Ray: More releases and more touring- we have two full length records that have not been released in Europe, and we are recording a new record in May.

Musicscan: Three favorite records, books and movies?

Azure Ray: Records: The Bulgarian Women's Choir - Voices of Light; Smog - Knock Knock; Nina Simone - almost any record. Books: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut; A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Movies: Harold and Maude; The Killing Fields; Sleepaway Camp.

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