Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Clare Burson (SCQ's Year-End Questionnaire Part IV)

One of SCQ’s most welcoming surprises in 2010 has definitely been Clare Burson, who is currently touring behind her lovely sophomore Silver and Ash. Here she offers some glimpses into her record’s ancestral concept while proposing a reasonable solution to the Middle East conflict (in my opinion, of course). (Photo by Ted Barron)

SCQ: Every list-lover's favourite question: what are your top albums of 2010? Feel free to include any older yet worthy records you discovered this year.

CB: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz, Arcade Fire – The Suburbs, Laura Veirs – July Flame

SCQ: What were you listening to a lot of while recording your impressive Silver and Ash?

CB: Truth be told, I wasn’t listening to much of anything. We recorded the album fairly quickly, which meant long days with little time to listen to much other than what we were creating ourselves. Of course, we did head outside here and there to clear our heads. So sometimes, we listened to birds tweeting. Other times there were cars passing and cats meowing and phones ringing.

SCQ: Be cocky for once in your life: what was the finest thing you did all year? That moment where you actually thought "shit, I nailed that..."?

CB: Wow. I don’t know that I’ve ever had one of those moments. I tend to pick apart just about everything I do – there’s always room for improvement, right? I guess the closest I’ve come to that feeling over the past year was when I was recording a handful of cover tunes with my band last summer. I totally nailed the vocals on The Magnetic Fields’ ‘With Whom To Dance.’ (Of course, that’s just my opinion.)

SCQ: Effect and Cause: I was cat-sitting for my friends in a Concord, New Hampshire apartment when 'Magpies' first struck me. The September Sun had lowered behind a neighboring building and your closing track's sense of calm left me staring at the curtain's narrow dance above floorboards. Ever since, I'm spellbound by that song. Okay, your turn: confess a true tale that inspired one of the songs on Silver and Ash.

In march of 1996, my grandmother mimi returned to her hometown, Leipzig, for the first time in 57 years. my mom, aunt, uncle, and cousin accompanied my grandmother from memphis back to her home town. i was living in germany at the time, so i met them there.
we were in leipzig for under 48 hours. during this time, we walked through the market square and by the town hall. we stopped in the rain at the empty lot where my grandmother’s synagogue had been. we found mimi’s old neighborhood, amazingly still intact. as was the building where she had lived with her parents and brother.
thomasius strasse 23. mimi pointed to a big picture window on the left side of the building and said, “i used to practice piano on the other side of that window. i would look out onto the street to see if my friends, eva and ruth, were outside playing hopscotch or riding their bikes.” we made our way into the building and rang the doorbell of the apartment, hoping for a glimpse inside. no one was home. we walked down a set of stairs to a door at the rear of the building. it opened onto a back courtyard. it was a wet, grey day, and the ground was covered with fallen leaves. the backs of the neighboring buildings were in disrepair, crumbling after years of neglect. “it used to be so green back here,” mimi sighed before she turned to walk back inside.

SCQ: If all the reasonable and implausible ideas in your head came to fruition in 2011, what would they be?

CB: Both reasonable and implausible, eh?
For me specifically or for the world in general?
All of them?
I’ll start globally: a solution to the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, the end of terrorism, economic recovery through thoughtful government reform, universal healthcare, environmental responsibility, the end of bigotry and oppression.
In general, I hope for empathy and understanding between all people. Perhaps the most implausible idea of all is that somehow my music can contribute to this. To get there, though, songs from SILVER AND ASH will need to be featured on all of the late night t.v. shows, in Oscar-winning movies, at the Grammys, on the last episode of Oprah, in Obama’s next State of the Union Address . . . I’ll let you decide which of these are more plausible than the others. :)

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