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Being Weird ...
Interview: Christine Stonat (1/2019)
Fotos: Da vid Do obinin
weird: Your new album “Weird” is out January 18th 2019. The new album was not only recorded and produced by you, you are also playing all the instruments yourself, except of some drums. What part of doing this album did you enjoy the most?
Juliana Hatfield: It’s hard to say what I enjoyed the most. Maybe playing guitar solos was the most fun. Messing around with guitar sounds, trying to find some extreme gnarly sounds and then diving in and trying to make an expressive noise without thinking too much and without too much planning … It’s exciting, playing guitar solos. It feels a little bit wild and reckless, like jumping off a cliff.
weird: Album and songs are a view on the world from staying at home inside your apartment shutting the world out. Radical solitude – as another form of political resistance? Or as a kind of self-care and self-protection, or as a break from resisting in order to come out with new strength, or simply just a way to live one’s life …?
Juliana Hatfield: I think it is all of those things. It is definitely self-care and self-protection. For me, solitude is like medicine. It rejuvenates me after I have been with people, among society. After socializing I usually feel weak and depleted, and time alone gives me my strength back.
weird: Is working in your studio, “locked up” from everything and everyone outside, working (mostly) by yourself a similar situation for you to that kind of withdrawal you are talking about in your new songs?
Juliana Hatfield: No, actually; being in the studio is being among certain people; people whose company I enjoy. (I don’t record at home these days.) The “Weird” engineer (James Bridges) was with me, by my side, hour after hour, day after day. And then there were the couple of drummers (Freda Love Smith and Todd Philips) who played on some of the songs. And every day there is also usually an intern in the studio with me and James. The studio I like to work in is a comfortable space for me; I feel at home there. It’s one of my safe spaces. One of my friends is the studio manager and he is also a great bass player who records with me sometimes . He played all the bass on my Olivia Newton-John covers album (Ed Valuaskas is his name.)
weird: Your new album is called “Weird” and there is also the song “It’s So Weird” where you say that you are not fitting into this romantic construct and concept that society embraces. How would you define the meaning of the word “weird” for you?
Juliana Hatfield: That’s too broad a question for me to answer. I know I named the album “Weird” but it is hard to explain what it means, exactly. It is a vague idea. I guess I am trying to say that I feel like I am a little bit outside of the mainstream, in many ways. In the way that I live and the way that my career has gone. Being alone by choice, and being proudly and unrepentantly self-sufficient (emotionally as well as practically) is a strange idea for some people but to me it seems absolutely correct and normal. For me it makes so much sense to live alone and to love to be alone but I think that the majority of people see this aloneness and invulnerability as weird and dysfunctional.
weird: You described yourself as a loner already earlier in your career. And solitude, being/working alone and loneliness are of course not the same. What (else from the facts you already mentioned) do you find in being alone by yourself?
Juliana Hatfield: I can be myself truly only when I am alone. I feel comfortable only when I am alone. I can focus and concentrate on my work and on everything (reading, thinking, etc.) when I am not distracted. Maybe I am a little bit autistic.
People make me nervous. People are so fragile and dangerous. I mean, I don’t walk around being afraid, every day, but I am aware of the fact that people are very easily hurt and I just want to be careful not to hurt anyone by accident, or to be blindsided, myself. I have my guard up, yes, but I think this is just good sense.
weird: Despite from doing your solo music mostly on your own you of course have played in different bands and collaborated with many other musicians, most important to name Evan Dando (The Lemonheads) maybe. How do you experience the closeness of being on stage and on tour with other musicians?
Juliana Hatfield: There is always a bit of distance when I collaborate or when I play onstage with someone. I am always, in a sense, in my own little protected bubble. I never really blend too well with anyone. I try to make musical connections and I have been successful here and there but it’s never a total intimacy. There is always a boundary between me and whoever the other person/musician happens to be. But I like it like that. It makes sense: each person gives a little bit and each holds onto himself so that he doesn’t lose himself, doesn’t lose the great unique qualities that he is bringing to the collaboration.
weird: Earlier with your band Blake Babies or solo now, you are doing a record almost every year, at least every two years, from the very start 1987, solo 1992, to today. Are you writing new songs in a kind of an ongoing creative process – if this is possible at all – or are there also older songs you remember and put out on a new record later or how else do you write your songs for each new album?
Juliana Hatfield: I try to always being working on something creatively. Right now I am drawing a lot. Also I am writing prose constantly. I haven’t written a song since I finished recording “Weird” a few months ago but I am going to begin working on new music soon. I guess I just have a strong creative impulse and I need to always cultivate that or else I feel like I am dying. I can’t stop doing artistic work or I feel like I am wasting my life.
weird: 2017 was your 25th anniversary of your solo debut album “Hey Babe”. You said in an interview that you at first were embarrassed after recording the album but now are proud of yourself. How critical are you still today with regard to your own work and how do you get to some new approach to older work if needed?
Juliana Hatfield: I used to be embarrassed by my past work and my younger self because I was so earnest and miserable and the combination of those things — earnest and miserable — made it really tough to listen to. My pain was so clear that it hurt to hear it. It was like listening to an open wound. But now I have come to be proud of all the music I have made in the past. I was truly dedicated to my music , and dedicated to being honest in the music, and that is something to be proud of.
weird: Last year 2018 your latest album was a cover album with songs by Olivia Newton-John. Olivia Newton-John is one of your childhood heroes who brought a lot of joy to you, you said. How important has it become for you to bring joy to others with your music since you started to make music yourself?
Juliana Hatfield: I make music first for myself. Like I said, it is a compulsion or an obsession, my need to create things from out of my psyche. But it is wonderful when other people understand it and connect to it. If people feel comfort and joy when they listen to my music, it brings me comfort and joy. I like to say that I make my music for myself but I think that if I had no audience, and no one heard my music, I would be really sad and unfulfilled.
weird: As to be heard on your new album “Weird” your music might sound a little more “pop” today but still has this revolutionary rock punk attitude that comes with your voice and sound and often poetical lyrics. If you look back on over 25 years of your solo music what would you say has changed the most within your music?
Juliana Hatfield: I think my voice has changed a little — it has gotten a little bit lower (but not a lot). And I think my lyrics are a little less about me and all of my feelings and a little more about how I see the world around me. But I am still a revolutionary punk!
weird: You and your music have always had a feminist, political attitude also. January 19th is another Women’s March in Washington D.C. and a lot of other cities in the US (and worldwide). Are you in?
Juliana Hatfield: I was not literally *in* (I did not march) but I of course support and embody women’s full emancipation and freedom from the tyranny of sexism.
Interview: Christine Stonat (1/2019)
Fotos: Da vid Do obinin
Über ein Dutzend Alben und EPs hat die US-Indie-Musikerin Juliana Hatfield (52) seit ihrem Solo-Debut 1992 veröffentlicht. Ihre musikalische Karriere begann die Sängerin, Songschreiberin, Gitarristin und Multiinstrumentalistin 1987 mit der Band Blake Babies, die sich 2001 auflöste. Mit ihrer Nachfolge-Band Some Girls veröffentlichte sie 2003 und 2006 zwei Alben. Im November 2019 erschien jetzt ihr neues Album, ein Coveralbum, auf dem sie sich der Band The Police widmet. Mit dem Album „Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police“ (American Laundromat) setzt sie ihr Projekt, das mit ihrem viel beachteten Olivia Newton-John-Coveralbum 2018 begann, fort. „Ich hoffe, dass ich damit fortfahren kann, tief in das Covern von Artists, die in meinen prägenden Jahren wichtig für mich waren, einzutauchen“, so Juliana Hatfield zu ihrem neuen Werk. „Ich hoffe, dass meine Interpretationen dieser Songs andere Menschen dazu inspirieren, weiterhin die Musik von The Police zu lieben wie ich es tat und immer noch tue.“
Ihr letztes Solo-Album mit neuen eigenen Songs erschien im Januar 2019, und es heißt wie dieses Magazin, nämlich „Weird“! Wenn das nicht zusammenpasst!?! Sehr melodisch und insgesamt etwas weniger rockig vielleicht, aber Juliana Hatfield hat einfach immer noch dieses gewisse „rebellische“ Etwas und diesen Punk in ihrer Stimme und in ihrem Sound. Ihre Haltung ist dabei bis heute politisch, vor allem auch feministisch. Ihre Texte sind dabei oft sehr poetisch. weird sprach mit Juliana Hatfield ziemlich genau vor einem Jahr per E-Mail über ihr damals neues Album „Weird“, darüber wie sie das Wort „weird“ für sich definiert, über ihr selbst gewähltes Alleinsein und das Zusammensein, über ihre musikalischen Anfänge, kreative Prozesse und mehr. weird veröffentlicht das Interview hier erneut, wieder im Original in englischer Sprache.
„Sings The Police“ (American Laundromat Rec.)
Out: seit November 2019
- in eigenen Worten 2019-
Name: Juliana Hatfield
Beruf: music worker
Wohnort: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Meine weirdeste Eigenschaft: I bite my toenails
Foto: Da vid Do obinin