Gretchen’s Wheel – such open sky (Q&A)

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Lindsay Murray about Gretchen’s Wheel‘s new record ‘such open sky’, her background singers and how it feels to keep getting better at what you love to do.

If I asked you who did the backing vocals on ‘Such Open Sky’, could you answer that question without putting a big smile on your face?

Nope! 🙂 I was so happy to get to work with all the musicians on this record. They’re all so amazing, and their involvement means more to me than I can say. But there is something extra thrilling about hearing some of my favorite voices in the world singing my songs along with me! While working on those songs, it felt kinda like I was getting a behind-the-scenes preview of new works in progress by my favorite artists. As a fan, I was just enjoying the privilege of getting to hear what they recorded and forgetting it had anything to do with me, haha. Matthew and Brendan absolutely stole the show on their songs, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

I like every record you make even better than the last. How do you notice that you keep getting ‘better’?

Thank you, I’m so glad to hear it! I think it’s like any skill that gets better with practice. The gap between what I heard in my head and what I was actually able to produce gradually got smaller over the first three albums and was basically gone by the fourth (Black Box Theory). It all starts with the songwriting, and I’m working a lot harder now to get songs where I want them to be. I’m much more relentless with rejecting anything that doesn’t hit the target. So it’s not that it’s getting easier (it isn’t!), it’s that I’m not as quick to be content with any aspect of the songs, sounds, performances, etc. If something feels like it’s not going in the direction I want, I’ll keep throwing it away and starting over until it gets there.

It’s quite striking that your music is embraced in such a way by the Power Pop community, isn’t it? I mean when I listen to your music it sometimes reminds me of the music of Cowboy Junkies or 10,000 Maniacs and a little less of The Knack or Cheap Trick.

I didn’t really appreciate how unlikely that was at first! The majority of what I’d grown up listening to and considered to be an influence was associated with power pop, so when I got started I assumed that whatever I was doing would automatically be that too. I’d always been an isolated power pop fan, never part of any community either in “real life” or online (didn’t join Facebook until 2014), so I was ignorant of controversies about power pop and had almost zero awareness of the genre prior to the 90s (except Big Star!). So my earliest attempt at putting my music out there was directed at the power pop community, just because I didn’t know any better! Thankfully some power pop fans heard something in it they liked, whether or not it fit into any particular genre. Maybe my voice and/or just being female will for some people automatically disqualify me from being considered a legitimate Power Pop artist no matter what I do, and that’s fine – the only time I worry about genre anymore is when I have to select something from a drop-down list. Gotta say, if I’m a Power Pop black sheep, I can’t complain because I’m in some awesome company. But I think there have been at least one or two songs on every album that could be called power pop, so maybe that’s enough to keep me from getting kicked out of the club a little while longer! 🙂

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